Where, beaming once in classic beauty, shone
The Doric column, and the Parian stone, —
Bless'd haunt of Phoebus ! say, in days of
"What scenes the Muse depicted on thy shore.
When, first to vindicate the Drama's name,
Subliraer JEschylus aspired to fame.
There, through the quiv'ring throng, in dark
The vengeful Furies scatter'd wild dismay :
There, 'mid perpetual snows, in fix'd disdain,
Th' indignant Titan wrestled with his chain ;
Beheld unmoved the rock with thunder riv'n,
And spurn'd the menace of insulted Ileav'n.
56 THE DRAMA.
Say, what mute terror seized the throng, that
By Ammon's wrath his dauntless soul pursued.
When yielding Nature felt the tempest's shock,
And the red lightning smote the Scythian rock !
Soon o'er the scene maturer beauties rise,
And faithful Art a novel grace supplies :
Lo ! vivid colours aid the bold design,
And pictured forms in dim perspective shine.
Ideal space the bright illusion yields.
And the eye wanders o'er imagined fields ;
O'er cliffs and caves enraptured Fancy roves,
Cold, barren tracts, or culture's leafy groves ;
Views tranquil waves the island shore sur-
Or rising billows from the rock rebound ;
In voUied peals the raging tempest hears,
And mimic thunders of the heav'nly spheres.
THE DRAMA. 57
Unmix'd delight the just resemblance leaves,
And either sense th' effective Art deceives.
Soft dulcet notes the choral train prepare,
That float melodious on the ambient air ;
Breathe o'er the soul a captivating charm,
And pensive sorrow of its sting disarm.
Then pour'd " the Attic Bee," 'mid pomp sub-
His lyric numbers, hallow'd still by Time ;
Then through the dome re-echoing plaudits rung.
And triumph mark'd the varied themes he
Torn with defeated hope and fancied wrong.
Indignant Ajax awes the list'ning throng;
Yields to Dulichium's Prince the Victor's arms.
And scorns in frenzy life's contracted charms ;
Vents his unbridled rage with falt'ring breath.
And wildly glories in approaching death.
58 THE DRAMA.
Now Paean's Son deplores, in grief profound,
His ling'ring exile, and his hopeless wound ;
Tells to the Leranian rocks his banish'd peace,
And calls for vengeance on ungrateful Greece.
See o'er her Parent's tomb Electra shed
The secret tear, and mourn Orestes fled ;
Now with fond hope await his fix'd return,
Now weep despairing o'er his funeral urn.
Nor second he, who breathed 'raid war and strife
The infant cry that told awakening life.
When baffled Persia own'd her evil hour.
And rued at Salamis a rival's pow'r.
Oft hath a mother's tear, in vain repress'd.
His magic verse with mute applause confess'd.
When Phaedra's heart no holier vow can move,
And o'er her bosom rules unhallow'd love :
Where'er Hippolytus the chace pursues.
Her sole delight the Spouse of Theseus views ;
THE DRAMA. 59
With him prepared, howe'er the Youth deny
Her suit abhorrent, from the world to fly :
Changed is the scene ; and oft, as Conscience chides,
Guilt's deep'ning blushes in her robe she hides ;
And mourns, too late, repentant of her shame.
The darken'd memory of her nuptial fame.
Tears were thy tribute, Bard of skill supreme !
When fierce Agave form'd thy tragic theme :
O'er spoils inhuman as the matron raves.
The dreaded thyrsus high in air she waves ;
'Mid fearful orgies hails the trophy won, —
The bleeding head dissever'd of her Son.
Surpassing charms again thy verse invest.
When mingled passions rack Medea's breast :
Now o'er her heart unwonted Pity steals ;
Now stern Revenge its ruthless pow'r reveals ;
Now bitter thoughts her wav'ring soul invade, —
licr realm abandon'd, and her Sire betray'd ; —
60 THE DRAMA.
Her brother's fate the ling'ring blow demands,
And filial blood pollutes her impious hands.
Nor deem unknown, in Greece's earlier days,
'Mid tragic pomp, Thalia's gentler praise ;
Wreathed in alluring smiles, the sportive Queen
An equal grace imparted to the scene ;
In Virtue's aid her guardian spells engage.
