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When first it entered into my thoughts to make this present to your lordship, I received not only encouragement, but pleasure; sipce, upon due examination of myself, I found it was not a bare presumption, but my duty to the reinembrance of many extraordinary favours which I have received at your hands.
For heretofore having had the honour to be near you, and bred under the same discipline with you, I cannot but own, that, in a great measure, I owe the small share of letters I have, to your lordship. For your lordship's example taught me to be ashamed of idleness; and I first grew in love with books, and learned to value them, by the wonderful progress which, even in your tender years, you made in them: so that learning and improvement grew daily more and more lovely in my eyes, as they shone in you.
Your lordship has an extraordinary reason to be a patron of poetry, for your great father loved it. May your lordship’s fame and employments grow as great, or greater than his were! and may your virtues find a poet to record them, equal, if possible, to that great genius* which sung of him!
My slender humble talent must not hope for it; for you have a judgment which I must always submit to, a general goodness which I never, to it's worth, can value : and who can praise that well, which he knows not how to comprehend?
Already the eyes and expectations of men of the best judgment are fixed upon you: for wheresoever you come, you have their attention when present, and their praise when you are gone: and I am sure (if I obtain but your lordship’s pardon) I shall have the congratulation of all my friends, for having taken this opportunity to express myself,
In ages past, (when will those times renew?)
When empires flourish’d, so did poets too.
When great Augustus the world's empire held,
Horace and Ovid's happy verse excell’d.
Ovid's soft genius, and his tender arts
Of moving nature, melted hardest hearts.
It did th’imperial beauty, Julia, move
To listen to the language of his love.
Her father honour'd him; and on her breast,
With ravish'd sense in her einbraces prest,
He lay transported, fancy-full, and blest.
Horace's lofty genius boldlier reard
His manly head, and thro' all nature steer'd;
Her richest pleasures in his verse refin'd,
And wrought ’eni to the relish of the mind.
He lash’d, with a true poet's fearless rage,
The villanies and follies of the age.
Therefore Mecænas, that great fav'rite, rais'd
Him high, and by bin was he highly prais'd.
Our Shakespeare 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 imniortal as his mind.
And from the crop of his luxuriant pen
E'er since succeeding poets humbly glean.
Tho' much the most unworthy of the throng,
Our this day's poet fears he's done him wrong.
Like greedy beggars that steal sheaves away,
You'll find 'he's rifled him of half a play.
Amidst his baser dross you'll see it shine
Most beautiful, amazing, and divine.
To such low shifts, of late, are poets worn,
Whilst we both wit's and Cæsar's absence mourn,
Oh! when will be and poetry return!
When shall we there again behold liim sit,
Midst shining boxes, and a courtly pit,
The lord of hearts, and president of wit?
When that blest day (quick may it come !) appears,
His cares once banish'd, and his nation's féarsa,
The joyful muses on their hills shall sing
Triumphant songs of Britain's happy king.
Plenty and peace shall flourish in our isle,
And all things like the English beauty smile.
You, critics, shall forget your nat'ral spite,
And poets with unbounded fancy write;
Ev'n this day's poet shall be alter'd quite:
His thoughts inore loftily and freely fluw;
And he himself, wbilst you his verse allow,
As much transported as he's humble now.
The king had been attacked by an alarming illness.