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And door-keepers: when, let but Falstaff come,
Hal, Poins, the rest,-you scarce shall have a room,
All is so pester'd: Let but Beatrice
And Benedick be seen, lo! in a trice
The cock-pit, galleries, boxes, all are full,
To hear Malvolio, that cross-garter'd gull.
Brief, there is nothing in his wit-fraught book,
Whose sound we would not hear, on whose worth look:
Like old-coin'd gold, whose lines, in every page,
Shall pass true current to succeeding age.
But why do I dead Shakspeare's praise recite?
Some second Shakspeare must of Shakspeare write;
For me, 'tis needless; since an host of men
Will pay, to clap his praise, to free my pen.*
An Elegy on the Death of that famous Writer and Actor,
Mr. William Shakspeare.
I dare not do thy memory that wrong,
Unto our larger griefs to give a tongue.
I'll only sigh in earnest, and let fall
My solemn tears at thy great funeral.
For every eye that rains a show'r for thee,
Laments thy loss in a sad elegy.
Nor is it fit each humble muse should have
Thy worth his subject, now thou art laid in grave.
No, it's a flight beyond the pitch of those,
Whose worthless pamphlets are not sense in prose.
Let learned Jonson sing a dirge for thee,
And fill our orb with mournful harmony:
But we need no remembrancer; thy fame
Shall still accompany thy honour'd name
To all posterity; and make us be
Sensible of what we lost, in losing thee:
Being the age's wonder; whose smooth rhymes
Did more reform than lash the looser times.
Nature herself did her own self admire,
As oft as thou wert pleased to attire
Her in her native lustre; and confess,
Thy dressing was her chiefest comeliness.
How can we then forget thee, when the age
Her chiefest tutor, and the widow'd stage
Her only favorite, in thee, hath lost,
And Nature's self, what she did brag of most?
Sleep then, rich soul of numbers! whilst poor we
Enjoy the profits of thy legacy;
* These verses are prefixed to a spurious edition of Shakspeare's Poems, in small octavo, printed in 1640. Malone.
And think it happiness enough, we have
So much of thee redeemed from the grave,
As may suffice to enlighten future times
With the bright lustre of thy matchless rhymes.*
In Memory of our famous Shakspeare.
Sacred Spirit, whiles thy lyre
Echoed o'er the Arcadian plains,
Even Apollo did admire,
Orpheus wonder'd at thy strains:
Plautus sigh'd, Sophocles wept
Tears of anger, for to hear,
After they so long had slept,
So bright a genius should appear;
Who wrote his lines with a sun-beam,
More durable than time or fate:-
Others boldly do blaspheme,
Like those that seem to preach, but prate.
Thou wert truly priest elect,
Chosen darling to the Nine,
Such a trophy to erect
By thy wit and skill divine.
That were all their other glories
(Thine excepted) torn away,
By thy admirable stories
Their garments ever shall be gay.
Where thy honour'd bones do lie,
(As Statius once to Maro's urn,)
Thither every year will 1
Slowly tread, and sadly mourn.
Thy Muse's sugred dainties seem to us
Like the fam'd apples of old Tantalus:
For we (admiring) see and hear thy strains,
But none I see or hear those sweets attains.
These anonymous verses are likewise prefixed to Shakspeare's Poems, 1640. Malone.
This author published a small volume of Epigrams in 1651, among which this poem in memory of Shakspeare is found.
These verses are taken from Two Bookes of Epigrammes and Epitaphs, by Thomas Bancroft, Lond. 1639, 4to. H. White.
To Mr. William Shakspeare.
Shakspeare, we must be silent in thy praise,
'Cause our encomions will but blast thy bays,
Which envy could not; that thou didst do well,
Let thine own histories prove thy chronicle.*
In Remembrance of Master William Shakspeare.
