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THE

EARL OF ESSEX.

The fate of this unhappy man, so compounded of fiery and ungovernable qualities, has often exercised the dramatic pen. The personages and events of the reign of our Elizabeth are all so tinged with romantic fiction and romantic passion, the ardour of enthusiastic gallantry seems to have so oddly mingled with the cold trickeries of state policy--the heart and the lips were so unaccountably at variance, that we are not surprised to find an adoring lover turn out a haughty traitor, and a doting queen become a keen and an avenging tyrant.

Such characters, nevertheless, afford the finest subjects for the dramatic muse, which delights in the surprises of sudden transition, and enjoys the tempest of wild and ungovernable emotions.

It is a peculiar circumstance, that these bold and original features of character among us, should have caught the consideration of no masterly writer. JepHson and CumBERLAND, and the superior talents of WALPOLE, have chosen to invent a fable, or build upon an incident taken from a foreign land.

The present play has certainly many poetical beau. ties, but they are in truth subordinate ingredients in tragedy. The forcible colouring of strong passion, and the exhibition of the fluctuations of the human mind; the discriminative peculiarities of character ; these are the grand objects of the tragic muse, and the story before us is as susceptible of their exertion as any we know of.

TO

MR. HENRY JONES,

ON HIS TRAGEDY OF

THE EARL OF ESSEX.

As antient heroes are renown'd in song,
For rescuing virtue from th'oppressor's wrong,
So shall thy fame, who snatch'd this well-wrought

tale
From dullness' gloomy pow'r, o'er time prevail.

Long had these scenes, wound up with dextrous art, In spite of reason, gain'd upon the heart; Thaw'd ev'ry frozen fountain of the eye, We wept, 'till even Sorrow's self was dry; Yet judgment scorn'd what passion had approv'd, And the head wonder'd how the heart was mov'd. But, with a fate revers’d, thy work shall boast, That soundest judgments shall admire it most. Cloath'd in the easy grandeur of thy lines, The story brightens, as the diction shines. Renew'd with vigour as in age 'tis grown,' The wond'ring scene sees beauties not its own.

Thus, worn with years, in Afric's sultry vales, The crested snake shifts off his tarnish'd scales;

Assumes fresh beauties, brighter than the old,
Of changing colours intermix'd with gold :
Reburnish’d, basks beneath the scorching ray,
Shines with new glories in the face of day,
Darts fiercer lightning from his brandish'd tongue,
Rolls more sublime, and seems, at least, more young.

No more shall noise, and wild bombastic rage,
Usurp th' applauding thunder of the stage ;
Fustian no more shall pass for true sublime,
Nor nonsense musically float in rhyme;
Nor, in a worse extreme, shall creeping prose,
For nature and simplicity, impose :
By thee reform’d, each vicious taste shall fail,
And critic Justice hold aloft her scale.

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Whence beams this dazzling lustre on thy mind?
Whence this vast fund of knowledge in mankind,
Unletter'd genius? Whence hast thou been taught,
This dignity of stile, this majesty of thought;
This rapid fire, by cool correctness rul'd,
And every learned elegance, unschool'd ?
Say, hath great Shakspere's transmigrated shade
Inform’d thy mass, or lent thee friendly aid ?
To him, bless’d bard, untaught, 'twas also giv'n,
T'ascend, on native wings, invention's brightest

Heaven *,
Assuming Phæbus' port; and in his train,
The muses all, like handmaids, not in vain,

• Alluding to the prologue to Henry V.

Crouch for employment.-
The passions too, subservient to his will,
Attentive wait on his superior skill;
At the command of his enchanting art,
Unlock the bursting flood-gates of the heart,
And in the rapid, head-long stream bear down
The vanquish'd soul, and make it all his own.

Happy the clime, distinguish'd be the age,
When genius shoots spontaneous for the stage;
Not too luxuriant, nor too trimly neat,
But, in loose wildness, negligently great.
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niay the gen'rous plant, so wond'rous rare,
Ne'er want the tender hand of fost'ring care;
But, like Apollo's fav’rite tree, be seen,
For ever flourishing, for ever green.

M' NAMARA MORGAN,

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