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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 fteps, 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 just 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 chafter 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 rise.
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 stage, which was almoft totally difregarded by those of our own country, Jonson excepted.
The favourite author of the elder Corneille.
The 'time fhall come, when Glo'fter'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' oppreflive 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 spring diffufive decks th' inchanted ifle.
O more than all in powerful genius blest,
Come, take thine empire o'er the willing breast!
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 verse with happiest skill perfuade
Expreffive picture to adopt thine aid!
What wondrous draughts might rife from every page!
What other Raphaels charm a distant 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!
• Tempus erit Turno, magno cùm optaverit emptum
Intactum pallanta, &c.
See the tragedy of Julius Cæfar.
Still as they prefs, he calls on all around,
Lifts the torn robe, and points the bleeding wound.
But who is he, whofe brows exalted bear
A wrath impatient, and a fiercer air ?
Awake to all that injur'd worth can feel,
On his own Rome he turns th' avenging steel:
Yet fhall not war's infatiate fury fall
(So heaven ordains it) on the deftin'd wall.
See the fond mother, 'midft the plaintive train,
Hung on his knees, and proftrate on the plain!
Touch'd to the foul, in vain he ftrives to hide
The fon's affection, in the Roman's pride:
O'er all the man conflicting paffions rife,
Rage grafps the fword, while pity melts the eyes.
Thus, generous critick, as thy Bard infpires,
The fifter arts shall nurse their drooping fires;
Each from his scenes her ftores alternate bring,
Blend the fair tints, or wake the vocal ftring:
Thofe Sybil leaves, the fport of every wind,
(For poets ever were a carelefs kind)
By thee difpos'd, no farther toil demand,
But, just to nature, own thy forming hand.
So fpread o'er Greece, th' harmonious whole unknown,
Even Homer's numbers charm'd by parts alone.
Their own Ulyffes fcarce had wander'd more,
By winds and waters caft on every fhore:
When rais'd by fate, fome 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 Odyffey.