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Thy wonders, in that god-like age,
Fill thy recording Sifter's page"Tis faid, and I believe the tale,
Thy humbleft Reed could more prevail,
Had more of ftrength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age,
Even all at once together found
Cæcilia's mingled world of sound -
O bid our vain endeavours cease,
Revive the juft defigns of Greece,
Return in all thy fimple state!
Confirm the tales her fons relate!
ADDRESSED TO SIR THOMAS HANMER, ON HIS
EDITION OF SHAKESPEAR'S WORKS.
7Hile born to bring the Mufe's happier days,
A patriot's hand protects a poet's lays,
While nurs'd by you the fees her myrtles bloom,
Green and unwither'd o'er his honour'd tomb:
Excufe her doubts, if yet fhe fears to tell
What fecret tranfports in her bofom fwell;
With confcious awe fhe hears the critic's fame,
And blufhing hides her wreath at Shakespear's name,
Hard was the lot thofe injur'd strains endur'd,
Unown'd by fcience, and by years obscur'd:
Fair Fancy wept ; and echoing fighs confeís'd
A fixt defpair in every tuneful breaft.
Not with more grief th' afflicted fwains appear,
When wintry winds deform the plenteous year;
When lingering frofts the ruin'd feats invade
Where Peace reforted, and the Graces play'd.
Each rifing art by juft gradation moves,
Toil builds on toil, and age on age improves :
The Muse alone unequal dealt her rage,
And grac'd with nobleft pomp her earliest stage.
Preferv'd thro' time, the speaking fcenes impart
Each changeful wifh of Phædra's tortur'd heart:
Or paint the curfe, that mark'd the
A bed incestuous, and a father flain.
With kind concern our pitying eyes o'erflow,
Trace the fad tale, and own another's woe.
To Rome remov'd, with wit fecure to please, The comic fifters 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 tragic strain ; Ilyffus' laurels, tho' transferr'd with toil, [foil. Droop'd their fair leaves, nor knew th' unfriendly
The Oedipus of Sophocles.
As arts expir'd, refiftless Dulness rofe;
Goths, priefts, or Vandals,- all were Learning's
Till + Julius firft recall'd each exil'd maid,
And Cofmo own'd them in th' Etrurian fhade:
Then deeply skill'd in love's engaging theme,
The foft Provencial pass'd to Arno's stream:
With graceful ease the wanton lyre he ftrung,
Sweet flow'd the lays-but love was all he fung:
The gay description could not fail to move;
For, led by nature, all are friends to love.
But heaven, ftill various in its works, decreed
The perfect boast of time should last fucceed.
The beauteous union must appear at length,
Of Tuscan fancy, and Athenian strength :
One greater Mufe Eliza's reign adorn,
And even a Shakespear to her fame be born!
Yet ah! fo bright her morning's opening ray, In vain our Britain hop'd an equal day!
Julius II. the immediate predeceffor of Leo X.
No fecond growth the western ifle could bear,
At once exhaufted with too rich a year.
Too nicely Johnson knew the critic's part;
Nature in him was almost loft in art.
Of fofter mold the gentle Fletcher came,
The next in order, as the next in name.
With pleas'd attention 'midft his scenes we find
Each glowing thought, that warms the female mind;
Each melting figh, and every tender tear,
The lover's wishes, and the virgin's fear.
ftrain the Smiles and Graces own;
But ftronger Shakespear felt for man alone:
Drawn by his pen, our ruder paffions ftand
Th' unrivall'd picture of his early hand.
+ With gradual fteps, and flow, exacter France Saw Art's fair empire o'er her fhores advance:
* Their characters are thus diftinguished by Mr. Dryden. About the time of Shakespear, the poet Hardy was in great repute in France. He wrote, according to Fontenelle, fix hundred plays. The French poets after him applied themfelves in general to the correct improvement of the stage, which was almoft totally difregarded by thofe of our own country, Johnfon excepted.