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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama by Walter W. Greg

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suffice to place Garcilaso in the front rank of pastoral writers. Yet he
does not appear to occupy any isolated eminence among his fellows, and
Ticknor may be right in thinking that, throughout, the regular pastoral
showed fewer of its defects in Spain than elsewhere. It is also true that
it appears to have been endowed with less vital power of development.

Garcilaso's followers were numerous. Among them mention may be made of
Francisco de Figueroa, the Tirsi of Cervantes' _Galatea_; Pedro de
Encinas, who attempted religious eclogues; Lope de Vega; Alonso de Ulloa,
the Venetian printer, who is credited with having foisted the Rodrigo
episode into Montemayor's _Diana_; Gaspar Gil Polo, one of the
continuators of that work; and Bernardo de Balbuenas, one of its many
imitators, who incorporated in his _Siglo de Oro_ a number of eclogues
which in their simple and rustic nature appear to be studied from
Theocritus rather than Vergil.

In spite of the fashion of writing in Castilian which prevailed among
Portuguese poets, we are not without specimens of pastoral verse composed
in the less important dialect. Sâ de Miranda has been mentioned above.
Ribeiro too, better known for his romance, left a series of five
autobiographical eclogues[68] dating from about 1516-24, and consequently
earlier than Garcilaso's. They are composed, like some of Sâ de Miranda's,
in the short measures more natural to the language than the _terza rima_
and intricate stanzas of the Italianizing poets. Later on Camoens wrote
fifteen eclogues, four of which are piscatorial, and in one, a dialogue
between a shepherd and a fisherman, refers in the following terms to

O pescador Sincero, que amansado
Tém o pégo de Prochyta co' o canto
Por as sonoras ondas compassado.
D'este seguindo o som, que póde tanto,
E misturando o antigo Mantuano,
Façamos novo estylo, novo espanto.

Whereas in the case of the verse pastoral the Italian fashion passed from
Spain into Portugal, exactly the reverse process took place with regard to
the prose romance more or less directly founded upon Sannazzaro. The first
to imitate the _Arcadia_ was the Portuguese Bernardim Ribeiro, who during
a two-years' residence in Italy composed the 'beautiful fragment,' as
Ticknor styles it, entitled from the first words of the text _Menina e
moça_. This unfinished romance first appeared, in the form of an octavo
charmingly printed in gothic type, at Ferrara in 1554, though it must
have been written at least thirty years earlier. It differs considerably
from its model, the verse being purely incidental, and the intricacy of
the story anticipating later examples, as does likewise the admixture of
chivalric adventure. It is, indeed, to a large extent what might have
arisen spontaneously through the elaboration of the pastoral element
occasionally to be met with in the old chivalric romances themselves. On
the other hand it resembles the Italian pastoral in the introduction of
real characters, which, though their identity was concealed under anagrams
and all manner of obscurity, appear to have been traceable by the keen eye
of authority, for the book was placed on the Index. Such knowledge of
Sannazzaro's writings as Ribeiro possessed was of course direct, but
before his fragment saw the light there appeared, in 1547, a Spanish
translation of the _Arcadia_. It must be remembered that Sannazzaro was
himself of Spanish extraction, and that he may have had relations with the
land of his fathers of a nature to facilitate the diffusion of his works.

The next and by far the most important contribution made by the peninsula
to pastoral literature was the work of an hispaniolized Portuguese, who
composed in Castilian dialect the famous _Diana_. 'Los siete libres de la
Diana de Jorge de Montemayor'--the Spanish form of Montemôr's name and
that by which he became familiar to subsequent ages--appeared at Valencia,
without date, but about 1560.[69] As in the case of its Italian and
Portuguese predecessors, some at least of the characters of the romance
represent real persons. Sireno the hero, who stands for the author, is in
love with the nymph Diana, of whose identity Lope de Vega claimed to be
cognizant, though he withheld her name. The scene is laid in Spain, and
actual and ideal geography are intermixed in a bewildering fashion. Sireno
is obliged, for reasons not stated, to leave the country for a while, and
on his return finds his lady-love married by her parents to his rival
Delio. In his despair he seeks aid from the priestess of a certain temple,
and receives from her a magic potion which drives from him all remembrance
of his passion. This very simple and somewhat unsatisfactory story is
interwoven with a multitude of episodes and incidental narratives,
pastoral and chivalric, and the whole ends with the promise of a second
part, which however never came to be written, the author, as it appears,
being either murdered or killed in duel at Turin in 1561.

Thanks probably to the combination in its pages of the popular chivalric
tradition with the fashionable Italian pastoral, and also to certain
graces of style which it possesses, the _Diana_ held the field until the
picaresque romance developed into a recognized _genre_, and exercised a
very considerable influence on pastoral writers even beyond the frontiers
of Spain. Googe imitated passages from it in his eclogues; Sidney
translated some of its songs, and took it as the model of his own romance;
Shakespeare borrowed from it the plot of the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_. In
the land of its birth its popularity was shown by the number of
continuations and imitations to which it gave rise. Irresponsible
publishers swelled the bulk of their editions with matter purloined from
less popular authors. The year 1564 saw the appearance of two second
parts. One in eight books, by the physician Alonzo Pérez, only got so far
as disposing of Delio, and appears to exaggerate all the faults of the
original in compensation for the lack of its merits. The other, from the
pen of Gaspar Gil Polo, is in five books, and narrates, in a style
scarcely inferior to its model, the faithlessness and death of Delio, and
Sireno's marriage with Diana. Both alike promise continuations which never
appeared. A third part was, however, published so late as 1627, as the
work of Jerónimo de Texeda, but it is nothing more than a _rifacimento_
of Gil Polo's continuation, altered apparently with a view to its forming
a sequel to Pérez' work. Furthermore, in 1599 there appeared a religions
parody by Fra Bartolomé Ponce, and there are said to be no less than six
French, two English, and two German translations, not to mention a Latin
one of Gil Polo's portion at least.

Besides continuations, there are extant nearly a score of imitations of
varying interest and merit. In 1584 appeared the _Galatea_ of Cervantes,
imitated from Ribeiro and Montemayor; which in its turn is supposed to
have suggested the _Arcadia_, written a few years later at the instigation
of the Duke of Alva by Lope de Vega, and published in 1598. Each is more
or less autobiographic or else historical in outline: 'many of its
shepherds and shepherdesses are such in dress alone,' Cervantes confesses
of his romance, while Lope announces that 'the _Arcadia_ is a true
history.' Lastly may be mentioned the Portuguese _Primavera_ of Francisco
Rodrígues de Lobo, which appeared in three long parts between 1601 and
1614, and is pronounced by Ticknor to be 'among the best full-length
pastoral romances extant.'

All these works resemble one another in their general features. The
characteristics of the _genre_ as found in Spain, in spite of a real
feeling for rural life traceable in the national character, are the
elements it borrows from the older chivalric tradition, combined with an
adherence to the circumstances of actual existence even closer than was
the case in Italy. Sannazzaro was content to transfer certain personages
from real life into his imaginary Arcadia, while in the Spanish romances
the whole _mise en scène_ consists of the actual surroundings of the
author disguised but little under the veil of pastoralism. Thus the ideal
element, the desire to escape from the world, is no less absent from these
works than from the Latin eclogues of the renaissance, and the chivalric
pastoral in Spain advances far along the road towards the fashionable
pastoral of France. Not only are knightly adventures freely introduced,
and the devices of disguise and recognition employed, but the hint of
magic in Sannazzaro is developed and made to play a prominent part in the
tales, while the nymphs and shepherds display throughout an alarming
knowledge of literature, metaphysics, and theology. The absurdities of the
style were patent, and did not escape uncomplimentary notice from the
writers of the day, for both Cervantes and Lope de Vega, in spite of their
own excursions into this kind, pilloried the fashion in their more serious
and enduring works.


In France the interest of pastoralism, from our present point of view, is
summed up in the work of one man--Clément Marot. It is he who forms the
central figure on the stage of French poetry between the final collapse of
the medieval tradition and the ceasing of Villon's song earlier, and later
the full burst of the renaissance in the work of the Pléiade. While
belonging ostensibly to the literary circle of Margaret of Navarre, Marot
appears to have combined in his own person a strange number of conflicting
tendencies. His patroness followed the pastoral tradition in her imitation
of Sannazzaro's _Salices_ and her lament on the death of her brother
François I, and rehandled an already favourite theme in her _comédie_ of
human and divine love. Marot, on the other hand, while equally interested
in pastoral, betrayed in his verse little direct influence of the
Italians, and invariably impressed his own individuality upon his subject.
In his early work he continued the tradition of the _Romance of the Rose_;
later he voiced, somewhat crudely may be, the ideals of the renaissance.
By nature an easy-going _bon vivant_, his only real affection appears to
have been for the faithless mistress of his early years, whom a not very
probable tradition identifies with Diane de Poitiers. He had no higher
ambition than to retain unmolested a comfortable post at the court of
Francis. Yet he was destined by a strange irony of fate to pass his days
as a wanderer on the face of the earth, the homeless pilgrim of a cause he
no wise had at heart. He was accused by the Sorbonne, and ultimately
driven into the profession, of the heresy of Calvinism. Expelled from the
bosom of the church, he sought an uncongenial refuge among the apostles of
the new faith, only to be thrust forth from the city, for no more heinous
offence apparently than that playing back-gammon with the Prisoner of
Chillon. He died at Turin in 1544.

But, however fascinating Marot may be as an historical figure, he was in
no sense a great poet. His chief merit in literature, apart from his often
delicate epigrams, his _élégant badinage_ and his graceful if at times
facile verse, lies in the power he possesses, in common with Garcilaso and
Spenser, of treating the allegorical pastoral without entirely losing the
charm of naïve simplicity and genuine feeling. In his _Éclogue au Roi_ he
addresses Francis under the name of Pan, while in the _Pastoureau
chrestien_ he applies the same name to the Deity; yet in either case there
is a justness of sentiment underlying the convention which saves the verse
from degenerating into mere sycophancy or blasphemy. His chief claim to
notice as a pastoral writer is his authorship of an eclogue on the death
of Loyse de Savoye, the mother of Francis; a poem through which, more than
any other, he influenced his greater English disciple, and thereby
acquired the importance he possesses for our present inquiry.

Marot, however, whose inspiration, in so far as it was not born of his own
genius, appears to be chiefly derived from Vergil, whose first eclogue he
translated in his youth, was far from being the only poet who wrote
bucolic verse or bore other witness to pastoral influence. France was not
behind other nations in embracing the Italian models. Margaret, as I have
said, imitated Sannazzaro in her _Histoire des satyres et nymphes de
Diane_. The _Arcadia_ was translated in 1544. Du Bellay was familiar with
the original and honoured its author with imitation, translation, and even
a respectful mention of it in his famous _Défense_. Elsewhere he asks:

Qui fera taire la musette
Du pasteur néapolitain?

