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cular vehemence is required in the sentiments, nor great sublimity in the style; such as pastorals, elegies, epistles, satires, &c. To these, it communicates that degree of elevation which is proper for them; and without any other assistance sufficiently distinguishes the style from prose. He who should write such poems in blank verse, would render his work harsh and unpleasing. In order to support a poetical style, he would be obliged to affect a pomp of language unsuitable to the subject.

Though I join in opinion with those, who think that rhyme finds its proper place in the middle, but not in the higher regions of poetry, I can by no means join in the invectives which some have poured out against it, as if it were a mere barbarous gingling of sounds, fit only for children, and owing to nothing but the corruption of taste in the monkish ages. Rhyme might. indeed be barbarous in Latin or Greek verse, because these languages, by the sonorousness of their words, by their liberty of transposition and inversion, by their fixed quantities and musical pronunciation, could carry on the melody of verse without its


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But it does not follow, that therefore it must be barbarous in the English language, which is destitute of these advantages.. Every language has powers and graces, and music peculiar to itself; and what is becoming in one, would be ridiculous in another. Rhyme was barbarous in Latin; and an attempt to construct English verses, after the form of hexameters, and pentameters, and sapphics, is as barbarous among us. true, that rhyme is merely a monkish invention. trary, it has obtained under different forms, in the versification. of most known nations. It is found in the ancient poetry of the northern nations of Europe; it is said to be found among the Arabs, the Persians, the Indians, and the Americans. This shows that there is something in the return of similar sounds, which is grateful to the ears of most part of mankind. And if any one, after reading Mr. Pope's Rape of the Lock, or Eloisa to Abelard, shall not admit our rhyme, with all its varieties of pauses, to carry both elegance and sweetness of sound, his ear must be pronounced to be of a very peculiar kind.

The present form of our English heroic rhyme, in couplets, is a modern species of versification. The measure generally used in the days of Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles

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I. was the stanza of eight lines, such as Spencer employs, borrowed from the Italian; a measure very constrained and artificial. Waller was the first who brought couplets into vogue; and Dryden afterwards established the usage. Waller first smoothed our verse; Dryden perfected it. Mr. Pope's versification has a peculiar character. It is flowing and smooth, in the highest degree; far more laboured and correct than that of any who went before him. He introduced one considerable change into heroic verse, by totally throwing aside the triplets, or three lines rhyming together, in which Mr. Dryden abounded. Dryden's versification, however, has very great merit; and, like all his productions, has much spirit, mixed with carelessness. If not so smooth and correct as Pope's, it is however more varied and easy. He subjects himself less to the rule of closing the sense with the couplet; and frequently takes the liberty of making his couplets run into one another, with somewhat of the freedom of blank verse.




IN the last Lecture, I gave an account of the rise and progress of poetry, and made some observations on the nature of English versification. I now proceed to treat of the chief kinds of poetical composition; and of the critical rules that relate to them. I shall follow that order which is most simple and natural; beginning with the lesser forms of poetry, and ascending from them to the epic and dramatic, as the most dignified. This Lecture shall be employed on pastoral and lyric poetry.

Though I begin with the consideration of pastoral poetry, it is not because I consider it as one of the earliest forms of poetical composition. On the contrary, I am of opinion that it was not cultivated as a distinct species, or subject of writing, until society had advanced in refinement. Most authors have indeed indulged the fancy, that because the life which mankind at first led was rural, therefore, their first poetry was pastoral, or employed in the celebration of rural scenes and objects. I make no doubt, that it would borrow many of its images and allusions from those natural objects with which men were best acquainted; but I make as little doubt, that the calm and tranquil scenes of rural felicity were not, by any means, the first objects which inspired that strain of composition, which we now call poetry. It was inspired, in the first periods of every nation, by events and objects which roused men's passions; or, at least, awakened their wonder and admiration. The actions of their gods and heroes, their own exploits in war, the successes or misfortunes of their countrymen and friends, furnished the first themes to the bards of every country. What was of a pastoral kind in their compositions, was incidental only. They did not think of choosing for their theme the tranquillity and the pleasures of the country, as long as these were daily and familiar objects to them. It was not till men had be

gun to be assembled in great cities, after the distinctions of rank and stations were formed, and the bustle of courts and large societies was known, that pastoral poetry assumed its present form. Men then began to look back upon the more simple and innocent life, which their forefathers led, or which, at least, they fancied them to have led: they looked back upon it with pleasure, and in those rural scenes, and pastoral occupations imagining a degree of felicity to take place, superior to what they now enjoyed, conceived the idea of celebrating it in poetry. It was in the court of King Ptolemy, that Theocritus wrote the first pastorals with which we are acquainted; and, in the court of Augustus, he was imitated by Virgil.