And lash the baneful Vices of the Age.
Yet shall for him her blush indignant rise.
Though comic wit his sparkling page supplies,
Whose daring pen the wise and good oppress'd,
And e'en Religion libell'd with a jest.
Not all thy precepts, Socrates ! avail'd.
Thy blameless life when Satire's dart assail'd ;
Nor e'en thy purer virtues could assuage
The Poet's envy, or the People's rage :
Misguided foes the fatal cup prepare.
And Athens weeps o'er Wisdom's noblest heir.
THE DRAMA. Gl
But thee, Menander ! o'er whose honour'd grave
In spotless bloom unfading laurels wave.
With pride unmix'd the generous Muse reveres.
And o'er thine ashes pours parental tears.
Nor yet had Rome, unfelt the Muse's charms,
View'd her sole triumph in victorious arras :
Though flushd with conquest, oft, by field or
Queen of the World on Glory's height she stood.
By Tyber's banks the peaceful arts were known.
And, crown'd with fame, her Scenic grandeur
Oft, in seductive pomp, and glitt'ring pride,
With sacred fanes the Drama's temple vied ;
When festal sports revolving years renew'd.
Or splendid pageants told a foe subdued.
There oft the heart, that sighs o'er fancied ill,
l*roclaim'd Mel|)omene's severer skill ;
62 THE DRAMA.
Her rival Sister there the Roman knew,
Approving smiles when favour'd Plautus drew ;
When Terence rose, in Learning's purer age,
And graced with Attic wit the Latian stage.
But chief to thee, whose page enchanting burns
With thoughts that breathe, the Muse delighted
O'er whose young hours, in visions bright and
By Avon's banks propitious Fancy smiled.
Hail, mighty Bard ! alone to Nature true,
No borrow'd aid thy soaring spirit knew ;
Of Greece or Latium scorn'd the complex rules.
Nor own'd the ancient trammels of the schools:
'Twas thine, bold Master of the Thespian lyre !
From founts untried to draw celestial fire ;
In native genius rich and uncontroU'd,
O'er willing breasts a boundless sway to hold ;
THE DRAMA. 63
Bid Scenic Art with cloudless lustre shine,
And rear in Britain's Isle the Muse's shrine.
Accept, great Bard ! these tributary lays,
The youthful homage of untutor'd praise.
Immortal Shakspeare ! oft was thine the skill
To move the Passions at thy magic will ;
O'er ev'ry sense a wizard's spell to hold,
And ev'ry hue of Taney's charms unfold.
Thine was the wit, refulgent from the mine,
And all Thalia's sportive gifts were thine !
Nor less 'mid Tragic scenes thy bland controul
In Pity's tears dissolved the captive soul ;
Each treasured grief thy keen observance knew,
Each human woe thy matchless pencil drew.
Oh ! skill'd alike the joys of Hope to prove,
Or the deep wound of unrequited Love ;
Of Care or Fear to paint the tort'ring reign.
Or hell-born Jealousy's corroding pain ;
04 THE DRAMA.
Each awful mood of Madness to declare, —
The curbless frenzy, or the calm despair.
Such have we seen, when, 'mid the tempest wild,
The dying Father cursed his rebel child :
Such have we seen — O sight admired and mouru'd ! —
When, in her brain as darkly memory burn'd.
Robed in her maiden vest, and unconfined
Her beauteous tresses streaming to the wind.
Reft of her Sire, yet heedless of her wrong.
The sad Ophelia pour'd her plaintive song ;
With seeming care funereal chaplets wove,
And died, — the victim of neglected Love.
Unrivall'd Bard ! to thee their charms reveal'd
Heav'n's azure vault, and Ocean's coral field ;
To thee the terrors of the world were known.
Where Night eternal rears her Stygian throne :
Prompt at thy call, amidst the moon- lit wood,
Their mystic revels Fairy bands pursued ;
THE DRAMA. 65
Aerial phantoms pierced the murky gloom.
And the pale tenants of the yielding tomb :
These, as they wander from their destined goal,
Probe the dark secrets of the guilty soul ;
At midnight's hour array their spectral force,
And haunt the restless slumbers of Remorse.
