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to its sacred character than to its intrinsic merit. Not that it is by any means destitute of poetical excellence : like all the eastern poetry, it is bold, wild, and unconnected in its figures, allusions, and parts, and has all that graceful and magnificent daring which characterises its metaphorical and comparative imagery.
In consequence of these peculiarities, so ill adapted to the frigid genius of the north, Mr. Collins could make but little use of it as a precedent for his Oriental Eclogues; and even in his third eclogue, where the subject is of a similar nature, he has chosen rather to follow the mode of the Doric and the Latian pastoral.
The scenery and subjects then of the foregoing eclogues alone are oriental; the style and colouring are purely European; and, for this reason, the author's preface, in which he intimates that he had the originals from a merchant who traded to the east, is omitted, as being now altogether superfluous.
With regard to the merit of these eclogues, it may justly be asserted, that in simplicity of description and expression, in delicacy and softness of numbers, and in natural and unaffected tenderness, they are not to be equaled by any thing of the pastoral kind in the English language.
a In the present edition the preface is restored.
This eclogue, which is entitled Selim, or the Shepherd's Moral, as there is nothing dramatic in the subject, may be thought the least entertaining of the four: but it is by no means the least valuable. The moral
precepts which the intelligent shepherd delivers to his fellow-swains, and the virgins their companions, are such as would infallibly promote the happiness of the pastoral life.
In impersonating the private virtues, the poet has observed great propriety, and has formed their genealogy with the most perfect judgment, when he represents them as the daughters of truth and wisdom,
The characteristics of modesty and chastity are extremely happy and peinturesque : "Come thou, whose thoughts as limpid springs are clear, To lead the train, sweet Modesty, appear; With thee be Chastity, of all afraid, Distrusting all, a wise, suspicious maid ; Cold is her breast, like flowers that drink the dew ; A silken veil conceals her from the view."
The two similes borrowed from rural objects are not only much in character, but perfectly natural and expressive. There is, notwithstanding, this defect in the former, that it wants a peculiar propriety; for purity of thought may as well be applied to chastity as to modesty; and from this instance, as well as from a thousand more, we may see the necessity of distinguishing, in characteristic poetry, every object by marks and attributes peculiarly its own.
It cannot be objected to this eclogue, that it wants both those essential criteria of the pastoral, love and the drama; for though it partakes not of the latter, the former still retains an interest in it, and that too very material, as it professedly consults the virtue and happiness of the lover, while it informs what are the qualities
that must lead to love.
ALL the advantages that any species of poetry can derive from the novelty of the subject and scenery, this eclogue possesses. The route of a camel-driver is a scene that scarce could exist in the imagination of a European, and of its attendant distresses he could have no idea. These are very happily and minutely painted by our descriptive poet. What sublime simplicity of expression! what nervous plainness in the opening of the poem !
" In silent horror o'er the boundless waste
The magic pencil of the poet brings the whole scene before us at once, as it were by enchantment; and in this single couplet we feel all the effect that arises from the terrible wildness of a region unenlivened by the habitations of men. The verses that describe so minutely the cameldriver's little provisions have a touching influence on the imagination, and prepare the reader to
enter more feelingly into his future apprehensions of distress :
“ Bethink thee, Hassan, where shall thirst assuage,
It is difficult to say whether his apostrophe to the “mute companions of his toils” is more to be admired for the elegance and beauty of the poetical imagery, or for the tenderness and humanity of the sentiment. He who can read it without being affected, will do his heart no injustice if he concludes it to be destitute of sensibility :
“ Ye mute companions of my toils, that bear
Yet in these beautiful lines there is a slight error, which writers of the greatest genius very frequently fall into.—It will be needless to observe to the accurate reader, that in the fifth and sixth verses there is a verbal pleonasm where the poet speaks of the green delights of verdant vales. There is an oversight of the same kind in the Manners, an Ode, where the poet says,
Seine's blue nymphs deplore