Изображения страниц

turbulency, under the pretence of preserving the rights, privileges, and immunities of the church. In the year 1171, four persons murdered him in the cathedral church of Canterbury, by which action they hoped to make their court to the King, to whom Becket had given great trouble and vexation. In 1173 Becket was canonised, by virtue of a bull from the Pope.' In 122 1 his body was taken up in the presence of king Henry the Third, and several nobility, and depofited in a rich

ne, on the east side of the church. The miracles said to be wrought at his tomb were so numerous, that we are told two large volumes of them were kept in Canterbury church. His character, however, was thought so ambiguous by fome, even among the Catho. lics themselves, that some time after Becket's death, it was publicly debated the university of Paris, " Whether the soul of Becket was in heaven or in hell ?” It must, however, be at least acknowledged, that St. Thomas of Canterbury, was a faint of great fame and reputation. For his shrine was visited from all parts, and enriched with the most costly gifts and offerings. In one year it is said that no less than 100,000 came to visit his shrine. And we may form fome judgment of the veneration which was paid to his memory, by the account given of tiie offerings made to the three greatest altars in Christ Church, which stood thus for

one year :


[ocr errors]

63 5

[ocr errors]

£. s. d. At Chrift's altar


6 At the blessed Virgin's

6 At Becket's

832 12 6 But the following year, when probably the Saint's character was still more established in the world, the odds were greater, and St. Thomas carried all before him. The account was thus:

k. s. d.
At Chrift's Altar
At the Virgin's

4 8
Ar Becket's

954 6 3




[No. XXXI.)

The pastoral which fings of happy swains,
And harmless nymphs, that haunts the woods and

Should thro' the whole discover everywhere,
Their old fimplicity and pious air;
And in the characters of maids and youth,
Unpra&is'd plaiuness, innocence, and truth.
Each pastoral a little plot must own,
Which as it must be fimple must be one,
With small digressions it will yet dispense,
Nor needs it always allegoric sense ;
Its file must still be natural and clear,
And elegance in ev'ry part appear:
Its humble method nothing has of fierce,
But hates the ratt’ling of a lofty-verse;
With native beauty pleases and excites,
And never with haríh sounds the ear afriglits !



*HE nature of pastoral poetry was explained and

discussed in our Number for February last, when the Eclogues of Virgil became the topic of examination. We then specified the subjects best fitted for this kind of poetry, and expatiated on the advantages of which it is almost exclusively possessed. But in confidering the Ecloguos, it was impossible not to refer the reader to the productions of THEOCRITUS, who is by way of eminence ftiled the Father of Pastoral Poetry. We thall now, therefore, bring forward a few biogra. phical particulars respecting this great man, and transcribe a few illustrative passages from his works, which have deservedly attracted the attention of mankind. We are naturally anxious to become acquainted with that species of poetry which has imparted no small deVOL, VIII,



gree of gratification to minds endued with genuine sensibility.

THEOCRITUS was by birth' a Syracusian, being born at Syracuse in Sicily ; but of his parents little is known. He addressed one of his poems to Hiero, King of Syracuse, who reigned about 275 years before Chrift. Hiero, though a famous prince, yet seems to have shewn no great affection for letters. This is supposed to have been the occafion of THEOCRITUS' 16th Idyllium, inscribed with the monarch's name, where the poet asserts the dignity of his profession, laments his poor encouragement, and infinuates to the Prince what a brave figure he would have made in verse, had he been as good a patron as he was a subject to the muses ! This coldness and neglect induced THEOCRITUs foun after to leave Sicily for the Egyptian court, where King Ptolemy then sat supreme president of arts and wit. Patronised by this inonarch, the poet has handsomely panegyrised him, in which, among other things, he extols his generous encouragement both of learning and ingenuity.

Of this delightful son of the muses no further account can be drawn from his works, or indeed from any other records with which later ages have been furnished ! Too often are we left to gather, very imperfectly, the particulars of an eminent man's life from scattered and unconnected passages of his own productions.-Thus it is with great difficulty that we are capable of learning any thing fufficiently decisive to gratify the curiosity.

