1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Horace Walpole

Anonymous, "To Mr. Horace Walpole" St. James's Chronicle (16 November 1769).



In Tyranny the Shade of Richard reign'd,
His Form perverted, and his Annals stain'd;
The Monkish Legend first assail'd his Fame,
And Shakspeare damn'd to Infamy his Name;
Immortal Shakspeare, urg'd by fictious Lure,
Stampt Nature on the Tale to make it sure;
See Garrick rage, the Richard Shakspeare drew,
The bloodiest Monster Nature ever knew!
Assume a Frown no Fortitude can meet,
And sink his Audience trembling at his Feet!
My Heart, like others, shudder'd at the View,
And felt the Fiction when the Fright withdrew.
The lordly Page, where Truth should guide the Pen,
I turn'd, and there the Phantom stalk'd again;
Sophistic Reas'ning, Verulam, was thine,
Less partial Inference, great Sage, was mine:
The bloody Robe from Glo'ster's Shoulders fell,
And suited Richmond, in my Eye, as well;
I saw the Roses, History conjoin'd,
Sink, languishing upon a Crown purloin'd;
I saw the young Plantagenet expire
In Richmond's Gripe, the Image of his Sire,
Deny'd the Grace a Sister's Eye to meet,
Or tender Duty at a Mother's Feet!
In Stanley's Murther Edward's Heir avow'd,
And Edward's Son by Verulam allow'd:
His Right the conscious Pleader understood,
And, meanly-quibbling, tainted him in Blood:
Pedantic James approv'd the subtle Plan,
Caress'd the Writer, and despis'd the Man.
Oft have I dar'd, and met the Cynic's Sneer,
Oft have I urg'd, what few would stoop to hear;
For all was singularity of Thought,
And Prepossession silenc'd all to Nought;
'Till Walpole's Genius pierc'd the Gloom of Night,
And dragg'd the long imprison'd Truth to Light;
To Richmond gave the Dagger and the Bowl,
To Glo'ster Comeliness of Form and Soul.