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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama A Literary Inquiry, with Special Reference to the Pre-Restoration Stage in England   By: (1875-1959)

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First Page:

[Transcriber's Note: Footnotes have been renumbered and moved to the end.]

[Note on characters: There are several MASCULINE ORDINAL INDICATORs (º U00BA) used in this book. These should not be confused with the DEGREE SIGN (° U00B0).]

Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama

Far, far from here ... The sunshine in the happy glens is fair, And by the sea, and in the brakes The grass is cool, the sea side air Buoyant and fresh.

Matthew Arnold.

Pastoral Poetry & Pastoral Drama

A Literary Inquiry, with Special Reference to the Pre Restoration Stage in England.

By Walter W. Greg, M.A.


Oxford: Horace Hart Printer to the University



Some ten years ago, it may be, Mr. St. Loe Strachey suggested that I should write an article on 'English Pastoral Drama' for a magazine of which he was then editor. The article was in the course of time written, and in the further course of time appeared. I learnt two things from writing it: first, that to understand the English pastoral drama it was necessary to have some more or less extensive knowledge of the history of European pastoralism in general; secondly, that there was no critical work from which such knowledge could be obtained. I set about the revision and expansion of my crude and superficial essay, proposing to prefix to it such an account of pastoral literature generally as should make the special form it assumed on the English stage appear in its true light as the reasonable and rational outcome of artistic and historical conditions. Unfortunately perhaps, but at least inevitably, this preliminary inquiry grew to ever greater and more alarming proportions as I proceeded, till at last it swelled to something over half of the whole work. Part of this bulk was claimed by foreign pastoral poetry, the origins of the kind; part by English pastoral poetry, and the introduction of the fashion into this country; part by the pastoral drama of Italy, the immediate parent of that of England. The original title proved too narrow to cover the subject with which I dealt. Hence the rather vague and perhaps ambitions title of the present volume. I make no pretence of offering the reader a general history of pastoral literature, nor even of pastoral drama. The real subject of my work remains the pastoral drama in Elizabethan literature understanding that term in the wide sense in which, quite reasonably, we have learnt to use it and even though I may have been sometimes carried away by the interest of the immediate subject of investigation, I have done my best to keep the main object of my inquiry at all times in view. The downward limit of my work is a little vague. The old stage traditions, upon which all the dramatic production of the time was at least in some measure, and in different cases more or less consciously, based, were killed by the act of 1642: the new traditions, created or imported by a company of gentlemen who had come under the influence of the French genius during the eleven years of their exile, first announced themselves authoritatively in 1660. During the intervening eighteen years a number of works were produced, some of which continued the earlier traditions, while some anticipated the later. My treatment has been eclectic. Where a work appeared to me to belong to or to illustrate the older school I have included it, where not, I have refrained from doing so. Fanshawe's Pastor fido (1647) will be found mentioned in the following pages, T. R.'s Berger extravagant (1654) will not.

Some explanation may be advisable with regard to my method of quotation. Where a satisfactory modern edition of the work under discussion was available I have taken my quotations from it, whether the spelling of the text was modernized or not. Where none such existed I have had recourse to the original. This explains the perhaps alarming mixture of old and modern orthographies which appear in my pages. Such inconsistency seemed to me a lesser evil than making nonce texts to suit my immediate purpose... Continue reading book >>

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