It has been, indeed, conjectured, that Theocritus suffered a violent death, arising from the indignation of a certain monarch, whom he had by his strains offended. In this idea, however, we have reason to believe that the learned have been mistaken. With much greater probability it is supposed, that Theocritus, the rhetorician, not the poet, fell by the hands of the execu. tioner. Theocricus, the rhetorician, had been guilty of Some crime against King Antigonus, who, it seems, had

[ocr errors]

one eye only ; but being assured by his friends that he fhould certainly obtain a pardon as soon as he thould ap. pear to his majesty's eyesą“ Nay then," cried he, “I am indisputably a dead man, if shojë be the conditions!”

The compositions of this poet are distinguished among the ancients by the name of Tdyllia, or Idylls, in order to express the finallness and variety of iheir natures. His works, in the language of modern times, would have been entitled miscellanies, or poems on several occafions.

The nine firft and eleventh of his Idyllia, are true pastorals; and the other poems are full of merit. To the former, however, we shall confine ourselves; and the third Idyll will afford us feveral beautiful passages for the illuftration of paftoral poetry. To persons who have no taste for rural personages and scenes, they will not perceive and relish the beauty of THEOCRITUS, whore great art is to introduce you into the country, and to entertain you with the objects by which you are there surrounded. This third Idyll is usually brought forward by way of specimen ; for it is characterized by cale and fimplicity. The subject is love, ever welcome to the youthful heart,

To Amaryllis, lovely nymph, I speed,
Meanwhile my goats upon the mountains feed :

Tityrus ! tend them with afiiduous care,
Lead them to crystal Springs and pastures fair,
And of the ridg’ling's butring horns beware.
1, whom you call'd your dear, your love, so late,
Say, am I now the ubje&t of your hare?
Say, is my form displeasing to your fight?
This cruel love will surely kill me quite.
Lo! ten large apples, tempting to the view,
Pluck'd from your fav’rite tree, where late they grew:
Accept this boon, 'tis all my present store,

To-morrow will produce as many more.'
After this tender expoftulation, succeeds a pathetic


B 2

description of the pangs of love ; a poet who has so well delineated them, must have felt the passion.

Meanwhile these heart-consuming pains remove,
And give me gentle pity for my love.
Oh! was I made by some transforming power
A bee-to buz in your sequefter'd bow'r,
To pierce your ivy shade with murm’ring sound,
And the light leaves that compass you around.
I know thee, love! and to my sorrow find
A god thou art, but of the savage kind:
A lioness sure suckl’d the fell child,
And, with his brothers, nurst him in the wild;
On me his scorching flames incessant prey,
Glow in my bones, and melt my soul away!
Ah! nymph, whose eyes destructive glances dart,
Fair is your face but flinty is your heart;
Your scoin distracts me, and will make me tear
The flow'ry crown I wove for you to wear,
Where roses mingle with the ivy-wreath,
And fragrant herbs ambrosial odours breathe.
Ah me! what pangs I feel, and yet the fair,
Nor fees my sorrows, nor will hear my pray’r.
I'll doff my garments since I needs must die,
And from yon rock, that points its summit high,
Where patient Alpis snares the finny fry,
I'll leap-and tho' perchance I rise again,

You'll laugh to see me plunging in the main. The poet then proceeds to enumerate various omens, to which we know the ancients were greatly attached, and in which they implicitly confided :

By a prophetic poppy-leaf I found
You chang'd affection, for it gave no sound,
Though in my hand, itruck hollow as it lay,
But quickly wither'd like your love a way:
An old witch brought sad tidings to my ears,
She who tells fortunes with the fieve and shears;
For leasing barley in my fields of late,
She told nie I should love and you should hate !
For you, my care a milk-white goat supply'd,
Two wanton kids ruir frisking at her side,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »