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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama by Walter W. Greg

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Danes, who in steed of sacrifice, committed sacrilidge, in steede of
religion, rebellion, and made a pray of that in which they should have
made theyr prayers, tearing downe the Temple even with the earth, being
almost equall with the skyes, enraged so the God who bindes the windes
in the hollowes of the earth, that he caused the Seas to breake their
bounds, sith men had broke their vowes, and to swell as farre above
theyr reach, as men had swarved beyond theyr reason: then might you see
shippes sayle where sheepe fedde, ankers cast where ploughes goe,
fishermen throw theyr nets, where husbandmen sowe their Corne, and
fishes throw their scales where fowles doe breede theyr quils: then
might you gather froth where nowe is dewe, rotten weedes for sweete
roses, and take viewe of monstrous Maremaides, in steed of passing faire

The unsuitability of the style for dramatic purposes will by this be
somewhat painfully evident, and, as may be imagined, the effect is even
less happy in the case of dialogue. To pursue: the offended deity consents
to withdraw his waters on the condition of a lustral sacrifice of the
fairest virgin of the land, who is to be exposed bound to a tree by the
shore, whence she is carried off by the monster Agar, in whom we may no
doubt see a personification of the 'eagre' or tidal wave of the Humber. At
the opening of the play we find the two fairest virgins of the land
disguised as boys by their respective fathers, in order that they may
escape the penalty of beauty. While they wander the fields and graves,
another maiden is exposed as the sacrifice, but Neptune, offended by the
deceit, rejects the proffered victim, and no monster appears to claim its
prey. In the meanwhile, Cupid has eluded the maternal vigilance, and,
disguised as a nymph, is beginning to display his powers among the
followers of Diana. Here is an example of a euphuistic dialogue. Cupid
accosts one of the nymphs:

Faire Nimphe, are you strayed from your companie by chaunce, or love
you to wander solitarily on purpose?

_Nymph._ Faire boy, or god, or what ever you bee, I would you knew
these woods are to me so wel known, that I cannot stray though I would,
and my minde so free, that to be melancholy I have no cause. There is
none of Dianaes trayne that any can traine, either out of their waie,
or out of their wits.

_Cupid._ What is that Diana? a goddesse? what her Nimphes?
virgins? what her pastimes? hunting?

_Nym._ A goddesse? who knowes it not? Virgins? who thinkes it not?
Hunting? who loves it not?

_Cup._ I pray thee, sweete wench, amongst all your sweete troope, is
there not one that followeth the sweetest thing, sweet love?

_Nym._ Love, good sir, what meane you by it? or what doe you call it?

_Cup._ A heate full of coldnesse, a sweet full of bitternesse, a paine
ful of pleasantnesse; which maketh thoughts have eyes, and harts eares;
bred by desire, nursed by delight, weaned by jelousie, kild by
dissembling, buried by ingratitude; and this is love! fayre Lady,
wil you any?

_Nym._ If it be nothing else, it is but a foolish thing.

_Cup._ Try, and you shall find it a prettie thing.

_Nym._ I have neither will nor leysure, but I will followe Diana in the
Chace, whose virgins are all chast, delighting in the bowe that wounds
the swift Hart in the Forrest, not fearing the bowe that strikes the
softe hart in the Chamber.

The nymphs are soon in love with the two girls in disguise, and what is
more, each of these, supposing the other to be what her apparel betokens,
falls in love with her. After a while, however, Diana becomes suspicious
of the stranger nymph, and her followers make a capture of the boy-god,
whom they identify by the burn on his shoulder caused by Psyche's lamp,
and set him to untie love-knots. There follows one of those charming songs
for which Lyly is justly, or unjustly, famous[216].

O Yes, O yes, if any Maid,
Whom lering Cupid has betraid
To frownes of spite, to eyes of scorne,
And would in madnes now see torne
The Boy in Pieces--Let her come
Hither, and lay on him her doome.

O yes, O yes, has any lost
A Heart, which many a sigh hath cost;
Is any cozened of a teare,
Which (as a Pearle) disdaine does weare?--
Here stands the Thiefe, let her but come
Hither, and lay on him her doome.

Is any one undone by fire,
And Turn'd to ashes through desire?
Did ever any Lady weepe,
Being cheated of her golden sleepe,
Stolne by sicke thoughts?--The pirats found,
And in her teares hee shalbe drownd.
Reade his Inditement, let him heare
What hees to trust to: Boy, give eare!

This is the position of affairs when Venus appears in search of her
wanton, and is shortly followed by the irate Neptune. After some
disputing, Neptune, to quiet the strife between the goddesses, proposes
that Diana shall restore the runaway to his mother, in return for which he
will release the land for ever from its virgin tribute. This happily
agreed upon, the only difficulty remaining is the strange passion between
the two girls. Venus, however, proves equal to the occasion, and solves
the situation by transforming one of them into a man. An allusion to the
story of Iphis and Ianthe told in the ninth book of the _Metamorphoses_
suggests the source of the incident[217]. Otherwise the play appears to be
in the main original. The exposing of a maiden to the rage of a
sea-monster has been, of course, no novelty since the days of Andromeda,
but it is unnecessary to seek a more immediate source[218]; while the
intrusion of Cupid in disguise among the nymphs was doubtless suggested by
the well-known idyl of Moschus, and probably owes to this community of
source such resemblance as it possesses to the prologue of the _Aminta_.
A comic element is supplied by a sort of young rascals, and a mariner, an
alchemist, and an astrologer, who are totally unconnected with the rest of
the play. The supposed allusions to real characters need not be taken
seriously. Lyly's rascals are generally recognized as the direct ancestors
of some of Shakespeare's comic characters, and we not seldom find in them
the germ at least of the later poet's irresistible fun. Take such a speech
as Robin's: 'Why be they deade that be drownd? I had thought they had
beene with the fish, and so by chance beene caught up with them in a Nette
againe. It were a shame a little cold water should kill a man of reason,
when you shall see a poore Mynow lie in it, that hath no understanding.'
As regards the euphuistic style, the passages already quoted will suffice,
but it may be remarked that the marvellous natural history is also put
under requisition. 'Virgins harts, I perceive,' remarks one of Diana's
nymphs, 'are not unlike Cotton trees, whose fruite is so hard in the
budde, that it soundeth like steele, and beeing rype, poureth forth
nothing but wooll, and theyr thoughts, like the leaves of Lunary, which
the further they growe from the Sunne, the sooner they are scorched with
his beames.' At times one is almost tempted to imagine that Lyly is
laughing in his sleeve, but as soon as he feels an eye upon him, his face
would again do credit to a judge. The following is from a scene between
the two disguised maidens:

_Phillida._ It is pitty that Nature framed you not a woman, having
a face so faire, so lovely a countenaunce, so modest a behaviour.

_Gallathea._ There is a Tree in Tylos, whose nuttes have shels like
fire, and being cracked, the karnell is but water.

_Phil._ What a toy is it to tell mee of that tree, beeing nothing
to the purpose:
I say it is pity you are not a woman.

_Gall._ I would not wish to be a woman, unless it were because thou art
a man. (III. ii.)

_Gallathea_ may be plausibly enough assigned to the year 1584[219]. The
date of the next play we have to deal with, _Love's Metamorphosis_, is
less certain, though Mr. Fleay's conjecture of 1588-9 seems reasonable.
All that can be said with confidence is that it was later than
_Gallathea_, to which it contains allusions, that it is an inferior work,
and that it has the appearance at least of having been botched up in a
hurry[220]. The story is as follows. Three shepherds, or rather woodmen,
are in love with three of the nymphs of Ceres, but meet with little
success, one of the maidens proving obdurate, another proud, and the third
fickle. The lovers make complaint to Cupid, who consents at their request
to transform the disdainful fair ones into a rock, a rose, and a bird
respectively. Hereupon Ceres in her turn complains to the God of Love, who
promises that the three shall regain their proper shapes if Ceres will
undertake that they shall thereupon consent to the love of the swains. She
does so, and her nymphs are duly restored to their own forms, but at first
flatly refuse to comply with the conditions. After a while they yield:

_Nisa._ I am content, so as Ramis, when hee finds me cold in love, or
hard in beliefe, hee attribute it to his owne folly; in that I retaine
some nature of the Rocke he chaunged me into....

_Celia._ I consent, so as Montanus, when in the midst of his sweete
delight, shall find some bitter overthwarts, impute it to his folly,
in that he suffered me to be a Rose, that hath prickles with her
pleasantnes, as hee is like to have with my love shrewdnes....

_Niobe._ I yeelded first in mind though it bee my course last to
speake: but if Silvestris find me not ever at home, let him curse
himselfe that gave me wings to flie abroad, whose feathers if his
jealousie shall breake, my policie shall imp.[221] (V. iv.)

This plot, at once elementary and violent, is combined with the fantastic
story of Erisichthon, 'a churlish husband-man,' who in the nymphs' despite
cuts down the sacred tree of Ceres, into which the chaste Fidelia had
been transformed. For this offence the goddess dooms him to the plague of
hunger. The ghastly description of this monster, who may be compared with
Browne's Limos, was probably suggested by some similar descriptions in the
_Faery Queen_ (I. iv. and III. xii). Erisichthon is put to all manner of
shifts to satisfy the hunger with which he is ever consumed, and is at
last forced to sell his daughter Protea to a merchant, in order to keep
himself alive. Protea, it appears, was at one time the paramour of
Neptune, who now in answer to her prayer comes to her aid in such a way
that, when about to embark on the vessel of her purchaser, she justifies
her name by changing into the likeness of an old fisherman. The deluded
merchant, after seeking her awhile, is obliged to set sail and depart
without his ware. She returns home to find her lover Petulius being
tempted by a 'syren,' who is evidently a mermaid with looking-glass and
comb and scaly tail, disporting herself by the shore--the scene being
laid, by the way, on the coast of Arcadia. Protea at once changes her
disguise to the ghost of Ulysses, and is in time to warn her lover of his
danger. Finally, at Cupid's intercession her father is relieved of his
affliction by the now appeased goddess. This plot is even more crudely
distinct from the principal action of the play than is usual with

It will be noticed that in the play we have just been considering the
nymphs are no longer treated with the same respect as was the case in
_Gallathea_; we have, in fact, advanced some way towards the satirical
conception and representation of womankind which gives the tone to the
_Woman in the Moon_. It would almost seem as though his experience of the
inconstancy of the royal sunshine had made Lyly a less enthusiastic
devotee of womanhood in general and of virginity in particular, and that
with an unadvised frankness which may well account for his disappointments
at court, he failed to conceal his feelings. The play is likewise
distinguished from the other dramatic works of its author by being
composed almost entirely in blank verse. Certain lines of the prologue--

Remember all is but a Poets dreame,
The first he had in Phoebus holy bowre,
But not the last, unlesse the first displease--

have not unnaturally been taken to mean that the piece was the first
venture of the author; but on investigation this will be seen to be
impossible, since the constant reminiscence of Marlowe in the construction
of the verse points to 1588 or at earliest to 1587 as the date. Mr.
Fleay's suggestion of 1589-90 may be accepted as the earliest likely
date[223]. To my mind it would need external proof of an unusually cogent
description to render plausible the theory that the year, say, of the
_Shepherd's Calender_ saw the appearance of such lines as:

What lack I now but an imperiall throne[224],
And Ariadnaes star-lyght Diadem? (II. i.)