The first part of Belleau's _Bergerie_ appeared in 1565, the complete
work, including a piscatory poem, in 1572. On the stage Nicolas Filleul
anticipated the regular Italian drama in a dramatized eclogue entitled
_Les Ombres_ in 1566. Later Nicolas de Montreux, better known under the
name of Ollenix du Mont-Sacré, a writer of a religious cast, and author
of a romantic comedy on the story of Potiphar's wife, composed three
pastoral plays, _Athlette_, _Diane_, and _Arimène_, which appeared in
1585, 1592, and 1597 respectively. They are conventional pastorals on the
Italian model, futile in plot and commonplace in style. He was also the
author of the _Bergerie de Juliette_, a romance published in 1592, which
Robert Tofte is credited with having translated in his _Honour's
Academy_,' or the Famous Pastoral of the Fair Shepherdess Julietta,' which
appeared at London in 1610. Tofte's work, however, while purporting to be
'done into English,' makes no mention of the original author, and though
indebted for its form and title to Nicholas' romance does not appear to
bear much further resemblance to it. A far more important work in itself,
but one which does not much concern us here, is Honoré d'Urfé's _Astrée_,
an autobiographic compilation in which the fashionable pastoral romance
found its most consummate example. The work was translated into English as
early as 1620, but the history of its influence in this country belongs
almost exclusively to the French vogue, which began about the middle of
the century, and formed such an important element in the literature of the

The comparatively small influence exerted by the French pastoral of the
renaissance on that of England must excuse the scanty summary given in the
preceding paragraphs. It remains to be said that there had existed at an
earlier period in France another and very different tradition, which
supplied one of the regular forms of composition in vogue among
_trouvères_ and _troubadours_ alike. The _pastourelle_ has sometimes been
described as a popular form, but it would be difficult to determine
wherein its 'popularity,' in the sense intended, consists, for it is
easily recognized as the offspring of a knightly minstrelsy, and indeed is
scarcely less artificial or conventional than the Italian eclogue.
Although the situation is frequently developed with resource and invention
on the part of the individual poet, the general type is rigidly fixed. The
narrator, who is a minstrel and usually a knight, while riding along meets
a shepherd-girl, to whom he pays his court with varying success. This is
the simple framework on which the majority are composed. A few, on the
other hand, depart from the type and depict purely rustic scenes.
Others--and the fact is at least significant--serve to convey allusions,
political, personal or didactic: a variety found as early as the twelfth
century in Provençal, and about the fourteenth in northern French.
Wandering scholars adopted the form from the knightly singers and produced
a plentiful crop of Latin _pastoralia_, usually of a somewhat burlesque
nature. An idea of the general style of these may be gathered from such
lines as the following, which contain the reply of a country girl
hesitating before the advances of a merry student:

Si senserit meus pater
uel Martinus maior frater,
erit mihi dies ater;
uel si sciret mea mater,
cum sit angue peior quater:
uirgis sum tributa.[70]

Appropriated, lastly, and refashioned by the hand of an original genius,
the _pastourelle_ gave to German poetry the crowning jewel of its
_Minnesang_ in Walther's 'Under der linden,' with its irrepressibly
roguish refrain:

Kuster mich? wol tûsentstunt:
seht wie rôt mir ist der munt!

Connected with the _pastourelles_ of the _langue d'oïl_ is an isolated
dramatic effort, of a primitive and naïve sort, but of singular grace and
charm. _Li jus Robins et Marion_, the work of Adan le Bochu or de le Hale,
is in fact a dramatized _pastourelle_ of some eight hundred lines
beginning with the rejection by a shepherdess of the advances of a knight
and ending with the rustic sports of the shepherds on the green.
Unsophisticated nature and playful cunning unite in no ordinary degree to
lend delicacy and savour to the work, while the literary quality of Adan's
verse is evident in such incidental songs as Marion's often quoted:

Robins m'aime, Robins m'a,
Robins m'a demandee, si m'ara.

In spite, however, of the genuine _naïveté_ and natural realism of the
piece, it is easy to recognize in it something of the same spirit of
gentle raillery that sparkles in the graceful octaves of Lorenzo's

A real and lively love of the country, rather than any idealization of the
actual shepherd class, is reflected in a poem written about 1460 by René
of Anjou, ex-king of Naples, describing in pastoral guise the rustic
retreat which he enjoyed in company with his wife, Jeanne de Laval, on the
banks of the Durance. The conventional pastoralism that veils the identity
of the shepherd and shepherdess is scarcely more than a pretence, for at
the end of the manuscript we find blazoned the arms of the royal pair,
with the inscription:

Icy sont les armes, dessoubz ceste couronne,
Du bergier dessus dit et de la bergeronne.

We have now completed the first section of our introductory survey of
pastoral literature. We have passed in review, in a necessarily rapid and
superficial, but, it is to be hoped, not altogether inadequate, manner,
the varions manifestations of the kind in the non-dramatic literature of
continental Europe. The Italian pastoral drama has been reserved for
separate and more detailed consideration in close connexion with that of
this country. It must, however, be borne in mind that in such a survey as
the present many of the byways and more or less obscure and devious
channels by which pastoral permeated the wide fields of literature have of
necessity been left unexplored. Nothing, for instance, has been said about
the pastoral interludes which occupy a not inconspicuous place in the
martial cantos both of the _Orlando_ and the _Gerusalemme_. Before passing
on, however, I should like to say a few words concerning one particular
department of renaissance literature, and that chiefly by way of
illustrating the limitations of the tradition of literary pastoral. I
refer to the _novelle_ or _nouvelles_, in which, although pastoral
subjects are occasionally introduced, the treatment is entirely
independent of conventional tradition. Without making any pretence at
covering the whole field of the _novellieri_, I may instance a tale of
Giraldi's, not lacking in the homely charm which belongs to that author,
of a child exposed in a wood and brought up by the shepherds. These are
represented as simple unpretending Lombard peasants, who look to their own
business and are credited with none of the arts and graces of their
literary fellows. More exclusively rustic in setting is an anecdote
concerning the amours of a shepherd and shepherdess, told with broad
humour in the _Cent Nouvelles nouvelles_ and elaborated with
characteristic gusto and extraordinarily graphic art by Pietro Fortini.
The crude obscenity of the subject alone serves to show how free the
writer was from any influence of the pastoral of polite literature.[71]
Numerous other stories concerning shepherds or _villani_ might be cited,
from Boccaccio to Bandello, the point of which, whether openly licentious
or ostensibly moral, is brought home with a brutal and physical directness
utterly foreign to the spirit of the regular pastoral. This is, on the
whole, what one would expect. The coarse realism that gave life and
vitality to the novel, that characteristic product of middle-class
cynicism and humour, finds no place in the pastoral of literary tradition.
The conventional grace of the pastoral could offer no material to the
novel. It is true that when we speak of the _bourgeois_ spirit of the
_novella_ on the one hand, and the 'ideal' pastoral on the other, it is
well to remember that the author of the _Decameron_ also wrote the first
modern pastoral romance; that the century and country which saw the
publication of the _Arcadia_, the _Aminta_, and the _Pastor fido_, also
welcomed the work of Fortini, Giraldi, and Bandello; and that to Margaret
of Navarre, the imitator of Sannazzaro and patroness of Marot, we are
likewise indebted for the _Heptameron_. Nevertheless the tendencies,
though sometimes united in the person of a single author, yet keep
distinct. Both alike had become a fashion, both alike followed a more or
less conventional type. The novel remained coarse and realistic; the
pastoral, whatever may be said of its morality, remained refined and at a
conscious remove from real life. To examine thoroughly the cause of this
disseverance from actuality which haunted the pastoral throughout its many
transformations would lead us beyond all possible bounds of this inquiry.
One important point may, however, here be noted. The pastoral, whatever
its form, always needed and assumed some external circumstance to give
point to its actual content. The interest seldom arises directly from the
narrative itself. In Theocritus and Sannazzaro this objective point is
supplied by the delight of escape from the over-civilization of the city;
in Petrarch and Mantuan, by their allegorical intention; in Sacchetti and
Lorenzo, by the contrast of town and country, with all its delicate
humour; in Boccaccio and Poliziano, by the opening it gave for golden
dreams of exquisite beauty or sensuous delight; in Tasso, by the desire of
that freedom in love and life which sentimental philosophers have always
associated with a return to nature. In all these cases the content _per
se_ may be said to be matter of indifference; it only receives meaning in
relation to some ulterior intention of the author. Realism under these
circumstances was impossible. Nor could satire call it forth, for no one
would be at pains to satirize actual rusticity. The only loophole left by
which a realistic treatment could find its way into pastoral was when, as
in Folengo's macaronics, it was not the actual rustic life but the
conventional representation of it that was the object of satire. But this
case was naturally a rare one.

Chapter II.

Pastoral Poetry in England


We have seen how there arose in the Italian songs of the fourteenth
century a spontaneous form of pastoral independent of the regular
tradition, and somewhat similar examples are furnished by the dramatic
eclogues of Spain. In the former case, however, pastoral was never more
than a passing note; while in the latter, the impulse, though possessing
some vitality, was early overwhelmed by the rising tide of Italian
influence. In England it was otherwise. On the one hand the spontaneous
and popular impulse towards a form of pastoralism appears to have been
stronger and more consistent than elsewhere; on the other the foreign and
literary influence never acquired the same supreme importance. As a resuit
the earlier native fashion affected in a noticeable degree later pastoral
work, colouring and blending with instead of being overpowered by the
regular tradition. Thus it is possible to trace two distinct though
mutually reacting tendencies far down the stream of English literature,
and to this double origin must be referred many of the peculiar phenomena
of English pastoral work. There was furthermore a constant struggle for
supremacy between the two traditions, in which now one now the other
appeared likely to go under. The greatest poets of their day, Spenser and
Milton, threw the weight of their authority on to the side of pastoral
orthodoxy. Spenser, however, was himself too much influenced by the
popular impulse for his example to be decisive in favour of the regular
tradition, while, by the time Milton wrote, a hybrid form had established
itself on a more or less secure basis and a _modus vivendi_ had already
been achieved. Meanwhile the bulk of pastofal poets affected a less
weighty and more spontaneous song, whether they wrote in the light
fanciful mood of Drayton or the more passionate and romantic spirit of

To this double origin may be ascribed a certain noticeable vitality that
characterizes English pastoral composition. Since this quality has been
habitually overlooked by literary historians, I may be excused for
dwelling on it somewhat in this place. The stigma which, not altogether
undeservedly, attaches to pastoral as a whole has tempted critics to
confine their attention to the more notable examples of the kind, and to
treat these as more or less sporadic manifestations. Thus they have
failed, on the whole, to appreciate the relation in which these works
stand to the general pastoral tradition, which was mainly carried on in
works of little individual interest. It is no blame to them if they
considered that these undistinguished productions were of small importance
in the general history of literature: any one who goes through them with
care will probably arrive at a not very dissimilar conclusion.
Nevertheless the fact remains that the neglect of them has obscured both
the relative positions of the greater and more enduring works, and also
the general nature of the pastoral tradition in this country. That
tradition I believe to have been of a far more noteworthy character than
has hitherto been realized. I am not, of course, prepared to maintain that
pastoral composition in England ever attained, as a whole, to the rank of
great literature, or that it formed such a remarkable body of work as we
find, for example, in the Arcadian drama of Italy. But when we come to
regard the pastoral production of this country in the light of a more or
less connected tradition, it is impossible not be struck by the
originality and diversity of the various forms which it assumed. Though as
a literary kind it never rivalled its Italian model in fertility, it
evinced an individual and versatile quality which we seek in vain in other
countries. To substantiate this claim and to show how far the vitality of
the English pastoral was due to its hybrid origin will be my chief aim in
this chapter. When I come to deal with the main subject of this inquiry it
will be necessary to determine how far similar considerations apply in the
case of the pastoral drama.

