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of a shepherd is a suitable preparation to the government of a kingdom. This is confirmed by the history of David, who was taken away from the sheep-folds, as he was following the ewes great with young, to feed the chosen people of God. Thus God himself is often compared to a shepherd in holy writ; and Homer, one of the most ancient of the profane writers, gives the title of shepherd of the people to the great king of kings, Agamemnon.
In the most ancient times, those who applied themselves to agriculture, naturally became hardy and robust; their laborious life fitted them for the toils of war, but afforded them no leisure for the mild and quiet enjoyments of peace. Those who inhabited the sea-coasts, and discovered the art of navigation, applied themselves rather to piracy than commerce, their most celebrated actions being the ravaging of the neighbouring countries, and stealing the women from each other. But those who followed the pastoral life, having no other employment than the care of their harmless flocks and herds, led an innocent and peaceable life, living in tents, and resting themselves under the shade of trees or rocks, whilst their cattle fed at large, wheresoever they found the greatest plenty of grass and water. They lived happy, and free from want: their
e Psalm lxxix. 71, 72. f Psalm xxiii, lxxvii, lxxx, &c. * Εἰπεῖν ̓Ατρείδῃ ̓Αγαμέμνονι ποιμένι λαῶν. Odyss. xiv. Herodot. lib. i.
cattle supplied them with milk and cheese for food, and with skins for clothing; and served them, instead of money, to exchange for any other commodities that they had a mind to purchase; whence the most ancient money was stamped with the figure of a sheep'. This quiet and peaceable life gave them leisure to amuse themselves with music and poetry; their time being chiefly spent in composing hymns in honour of the Deity, and songs, in which they described their soft passions and innocent employments. Thus we find, that those two ancient royal shepherds, Moses and David, were poets; and that Solomon, the son of the latter, in his celebrated song, represents himself under the character of a shepherd.
Among the Greeks, the Arcadians were the most famous for having devoted themselves to the pastoral life. Their country was remote from the sea, mountainous, and almost inaccessible: they had plenty of sheep, and good pasturage; they were much given to singing, and music was the only science which was esteemed by them to be necessary. Their chief deity was Pan, who was said to be the inventor of the shepherd's pipe; and was fabled to be in love with the nymph Echo, because there were many echoes in that woody and mountainous country. From these poetical compositions of the Arcadians, or at least
Et quod æs antiquissimum, quod est flatum pecore, pecore
from the tradition of them, the bucolical or pastoral poetry seems to have taken its rise. It is called bucolical, from Bouxóños a neatherd; though it relates to the affairs not only of neatherds, but also of shepherds and goatherds. In like manner we commonly use the word shepherd for pastor; but pastor signifies all the three sorts of feeders of cattle; whence pastoral seems a more proper word to express the species of poetry, which we now treat of, than the Greek word bucolick. Our English word herdman might with great propriety be used for the Latin word pastor, instead of shepherd. For though we commonly understand herdman to mean no more than a neatherd; and though we say a herd of oxen, and a flock of sheep or goats; yet, since we always compound herd with the name of any animal, to denote a feeder of that species; as neatherd signifies a feeder of neat cattle or kine, shepherd a feeder of sheep, and goatherd a feeder of goats; the word herdman may well be used to signify all the several pastores, or feeders of cattle.
Theocritus of Syracuse, who lived in the reign of Hiero, and was contemporary with Ptolemy Philadelphus king of Egypt, is generally looked upon as the father of pastoral poetry. And yet it is no less generally asserted, that his Idyllia cannot be said to be all pastorals. The critics, who often form to themselves imaginary rules, which the ancients never dreamed of, will not
allow above ten or eleven out of the thirty Idyllia of that author to belong to that species of poetry. Those who would have a pastoral to be entirely conformable to the manners of the golden age, in which nothing is to be found but piety, innocence, and simplicity, will exclude almost all the Idyllia of Theocritus, and Eclogues of Virgil. The dying groans of Daphnis, in the first Idyllium, will be judged too melancholy for the peace and happiness of that state; the witchcraft made use of in the second is inconsistent with piety; in the third, the goatherd wickedly talks of killing himself; the railing and gross obscenity in the fifth is contrary to good manners; and the tenth is not a pastoral, because it is a dialogue between two reapers. Thus, if we adhere strictly to the rules laid down by most of our critics, we shall find, that no more than six out of the eleven first Idyllia of Theocritus are to be admitted into the number. The like objections have been, or may be, framed against most of the Eclogues of Virgil. But there are other critics, who are so far from requiring the purer manners of the golden age in pastoral writings, that nothing will please them but downright rusticity. They tell us, that herdmen are a rude, unpolished, ignorant set of people that pastorals are "an imitation of the "action of a herdman, or of one represented under "that character:" wherefore any deviation from
* This is Rapin's definition of a pastoral.
that character is unnatural, and unfit for pastoral poetry. But surely this assertion, that herdmen are rude, unpolished, and ignorant, is too general, for it cannot be affirmed of them universally. The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, must be excepted; and Moses also, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians'; not to mention the royal Psalmist, who must have received his education before he was called from tending his father's sheep. We find also that the prophet Amos, who was contemporary with Uzziah and Jeroboam, was one of the herdmen of Tekoa". We have seen already, that the ancient Arcadians, how rude and ignorant soever they were with regard to other arts, yet were not so with regard to music and poetry; and in some ages and nations, the most polite people have been herdmen. It will be readily acknowledged, that nature ought to be followed, in this as well as in all the other sorts of poetry; but surely we ought to imitate that part of nature which is most agreeable and pleasing. The country affords us many objects which delight us by their beauty; and a man would justly be thought to have an odd taste, who should turn his eye from these to gaze on some which are less agreeable. The lowing of the herds, the bleating of the flocks, the wildness of an extensive common, the solemn shade of a thick wood, and the simplicity