O Stesias, what a heavenly love hast thou!
A love as chaste as is Apolloes tree,
As modest as a vestall Virgins eye,
And yet as bright as Glow wormes in the night,
With which the morning decks her lovers hayre; (IV. i.)

or yet again:

When will the sun go downe? flye Phoebus flye!
O, that thy steeds were wingd with my swift thoughts:
Now shouldst thou fall in Thetis azure armes[225],
And now would I fall in Pandoraes lap. (IV. i.)

Nor are these isolated passages; from the opening lines of the prologue to
the final speech of Nature the verse has the appearance of being the work
of a graceful if not very strong hand writing in imitation of Marlowe's
early style. We must, therefore, it seems to me, take the words of the
prologue as signifying not that the play was the first work of the author,
but that it was his earliest adventure in verse.

The plan of the work is as follows. The shepherds of Utopia come to dame
Nature and beg her to make a woman for them. She consents and fashions
Pandora, whom she dowers with the virtues of the several Planets. These,
however, are offended at not being consulted in the matter, and determine
to use their influence to the bane of the newly created woman. Under the
reign of Saturn she turns sullen; when Jupiter is in the ascendant he
falls in love with her, but she has grown proud and scorns him; under Mars
she becomes a vixen; under Sol she in her turn falls in love, and turns
wanton under Venus; she learns deceit of Mercury when he is dominant, and
runs mad under the influence of Luna. At length, since the shepherds will
no longer have anything to do with the lady, Nature determines to place
her in the heavens. Her beauty makes each planet desire her as companion.
Nature gives her the choice:

Speake, my Pandora; where wilt thou be?
_Pandora._ Not with old Saturne for he lookes like death;
Nor yet with Jupiter, lest Juno storme;
Nor with thee Mars, for Venus is thy love;
Nor with thee Sol, thou hast two Parramours,
The sea borne Thetis and the rudy morne;
Nor with thee Venus, lest I be in love
With blindfold Cupid or young Joculus;
Nor with thee Hermes, thou art full of sleightes,
And when I need thee Jove will send thee foorth.
Say Cynthia, shall Pandora rule thy starre,
And wilt thou play Diana in the woods,
Or Hecate in Plutos regiment?
_Luna._ I, Pandora.
_Pand._ Fayre Nature let thy hand mayd dwell with her,
For know that change is my felicity,
And ficklenesse Pandoraes proper forme.
Thou madst me sullen first, and thou Jove, proud;
Thou bloody minded; he a Puritan:
Thou Venus madst me love all that I saw,
And Hermes to deceive all that I love;
But Cynthia made me idle, mutable,
Forgetfull, foolish, fickle, franticke, madde;
These be the humors that content me best,
And therefore will I stay with Cynthia....
_Nat._ Now rule, Pandora, in fayre Cynthias steede,
And make the moone inconstant like thy selfe;
Raigne thou at womens nuptials, and their birth;
Let them be mutable in all their loves,
Fantastical, childish, and foolish, in their desires,
Demaunding toyes:
And stark madde when they cannot have their will.
Now follow me ye wandring lightes of heaven,
And grieve not, that she is not plast with you;
Ail you shall glaunce at her in your aspects,
And in conjunction dwell with her a space. (V. i.)

And so Pandora becomes the 'Woman in the Moon.' The play, in its topical
and satiric purpose, and above all, in its utilization of mythological
material, bears a distinct relationship to the masque. The shepherds are
in their origin philosophical, standing for the race of mankind in
general, rather than pastoral; Utopian, in fact, rather than Arcadian.
These early mythological plays stand alone, in that the pastoral scenes
they contain are apparently uninfluenced by the Italian drama. The kind
attained some popularity as a subject of courtly presentation, but it did
not long preserve its original character. The later examples, with which
we shall be concerned hereafter, always exhibit some characteristics which
may be immediately or ultimately traced to the influence of Tasso and
Guarini. This influence we must now turn to consider in some detail, as
evidenced as well in translations and imitations as in the general tone
and machinery of an appreciable portion of the Elizabethan drama.[226]


In any inquiry involving the question of foreign influence in literature
it is obviously necessary to treat of the work done in the way of
translation, although when the influence is of at all a widespread nature,
as in the present instance, such discussion is apt to usurp a position
unjustified by its intrinsic importance. In most cases, probably, the
energy devoted to the task of rendering the foreign models directly into
the language they influenced is rather useful as supplying us with a rough
measure of their popularity than itself significant as a step in the
operation of that influence. We may safely assume that, in the case of the
English pastoral drama, the influence exercised directly by the Italian
masterpieces was beyond comparison greater than that which made itself
indirectly felt through the labours of translators.

Having thus anticipated a possible misapprehension it will be worth our
while to devote some little attention to the history of the attempts at
translation in this line. The first English writer to venture upon the
task of turning the choice music of Tasso into his native language was the
eccentric satellite of the Sidneyan circle, Abraham Fraunce, fellow of St.
John's College in Cambridge. It so happened that he was at the time
pursuing that elusive phantasm, the application of the laws of classical
versification to English poetry. The resuit was at least unique, in
English, at any rate, namely a drama in hexameter verse. It also occurred
to him that Watson's _Lamentations of Amyntas_, a translation of which he
had himself published in 1587, might be made to serve as an appendix to
Tasso's play. With this object in view he changed the name of the heroine
from Silvia to Phillis. This appears to have been the exact extent to
which he 'altered S. Tassoes Italian' in order to connect it with 'M.
Watsons Latine Amyntas' and 'to make them both one English.'[227] Certain
other changes were, however, introduced upon other considerations. Various
unessential points were omitted, notably in connexion with Tirsi, whose
topical character disappears; the name Nerina is altered to Fulvia;
frequent allusions are introduced to the nymph Pembrokiana, to whom among
other things is ascribed the rescue of the heroine from the bear which
takes the place of the wolf in Tasso. Lastly, we have the addition of a
whole scene immediately before the final chorus. Phillis and Amyntas
reappear and carry on a conversation, not unamiably, in a sort of
hexametrical stichomythia. The maiden modestly seeks to restrain the
amorous impatience of her lover, and the scene ends with a song between
the two composed in 'Asclepiades.'[228] Of this literary curiosity
Amyntas' opening stave may be quoted:

Sweete face, why be the hev'ns soe to the bountifull,
Making that radiant bewty of all the starrs
Bright-burning, to be fayre Phillis her ornament?
And yet seeme to be soe spytefuly partial,
As not for to aford Argus his eyes to mee,
Eyes too feawe to behould Phillis her ornament?

It is, perhaps, not a little strange that the pedant who made the
preposterous experiment of turning the _Aminta_ into English hexameters
should nevertheless have been capable of clearly perceiving, however
incapable he was of adequately rectifying, the hopelessly undramatic
character of the last act of Tasso's play. As an example of the style of
the translation we may take the following rendering of the delicate _Chi
crederia_, with which the original prologue opens:

Who would think that a God lay lurking under a gray cloake,
Silly Shepheards gray cloake, and arm'd with a paltery sheephooke?
And yet no pety God, no God that gads by the mountaines,
But the triumphantst God that beares any sway in Olympus:
Which many times hath made man-murdring Mars to be cursing
His blood-sucking blade; and prince of watery empire
Earth-shaking Neptune, his threeforckt mace to be leaving,
And Jove omnipotent, as a poore and humble obeissant,
His three-flak't lightnings and thunderbolts to abandon.

This is in some respects not wholly inadequate; indeed, if it happened to
be English it might pass for a respectable translation, for the exotic
pedantry of the style itself serves in a way to render the delicate
artificiality of the original, and such an expression as a 'God that gads
by the mountaines' is a pithy enough paraphrase of _dio selvaggio_, if
hardly an accurate translation. The unsatisfactory nature of the verse,
however, for dramatic purposes becomes evident in passages of rapid
dialogue; for example, where Daphne tells the careless nymph of Amyntas'
resolve to die.

_Phillis._ As to my house full glad for joy I repayred, I met thee
Daphne, there full sad by the way, and greately amased.

_Daphne._ Phillis alas is alive, but an other's gone to be dying[229].

_Ph._ And what mean's this, alas? am I now so lightly regarded,
That my life with, Alas, of Daphne must be remembred?

_Da._ Phillis, I love thy life, but I lyke not death of an other.

_Ph._ Whose death?

_Da._ Death of Amyntas.

_Ph._ Alas how dyed Amyntas?

_Da._ How? that I cannot tell; nor yet well whether it is soe:
But noe doubt, I beleeve; for it is most lyke that it is soe.

_Ph._ What strange news doe I heare? what causd that death of Amyntas?

_Da._ Thy death.

_Ph._ And I alive?

_Da._ Thy death was lately reported,
And he beleevs thy death, and therfore seeketh his owne death.

_Ph._ Feare of Phillis death prov'd vayne, and feare of Amyntas Death
will proove vayne too: life eache thing lyvely procureth. (IV. i.)

Even in such a passage as this, however, those strong racy phrases which
somehow find their way into the most uninspired of Tudor translations, are
not wholly wanting. Thus when the careless nymph at last goes off to seek
her desperate lover, Daphne in the original remarks:

Oh tardi saggia, e tardi
Pietosa, quando cio nulla rileva;

a passage in translating which Fraunce cannot resist the application of a
homely proverb, and writes:

When steedes are stollen, then Phillis looks to the stable.

It may, at first sight, appear strange that at a time when the Italian
pastoral was exercising its greatest influence over the English drama this
translation by Fraunce of Tasso's play should have satisfied the demand
for more than thirty years. The explanation, of course, is that the
widespread knowledge of Italian among the reading public in England
rendered translation more or less superfluous[230], while at the same time
it should be remembered that in this country Tasso was far surpassed in
popularity by Guarini. So far as we can tell no further translation of the
_Aminta_ was attempted till 1628, when there appeared an anonymous version
which bibliographers have followed one another in ascribing to one John
Reynolds, but which was more probably the work of a certain Henry
Reynolds[231]. However that may be, the translation is of no
inconsiderable merit, though this is more apparent when read apart from
the original. It bears evidence of having been written by a man capable of
appreciating the poetry of Tasso, and one who, while unable to strike the
higher chords of lyric composition, was yet able to render the Italian
into graceful and unassuming, if seldom wholly musical or adequate, verse.
Thus the version hardly does itself justice in quotation, although the
general impression produced is more pleasing and less often irritating
than is the case with translations which many times reveal far higher
qualities. The following is a characteristic specimen chosen from the
story of Aminta's early love for Silvia.

Being but a Lad, so young as yet scarce able
To reach the fruit from the low-hanging boughes
Of new-growne trees; Inward I grew to bee
With a young mayde, fullest of love and sweetnesse,
That ere display'd pure gold tresse to the winde;...
Neere our abodes, and neerer were our hearts;
Well did our yeares agree, better our thoughts;
Together wove we netts t' intrapp the fish
In flouds and sedgy fleetes[232]; together sett
Pitfalls for birds; together the pye'd Buck
And flying Doe over the plaines we chac'de;
And in the quarry', as in the pleasure shar'de:
But as I made the beasts my pray, I found
My heart was lost, and made a pray to other. (I. ii.)

Many a translator, moreover, has failed to instil into his verse the swing
and flow of the following stanzas from the golden age chorus, which,
nevertheless follow the metrical form of the original with reasonable

O happy Age of Gould; happy' houres;
Not for with milke the rivers ranne,
And hunny dropt from ev'ry tree;
Nor that the Earth bore fruits, and flowres,
Without the toyle or care of Man,
And Serpents were from poyson free;...
But therefore only happy Dayes,
Because that vaine and ydle name,
That couz'ning Idoll of unrest,
Whom the madd vulgar first did raize,
And call'd it Honour, whence it came
To tyrannize or'e ev'ry brest,
Was not then suffred to molest
Poore lovers hearts with new debate;
More happy they, by these his hard
And cruell lawes, were not debar'd
Their innate freedome; happy state;
The goulden lawes of Nature, they
Found in their brests; and them they did obey. (Ch. I.)

