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VERSES

HUMBLY ADDRESS'D

TO

SIR THOMAS HANMER

ON HIS EDITION OF

SHAKESPEAR'S WORKS.

By a GENTLEMAN of OXFORD.

LONDON:
Printed for M. COOPER, in Pater-Noster-Row.

(Price Six Pence.)

1743.

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To

SIR THOMAS HANMER.

SIR, WHILE, own'd by You, with Smiles the Muse surveys Th’expected Triumph of her sweetest Lays: While, stretch'd at Ease, she boasts your Guardian

Aid, Secure, and happy in her sylvan Shade: Excuse her Fears, who scarce a Verse bestows, In just Remembrance of the Debt she owes ; With conscious Awe she hears the Critic's Fame, And blushing hides her Wreath at Shakespear's Name.

Long slighted Fancy, with a Mother's Care, Wept o'er his Works, and felt the last Despair. Torn from her Head, she saw the Roses fall, By all deserted, tho' admir'd by all. “And oh! she cry'd, shall Science still resign “Whate'er is Nature's, and whate'er is mine? “Shall Taste and Art, but shew a cold Regard, “And scornful Pride reject th' unletter'd Bard ? “ Ye myrtled Nymphs, who own my gentle Reign, “Tune the sweet Lyre, and grace my airy Train ! “If, where ye rove, your searching Eyes have known “One perfect Mind, which Judgment calls its own; “There ev'ry Breast its fondest Hopes must bend, “ And ev'ry Muse with Tears await her Friend.

'Twas then fair Isis from her Stream arose, In kind Compassion of her Sister's Woes. 'Twas then she promis'd to the mourning Maid Th’immortal Honours, which thy Hands have paid :

“My best lov'd Son (she said) shall yet restore “Thy ruin'd Sweets, and Fancy weep no more.

Each rising Art by slow 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 thro' 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. Line after Line our pitying Eyes o'erflow, Trace the sad Tale, and own another's Woe.

To Rome remov’d, with equal Pow'r to please, The Comic Sisters kept their native Ease. With jealous Fear declining Greece beheld Her own Menander's Art almost excell'd! But ev'ry Muse essay'd to raise in vain Some labour'd Rival of her Tragic Strain : Ilissus' Laurels, tho' transferr'd with Toil, Droop'd their fair Leaves, nor knew th' unfriendly

Soil. When Rome herself, her envy'd Glories dead, No more Imperial, stoop'd her conquer'd Head: Luxuriant Florence chose a softer Theme, While all was Peace, by Arno's silver Stream. With sweeter Notes th' Etrurian Vales complain'd, And Arts reviving told—a Cosmo reign'd. Their wanton Lyres the Bards of Provence strung, Sweet flow'd the Lays, but Love was all they sung. The gay Description could not fail to move, For, led by Nature, all are Friends to Love.

But Heav'n, still rising in its Works, decreed The perfect Boast of Time should last succeed.

* The Edipus of Sophocles.

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The beauteous Union must appear at length,
Of Tuscan Fancy, and Athenian Strength:
One greater Muse Eliza's Reign adorn,
And ev’n a Shakespear to her Fame be born!

Yet ah! so bright her Morning's op'ning 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 Johnson knew the Critic'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 Sigh, and ev'ry tender Tear,
The Lover's Wishes and the Virgin's Fear.
His * ev'ry Strain the Loves and Graces own;
But stronger Shakespear felt for Man alone :
Drawn by his Pen, our ruder Passions stand
Th' unrivall’d Picture of his early Hand.

With gradual Steps, and slow, 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 from Epick † Lucan brought
The full Expression, and the Roman thought;
And classic Judgment gain'd to sweet Racine
The temp’rate 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 ev'ry Scene could give
Th' Historian's Truth, and bid the Manners live.

* Their Characters are thus distinguish'd by Mr. Dryden.
+ The favourite Author of the Elder Corneille.

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