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The beauteous union must appear at length,
Of Tuscan fancy, and Athenian strength :
One greater Muse Eliza's reign adorn,
And e'en a Shakspeare to her fame be born!
Yet, ah! so bright her morning's opening ray,
In vain our Britain hoped an equal day!
No second growth the western isle could bear,
At once exhausted with too rich a year.
Too nicely Jonson knew the critic's part;
Nature in him was almost lost in art.
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 Shakspeare 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 spirit fired,
Breathed the free strain, as Rome and he inspired :
And classic 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.
Waked at his call, I view with glad surprise
Majestic forms of mighty monarchs rise.
• Their characters are thus distinguished by Mr. Dryden. About the time of Shakspeare, the poet
Hardy was in great repute in France. He wrote, according to Fontenelle, six hundred plays. The French poets after him applied themselves in general to the correct improvement of the stage, which was almost totally disregarded by those of our own country, Jonson excepted.
There Henry's trumpets spread their loud alarms,
And laureli'd Conquest waits her hero's arms.
Here gentle Edward claims a pitying sigh,
Scarce born tu honours, and so soon to die !
Yet shall thy throne, unhappy infant! bring
No beam of comfort to the guilty king :
The* time shall come, when Glo'ster's heart shall bleed,
In life's last hours, with horror 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' oppressive 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 diffusive decks th' enchanted 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 music dwells in all the lays.
Oh, 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 e'en now I view some free design,
Where breathing Nature lives in every line :
Chaste and subdued the modest lights decay,
Steal intò shades, and mildly melt away.
--And see, wheret Antony, in tears approved,
Guards the pale relics of the chief he loved :
O'er the cold corse the warrior seems 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 Cæsar.
Still as they press he calls on all around,
Lifts the tom robe, and points the bleeding wound.
But who is he, whose brows exalted bear
A wrath impatient, and a fiercer air?
Awake to all that injured worth can feel,
On his own Rome he turns th' avenging steel :
Yet shall not war's insatiate fury fall
(So Heaven ordains it) on the destin'd wall.
See the fond mother, 'midst the plaintive train,
Hung on his knees, and prostrate on the plain!
Touch'd to the soul, in vain he strives to hide
The son's affection in the Roman's pride :
O'er all the man conflicting passions rise,
Rage grasps the sword, while Pity melts the eyes.
Thus, generous Critic, as thy bard inspires, The sister Arts shall nurse their drooping fires ; Each from his scenes her stores alternate bring, Blend the fair tints, or wake the vocal string : Those Sibyl-leaves, the sport of every wind (For poets ever were a careless kind), By thee disposed, no farther toil demand, Bat, just to Nature, own thy forming hand. So spread o'er Greece, th' harmonious whole un.
known, Even Homer's numbers charm'd by parts alone. Their own Ulysses scarce had wander'd more, By winds and waters cast on every shore: When, rais'd by Fate, some former Hanmer join'd Each beauteous image of the boundless mind : And bade, like thee, his Athens ever claim A fond alliance with the Poet's name.
• Coriolanus. See Mr. Spence's dialogue on the Odyssey.
Sung by Guiderus und Arviragus over Fidele,
supposed to be dead.
To fair Fidele's grassy tomb
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring Each opening sweet, of earliest bloom,
And rifle all the breathing Spring. No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove; But shepherd lads assemble here,
And melting virgins own their love.
No wither'd witch shall here be seen,
No goblins lead their nightly crew; The female fays shall haunt the green,
And dress thy grave with pearly dew!
The red-breast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
With hoary moss, and gather'd flowers,
To deck the ground where thou art laid.
When howling winds, and beating rain,
In tempests shake the sylvan cell ; Or midst the chase, on every plain,
The tender thought on thee shall dwell:
Each lonely scene shall thee restore;
For thee the tear be duly shed ; Beloved, till life can charm no more;
And mourn'd, till Pity's self be dead.
THE DEATH OF MR. THOMSON. The Scene of the following Stanzas is supposed to
lie on the Thames, near Richmond.
1. In yonder grave a Druid lies,
Where slowly winds the stealing wave!
The year's best sweets shall duteous rise
To deck its poet's sylvan grave !
In yon deep bed of whisp'ring reeds
His airy harp* shall now be laid ;
That he, whose heart in sorrow bleeds,
May love through life the soothing shade.
Then maids and youths shall linger here;
And while its sounds at distance swell,
Shall sadly seem in Pity's ear
To hear the woodland pilgrim's knell.
Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore
When Thames in summer wreaths is drest;
And oft suspend the dashing oar
To bid his gentle spirit rest !
And oft as Ease and Health retire
To breezy lawn, or forest deep,
The friend shall view yon whiteningt spire,
And ʼmid the varied landscape weep.
* The harp of Æolus, of which see a description in the Castle of Indolence.
+ Richmond church.