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IMPROMPTU, IN REPLY TO A FRIEND.
WHEN from the heart where Sorrow sits,
Her dusky shadow mounts too high, And o'er the changing aspect flits,
And clouds the brow, or fills the eye; Heed not that gloom, which soon shall sink :
My thoughts their dungeon know too well; Back to my breast the wanderers shrink,
And droop within their silent cell.
SPOKEN AT THE OPENING OF DRURY-LANE THEATRE,
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1812.
In one dread night our city saw, and sigh'd,
Ye who beheld, (oh ! sight admired and mourn'd, Whose radiance mock'd the ruin it adorn'd !) Through clouds of fire the massy fragments riven, Like Israel's pillar, chase the night from heaven; Saw the long column of revolving flames Shake its red shadow o'er the startled Thames, While thousands, throng'd around the burning dome, Shrank back appall’d, and trembled for their home, As glared the volumed blaze, and ghastly shone The skies, with lightnings awful as their own, Till blackening ashes and the lonely wall Usurp'd the Muse's realm, and mark'd her fall; Say—shall this new, nor less aspiring pile, Reard where once rose the mightiest in our isle, Know the same favour which the former knew, A shrine for Shakspeare-worthy him and you ?
Yes-it shall be the magic of that name Defies the scythe of time, the torch of fame;
On the same spot still consecrates the scene,
As soars this fane to emulate the last, Oh! might we draw our omens from the past, Some hour propitious to our prayers may boast Names such as hallow still the dome we lost. On Drury first your Siddons' thrilling art O'erwhelm'd the gentlest, storm'd the sternest heart. On Drury, Garrick's latest laurels grew; Here your last tears retiring Roscius drew, Sigh'd his last thanks, and wept his last adieu : But still for living wit the wreaths may bloom That only waste their odours o'er the tomb. Such Drury claim'd and claims—nor you refuse One tribute to revive his slumbering muse ; With garlands deck your own Menander's head ! Nor hoard your honours idly for the dead!
Dear are the days which made our annals bright, Ere Garrick fled, or Brinsley ceased to write. Heirs to their labours, like all high-born heirs, Vain of our ancestry as they of theirs ; While thus Remembrance borrows Banquo's glass To claim the sceptred shadows as they pass, And we the mirror hold, where imaged shine Immortal names, emblazon’d on our line, Pause-ere their feebler offspring you condemn, Reflect how hard the task to rival them!
Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and
This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obèy'd, The Drama's homage by her herald paid, Receive our welcome too, whose every tone Springs from our hearts, and fain would win your own. The curtain rises may our stage unfold Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old ! Britons our judges, Nature for our guide, Still may we please long, long may you preside !
TIME! on whose arbitrary wing
The varying hours must flag or fly, Whose tardy winter, fleeting spring,
But drag or drive us on to die Hail thou ! who on my birth bestow'd
Those boons to all that know thee known; Yet better I sustain thy load,
For now I bear the weight alone.
The bitter moments thou hast given ; And pardon thee, since thou could'st spare
All that I loved, to peace or heaven. To them be joy or rest, on me
Thy future ills shall press in vain ;
A debt already paid in pain.
It felt, but still forgot thy power :
Retards, but never counts the hour. In joy I've sigh'd to think thy flight
Would soon subside from swift to slow; Thy cloud could overcast the light,
But could not add a night to.woe ; For then, however drear and dark,
My soul was suited to thy sky;