Before leaving the _Aminta_ it will be worth while straying beyond the
strict chronological limits of this inquiry to glance for a moment at the
version produced by John Dancer in 1660, for the sake of noting the change
which had come over literary hack-work of the kind in the course of some
thirty years. Comparing it with Reynolds' translation we are at first
struck by the change which long drilling of the language to a variety of
uses has accomplished in the work of uninspired poetasters; secondly, by
the fact that the conventional respectability of production, which has
replaced the halting crudities of an earlier date, is far more inimical
to any real touch of poetic inspiration. Equally evident is that spirit of
tyranny, happily at no time native to our literature, which seeks to
reduce the works of other ages into accordance with the taste of its own
day. Thus, having 'improved' Tasso's apostrophe to the _bella eta dell'
oro_ almost beyond recognition, Dancer complacently closes the chorus with
the following parody:

We'l hope, since there's no joy, when once one dies
We'l hope, that as we have seen with our eies
The Sun to set, so we may see it rise. (Ch. I.)

Again, while all the spontaneity and reverential labour of an age of more
avowed adolescence has disappeared, there is yet lacking the justness of
phrase and certainty of grammar and rime, which later supply, however
inadequately, the place of poetic enthusiasm. The defects of the style,
with its commonplace exaggeration of conceits, the thumbed token-currency
of the certified poetaster, are well seen in such a passage as the

Weak love is held by shame, but love grows bold
As strong, what is it then can it with-hold:
She as though in her ey's she did contain
Fountains of tears, did with such plenty rain
Them on his cheeks, and they such vertue had,
That it reviv'd again the breathlesse lad;...
Aminta thought 'twas more then heav'nly charms,
That thus enclasp'd him in his Silvia's armes;
He that loves servant is, perhaps may guesse
Their blisse; but none there is can it expresse[234]. (V. i.)

As was to be expected, the attention of translators was early directed to
the _Pastor fido_. The original was printed in England, together with the
_Aminta_, the year after its first appearance in Italy, that is in 1591,
and bore the imprint of John Wolfe, 'a spese di Giacopo Castelvetri'; the
first translation saw the light in 1602. This version was published
anonymously, and in spite of the confident assertions and ingenious
conjectures of certain bibliographers, anonymous it must for the present
remain; all that can with certainty be affirmed is that it claims to be
the work of a kinsman of Sir Edward Dymocke[235]. Most modern writers who
have had occasion to mention it have shown a praiseworthy deference to the
authority of one of the most venerable figures of English criticism by
each in turn repeating that the translation, 'in spite of Daniel's
commendatory sonnet, is a very bad one.' And indeed, when we have stated
the very simple facts concerning the authorship as distinct from the very
elaborate conjectures, there remains little to add to Dyce's words. With
the exception of the omission of the prologue the version keeps pretty
faithfully to its original, but it does no more than emphasize the tedious
artificiality of the Italian, while whatever charm and perhaps
over-elaborated grace of language Guarini infused into his verse has
entirely evaporated in the process of translation. No less a poet and
critic than Daniel, regarding the work doubtless with the undiscriminating
eye of friendship, asserted that it might even to Guarini himself have
vindicated the poetic laurels of England, and yet from the whole long poem
it is hardly possible to extract any passage which would do credit to the
pen of an average schoolboy. We turn in vain to the contest of kisses
among the Megarean maidens, to the game of blind man's buff, to Amarillis'
secret confession of love, and to her trembling appeal when confronted by
a death of shame, for any evidence of poetie feeling. The girl's speech in
the last-mentioned scene, 'Se la miseria mia fosse mia colpa,' is thus

If that my fault did cause my wretchednesse,
Or that my thoughts were wicked, as thou thinkst
My deed, lesse grievous would my death be then:
For it were just my blood should wash the spots
Of my defiled soule, heavens rage appease,
And humane justice justly satisfie,
Then could I quiet my afflicted sprights,
And with a just remorse of well-deserved death,
My senses mortifie, and come to death:
And with a quiet blow pass forth perhaps
Unto a life of more tranquilitie:
But too too much, Nicander, too much griev'd
I am, in so young years, Fortune so hie,
An Innocent, I should be doom'd to die. (IV. v.)

The next translation we meet with never got into print. It is preserved in
a manuscript at the British Museum[236], and bears the heading: 'Il Pastor
Fido, or The Faithfull Sheapheard. An Excellent Pastorall Written In
Italian by Battista Guarinj And translated into English By Jonathan Sidnam
Esq, Anno 1630.' The prologue is again omitted, and the translation is
distinguished from its contemporaries by an endeavour to reproduce to some
extent the freer metrical structure of the Italian. This was not a
particularly happy experiment, since it ignored the fact that the
character of a metre may differ considerably in different languages. The
Italian _endecasillabi sciolti_ are far less flexible than our own blank
verse, and it is only when freely interspersed with the shorter
_settinari_ that they can attempt to rival the range of effect possible to
the English metre in the hands of a skilful artist. Thus the imitation of
the irregular measures of Guarini was a confession of the translator's
inability adequately to handle the dramatic verse of his own tongue. As a
specimen we may take the rendering of Amarillis' speech already quoted
from the 'Dymocke' version:

If my mischance had come by mine own fault,
Nicander, or had beene as thou beleevst
The foule effect of base and wicked thoughts,
Or, as it now appeares, a deed of Sinn,
It had beene then lesse greevous to endure
Death as a punishment for such a fault,
And just it had beene with my blood to wash
My impure Soule, to mitigate the wrath
And angar of the Godds, and satisfie
The right of humane justice,
Then could I quiett my afflicted Soule
And with an inward feeling of my just
Deserved death, subdue my outward Sence,
And fawne uppon my end, and happelie
With a more settled countenance passe from hence
Into a better world:
But now, Nicander, ah! tis too much greefe
In soe yong yeares, in such a happie state,
To die so suddenlie, and which is more,
Die innocent. (IV. v.)

It was not until the civil war was at its height, namely in 1647, that
English literature was enriched with a translation in any way worthy of
Guarini's masterpiece. It is easy to strain the interpretation of such
facts, but there is certainly a strong temptation to see in the occasion
and circumstances of the composition of the piece an illustration of a
critical law already noticed, namely the constant tendency of literature
to negative as well as to reproduce the life of actuality, and furthermore
of the special liability of pastoral to take birth from a desire to escape
from the imminence and pressure of surrounding circumstance. Like
Reynolds' _Aminta_, Richard Fanshawe's _Pastor fido_ is better appreciated
as a whole than in quotation, though, thanks partly to its own greater
maturity of poetic attainment, partly to the less ethereal perfection of
the original, it suffers far less than the earlier work by comparison with
the Italian. For the same reasons it is by far the most satisfactory of
any of the early translations of the Italian pastoral drama. One
noticeable feature is the constant reminiscence of Shakespeare, whole
lines from his works being sometimes introduced with no small skill. For
instance, where Guarini, describing how love wins entrance to a maiden's
heart, writes:

E se vergogna il cela,
O temenza l' affrena,
La misera tacendo
Per soverchio desio tutta si strugge; (I. iv.)

Fanshawe renders the last two lines by:

Poor soul! Concealment like a worm i' th' bud,
Lies in her Damask cheek sucking the bloud.

A few illustrative passages will suffice to give an idea of Fanshawe's
style. He stands alone in having succeeded in recrystallizing in his own
tongue some at least of the charm of the kissing match, and is even fairly
successful in the following dangerous conceit:

With one voice
Of peerlesse Amarillis they made choice.
She sweetly bending her fair eyes.
Her cheeks in modest blushes dyes,
To shew through her transparent skin
That she is no lesse fair within
Then shee's without; or else her countenance
Envying the honour done her mouth perchance,
Puts on her scarlet robes as who
Should say: 'And am not I fair too?' (II. i.)

So again he alone among the translators has infused any semblance of
passion into Amarillis' confession of love:

Mirtillo, O Mirtillo! couldst thou see
That heart which thou condemn'st of cruelty,
Soul of my soul, thou unto it wouldst show
That pity which thou begg'st from it I know.
O ill starr'd Lovers! what avails it me
To have thy love? T' have mine, what boots it thee?
(III. iv.)

In a lighter vein the following variation on the theme of fading beauty by
Corisca also does justice to its original:

Let us use it whilst wee may;
Snatch those joyes that haste away.
Earth her winter-coat may cast,
And renew her beauty past;
But, our winter come, in vain
We sollicite spring again:
And when our furrows snow shall cover,
Love may return, but never Lover. (III. v.)

When it is borne in mind that not only is the rendering graceful in
itself, but that as a rule it represents its original if not literally at
any rate adequately, it will be realized that Fanshawe's qualifications as
a translator are not small. His version, which is considerably the best in
the language, is happily easily accessible owing to its early popularity.
It first appeared in 1647 in the form of a handsomely printed quarto with
portrait and frontispiece engraved after the Ciotti edition of 1602, the
remaining copies being re-issued with additional matter the following
year; it went through two editions between the restoration and the end of
the century, and was again reprinted together with the original, and with
alterations in 1736[237]. In the meantime, however, the translation had
been adapted to the stage by Elkanah Settle. In a dedication to Lady
Elizabeth Delaval, the adapter ingenuously disclaims all knowledge of
Italian, and when he speaks of 'the Translated _Pastor Fido_' every reader
would no doubt be expected to know that he was referring to Fanshawe's
work. He left his readers, however, to discover for themselves that,
while he considerably altered, and of course condensed, the original, for
whatever poetic merit his scenes possess he is entirely indebted to his
predecessor. The adaptation was licensed by L'Estrange in 1676, and
printed the following year, while reprints dated 1689 and 1694 seem to
indicate that it achieved some success at the Duke's Theatre. It was
presumably of this version that Pepys notices a performance on February
25, 1668.[238]

Besides these English translations there is also extant one in Latin, a
manuscript of which is preserved in the University Library at
Cambridge.[239] The name of the translater does not appear, but the
heading runs: 'Il pastor fido, di signor Guarini ... recitata in Collegio
Regali Cantabrigiae.' The title is so scrawled over that it would be
impossible to say for certain whether the note of performance referred to
the present play, were it not for an allusion casually dropped by the
anonymous recorder of a royal visit to Oxford, which not only
substantiates the inference to be drawn from the manuscript, but also
supplies us with a downward limit of August, 1605.[240] In this
translation a dialogue between the characters 'Prologus' and 'Argumentum'
takes the place of Guarini's long topical prologue, and a short
conventional 'Epilogus' is added at the end.

