Imágenes de páginas

While nursed by you she sees her myrtles bloom

Green and unwither'd o'er his hononr'd tomb;

Excase 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 Shakspeare's name.

Hard was the lot those injured strains endured,

Unown'd by Science, and by years obscured:

Fair Fancy wept; and echoing sighs confessM

A fix.t despair in every tuneful breast.

Not with more grief tlV afflicted swains appear,

When wintry wind«s 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 graced with noblest pomp her earliest stage. Preserved through time, the speaking scenes impart Each changeful wish of Phaedra's tortured 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 removed, with wit secure to please, The comic sisters kept their native ease: With jealous fear declining Greece beheld Her own Mcnander's art almost excell'd! But every Muse essay'd to raise in vain Some iabour'd rival of her tragie strain; Ilyssus' laurels, though transferr'd with toil, Droop'd their fair leaves, nor knew th' unfriendly soil.

As Arts expired, resistless Dulness rose; Goths, priests, or Vandals,—all were Learning's foes.

* The (Edipu? of Sophocles.

Till* Julius first recallV. each exiled maid,
And Cosmo own'd them in th' Etrurian shade:
Then deeply skill'd in Love's engaging theme,
The soft Provencal pass'd to Arno's stream:
With graceful ease the wanton lyre he strung,
Sweet flow'd the lays—but love was all he sung.
The gay description could not fail to move j
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 Bliza's reign adorn,
And e'en a Shakspeare to her fame be born!

Yet, ah! so bright her morning's opening ray,
In vain our Britain hoped 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.
Hist every strain the Smiles and Graces own:
But stronger Shakspeare 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:

* Julius II. the immediate predecessor of l.eo X. t I heir characters are thus di-ftingnis'ml by Mr. Dryden. \ About the time of shakspeare, the pnei Uar.i./wasin jrreat repute in Friuce. He wrote, according to tontciieilc, s.x hundred plays.

By length of toil a bright perfection knew,
Correctly bold, and just in all she drew;
Till late Corneille, with *Lucan's spirit fired,
Breathed the free strain, as Rome and he inspired:
And classic 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
Th* historian's truth, and bid the manners live
Waked at his call, I view with glad surprise
Majestic forms of mighty monarchs rise.
There Henry's trumpets spread their loud alarms,
And laurcll'd Conquest waits her hero's arms.,
Here gentle Edward claims a pitying sigh,
Scarce born to honours, and so soon to die!
Yet shall thy throne, unhappy infant! bring
No beam of comfort to the guilty king:
Thet time shall come, when Glo'ster'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;
Thy hand unseen the secret death shall bear,
Blunt the weak sword, and break tb/ oppressive spear.

Where'er we turn, by Fancy charm'd, we find

Some sweet illusion of the cheated mind.

Oft, wild of wing, she calls the soul to rove

With humbler Nature in the rural grove;

Where swains contented own the quiet scene,

And twilight fairies tread the circled green:

DressM by her hand the woods and valleys smile,

And spring diffusive decks th' enchanted isle.

The French poets after him applied themselves in general to the correct improvement of the sla^e, which was almost totally disregarded by those of our own country, Joiisou excepted.

* The favourite author of the elder Corneille. f Tempns erit Turno, maguo cur.i optaverit einptum Intac'.uiu Pallanta. &c.'

0 more than all in powerful genius blest, Come, take thine empire o'er the willing breast! Whate'er the wounds this youthful heart shall feel, Thy songs support me, and thy morals heal! There every thought the poet's warmth may raise, There native music dwells in all the lays. Oh, might some verse with happiest skill persuade Expressive Picture to adopt thine aid! What wondrous draughts might rise from every page What other Raphaels charm a distant age!

Methinks e'en now I view some free design,
Wrhere breathing Nature lives in every line:
Chaste and subdued the modest lights decay,
Steal into shades, and mildly melt away.
—And see, where *Antony, in tears approved,
Guards the pale relics of the chief he loved:
O'er the cold corse the.warrior seems to bend.
Deep sunk in grief, and mourns his murder'd friend\
Still as they press he calls on all around,
Lifts the torn robe, and points the bleeding wound.

But who tis he, whose brows exalted bear
A wrath impatient, and a fiercer air?
Awake to all that injured worth can feel,
On his own Rome he turns th' avenging steel:
Yet shall not war's insatiate fury fall
(So Heaven ordains it) on the destin'd wall.
See the fond rrother,'midst the plaintive train,
Haiig on his knees, and prostrate on the plain!
Touch'd to the soul, in vain he st-rive* to hide
The son's affection in the Roman's pride:
O'er all the man conflicting passions rise,
Rage grasps the sword, while Pity melts the eyes.

Thus, generous Critic, as thy bard inspires,

The sister Arts sha.Il nurse their drooping fires;

* See tiie tragedy of Julius C.xsar. t Coriolaius. See Mr. Speme's dialogue on Die Odyssey.

Each from his scenes her stores alternate bring,
Blend the fair tints, or wake the vocal string:
Those Sibyl-leaves, the sport of every wind
(For poets ever were a careless kind),
By thee disposed, no farther toil demand,
But, just to Nature, own thy forming hand.

So spread o'er Greece, th* harmonious whole un-
Even Homer's numbers charm'd by parts alone.
Their own Ulysses scarce had wandered more,
By winds and waters cast on every shore:
When, raised by Fate, some 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


Sung by Guiderus and Arviragus over Fidele, supposed to be dead.

To fair Fidele's grassy tomb

Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet, of earliest bloom,

And rifle all the breathing Spring.
No wailing ghost shall dare appear

To vex witli shrieks this quiet grove;
But shepherd lads assemble here,

And melting virgins own their love.
No withered witch shall here be seen,

No goblins lead their nightly crew;
The female fays shall haunt the green,

And dress thy grave with pearly dew!

« AnteriorContinuar »