In the first place we have to consider what was produced on the one hand
by the purely native impulse, and on the other under the sole inspiration
of foreign tradition, at a period when these two influences had not yet
begun to interact. As an argument in favour of the spontaneous and genuine
nature of the earlier fashion may be noticed its appearance in that
miscellaneous body of anonymous literature which, whatever may be its
origin--and it is impossible to enter on so controversial a subject in
this place--is at least 'popular' in the sense of having been long handed
down from generation to generation in the mouths of the people. The
acceptance of pastoral ballads into this great mass of traditional
literature is at least as good evidence of their popular character as that
of authorship could be. In such a body of literature it would indeed be
surprising had the _pastourelle_ motive not found entrance; but it is
noteworthy that whereas the French and Latin poems are habitually written
from the point of view of the lover, the English ballads adopt that of the
peasant maiden to whom the high-born suitor pays his court. At once the
simplest and most poetical of the ballads on this model is that printed by
Scott as _The Broom of Cowdenknows_, a title to which in all probability
it has little claim. It is a delightful example of the minor ballad
literature, and I am by no means inclined to regard it as a mere
amplification of the much shorter and rather abrupt _Bonny May_ of Herd's
collection, though the latter, so far as it goes, probably offers a less
sophisticated text. In either case a gentleman riding along meets a girl
milking, obtains her love, and ultimately returns and marries her. A
similar incident, in which, however, the seducer marries the girl under
compulsion and then discovers her to be of noble parentage, is told in a
ballad, of which a number of versions have been collected in Scotland
under the title of _Earl Richard_ or _Earl Lithgow_, and of which an
English version was current in the seventeenth century and was quoted more
than once by Beaumont and Fletcher.[72] This was printed by Percy in the
_Reliques_, and two broadsides of it dating from the restoration are
preserved in the Roxburghe collection. It is inferior to the northern
versions, but both are probably late, and contain stanzas belonging to or
copied from other ballads, notably the _Bonny Hynd_ of the Herd manuscript
and _Burd Helen_ (the Scotch version of _Child Waters_). The title of the
broadsides is interesting as betraying the influence of the regular
pastoral tradition: 'The beautifull Shepherdesse of Arcadia. A new
pastarell Song of a courteous young Knight, and a supposed Shepheards
Daughter.'[73] Again, apparently from the Aberdeen district, comes a
ballad on the marriage of a shepherd's daughter to the Laird of Drum. On
the other hand we find three somewhat similar ballads, _Lizie Lindsay_ or
_Donald of the Isles, Lizie Baillie_, and _Glasgow Peggie_, recording the
elopement of a town girl with a highland gentleman in the disguise of a
shepherd. These are obviously late, though a certain resemblance in style
with _Johnie Faa_ makes it possible that they are as old as the middle of
the seventeenth century. None of the pastoral ballads, indeed, can show
any credentials which would suggest an earlier date than the second half
of the sixteenth century, nor can any of them lay claim to first-rate
poetic merit.[74]

Another example of native pastoral, earlier and far more genuine in
character, is to be found in the religious drama. The romantic
possibilities of peasant life were to some extent reflected in the
ballads; it is the burlesque aspect that is preserved to us in the
'shepherd' plays of the mystery cycles. We possess the plays on the
adoration of the shepherds belonging to the four extant series, a
duplicate in the Towneley plays, and one odd specimen, making six in all.
The rustic element varies in each case, but it assumed the form of
burlesque comedy in all except the purely didactic 'Coventry' cycle of the
Cotton manuscript. Here, indeed, the treatment of the situation is
decorously dull, but in the others we can trace a gradual advance in
humorous treatment leading up to the genuine comedy of the alternative
Towneley plays. Thus, like Noah and his wife, the shepherds of the
adoration early became recognized comic characters, and there can be
little doubt of the influence exercised by these scenes upon the later
interludes. With the general evolution of the drama we are of course in no
wise here concerned: what it imports us to notice is that just as it was
the picture of the young gallant riding along on the mirk evening by the
fail dyke of the 'bought i' the lirk o' the hill' that caught the
imagination of the north-country milkmaids, so it was the rough
representation of rustic manners, with which they must have been familiar
in actual life, that appealed to the villagers flocking to York,
Leicester, Beverley, or Wakefield to witness the annual representation of
the guild cycle.[75]

It will be worth while to give some account of the form taken by this
genuine pastoral comedy, as we find it in its highest development in the
two Towneley plays. These belong to the latest additions to the cycle, and
were probably first incorporated when the repertory underwent revision in
the early years of the fifteenth century.[76] Each play falls into three
portions: first, a rustic farce; secondly, the apparition and announcement
of the angels; and thirdly, the adoration. The two latter do not
particularly concern us. Though in the Chester cycle the shepherds show
themselves amusingly ignorant of the meaning of the _Gloria_, in the
Towneley plays they are apt to fall out of character, and certainly
display a singular knowledge of the prophets,[77] for

Abacuc and ely prophesyde so,
Elezabeth and zachare and many other mo,
And david as veraly is witnes thereto,
Iohn Bapyste sewrly and daniel also.

More remarkable still is one shepherd's familiarity with the classics:

Virgill in his poetre sayde in his verse,
Even thus by gramere as I shall reherse;
'Iam nova progenies celo demittitur alto,
Iam rediet virgo, redeunt saturnia regna.'[78]

It is perhaps no matter for surprise that one of his less learned fellows
should break out with more force than delicacy:

Weme! tord! what speke ye here in myn eeres?
Tell us no clerge I hold you of the freres.

It is one of the little ironies of literature that in the earliest picture
of pastoral life in England the greatest pastoral writer of Rome should be
quoted, not as a pastoralist, but as a magician.

Before the appearance of the angels, however, there is nothing to lead one
to expect this strange display of learning. A rougher, simpler set of
countrymen it would have been hard to find in the England of Chaucer and
Langland. In the shepherd-play known as _prima pastorum_ the comic element
consists mostly in quarrels and feasting among the shepherds, but in the
_secunda pastorum_ it constitutes a regular little three-scene farce,
which at its date was absolutely unique in literature. It is thence only a
step, and a very short one, to John Heywood's interludes--though it is a
step that took more than a century to accomplish.

The first shepherd comes in complaining of the hard weather; his fingers
are chapped, the storms blow from every quarter in turn. 'Sely shepardes,'
moreover, are put upon by any rich upstart and have no redress. A second
shepherd appears with another grumble: 'We sely wedmen dre mekyll wo.'
Some men, indeed, have been known to desire two wives or even three, but
most would sooner have none at all. Whereupon enters Daw, a third
shepherd, complaining of portents 'With mervels mo and mo.' 'Was never syn
noe floode sich floodys seyn'; even 'I se shrewys pepe'--apparently a
portentous omen. At this point Mak comes on the scene. He is a notorious
bad character of the neighbourhood, who boasts himself 'a yoman, I tell
you, of the king,' and complains that his wife eats him out of house and
home. The shepherds suspect him of designs upon their flocks, so when they
lie down to rest they place him the middle man of three. As soon, however,
as the shepherds are asleep--'that may ye all here'--Mak borrows a sheep
and makes off. Arrived at home he would like to eat the sheep at once, but
he is afraid of being followed, so the animal is put in the cradle and
wrapped up to resemble a baby, and Mak goes back to take his place among
the shepherds. Before long these awake and rouse Mak, who, pretending he
has dreamt that Gill his wife has been brought to bed of another child,
goes off home. The shepherds miss one of their sheep and, following him,
find Gill on the bed while Mak sings a lullaby at the cradle. They proceed
to search the house, Gill the while praying she may eat the child in the
cradle if ever she deceived them. They find nothing, and are about to
depart when Daw insists on kissing the new baby. Gill vows she saw the
child changed by an elf as the clock struck midnight, but Mak pleads
guilty and gets off with a blanketing.

So far, intentionally in the case of the drama, and if not intentionally
at least practically in that of the ballads, the appeal of the native
pastoral impulse--tradition it could hardly yet be called--was to an
audience little if at all removed from the actual condition of life
depicted. This ensured at least essential reality, for though in the one
case there may be idealization in a romantic and in the other in a
burlesque direction, either implies that familiarity with the actual world
which appears to underlie all vital art.[79] It was not long, however,
before the pastoral began to address itself to a more cultivated society,
and in so doing sacrificed that wholesome corrective of a genuinely
critical audience which is needed in the long run to keep any literary
form from degeneration. The impulse is still, however, found in all its
freshness and genuineness in such a poem as the following
fifteenth-century nativity carol, which, in its blending of piety and
humorous rusticity, is strongly reminiscent of the dramatic productions we
have just been reviewing:

The shepherd upon a hill he sat,
He had on him his tabard and his hat,
His tar-box, his pipe, and his flagat,
His name was called Jolly, Jolly Wat!
For he was a good herds-boy,
Ut hoy!
For in his pipe he made so much joy.
Can I not sing but hoy.

* * * * *

The shepherd on a hill he stood,
Round about him his sheep they yode,
He put his hand under his hood,
He saw a star as red as blood.
Ut hoy! &c.

* * * * *

Now must I go there Christ was born,
Farewell! I come again to-morn,
Dog, keep well my sheep fro the corn!
And warn well Warroke when I blow my horn!
Ut hoy! &c.[80]

So, again, in the delightful poem that has won for Robert Henryson the
title of the first English pastoralist the warm blood of natural feeling
yet runs full. _Robene and Makyne_ stands on the threshold of the
sixteenth century, a modest and pastoral counterpart of the _Nut-Brown
Maid_, as evidence that there were poets of purely native inspiration
capable of writing verses every whit as perfect in form as anything
produced by the Italianizers of the next generation, and commonly far more
genuine in feeling. Even in the work of Surrey and Wyatt themselves we
find poems which, were it not for the general tradition to which they
belong, one would have no difficulty in regarding as a natural development
and conventionalization of the native tendency. Such is the _Harpelus'
Complaint_ of 'Tottel's Miscellany.' This was originally printed among
the poems of uncertain authors, but when it re-appeared in _England's
Helicon_, in 1600, it was subscribed with Surrey's name. The ascription
does not carry with it much authority, but is in no way inherently
improbable.[81] The opening stanzas may be quoted as conveying a fair idea
of the whole, which sustains its character of sprightly elegance for over
a hundred lines, ending with the luckless Harpelus' epitaph:

Phylida was a fayer mayde,
And fresh as any flowre:
Whom Harpalus the herdman prayed
To be his paramour.

Harpalus and eke Corin
Were herdmen both yfere:
And Phillida could twist and spin
And therto sing full clere.

But Phillida was all to coy
For Harpelus to winne.
For Corin was her onely joye,
Who forst her not a pynne.[82]

The relation of the early Italianizers to pastoral is rather strange.
Pastoral names, imagery and conventions are freely scattered throughout
their works, yet with the exception of the above there is scarcely a poem
to which the term pastoral can be properly applied. They borrowed from
their models a kind of pastoral diction merely, not their partiality for
the form: 'shepherd' is with them merely another word for lover or poet,
while almost any act of such may be described as 'folding his sheep' or
the like. Allegory has reduced itself to a few stock phrases. In this
fashion Surrey complains to his fair Geraldine, and a whole company of
unknown lovers celebrate the cruelty and beauty of their ladies. It is
rarely that we catch a note of fresher reminiscence or more spontaneous
song as in Wyatt's:

Ah, Robin!
Joly Robin!
Tell me how thy leman doth!

Happily the seed of Phillida's coyness bore fruit, and the amorous
pastoral ballad or picture, a true _idyllion_, became a recognized type in
English verse. It certainly owed something to foreign pastoral models,
and, like the bulk of Elizabethan lyrics, a good deal to Italian poetry in
general; but in its freshness and variety, as in its tendency to narrative
form, it asserts its independence of any rigid tradition, and justifies us
in regarding it as an outcome of that native impulse which we have already
noticed. Such a poem is Nicholas Breton's ever charming _Phyllida and
Corydon_, printed above his signature in _England's Helicon_.[83] Although
we are thereby anticipating, it may be quoted as a representative specimen
of its kind:

In the merry month of May,
In a morn by break of day,
Forth I walk'd by a wood-side,
When as May was in his pride:
There I spièd all alone,
Phyllida and Corydone.
Much ado there was, God wot!
He would love and she would not.
She said, never man was true;
He said, none was false to you.
He said, he had loved her long;
She said, Love should have no wrong.
Corydon would kiss her then;
She said, maids must kiss no men,
Till they did for good and all;
Then she made the shepherd call
All the heavens to witness truth
Never loved a truer youth.
Thus with many a pretty oath,
Yea and nay, and faith and troth,
Such as silly shepherds use
When they will not Love abuse,
Love which had been long deluded
Was with kisses sweet concluded;
And Phyllida, with garlands gay,
Was made the lady of the May.

We must now turn to the beginnings of regular pastoral tradition in this
country, springing up under direct foreign influence and in conscious and
avowed imitation of specific foreign models. Passing over the Latin
eclogues of Buchanan and John Barclay, as belonging properly to the sphere
of humanistic rather than of English letters, we come to the pretty
thoroughly Latinized pastorals of Alexander Barclay and Barnabe Googe.
Their preoccupation with the humanistic poets is, in Barclay's case at any
rate, no less dominant a factor than in that of the regular translators,
from whom it is neither very easy nor clearly desirable to distinguish
them. Of the professed translators themselves it may be well to say a few
words in this place and allow them at once to resume their veil of
well-deserved oblivion. Their influence may be taken as non-existent, and
their only interest lies in the indication they afford of the trend of
literary fashion. The earliest was George Turberville, who in 1567
translated the first nine of Mantuan's eclogues into English fourteeners.
The verse is fairly creditable, but the exaggeration of style,
endeavouring by sheer brutality of phrase to force the moral judgement it
lacks the art of more subtly stimulating, produces neither a very pleasing
nor a very edifying effect. This translation went through three editions
before the end of the century. The whole ten eclogues did not find a
translator till 1656, when Thomas Harvey published a version in
decasyllabic couplets. The next poet to appear in English dress was
Theocritus, of whose works 'Six Idillia, that is, Six Small, or Petty,
Poems, or Aeglogues,' were translated by an anonymous hand and dedicated
to E. D.--probably or possibly Sir Edward Dyer--in 1588. As before, the
verse, mostly fourteeners, is far from bad, but the selection is not very
much to our purpose. Three of the pieces, a singing match, a love
complaint, and one of the Galatea poems, are more or less pastoral; but
the rest--among which is the dainty conceit of Venus and the boar well
rendered in a three-footed measure--do not belong to bucolic verse at all.
Incidental mention may be also made of a 'dialogue betwixt two sea nymphs,
Doris and Galatea, concerning Polyphemus, briefly translated out of
Lucian,' by Giles Fletcher the elder, in his _Licia_ of 1593; and a
version of 'The First Eidillion of Moschus describing Love,' in Barnabe
Barnes' _Parthenophil and Parthenophe_, which probably appeared the same
year. Lastly we have the Bucolics and Georgics of Vergil, translated in
1589 by Abraham Fleming into rimeless fourteeners.[84] Besides these there
are a few odd translations from Vergil among the experiments of the
classical versifiers. Webbe, in his _Discourse of English Poetry_ (1586),
gives hexametrical translations of the first and second eclogues, while
another version of the second in the same metre appears first in Fraunce's
_Lawyer's Logic_ (1588), and again with corrections in his _Ivychurch_
(1591).[85] Several further translations followed in the seventeenth

But one step, and that a short one, removed from these writers is
Alexander Barclay, translater of Brandt's _Stultifera Navis_, priest and
monk successively of Ottery St. Mary, Ely, and Canterbury. It seems to
have been about 1514, when at the second of these houses, that he composed
at least the earlier and larger portion of his eclogues. They appeared at
various dates, the first complete edition being appended, long after the
writer's death, to the _Ship of Fools_ of 1570.[86] They are there headed
'Certayne Egloges of Alexander Barclay Priest, Whereof the first three
conteyne the misereyes of Courtiers and Courtes of all princes in
generall, Gathered out of a booke named in Latin, Miseriae Curialium,
compiled by Eneas Silvius[87] Poet and Oratour.' This sufficiently
indicates what we are to expect of Barclay as of the Latin eclogists of
the previous century. The interlocutors in these three poems are Coridon,
a young shepherd anxious to seek his fortune at court, and the old Cornix,
for whom the great world has long lost its glamour. The fourth eclogue,
'treating of the behavour of Rich men against Poets,' is similarly 'taken
out of' Mantuan. In it Barclay is supposed to have directed a not very
individual but pretty lusty satire against Skelton.[88] He also
introduces, as recited by one of the characters, 'The description of the
Towre of vertue and honour, into which the noble Howarde contended to
enter by worthy actes of chivalry,' a stanzaic composition in honour of
Sir Edward Howard, who died in 1513. The fifth eclogue, 'of the
disputation of Citizens and men of the Countrey,' or the _Cytezen and
Uplondyshman_, as it was originally styled, again presents us with a
familiar theme treated in the conventional manner, and closes the series.
These poems are written in what would be decasyllabic couplets were they
reducible to metre--in other words, in the barbarous caesural jangle in
which many poets of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries
imagined that they reproduced the music of Chaucer, and which, refashioned
however almost beyond recognition by a born metrist, we shall meet again
in the _Shepherd's Calender_. The following lines from the fifth eclogue
may serve to illustrate Barclay's style:

I shall not deny our payne and servitude,
I knowe that plowmen for the most part be rude,
Nowe shall I tell thee high matters true and olde,
Which curteous Candidus unto me once tolde,
Nought shall I forge nor of no leasing bable,
This is true history and no surmised fable.

It is in justice due to Barclay to say that the fact of his composing this
eclogue in the vernacular should possibly be counted to him as an original
step. The step had, indeed, been taken in Italy before he was born, but of
this he may, in spite of his travels, have been ignorant. Such credit as
attaches to the innovation should be allowed him.

A somewhat more independent writer is Barnabe Googe--writer, indeed, as
original, may be, as the lesser Latin pastoralists of the renaissance. The
fact of his altering the conventional forms to fit the mood of a sturdy
protestantism, of a protestantism still bitter from the Marian
persecutions, is scarcely to be regarded so much as evidence of his
invention as of the stability of literary tradition under the varying
forms imposed by external circumstances. The collection of his poems,
'imprinted at London' in 1563,[89] includes eight eclogues written in
fourteeners, the majority of which may fairly be said to represent Mantuan
adjusted to the conditions of contemporary life in reformation England.
Others show the influence of the author's visit to Spain in 1561-3. The
best that can be said for the verse and style is that they pursue their
'middle flight' on the whole modestly, and that the diction is at times
not without a touch of simple dignity. There are, moreover, moments of
genuine feeling when the author recalls the fires of Smithfield, and of
generous if naïve appreciation when he speaks of his predecessors in
English song. A brief summary of contents will give some idea of the
nature of these poems. The first recounts the pains of love; in the second
Dametas rails on the blind boy and ends his song by dying. The third
treats of the vices of the city, not the least of them being religious
persecution. In the next Melibeus relates how Dametas, having as we now
learn killed himself for love, appeared to him amid hell-fire. Eclogue V
contains the pitiful tale of Faustus who courted Claudia through the
agency of Valerius. Claudia unfortunately fell in love with the messenger,
and finding him faithful to his master slew herself. This is imitated, in
part closely, from the tale of the shepherdess Felismena in the second
book of Montemayor's _Diana_, the identical story upon which Shakespeare
is supposed ultimately to have founded his _Two Gentlemen of Verona_,
though it is difficult at first sight to trace much resemblance between
the play and Googe's poem. In the sixth eclogue Faustus--the Don Felix of
the Spanish and the Proteus of Shakespeare--himself appears, for no better
reason it would seem than to give his interlocutor an opportunity of
enlarging on the delights of country life and introducing the remarks on
fowling borrowed from Sannazzaro by way of Garcilaso's second eclogue. The
next is a discussion somewhat after the manner of the _Nut-Brown Maid_,
again paraphrased from the _Diana_ (Book I); while the eighth, lastly, is
a homily on the superiority of Christianity over Roman polytheism, in
which under obsolete forms the author no doubt intended an allusion to
contemporary controversies. Thus it will be seen that Googe follows Latin
and Spanish traditions almost exclusively: the only point in which it is
possible to see any native inspiration is in his partiality for some sort
of narrative ballad motive as the subject of his poems.

So far the literary quality to be registered has not been high among those
owing allegiance to the regular pastoral tradition. The next step to be
taken is a long one. The pastoral writings of Spenser not only themselves
belong to a very different order of work, but likewise brings us face to
face with literary problems of a most complex and interesting kind.


In the _Shepherd's Calender_ we have the one pastoral composition in
English literature which can boast first-rate historical importance. There
are not a few later productions in the kind which may be reasonably held
to surpass it in poetic merit, but all alike sink into insignificance by
the side of Spenser's eclogues when the influence they exercised on the
history of English verse is taken into account. The present is not of
course the place to discuss this wider influence of Spenser's work: it is
with its relation to pastoral tradition and its influence upon subsequent
pastoral work that we are immediately concerned. This is an aspect of the
_Shepherd's Calender_ to which literary historians have naturally devoted
less attention. These two reasons--namely, the intrinsic importance of the
work and the neglect of its pastoral bearing--must excuse a somewhat
lengthy treatment of a theme that may possibly be regarded as already
sufficiently familiar.

The _Shepherd's Calender_[90], which first appeared in 1579, was published
without author's name, but with an envoy signed 'Immerito.' It was
dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney, and contained a commentary by one E. K.,
who also signed an epistle to Master Gabriel Harvey, fellow of Pembroke
College, Cambridge. 'Immerito' was a name used by Spenser in his familiar
correspondence with Harvey, and can in any case have presented no mystery
to his Cambridge friends. Among these must clearly be reckoned the
commentator E. K., who may be identified with one Edward Kirke with all
but absolute certainty.[91] Within certain well defined limits we may also
accept E. K. as a competent exponent of his friend's work, and his
identity, together with that of Rosalind and Menalcas, being matters of
but indirect literary interest, may be left to Spenser's editors and
biographers to fight over. It will be sufficient to add in this place that
however 'literary' may have been Spenser's attachment to Rosalind there is
no reason to suppose that she was not a real person, while however little
response his advances may have met with there _is_ reason to suppose that
his sorrow at their rejection was not wholly conventional.

Spenser's design in turning his attention to the pastoral form would not
seem hard to apprehend. Less readily may we suppose that any deep
philosophical impulse directed his mind towards certain modes of
expression, than that in an age of catholic experiment he turned from the
penning of impossible iambic trimeters, 'minding,' as E. K. directly
informs us, 'to furnish our tongue with this kind, wherein it faulteth.'
He was qualified for the task by a wide knowledge of previous pastoral
writers from Theocritus and Bion down to Marot, and deliberately ranged
himself in line with the previous poets of the regular pastoral
tradition. Yet we find side by side in his work two distinct and
apparently antagonistic though equally conscious tendencies; the one
towards authority, leading him to borrow motives freely and even to resort
to direct paraphrase; the other towards individuality, nationality,
freedom, informing his general scheme and regulating the language of his
imaginary swains. It is this double nature of his pastoral work that
justifies us as regarding him, in spite of his alleged orthodoxy, as in
reality the first of a series of English writers who combined the
traditions of regular pastoral with the wayward graces of native
inspiration. It is true that in Spenser the natural pastoral impulse has
lost the spontaneity of the earlier examples, and has passed into the
realm of conscious and deliberate art; but it is none the less there,
modifying the conventional form. The individual debts owed by Spenser to
earlier writers have been collected with admirable learning and industry
by scholars such as Kluge and Reissert[92], but the investigation of his
originality presents at once a more interesting and more important field
of inquiry. So, indeed, Spenser himself appears to have thought, for the
only direct acknowledgement he makes in the work is to Chaucer, although,
as a writer to whom the humours of criticism are ever present has
remarked, 'it might almost seem that Spenser borrowed from Chaucer nothing
but his sly way of acknowledging indebtedness chiefly where it was not

The chief point of originality in the _Calender_ is the attempt at linking
the separate eclogues into a connected series. We have already seen how
with Googe the same characters recur in a sort of shadowy story; but what
was in his case vague and almost unintentional becomes with Spenser a
central artistic motive of the piece. The eclogues are arranged with no
small skill and care on somewhat of an architectural design, or perhaps we
should rather say with somewhat of the symmetry of a geometrical pattern.
This will best be seen in a brief analysis of the several eclogues,
'proportionable,' as the title is careful to inform us, 'to the twelve

In the 'January,' a monologue, Spenser, under the disguise of Colin
Clout, laments the ill-success of his love for Rosalind, who meets his
advances with scorn. He also alludes to his friendship with Harvey, who is
introduced throughout under the name of Hobbinol. The 'February' is a
disputation between youth and age in the persons of Cuddie and Thenot. It
introduces the fable of the oak and the briar, in which, since he ascribes
it to Tityrus, a name he transferred from Vergil to Chaucer, Spenser
presumably imagined he was imitating that poet, though it is really no
more in the style of Chaucer than is the roughly accentual measure in
which the eclogue is composed. For the 'March' Spenser recasts in English
surroundings Bion's fantasy of the fight with Cupid, without however
achieving any conspicuous success. In the April eclogue Hobbinol recites
to the admiring Thenot Colin's lay

Of fayre Eliza, Queene of shepheardes all,
Which once he made as by a spring he laye,
And tuned it unto the Waters fall.

