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Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole,
Or, o'er some haunted stream, with fond delay,
Round an holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace, and lonely musing,
In hollow murmurs died away.
But O! how alter'd was its sprightlier tone
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad known.
The oak-crown'd Sisters, and their chaste-ey'd Queen,
Satyrs and sylvan boys, were seen,
Peeping from forth their alleys green:
Brown Exercise rejoic'd to hear;
And Sport leapt up, and seiz'd his beechen speár.
Last came Joy's ecstatic trial :
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addrest;
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol,
Whose sweet entrancing voice he lov'd the best :
They would have thought who heard the strain
They saw, in Tempe's vale, her native maids,
Amidst the festal sounding shades,
To some unwearied minstrel dancing,
While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings,
Love fram'd with Mirth a gay fantastic round:
Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound,
And he, amidst his frolic play,
As if he would the charming air repay,
Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings,
O Music! sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid !
Why, goddess ! why, to us denied,
Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside ?
As, in that lov'd Athenian bower,
You learu'd an all-commanding power,
Thy mimic soul, O Nymph endear'd,
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art ?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energic, chaste, sublime !
Thy wonders in that godlike age,
Fill thy recording sister's page
'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age;
Ev'n all at once together found,
Cecilia's mingled world of sound-
O bid our vain endeavours cease;
Revive the just designs of Greece:
Return in all thy simple state!
Confirm the tales her sons relate!
ADDRESSED TO SIR THOMAS HANMER,
On his Edition of Shakespeare's Works,
WHILE, 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 critic's fame,
And blushing hides her wreath at Shakespeare's name.
Hard was the lot those injur'd strains endurd,
Unown'd by Science, and by years obscur'd:
Fair Fancy wept; and echoing sighs confess'd
A fixt despair in every tuneful breast.
Not with more grief the afflicted swains appear,
When wintry winds deform the plenteous year;
When ling'ring 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* reigni
A bed incestuous, and a father slain.
With kind concern our pitying eyes o'erflow
Trace the sad tale, and own another's woe.
To Rome remov'd, with wit secure to please,
The comic 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 tragic strain :
Illyssus' laurels, though transferr'd with toil,
Droop'd their fair leaves, nor knew the unfriendly soil.
As Arts expir'd, resistless Dulness rose;
Goths, priests, or Vandals,-all were Learning's foes.
Till Julius t first recall'd each exil'd maid ;
And Cosmo own'd them in the Etrurian shade:
Then, deeply skill'd in love's engaging theme,
The soft Provencal pass'd to Arno's stream :
* The Edipus of Sophocles.
#Julius II. the iminediate predecessor of Leo X.
With graceful ease the wanton lyre he strung ;
Sweet flow'd the lays—but love was all he sung.
The gay description could not fail to move;
For, led by nature, all her 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 Shakspeare 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 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
The unrivallid picture of his early hand.
With † gradual steps and slow, exacter France Saw Art's fair empire o'er her shores advance :
* 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
By length of toil a bright perfection knew,
Correctly bold, and just in all she drew :
Till late Corneille, with Lucan's * spirit fird,
Breath'd the free strain, as Rome and he inspir'd:
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
The historian's truth, and bid the manners live,
Wak'd at his call I view, with glad surprise,
Majestic forms of mighty monarchs rise.
There Henry's trumpets spread their loud alarms;
And laurell’d Conquest waits her hero's arins.
Here gentle Edward claims a pitying sigh,
Scarce born to honours, and so soon to die!
Yet shall thy throne, unhappy infant, bring
No beam of comfort to the guilty king:
The time t shall come when Glo'ster's heart shall
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.
after him applied themselves in general to the correct improvement of the stage, which was almost tocally disregarded by those of our own country, Jonson excepted,
# The favourite author of the elder Corneille. t Turno tempus erit, magno cum optaverit emptum Intactum Patlanta, &c.