A Full Enquiry into the Nature of the Pastoral

Thomas Purney
ຢA Full Enquiry into the Nature of the Pastoral

The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Full Enquiry into the Nature of the
Pastoral (1717), by Thomas Purney This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: A Full Enquiry into the Nature of the Pastoral (1717)
Author: Thomas Purney
Release Date: March 10, 2005 [EBook #15313]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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Series Two:
Essays on Poetry No. 4
Thomas Purney, A Full Enquiry into the True Nature of Pastoral (1717)
With an Introduction by Earl Wasserman
The Augustan Reprint Society January, 1948 _Price_: $1.00

GENERAL EDITORS RICHARD C. BOYS, University of Michigan EDWARD NILES HOOKER, _University of California, Los Angeles_ H. T. SWEDENBERG, JR., _University of California, Los Angeles_
ADVISORY EDITORS EMMETT L. AVERY, State College of Washington BENJAMIN BOYCE, University of Nebraska LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, University of Michigan CLEANTH BROOKS, Yale University JAMES L. CLIFFORD, Columbia University ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, University of Chicago SAMUEL H. MONK, University of Minnesota ERNEST MOSSNER, University of Texas JAMES SUTHERLAND, _Queen Mary College, London_
Lithoprinted from copy supplied by author by Edwards Brothers, Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. 1948

In the preface to each of his volumes of pastorals (_Pastorals. After the simple Manner of Theocritus, 1717_; _Pastorals. viz. The Bashful Swain: and Beauty and Simplicity, 1717_) Thomas Purney rushed into critical discussions with the breathlessness of one impatient to reveal his opinions, and, after touching on a variety of significant topics, cut himself short with the promise of a future extensive treatise on pastoral poetry. In 1933 Mr. H.O. White, unable to discover the treatise, was forced to conclude that it probably had never appeared (_The Works of Thomas Purney_, ed. H.O. White, Oxford, 1933, p. 111), although it had been advertised at the conclusion of Purney's second volume of poetry as shortly to be printed. A copy, probably unique, of A Full Enquiry into the True Nature of Pastoral (1717) was, however, recently purchased by the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library of the University of California, and is here reproduced. Despite the obvious failure of the essay to influence critical theory, it justifies attention because it is the most thorough and specific of the remarkably few studies of the pastoral in an age when many thought it necessary to imitate Virgil's poetic career, and because it is, in many respects, a contribution to the more liberal tendencies within neoclassic criticism. Essentially, the Full Enquiry is a coherent expansion of the random comments collected in the poet's earlier prefaces.
Purney belongs to the small group of early eighteenth-century critics who tended to reject the aesthetics based upon authority and pre-established definitions of the _genres_, and to evolve one logically from the nature of the human mind and the sources of its enjoyment; in other words, who turned attention from the objective work of art to the subjective response. These men, such as Dennis and Addison, were not searching for an aesthetics of safety, one that would produce unimpeachable correctness; Purney frequently underscored his preference for a faulty and irregular work that is alive to a meticulous but dull one. This is not to be understood as praise of the irregular: the rules of poetry must be established, but they must be founded rationally on the ends of poetry, pleasure and profit, and the psychological process by which they are received, and not solely on the practices and doctrines of the ancients. Taking his cue from the Hobbesian and Lockian methodology of Addison's papers of the pleasures of the imagination without delving into Addison's sensational philosophy, Purney outlined an extensive critical project to investigate (1) "the Nature and Constitution of the human Mind, and what Pleasures it is capable of receiving from Poetry"; (2) the best methods of exciting those pleasures; (3) the rules whereby these methods may be incorporated into literary form (_Works_, ed. White, p. 48). It is this pattern of thought that regulates the Full Enquiry. Perhaps more than any other poetic type, the pastoral of the Restoration and the early eighteenth century was dominated by classical tradition; the verse composed was largely imitative of the eclogues of Theocritus and Virgil, especially the latter, and criticism of the form was deduced from their practices or from an assumption that the true pastoral of antiquity was the product of the Golden Age. Of this mode of criticism Rapin and Pope were the leading exemplars. In opposition, Fontenelle, Tickell (if he was the author of the Guardian essays on the pastoral), and Purney developed
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