* * * * *

It was not till 1655 that _the Filli di Sciro_ of Bonarelli, which has
usually been thought to hold the third place among Italian pastorals,
appeared in English dress. The translation published in that year is
ascribed on the title-page to 'J. S. Gent.,' an ascription which has given
rise to a good deal of conjecture. And yet a very little investigation
might have settled the matter. Prefixed to the translation are some
commendatory verses signed 'I. H.', in a marginal note to which we read:
'This Comedy was Translated long ago by M. _I. S._ and layd by, as also
was _Pastor Fido_, which was since Translated and set forth by Mr. Rich.
Fanshaw.' Another note,[241] to some verses to the reader, tells us that
both translations were made 'neer twenty years agone,' and, as we should
expect, the _Pastor fido_ first; and further, that the latter remained in
manuscript owing to the appearance of Fanshawe's version, which is spoken
of in terms of warm admiration. Now the only manuscript translation of
Guarini's play extant in English is that of Jonathan Sidnam, whose name
gives us the very initials which appear upon the title-page of the printed
play.[242] Since the preliminary verses may have been written any time
between 1647 and 1655, the vague allusion to the date of composition will
quite well fit 1630, the year given in the manuscript. When, furthermore,
we find J. S.'s work characterized by precisely the same use of short
lines as we noted above in the case of Sidnam's, the identification
becomes a practical certainty. The version, though, as the author was
himself aware, it will not stand comparison with Fanshawe's work, is not
without merit, and is perhaps as good as the rather tedious original
deserves. As a specimen we may take a passage in which the author
deliberately followed Tasso, Celia's narration of her adventure with the

There, to a sturdy Oak, he bound me fast
And re-enforct his base inhumane bonds
With the then danglinst Tresses of my hair;
Ingrateful hair, ill-nurtur'd wicked Locks!
The cruel wretch then took up from the foot
Both my loose tender garments, and at once
Rent them from end to end: Imagine then
Whether my crimson red, through shame was chang'd
Into a pale wan tincture, yea or no.
I that was looking toward Heaven then,
And with my cries imploring ayd from thence,
Upon a suddain to the Earth let fall
My shamefac'd eyes, and shut them close, as if
Under mine eye-lids, I could cover all
My naked Members. (I. iii.)

Of the various unfounded conjectures as to the author of this version,
among which Shirley's name has of course not failed to appear, certainly
the most ingenious is that which has seen in it the work of Sir Edward
Sherburne. The suggestion appears to have been originally made by Coxeter,
on what grounds I do not know. 'There is no doubt of the authorship of
this play,' writes Professer Gollancz in his notes to Lamb's _Specimens_,
'"J. S." is certainly an error for "E. S." I have found in a MS. in the
British Museum Sir E. Sherburne's preface to this play.' Professer
Gollancz deserves credit for having unearthed the interesting document
referred to,[243] but an examination of it at once destroys his theory. It
is a preface 'To the Reader' intended for a translation of the _Filli_,
and another copy also is extant,[244] both being found among the papers of
Sir Edward Sherburne, though in neither does his name actually occur. In
the course of the preface the writer quotes 'the Censure of my sometime
highly valued, and most Ingenious friend S'r. John Denham, to whom (some
years before the happy Restauration of King Charles the 2^{d} being then
at Paris) I communicated Some Part of this my Translation. Who was not
only pleasd to encourage my undertaking, but gave me likewise this
Character of the Original. "I will not say It is a Better Poem then Pastor
Fido, but to speak my Mind freely, I think it a Better Drama."' From this
it is clear that the preface was penned after 1660, and we may furthermore
infer that the version was as yet unfinished when the writer was in Paris,
apparently at some time during the Commonwealth. It is therefore
impossible that the preface should be intended for a translation which was
printed in 1655, and which was then distinctly stated to have been
composed not later than 1635. Furthermore, I question whether either the
preface or the version mentioned therein were by Sherburne at all. There
is a translation extant in a British Museum manuscript[245] purporting to
be the work of Sir George Talbot, who is said to have been a friend of Sir
Edward's, into whose hands some of his papers may have come. The
translation is headed: 'Fillis of Scirus, a Pastorall Written in Italian,
by Count Guidubaldo de' Bonarelli, and Translated into English by S'r. G:
Talbot,' and there follows 'The Epistle Dedicatory To his sacred Ma'ty.
Charles 2'd. &c. prophetically written at Paris, an: 57.' The opening is
not wanting in grace:

The dawning light breaks forth; I heare, aloofe,
The whistling ayre, the Saints bell of the Heav'n,
Wherewith each morne it call's the drowsy Birds
To offer up theyre Hymnes to th' new-borne day.
But who ere saw, from night's dark bosome, spring
A morne soe fayre and beautifull? Observe
With what imperceptible hand, it steales
The starres from Heav'n, and deck's the earth with flow'rs:
Haile, lovely fields, your flow'rs in this array
Fournish a kind of star-light to the day.

Or take again Celia's encounter with the centaur. And in this connexion it
is worth while mentioning that, when revising his translation and
introducing a number of verbal changes, in most cases distinctly for the
better, Sir George appears to have been struck by the absurdity of this
machinery, and throughout replaced the centaur by a 'wild man.' After
telling how she was seized and carried to 'the middle of a desart wood,'
Celia proceeds:

There, to a sturdy oake, he bound me fast,
Doubling my bonds with knots of mine own hayre;
Ungratefull hayre, thou ill returnst my care.
The Tyrant then my mantle took in hand
And with one rash tore it from head to foote.
Consider whether shame my trembling pale
Did now convert into Vermillion: up
I cast my eyes to Heav'n, and with lowd cryes
Implor'd it's ayd; then lookt downe tow'rd the earth,
And phancy'd my dejected eyebrows hung
Like a chast mantle ore my naked limbs. (I. iii.)

A comparison of this and the preceding renderings with the original will
show that while Talbot's is by far the more fiowing and imaginative,
Sidnam's is on the whole rather more literal, except where he appears to
have misunderstood the original. No other English translation, I believe,

Lastly, as in the case of the _Pastor fido_, record has to be made of a
Latin version acted at Cambridge. It was the work of a Dr. Brooke of
Trinity[246], and purports to have been performed, no doubt at that
College, before Prince Charles and the Count Palatine, on March 30,
1612[247]. The title is 'Scyros, Fabula Pastoralis,' which has hitherto
prevented its being identified as a translation of Bonarelli's play, and
it is preserved in manuscripts at the University Library[248], Trinity and
Emmanuel. At the beginning is a note to the effect that in the place of
the prologue--Marino's _Notte_--was to be presented a triumph over the
death of the centaur. The cast is given, and includes three
undergraduates, five bachelors, and five masters.


After translation the next process in logical sequence is direct
imitation. Although it is true that the influence of Tasso and Guarini may
be traced either directly or indirectly in the great majority of the
English pastorals composed during the first half of the seventeenth
century, there are nevertheless two plays only in which that influence can
be regarded as completely paramount, and to which the term 'imitation' can
be with full justification applied. These are the two pastorals by Samuel
Daniel, historian and court-laureate, namely the _Queen's Arcadia_, 'A
Pastorall Trage-comedie presented to her Majestie and her Ladies, by the
Universitie of Oxford in Christs Church, in August last. 1605[249],' and
_Hymen's Triumph_, which formed part of the Queen's 'magnificent
intertainement of the Kings most excellent Majestie' on the occasion of
the marriage in 1614 of Robert Ker, Earl of Roxburgh, and Mistress Jean
Drummond, sister of the Earl of Perth[250].

The earlier of these pieces displays alike the greater dependence on
Italian models and the less intrinsic merit, whether from a poetic or
dramatic point of view. It is, indeed, in its apparent carelessness of the
most elementary necessities of dramatic construction, distinctly
retrograde as compared with these models themselves. In the first scene we
are introduced to two old Arcadians who hold long discourse concerning the
degeneracy of the age. The simple manners of earlier times are forsaken,
constant quarrels occur, faith is no longer untarnished nor modesty
secure. In the hope of probing to the root of the evil the two determine
to hide close at hand and so overhear the conversations of the younger
swains and shepherdesses. The fact is that Arcadia has recently been
invaded by a gang of rascally adventurers from Corinth and elsewhere:
Techne, 'a subtle wench,' who under pretence of introducing the latest
fashions of the towns corrupts the nymphs; Colax, whose courtier-airs find
an easy prey in the hearts of the country-wenches; Alcon, a quacksalver,
who introduces tobacco to ruin the constitutions of the shepherds; Lincus,
'a petty-fogger,' who breeds litigation among the simple folk; and lastly
Pistophanax, who seeks to undermine the worship of Pan. Colax has, it
appears, already abused the love of Daphne, and won that of Dorinda from
her swain Mirtillus; Techne has sown jealousy between the lovers Palaemon
and Silvia; while Lincus has set Montanus and Acrysius by the ears over
the possession of a bit of land. Ail the plotting is overheard by the two
concealed shepherds, who when the crisis is reached come forward, call
together the Arcadians, expose the machinations of the evil-doers, and
procure their banishment from the country. Such an automatic solution is
obviously incompatible with the smallest dramatic interest in the plot; it
is not a _denoument_ at all, properly speaking, but a severing of the
skein after Alexander's manner, and it is impossible to feel any emotion
at the tragic complications when all the while the sword lies ready for
the operation.

The main amorous action centres round Cloris, beloved of Amyntas and
Carinus, the latter of whom is in his turn loved by Amarillis. Carinus'
hopes are founded on the fact that, in imitation of Tasso's Aminta, he has
rescued Cloris from the hands of a satyr, while Amyntas bases his upon
certain signs of favour shown him. Colax, however, also falls in love with
the nymph, and induces Techne to give her tryst in a cave, where he may
then have an opportunity of finding her alone. Techne, hereupon, in the
hope of winning Amyntas' affection for herself if she can make him think
Cloris unworthy, directs him to the spot where she has promised to meet
the unsuspecting maiden. This is obviously borrowed from the _Pastor
fido_; indeed, Techne is none other than Corisca under a new name, and it
was no doubt she who suggested to Daniel the introduction of the other
agents of civilization. Amyntas, on seeing Cloris emerge from the cave in
company with Colax, at once concludes her guilt, and in spite of all
Techne's efforts to restrain him rushes off with the intention of putting
an end to his life. Techne, perceiving the ill-success of her plot, tells
Cloris of Amyntas' resolve. We here return to the imitation of Tasso:
Cloris, like that poet's Silvia, begins by pretending incredulity and
indifference, but being at length convinced agrees to accompany Techne in
search of the desperate swain. Daniel has produced what is little better
than a parody of the scene in his model. Not content with placing in the
girl's mouth the preposterous excuse:

If it be done my help will come too late,
And I may stay, and save that labour here, (IV. iv.[251])

he has spun out the dialogue, already over-long in the original, to an
altogether inordinate and ludicrous extent. When the pair at last come
upon the unhappy lover they find him lying insensible, a horn of poison by
him. The necessary sequel is reported by Mirtillus:

For we perceiv'd how Love and Modestie
With sev'rall Ensignes, strove within her cheekes
Which should be Lord that day, and charged hard
Upon each other, with their fresh supplies
Of different colours, that still came, and went,
And much disturb'd her, but at length dissolv'd
Into affection, downe she casts her selfe
Upon his senselesse body, where she saw
The mercy she had brought was come too late:
And to him calls: 'O deare Amyntas, speake,
Look on me, sweete Amyntas, it is I
That calles thee, I it is, that holds thee here,
Within those armes thou haste esteem'd so deare.' (V. ii.)

Amyntas' subsequent recovery is reported in the same strain. The reader
will remember the lines in which Tasso described a similar scene. And yet,
in spite of the identity of the situations and even of the close
similarity of the language, the tone and atmosphere of the two passages
are essentially different; for if Daniel's treatment of the scene, which
is typical of a good deal of his work, has the power to call a tear to the
eye of sensibility, his sentiment, divested as it is of the Italian's
subtle sensuousness, appears perfectly innocuous and at times not a little

Cloris and Amyntas are now safe enough, and Carinus has the despised but
faithful Amarillis to console him. The other pairs of lovers need not
detain us further than to note that their adventures are equally borrowed
from Tasso and Guarini. Silvia relates how, wounded by her 'cruelty,'
Palaemon sought to imitate Aminta by throwing himself from a cliff, but
was prevented by her timely relenting. Amarillis fondles Carinus's dog,
and is roughly upbraided by its master in the same manner as her prototype
Dorinda in the _Pastor fido_.

