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O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona nôrint,
Agricolas ! quibus ipsa, procal discordibus armis,
Fundit humo facilem victum justissima tellus.
Si non ingentem foribus domus alta superbis
Mane salutantum totis vomit ædibus undam;
Nec varios inhiant pulchrâ testudine postes,
Inlusasque auro vestes, Ephyreiaque æra;
Alba neque Assyrio fucatur lana veneno,
Nec casiâ liquidi conrumpitur usus olivi:
At secura quies, et nescia fallere vita,
Dives opum variarum ; atlatis otia full in,
Speluncæ vivique lacus; at frigida Tempe,
Mugitusqne boum, mollesque sub arbore sowni,
Non absunt; illic saltus ac lustra ferarum,
Et patiens operum, exiguoque adsneta, juventus ;
Sacra deûm, sanctique patres: extrema per illos
Justitia excedens terris vestigia fecit.
Georg. ii. 45&m-474,
O happy, if he knew his happy state,
The swain, who, free from bos'ness and debate,
Receives his easy food from Nature's hand,
And just returns of cultivated land !
No palace, with a lofty gate, he wants,
T'admit the tides of early visitants,
With eager eyes devouring, as they pass,
The breathing figures of Corinthian brass.
No statues threaten, from high pedestals ;
No Persian arras hides his homely walls
With antic vests, which, through their shady fold,
Betray the streaks of ill-dissembled gold:
He boasts no wool, whose native white is dy'd
With purple poison of Assyrian pride :
No costly drugs of Araby defile,
With foreign scents, the sweetness of his oil:
But easy quiet, a secure retreat,
A harmless life that knows not how to cheat,
With home-bred plenty, the rich owner bless ;
Aud rural pleasures crown his bappiness.
Unvex'd with quarrels, undisturb’d with noise,
The country king his peaceful realm enjoys
Cool grots, and living lakes, the flow'ry pride
Of meads, and streams that through the valley glide,
And shady groves that easy sleep invite,
And, after toilsome days, a soft repose at night.
Wild beasts of nature in his woods abound;
And youth, of labour patient, plough the ground,
laur'd to hardship and to homely fare.
Nor venerable age is wanting there,
In great examples to the youthful train ;
Nor are the gods ador'd with rites profane.
From hence Astræa took her flight, and here
The prints of her departing steps appear.– Dryden.
Oh knew he but his happiness, of men
The happiest he ! who, far from public rage,
Deep in the vale, with a choice few retird,
Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life.
What, tho’ the dome be wanting, whose proud gate
Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd
Of flatterers false, and in their turn abus'd ?
Vile intercourse! What, though the glittering robe,
Of every hue reflected light can give,
Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold,
The pride and gaze of fools, oppress him not? -
What, tho’ from utmost land and sea parvey'd,
For him each rarer tributary life
Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps
With luxury and death?—what, tho' his bowl
Flames not with costly juice ? nor, sunk in beds,
Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night,
Or melts the thoughtless hours in idle state ?
What, though he knows not those fantastic joys
That still amuse the wanton, still deceive;
A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain ;
Their hollow moments undelighted all ?
Sure peace is his ; a solid life estrang'd
To disappointment and fallacious hope ;
Rich in content, in Nature's bounty rich,
In herbs and fruits, whatever greens the Spring,
When heaven descends in showers ; or bends the bough,
When Summer reddens, and when Autumn beams,
Or in the Wintry glebe whatever lies
Conceal'd, and fattens with the richest sap ;-
These are not wanting; nor the milky drove,
Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale ;
Nor bleating mountains; nor the chide of streams,
And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay;
Nor aught besides of prospect, grove, or song,
Dim grottos, gleaming lakes, and fountains clear.
Here, too, dwells simple Trutb, plain Innocence,
Unsullied Beauty, sound unbroken Youth,
Patient of labour, with a little pleas’d,
Health ever blooming, unambitious Toil,
Calm Contemplation and poetic Ease,
The resemblance between these two passages need not be particularly pointed out: every one of the least discernment must observe it. The latter is in fact an elegant translation of the former, with the addition of a few original ideas. It must, however, at the same time be confessed, that beautiful as is the description of Virgil, that of Thomson excels it. Io the lines which have been already quoted, how much is the beauty of the original description improved in the more glowing page of our own poet, by representing the happiness of the retired man as increased by the pleasures of refined friendship and select society:
“ Who, far from public rage, Deep in the vale, with a choice few retired,
Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life.” With what felicity of imagination and elegance of expression is the “dives opum variarum” of Virgil expanded by Thomson into these beautiful lines :
« Rich in content, in nature's bounty rich,
In herbs and fruits ; whatever greens the Spring
When heaven descends in show'rs; or bends the bough,
When Summer reddens, and when Autumn heams.” And it will not, I think, be denied by any reader of taste, that these lines of the Latin poet
“ Speluncæ, vivique lacus; at frigida Tempe,
Mugitusque boum, mollesque sub arbore somni," appear with increased beauty and additional charms in the following most elegant and poetical description :
« Nor the milky drove,
Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale,
Nor bleating mountains, nor thecbide of streams,
And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay,
Nor aught beside of prospect, grove, or song,
Dim grottos, gleaming lakes, and fonntains clear.” In this passage, how much more lively is the description rendered in the page of Thomson by those expressive epithets, dim" and "gleaming,” to the speluncæ vivique laces" of Virgil; by the change of the simple expression“ mugitus," into that more beautiful image, “ Jowing vale;" and by the introduction of those original and truly poetical lines, in which the poet describes the 'mountains as bleating, the streams as chiding, and the bees as io viting sleep by their monotonous and pleasing huin.
