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From the Remonstrance of SHAKSPEARE, Supposed to have been spoken at the Theatre

atre Royal, when the French Comedians were acting by subscription.

By the same Author. What though the footsteps of my devious muse The measur'd walks of Grecian art refuse? Or though the frankness of my hardy style Mock the nice touches of the critick's file? Yet what my age and climate held to view Impartial I survey'd, and fearless drew. And say, ye skilful in the human heart, Who know to prize a poet's noblest part, What age, what clime, could e'er an ampler field For lofty thought, for daring fancy yield? I saw this England break the shameful bands Forg'd for the souls of men by sacred hands; I saw each groaning realm her aid implore; Her sons the heroes of each warlike shore; Her naval standard, (the dire Spaniard's bane,) Obey'd through all the circuit of the main. Then too great commerce, for a late-found world, Around your coast her eager sails unfurld: New hopes new passions thence the bosom fir'd; New plans, new arts, the genius thence inspir’d; Thence every scene which private fortune knows, In stronger life, with bolder spirit, rose.

Disgrac'd I this full prospect which I drew ? My colours languid, or my strokes untrue ? Have not your sages, warriors, swains, and kings, Confess’d the living draught of men and things? What other bard in any clime appears, Alike the master of your smiles and tears? Yet have I deign'd your audience to entice With wretched bribes to luxury and vice?

Or have my various scenes a purpose known, Which freedom, virtue, glory, might not own?

When learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous foes First rear'd the stage, immortal Shakspeare rose; Each change of many-colour'd life he drew, Exhausted worlds, and then imagin'd new : Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign, And panting time toil'd after him in vain : His pow’rful strokes presiding truth impress’d, And unresisted passion storm'd the breast. Prologue at the opening of Drury-lane Theatre

in 1747. By Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Upon Shakspeare's Monument at Stratford-upon

Avon.

Great Homer's birth seven rival cities claim;
Too mighty such monopoly of fame.
Yet not to birth alone did Homer owe
His wond'rous worth; what Egypt could bestow,
With all the schools of Greece and Asia join'd,
Enlarg'd the immense expansion of his mind:
Nor yet unrival'd the Mæonian strain;
The British Eagle” and the Mantuan Swan
Tow'r equal heights. But, happier Stratford, thou
With incontested laurels deck thy brow;
Thy bard was thine unschoold, and from thee

brought
More than all Egypt, Greece, or Asia taught;
Not Homer's self such matchless laurels won;
The Greek has rivals, but thy Shakspeare none.

T. SEWARD.

2 Milton.

From Mr. Collins's Epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer

on his edition of Shakspeare's works.

Hard was the lot those injur'd strains endur'd,
Unown'd by science, and by years obfcur’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 lingering 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 im-

part
Each changeful wish of Phædra's tortur'd heart;
Or paint the curse, that mark'd the Theban's 3

reign,
A bed incestuous, and a father Nain.
With kind concern our pitying eyes o’erflow,
Trace the fad tale, and own another's woe.

To Rome remov’d, with wit secure 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 essay'd to raise in vain
Some labour'd rival of her tragick strain;
Illyfsus' laurels, though transferr’d with toil,
Droop'd their fair leaves, nor knew th' unfriendly

foil.

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3 The Oedipus of Sophocles.

As arts expir’d, resistless Dullness rose; Goths, priests, or Vandals,-all were learning's

foes. Till Julius * first recall’d each exil'd maid, And Cosmo own'd them in the Etrurian fhade: Then deeply skill'd in love's engaging theme, The soft Provencial pass’d to Arno's stream: With graceful ease the wanton lyre he strung; Sweet How'd the lays,—but love was all he sung. The gay description could not fail to move; For, led by nature, all are 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 critick's part; Nature in him was almost lost in art. Of softer mold 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 figh, and every tender tear,
The lover's wishes, and the virgin's fear.
His every strain the Smiles and Graces own;s
But stronger Shakspeare felt for man alone :

4 Julius II, the immediate predeceffor of Leo X.
s Their characters are thus diftinguished by Mr. Dryden.

Drawn by his pen, our ruder passions stand
Th' unrivall’d picture of his early hand.

With gradual steps, and flow, exacter France
Saw Art's fair empire o'er her shores advance:
By length of toil a bright perfection knew,
Correctly bold, and just in all she drew:
Till late Corneille, with Lucan's ? spirit fir'd,
Breath'd the free strain, as Rome and He inspir'd;
And classick 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 surprize,
Majestick forms of mighty monarchs rise.
There Henry's trumpets spread their loud alarms,
And laurellid Conquest waits her hero's arms.
Here gentler Edward claims a pitying figh,
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 shall come, when Glofter's heart shall

bleed
In life's last hours, with horror of the deed:
When dreary visions shall at last present
Thy vengeful image in the midnight tent:

6 About the time of Shakspeare, the poet Hardy was in great repute in France. He wrote, according to Fontenelle, fix hundred plays. The French poets 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.

7 The favourite author of the elder Corneille.
& Turno tempus erit, magno cùm optaverit emptum

Intactum Pallanta, &c.

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