Amid much that is commonplace in the verse occur not a few graceful
passages, while Daniel is at times rather happy in the introduction of
certain sententious utterances in keeping with the conventionality of the
pastoral form. Thus a caustic swain remarks of a girl's gift:

Poore withred favours, they might teach thee know,
That shee esteemes thee, and thy love as light
As those dead flowers, shee wore but for a show,
The day before, and cast away at night;

and to a lover:

When such as you, poore, credulous, devout,
And humble soules, make all things miracles
Your faith conceives, and vainely doe convert
All shadowes to the figure of your hopes. (I. ii.)

Colax is a subtle connoisseur in love:

Some thing there is peculiar and alone
To every beauty that doth give an edge
To our desires, and more we still conceive
In that we have not, then in that we have.
And I have heard abroad where best experience
And wit is learnd, that all the fairest choyce
Of woemen in the world serve but to make
One perfect beauty, whereof each brings part. (I. iii.)

The historical importance of the _Queen's Arcadia_, as the first play to
exhibit on the English stage the direct and unequivocal influence of the
Italian pastoral drama, is evident to the critic in retrospect, and it is
not impossible that it may have lent some extraneous interest to the
performance even in the eyes of contemporaries; but the zest of the play
for a court audience in the early years of the reign of James I was very
possibly the satirical element. The shadowy fiction of Arcadia and its age
of gold quickly vanished when the actual or fancied evils of the day were
exposed to the lash. The abuse of the practice of taking tobacco flattered
the prejudices of the king; the quack and the dishonest lawyer were stock
butts of contemporary satire; Colax and Techne, the he and she
coney-catchers, have maintained their fascination for all ages.
Pistophanax, the disseminator of false doctrine, who had actually presumed
to reason with the priests concerning the mysteries of Pan, was perhaps
the favourite object of contemporary invective. The term 'atheist' covered
a multitude of sins. This character appears in the final scene only, and
even there he is a mute but for one speech. He is indeed treated in a
somewhat different manner from the other subjects of satire in the play.
Thus the discovery that he is wearing a mask to hide the natural ugliness
of his features passes altogether the bounds of dramatic satire, and
carries us back to the allegorical manner of the middle ages. Apart from
these figures, who bear upon them the form and pressure of the time, and
who are, it must be remembered, the main-spring of the action, there is
little of note to fix the attention in this first fruit of the Arcadian
spirit in the English drama.

In every way superior to its predecessor is the second venture in the kind
made by Daniel after an interval of nearly a decade. Instead of being a
patchwork of motives and situations borrowed from the Italian, and pieced
together with more or less ingenuity, _Hymen's Triumph_ is as a whole an
original composition. The play is preceded by a prologue in which Daniel
departs from his models in employing the dialogue form, the speakers being
Hymen, Avarice, Envy, and Jealousy[252]. In the opening scene we find
Thirsis lamenting the loss of his love Silvia, who is supposed to have
been devoured by wild beasts while wandering alone upon the shore--we are
once again on the sea-board of Arcadia--her rent veil and a lock of her
hair being all that remains to her disconsolate lover. Their vows had been
in secret owing to the match proposed by Silvia's father between her and
Alexis, the son of a wealthy neighbour[253]. In reality she has been
seized by pirates[254] and carried off to Alexandria, where she has lived
as a slave in boy's attire for some two years. Recently an opportunity for
escape having presented itself, she has returned, still disguised, to her
native country, where she has entered the service of the shepherdess
Cloris, waiting till the approaching marriage of Alexis with another nymph
shall have made impossible the renewal of her father's former schemes.
Complications now arise, for it appears that Cloris has fallen in love
with Thirsis, but fears ill success in her suit, supposing him in his turn
to be pining for the love of Amarillis. She employs the supposed boy to
move her suit to Thirsis, and Silvia goes on her errand to court her lover
for her mistress, fearing to find him already faithless to his love for
her[255]. On her mission she is waylaid by the nymph Phillis, who has
fallen in love with her in her male attire, careless of the love borne her
by the honest but rude forester Montanus. The varying fortune of Silvia's
suit on behalf of Cloris, Thirsis' faith to the memory of Silvia,
Montanus' jealousy, and Phillis' shame when she finds her proffered love
rejected by the boy for whom she has sacrificed her modesty, are presented
in a series of scenes and discourses which do not materially advance the
business in hand. Towards the end of the fourth act, however, we approach
the climax, and matters begin to move. Alexis' marriage being now
imminent, Silvia thinks she can venture at least to give her lover some
spark of hope by narrating her story under fictitious names. This she
does, making use of the transparent anagrams Isulia and Sirthis[256]. As
Silvia ends her tale Montanus rushes in, determined to be revenged for the
favour shown by his mistress to the supposed youth. He stabs Silvia, and
carries off the garland she is wearing, believing it to be one woven by
the hand of Phillis. This naturally leads to the discovery of Silvia's sex
and identity, and supposing her dead, Thirsis falls in a swoon at her
side. The last act is, as usual, little more than an epilogue, in which we
are entertained with a long account of the recovery of the faithful
lovers, thanks to the care of the wise Lamia, an elaborate passage again
modelled on Tasso, but again falling far short of the poetical beauty of
the original.

Taken as a whole, and partly through being unencumbered with the satyric
machinery of the _Queen's Arcadia, Hymen's Triumph_ is a distinctly
lighter and more pleasing composition. At least so it appears by
comparison, for Daniel everywhere takes himself and his subject with a
distressing seriousness wholly unsuited to the style; we look in vain for
a gleam of humour such as that which in the final chorus of the _Aminta_
casts a reflex light over the whole play[257]. Again an advance may be
observed, not only in the conduct of the plot, which moves artistically on
an altogether different level, and even succeeds in arousing some dramatic
interest, but likewise in the verse, which has a freer movement, and is on
the whole less marred by the over-emphatic repetition of words and phrases
in consecutive lines, a particularly irritating trick of the author's
pastoral style, or by the monotonous cadence and painful padding of the
blank verse. Daniel was emphatically one of those poets, neither few nor
inconsiderable, the natural nervelessness of whose poetic diction
imperatively demands the bracing restraint of rime. It is noteworthy that
this applies to his verse alone; such a work as the famous _Defence of
Rime_ serves to place him once for all among the greatest masters of 'the
other harmony of prose.'

_Hymen's Triumph_ contains many more passages of notable merit than its
predecessor. There is, indeed, one passage in the _Queen's Arcadia_ which
will bear comparison with anything Daniel ever wrote, but it stands in
somewhat striking contrast with its surroundings. This is the opening of
the speech in which Melibaeus addresses the assembled Arcadians, and well
deserves quotation.

You gentle Shepheards and Inhabitors
Of these remote and solitary parts
Of Mountaynous Arcadia, shut up here
Within these Rockes, these unfrequented Clifts,
The walles and bulwarkes of our libertie,
From out the noyse of tumult, and the throng
Of sweating toyle, ratling concurrencie,
And have continued still the same and one
In all successions from antiquitie;
Whil'st all the states on earth besides have made
A thousand revolutions, and have rowl'd
From change to change, and never yet found rest,
Nor ever bettered their estates by change;
You I invoke this day in generall,
To doe a worke that now concernes us all,
Lest that we leave not to posteritie,
Th' Arcadia that we found continued thus
By our fore-fathers care who left it us. (V. iii.)

Such passages are more frequent in _Hymen's Triumph_. Take the description
of the early love of Thirsis and Silvia, instinct with a delicacy and
freshness that even Tasso might have envied[258]:

Then would we kisse, then sigh, then looke, and thus
In that first garden of our simplenesse
We spent our child-hood; but when yeeres began
To reape the fruite of knowledge, ah, how then
Would she with graver looks, with sweet stern brow,
Check my presumption and my forwardnes;
Yet still would give me flowers, stil would me shew
What she would have me, yet not have me, know. (I. i.)

Thirsis, who is the typical 'constant lover' of pastoral convention, and

Hold it to be a most heroicke thing
To act one man, and do that part exact,

thus addresses his friend Palaemon in defence of love:

Ah, know that when you mention love, you name
A sacred mistery, a Deity,
Not understood of creatures built of mudde,
But of the purest and refined clay
Whereto th' eternall fires their spirits convey.
And for a woman, which you prize so low,
Like men that doe forget whence they are men,
Know her to be th' especiall creature, made
By the Creator as the complement
Of this great Architect[259] the world, to hold
The same together, which would otherwise
Fall all asunder; and is natures chiefe
Vicegerent upon earth, supplies her state.
And doe you hold it weakenesse then to love,
And love so excellent a miracle
As is a worthy woman? (III. iv.)

The sententious passages, the occurrence of which we previously noted in
the _Queen's Arcadia_, likewise appear. Thus of dreams:

Alas, Medorus, dreames are vapours, which,
Ingendred with day thoughts, fall in the night,
And vanish with the morning;[260] (III. ii.)

and of thoughts:

They are the smallest peeces of the minde
That passe this narrow organ of the voyce;
The great remaine behinde in that vast orbe
Of th' apprehension, and are never borne. (III. iv.)

At times these utterances even possess a dramatic value, as where,
bending over the seemingly lifeless form of his beloved Silvia, Thirsis

And sure the gods but onely sent thee thus
To fetch me, and to take me hence with thee. (IV. v.)

The two plays we have been considering are after all very much what we
should expect from their author. A poet of considerable taste, of great
sweetness and some real feeling, but deficient in passion, in power of
conception and strength of execution, writing for the court in the
recognized role of court-laureate, and unexposed to the bracing influence
of a really critical audience--such is Samuel Daniel as seen in his
experiments in the pastoral drama. We learn from his commendatory sonnet
on the 'Dymocke' _Pastor fido_ that he had known Guarini personally in
Italy, an accident which supplies an interesting link between the dramas
of the two countries, and might suggest a specific incentive to the
composition of his pastorals, were any such needed. So far, however, from
that being the case, the only wonder is that the adventure was not made at
an earlier date, a problem the most promising explanation of which may
perhaps be sought in the rather conservative taste of the officiai court
circle, which tended to lag behind in the general advance during the
closing years of Elizabeth's reign. With the accession of James new life
as well as a new spirit entered the court, and is quickly found reflected
in the literary fashions in vogue. It was in 1605 that Jonson wrote in

Here's Pastor Fido ...
... All our English writers,
I meane such, as are happy in th' Italian,
Will deigne to steale out of this author, mainely;
Almost as much, as from Montagnie:
He has so moderne, and facile a veine,
Fitting the time, and catching the court-eare. (1616, III. iv.)

On the whole, perhaps, Daniel's merits as a pastoral writer have been
exaggerated. His dependence on Italian models, particularly in his earlier
play, is close, both as regards incidents and style; while he usually
lacks their felicity. His claims as an original dramatist will not stand
examination in view of the concealed shepherds in the _Queen's Arcadia,_
of his careful avoidance of scenes of strong dramatic emotion--a point in
which he of course followed his models, while lacking their mastery of
narrative as compensation--and of his failure to do justice to such scenes
when forced upon him.[261] If the atmosphere of certain scenes is purer
than is the case with his models, it is in large measure due to his
failure to master the style; if his conception of virtue is more
wholesome, his picture of it is at times marred by exaggeration, while his
sentiment for innocence is of a watery kind, and occasionally a little
tawdry. His pathos, as is the case with all weak writers, constantly
trembles on the verge of bathos, while his lack of humour betrays him into
penning passages of elaborate fatuity. His style is formal and often
stilted, his verse often monotonous and at times heavy.[262] On the other
hand Daniel possesses qualities of no vulgar kind, though some, it is
true, may be said to be rather the _qualites de ses defauts_. The verse is
at least smooth; it is courtly and scholarly, and sometimes graceful; the
language is pure and refined, and habitually simple. The sentiment, if at
times finicking, is always that of a gentleman and a courtier. Moreover,
in reckoning his qualifications as a dramatist, we must not forget to
credit him with the plot of _Hymen's Triumph_, which is on the whole
original, and is happily conceived, firmly constructed, and executed with
considerable ability.