This lay is in an intricate lyrical stanza which Spenser shows
considerable skill in handling. The following lines, for instance, already
show the musical modulation characteristic of much of his best work:

See, where she sits upon the grassie greene,
(O seemely sight!)
Yclad in Scarlot, like a mayden Queene,
And ermines white:
Upon her head a Cremosin coronet,
With Damaske roses and Daffadillies set:
Bay leaves betweene,
And primroses greene,
Embellish the sweete Violet.

In the 'May' we return to the four-beat accentual measure, this time
applied to a discussion by the herdsmen Palinode and Piers of the
lawfulness of Sunday sports and the corruption of the clergy. Here we have
a common theme treated from an individual point of view. The eclogue is
interesting as showing that the author, whose opinions are placed in the
mouth of the precise Piers; belonged to what Ben Jonson later styled 'the
sourer sort of shepherds.' A fable is again introduced which is of a
pronounced Aesopic cast. In the 'June' we return to the love-motive of
Rosalind, which, though alluded to in the April eclogue, has played no
prominent part since January. It is a dialogue between Colin and Hobbinol,
in which the former recounts his final defeat and the winning of Rosalind
by Menalcas. This eclogue contains Spenser's chief tribute to Chaucer:

The God of shepheards, Tityrus, is dead,
Who taught me homely, as I can, to make;
He, whilst he lived, was the soveraigne head
Of shepheards all that bene with love ytake:
Well couth he wayle his Woes, and lightly slake
The flames which love within his heart had bredd,
And tell us mery tales to keepe us wake
The while our sheepe about us safely fedde.

The July eclogue again leads us into the realm of ecclesiastical politics.
It is a disputation between upland and lowland shepherds, the descendant
therefore of Mantuan and Barclay, though the use of 'high places' as
typifying prelatical pride appears to be original. The confusion of things
Christian and things pagan, of classical mythology with homely English
scenery, nowhere reaches a more extravagant pitch than here. Morrell, the
advocate of the old religion, defends the hills with the ingeniously
wrong-headed argument:

And wonned not the great God Pan
Upon mount Olivet,
Feeding the blessed flocke of Dan,
Which dyd himselfe beget?

or else, gazing over the Kentish downs, he announces that

Here han the holy Faunes recourse,
And Sylvanes haunten rathe;
Here has the salt Medway his source,
Wherein the Nymphes doe bathe.

In the 'August' Spenser again handles a familiar theme with more or less
attempt at novelty. Willie and Peregot meeting on the green lay wagers in
orthodox fashion, and, appointing Cuddie judge, begin their singing
match. The 'roundel' that follows, a song inserted in the midst of
decasyllabic stanzas, is composed of alternate lines sung by the two
competitors. The verse is of the homeliest; indeed it is only a rollicking
indifference to its own inanity that saves it from sheer puerility and
gives it a careless and as it were impromptu charm of its own. Even in an
age of experiment it must have needed some self-confidence to write the
dialect of the _Calender_; it must have required nothing less than
assurance to put forth such verses as the following:

It fell upon a holy eve,
Hey, ho, hollidaye!
When holy fathers wont to shrieve;
Now gynneth this roundelay.
Sitting upon a hill so hye,
Hey, ho, the high hyll!
The while my flocke did feede thereby;
The while the shepheard selfe did spill.
I saw the bouncing Bellibone,
Hey, ho, Bonibell!
Tripping over the dale alone,
She can trippe it very well.

Many a reader of the anonymous quarto of 1579 must have joined in Cuddie's

Sicker, sike a roundel never heard I none!

Sidney, we know, was not altogether pleased with the homeliness of the
verses dedicated to him; and there must have been not a few among
Spenser's academic friends to feel a certain incongruity between the
polished tradition of the Theocritean singing match and the present poem.
Moreover, as if to force the incongruity upon the notice of the least
sensitive of his readers, Spenser followed up the ballad with a poem which
is not only practically free from obsolete or dialectal phrasing, but
which is composed in the wearisomely pedantic _sestina_ form. This song is
attributed to Colin, whose love for Rosalind is again mentioned.

Passing to the 'September' we find an eclogue of the 'wise shepherd' type.
It is composed in the rough accentual metre, and opens with a couplet
which roused the ire of Dr. Johnson:

Diggon Davie! I bidde her god day;
Or Diggon her is, or I missaye.

Diggon is a shepherd, who, in hope of gain, drove his flock into a far
country, and coming home the poorer, relates to Hobbinol the evil ways of
foreign shepherds among whom,

playnely to speake of shepheards most what,
Badde is the best.

The 'October' eclogue belongs to the stanzaic group, and consists of a
dialogue on the subject of poetry between the shepherds Piers and Cuddie.
It is one of the most imaginative of the series, and in it Spenser has
refashioned time-honoured themes with more conspicuous taste than
elsewhere. The old complaint for the neglect of poetry acquires new life
through the dramatic contrast of the two characters in which opposite
sides of the poetic temperament are revealed. In Cuddie we have a poet for
whom the prize is more than the praise[93], whose inspiration is cramped
because of the indifference of a worldly court and society. Things were
not always so--

But ah! Mecaenas is yclad in claye,
And great Augustus long ygoe is dead,
And all the worthies liggen wrapt in leade,
That matter made for Poets on to play.

And in the same strain he laments over what might have been his song:

Thou kenst not, Percie, howe the ryme should rage,
O! if my temples were distaind with wine,
And girt with girlonds of wild Yvie twine,
How I could reare the Muse on stately stage,
And teache her tread aloft in buskin fine,
With queint Bellona in her equipage!

Reading these words to-day they may well seem to us the charter of the new
age of England's song; and the effect is rendered all the more striking
by the rhythm of the last line with its prophecy of Marlowe and mighty
music to come. Piers, on the other hand, though with less poetic rage, is
a truer idealist, and approaches the high things of poetry more
reverentially than his Bacchic comrade. When Cuddie, acknowledging his own
unworthiness, adds:

For Colin fittes such famous flight to scanne;
He, were he not with love so ill bedight,
Would mount as high, and sing as soote as Swanne;

Piers breaks out in words fitting the poet of the _Hymnes_:

Ah, fon! for love doth teach him climbe so hie,
And lyftes him up out of the loathsome myre.

And throughout this high discourse the homely names of Piers and Cuddie
seem somehow more appropriate, or at least touch us more nearly, than
Mantuan's Sylvanus and Candidus, as if, in spite of all Spenser owes to
foreign models, he were yet conscious of a latent power of simple native
inspiration, capable, when once fully awakened, of standing up naked and
unshamed in the presence of Italy and Greece. One might well question
whether there is not more of the true spirit of prophecy in this poem of
Spenser's than ever went to the composition of Vergil's _Pollio_.

The 'November,' like the 'April,' consists for the most part of a lay
composed in an elaborate stanza--there a panegyric, here an elegy. This
time it is sung by Colin himself, and we again find reference to the
Rosalind motive. The subject of the threnody is a nymph of the name of
Dido, whose identity can only be vaguely conjectured. The chief point of
external form in which Spenser has departed from his model, namely Marot's
dirge for Loyse de Savoye, and from other pastoral elegies, is in the use
of a different form of verse in the actual lament from that in which the
setting of the poem is composed. Otherwise he has followed tradition none
the less closely for having infused the conventional form with a poetry of
his own. The change by which the lament passes into the song of rejoicing
is traditional--and though borrowed by Spenser from Marot, is as old as
Vergil. Both Browne and Milton later made use of the same device. Spenser

Why wayle we then? why weary we the Gods with playnts,
As if some evill were to her betight?
She raignes a goddesse now emong the saintes,
That whilome was the saynt of shepheards light,
And is enstalled nowe in heavens hight.
I see thee, blessed soule, I see
Walke in Elisian fieldes so free.
O happy herse!
Might I once come to thee, (O that I might!)
O joyfull verse!

Although some critics, looking too exclusively to the poetic merit of the
_Calender_ as the cause of its importance, have perhaps overestimated the
beauty of this and the April lyrics, the skill with which the intricate
stanzas are handled must be apparent to any careful reader. As the
_Calender_ in poetry generally, so even more decidedly in their own
department, do these songs mark a distinct advance in formal evolution.
Just as they were themselves foreshadowed in the recurrent melody of
Wyatt's farewell to his lute--

My lute, awake! perform the last
Labour that thou and I shall waste,
And end that I have now begun;
For when this song is sung and past,
My lute, be still, for I have done--

so they in their turn heralded the full strophic sonority of the

Lastly, in the 'December' we have the counterpart of the January eclogue,
a monologue in which Colin laments his wasted life and joyless, for

Winter is come, that blowes the balefull breath,
And after Winter commeth timely death.

Adieu, delightes, that lulled me asleepe;
Adieu, my deare, whose love I bought so deare;
Adieu, my little Lambes and loved sheepe;
Adieu, ye Woodes, that oft my witnesse were:
Adieu, good Hobbinoll, that was so true,
Tell Rosalind, her Colin bids her adieu.[94]

It will be seen from the above analysis that the architectonic basis of
Spenser's design consists of the three Colin eclogues standing
respectively at the beginning, in the middle, and at the close of the
year. These are symmetrically arranged: the 'January' and 'December' are
both alike monologues and agree in the stanza used, while the 'June' is a
dialogue and likewise differs in metrical form. This latter is supported
as it were by two subsidiary eclogues, those of April and August, in both
of which another shepherd sings one of Colin's lays and refers
incidentally to his passion for Rosalind. It is upon this framework that
are woven the various moral, polemical, and idyllic themes which Spenser
introduces. The attempt at uniting a series of poems into a single fabric
is Spenser's chief contribution to the formal side of pastoral
composition. The method by which he sought to correlate the various parts
so as to produce the singleness of impression necessary to a work of art,
and the measure of success which he achieved, though they belong more
strictly to the general history of poetry, must also detain us for a
moment. The chief and most obvious device is that suggested by the
title--_The Shepherd's Calender_--'Conteyning twelve Aeglogues
proportionable to the twelve monethes.' This might, indeed, have been no
more than a fanciful name for any series of twelve poems;[95] with Spenser
it indicates a conscious principle of artistic construction. It suggests,
what is moreover apparent from the eclogues themselves, that the author
intended to represent the spring and fall of the year as typical of the
life of man. The moods of the various poems were to be made to correspond
with the seasons represented; or, conversely, outward nature in its cycle
through the year was to reflect and thereby unify the emotions, thoughts,
and passions of the shepherds. This was a perfectly legitimate artistic
device, and one based on a fundamental principle of our nature, since the
appearance of objective phenomena is ever largely modified and coloured by
subjective feeling. Nor can it reasonably be objected against the device
that in the hands of inferior craftsmen it degenerates but too readily
into the absurdities of the 'pathetic fallacy,' or that Spenser himself is
not wholly guiltless of the charge.

