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Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole, .
Round an holy calm diffusing,
But O! how alter'd was its sprightlier tone
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad known.
And Sport leapt up, and seiz'd his beechen speár.
First to the lively pipe his hand addrest;
Whose sweet entrancing voice he lov'd the best :
They saw, in Tempe's vale, her native maids,
Amidst the festal sounding shades,
Love fram'd with Mirth a gay fantastic round:
As if he would the charming air repay,
As, in that lov'd Athenian bower,
AN EPISTLE ADDRESSED TO SIR THOMAS HANMER,
On his Edition of Shakespeare's Works, W 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 critic's fame, And blushing hides her wreath at Shakespeare's name.
Hard was the lot those injur'd strains endur'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 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.
* The Edipus of Sophocles. Julius II. the iminediate predecessor of Leo X.
With graceful ease the wanton lyre he strung ;
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 unrivall'd picture of his early hand.
With t 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,
But wilder far the British laurel spread,
Where'er we turn, by Fancy charm'd, we find
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,
# The favourite author of the elder Corneille. 1 Turno tempus erit, magno cum optaverit emptum • Intactum Patlanta, &c.