Beware, delighted poets, when you sing,
To welcome nature in the early spring,
Your num'rous feet not tread
The banks of Avon; for each flow'r,
As it ne'er knew a sun or show'r,
Hangs there the pensive head.
Each tree, whose thick and spreading growth hath made
Rather a night beneath the boughs than shade,
Unwilling now to grow,
Looks like the plume a captain wears,
Whose rifled falls are steep'd i' the tears
Which from his last rage flow.
The piteous river wept itself away
Long since, alas! to such a swift decay,
That reach the map, and look
If you a river there can spy,
And, for a river, your mock'd eye
Will find a shallow brook.
And if you leave us too, we cannot thrive,
I'll promise neither play nor poet live
Till ye come back: think what you do; you see
What audience we have: what company
To Shakspeare comes! whose mirth did once beguile
Dull hours, and buskin'd, made even sorrow smile:
So lovely were the wounds, that men would say
They could endure the bleeding a whole day.
See, my lov'd Britons, see your Shakspeare rise,
An awful ghost, confess'd to human eyes!
Unnam'd, methinks, distinguish'd I had been
From other shades, by this eternal green,
*From Wits Recreations, &c. 12mo. 1640. Steevens,
About whose wreaths the vulgar poets strive,
And with a touch their wither'd bays revive.
Untaught, unpractis'd, in a barbarous age,
I found not, but created first the stage:
And if I drain'd no Greek or Latin store,
'Twas, that my own abundance gave me more?
Ou foreign trade I needed not rely,
Like fruitful Britain rich without supply.
Shakspeare, who (taught by none) did first impart
To Fletcher wit, to labouring 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 height 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 Shakspeare's pen. Ibid.
Our Shakspeare wrote too in an age as blest,
The happiest poet of his time, and best;
A gracious prince's favour cheer'd his muse,
A constant favour he ne'er fear'd to lose:
Therefore he wrote with fancy unconfin'd,
And thoughts that were immortal as his mind. Orway.
Shakspeare, whose genius to itself a law,
Could men in every height of nature draw.
In such an age immortal Shakspeare wrote,
By no quaint rules nor hamp'ring criticks taught;
With rough majestick force he mov'd the heart,
And strength and nature made amends for art.
To claim attention and the heart invade,
Shakspeare but wrote the play th' Almighty made.
Our neighbour's stage-art too bare-fac'd betrays,
'Tis great Corneille at every scene we praise;
On Nature's surer aid Britannia calls,
Nor think of Shakspeare till the curtain falls;
Then with a sigh returns our audience home,
From Venice, Egypt, Persia, Greece, or Rome.
Shakspeare, 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 bays 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 sullied and obscur'd, though soaring high,
With spots contracted from the nether sky.
But whither is the advent'rous muse betray'd?
Forgive her rashness, venerable shade!
May spring with purple flowers 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!
Some scions shot from this immortal root,
Their tops much lower, and less fair the fruit.
Jonson the tribute of my verse might claim,
Had he not strove to blemish Shakspeare's name.
But like the radiant twins that gild the sphere.
Fletcher and Beaumont next in pomp appear.
For lofty sense,
Creative fancy, and inspection keen
Through the deep windings of the human heart,
Is not wild Shakspeare thine and nature's boast?
Pride of his own, and wonder of this age,
Who first created, and yet rules the stage,
Bold to design, all powerful to express,
Shakspeare each passion drew in every dress:
Great above rule, and imitating none;
Rich without borrowing, Nature was his own.
Shakspeare (whom you and every playhouse bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will,)
For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
And grew im mortal in his own despight.
An Inscription for a Monument of Shakspeare.
O youths and virgins: O declining eld:
O pale misfortune's slaves: O ye who dwell
Unknown with humble quiet; ye who wait
In courts, or fill the golden seat of kings:
O sons of sport and pleasure: Othou wretch
That weep'st for jealous love, or the sore wounds
Of conscious guilt, or death's rapacious hand,
Which left thee void of hope: O ye who roam