Winter is come, that blowes the balefull breath,
And after Winter commeth timely death.

These lines bear witness to Spenser's intention. But the conceit is not
fully or consistently carried out. In several of the eclogues not only
does the subject in no way reflect the mood of the season--the very nature
of the theme at times made this impossible--but the time of year is not so
much as mentioned. This is more especially the case in the summer months;
there is no joy of the 'hygh seysoun,' and when it is mentioned it is
rather by way of contrast than of sympathy. Thus in June Colin mourns for
other days:

Tho couth I sing of love, and tune my pype
Unto my plaintive pleas in verses made:
Tho would I seeke for Queene-apples unrype,
To give my Rosalind; and in Sommer shade
Dight gaudy Girlonds was my common trade,
To crowne her golden locks: but yeeres more rype,
And losse of her, whose love as lyfe I wayd,
Those weary wanton toyes away dyd wype.

In the same eclogue we may trace a deliberate contrast between various
descriptive passages. Thus Hobbinol feels the magie of the summer woods--

Colin, to heare thy rymes and roundelayes,
Which thou were wont on wastfull hylls to singe,
I more delight then larke in Sommer dayes:
Whose Echo made the neyghbour groves to ring,
And taught the byrds, which in the lower spring
Did shroude in shady leaves from sonny rayes,
Frame to thy songe their chereful cheriping,
Or hold theyr peace, for shame of thy swete layes.

Closely following upon this stanza we have Colin's lament, 'The God of
shepheards, Tityrus, is dead,' containing the lines:

But, if on me some little drops would flowe
Of that the spring was in his learned hedde,
I soone would learne these woods to wayle my woe,
And teache the trees their trickling teares to shedde.

We have here a specifie inversion of the 'pathetic fallacy.' The moods of
nature are no longer represented as varying in sympathy with the passions
of man, but are deliberately used to heighten an effect by contrast. Even
this inverted correspondence, however, is for the most part lacking in the
subsequent eclogues, and it must be admitted that in so far as Spenser
depended on a cyclic correlation for the unifying of his design, he
achieved at best but partial effect. Another means by which he sought,
consciously or unconsciously, to produce unity of impression was by
consistently pitching his song in the minor key. This accounts for the
inverted correspondence just noted, and for the fact that even the
polemics have an undercurrent of regret in them. In this case the poet has
undoubtedly succeeded in carrying out the prevailing mood of the central
motive--the Rosalind drama--in the subsidiary scenes. Or should we not
rather say that he has extracted the general mood of the whole
composition, and infused it, in a kind of typical form, into the three
connected poems placed at critical points of the complex structure? The
unity, however, thus aimed at, and achieved, is very different from the
cyclic or architectonic unity described above, and of a much less definite

It remains to say a few words concerning the language of the _Calender_
and the rough accentual metre in which parts of it are composed, since
both have a particular bearing upon Spenser's attitude towards pastoral in

Ben Jonson, in one of those utterances which have won for him the
reputation of churlishness, but which are often marked by acute critical
sense, asserted that Spenser 'in affecting the Ancients writ no
Language.'[96] The remark applies first and foremost, of course, to the
_Calender_, and opens up the whole question of archaism and provincialism
in literature. This is far too wide a question to receive adequate
treatment here, and yet it appears forced upon us by the nature of the
case. For Spenser's archaism, in his pastoral work at least, is no
unmeaning affectation as Jonson implies. He perceived that the language of
Chaucer bore a closer resemblance to actual rustic speech than did the
literary language of his own day, and he adopted it for his imaginary
shepherds as a fitting substitute for the actual folk-tongue with which he
had grown familiar, whether in the form of rugged Lancashire or
full-mouthed Kentish. And the homely dialect does undoubtedly naturalize
the characters of his eclogues, and disguise the time-honoured platitudes
that they repeat from their learned predecessors. With our wider
appreciation of literary effect, and our more historical and less
authoritative manner of judging works of art, we can no longer endorse
Sidney's famous criticism:[97] 'That same framing of his stile, to an old
rustick language, I dare not alowe, sith neyther Theocritus in Greeke,
Virgill in Latine, nor Sanazar in Italian, did affect it.'[98] If a writer
finds an effective and picturesque word in an old author or in a homely
dialect it is but pedantry that opposes its use, and it matters little
moreover from what quarter of the land it may hail, as Stevenson knew when
he claimed the right of mingling Ayrshire with his Lothian verse. Even
such archaisms as 'deemen' and 'thinken,' such colloquialisms as the
pronominal possessive, need not be too severely criticized. What goes far
towards justifying Jonson's acrimony is the wanton confusion of different
dialectal forms; the indiscriminate use for the mere sake of archaism of
such variants as 'gate' beside the usual 'goat,' of 'sike' and 'sich'
beside 'such'; the coining of words like 'stanck,' apparently from the
Italian _stanco_; and lastly, the introduction of forms which owe their
origin to mere etymological ignorance, for instance, 'yede' as an
infinitive, 'behight' in the same sense as the simple verb, 'betight,'
'gride,' and many others--all of which do not tend to produce the homely
effect of mother English, but reek of all that is pedantic and

The influence of Chaucer was not confined to the language: from him
Spenser borrowed the metre of a considerable portion of the _Calender_. It
may at first sight appear strange to attribute to imitation of Chaucer's
smooth, carefully ordered verse the rather rugged measure of, say, the
February eclogue, but a little consideration will, I fancy, leave no doubt
upon the subject. This measure is roughly reducible to four beats with a
varying number of syllables in the _theses_, being thus purely accentual
as distinguished from the more strictly syllabic measures of Chaucer
himself on the one hand and the English Petrarchists on the other. Take
the following example:

The soveraigne of seas he blames in vaine,
That, once sea-beate, will to sea againe:
So loytring live you little heardgroomes,
Keeping you beastes in the budded broomes:
And, when the shining sunne laugheth once,
You deemen the Spring is come attonce;
Tho gynne you, fond flyes! the cold to scorne,
And, crowing in pypes made of greene corn,
You thinken to be Lords of the yeare;
But eft, when ye count you freed from feare,
Cornes the breme Winter with chamfred browes,
Full of wrinckles and frostie furrowes,
Drerily shooting his stormy darte,
Which cruddles the blood and pricks the harte:
Then is your carelesse corage accoied,
Your careful heards with cold bene annoied:
Then paye you the price of your surquedrie,
With weeping, and wailing, and misery.[100]

The syllabic value of the final _e_, already weakening in the London of
Chaucer's later days, was more or less of an archaism even with his most
immediate followers, none of whom use it with his unvarying correctness,
and it soon became literally a dead letter. The change was a momentous
one for English prosody, and none of the fifteenth-century writers
possessed sufficient poetic genius to adapt their verse to the altered
conditions of the language. They lived from hand to mouth, as it were,
without arriving at any systematic tradition. Thus it was that at the
beginning of the sixteenth century Hawes could write such verse as:

Of dame Astronomy I dyd take my lycence
For to travayle to the toure of Chyvalry;
For al my minde, wyth percyng influence,
Was sette upon the most fayre lady
La Bell Pucell, so muche ententyfly,
That every daye I dyd thinke fyftene,
Tyl I agayne had her swete person sene.[101]

It is this prosody, dependent usually upon a strong caesural pause to
differentiate it from prose, which may account for the harshness of some
of Wyatt's verse, and which rendered possible the barbarous metre of
Barclay. It was obviously impossible for a poet with an ear like Spenser
to accept such a metrical scheme as this; but his own study of Chaucer
produced a somewhat strange result. The one point which the late
Chaucerians preserved of their master's metric was the five-stress
character of his decasyllabic line; but in Spenser's day all memory of the
syllabic _e_ had long since vanished, and the only rhythm to be extracted
from Chaucer's verse was of a four-stress type. Professor Herford quotes a
passage from the Prologue of the _Canterbury Tales_ as it appears in
Thynne's second edition (1542), which Spenser would inevitably have read
as follows:

When zéphirus éke wyth hýs sote bréth
Enspýred hath évery hólte and héth,
The téndre cróppes, and the yóng sónne
Háth in the Rám halfe hys cóurse yrónne,
And smále foules máken mélodýe
That slépen al nýght with ópen éye, &c.

This certainly bears on the face of it a close resemblance to Spenser's
measure. There are, moreover, occasional difficulties in this method of
scansion, some lines refusing to accommodate themselves to the Procrustean
methods of sixteenth-century editors, and exactly similar anomalies are to
be found in Spenser. Such, for instance, are the lines in the May eclogue:

Tho opened he the dore, and in came
The false Foxe, as he were starke lame.

Now these lines may be written in strict Chaucerian English thus:

Tho openëd he the dore, and innë came
The falsë fox, as he were starkë lamë,

and they at once become perfectly metrical. Under these circumstances
there can, I think, be little doubt as to the literary parentage of
Spenser's accentual measure.[102]

Like the archaic dialect, this homely measure tends to bring Spenser's
shepherds closer to their actual English brethren. And hereby, it should
be frankly acknowledged, the incongruity of the speakers and their
discourse is emphasized and increased. That discourse, it is true, runs on
pastoral themes, but the disguise and allegory have worn thin with
centuries of use. We can no longer separate the words from the allusions,
and consequently we can no longer accept the speakers in their
unsophisticated shepherd's rôle. Yet it was precisely the desire to give
reality to these transparent phantasms that led Spenser to endow them with
a rustic speech. Whether he failed or succeeded the paradox of the form
remains about equal.[103]

The importance of the _Shepherd's Calender_ was early recognized, not
only by friendly critics, but by the general public likewise, and six
editions were called for in less than twenty years. Not long after its
appearance John Dove, a Christ Church man, who appears to have been
ignorant of the authorship, turned the whole into Latin verse, dedicating
the manuscript to the Dean.[104] Another Latin version is found in
manuscript in the British Museum copy of the edition of 1597, and after
undergoing careful revision finally appeared in print in 1653. This was
the work of one Bathurst, a fellow of Spenser's own college of Pembroke at

The _Shepherd's Calender_ was Spenser's chief contribution to pastoral;
indeed it was by so much his most important contribution that it would
hardly be worth while examining the others did they not bear witness to a
certain change in his attitude towards the pastoral ideal.

The first of these later works is the isolated but monumental eclogue
entitled _Colin Clouts come Home again_, of which the dedication to
Raleigh is dated 1591, though it was not published till four years later.
This, perhaps the longest and most elaborate eclogue ever written,
describes how the Shepherd of the Ocean, that is Raleigh, induced Colin
Clout, who as before represents Spenser, to leave his rustic retreat in

the cooly shade
Of the greene alders by the Mallaes shore,

and try his fortune at the court of the great shepherdess Cynthia, and how
he ultimately returned to Ireland. The verse marks, as might be expected,
a considerable advance in smoothness and command of rhythm over the
non-lyrical portions of the _Calender_, and the dialect, too, is much less
harsh, being far advanced towards that peculiar poetic diction which
Spenser adopted in his more ambitions work. On the other hand, in spite of
a certain _allegrezza_ in the handling, and in spite of the Rosalind wound
being at least partially healed, the same minor key prevails as in the
earlier poems. In the spring of the great age of English song Spenser's
note is like the voice of autumn, not the fruitful autumn of cornfield and
orchard, but a premature barrenness of wet and fallen leaves--

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall.