With Daniel begins and ends in English literature the dominant influence
of the Italian pastoral drama. No doubt the imitation of Tasso and Guarini
is an important element in the subsequent history of pastoralism in this
country, and to trace and define that influence will be not the least
important task of the ensuing chapters. No doubt it supplied the incentive
that induced a man like Fletcher to bid for a hopeless success in such a
play as the _Faithful Shepherdess_, and placed a heavy debt to the account
of Thomas Randolph when he composed his _Amyntas_. But in these cases, as
in others, wherever the author availed himself of the tradition imported
from the Ferrarese court, he approached it as it were from without,
seeking to rival, to acclimatize, rather than to reproduce. Nowhere else
do we find the tone and atmosphere, the structure, situations, and
characters imitated with that fidelity, or attempt at fidelity, which
makes Daniel's plays almost indistinguishable, except for language, from
much of the work of the later Italians.[263] To minimize with many critics
Daniel's dependence on his models, or to emphasize with some that of
Fletcher, is, it seems to me, wholly to misapprehend the positions they
occupy in the history of literature, and to obscure the actual development
of the pastoral ideal in this country.

Chapter V.

The Three Masterpieces


Among English pastorals there are two plays, and two only, that can be
said to stand in the front rank of the romantic drama as a whole. The
first of these is, of course, Fletcher's _Faithful Shepherdess_. In the
case of the second the statement would perhaps be more correctly put in
the conditional mood, for whatever might have been its importance had it
reached completion, the fragmentary state of Jonson's _Sad Shepherd_ has
prevented its taking the place it deserves in the history of dramatic
literature. With these two productions may for the purposes of criticism
be classed Thomas Randolph's _Amyntas_, which, however inferior to the
others in poetic merit, yet like them stands apart in certain matters of
intention and origin from the general run of pastorals, and may, moreover,
well support a claim to be considered one of the three chief English
examples of the kind.

These three plays embrace a period of some thirty years, before, during,
and after which a considerable number of dramatic productions, more or
less pastoral in character, appeared. The chief feature in which the three
plays we are about to consider are distinguished from these is a certain
direct and conscious, though in no case subservient, relation they bear to
the drama of the Italians; while at the same time we are struck with the
absence of any influence of subsidiary or semi-pastoral tradition, of the
mythological drama, or the courtly-chivalric romance. We shall therefore
gain more by considering them in connexion with each other than we shall
lose by abandoning strict chronological sequence.

When Fletcher's play was produced, probably in the winter of 1608-9, it
proved a complete failure.[264] An edition appeared without date, but
before May, 1610, to which were prefixed verses by Field, Beaumont,
Chapman, and Jonson. If, as some have supposed, the last named already had
at the time a pastoral play of his own in contemplation, the reception
accorded to his friend's venture can hardly have been encouraging, and may
have led to the postponement of the plan; as we shall see, there is no
reason to believe that the _Sad Shepherd_ was taken in hand for another
quarter of a century almost. The _Faithful Shepherdess_ was revived long
after Fletcher's death, at a court performance in 1633-4, and shone by
comparison with Montagu's _Shepherds Paradise_ acted the year before. It
was then again placed on the public boards at the Blackfriars, where it
met with some measure of success.

The _Faithful Shepherdess_ was the earliest, and long remained the only,
deliberate attempt to acclimatize upon the popular stage in England a
pastoral drama which should occupy a position corresponding to that of
Tasso and Guarini in Italy. It was no crude attempt at transplantation, no
mere imitation of definite models, as was the case with Daniel's work, but
a deliberate act of creative genius inspired by an ambitious rivalry. Its
author might be supposed well fitted for his task. Although it was one of
his earliest, if not actually his very earliest work, it is clear that he
must have already possessed an adequate and practical knowledge of
stagecraft, and have been familiar with the temper of London audiences. He
further possessed poetical powers of no mean order, in particular a
lyrical gift almost unsurpassed among his fellows for grace and sweetness,
howbeit somewhat lacking in the qualities of refinement and power. That
he should have failed so signally is a fact worth attention. For fail he
did. His friends, it is true, endeavoured as usual to explain the fiasco
of the first performance by the ignorance and incompetence of the
spectators, but we shall, I think, see reason to come ourselves to a
scarcely less unfavourable conclusion. Nor is this failure to be explained
by the inherent disadvantage at which the sentimental and lyrical pastoral
stood when brought face to face with the wider and stronger interest of
the romantic drama. Such considerations may to some extent account for the
attitude of the contemporary audience; they cannot be supposed seriously
to affect the critical verdict of posterity. We must trust to analysis to
show wherein lay the weakness of the piece; later we may be able to
suggest some cause for Fletcher's failure.

In the first place we may consider for a moment Fletcher's indebtedness to
Tasso and Guarini, a question on which very different views have been
held. As to the source of his inspiration, there can be no reasonable
doubt, though it has been observed with truth by more than one critic,
that the _Faithful Shepherdess_ may more properly be regarded as written
in rivalry, than in imitation, of the Italians. In any case, but for the
_Aminta_ and _Pastor fido_, the _Faithful Shepherdess_ would never have
come into being; as a type it reveals neither original invention nor
literary evolution, but is a conscious attempt to adapt the Italian
pastoral to the requirements of the English stage. As an individual piece,
on the other hand, it is for the most part original and independent,
little direct influence of the Italians being traceable in the plot,
whether in general construction or in single incidents and characters. A
certain resemblance has indeed been discovered between Guarini's Corisca
and Fletcher's Cloe, but the fact chiefly shows the superficiality of the
comparison upon which critics have relied, since if Corisca suggested some
traits of Cloe, she may be held responsible for far more of Amarillis.
Where Guarini depicted a courtesan, Fletcher has painted a yahoo. Corisca,
wanton and cynical, plays, like Amarillis, the part of mischief-maker and
deceiver, and, so far from seeking, like her successfully eludes the
embraces of the shepherd-satyr. On the other hand, a clear difference
between Fletcher's work and that of the Italians may be seen in the
respective use made of supernatural agencies. From these the southern
drama is comparatively free. A somewhat ultra-medicinal power of herbs,
the introduction of an oracle in the preliminary history and of a wholly
superfluous seer in the _denoument_ make up the whole sum so far as the
_Pastor fido_ is concerned, while the _Aminta_ cannot even show as much as
this. In the _Faithful Shepherdess_ we find not only the potent herbs,
holy water, and magic taper of Clorin's bower, but the wonder-working well
and the actual presence of the river-god, who rises, not to pay courtly
compliments in the prologue, but to take an actual part in the plot[265].
Alike in its positive and negative aspects Fletcher's relation to the
Italian masters was conscious and acknowledged. Far from feigning
ignorance, he boldly challenged comparison with his predecessors by
imitating the very title of Guarini's play, or yet closer, had he known
it, that of Contarini's _Fida ninfa_[266].

A glance at the dramatis personae reveals a curious artificial symmetry
which, as we shall shortly see, is significant of the spirit in which
Fletcher approached the composition of his play. In Clorin we have a nymph
vowed to perpetual virginity, an anchorite at the tomb of her dead lover;
in Thenot a worshipper of her constancy, whose love she cures by feigning
a return. In Perigot and Amoret are represented a pair of ideal lovers--so
Fletcher gives us to understand--in whose chaste bosoms dwell no looser
flames. Amarillis is genuinely enamoured of Perigot, with a love that bids
modesty farewell, and will dare even crime and dishonour for its
attainment; Cloe, as already said, is a study in erotic pathology. She is
the female counterpart of the Sullen Shepherd, who inherits the
traditional nature of the satyr, that monster having been transformed into
the gentle minister of the cloistral Clorin. So, again, the character of
Amarillis finds its counterpart in that of Alexis, whose love for Cloe is
at least human; while Daphnis, who meets Cloe's desperate advances with a
shy innocence, is in effect, whatever he may have been in intention,
hardly other than a comic character. The river-god and the satyr, the
priest of Pan and his attendant Old Shepherd, who themselves stand outside
the circle of amorous intrigue, complete the list of personae.

The action which centres round these characters cannot be regarded as
forming a plot in any strict sense of the term, though Fletcher has reaped
a little praise here and there for his construction of one. It is hardly
too much to say that the various complications arise and are solved,
leaving the situation at the end precisely as it was at the beginning.
Even so may the mailed figures in some ancestral hall start into life at
the stroke of midnight, and hold high revel with the fair dames and
damsels from out the gilt frames upon the walls, content to range
themselves once more and pose in their former attitudes as soon as the
first grey light of morning shimmers through the mullioned windows.
Perigot and Amoret come through the trials of the night with their love
unshaken, but apparently no nearer its fulfilment; Thenot's love for
Clorin is cured for the moment, but is in danger of breaking out anew when
he shall discover that she is after all constant to her vow; Cloe recovers
from her amorous possession; the vagrant desires of Amarillis and Alexis
are dispelled by the 'sage precepts' of the priest and Clorin; Daphnis'
innocence is seemingly unstained by the hours he has spent with Cloe in
the hollow tree; while the Sullen Shepherd, unregenerate and defiant, is
banished the confines of pastoral Thessaly. What we have witnessed was no
more than the comedy of errors of a midsummer night.

The play, nevertheless, possesses merits which it would be unfair to
neglect. Narrative is, in the first place, entirely dispensed with in
favour of actual representation, though the result, it must be admitted,
is somewhat kaleidoscopic. Next, the action is complete within itself, and
needs no previous history to explain it; no slight advantage for stage
representation. As a result the interest is kept constantly whetted, the
movement is brisk and varied, and with the help of the verse goes far
towards carrying off the many imperfections of the piece.

It will have been already noticed that the characters fall into certain
distinct groups which may be regarded as exemplifying certain aspects of
love. Supersensuous sentiment, chaste and honourable regard, too
colourless almost to deserve the name of love, natural and unrestrained
desire, and violent lust, all these are clearly typified. What we fail to
find is the presentment of a love which shall reveal men and women neither
as beasts of instinct nor as carved figures of alabaster fit only to adorn
a tomb. This typical nature of the characters has given rise to a theory
recently propounded that the play should be regarded as an allegory
illustrative of certain aspects of love[267]. So regarded much of the
absurdity, alike of the characters and of the action, is said to
disappear. This may be so, but does it really mean anything more than that
abstractions not being in fact possessed of character at all, and being as
ideals unfettered by any demands of probability, absurdities pass
unnoticed in their case which at the touchstone of actuality at once start
into glaring prominence? Moreover, though the _Faithful Shepherdess_ was
among the first fruits of its author's genius, and though it may be
contended that he never gained a complete mastery over the difficult art
of dramatic construction, Fletcher early proved his familiarity with the
popular demands of the romantic stage, and was far too practical a
craftsman to be likely to add the dead-weight of a moral allegory to the
already dangerous form of the Arcadian pastoral. The theory does not in
reality bring the problem presented by Fletcher's play any nearer
solution; since, if the characters are regarded solely as representing
abstract ideas, such as chastity, desire, lust, they strip themselves of
every shred of dramatic interest, and could not, as Fletcher must have
known, stand the least chance upon the stage; while if they take to cover
their nakedness however diaphanous a veil of dramatic personality, the
absurdities of character and plot at once become apparent.

