« AnteriorContinuar »
For a good poet's made, as well as born:
And such wert thou. Look, how the father's face
Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakespear's mind and manners brightly shines
In his well torned, and true filed lines:
In each of which he seems to shake a lance
As brandish'd at the
Sweet swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our water yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc’d, and made a constellation there!
Shine forth, thou star of poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy fight from hence, hath mourn'd like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light.
Addressed to Sir THOMAS HANMER, on his edition
of SHAKESPEAR's Works.
HILE born to bring the muse's happier days,
A patriot's hand protects a poet's lays,
While nurs’d by you she sees her myrtles bloom,
Green and unwither'd o'er his honour'd tomb;
Excuse her doubts, if yet she fears to tell
What secret transports in her bosom swell:
With conscious awe she hears the critick’s fame,
And blushing hides her wreath at Shakespear's name.
Hard was the lot those injur'd strains endur’d,
Unown'd by science, and by years obscur’d :
Fair fancy wept; and echoing sighs confess’d
A fix'd despair in every tuneful breast.
Not with more grief th' afflicted swains appear,
When wintry winds deform the plenteous year;
When lingering frosts the ruin’d seats invade
Where peace resorted, and the graces play’d.
Each rising art by just gradation moves,
Toil builds on toil, and age on age improves :
The muse alone unequal dealt her rage,
And grac'd with noblest pomp her earliest stage.
Preserv'd through time, the speaking scenes impart
Each changeful wish of Phædra's tortur’d heart:
Or paint the curse, that mark’d the * Theban's reign,
A bed incestuous, and a father flain.
With kind concern our pitying eyes o’erflow,
Trace the fad tale, and own another's wo.
To Rome remov’d, with wit secure to please,
The comick sisters kept their native ease.
With jealous fear declining Greece beheld
Her own Menander's art almost excell'd!
But every muse essay'd to raise in vain
Some labour'd rival of her tragick strain;
Ilysus' laurels, though transferr’d with toil,
Droop'd their fair leaves, nor knew th’unfriendly foil.
As arts expir’d, resistless dulness rose;
Goths, priests, or Vandals, -all were learning's foes.
Till Julius first recall’d each exil'd maid,
And Cosmo own'd them in th'Etrurian shade :
Then deeply skill?d in love's engaging theme,
The sòft Provencial past'd to Arno's stream:
With graceful ease the wanton lyre he strung,
Sweet Aow'd the lays -- but love was all he sung.
The gay description could out fail to move;
For, led by nature, all are friends to love.
But heaven, still various in its works, decreed
The perfect boast of time should last succeed.
The beauteous union must appear at length,
Of Tuscan fancy, and Athenian strength:
One greater muse Eliza's reign adorn,
And even a Shakespear to her fame be born!
Yet ah! so bright her morning's opening ray,
In vain our Britain hop'd an equal day!
No second growth the western ille could bear,
At once exhausted with too rich a year.
Too nicely Jonson knew the critick’s part;
Nature in him was almost lost in art.
• The Oedipus of Sephocles.
Julius II. the immediate predecesor of Leo X.
Of softer mould the gentle Fletcher came,
The next in order, as the next in name.
With pleas’d attention ’midst his scenes we find
Each glowing thought, that warms the female mind;
Each melting sigh, and every tender tear,
The lover's wishes, and the virgin's fear.
His “every strain the smiles and graces own;
But stronger Shakespear felt for man alone:
Drawn by his pen, our ruder passions stand
Th’unrivall’d picture of his early hand.
With gradual steps, and slow, exacter France
Saw art’s fair empire o'er her shores advance:
By length of toil a bright perfection knew,
Correctly bold, and just in all she drew.
Till late Corneille, with Lucan’s fpirit fir’d,
Breath'd the free strain, as Rome and he inspir’d:
And classick judgment gain’d to sweet Racine
The temperate strength of Maro's chaster line.
But wilder far the British laurel spread,
And wreaths less artful crown our poet's head.
Yet He alone to every scene could give
Th’ historian's truth, and bid the manners live.
Wak’d at his call I view, with glad surprize,
Majestick forms of mighty monarchs rise.
There Henry's trumpets spread their loud alarms,
And laurel'd conquest waits her hero's arms.
Here gentler Edward claims a pitying figh,
Scarce born to honours, and so foon to die!
Yet shall thy throne, unhappy infant, bring
No beam of comfort to the guilty king:
• Their characters are thus distinguished by Mr. Dryden.
6. About the time of Shakespear, the poet Hardy was in great repute in France. He wrote accoding to Fontenelle
, six hundred plays. The French poets after him applied themselves in general to the correct improvement of the itage, which was almost totally disregarded by those of our own country, Jonson excepted. • The favourite author of the elder Corneille.
The`time shall come, when Glofter's heart shall bleed
In life's last hours, with horrour of the deed :
When dreary visions shall at last present
Thy vengeful image in the midnight tent:
Thy hand unseen the secret death shall bear,
Blunt the weak sword, and break th'oppreslive spear.
Where'er we turn, by fancy charm’d, we find
Some sweet illusion of the cheated mind.
Oft, wild of wing, she calls the soul to rove
With humbler nature, in the rural grove;
Where swains contented own the quiet scene,
And twilight fairies tread the circled green:
Dress’d by her hand, the woods and valleys smile,
And spring diffufive decks th’inchanted isle.
O more than all in powerful genius blest,
Come, take thine empire o'er the willing breast !
Whate'er the wounds this youthful heart shall feel,
Thy songs support me, and thy morals heal!
There every thought the poet's warmth may raise,
There native musick dwells in all the lays.
O might some verse with happiest skill persuade
Expressive picture to adopt thine aid !
What wondrous draughts might rise from every page !
What other Raphaels charm a distant age !
Methinks, even now I view some free design,
Where breathing nature lives in every line:
Chaste and subdued the modest lights decay,
Steal into shades, and mildly melt away.
And see, where "Antony, in tears approv’d,
Guards the pale relicks of the chief he lov’d:
O’er the cold corse the warriour feems to bend,
Deep sunk in grief, and mourns his murder'd friend!
Tempus erit Turno, magno cùm optaverit emptum
Intactum pallanta, &c.
See the tragedy of Julius Cæfar.