Sonnet XXI.

A poem by Anna Seward

Proud of our lyric Galaxy, I hear
Of faded Genius with supreme disdain;
As when we see the Miser bend insane
O'er his full coffers, and in accents drear
Deplore imagin'd want; - and thus appear
To me those moody Censors, who complain,
As [1]Shaftsbury plain'd in a now boasted reign,
That "POESY had left our darken'd sphere."
Whence may the present stupid dream be traced
That now she shines not as in days foregone?
Perchance neglected, often shine in waste
Her LIGHTS, from number into confluence run,
More than when thinly in th' horizon placed
Each Orb shone separate, and appear'd a Sun.

1: Of the Poets, who were cotemporary with Lord Shaftsbury, Dryden, Cowley, Pope, Prior, Congreve, Gay, Addison, &c. in the Period which this Age styles AUGUSTAN, his Lordship speaks with sovereign scorn. In his Characteristics he, without making any exception, labors to prove, that the compositions of Dryden are uniformly contemptible. See his advice to an Author in the second Volume of the Characteristics, and also his miscellaneous reflections in the third Volume; "If," says he to the authors, "your Poets are still to be Mr. Bayses, and your prose writers Sir Rogers, without offering at a better manner, must it follow that the manner is good, and the wit genuine?"

Thus it is that the jealousy People of literary fame often feel of each other, produces the foolish, and impolitic desire of decrying the general pretensions of the Age to Genius. Their narrow selfishness leads them to betray the common cause, which it is their true interest to support. They persuade the credulous Many, with whom envy of superior talents increases their willingness to despise, that Imagination is become enervated; designing, however, to have it understood, that in their individual instance exists the sole exception,

"For they wou'd each bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus."

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