But whatever may have been the origin of pastoral poetry, it is, undoubtedly, a natural, and very agreeable form of poetical composition. It recals to our imagination those gay scenes, and pleasing views of nature, which commonly are the delight of our childhood and youth; and to which, in more advanced years, the greatest part of men recur with pleasure. It exhibits to us a life, with which we are accustomed to associate the ideas of peace, of leisure, and of innocence; and, therefore, we readily set open our heart to such representations as promise to banish from our thoughts the cares of the world, and to transport us into calm Elysian regions. At the same time, no subject bids fairer. for being favourable to poetry. Amidst rural objects, nature presents, on all hands, the finest field for description; and nothing appears to flow more, of its own accord, into poetical numbers, than rivers and mountains, meadows and hills, flocks and trees, shepherds void of care. Hence, this species of poetry has, at all times, allured many readers, and excited many writers. But, notwithstanding the advantages it possesses, it will appear from what I have farther to observe upon it, that there is hardly any species of poetry which is more difficult to be carried to perfection, or in which fewer writers have excelled.

Pastoral life may be considered in three different views; either such as it now actually is; when the state of shepherds is reduced to be a mean, servile, and laborious state; when their employments are become disagreeble, and their ideas gross and low or such as we may suppose it once to have been, in the more early and simple ages, when it was a life of ease and abundance; when the wealth of men consisted chiefly in flocks and

herds, and the shepherd, though unrefined in his manners, was respectable in his state; or, lastly, such as it never was, and never can in reality be, when, to the ease, innocence, and simplicity of the early ages, we attempt to add the polished taste, and cultivated manners, of modern times, of these three states, the first is too gross and mean, the last too refined and unnatural, to be made the ground-work of pastoral poetry. Either of these extremes is a rock upon which the poet will split, if he approach too near it. We shall be disgusted if he gives us too much of the servile employments, and low ideas of actual peasants, as Theocritus is censured for having sometimes done and if, like some of the French and Italian writers of pastorals, he makes his shepherds discourse as if they were courtiers and scholars, he then retains the name only, but wants the spirit of pastoral poetry.

He must, therefore, keep in the middle station between thes He must form to himself the idea of a rural state, such as in certain periods of society may have actually taken place, where there was ease, equality, and innocence; where shepherds were gay and agreeable, without being learned or refined; and plain and artless, without being gross and wretched. The great charm of pastoral poetry arises, from the view which it exhibits of the tranquillity and happiness of a rural life. This pleasing illusion, therefore, the poet must carefully maintain. He must display, to us, all that is agreeable in that state, but hide whatever is displeasing. Let him paint its simplicity and innocence to the full; but cover its rudeness and misery. Distresses, indeed, and

In the following beautiful lines of the first eclogue, Virgil has, in the true spirit of a pastoral poet, brought together as agreeable an assemblage of images of rural pleasure as can any where be found.

Fortunate senex! hic inter flumina nota,
Et fontes sacros, frigus captabis opacum.
Hinc tibi, quæ semper vicino ab limite sepes,
Hybiais apibus florem depasta salicti,
Sæpe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro.
Hinc altà sub rupe, canet frondator ad auras:
Nec tamen interea, rauca, tua cura, palumbes,
Nec gemere aëriâ cessabit turtur ab ulmo.

Happy old man! here mid th' accustom'd streams
And sacred springs, you'll shun the scorching beams;
While from yon willow fence, thy pastures bound,
The bees that suck their flowery stores around,
Shall sweetly mingle, with the whisp'ring boughs,
Their lulling murmurs, and invite repose.
While from steep rocks the pruner's song is heard;
Nor the soft cooing dove, thy fav'rite bird,
Meanwhile shall cease to breathe her melting strain,
Nor turtles from the ærial elms to plain.


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