Ye, in whose bosoms burns, uncjuench'd by
The deep remembrance of devouring crime.
Say, will not Conscience with severer sting
Back to your thoughts the harrowing memory
When on the scene, where midnight horrors reign.
Ye mark the image of the murder 'd Dane ;
Hear the pale Ghost his wav'ring Son reprove.
And paint his faithless Queen's unnatural love?
Say, start ye not, when pictured forms of deatii
t'en at the festive board affright Macbeth ;
66 THE DRAMA.
And his fix'd eye, 'mid Terror's raging storm,
Views on the vacant seat the blood-stain 'd Banquo's
Yes — your frail hearts have own'd the lesson true.
The daring Thane vt^hen matchless Garrick drew :
For oh ! 'twas his with touching skill to move ;
Of conscious Guilt the mental pangs to prove ;
Express too well each varying Passion's strife.
And give to Fiction's scenes the truth of Life.
And thou, fair Britain ! nurse with fond regard
The bright remembrance of thy peerless Bard ;
From age to age transmit his deathless name.
And sacred keep the records of his fame !
From dark Oblivion shield his just renown.
The Pedant's envy, and the Critic's frown !
His be the name, as years successive roll.
That o'er thy Drama bears supreme control ;
The first, the holiest of the Muse's train, —
'•' We ne'er shall look upon his like again !"
Verse 39 — 48. Of ninety tragedies, the fruit of this
dramatic writer's ingenious labours, forty of which were
rewarded with the public prize, only seven have come
safe to us, among which are the Prometheus, and the
Eumenides, or Furies. According to one of his Scho-
liasts, when his Eumenides were represented, many
children died through fear, and several pregnant wo-
men actually miscarried in the house, at the sight of
the horrible masks that were introduced.
Ver. 67. From the sweetness and harmony of his
periods, Sophocles was called by the ancients the
Attic Bee. Of one hundred and twenty tragedies
which he composed only seven are extant.
Ver. 71. After the death of Achilles, Ajax and
Ulysses disputed their claim to the arms of the dead
hero. Wlien they were given to the latter, Ajax was
so enraged that he slaughtered a whole flock of sheep,
supposing them to be the sons of Atreus, who had
given the preference to Ulysses, and he stabbed him-
self with his sword.
Ver. 77. When Philoctetes was called upon by
Menelaus to accompany the Greeks to the Trojan war,
the offensive smell which arose from a wound in his
foot obliged them, at the instigation of Ulysses, to
remove him from the camp, and he was accordingly
carried to the island of Lemnos, in which solitary re-
treat he remained several years. The sufferings and
adventures of Philoctetes are the subject of one of the
best tragedies of Sophocles.
Ver. 85. Euripides, the celebrated tragic poet, was
born at Salarais the day on which the army of Xerxes
was defeated by the Greeks. In memory of this vic-
tory, fought in the narrow channel of Euripus, which
divides Salamis from the continent, he received the
name of Euripides. Nineteen of his tragedies are
Ver. 102. Pentheus, king of Thebes, having re-
fused to acknowledge the divinity of Bacchus, and for-
bidden his subjects to pay adoration to the god, was
torn to pieces by the priestesses during the celebration
of their orgies, his mother Agave being the first to
Ver. 121. Aristophanes. The wit and excellence
of his comedies are well known ; but they abound
sometimes too much with obscenity, and his attack
upon the venerable character of Socrates has been
always censured, and with justice. If the poet de-
served praise for his wit, he merited blame for his li-
centiousness, which spared not even the gods, and was
so offensive to his countrymen, that Alcibiades made a
law at Athens, which forbade the comic writers from
mimicking or representing on the stage any living
character by name.
TRANSLATED FROIM THE LATIN PRIZE POEM
RECITED IN THE THEATRE AT OXFORD,
A. D. 1795.
OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE;
Illustrious Isle ! in battle's hour supreme, —
<iueen of the Waves, — be thou the Muse's theme !
