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Spoken at the opening of Drury-LANE THEATRE,
Saturday, October 1oth, 1812.
In one dread night our city saw, and sighed,
Ye who beheld, (oh ! sight admired and mourned, Whose radiance mocked the ruin it adorned!) Through clouds of fire, the massy fragments riven, Like Israel's pillar, chase the night from heaven ; Saw the long column of revolving flames Shake its red shadow o'er the startled Thames, While thousands, thronged around the burning dome, Shrank back appalled, and trembled for their home, As glared the volumed blaze, and ghastly shone The skies, with lightnings awful as their own, Till blackening ashes and the lonely wall Usurped the Muse's realm, and marked her fall; Say-shall this new, nor less aspiring pile, Reared where once rose the mightiest in our isle, Know the same favour which the former knew, A shrine for Shakspeare-worthy him and you ?
Yesmit shall be the magic of that name Defies the scythe of Time, the torch of flame ;
On the same spot still consecrates the scene,
As soars this fane to emulate the last, Oh! might we draw our omens from the past, Some hour propitious to our prayers may boast Names such as hallow still the dome we lost. On Drury first your Siddons' thrilling art O’erwhelmed the gentlest, stormed the sternest heart. On Drury, Garrick's latest laurels grew ; Here your last tears retiring Roscius drew, Sighed his last thanks, and wept his last adieu : But still for living wit the wreaths may bloom That only waste their odours o'er the tomb.. Such Drury claimed and claims-nor you refuse One tribute to revive his slumbering muse ; With garlands deck your own Menander's head ! Nor hoard your honours idly for the dead !
Dear are the days which made our annals bright, Ere Garrick fled, or Brinsley ceased to write. Heirs to their labours, like all high-born heirs, Vain of our ancestry as they of theirs ; While thus Remembrance borrows Banquo's glass To claim the sceptred shadows as they pass, And we the mirror hold, where imaged shine Immortal names, emblazoned on our line, Pause-ere their feebler offspring you condemn, Reflect how hard the task to rival them!
Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and Plays Must sue alike for pardon, or for praise,
Whose judging voice and eye alone direct
This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obeyed, The Drama's homage by her herald paid, Receive our welcome too, whose every tone Springs from our hearts, and fain would win your own. The curtain rises—may our stage unfold Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old ! Briton's our judges, Nature for our guide, Still may we please-long, long may you preside!
Written after swimming from Sestos to ABYDOS,
If, in the month of dark December,
Leander, who was nightly wont (What maid will not the tale remember?)
To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont !
· If, when the wintry tempest roared,
He sped to Hero, nothing loth, And thus of old thy current poured,
Fair Venus ! how I pity both !
For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May, My dripping limbs I faintly stretch, . And think I've done a feat to-day.
But since he crossed the rapid tide,
According to the doubtful story,
And swam for Love, as I for Glory ;
'Twere hard to say who fared the best :
Sad mortals ! thus the Gods still plague you! . He lost his labour, I my jest :
For he was drowned, and I've the ague.
Thine eye's blae tenderness, thy long fair hair,
And the wan lustre of thy features-caught
From contemplation-where serenely wrought, Seeins Sorrow's softness charmed from its despair Have thrown such speaking sadness in thine air,
That-but I know thy blessed bosom fraught
With mines of unalloyed and stainless thoughtI should have deemed thee doomed to earthly care. With such an aspect, by his colours blent,
When from his beauty-breathing pencil born, (Except that thou hast nothing to repent)
The Magdalen of Guido saw the morn--
With nought Remorse can claim-nor Virtue scorn.
TO THE SAME.
Thy cheek is pale with thought, but not from woe,
And yet so lovely, that if Mirth could flush
Its rose of whiteness with the brightest blush,
While gazing on them sterner eyes will gush,
And into mine my mother's weakness rush, Soft as the last drops round heaven's airy bow.