The remainder of these celebrated passages is too long to be all inserted. I shall therefore .content myself with referring your classical readers to the great originals, where they are to be found at length, and with introducing here only those lines in which the resemblance is the most striking and exact. Of this kind are the following, which are selected from the
lines that describe the conduct and occupation of those whose agitated and busy lives are contrasted with the peace and serenity of rural retirement.
Sollicitant alii remis freta cæca-
Some to the seas resort.-Georg.
Let others brave the flood in quest of gain.- Aut.
Rush into blood.- Aut.
Hic petit excidiis urbem.-Georg.
The rack of cities seek.- Aut.
Exsilioque domos et dulcia limina mutant,
Atque alio patriam quærunt sub sole jacentem.
And leaving their sweet homes in exile run
To lands that lie beneath another sun.-Georg. ij. 511,512.
Let some, far distant from their native soil,
Urg'd on by want or harden'd avarice,
Find other lands beneath another sky.-- Aut. There is not much resemblance between the following lines, except the general similarity of subject. I introduce them here for the purpose of showing with what a happy facility Thomson has improved upon the great origin al whom he has imitated :
-penetrant aulas et limina regum-
And some with impudence invade the court.--Georg. ii. 504.
and those of fairer front,
But equal inhumanity, in courts,
Delusive pomp, and dark cabals delight,
Wreathe the deep brow, diffuse the lying smile,
And tread the weary labyrinth of state.-,
-Autumn. Two more powerful and expressive lines than the concluding ones of this quotation it would be difficult to find in all the pages of English poetry. What language could more admirably represent the meau uimaply conduct of the unprincipled sycophant, whose flexible countenance is never the index of his mind, and whose features are never lighted up with the sincere expressions of uncorrupted nature! The image in the last line, which likens the insincere conduct of the courtier to a labyrinth, cannot be too much admired, as it exactly expresses its dark, winding, and insinuating nature.
In the following passage, which describes the peace of the man who lives retired from the world—a peace undisturbed by the commotions which shake the kingdoms of the earth~there is a coincidence, perhaps not entirely accidental, between the imitation of Thomson and the translation of Dryden :
Without concern he hears, but hears from far,
Of tumolts and descents and distant war.- Georg. ii. 709, 710.
While he, from all the stormy passions free
That restless men involve, hears and but hears
At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
Wrapt close in conscious peace.”- Autumn. How very beautiful, in the page of Thomson, is the description of the happiness which the philosophical inhabitant of the country enjoys through every season of the year, and how much superior to these lines of Virgil, which probably suggested it:
Quos rami fructus, quos ipsa volentia rura
Sponte tulere suâ, carpsit.-Georg. ii. 501, 502.
He feeds on fruits, wbich, of their own accord,
The willing ground and laden trees afford.
He, when young Spring protrudes the bursting gems,
Marks the first bud, and sucks the healthful gale
Into his freshen’d soul; her genial hours
He full enjoys, and not a beauty blows,
And not an opening blossom breathes in vain.
In Summer be, beneath the living shade,
Such as o'er frigid Tempe wont to wave,
Or Hæmus cool, reads what the Muse of these,
Perbaps, has in immortal numbers sung,
Or what she dictates writes; and oft, an eye
Shot round, rejoices in the vigorous year.
When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world,
And tempts the sickled swain into the field,
Seiz'd by the general joy, his heart distends
With gentle throes, and thro' the tepid gleams
Deep musing, tben he best exerts his song.
Even Winter wild to him is full of bliss:
The mighty tempest and the hoary waste,
Abrupt and deep, stretch'd o'er the buried earth,
Awake to solemn thought. At night the skies,
Disclos'd and kindled by refining frost,
Pour every lustre on th' exalted eye.
A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure,
And mark them down for Wisdom.
The doinestic enjoyments which Thomson has introduced into his pie-
ture of the happiness of a country-life, are very similar to those which
Virgil has described :-
Interea dulces pendent circum oscula nati ;
Casta pudicitiam servat domus.- Georg. ii. 523—552.
His cares are eased with intervals and bliss ;
His little children, climbing for a kiss,
Welcome their father's late return at night ;
His faithful bed is crown'd with chaste delight.
The touch of kindred too, and love, he feels,
The modest eye whose beams on his alone