Thus though time has purged the bitterness of his sorrow, the regret
remains; his early love is still the mistress of his thoughts, but years
have softened his reproaches, and he admits:

who with blame can justly her upbrayd,
For loving not; for who can love compell?--

a petard, it may be incidentally remarked, which, sprung within the bounds
of pastoral, is of power to pulverize in an instant the whole artificial
system of amatory ethics.

The most notable points in the poem are the loves of the rivers Bregog and
Mulla, the famous list of contemporary poets, and the presentation of the
seamy side of court life, recalling the more direct satire of the probably
contemporary _Mother Hubberd's Tale_. The first of these belongs to the
class of Ovidian myths already noticed in such works as Lorenzo's _Ambra_.
The subject, however, is treated in a more subtly allegorical manner than
by Ovid's direct imitators, and this mode of presentment likewise
characterizes Spenser's tale of Molanna in the fragment on
Mutability.[106] Browne returned to a more crudely metamorphical tradition
in the loves of Walla and Tavy, while a similarly mythological
_Naturanschauung_ may be traced in Drayton's chorographical epic.

Of the miscellaneous _Astrophel_, edited and in part composed by Spenser,
which was appended to _Colin Clout_, and of the _Daphnaïda_ published in
1596, though, like the former volume, containing a dedication dated 1591,
a passing mention must suffice. The former is chiefly remarkable as
illustrating the uniformly commonplace character of the verse called forth
by the death of one who, while he lived, was held the glory of Elizabethan
chivalry. It contains, beside other verse, pastoral elegies from the pens,
certainly of Spenser, and probably of the Countess of Pembroke, Matthew
Roydon, and Lodowick Bryskett. The last-named, or at any rate a
contributor with the same initiais, also supplied a 'Pastorall Aeglogue'
on the same theme. _Daphnaïda_ is a long lament in pastoral form on the
death of Douglas Howard, daughter of the Earl of Northampton.

Of far greater importance for our present purpose is the pastoral
interlude in the quest of Sir Calidore, which occupies the last four
cantos of the sixth book of the _Faery Queen_.[107] Here is told how Sir
Calidore, the knight of courtesy, in his quest of the Blatant Beast came
among the shepherd-folk and fell in love with the fair Pastorella, reputed
daughter of old Meliboee; how he won her love in return through his valour
and courtesy; how while he was away hunting she was carried off by a band
of robbers; how he followed and rescued her; and finally, how she was
discovered to be the daughter of the lord of Belgard--at which point the
poem breaks off abruptly. The story has points of resemblance with the
Dorastus and Fawnia, or Florizel and Perdita, legend; but it also has
another and more important claim upon our attention. For as Shakespeare in
_As You Like It_, so Spenser in this episode has, as it were, passed
judgement upon the pastoral ideal as a whole. He is acutely sensitive to
the charm of that ideal and the seductions it offers to his hero--

Ne, certes, mote he greatly blamed be,

says the poet of the _Faery Queen_ recalling the days when he was plain
Colin Clout--but the

perfect pleasures, which do grow
Amongst poore hyndes, in hils, in woods, in dales,

are not allowed to afford more than a temporary solace to the knight; the
robbers break in upon the rustic quietude, rapine and murder succeed the
peaceful occupations of the shepherds, and Sir Calidore is driven once
again to resume his arduous quest. The same idea may be traced in the
knight's visit to the heaven-haunted hill where he meets Colin Clout. In

hundred naked maidens lilly white
All raunged in a ring and dauncing in delight

to the sound of Colin's bagpipe, and who, together with the Graces and
their sovereign lady, vanish at the knight's approach, it is surely not
fanciful to see the gracious shadows of the idyllic poet's vision trooping
reluctantly away at the call of a more lofty theme. With this sense of
regret at the vanishing of an ideal long cherished, but at last
deliberately abandoned for matters of deeper and more real import, we may
turn from the work of the most important figure in English pastoral poetry
to his less famous contemporaries.


Besides its wider influence on English verse, and the stimulus it gave to
pastoral composition as a whole, the _Shepherd's Calender_ called forth a
series of direct imitations. Of these the majority are but of accidental
and ephemeral interest and of inconspicuous merit; and it is probable that
Spenser himself lived to see the end of this over-direct school of
discipleship. Several examples appeared in Francis Davison's famous
miscellany known as the _Poetical Rhapsody_, the first edition of which,
though it only appeared in 1602, contained the gleanings of the entire
sixteenth century.[108] Of these imitations, four in number, the first,
the work of the editor himself, is a very poor production. It is a love
lament, and the insertion of a song in a complicated lyrical measure in a
plain stanzaic setting is evidently copied from the _Calender_. The other
three poems are ascribed, either in the _Rhapsody_ itself or in Davison's
manuscript list, to a certain A. W., who so far remains unidentified, if,
indeed, the letters conceal any individuality and do not merely stand for
'Anonymous Writer,' as has been sometimes thought. The three eclogues at
any rate bear evidence of coming from the same pen, and the following
lines show that the writer was no incompetent imitator, and at the same
time argue some genuine feeling:

Thou 'ginst as erst forget thy former state,
And range amid the busks thyself to feed:
Fair fall thee, little flock! both rathe and late;
Was never lover's sheep that well did speed.
Thou free, I bound; thou glad, I pine in pain;
I strive to die, and thou to live full fain.

The first of these poems is a monologue 'entitled Cuddy,' modelled on the
January eclogue. The second is a lament 'made long since upon the death of
Sir Philip Sidney,' in which the writer wonders at Colin's silence, and
which consequently must, at least, date from before the appearance of
_Astrophel_ in 1595, and is probably some years earlier. It is in the form
of a dialogue between two shepherds, one of whom sings Cuddy's lament in
lyrical stanzas, thus recalling Spenser's 'November.' These stanzas do not
reveal any great metrical gift. The last poem is a fragment 'concerning
old age,' which connects itself by its theme with the February eclogue,
though the form is stanzaic.[109] Again we find mention of Cuddy, a name
evidently assumed by the author, though whether he can be identified with
the Cuddie of the _Calender_ it is impossible to say. Whoever he was, he
shows more disposition than most of his fellow imitators to preserve
Spenser's archaisms.

But undoubtedly the greatest poet who was content to follow immediately
in Spenser's footsteps was Michael Drayton, who in 1593 published a volume
entitled 'Idea The Shepheards Garland, Fashioned in nine Eglogs. Rowlands
Sacrifice to the nine Muses.' This connexion between the number of the
eclogues and the muses is purely fanciful; Rowland is Drayton's pastoral
name, and Idea, which re-appeared as the title of the 1594 volume of
sonnets, is that of his poetic mistress.[110] It can hardly be said that
the verse of these poems attains any very high order of merit, but the
imitation of Spenser is evident throughout. In the first eclogue Rowland
bewails, in the midst of spring, 'the winter of his grief.' In this and
the corresponding monologue at the end he clearly follows Spenser's
arrangement and likewise adopts his minor key--

Fayre Philomel, night-musicke of the spring,
Sweetly recordes her tunefull harmony,
And with deepe sobbes, and dolefull sorrowing,
Before fayre Cinthya actes her Tragedy.

In Eclogue II a 'wise' shepherd warns a youth against love, and draws a
somewhat gruesome picture of human fate--

And when the bell is readie to be tol'd
To call the wormes to thine Anatomie,
Remember then, my boy, what once I said to thee!

Even this, however, fails to shake the lover's faith in the gentle
passion, and his enthusiasm finds vent in an apostrophe borrowed from

Oh divine love, which so aloft canst raise,
And lift the minde out of this earthly mire.

The next eclogue, containing a panegyric on Elizabeth under the name of
Beta, is closely modelled on the 'April,' and abounds with such
reminiscences as the following:

Make her a goodly Chapilet of azur'd Colombine,
And wreath about her Coronet with sweetest Eglantine:
Bedeck our Beta all with Lillies,
And the dayntie Daffadillies,
With Roses damask, white, and red, and fairest flower delice,
With Cowslips of Jerusalem, and cloves of Paradice.

Here, however, Drayton shows himself more skilful in dealing with a
lyrical stanza than most of his fellow imitators. In the fourth eclogue
two shepherds sing a dirge made by Rowland on the death of Elphin, that is
Sidney. In the next Rowland himself sings the praises of Idea; and in the
sixth Perkin those of Pandora, doubtless the Countess of Pembroke. The
seventh is a singularly unentertaining dispute, in which typical
representatives of age and youth abuse one another by turns; the eighth is
a description of the golden age, a theme Spenser had omitted; and lastly,
in the ninth we return to the opening love-motive, this time, as in the
_Calender_, amid the frosts of winter.

These eclogues were reprinted in a different order in the 'Poems Lyric and
Pastoral' (_c._ 1606) with one additional poem there numbered the ninth.
This describes a rustic gathering of shepherds and nymphs, and contains
several songs. The verse exhibits no small advance on the earlier work,
and one song at least is in the author's daintiest manner. He seldom
surpassed the graceful conceit of the lines:

Through yonder vale as I did passe,
Descending from the hill,
I met a smerking bony lasse;
They call her Daffadill:

Whose presence as along she went,
The prety flowers did greet,
As though their heads they downward bent
With homage to her feete.

Spenser, in spite of the warning he addressed to his book--

Dare not to match thy pype with Tityrus his style,
Nor with the Pilgrim that the Ploughman playde awhyle--

could nevertheless assert in semi-burlesque rime:

It shall continewe till the worlds dissolution;

and his disciple is not to be outdone. Never was truer lover or sweeter

Oenon never upon Ida hill
So oft hath cald on Alexanders name,
As hath poore Rowland with an Angels quill
Erected trophies of Ideas fame:
Yet that false shepheard, Oenon, fled from thee;
I follow her that ever flies from me.

Thus Drayton endeavoured to follow in the footsteps of a greater than he,
and small success befell him in his uncongenial task. He knew little and
cared less about the moral and philosophical rags that clung yet about the
pastoral tradition. He sang, in his lighter vein at least, for the mere
pleasure that his song could afford to himself and others: the Spenserian
and traditional garb fits him ill. His golden age is rather amorous than
philosophical; he is more concerned that love should be free and true than
that the earth should yield her fruits unwounded of the plough; and even
so he hastens away from that colourless age to troll the delightful ballad
of Dowsabel. The inspiration for this he found, not in Spenser and his
learned predecessors, but in the popular romances, and in it we hear for
the first time the voice of the real Michael Drayton, the accredited bard
to the court of Faery. So again in the barren dispute of the seventh
eclogue, he turns aside from his theme as the shadow of the winged god
flits across his path--

That pretie Cupid, little god of love,
Whose imped winges with speckled plumes been dight,
Who striketh men below and Gods above,
Roving at randon with his feathered flight,
When lovely Venus sits and gives the ayme,
And smiles to see her little Bantlings game.

If these eclogues formed Drayton's only claim upon our attention as a
pastoral poet there would be no excuse for lingering over him. He left
other work, however, which, if but slightly pastoral in subject, is at
least thoroughly so in form and spirit. The _Muses Elizium_ did not appear
till 1630, and it is consequently not a little premature to speak of it in
this place. It is, however, so important as illustrating the freer and
more spontaneous vein traceable in many English pastoralists from Henryson
onwards, that it is worth while to place it for comparison side by side
with the more orthodox tradition as exemplified, in spite of his
originality, in the work of Spenser.

