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Thou, in our wonder and astonishment,
Hast built thyself a live-long monunient:
For whilst, to th' shame of slow-endeav’ring art,
Thy easy numbers flow; and that each heart
Hath, from the leaves of thy unvalued book,
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took ;
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And, so sepulcher’d, in such pomp dost lie,
That kings, for such a tomb, would wish to die.
Shakespeare, who (taught by none) did first impart
To Fletcher wit, to lab’ring Jonson art:
He, monarch-like, gave those his subjects law,
And is That Nature which they paint and draw.
Fletcher reach'd that which on his heights did grow,
Whilst Jonson crept, and gather'd all below.
This did his love, and this his mirth digest:
One imitates him most, the other best.
If they have since out-writ all other men,
'Tis with the drops that fell from Shakespeare's pen.
DRYDEN's Prologue to his Alteration of
Shakespeare, the genius of our isle, whose mind
(The universal mirror of mankind)
Express'd all images, enrich'd the stage,
But sometimes stoop'd to please a barb'rous age,
When his immortal hays began to grow,
Rude was the language, and the humour low.
He, like the God of day, was always bright;
But rolling in its course, his orb of light
Was sully'd and obscur'd, tho' soaring high,
spots contracted from the nether sky.
But, whither is th’advent'rous Muse betray'd !
Forgive her rashness, venerable Shade!
May Spring, with purple flow'rs, perfume thy urn,
And Avon with his greens thy grave adorn!
Be all thy faults, whatever faults there be,
Imputed to the times, and not to thee!
FENTON's Epistle to Southerne, 1711.
-When lightning fires The arch of heav'n, and thunders rock the ground; When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air, And ocean, groaning from his lowest bed, Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky; Amid the gen’ral uproar, while below The nations tremble, Shakespeare looks abroad From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys The eleniental war
When Learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous foes First rear'd the stage, immortal Shakespeare 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 toild after him in vain:
His pow'rful strokes presiding truth impress'd,
And unresisted passion storin'd the breast.
Prologue at the opening of Drury-Lane Theatre
in 1747 by Dr. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
Far from the sun and summer gale,
In thy green lap was Nature's darling laid,
What time, where lucid Avon stray'd,
To him the mighty Mother did unveil
Her awful face. The dauntless Child
Stretch'd forth his little arms, and smild.
This pencil take (She said) whose colours clear
Richly paint the vernal year:
Thine too these golden keys, immortal Boy!
This can unlock the gates of joy;
Of horror that, and thrilling fears,
the sacred source of sympathetic tears.
GRAY's Ode on the Progress of Poesy.
In the first seat, in robes of various dyes,
A noble wildness flashing from his eyes,
Sat Shakespeare!-In one hand a wand he bore,
For mighty wonders fam'd in days of yore;
• Of all the many encomiums passed on our great dramatic poet the most truly poetical one seems to be contained in the third strophe of Mr. Gray's admirable Ode on the PROGRESS OF Poesy, particularly in the fine Prosopopæia and Speech of NATURE to him. Dr. J. WARTON.
The other held a globe, which to his will
Obedient turn'd, and own'd a master's skill:
Things of the noblest kind his Genius drew,
And look'd through Nature at a single view:
A loose he gave to his unbounded soul,
And taught new lands to rise, new seas to roll;
Call'd into being scenes unknown before,
And, passing Nature's bounds, was Something more.