Thy Warrior Sons, thy matchless prows that glide
With mimic thunders o'er the subject tide,
Her praise demand : — though sylvan haunts she
Where Isis winds amidst her classic groves,
Where placid Wisdom courts the friendly shade,
For holy Thougiit and musing Science made, —
Still at thy call a bolder flight she dares,
llt'counts the triumphs of thy Ocean-wurs,
74 THE BRITISH FLKET.
Bids loftier strains thy glorious deeds approve,
And glows exulting with a Patriot's love.
With humbler fleets, for bold defence prepared.
His wave-girt land the Briton learn'd to guard,
In hours of peril, from his menaced coast
When mighty Alfred drove th' invading host.
And taught his warriors, with unerring bow.
In their light barks to meet th' approaching foe.
Rude was his Naval Art : no daring sails
Spread their light canvas to propitious gales ;
No skilful Pilot, as the favouring wind
Smiled on his course, the needless oar resign'd :
No deathful Engine pour'd, in battle's ire.
The voUied thunders of destructive lire.
To nobler triumphs o'er her prostrate foes,
By slow degrees, victorious Britain rose ;
Of Naval Art th' advancing glory view'd,
And gave fresh terrors to the martial feud.
THE BRITISH FLEET. 75
On every coast laborious zeal prepares
The floating bulwarks of her future wars;
Majestic oaks, of forest glades the pride,
By wondrous process shaped for Ocean's tide,
Arm'd for the fray, with fearful menace sweep
O'er the dark furrows of the raging Deep.
Transcendent skill ! — obedient to the helm.
The buoyant Castles plough the watery realm ;
And Neptune views o'er all his wide domain,
As years succeed, illustrious Britain reign.
O'er every sea their course expert to steer,
A dauntless race 'tis Britain's pride to rear,
Unrivall'd Mariners, whose Art explores
Barbaric realms, and Earth's remotest shores.
Proudly her vessels bound before the gale,
Where choice directs, or threat'ning hosts assail ;
O'er billowy tracks her pennons court the breeze,
Atlantic floods, or India's distant seas.
7fi THE BRITISH FLEET.
Prompt at their Country's call, each foe defied,
Her hope in peril, and in arras her pride,
O'er subject waves her fearless sons afar
Spread the bright conquests of infuriate War.
Oh ! hadst thou, Britain ! known, in days of
These guardian bulwarks of thy menaced shore.
In vain Ambition far o'er Ocean's bed
Rome's daring Consul to thy coast had led ;
No Spoiler's ravage had thy fields deplored,
N o conquering Eagles o'er thy plains had soar'd :
Indignant C^sar, 'midst his hopes o'erthrown.
One glorious nation unsubdued had known,
One spot had witness'd. Freedom's native home,
Outlive the triumphs of imperial Rome.
Ye Shores renown'd ! whose barrier cliffs re-
The angry billows of the restless Main,
THE BRITISH FLEET. 77
Whose snow-white rocks, in long projecting file.
Form the bold rampart of this favour'd Isle,
Oft from your heights assembling crowds have
Your patriot sons on Ocean's tide erabark'd.
Your gallant fleets beheld, with hearts as free,
Bound o'er the waters of the dark blue sea.
Majestic sight ! by swelling breezes fann'd.
Wide o'er the deep the countless sails expand ;
Launch'd on the gulf the prows securely urge
Their course intrepid through the rising surge;
Unheeded roars the Sea's tumultuous wrath.
And waves divided mark their foamy path.
Whate'er the course imperious Duty holds, —
Wliate'er the prize inspiring Hope unfolds, —
(iaul's humbled pride once more to crush, or
The spoils alluring of presumptuous Spain, —
78 THE BRITISH FLEET.
Swift o'er the sea the dauntless Chief pursues.
Or hostile ports with close blockade subdues ;
While trembling foes behold, with hearts disniay'd.
The triple colours of his Flag display'd.
Such guardian aid the Merchant's hope befriends,
In peril's hour exported wealth defends;
O'er trading barks a ceaseless watch can keep,
And safely convoy o'er the stormy Deep.
And if, at distance seen, unfurl'd in air.
Some foreign Standard wave defiance there.
Some hostile Vessel in their course afar
Proclaim the signal of approaching war,
Near and more near as threat'ning dangers rise,
Redoubled zeal th' eventful hour supplies ;
And anxious care the gallant Bands bestow
With favouring winds to meet th' approaching foe.
