Imatges de pÓgina

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
in his pastorals.

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.
The joyous birds shrouded in cheerful shade,
Their notes unto the voice attempered sweet;
Th' angelical soft-trembling voices made
To th' instruments divine respondence meet;
The silver sounding instruments did meet
With the base murmur of the water's fall;
The water's fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call ;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.

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.
I wish I were

A murmuring bee, and I would come to thy grotto
Penetrating the ivy, and your chaplet of fern.

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.
-all things beautiful grow,

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,
Ψυχρὸν ὕδωρ τηνεὶ καταλείβεται ὧδε πεφύκει
Ποία, χἁ στιβὰς ὧδε, καὶ ἀκρίδες ὧδε λαλεῦντι.
-let us hence remove

Το yon wild-olive shade, beside the grove ;
There sing thy best, while in pure streams below,
Grateful to swains, the cooling' fountains flow:

v. 31.

There spring sweet herbs, soft couches wait thy choice,
And there the sprightly grasshoppers rejoice—

Again more exquisitely :

τούτῳ δρύες, ὧδε κύπειρος,


Ὧδε καλὸν βομβεῦντι ποτὶ σμάνεσσι μέλισσαι·
Ἐνθ ̓ ὕδατος ψυχρῶ κρᾶναι δύο· ταὶ δ ̓ ἐπὶ δένδρῳ
Όρνιχες λαλαγεῦντι· καὶ ἡ σκιὰ οὐδὲν ὁμοία
Τᾷ παρὰ τίν βάλλει δὲ καὶ ἡ πίτυς ὑψόθε κώνους.
lo! cypress decks the ground,
Oaks lend their shade, and sweet bees murmur round
Their honied hives: here two cool fountains spring;
Here merrily the birds on branches sing;

ν. 45.


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,
Πὰρ πυρὶ κεκλιμένος· κύαμον δέ τις ἐν πυρὶ φρυξεῖ,
Χα στιβὰς ἐσσεῖται πεπυκασμένα ἔστ' ἐπὶ πᾶχυν
Κνύζα τ' ἀσφοδέλῳ τε πολυγνάμπτῳ τε σελίνῳ
Καὶ πίομαι μαλακῶς μεμνημένος Αγεάνακτος,
Αὐταῖσιν κυλίκεσσι καὶ ἐς τρύγα χεῖλος ἐρείδων.
Αὐλησεῦντι δέ μοι δύο ποιμένες· εἷς μὲν Ἀχαρνεύς,
Εἷς δὲ Λυκωπίτας· ὁ δὲ Τίτυρος ἐγγύθεν ασεῖ
Ὡς πόκα τᾶς Ξενέας γράσσατο Δάφνις ὁ βώτας.

v. 63. &c.

Then shall my brows with violets be crown'd,
Or dell sweet-smelling, or with roses bound ;
Before the hearth I'll quaff the Ptelean bowl;
Parch'd beans shall stimulate my thirsty soul:
High as my arms the flowery couch shall swell
Of fleabane, parsley, and sweet asphodel.
Mindful of dear Ageanax, I'll drink
Till to the lees the rosy bowl I'll sink.
Two shepherds sweetly on the pipe shall play,
And Tityrus exalt the vocal lay;

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,
Εν τε νεοτμάτοισι γεγαθότες οἰναρέοισι,
Πολλαὶ δ ̓ ἄμμιν ὕπερθε κατὰ κρατὸς δονέοντο
Αἴγειροί τε πτελέαι τε, τὸ δ' ἐγγύθεν ἱερὸν ὕδωρ
Νυμφᾶν ἐξ ἄντροιο κατειβόμενον κελάρυσδεν,
Τοἱ δὲ ποτὶ σκιεραῖς ὀροδαμνίσιν αἰθαλίωνες
Τέττιγες λαλαγεῦντες ἔχον πόνον· ὁ δ ̓ ὀλολυγὼν
Τηλόθεν ἐν πυκινῇσι βάτων τρύζεσκεν ἀκάνθαις,
*Αειδον κόρυδοι καὶ ἀκανθίδες, ἔστενε τρυγών.
Πωτῶντο ξουθαὶ περὶ πίδακος ἀμφὶ μέλισσαι.
Πάντ ̓ ᾧσδεν θέρεος μάλα πίονος, ὦσδε δ' οπώρης.
Ὄχναι μὲν πὰρ ποσσὶ, παρὰ πλευρῇσι δὲ μᾶλα
Δαψιλέως ἄμμιν ἐκυλίνδετο τοὶ δ ̓ ἐκέχυντο

*Ορπακες βραβύλοισι καταβρίθοντες ἔρατδε·
Τετράενες δὲ πίθων ἀπολύετο κρατὸς ἄλειφαρ.

Idyll. vii. v. 133.

Who, courteous, bade us on soft beds recline,
Of lentisk, and young branches of the vine ;
Poplars and elms above, their foliage spread,
Lent a cool shade, and wav'd the breezy head:
Below, a stream from the nymphs' sacred cave,
In free meanders led its murmuring wave :

n the warm sun-beams, verdant shrubs among,
"Cicadas" shrill renew'd their plaintive song;
At distance far conceal'd in shades, alone,
Sweet Philomela pour'd her tuneful moan:
The lark, the gold-finch, warbled lays of love,
And sweetly pensive coo'd the turtle-dove:
While honey-bees for ever on the wing,
Humm'd round the flowers, or sipp'd the silver spring.
The rich ripe season gratified the sense

With summer's fruits and autumn's redolence;
Apples and pears lay strew'd in heaps around,

And the plum's loaded branches kiss'd the ground.
Wine flow'd abundant.-


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,"

&c. &c.

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,
Upon the tyles ovre' al about;
And everiche songè in his wise
The most swete and solempne servise,
By note that evir man I trowe

Had herde, for some of 'hem songe lowe,
Some high, and al of one accorde :
To tellin shortly at o worde

Was never herde so sweet a Steven
But it had be a thinge of Heven,
So merie a sowne, so sweet entunes
That certis for the towne of tewnes
I n' olde but I had herde 'em singe
For al my chambre gan to ringe,
Through singing of their harmony,
For instrument nor melody

Was no where herde yet half so sweet,
Nor of accorde half so meet,

For there was none of 'em that fained
To singe, for eche of 'em him pained
To find out many crafty notes,
They ne yspared not their throtes:
And soth to saine, my chambre was
Full well depainted, and with glas
Were al the windowes wel yglased,
Ful clere and not an hole ycrased
That to behold it was great joy
For wholly all the story of Troy
Was in the glaising ywrought-




My windowes werin shet ech one,
And through the glasse the sonne yshone
Upon my bed with bright bemis,

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
Into the wodde to here the birdis singe
When that the mistie vapour was agone,
And clere and faire ywas the morowning,
The dewe also like silver in shinyng

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