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VII.

The Flock.

DI
YER’S poem of “ The Fleece,” though little read now-a-

days, has found warm admirers among the great poets of England. Akenside once remarked that he should regulate his opinion of the public taste by the reception of “ The Fleece ;" for if it were not to succeed," he should think it no longer reasonable to expect fame from excellence.” And Mr. Wordsworth appears to have been very much of the same opinion:

“ Bard of The Fleece,' whose skillful genius made
That work a living landscape, fair and bright,

Though party Fame hath many a chaplet culled
For worthless brows, while in the pensive shade
Of cold neglect she leaves thy head ungraced,
Yet pure and powerful minds, hearts meek and still,
A grateful few shall love thy modest lay,
Long as the shepherd's bleating flock shall stray
O'er naked Snowdon's wide aerial waste-
Long as the thrush shall pipe on Grongar Hill.”

Dyer is one of those writers whose higher efforts have been little heeded, while his lesser works have been much liked. “ Grongar Hill” and “ The Country Walk” have been always read with pleasure, while the “Ruins of Rome” and “ The Fleece” lie on the shelf unopened. The saucy critic, who on hearing, shortly after the publication of “The “ Fleece,” that Dyer was growing old, exclaimed, “ He will be buried in woolen!" has proved at least a true seer.

The world never forgives a man of approved talent, who, having once fixed its attention agreeably, fails in some higher and later aim. The game of authorship is, in this sense, like many other games, where, if the last throw is a blank, you lose all that has been previously won from the pool of fame and fortune. The public has very little patience. But, on the other hand, we can not always adhere implicitly to the opinion of some wiser judge, though he be of the higher court, who may desire to revoke the earlier general decision. The literary man usually makes up his mind regarding a book upon very different grounds from the general reader; the public decides rapidly, from first impressions, from general views : it has neither time nor ability to waste on analysis ; the critic delights in looking very closely at his subject, and his enjoyment of perfection of detail is often too great. The public is, no doubt, the best judge of the interest of a work, since it considers little else. The man of letters holds the best guage of talent; he appreciates more justly excellency of workmanship and accuracy of finish. But a really great book is not written for one class only—it should satisfy the best of all classes ; it must have more than one kind of merit -it must possess interest for the careless reader, skill and good workmanship for the critic, power and inspiration to strike the spark from kindred genius. There is quite a large class of poetical works especially, which, while they meet with more or less approbation from the critic, fail to please generally; they lack interest; the writer has had talent enough to introduce much that is good, or, perhaps, even admirable passages, at intervals ; but he has not been endowed

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with the genius which grasps, and controls, and shapes, and vivifies every subject which it handles. Among this class may be placed " The Fleece." The writer, John Dyer, was a Welshman of respectable parentage, born in 1700, who first studied law, then became a painter, and finally took orders in the Church of England. The extract we have given from “ The Fleece” scarcely does justice to the merits of the poem, but we have selected it from its predictions regarding our own country ; not only do Virginia and Massachusetts appear on the scene, but even California figures in these verses, written more than a hundred years ago.

ON A RURAL IMAGE

OF PAN.

FROM THE GREEK OF PLATO.

Sleep, ye rude winds! Be every murmur dead
On yonder oak-crowned promontory's head !
Be still, ye bleating flocks-your shepherd calls.
Hang silent on your rocks, ye waterfalls !
Pan on his oaten pipe awakes the strains,
And fills with dulcet sounds the pastoral plains.
Lured by his notes, the nymphs their bowers forsake,
From every fountain, running stream, and lake,
From every hill and ancient grove around,
And to symphonious measures strike the ground.

Translation of J. H. MERIVALE.

PASTORAL SCENE FROM "THE ARCADIA."

There were hills which garnished their proud heights with stately trees; humble valleys whose base estate seemed comforted with the refreshing of silver rivers ; meadows enameled with all sorts of eye-plensing flowers; thickets which, being lined with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds; each pasture stored with sheep feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs, with bleating oratory, craved the dam's comfort; here a shepherd's boy piping, as though he should never be old ; there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal singing, and it seemed that her voice comforted her hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voicemusic.

Sie PMLIP SIDNEY. 1554-1586.

FROM THE “FAITHFUL SHEPHERDESS."

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 underground;
At whose rising, mists unsound,
Damps and vapors fly apace,
Hovering o'er the wanton face
Of those pastures where they come,
Striking dead both bud and bloom.
Therefore, from such danger lock
Every one his loved flock;
And let your dogs lie loose without,
Lest the wolf come as a scout
From the mountain, and, ere day,
Bear a lamb or kid away ;
Or the crafty, thievish foe
Break upon your simple flocks.
To secure yourself from these,
Be not too secure in ease;
Let one eye his watches keep,
While the other eye doth sleep;
So you shall good shepherds prove,
And for ever hold the love
Of our great God. Sweetest slumbers,
And soft silence, fall in numbers
On your eyelids ! so farewell !
Thus I end my evening knell !

Join FLETCHER, 1576-1625.

THE SHEPHERD'S LIFE.

Thrice, oh thrice happy, shepherd's life and state,
When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns !
His cottage low, and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud Fortune, with her scorns and fawns ;

No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep :

Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep;
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Serian worms he knows, that with their thread
Draw out their silken lives ; nor silken pride :
His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need,
Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed :

No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;

Nor begging wants his middle fortune bite :
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

Instead of music and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first salute my Lord's uprise ;
The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes :

In country plays is all the strife he uses,

Or sing, or dance unto the rural Muses;
And, but in music's sports, all difference refuses.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets and rich content:
The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shades, till noon-tide's rage is spent :

His life is neither tost in boist'rous seas

Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease; Pleas'd and full bless'd he lives, when he his God can please.

His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place :
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face :

Never his humble house or state torm

Less he could like, if less his God had sent him ;
And when he dies, green turfs with grassy tomb content him.

PuisEAS FLETCHER, 1584-1650.

him ;

THE SHEPHERD'S ADDRESS TO HIS MUSE.

Good Muse, rocke me aslepe

With some swete harmony :
This wearie eyes is not to kepe

Thy wary company.

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