What truth there may be underlying this theory will, I think, be best
explained upon a different hypothesis. Let us in the first place
endeavour, so far as may be possible after the lapse of nearly three
centuries, to realize the mental attitude of the author in approaching the
composition of his play. In order to do this a closer analysis of the
piece will be necessary.

The first point of importance for the interpretation of Fletcher's
pastoralism is to be found in the quaintly self-confident preface which he
prefixed to the printed edition. Throughout our inquiry we have observed
two main types of pastoral, to one or other of which all work in this kind
approaches; that, namely, in which the interest depends upon some
allegorical or topical meaning lying beneath and beyond the apparent form,
and that in which it is confined to the actual and obvious presentment
itself. Of the former type Drayton wrote in the preface to his Pastorals:
'The subject of Pastorals, as the language of it, ought to be poor, silly,
and of the coursest Woofe in appearance. Neverthelesse, the most High and
most Noble Matters of the World may bee shaddowed in them, and for
certaine sometimes are[268]. In his preface to the _Faithful Shepherdess_
the author adopts the opposite position, as Daniel, in the prologue to the
_Queen's Arcadia_, and in spite of the strongly topical nature of that
piece, had done before him. Fletcher in an often-quoted passage writes:
'Understand, therefore, a pastoral to be a representation of shepherds and
shepherdesses with their actions and passions, which must be such as may
agree with their natures, at least not exceeding former fictions and
vulgar traditions; they are not to be adorned with any art, but such
improper [i.e. common] ones as nature is said to bestow, as singing and
poetry; or such as experience may teach them, as the virtues of herbs and
fountains, the ordinary course of the sun, moon, and stars, and such
like.' His interest would, then, appear to lie in a more or less realistic
representation, and he appears more concerned to enforce a reasonable
propriety of character than to discover deep matters of philosophy and
state. This passage alone would, therefore, make the theory we glanced at
above improbable. Fletcher next proceeds, in a passage of some interest in
the history of criticism: 'A tragi-comedy is not so called in respect of
mirth and killing, but in respect it wants deaths, which is enough to make
it no tragedy, yet brings some near it, which is enough to make it no
comedy, which must be a representation of familiar people, with such kind
of trouble as no life be questioned; so that a god is as lawful in this as
in a tragedy, and mean people as in a comedy.' One would hardly have
supposed it necessary to define tragi-comedy to the English public in
1610, and even had it been necessary, this could hardly be accepted as a
very satisfactory definition. The audience, 'having ever had a singular
gift in defining,' as the author sarcastically remarks, concluded a
pastoral tragi-comedy 'to be a play of country hired shepherds in gray
cloaks, with curtailed dogs in strings, sometimes laughing together, and
sometimes killing one another'; and after all, so far as tragi-comedy is
concerned, their belief was not unreasonable. Fletcher's definition is
obviously borrowed from the academic criticism of the renaissance, and
bears no relation to the living tradition of the English stage: since his
play suggests acquaintance with Guarini's _Pastor fido_, it is perhaps not
fantastic to imagine that in his preface he was indebted to the same
author's _Compendio della poesia tragicomica_. What is important to note
is Fletcher's concern at this point with critical theory.

Without seeking to dogmatize as to the exact extent of Fletcher's debt to
individual Italian sources, it may safely be maintained that he was
familiar with the writings of the masters of pastoral, and worked with his
eyes open: whatever modifications he introduced into traditional
characters were the result of deliberate intention. In general, two types
of love may be traced in the Italian pastoral, namely the honest human
desire of such characters as Mirtillo and Amarillis, Dorinda, Aminta, and
the more or less close approach to mere sensuality found in Corisca and
the satyrs. We nowhere find any approach to supersensuous passion,
indifferent to its own consummation; Silvia and Silvio are either entirely
careless, or else touched with a genuine human love. Nor are the more
tumultuous sides of human passion represented, for it is impossible so to
regard Corisca's love for Mirtillo, which is at bottom nothing but the
cynical caprice of the courtesan, who regards her lovers merely as so many
changes of garment--

Molti averne, uno goderne, e cangiar spesso.

Fletcher appears to have thought that success might lie in extending and
refining upon the gamut of love. He possessed, when he set to work, no
plot ready to hand capable of determining his characters, but appears to
have selected what he considered a suitable variety of types to fill a
pastoral stage, not because he desired to be in any way allegorical, but
because in such a case it was the abstract relationship among the
characters which alone could determine his choice. Having selected his
characters, he further seems to have left them free to evolve a plot for
themselves, a thing they signally failed to do. Thus there may be a
certain truth underlying the theory with which we started, inasmuch as the
characters appear to have been chosen, not for any particular dramatic
business, but for certain abstract qualities, and some trace of their
origin may yet cling about them in the accomplished work; but that
Fletcher deliberately intended to illustrate a set of psychological
conditions, not by dramatic presentation, but by the use of types and
abstractions, is to my mind incredible. In the composition of his later
plays he had the necessities of a given plot, incidents, or other
fashioning cause, to determine the characters which it was in its turn to
illustrate, and here he showed resourceful craftsmanship. In the case of
the present play he had to fashion characters _in vacuo_ and then weave
them into such a plot as they might be capable of sustaining. In other
words, he reversed the formai order of artistic creation, and attempted to
make the abstract generate the concrete, instead of making the individual
example imply, while being informed by, the fundamental idea.

So much for the formal and theoretic side of the question. A few words as
to the general tone and purpose of the play. For some reason unexplained,
having selected his characters, which one may almost say exhibit every
form of love except a wholesome and a human one, the author deemed it
necessary that the whole should redound to the praise and credit of
cloistral virginity and glozing 'honour,' and whatever else of unreal
sentiment the cynicism of the renaissance had grafted on the superstition
of the middle age. Again comparing the _Faithful Shepherdess_ with
Fletcher's other work, we find that when he is dealing with actual men and
women in his romantic plays he troubles himself little concerning the
moral which it may be possible to extract from his plot; he is rightly
conscious that that at all events is not the business of art: but when he
comes to create _in vacuo_ he is at once obsessed by some Platonic theory
regarding the ethical aim of the poet. The victory, therefore, shall be
with the powers of good, purity and vestal maidenhood shall triumph and
undergo apotheosis at his hands, the world shall see how fair a monument
of stainless womanhood he can erect in melodious verse. Well and good; for
this is indeed an object to which no self-respecting person can take
exception. There was, however, one point the importance of which the
author failed to realize, namely, that this ideal which he sought to
honour was one with which he was himself wholly out of sympathy.
Consequently, in place of the supreme picture of womanly purity he
intended, he produced what is no better than a grotesque caricature. His
cynical indifference is not only evident from many of his other works, but
constantly forces itself upon our attention even in the present play. The
falsity of his whole position appears in the unconvincing conventionality
of the patterns of chastity themselves, and in the unreality of the
characters which serve them as foils--Cloe being utterly preposterous
except as a study in pathlogy, and Amarillis essentially a tragic figure
who can only be tolerated on condition of her real character being
carefully veiled. It appears again in the utterly irrational conversion
and purification of these characters, and we may further face it in the
profound cynicism, all the more terrible because apparently unconscious,
with which the author is content to dismiss Thenot, cured of his
altruistic devotion by the shattering at one blow of all that he held most
sacred in woman.

In this antagonism between Fletcher's own sympathies and the ideal he set
before him seems to me to lie the key to the enigma of his play. Only one
other rational solution is possible, namely that he intended the whole as
an elaborate satire on all ideas of chastity whatever. It is hardly
surprising, under the circumstances, that one of the most persistent false
notes in the piece is that indelicacy of self-conscious virtue which we
have before observed in the case of Tasso. If on the other hand we have to
pronounce Fletcher free of any taint of seductive sentiment, we must
nevertheless charge him with a considerable increase in that cynicism with
regard to womankind in general which had by now become characteristic of
the pastoral drama. We have already noticed it in the case of Tasso's 'Or,
non sai tu com' e fatta la donna?' and of the words in which Corisca
describes her changes of lovers, to say nothing of its appearance at the
close of the _Orfeo_. In English poetry we find Daniel writing:

Light are their waving vailes, light their attires,
Light are their heads, and lighter their desires;
(_Queen's Arcadia_, II. iii.)

while with Fletcher the charge becomes yet more bitter. Thenot,
contemplating the constancy of Clorin, is amazed

that such virtue can
Be resident in lesser than a man, (II. ii. 83,)

or that any should be found capable of mastering the suggestions of

And that great god of women, appetite. (ib. 146.)

Amarillis, courting Perigot, asks in scorn:

Still think'st thou such a thing as chastity
Is amongst women? (III. i. 297.)

The Sullen Shepherd declares of the wounded Amoret:

Thou wert not meant,
Sure, for a woman, thou art so innocent; (ib. 358.)

and sums up his opinion of the sex in the words:

Women love only opportunity
And not the man. (ib. 127.)

So Fletcher wrote, and in the same mood the arch-cynic of a later age

ev'ry Woman is at heart a Rake!

But it is high time to inquire how it is, supposing the objections we have
been considering to be justly chargeable against the _Faithful
Shepherdess_, that it should ever have come to be regarded as a classic of
the language, that it should be by far the most widely known of its
author's works, and that we should find ourselves turning to it again and
again with ever-fresh delight. The reader has doubtless already answered
the question. Fletcher brought to the composition of his play a gift of
easy lyric versification, a command of varied rhythm, and a felicity of
phrase, allusion, recollection, and echo, such as have seldom been
surpassed. The wealth of pure poetry overflowing in every scene is of
power to make us readily forget the host of objections which serious
criticism must raise, and revel with mere delight in the verbal melody.
The play is literally crowded with incidental sketches of exquisite beauty
which suggest comparison with the more set descriptions of Tasso, and
flash past on the speed of the verse as the flowers of the roadside and
glimpses of the distant landscape through breaks in the hedge flash for
an instant on the gaze of the rider[269].

Before passing on, and in spite of the fact that the play must be familiar
to most readers, I here transcribe a few of its most fascinating passages
as the best defence Fletcher has to oppose to the objections of his
critics. It is in truth no lame one[270].

In the opening scene Clorin, who has vowed herself to a life of chastity
at the grave of her lover, is met by the satyr, who at once bows in
worship of her beauty. He has been sent by Pan to fetch fruits for the
entertainment of 'His paramour the Syrinx bright.' 'But behold a fairer
sight!' he exclaims on seeing Clorin:

By that heavenly form of thine,
Brightest fair, thou art divine,
Sprung from great immortal race
Of the gods, for in thy face
Shines more awful majesty
Than dull weak mortality
Dare with misty eyes behold
And live. Therefore on this mould
Lowly do I bend my knee
In worship of thy deity.[271] (I. i. 58.)

The next scene takes place in the neighbourhood of the village. At the
conclusion of a festival we find the priest pronouncing blessing upon the
assembled people and purging them with holy water[272], after which they
disperse with a song. As they are going, Perigot stays Amoret, begging
her to lend an ear to his suit. He addresses her:

Oh you are fairer far
Than the chaste blushing morn, or that fair star
That guides the wandering seaman through the deep,
Straighter than straightest pine upon the steep
Head of an aged mountain, and more white
Than the new milk we strip before day-light
From the full-freighted bags of our fair flocks,
Your hair more beauteous than those hanging locks
Of young Apollo! (I. ii. 60.)

