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inferior to the ancients, that this consideration alone were enough to make some writers think as they ought, that is meanly, of their own performances.

As all sorts of poetry consist in imitation; pastoral is the imitation of a shepherd considered under that character.' It is requisite, therefore, to be a little informed of the condition and qualification of these shepherds.

One of the ancients has observed truly, but satirically enough, that, 'Mankind is the measure of every thing.' And thus, by a gradual improvement of this mistake, we come to make our own age and country the rule and standard of others, and ourselves at last the measure of them all. We figure the ancient countrymen like our own, leading a painful life in poverty and contempt, without wit, or courage, or education. But men had quite different notions of these things for the first four thousand years of the world. Health and strength were then in more esteem than the refinements of pleasure; and it was accounted a great deal more honourable to till the ground, or keep a flock of sheep, than to dissolve in wantonness and effeminating sloth. Hunting has now an idea of quality joined to it, and is become the most important business in the life of a gentleman: anciently, it was quite otherways. M. Fleury has severely remarked, that this extravagant passion for hunting is a strong proof of our Gothic extraction, and shows an affinity of humour with the savage Americans. The barbarous Franks and other Germans (having neither corn nor wine of their own growth), when they passed the Rhine, and possessed themselves of countries better cultivated, left the tillage of the land to the old proprietors; and afterwards continued to hazard their lives as freely for their diversion, as they had done

before for their necessary subsistence. The English gave this usage the sacred stamp of fashion; and from hence it is, that most of our terms of hunting are French. The reader will, I hope, give me his pardon for my freedom on this subject, since an ill accident, occasioned by hunting, has kept England in pain, these several months together, for one of the best and greatest peers" which she has bred for some ages; no less illustrious for civil virtues and learning, than his ancestors were for all their victories in France.

But there are some prints still left of the ancient esteem for husbandry, and their plain fashion of life, in many of our surnames, and in the escutcheons of the most ancient families, even those of the greatest kings, the roses, the lilies, the thistle, &c. It is generally known, that one of the principal causes of the deposing of Mahomet the Fourth, was, that he would not allot part of the day to some manual labour, according to the law of Mahomet; an ancient practice of his predecessors. He that reflects on this will be the less surprised to find that Charlemagne, eight hundred years ago, ordered his children to be instructed in some profession: and eight hundred years yet higher, that Augustus wore no clothes but such as were made by the hands of the empress and her daughters; and Olympias did the same for Alexander the Great. Nor will he wonder that the Romans, in great exigency, sent for their dictator from the plough, whose whole estate was but of four acres; too little a spot now for the orchard or kitchengarden of a private gentleman. It is commonly known, that the founders of three the most renowned monarchies in the world were shepherds: and the subject of husbandry has been adorned by the

2 The Duke of Shrewsbury.

writings and labour of more than twenty kings. It ought not, therefore, to be matter of surprise to a modern writer, that kings (the shepherds of the people in Homer,) laid down their first rudiments in tending their mute subjects; nor that the wealth of Ulysses consisted in flocks and herds; the intendants over which were then in equal esteem with officers of state in latter times. And therefore Eumæus is called dios popßos in Homer; not so much because Homer was a lover of a country life, to which he rather seems averse, but by reason of the dignity and greatness of his trust, and because he was the son of a king, stolen away, and sold by the Phoenician pirates; which the ingenious Mr. Cowley seems not to have taken notice of. Nor will it seem strange, that the master of the horse to king Latinus, in the ninth Eneid, was found in the homely employment of cleaving blocks, when news of the first skirmish betwixt the Trojans and Latins was brought to him.

Being therefore of such quality, they cannot be supposed so very ignorant and unpolished: the learning and good breeding of the world was then in the hands of such people. He who was chosen by the consent of all parties to arbitrate so delicate an affair as, which was the fairest of the three celebrated beauties of heaven,-he who had the address to debauch away Helen from her husband, her native country, and from a crown,-understood what the French call by the too soft name of galanterie; he had accomplishments enough, how ill use soever he made of them. It seems therefore that M. Fontenelle had not duly considered the matter, when he reflected so severely upon Virgil, as if he had not observed the laws of decency in his pastorals, in making shepherds speak to things beside their cha

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racter, and above their capacity. He stands amazed that shepherds should thunder out, as he expresses himself, the formation of the world, and that too according to the system of Epicurus. 'In truth,

(says he, page 176) I cannot tell what to make of this whole piece (the sixth Pastoral). I can neither comprehend the design of the author, nor the connexion of the parts. First come the ideas of philosophy, and presently after these incoherent fables,' &c. To expose him yet more, he subjoins, 'It is Silenus himself who makes all this absurd discourse. Virgil says, indeed, that he had drank too much the day before, perhaps the debauch hung in his head when he composed this poem, &c. Thus far M. Fontenelle; who, to the disgrace of reason, as himself ingenuously owns, first built his house, and then studied architecture; I mean first composed his Eclogues, and then studied the rules. In answer to this, we may observe, first, that this very pastoral which he singles out to triumph over, was recited by a famous player on the Roman theatre, with marvellous applause; insomuch, that Cicero, who had heard part of it only, ordered the whole to be rehearsed; and, struck with admiration of it, conferred then upon Virgil the glorious title of

Maguæ spes altera Romæ.

Nor is it old Donatus only who relates this: we have the same account from another very credible and ancient author; so that here we have the judgment of Cicero, and the people of Rome, to confront the single opinion of this adventurous critic. A man ought to be well assured of his own abilities, before he attacks an author of established reputation. If M. Fontenelle had perused the fragments of the Phoenician antiquity, traced the progress of

learning through the ancient Greek writers, or so much as consulted his learned countryman Huetius, he would have found (which falls out unluckily for him) that a Chaldean shepherd discovered to the Egyptians and Greeks the creation of the world. And what subject more fit for such a pastoral, than that great affair which was first notified to the world by one of that profession? Nor does it appear (what he takes for granted), that Virgil describes the original of the world according to the hypothesis of Epicurus. He was too well seen in antiquity to commit such a gross mistake; there is not the least mention of chance in that whole passage, nor of the clinamen principiorum, so peculiar to Epicurus's hypothesis. Virgil had not only more piety, but was of too nice a judgment to introduce a god denying the power and providence of the Deity, and singing a hymn to the atoms and blind chance. On the contrary, his description agrees very well with that of Moses: and the eloquent commentator Dacier, who is so confident that Horace had perused the sacred history, might with greater reason have affirmed the same thing of Virgil: for, besides the famous passage in the sixth Æneïd (by which this may be illustrated), where the word principio is used in front of both by Moses and Virgil, and the seas are first mentioned, and the spiritus intus alit, which might not improbably, as M. Dacier would suggest, allude to the Spirit moving upon the face of the waters;' but omitting this parallel place, the successive formation of the world is evidently described in these words,

Rerum paulatim sumere formas:

and it is hardly possible to render more literally that verse of Moses, Let the waters be gathered into

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