« AnteriorContinuar »
As simplicity is the distinguishing characteristick of pastoral, Virgil has been thought guilty of too courtly a stile: His language is perfectly pure, and he often forgets ho is among peasants. I have frequently wondered that since he was so conversant in the writings of Ennius, he had not imitated the rusticity of the Doric, as well, hy the help of the old obsolete Boman language, as Philips hath by the antiquated English: For example, might he not have said Quoi instead of Cui; Quoijum for Cujum; volt for vult, Sec, as well as our modern hath Welladay for Alas, Whilome for of old, make mock for deride, and uitless younglings for simple lambs, &c, by which means ho had attained as much of the air of TheocrituB, as Philips hath of Spenser.
Mr. Pope hath fallen into the same error with Virgil. His clowns do not converse in all the simplicity proper to the country: His names are borrowed from Theocritus and Virgil, which are improper to the scene of his pastorals. He introduces Daphnis, Alexis and Xhyrsis on British plains, as Virgil had done before him on the Mantuan: whereas Philips, who hath the strictest regard to propriety, makes choice of names peculiar to the country, and more agreeable to a reader of delicacy; such as Hobbinol, Lobbin, Cuddy, and Colin Clout.
So easy as pastoral writing may seem (in the simplicity we havo described it), yet it requires great reading, both of the ancients and moderns, to be a master of it. Philips hath given us manifest proofs of his knowledge of books; it must bo confessed his competitor hath imitated some single thoughts of the ancients well enough, if we consider he had not the happiness of an university education; but he hath dispersed them here and there, without that order and method which Mr. Philips observes, whose whole third pastoral is an instance how well he hath studied the fifth of Virgil, and how judiciously reduced Virgil'B thoughts to the standard of pastoral; as his contention of Colin Clout and the Nightingale, shows with what exactness ho hath imitated Strada.
Whon I remurked it as a principal fault to introduce fruits and flowers of a foreign growth in descriptions where the scene lies in our country, I did not design that observation should extend also to animals, or the sensitive life; for Philips hath with great judgment described wolves in England in his first pastoral. Nor would I have a poet slavishly confine himself (as Mr. Pope hath done) to one particular season of the year, one certain time of the day, and one unbroken scene in each eclogue. 'Tis plain Spenser neglected this pedantry, who in his pastoral of November mentions the mournful song of the nightingale.
Sod Philomel her song in tears doth steep
And Mr. Philips, by a poetical creation, hath raised up finer beds of flowers than the most industrious gardener; his roses, lilies, and daffodils blow in the same season.
But the better to discover the merits of our two contemporary pastoral writers, I shall endeavour to draw a parallel of them, by setting several of their particular thoughts in the same light, whereby it will be obvious how much Philips hath tho advantage. 'With what simplicity he introduces two shepherds singing alternately:
Hobb. Come, Rosalind, 0 come, for without thee
Lanq. Come, Rosalind, O come; here shady bowers,
Our other pastoral writer, in expressing the same thought, doviates into downright poetry.
Streph. In spring the fields, in autumn hills 1 love.
Da%>h. Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May,
In the first of these authors, two shepherds thus innocently describe the behaviour of their mistresses.
Hobb. As Marian bath'd, by chance 1 passed by;
Lanq. As I to cool me bath'd one sultry day,
The other modern (who it must be confessed hath a knack of versifying) hath it as follows.
Sireph. Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain.
Dajifc. The Bprightly Sylvia trips along the green;
There is nothing the writers of this kind of poetry are fonder of, than descriptions of pastoral presents. Philips says thus of a shecphook.
Of season'd elm; where studs of brass appear,
The other of a bowl embossed with figures,
-where wanton ivy twines.
And swelling clusters bend the curling vines;
The simplicity of the swain in this place, who forgets the name of the Zodiack, is no ill imitation of Virgil; but how much moro plainly and unaffectedly would Philips have dressed his thought in his Doric';
And what that height, which girds the Welkin bheen,
If the reader would indulge his curiosity any farther in the comparison of particulars, he may read the first pastoral of Philips with the second of his contemporary, and the fourth and sixth of the former, with the fourth and first of tho latter; where several parallel places will occur to everyone.
Having now Bhown some parts, in which these two writers may be compared, it is a justice I owe to Mr. Philips, to discover those in which no man can compare with him. First, that beautiful rusticity, of which I shall only produce two instances, out of a hundred not yet quoted.
O woful day! 0 day of woe, quoth he,
That simplicity of diction, the melancholy flowing of the numbers, tho solemnity of the sound, and the easy turn of tho words, in this Dirge (to make use of our author's expression) are extremely elegant.
In another of his pastorals a shepherd utters a Dirge not much inferior to the former, in the following lines,
Ah me the while! ah me, the luckless day t
How he still charms the ear with these artful repetitions of the epithets; and how significant iB the last verse! I defy the most common reader to repeat them without feeling some motions of compassion.
In the next place I shall rank his Proverbs, in which I formerly observed he excels: For exumple,
A rolling stone is ever bare of moss;
And, to their cost, green years old proverbs cross.
He that late lies down, as late will rise,
And, sluggard-like, till noon-day snoring lie/.
Lastly his elegant dialect, which alono might prove him the eldest born of Spenser, and our only true Arcadian, 1 should think it proper for the several writers of pastoral, to confine themselves to their several counties: Spenser seems to have been of this opinion; for he hath laid the scene of one of his pastorals in Wales, where, with all the simplicity natural to that part of our island, one shepherd bids the other Goodmorrow in an unusual and elegant manner.
Diggon Davy, I bid hur God-day:
Hur was hur while it was day-ligbt;
But now hur is a most wretched wight, Ac.
But the most beautiful example of this kind that I ever met with, is a very valuable piece which I chanced to find among some old manuscripts, entitled, " A Pastoral Ballad;" which I think, for its nature and simplicity, may (notwithstanding the modesty of tho title) bo allowed a perfect pastoral: It is composed in the Somersetshire dialect, and the names such as are proper to the country people. It may be observed, as a farther beauty of this pastoral, the words Nymph, Dryad, Naiad, Fawn, Cupid, or Satyr, are not once mentioned through the whole. I shall make no apology for inserting some few lines of this excellent piece. Cicily breaks thus into the subject, as she is going a milking;
Cicily. Eager go vetch tba < kee, or else tha zun
Soger. Thou shouldst not ox ma tweece, but I've a be
It is to be observed, that this whole dialogue is formed upon tho passion of jealousy ; and his mentioning the parson's kine naturally revives the jealousy of the shepherdess Cicily, which she expresses as follows:
Cicily. Ah Rajjer, Rager, chez was zore avraid
Soger. Cicily thou charg*st me false—I'll zweor to thee,
In which answer of his are cxpress'd at once that'' Spirit of Religion," and that " Innocence of tho Golden Age," so necessary to be observed by all writers of pastoral.
At the conclusion of this piece, the author reconciles the lovers, and ends the eclogue tho most Bimply in the world.
So Eager parted vor to vetch tha kee.
1 That is the kine or cows.
I am loth to shew my fondness for antiquity so far as to prefer this ancient British author to our present English writers of pastoral; but I cannot avoid making this obvious remark, that both Spenser and Philips have hit into the same road with this old West Country Bard of ours.
After all that hath been said, I hope none can think it any inj ustico to Mr. Pope, that I foreborc to mention him as a pastoral writer; since upon the whole he is of the same class with Moschus and Bion, whom we have excluded that rank; and of whose eclogues, as well as some of Virgil's, it may be said, that according to tho description we have given of this sort of Poetry, they aro by no means Pastorals, but " something better."
Steele's Guardian appeared for the last time on the 1st of October, 1713, when danger of a reaction towards absolutism, which was by no means imaginary, pressed so much upon Steele's mind that he gave himself entirely to the momentous questions of the day. On the 6th of October he began The Englishman, which lasted until the 15th of February, 1714. In that month he entered Parliament as member for Stockbridge, in Dorset, and published a pamphlet called "The Crisis," which endeavoured to defend the settlement of the Crown by the Revolution. He did this, not by attack upon those who would be glad to see the Stuarts back, but by a very clear and temperate setting forth of what was gained by the Revolution, with recital at large of the Acts of Settlement of the respective Crowns of England and Scotland, and of the Act of the 12th and 13th years of "William III. "for the further Limitation of the Crown, and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subjects," of other Acts bearing on the settlement of the English Crown, and of the articles of the Act for a union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, which received Royal Assent in the fifth year of the reign of Anne. This pamphlet was suggested by a lawyer, who supplied its materials. It was submitted before publication to Addison and to Whig statesmen for revision, pains being taken to make it simply a full and exact statement of facts to the people who might be misled through ignorance. But party-spirit then was passionate. There was a Tory majority in the House of Commons, and for the writing of "The Crisis" it expelled Steele from the House on the 18th of March, 1714, by a majority of 245 to 152. It is difficult to say how far reaction might have gone if there had been no men bold as Steele to challenge it, or to what issue dealings with the Pretender might ultimately have been brought had there been time for those who sought it to work on towards the re-establishment of Stuart rule. But the Queen died somewhat suddenly on the 1st of August, 1714.
His interest in a struggle on which so much of the future of England seemed to depend did not prevent Steele from issuing in this year a "Ladies' Library," designed to aid in deepening the characters of women and lifting them out of the frivolity that came of their misdirected or neglected education. In Taller, Spectator, and Guardian, he had sought, and Addison had joined in his endeavour, to discredit fashionable affectations among men that had come down out of the days of Charles II., and were inconsistent with our
warmth of his appreciation of the dignity and beauty of true womanhood and of its guiding strength in a true home, went side by side in Steele with a fearless patriotism. This is his
INTRODUCTION TO THE LADIES' LIBRARY.
Being by nature more inclined to such onquiries as by general custom my sex is debarr'd from, I could not resist a strong propensity to reading; and having flattered myself that what I read dwelt with improvement upon my mind, I could not but conclude that a due regard being had to different circumstances of life, it is a great injustice to shut books of knowledge from the eyes of women.
Musing one day in this tract of thought, I turned over some books of French and English, written by the most polite writers of the age, and began to consider what account they gave of our composure, different from that of the other sex. But indeed, when I dipped into those writings, were it possiblo to conceive otherwise, I could not have
believed from their general and undistinguished aspersions that many of these men had any such relations as mothers, wives or sisters; one of them makes a lover say in a tragedy.
Thou art woman, a true copy of the first,
Otwat's " Dou Carlos."
-Thy all is but a shew,
Rather than solid virtue ; all but a rib,
And a third,
Ah traitress! Ah ingrate ; Ah faithless mind;
I shall conclude poetical testimonies to our disadvantage with one quotation more,
Intolerable vanity! Your sex
It may be said for these writings, that there is something perhaps in the character of those that speak, which would circumstantiate tho thing so as not to make it a reproach upon women as such. But to this it may be easily and justly answer'd, that if the author had right sentiments of woman in general, ho might more emphatically aggravate an ill character, by comparison of an ill to un innocent and virtuous one, than by general calumnies without exception.
But I leave authors, who are so mean as to desire to please by falling in with corrupt imaginations, rather than affect a just tho' less extensive esteem by labouring to rectifie our affections by reason; of which number are tho greater part of thoso who have succeeded in poetry, either in verse or prose on the stage.
When I apply myself to my French reading, I find women are still worso in proportion to the greater warmth of the climate; and according to the descriptions of us in tho wits of that nation, tho' they write in cool thought, and in prose, by way of plain opinion, we are made up of affectation, coquettrv, falsehood, disguise, treachery, wantonness, and perfidiousness. All our merit is to bo less guilty one than another under one of these heads.
Dissertations for the conduct of life are as gravely composed upon these topics, as if they were as infallible as mathematical truths. It cost me a great deal of pains to. study by what means I should refute such scandalous intimations against my very nature. But the more I reflected upon those abuses, I grew the less concerned to answpr them, and finally resolved upon this.
They are perhaps in the right who Bpcak this of mere women; and it is the business of ingenious debauch'd men, who regard us only as such, to give us those ideas of ourselves, that we may become their more easy prey.
I believed it therefore the safest and surest method of gainsaying such light accounts of our sex to think them a truth, till I had arrived by the perusal of more solid authors, to a constancy of mind and settled opinion of persons and things, which should place me above being pleased or dissatisfied with praise or dispraise, upon account of beauty or deformity, or any other advantages or disadvantages, but what flowed from the habits and dispositions of my soul.
I resolve therefore to confine my little studies, which are to lead to the conduct of my life, to the writings of the most eminent of our divines, and from thence, as I have heard young students do in the study of a science, mako for my own private use a common place, that may direct me in all the relations of life, that do now, or possibly may, concern me as a woman.
"The Ladies' Library" professed to be "Written by a Lady. Published by Mr. Steele." The "Lady" often writes like Steele, and the serious endeavour to urge with utmost gentleness upon women the duty of developing themselves into rational creatures with a divine purpose in their lives, is in perfect accord with one of the high uses to which Steele put his own gift of reason. Here is a passage from the section that shows what the Mother should be to the Child.
Parents must have strict regard to the education of their ehildren, to train them up to justice and honesty ; to defraud and oppress no man, to be as good as their word, and to perform all their promises and contracts. They must endeavour to imprint upon their minds the equity of that great rule which is so natural and so easy that even children are capable of it. I mean that rule which our Saviour tells us is the Law and the Prophets, to do to others as we would
have others do to us, if we were in their case and circumstances and thoy in ours.
You that are parents, and have to deal with the world, ought to be just and equal in all your dealings; in the first place, for the sake of your own souls, and next for the sake of your children. Not only that you may entail no curse upon tho estate you leave them, but likewise that you may teach them no injustico by the example you set before them, which in this particular they will be as apt to imitate as in any one thing, because of the present worldly advantages which it seems to bring, and because justice is in truth a manly virtue, and least understood by children. Wherefore, injustice is a vice which they will soonest practise, and with tho least reluctancy, because they have least knowledgo of it in many particular cases, and becauso also they have so little sense of the great virtue of honesty. They should not bo allowed to cheat, no, not in play and sport, even when they play for little or nothing; for if they practise it in that case, and be unjust in a little, they will be much more tempted to be so when they can gain a great deal by it.
Xenophon, in his Institution of Cyrus, which he designed for the idea of a well-educated prince, tells us this little but very instructive story concerning young Cyrus; that his governor, the better to make him understand the naturo of justice, put this case to him :—" You see there,"' said he to Cyrus, " two boys playing, of different stature ; the lesser of them has a very long coat, and the taller a very short one. Now, if you were a judge, how would you dispose of these two garments?" Cyrus immediately, and with very good reason, as he thought, passes this sudden sentenco: "The taller boy should have the longer garment, and he that was of the lower stature the shorter," because this certainly was fittest for them both. Upon which his governor rebukes him to this purpose, telling him that if he wore to make two coats for them ho said well; but ho did not put this case to him as a tailor, but as a judge, and as such he had given a very wrong sentence, for a judge ought not to consider what is most fit, but what is just; not who could make best use of a thing,but who has the most right to it.
By these familiar ways may the principles of virtue be instilled into children, and there is nothing wherein they may be more easily misled than in justice, in matter of right and wrong. They should therefore be taught the general rules of both, because if we would teach them to do justice, and to avoid doing injustice, wo must teach them to know what is justice and what injustice; for many are unjust merelv out of ignorance, and for want of knowing better, and cannot help it.
Addison, at the beginning of the reign of George I., was Chief Secretary in Ireland under the Earl of Sunderland. Steele entered Parliament again as member for Boroughbridge, was made Deputy Lieutenant for Middlesex, and knighted upon bringing up an address. At the request of the players, to whom he had always been a friend, he replaced William Collier, Tory M.P. for Truro, as Governor of Drury Lane, and one of the first uses he made of his influence in the theatre was to produce his friend Addison's comedy of "The Drummer." In 1715 there was the Rebellion in the North, and Addison, at the request of the Whig Government, now in power, wrote a series of essays under the name of "The Freeholder," which appeared on Mondays and Fridays from December 23rd, 1715, to June 29th, 1716, to persuade men to accept the monarchy as settled by the Revolution. The Earl of Sunderland resigned, in August, 1716, his office of Lord Lieutenant, and Addison, no longer Chief Secretary in Ireland, married in the same month Charlotte, Countess Dowager of Warwick, and began to live at Holland House. In April, 1717, the Earl of Sunderland became Secretary of State, with Addison, aged fortyfive, for colleague. He was then suffering from asthma and dropsy. Steele was in the same year lame with gout. After the failure of the Rebellion of 1715, Steele had pleaded for mercy to the condemned lords, and presented a petition. He was made one of the Commissioners of forfeited estates, which excluded other official employment. At this time he owed no more than the pay due to him would clear. In December, 1718, Steele's wife died, aged forty, leaving a son and two daughters. Addison's failing health caused him in that year to resign office, but he was interested in a Peerage Bill which his government had introduced to restrain the power of the Crown in creation of new peers. The bill, designed to prevent a corrupt use of power by creating new peel's to secure a vote, as had been once done by advice of Robert Harley in the preceding reign, would have transformed our peerage into a caste, feebly instead of vigorously recruited by drawing into its ranks the representatives of wealth, wisdom, or genius among the people. Steele saw the mistake, and opposed the bill in a series of four papers, connected together by the title of "The Plebeian," of which the first numl>er appeared on the 14th of March, 1719. Addison replied to it on the 19th with "The Old Whig." This division of opinion
brought a very light cloud over the relation between the friends. It did not prevent their friendly greetings of each other, but Addison was then within a few months of his death. He died on the 17th of June, 1719, aged forty-seven, and after his death Steele missed no opportunity of paying open love and honour to his memory.
In the following year the Lord Chamberlain punished Steele for opposing the Peerage Bill (which was thrown out) by depriving him of his patent as Governor of Drury Lane. The sudden fine of £700 a year caused money embarrassments. Sir Robert Walpole, who had gone out of office in 1717, returned to power in April, 1721, and in May of that year Steele was restored to his office in the theatre and its emoluments. In 1722 he produced his fourth play, "The Conscious Lovers"1 In 1723 he began two other comedies, but his health failing, he went to Bath, and thence to Wales. Soon afterwards he withdrew wholly to Wales, and lived near Carmarthen in a pleasant house—now a farmhouse— upon a height overlooking the vale of the Towy. There he died on the 1st of September, 1729, aged fifty-eight. "I was told," wrote Mr. Victor, "he retained his cheerful sweetness of temper to the last, and would often be earned out of a summer's evening, when the country lads and lasses were assembled at their rural sports, and with his pencil give an order on his agent, the mercer, for a new gown to the best dancer." Two daughters survived Steele. He had lost a son Richard in 1716, and a son Eugene in 1723; his youngest child, his daughter Mary, died of consumption in the year after her father's death. There remained the eldest of Steele's children, his daughter Elizabeth, who married the Hon. John Trevor, a Welsh judge, afterwards the third Lord Trevor.
Jonathan Swift's mother died in 1710, when he was in his forty-third year, and he wrote in his notebook, "I have now lost my barrier between me and death. God grant I may live to be as well prepared for it as I confidently believe her to have been. If the way to heaven be through piety, truth, justice, and charity, she is there." In September of that year Swift was lodging in Bury Street, next door to Mrs. Van Homrigh. Bartholomew Van Homrigh was a Dutch merchant of Amsterdam who went to Dublin at the Revolution, and was appointed by
1 See in this Library "English Plays," pages 112—415.