They agree to meet by night in the neighbouring wood, there to bind their
love with mutual vows. The tryst is set where

to that holy wood is consecrate
A virtuous well, about whose flowery banks
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds
By the pale moonshine, dipping oftentimes
Their stolen children, so to make them free
From dying flesh and dull mortality.
By this fair fount hath many a shepherd sworn,
And given away his freedom, many a troth
Been plight, which neither envy nor old time
Could ever break, with many a chaste kiss given
In hope of coming happiness.
By this fresh fountain many a blushing maid
Hath crown'd the head of her long-loved shepherd
With gaudy flowers, whilst he happy sung
Lays of his love and dear captivity. (I. ii. 99.)

Cloe, repulsed by Thenot, sings her roguishly wanton carol:

Come, shepherds, come!
Come away
Without delay,
Whilst the gentle time doth stay.
Green woods are dumb,
And will never tell to any
Those dear kisses, and those many
Sweet embraces, that are given;
Dainty pleasures, that would even
Raise in coldest age a fire
And give virgin blood desire

Then if ever,
Now or never,
Come and have it;
Think not I
Dare deny
If you crave it. (I. iii. 71.)

Her fortune with the modest Daphnis is scarcely better, and she is just
lamenting the coldness of men when Alexis enters and forthwith accosts her
with his fervent suit. She agrees, with a pretty show of yielding modesty:

lend me all thy red,
Thou shame-fac'd Morning, when from Tithon's bed
Thou risest ever maiden! (ib. 176.)

The second act opens with the exquisite evensong of the priest:

Shepherds all and maidens fair,
Fold your flocks up, for the air
'Gins to thicken, and the sun
Already his great course hath run.
See the dew-drops how they kiss
Every little flower that is,
Hanging on their velvet heads
Like a rope of crystal beads;
See the heavy clouds low falling,
And bright Hesperus down calling
The dead night from under ground,
At whose rising mists unsound,
Damps and vapours fly apace,
Hovering o'er the wanton face
Of these pastures, where they come
Striking dead both bud and bloom. (II. i. 1.)

In the following scene Thenot declares to Clorin his singular passion,
founded upon admiration of her constancy to her dead lover. He too can
plead his love in verse of no ordinary strain:

'Tis not the white or red
Inhabits in your cheek that thus can wed
My mind to adoration, nor your eye,
Though it be full and fair, your forehead high
And smooth as Pelops' shoulder; not the smile
Lies watching in those dimples to beguile
The easy soul, your hands and fingers long
With veins enamell'd richly, nor your tongue,
Though it spoke sweeter than Arion's harp;
Your hair woven in many a curious warp,
Able in endless error to enfold
The wandering soul; not the true perfect mould
Of all your body, which as pure doth shew
In maiden whiteness as the Alpen snow:
All these, were but your constancy away,
Would please me less than the black stormy day
The wretched seaman toiling through the deep.
But, whilst this honour'd strictness you do keep,
Though all the plagues that e'er begotten were
In the great womb of air were settled here,
In opposition, I would, like the tree,
Shake off those drops of weakness, and be free
Even in the arm of danger. (II. ii. 116.)

The last lines, however fine in themselves, are utterly out of place in
the mouth of this morbid sentimentalist. They breath the brave spirit of
Chapman's outburst:

Give me a spirit that on this life's rough sea
Loves t'have his sails fill'd with a lusty wind,
Even till his sail-yards tremble, his masts crack,
And his rapt ship run on her side so low
That she drinks water and her keel plows air.
(_Byron's Conspiracy_, III. i.)

Into the details of the night's adventures there is no call for us to
enter; it will be sufficient to detach a few passages from their setting,
which can usually be done without material injury. The whole scenery of
the wood, in the densest thicket of which Pan is feasting with his
mistress, while about their close retreat the satyr keeps watch and ward,
mingling now and again in the action of the mortals, is strongly
reminiscent of the _Midsummer Night's Dream_. The wild-wood minister thus
describes his charge in the octosyllabic couplets which constitute such a
characteristic of the play:

Now, whilst the moon doth rule the sky,
And the stars, whose feeble light
Give a pale shadow to the night,
Are up, great Pan commanded me
To walk this grove about, whilst he,
In a corner of the wood
Where never mortal foot hath stood,
Keeps dancing, music and a feast
To entertain a lovely guest;
Where he gives her many a rose
Sweeter than the breath that blows
The leaves, grapes, berries of the best;
I never saw so great a feast.
But to my charge. Here must I stay
To see what mortals lose their way,
And by a false fire, seeming-bright,
Train them in and leave them right. (III. i. 167.)

Perigot's musing when he meets Amoret and supposes her to be the
transformed Amarillis is well conceived; he greets her:

What art thou dare
Tread these forbidden paths, where death and care
Dwell on the face of darkness? (IV. iv. 15.)

while not less admirable is the pathos of Amoret's pleading; how she had

lov'd thee dearer than mine eyes, or that
Which we esteem our honour, virgin state;
Dearer than swallows love the early morn,
Or dogs of chase the sound of merry horn;
Dearer than thou canst love thy new love, if thou hast
Another, and far dearer than the last;
Dearer than thou canst love thyself, though all
The self-love were within thee that did fall
With that coy swain that now is made a flower,
For whose dear sake Echo weeps many a shower!...
Come, thou forsaken willow, wind my head,
And noise it to the world, my love is dead! (ib. 102.)

Then again we have the lines in which the satyr heralds the early dawn:

See, the day begins to break,
And the light shoots like a streak
Of subtle fire; the wind blows cold
Whilst the morning doth unfold.
Now the birds begin to rouse,
And the squirrel from the boughs
Leaps to get him nuts and fruit;
The early lark, that erst was mute,
Carols to the rising day
Many a note and many a lay. (ib. 165.)

The last act, with its obligation to wind up such loose threads of action
as have been spun in the course of the play, is perhaps somewhat lacking
in passages of particular beauty, but it yields us Amarillis' prayer as
she flies from the Sullen Shepherd, and the final speech of the satyr.
However out of keeping with character the former of these may be, it is in
itself unsurpassed:

If there be
Ever a neighbour-brook or hollow tree,
Receive my body, close me up from lust
That follows at my heels! Be ever just,
Thou god of shepherds, Pan, for her dear sake
That loves the rivers' brinks, and still doth shake
In cold remembrance of thy quick pursuit;
Let me be made a reed, and, ever mute,
Nod to the waters' fall, whilst every blast
Sings through my slender leaves that I was chaste!
(V. iii. 79.)

Lastly, we have the satyr's farewell to Clorin:

Thou divinest, fairest, brightest,
Thou most powerful maid and whitest,
Thou most virtuous and most blessed,
Eyes of stars, and golden-tressed
Like Apollo; tell me, sweetest,
What new service now is meetest
For the satyr? Shall I stray
In the middle air, and stay
The sailing rack, or nimbly take
Hold by the moon, and gently make
Suit to the pale queen of night
For a beam to give thee light?
Shall I dive into the sea
And bring thee coral, making way
Through the rising waves that fall
In snowy fleeces? Dearest, shall
I catch thee wanton fawns, or flies
Whose woven wings the summer dyes
Of many colours? get thee fruit,
Or steal from heaven old Orpheus' lute?
All these I'll venture for, and more,
To do her service all these woods adore.

* * * * *

So I take my leave and pray
All the comforts of the day,
Such as Phoebus' heat doth send
On the earth, may still befriend
Thee and this arbour!
_Clorin._ And to thee,
All thy master's love be free! (V. v. 238 and 268.)

Such then is Fletcher's play. It is in the main original so far as its own
individuality is concerned, and apart from the general tradition which it
follows. Its direct debt to Guarini is confined to the title and certain
traits in the characters of Cloe and Amarillis. Further indebtedness has,
it is true, been found to Spenser, but some hint of the transformation of
Amarillis, a few names and an occasional reminiscence, make up the sum
total of specific obligations. Endowed with a poetic gift which far
surpassed the imitative facility of Guarini and approached the consummate
art of Tasso himself, Fletcher attempted to rival the Arcadian drama of
the Italians. Not content, as Daniel had been, merely to reproduce upon
accepted models, he realized that some fundamental innovation was
necessary. But while he adopted and justified the greater licence and
range of effect allowed upon the English stage, thereby altering the form
from pseudo-classical to wholly romantic, he failed in any way to touch or
vitalize the inner spirit of the kind, trusting merely to lively action
and lyrical jewellery to hold the attention of his audience. He failed,
and it was not till some years after his death that the play, having been
stamped with the approbation of the court, won a tardy recognition from
the general public; and even when, after the restoration, Pepys records a
successful revival in 1663, he adds that it was 'much thronged after for
the scene's sake[273].'


Randolph's play, entitled 'Amyntas, or the Impossible Dowry,' belongs no
doubt to the few years that intervened between the author's exchanging the
academic quiet of Cambridge and the courts of Trinity, of which college he
was a fellow, for the life and bustle of theatre and tavern in London
about 1632, and his premature death which took place in March, 1635,
before he had completed his thirtieth year. It is tempting to imagine that
the revival of Fletcher's play on Twelfth Night, 1633-4, may possibly have
occasioned Randolph's attempt, in which case the play must belong to the
very last year of his life; but though there is nothing to make this
supposition improbable, pastoral representations were far too general at
that date for it to be necessary to look for any specific suggestion. The
play first appeared in print in the collected edition of the author's
poems edited by his brother in 1638.

Like Fletcher's play, the _Amyntas_ is a conscious attempt at so altering
the accepted type of the Arcadian pastoral as to fit it for representation
on the popular stage, for though acted, as the title-page informs us,
before their Majesties at Whitehall, it was probably also performed and
intended by the author for performance on the public boards[274]. Yet the
two experiments differ widely. Fletcher, as we have seen, while completing
the romanticizing of the pastoral by employing the machinery and
conventions of the English instead of the classical stage, nevertheless
introduced into his play none of the diversity and breadth of interest
commonly found in the romantic drama proper, and indeed the _Faithful
Shepherdess_ lacks almost entirely even that elaboration and firmness of
plot which we find in the _Pastor fido_. Randolph, on the other hand,
chose a plot closely resembling Guarini's in structure, and even retained
much of the scenic arrangement of the Italian theatre. But in the
complexity of action and multiplicity of incident, in the comedy of
certain scenes and the substratum of pure farce in others, he introduced
elements of the popular drama of a nature powerfully to affect the essence
of his production. Where Fletcher substituted for a theoretic classicism
an academic romanticism, Randolph insisted on treating the venerable
proprieties of the pastoral according to the traditions of English

Like the _Pastor fido_[275], Randolph's _Amyntas_ is weighted with a
preliminary history. Philaebus, the son of the archiflamen Pilumnus, was
betrothed to the shepherdess Lalage, who, however, was captivated by the
greater wealth of the shepherd Claius, upon whom she bestowed her hand.
Moved by his son's grief, Pilumnus entreated Ceres' revenge on the
faithless nymph, and Lalage died in giving birth to the twins Amyntas and
Amarillis. This but added to Philaebus' despair, so that he died upon her
tomb, and the bereft father having once more sought the aid of the
goddess, the oracle pronounced the curse:

Sicilian swaines, ill luck shall long betide
To every bridegroome, and to every bride:
No sacrifice, no vow shall still mine Ire,
Till Claius blood both quench and kindle fire.

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