The _Muses Elizium_ is in truth the culmination of a long sequence of
pastoral work. Of this I have already discussed the beginnings when
dealing with the native pastoral impulse; and however much it was
influenced at a later date by foreign models it never submitted to the
yoke of orthodox tradition, and to the end retained much of its freshness.
The early anthologies are full of this sort of verse, the song-books are
full of it, and so are the romances and the plays. To this lyrical
tradition belong Breton's songs, of which one has already been quoted;
there was hardly a poet of note at the end of the sixteenth century who
did not contribute his quota. We find it once more, intermingling with a
certain formal strain, in Drayton's _Shepherds' Sirena_ containing the
delightful song, with its subtle interchange of dactylic and iambic
rhythms, so admirably characteristic of the author of the _Agincourt_

Neare to the Silver Trent
Sirena dwelleth,
Shee to whom Nature lent
All that excelleth;
By which the Muses late
And the neate Graces,
Have for their greater state
Taken their places:
Twisting an Anadem
Wherewith to Crowne her,
As it belong'd to them
Most to renowne her.
On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke
Let thy Swanes sing her
And with their Musick
along let them bring her.

In this pervading impulse of pure and spontaneous pastoral the soul of
what is sweet and winning in things common and familiar as our household
fairies blends with the fresh glamour of early love and the dainty
delights of an ideal world, where despair is only less sweet than
fruition, and love only less divine than chastity, where, as Drayton
frankly tells us,

The winter here a Summer is,
No waste is made by time,
Nor doth the Autumne ever misse
The blossomes of the Prime;

The flower that July forth doth bring,
In Aprill here is seene,
The Primrose, that puts on the Spring,
In July decks each Greene,

a world, in short, in which the nymphs may strew the laureate hearse, not
only with all the flowers and fruits of earth, but with the Amaranth of
paradise and the stars of heaven if the fancy takes them. Of a spirit
compounded of these elements and of its quintessence are the 'Nymphals' of
the _Muses Elizium_. There are portions of the work, it is true, in which
the more vulgar strains of the conventional pastoral make themselves
heard, as in the satires of the fourth and tenth Nymphals; but for the
most part we are allowed to wander undisturbed among the woods and
pastures of an earthly paradise, and revel in the fairy laureate's most
imaginative work. There we meet Lirope, of whom

Some said a God did her beget,
But much deceiv'd were they,
Her Father was a Rivelet,
Her Mother was a Fay.
Her Lineaments so fine that were
She from the Fayrie tooke,
Her Beauties and Complection cleere
By nature from the Brooke.

There Naiis sings, roguishly enough, in the martial metre of _Agincourt_:

'Cloe, I scorne my Rime
Should observe feet or time,
Now I fall, then I clime,
What is't I dare not?'

'Give thy Invention wing,
And let her flert and fling,
Till downe the Rocks she ding,
For that I care not';

the song then breaking off into gamesome anapaests:

The gentle winds sally
Upon every Valley,
And many times dally
And wantonly sport,
About the fields tracing,
Each other in chasing,
And often imbracing,
In amorous sort.

There, again, we listen to the litany of the Muses, with the response:

Sweet Muse, perswade our Phoebus to inspire
Us for his Altars with his holiest fire,
And let his glorious, ever-shining Rayes
Give life and growth to our Elizian Bayes;

or else hear the fairy prothalamium, most irrepressible and inimitable of
bridal songs--

For our Tita is this day
Married to a noble Fay.

There, lastly, we behold the flutter of tender breasts half veiled when
Venus and her wayward archer are abroad, and listen as fair Lelipa reads
the decree:

To all th' Elizian Nimphish Nation,
Thus we make our Proclamation
Against Venus and her Sonne,
For the mischeefe they have done:
After the next last of May,
The fixt and peremptory day,
If she or Cupid shall be found
Upon our Elizian ground,
Our Edict mere Rogues shall make them,
And as such, who ere shall take them,
Them shall into prison put;
Cupids wings shall then be cut,
His Bow broken, and his Arrowes
Given to Boyes to shoot at Sparrowes;
And this Vagabond be sent,
Having had due punishment,
To mount Cytheron, which first fed him,
Where his wanton Mother bred him,
And there, out of her protection,
Dayly to receive correction.
Then her Pasport shall be made,
And to Cyprus Isle convayd,
And at Paphos, in her Shryne,
Where she hath beene held divine,
For her offences found contrite,
There to live an Anchorite.

We have here the very essence of whatever most delicately and quaintly
exquisite the half sincere and half playful ideal of pastoral had
generated since the days of Moschus.

How is it then, we may pause a moment to inquire, that in spite of its
crudities of language and even of metre, in spite of its threadbare themes
but half repatched with homelier cloth, in spite of its tedious
theological controversies, its more or less conventional loves and more or
less exaggerated panegyrics--how is it that in spite of all this we still
regard the _Shepherd's Calender_ as serious literature; while with all its
exquisite justness, as of ivory carved and tinted by the hand of a master
and encrusted with the sparkle of a thousand gems, the _Muses' Elizium_
remains a toy? It is not merely the prestige of the author's name: it is
not merely that we tend to accept the work of each at his own valuation.
We have to seek the explanation of the phenomenon in the fact that not
only has the _Shepherd's Calender_ behind it a vast tradition, reverend if
somewhat otiose--the devotion of men counts for something--but also that,
however stiffly laced in an unsuitable garb, it sought to deal with
matters of real import to man, or at any rate with what man has held as
such. It treated questions of religious policy which touched the majority
of men more nearly then than now; with moral problems calculated to
interest the mind of an age still tinged with medievalism; with
philosophical theories of human and divine love. In other words, the
_Shepherd's Calender_ lay in the main stream of literature, and reflected
the mind of the age, while the _Muses' Elizium_, in common with so much
pastoral work, did not. These considerations open up an interesting field
of speculation. Are we to suppose that there is indeed a line of
demarcation between great art and little art wholly independent of that
which divides good art from bad art? Are we to go further, and assume that
these two lines of division intersect, so that a work may be akin to
great art though it be not good art, while, however perfect a work of art
may be, it may remain little art for some wholly non-aesthetic reason? But
we digress.


It will be convenient, in dealing with the considerable volume of English
pastoral verse which has come down to us from the late sixteenth and early
seventeenth centuries, to divide it into two portions, according as it
tends to attach itself to orthodox foreign tradition on the one hand, or
to the more spontaneous native type on the other. To the former division
belong in the main the more ambitious set pieces and eclogue-cycles, to
the latter the lighter and more occasional verse, the pastoral ballads and
the lyrics. The division is necessarily somewhat arbitrary, for the two
traditions act and react on one another incessantly, and the types merge
almost imperceptibly the one into the other; but that does not prevent the
spirit that manifests itself in Drayton's eclogues being essentially
different from that which produced Breton's songs. I shall not, however,
try to draw any hard and fast line between the two, but shall rather deal
first with those writers whose most important work inclines to the more
formal tradition, and shall then endeavour to give some account of the
lighter pastoral verse of the time.

After the appearance of the _Shepherd's Calender_ some years elapsed
before English poetry again ventured upon the domain of pastoral, at least
in any serious composition. In 1589, however, appeared a small quarto
volume, with the title: 'An Eglogue. Gratulatorie. Entituled: To the right
honorable, and renowmed Shepheard of Albions Arcadia: Robert Earle of
Essex and Ewe, for his welcome into England from Portugall. Done by George
Peele. Maister of arts in Oxon.' Like the 'A. W.' of the _Rhapsody_, Peele
followed Spenser more closely than most of his fellow imitators in the use
of dialect, but his eclogue on the not particularly glorious return of
Essex has little interest. His importance as a pastoralist lies elsewhere.

The following year the poet of the _Hecatompathia_, Thomas Watson, a
pastoralist of note according to the critics of his own age, but whose
work in this line is chiefly Latin, published his 'Ecloga in Obitum
Honoratissimi Viri, Domini Francisci Walsinghami, Equitis aurati, Divae
Elizabethae a secretis, & sanctioribus consiliis,' entitled _Meliboeus_,
and also in the same year a translation of the piece into English. The
latter is considerably shorter than the original, but still of tedious
length. The usual transition from the dirge to the paean is managed with
more than the usual lack of effect. The eclogue contains a good deal
beyond its immediate subject; for instance, a lament for Astrophel, a
passage in praise of Spenser, and a panegyric on

Diana, matchless Queene of Arcadie--

all subjects hardly possible for a poet to escape, writing _more
pastorali_ in 1590. Watson also left several other pastoral compositions
in the learned tongue, which, from their eponymous hero, won for him the
shepherd-name of Amyntas. Thus in 1585 he published a work in Latin
hexameter verse with the title 'Amyntas Thomae Watsoni Londinensis I. V.
studiosi,' divided into eleven 'Querelae,' which was 'paraphrastically
translated' by Abraham Fraunce into English hexameters, and published
under the title 'The Lamentations of Amyntas for the death of Phillis' in
1587. This translation, 'somewhat altered' to serve as a sequel to an
English hexametrical version of Tasso's _Aminta_, was republished in 'The
Countesse of Pembrokes Ivychurch' of 1591. Again in 1592 Watson produced
another work entitled _Amintae Gaudia_, part of which was translated under
the title _An Old-fashioned Love_, and published as by I. T. in 1594.[111]

Next in order--passing over Drayton, with whom we have been already
sufficiently concerned--is a writer who, without the advantage of original
genius or brilliant imagination, succeeded by mere charm of poetic style
and love of natural beauty, in lifting his work above the barren level of
contemporary pastoral verse. Richard Barnfield's _Affectionate Shepherd_,
imitated, as he frankly confesses, from Vergil's _Alexis_, appeared in
1594. Appended to it was a poem similar in tone and spirit, entitled _The
Shepherd's Content_, containing a description of country life and scenery,
together with a lamentation for Sidney, a hymn to love, a praise of the
poets, and other similar matters. The easy if somewhat monotonous grace
which pervades both these pieces is seen to better advantage in the
delightful _Shepherd's Ode_, which appeared in his _Cynthia_ of 1595, and

Nights were short and days were long,
Blossoms on the hawthorn hong,
Philomel, night-music's king,
Told the coming of the spring;

or in the yet more perfect song:

As it fell upon a day
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a group of myrtles made,
Beasts did leap and birds did sing,
Trees did grow and plants did spring,
Everything did banish moan,
Save the nightingale alone;
She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
Lean'd her breast against a thorn,
And there sung the dolefull'st ditty,
That to hear it was great pity....
Ah, thought I, thou mourn'st in vain,
None takes pity on thy pain.
Senseless trees, they cannot hear thee;
Ruthless beasts, they will not cheer thee;
King Pandion he is dead,
All thy friends are lapp'd in lead[112];
All thy fellow birds do sing,
Careless of thy sorrowing;
Even so, poor bird, like thee,
None alive will pity me[113].

No particular interest attaches to the four eclogues included in Thomas
Lodge's _Fig for Momus_, published in 1595, but they serve to throw light
on a kind of pastoral freemasonry that was springing up at this period.
Spenser and Sidney, under the names of Colin and Astrophel, or more rarely
Philisides, were firmly fixed in poetic tradition; Barnfield, by coupling
them with these, made Watson and Drayton free of the craft in his
complaint to Love in the _Shepherd's Content_:

By thee great Collin lost his libertie,
By thee sweet Astrophel forwent his joy,
By thee Amyntas wept incessantly,
By thee good Rowland liv'd in great annoy.

Now we find Lodge dedicating his four eclogues respectively to Colin,
Menalcus, Rowland, and Daniel. Who Menalcus was is uncertain; not, it
would seem, a poet. The themes are serious, even weighty according to the
estimation of the author, and befit the mood of the poet who first sought
to acclimatize the classical satire[114]. These eclogues do not, however,
testify to any high poetic gift, any more than do the couple in a lighter
vein found in the _Phillis_ of 1593. Lodge was happier in the lyric verses

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