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so savage a deed as a just punishment for profanely prying into these female mysteries. Yet even here he gives us some relief, by a pleasing description of the meadow where they erected their altars, and of the rock and lentisk, whence Pentheus beheld their secrets.
I should here take another instance from Hercules the lion-killer, (Idyll. xxv.) did I not consider the first part of that Idyllium as a genuine Bucolic, and indeed one of the noblest specimens of pastoral poetry in the world. It reminds one of those great pastoral men, the ancient patriarchs, and of their numerous flocks and herds.
SECT. VII.—The same taste appears from several scenes
Though Theocritus sometimes does not give us a regular description of a landscape, especially when the Idyllium is in the form of a dialogue, yet we may in general collect the outlines of a rural picture from the conversation of the speakers. In this way we are gradually presented with a succession of agreeable scenes. At other times we. meet, not indeed with a mere landscape, but an assemblage of objects calculated to gratify not the sight only, but all the senses at once. We are delighted with the music, not only of the voice, the flute, and the reed, but also of trees whispering in the breeze, of tinkling fountains, murmuring brooks, and melodious birds. He reminds us of the fanciful description in Spenser:
For all that pleasing is to living ear,
Was there consorted in one harmony;
Birds, voices, instruments, winds, waters, all agree.
Spenser's Faery Queen, Book ii. c. 12. Even in the first Idyllium we have the soft whispering of a pine-tree, making, as it were, a kind of melody by the fountains, compared to the sweet music of the goat-herd on his pipe. We have a shepherd whose singing is sweeter than the cascade which pours down resounding from a high rock:
Αδιον, ὦ ποίμαν, τὸ τεὸν μέλος ἢ τὸ καταχὲς
Τῆν ἀπὸ τᾶς πέτρας καταλείβεται ὑψόθεν ὕδωρ.
Near at hand, we have a sloping hillock covered with tamarisks, while the goats feed close by. In an adjoining place, we meet the elm-tree for a shade, with a pastoral seat, and oak-trees, opposite to the statues of Priapus, and of the nymphs of the fountains.
Amenity of prospects, objects, and ideas, predominates in Theocritus. In the Comastas, (Idyll. iii.) which expresses the woful com
plaint of a lover against his obdurate mistress, how pleasant is this wish : αἴθε γενοίμαν
Α βομβεῦσα μέλισσα, καὶ ἐς τεὸν ἄντρον ἱκοίμαν
Τὸν κισσὸν διαδὺς, καὶ τὰν πτέριν ᾧ τὺ πυκάσδῃ. v. 12. &c.
A murmuring bee, and I would come to thy grotto
In the Nomeis, (Idyll. iv.) if a herdsman drives his cows to pasture, it is where, καλὰ πάντα φύοντι,
Αἰγίπυρος, καὶ κνύζα, καὶ εὐώδης μελίτεια.
Buck-wheat, fleabane, and honey-bells.
ν. 23. &c.
In the Οδοιπόροι, (Idyll. v.) which is the most gross of all his compositions, the ribaldry is diversified by some pleasurable and elegant descriptions, as here : ἅδιον ἄσῃ
Τᾶδ' ὑπὸ τὰν κότινον καὶ τἄλσεα ταῦτα καθίξας,
Το yon wild-olive shade, beside the grove ;
There spring sweet herbs, soft couches wait thy choice,
Again more exquisitely :
τούτῳ δρύες, ὧδε κύπειρος,
Ὧδε καλὸν βομβεῦντι ποτὶ σμάνεσσι μέλισσαι·
Here pines in clusters more2 umbrageous_grow, Wave high their heads, and scatter cones below. Immediately after, we have the singular idea of skins of lambs and fleeces softer than sleep. ὕπνῳ μαλακώτερα. somno mollior, Virg.
In the Thalysia, (Idyll. vii.) we have two scenes of the most peculiar and distinguished amenity. Lycidas promises, if his friend Ageanax should have a prosperous voyage to Mitylene, to celebrate the day with particular hilarity.
Κἠγὼ τήνο κατ' ἆμαρ ἀνήθινον ἢ ροδόεντα
Ἢ καὶ λευκοΐων στέφανον περὶ κρατὶ φυλάσσων,
: It seems to be a cascade rather than “ cooling fountains,” in the original. 2 The shade seems to be formed by some other trees rather than the pine-' tree, which only waves and throws down its cones.
Τὸν Πτελεατικὸν οἶνον ἀπὸ κρητῆρος ἀφυξῶ,
v. 63. &c.
Then shall my brows with violets be crown'd,
Shall sing how Daphnis the coy damsel lov'd.
The second scene in the 7th Idyllium, to which I allude, is where Theocritus and his friends turn off to the place of residence of Phrasidamus, to celebrate the rites of Ceres. This is the most celebrated scene in Theocritus, and I think we must allow it to be real, and not imaginary, whether we shall suppose it to be situated in Sicily or the island of Cos. I confess, however, our poet seems to me to have had in his eye Homer's description of the Garden of Alcinous, in the seventh book of the Odyssey.
Milton appears to have taken hints from both, in his description of Paradise, in his fourth book; but he has greatly improved on them by his wonderful imagination and native taste. Whoever peruses
these passages of Homer, Theocritus, and Milton, will, I think, be inclined to acquiesce in the justice of these remarks.
—· ἔν τε βαθείαις
Αδείας σχίνοιο χαμευνίσιν ἐκλίνθημες,
*Ορπακες βραβύλοισι καταβρίθοντες ἔρατδε·
Idyll. vii. v. 133.
Who, courteous, bade us on soft beds recline,
n the warm sun-beams, verdant shrubs among,
With summer's fruits and autumn's redolence;
And the plum's loaded branches kiss'd the ground.
There are some passages in our old venerable bard, Chaucer, which may bear a comparison with this of Theocritus, for smiling imagery. In the "Romaunt of the Rose," which he translated from the French, near the beginning there are two passages of this kind. The first is: "Harde is his herte that lovith nought
In Mey, whan all this mirth is wrought," including many couplets before and after it. The other begins at : "For certes as at my devise There is no place in Paradise So gode in for to dwell or be, As in that gardin thoughtin me ; For there was many' a birde singing, Thoroughout the yerde all thringing, In many placis nightingales,
And alpes and finches and wodewales,"
But as these are translations, I chuse to instance in two other passages taken from Chaucer's own original poetry. The first shall be from "The Dreme of Chaucer" concerning the mourning knight, supposed to be John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
Methoughtin thus, that it was Maye,
And in the dawning there I lay:
Me met thus in my bed al naked
And lokid forth for I was waked
With smalè foulis a gret hepe
That had afraied me out of my slepe
Through noise and swetnesse of ther songe :
And as me met they sate amonge,
Upon my chambre rose without,
Had herde, for some of 'hem songe lowe,
Was never herde so sweet a Steven
Was no where herde yet half so sweet,
For there was none of 'em that fained
My windowes werin shet ech one,
With many glad gildy stremis;
And eke the welkin was so faire,
Blewe, bright and clere ywas the ayre
And ful attempre in soth it was,
For neither colde ne hote it was,
Ne' in al the welkin was no clowde," &c. &c.
Then follows some account of the chace, and a very fine descrip
tion of a forest, with its various trees and animals.
The second instance I shall take from "The Complaint of the Blacke Knight," which I think still more excellent.
"I rose anone and thought I would gone