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6. Your herds for want of water stand a-dry;
They're weary of your songs--and so am I."
The ballad is the sweetest and most natural medium in which pastoral ideas can at present be conveyed. Perhaps the charming Idyllium of Bion, on the death of Adonis, may not improperly fall under this description. If it does not, I know not under what class to rank it; but this I know, that a more beautiful poem does not exist, either for pathetic expression or simplicity of thought: and therefore not to have noticed it would have been unpardonable. We have many beautiful compositions of this kind in our language. Gay, Cunningham, Rowe, and Shenstone have all left specimens of the pastoral ballad, but that of Mr. Shenstone, in four parts, is generally esteemed the best. It is all beautiful, and I may select at random; the following lines are from that portion which the author entitles Hope
« One would think she might like to retire
“ To the bow'r I have labour'd to rear; * Not a shrub that I heard her admire,
“ But I hasted aud planted it there. VOL. II.
“ O how sudden the jessamine strove
• With the lilac, to render it gay! “ Already it calls for my love,
“ To prune the wild branches away.
“ What strains of wild melody flow !
“ From thickets of roses that blow!
“ Each bird shall harmoniously join
“ As she may not be fond to resign."
The chief difficulty I have intimated in pas. toral, consists in finding such subjects and materials as may render them interesting. With this view, some modern poets have formed them into a kind of dramatic performance, and this may be considered as the highest improvement of pastoral poetry. Of this kind is the Aminta of Tasso; it abounds in tenderness, but has also too much of the Italian refinement and quaintness.
Guarini's Pastor Fido is a drama of the same kind, and is by some more admired than the Aminta; but, in my opinion, they arc both greatly surpassed by the production of a Scot
tish bard ; I allude to Allen Ramsey's Gentle Shepherd. It may want the dignity of the Arcadian scene, but there are in it descriptions and sentiments which would do honour to any poet. The Scottish dialect, in which it is written, gives it all the advantage of the Doric numbers, which was the original language of
pastoral. It has besides interest and pathos; the plot is good, the characters well drawn, and the whole drama is conducted with singular address and effect.
Didactic, Satiric, and Descriptive Poetry.
Hesiod.-Lucretius. - Virgil. -Horace.Boileau.-Pope.--Rapin.-Mason.-Akenside. - Armstrong. - Juvenal. -- Butler. Young. - Dryden. - Prior. - Denham.Jago.-Goldsmith.- Roscoe. - Pleasures of Memory.
MY DEAR JOHN, I now proceed to my fifth division, and have placed didactic, or as some have called it, preceptive poetry, lower on the scale than descriptive, elegiac, and lyric poetry; not because it is of less consequence, but because (if I may be indulged in a little harshness of expression) it is less poetical. The preceptive muse has indeed been termed pedestrian, while her other sisters are furnished with wings, or mounted on the fabled courser, and thus are feigned to scale the heights of Parnassus, while she continues
to wander at the bottom, or the side. Not that the moral poems of Horace, Juvenal, Pope, and Johnson; the Georgics of Virgil, or the Essay on Criticism, can be compared, in point of real importance, with the elegies of Tibullus, or the odes even of Gray; it is as poems only, and not as lessons of instruction, that they are assigned the inferior station.
With respect, however, to the poetical beauties of which a didactic composition may be susceptible, very much will depend upon the nature of the subject. If it relates to rural afe fairs, there is room for much elegant description; and if the subject is moral, it will admit of all the embellishments which may be derived from the delineation of the human character and passions.
Didactic poetry embraces a vast scope of subject, for indeed it may be applied to almost any; but these subjects may in general be classed under three heads : Ist. The Arts; 2d. Phi. losophy and science; and 3. Morals.
Thus on the arts we have Horace, Vida, Boileau, Roscommon, and Pope on poetry and criticism, with some of inferior note; Du