These o'er the waters urge a swifter flight.
These clear in haste the Vessel's deck for tight ;
THE BRITISH FLEET. 79
These at her gaping ports, a chosen train,
In order due their settled post maintain,
And with high-beating hearts, with noiseless breath.
Direct the dread artillery of Death.
Through every rank, prepared for battle's palm.
On every side, prevails an awful calm :
No clamorous war-cry marks th' impending fray,
Xo impious threats the vengeful aim betray ;
O'er the brave soul uncertain visions creep
Of glorious conquest, or eternal sleep.
Undaunted llace ! your Country's noblest pride.
And dearer far than all her sons beside.
Whose hardy forms the Ocean's wrath defy.
Nor heed the bursting tempest from on high,
To your defence your native Land decrees
The vast dominion of her subject seas.
The strife begins : — witii loud unceasing roar
Tlioir deadly wrath the vollied thunders pour ;
80 THE BRITISH FLEET.
In deaf'ning peals destructive war they wage.
And vie with Etna's fierce Volcanic rage.
Nor less o'erwhelming, where Perdition low'rs
In shelter'd ambush, fall the missile show'rs :
High o'er the deck, amidst the shrouds array'd.
Appointed bands afford successful aid ;
Expiring foes their murderous aim display.
While shatter'd hulks no more the helm obey.
Oft at the shock as shiver'd beams divide.
Bursts through each ample breach the rushing tide;
Oft high in air, amidst devouring flame,
Exploding wrecks the frightful war proclaim ;
For fiercely there, escaped from Stygian shades,
AVith fatal wrath the fiery Pest invades,
And far around, in Battle's awful hour,
Spreads the wild havoc of sulphureous pow'r.
Oft in the dubious conflict's ardent rage
Oppressive thoughts the Seaman's heart engage ;
THE BRITISH FLEET. 81
His Country's hearths, in Fancy's brightest hues,
His early haunts, his distant friends, he views.
And vainly hopes his mould'ring bones may lie
Beneath the sun-beams of his native sky.
Not such the strife, 'mid Ocean's deep abyss,
Seen from thy shore, triumphant Salamis !
Not with such terrors arm'd, her spoils of yore
From Persian foes exulting Sparta bore.
When scatter'd navies own'd her peerless might,
And pale Dishonour mark'd a Monarch's flight.
Not such the strife, these deadlier arts denied,
"When Roman rivals plough'd the billowy tide ;
Expectant Actium view'd the fierce array.
And Nations trembled at th' impending fray.
Queen of the AVaves ! surpassing pow'rs are thine
And days of old thy mightier deeds outshine ;
Wide o'er the waters is thy proud domain,
And distant Seas bear record of thy reign.
8-2 THE BRITISH FLEET.
Who o'er th' Atlantic flood unmoved can view
Thy dauntless race their path to fame pursue,
'Mid vrestern skies thy banners vi^aved survey,
And peopled cities subject to thy sway ?
Who hath not shared, elate with virtuous pride,
The patriot zeal that Gallia's wrath defied,
That mock'd the ardour of Invasion's host.
And rear'd th' unfailing bulwarks of thy coast ?
Nor less thy Sires the Muse's praise invite,
Uncouquer'd Heroes of the ocean-fight.
When Spain, confiding in her strength, afar
Forestall'd the triumph of th' approaching war.
How vain her boast ! Britannia's arms prevail ;
Whelm'd in the deep, or driven before the gale.
Unseemly wrecks lie scatter'd o'er the main,
The proud Armada of insulting Spain.
Wide o'er thy realm, on Rumour's fleetest wing,
Spread the loud menace of Iberia's King,
THE BRITISH FLEET. 8S
Fill'd with impending gloom thy regal halls,
And shook with tenor e'en thy Temple's walls.
Firm and unshaken in that hour was seen,
Arm'd in her Crown's defence, the Virgin Queen ;
Roused at her call a kindred zeal unites
The stern avengers of their Country's rights.
No bigot Prince, disdain'd his profFer'd love.
