Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 509 pages of information about Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama.

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 exclaims: 

    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 Volpone

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

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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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