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DISCOURSE ON PASTORAL.
Rura mihi & rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,
THERE are not, i believe, a greater num
ber of any fort of Verses than of those which are called Paftorals, nor a smaller, than of those which are truly fo. It therefore seems neceffary to give fome account of this kind of Poem, and it is my defign to comprize in this short paper the fubftance of those numerous differtations the Criticks have made on the subject, without omitting any of their rules in my own favour. You will alfo find fome points reconciled, about which they seem to differ, and a few remarks which, i think, have escaped their obfervation.
The original of Poetry is afcribed to that age which fucceeded the creation of the world: and as the keeping of flocks seems to have been the firft employment of mankind, the most ancient fort of Poetry was probably Paftoral. 'Tis natural to imagine, that the leifure of those ancient shepherds admitting and inviting fome diverfion, none was fo proper to that folitary and fedentary life as finging; and that in their fongs they took occafion to celebrate their own felicity. From hence a Poem was invented, and afterwards improved to a perfect image of that happy time; which, by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former