Through Freedom's Isle in sceptred pride shall
No haughty Philip mock with high command
The ancient charter of her favour'd land.
Yet not alone th' applauding world admires
In naval war the conquests of our sires :
Still, brightly still, th' unfading glories beam,
And gallant Rodney forms the Patriot's theme.
Through the wide realm, no more with terror
Their guardian Chief Britannia's matrons hail,
84 THE BRITISH FLEET.
And teach, exulting in their Country's fame,
Unconscious youth to lisp the Victor's name,
Whose mighty deeds surpassing praise demand,
And with new lustre crown his native land.
Thrice have the laurel wreaths his brows adorn'd,
His routed squadrons thrice the foe hath mourn 'd ;
Thrice have the hostile shores beheld with dread
Their humbled chiefs in captive triumph led.
His was the might, on ocean's billowy crest,
In Lucar's bay defeated Spain confess'd.
When night descended o'er the scene, and gave
Redoubled horror to the blood-stain'd wave.
In vain for thee, around thy dauntless foes,
The stormy waters, proud Langara ! rose ;
In vain descended night's surrounding gloom,
To save thy squadrons, or avert thy doom.
His was the might, by western shores afar,
That baffled Gaul's aspiring aims in war,
THE BRITISH FLEET. 85
When fearful natives from their Island coast
Beheld the terrors of th' embattled host :
Ranged on the bank, as, in theatric rows.
Entranced spectators gaze on mimic shows,
With beating hearts assembled crowds survey
The various fortunes of the doubtful fray.
With eager shouts their partial zeal declare,
And pour for Gaul their fervent hopes in prayer :
Vain, doubly vain ; — before their tortured sight
Expiring comrades own Britannia's might ;
How vast the strife, — the Victor's fair re-
Their scatter'd wrecks, their captive Leader, own.
Through years revolving still the Muse may
Th' untarnish'd fame of Albion's earlier race,
>itill fondly view, as patriot zeal inspires,
The dauntless valour of her ancient sires.
86 THE BRITISH FLEET.
And thou, bright Star of no degenerate age,
Shalt long the tribute of her praise engage.
Whose recent triumphs o'er her foe demand
The festive homage of her grateful Land.
Illustrious Howe ! when Gallic wrath assail'd,
In battle's hour thy conquering arm prevail'd ;
Propitious winds advanced the bold design.
Intrepid Britons broke th' embattled line,
Spread the wild panic through the routed host,
And drove th' Invader from their menaced coast.
And oh ! since Albion, by thine aid, again
Wields undisturb'd her sceptre o'er the main.
Amidst the heroes of her race enroll'd
Thy cherish'd name as high a rank shall hold.
Loved and revered, as fair a page shall claim
Amidst the records of thy Country's fame.
Oft shall her sons the glorious morn recall,
That mark'd thy triumph o'er subjected Gaul ;
THE BRITISH FLEET. 87
And festal joys the noted day shall crown,
First in the annals of her bright renown.
And thou, whose standard on the Deep unfurl'd,
Unconquer'd Britain ! awes th' admiring world.
In memory bear, while Fortune deigns to smile,
The constant safeguards of thy sea-girt Isle ;
Still launch thy bulwarks on the briny floods,
And plant the acorns of thy native woods !
So shall thy foes, in future years that aim
In ocean-strife to mar thine envied fame.
That seek dominion o'er thy seas to bear,
With baffled hopes thy stedfast sway declare.
Confess invincible thy might, and own
That Britain's trident rules the waves alone.
And so, while, matchless in their martial deeds.
As time rolls forward, race to race succeeds,
While added trophies every age supplies,
In merit's scale exalted shalt thou rise,
88 THE BRITISH FLEET.
And foes proclaim, that dare thy pow'r to
Thy might to strike, thy clemency to save.
Then to thy sceptre, while the subject main
Divides thy tributary shores in vain,
Earth's distant nations shall the knee incline.
And the wide Empire of the World be thine !
Verse 179 — 214. In 1780, having previously inter-
cepted a valuable Spanish convoy, Admiral Rodney
fell in with Langara's fleet off Cape St. Vincent, and,
after an obstinate engagement, completely defeated
it, bringing home five ships of the line as the fruits of