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Or for the laurel, he may gain a scorn,

For a good poet's made, as well as born:

And fuch wert thou. Look, how the father's face
Lives in his iffue, even fo the race

Of Shakespear's mind and manners brightly fhines
In his well torned, and true filed lines:

In each of which he seems to shake a lance
As brandifh'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet fwan of Avon! what a fight it were
To see thee in our water yet appear,

And make those flights upon the banks of thames,
That fo did take Eliza, and our James!
But stay, I fee thee in the hemifphere

Advanc'd, and made a conftellation there!
Shine forth, thou ftar of poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer the drooping stage,

Which, fince thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light.

BEN. JONSON.

ΑΝ

AN

EPISTLE

Addreffed to Sir THOMAS HANMER, on his edition

SIR,

WHI

of SHAKESPEAR'S Works.

By MR. WILLIAM COLLINS.

HILE 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;
Excuse her doubts, if yet she fears to tell
What fecret transports in her bosom swell:
With conscious awe fhe 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 fighs confefs'd
A fix'd despair in every tuneful breast.
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 mufe alone unequal dealt her rage,
And grac'd with noblest pomp her earlieft ftage.
Preferv'd through time, the fpeaking fcenes impart.
Each changeful wifh of Phaedra's tortur'd heart:

Or

Or paint the curfe, that mark'd the aTheban'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 fecure to please,
The comick fifters kept their native ease.
With jealous fear declining Greece beheld
Her own Menander's art almost excell'd!
But every muse effay'd to raise in vain
Some labour'd rival of her tragick ftrain;
Ilyffus' laurels, though transferr'd with toil,
Droop'd their fair leaves, nor knew th' unfriendly foil.
As arts expir'd, refistless dulness rose;

Goths, priefts, or Vandals, all were learning's foes.
Till Julius first recall'd each exil'd maid,
And Cofmo own'd them in th' Etrurian shade:
Then deeply fkill'd in love's engaging theme,
The foft Provencial paff'd to Arno's ftream:
With graceful cafe the wanton lyre he ftrung,
Sweet flow'd the lays but love was all he fung.
The gay description could out fail to move;
For, led by nature, all are friends to love.

But heaven, ftill various in its works, decreed
The perfect boaft of time should laft fucceed.
The beauteous union must appear at length,
Of Tuscan fancy, and Athenian ftrength:
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!
No fecond growth the western isle could bear,
At once exhausted with too rich a year.
Tóo nicely Fonfon knew the critick's part;
Nature in him was almost loft in art.

• The Oedipus of Sophocles.

Julius II. the immediate predeceffor of Leo X.,

of

Of fofter mould the gentle Fletcher came,
The next in order, as the next in name.
With pleas'd attention 'midft his fcenes 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.
His 'every ftrain the fmiles and graces own;
But stronger Shakespear felt for man alone:
Drawn by his pen, our ruder paffions stand
Th' unrivall❜d picture of his early hand.

'With gradual steps, and flow, exacter France
Saw art's fair empire o'er her fhores advance:
By length of toil a bright perfection knew,
Correctly bold, and juft in all the drew.
Till late Corneille, with Lucan's fpirit fir'd,
Breath'd the free ftrain, as Rome and he infpir'd:
And claffick judgment gain'd to sweet Racine
The temperate ftrength of Maro's chaster line.
But wilder far the British laurel fpread,
And wreaths lefs artful crown our poet's head.
Yet He alone to every fcene could give
Th' hiftorian's truth, and bid the manners live.
Wak'd at his call I view, with glad furprize,
Majestick forms of mighty monarchs rife.
There Henry's trumpets fpread their loud alarms,
And laurel'd conqueft waits her hero's arms.
Here gentler Edward claims a pitying figh,
Scarce born to honours, and fo foon to die!
Yet fhall thy throne, unhappy infant, bring
No beam of comfort to the guilty king:

Their characters are thus diftinguished by Mr. Dryden.

About the time of Shakespear, the poet Hardy was in great repute in France. He wrote accoding to Fontenelle, fix hundred plays. The French poets after him applied themselves in general to the correct improvement of the ftage, which was almoft totally difregarded by those of our own country, Jonson excepted.

The favourite author of the elder Corneille.

g

The

1

The 'time fhall come, when Glofter's heart fhall bleed
In life's laft hours, with horrour of the deed:
When dreary vifions fhall at laft prefent

Thy vengeful image in the midnight tent:
Thy hand unfeen the fecret death fhall bear,
Blunt the weak fword, and break th' oppreffive fpear.
Where'er we turn, by fancy charm'd, we find
Some fweet illufion of the cheated mind.
Oft, wild of wing, fhe calls the foul to rove
With humbler nature, in the rural grove;
Where fwains contented own the quiet fcene,
And twilight fairies tread the circled green:
Drefs'd by her hand, the woods and valleys fmile,
And fpring diffufive decks th' inchanted ifle.
O more than all in powerful genius bleft,
Come, take thine empire o'er the willing breaft!
Whate'er the wounds this youthful heart fhall feel,
Thy songs support me, and thy morals heal!
There every thought the poet's warmth may raise,
There native mufick dwells in all the lays.
O might some verfe with happiest skill perfuade
Expreffive picture to adopt thine aid !

What wondrous draughts might rife from every page!
What other Raphaels charm a diftant age!

Methinks, even now I view fome free defign, Where breathing nature lives in every line: Chafte and fubdued the modeft lights decay, Steal into fhades, and mildly melt away.

And fee, where 'Antony, in tears approv'd, Guards the pale relicks of the chief he lov'd: O'er the cold corfe the warriour feems to bend,

Deep funk in grief, and mourns his murder'd friend!

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