Once more we venture here, to prove our worth,
And ask indulgence kind, to tempt us forth:
Seek not perfection from our essays green,
That, in man's noblest works, has never been,
Nor is, nor e'er will be; a work exempt
From fault to form, as well might man attempt
T'explore the vast infinity of space,
Or fix mechanic boundaries to grace.
Hard is the finish'd Speaker's task; what then
Must be our danger, to pursue the pen
Of the 'rapt Bard, through all his varied turns,
Where joy extatic smiles, or sorrow mourns?
Where Richard's soul, red in the murtherous lave,
Shrinks from the night-yawn'd tenants of the grave,
While coward conscience still affrights his eye,
Still groans the dagger'd sound, "despair and die."
And hapless Juliet's unextinguish'd flame,
Gives to the tomb she mock'd, her beauteous frame;
Yet diff'rent far, where Claudio sees return'd
To life, and love, the maid too rashly spurn'd;
Or Falstaff, in his sympathetic scroll,
Forth to the Wives of Windsor pours his soul.
Again, forsaking mirth's fantastic rites,
The Muse to follow, through her nobler flights,
Where Milton paints angelic hosts in arms,
And Heaven's wide champaign rings with dire alarms,
Till 'vengeful justice wings its dreadful way,
And hurls the apostate from the face of day.
Immortal Bards! high o'er oblivion's shroud
Their names shall live, pre-eminent and proud,
Who snatch'd the keys of mystery from time,
This world too little for their Muse sublime!
With Thomson, now, o'er sylvan scenes we stray,
Or seek the lone church-yard, with pensive Gray:
On Pope's refin'd, or Dryden's lofty strains,
Dwell, while their fire the lightest heart enchains.
Through these and all our Bards to whom belong
The pow'rs transcendent of immortal song,
How difficult to steer t'avoid the cant
Of polish'd phrase, and nerve-alarming rant;
Each period with true elegance to round,
And give the Poet's meaning in the sound.
But, wherefore should the Muse employ her verse,
The peril of our labors to rehearse?
Oft has your kind, your generous applause,
E're now, convinc'd us, you approve our cause:
Conscious it will again our task attend,
The Critic stern, we ask not to commend,
Who like inclement Winter's hostile frown
Would beat th'infantine shrubs of Genius down.
By your kind sanction, spur'd to nobler aims,
Our country, now, the Muses' tribute claims:
When o'er fair Albion war destructive lours,
Oh! be those Patriot feelings ever ours,
Which from the public mind spontaneous burst
On that infuriate foe, by crimes accurst,
Who'd o'er our envied isle his vassals send,
And all the land with dire convulsions rend.
Well! let their armies come, their locusts pour,
Each British heart shall welcome them on shore,
Each British hand is arm'd in Britain's cause,
To guard their birth-right, liberty, and laws,
Rise! Britons, rise! attend fair freedom's cry,
The wretch who meanly fears deserves to die.
His kind protection 'gainst each latent foe,
Still may that Pow'r Omnipotent bestow,
Which first Britannia's sov'reign flag unfurl'd
So high, it flames a beacon to the World!