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We are now arrived to the conclusion of our Author's Prefatory Disquisitions, after having travelled with him through all the various regions of Criticism for near forty years. With what vivacity and vigour his last composition, of that kind, was written, we have just seen; and of the spirit and elegance with which the old Bard could address a beautiful woman in his sixty-ninth year, the following harmonious verses prefixed to PALAMON AND ARCITE, (the last he ever wrote except the SECULAR MASQUE, and the Prologue and Epilogue to the PILGRIM,) afford a very pleasing proof. I shall therefore subjoin them as a kind of Envoy to this Collection of his Prose Works.
TO HER GRACE
THE DUCHESS OF ORMOND. S
THE Bard who first adorn'd our native tongue,
Vouchsafe, illustrious ORMOND, to behold,
If Chaucer, by the best idea wrought,
eyes : Who left immortal trophies of her fame, And to the Noblest Order
s This lady, as has been already mentioned, was a daughter of Henry, Duke of Beaufort. She was born at, Beaufort House near Chelsea, in 1665, and died in the year 1733. She and the Duke had recently visited his estate in Ireland, in a private capacity, to which our author refers in this poem. The Duke of Ormond afterwards went to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant, in June 1703.
Like her, of equal kindred to the throne, You keep her conquests, and extend your own. As when the stars in their etherial race, At length have roll'd around the liquid space, At certain periods they resume their place ; From the same point of heaven their course advance, And move in measures of their former dance: Thus, after length of ages, she returns, Restor'd in you, and the same place adorns ; Or you perform her office in the sphere, Born of her blood, and make a new Platonick year.
O true Plantagenct, Orace divine ! (For beauty still is fatal to the line, Had Chaucer liv'd that angel-face to view, Sure he had drawn his Emily from you: Or had you liv'd, to judge the doubtful right, Your noble Palamon had been the Knight ; And conqu’ring Theseus from his side had sent Your gen'rous Lord, to guide the Theban government.
Time shall accomplish that; and I shall see A Palainon in him, in you an Emily.
Already have the Fates your path prepar'd, And sure presage your
TO THE DUCHESS OF ORMOND.
Hibernia, prostrate at your feet, adored,
At your approach, they crowded to the port,
The waste of civil wars, their towns destroy'd,
As when the Dove, returning, bore the mark
When at your second coming you appear, (For I foretel that Millenary year,)
6 The Duchess of Ormond went to Ireland in autumii 1697, and the Duke followed soon afterwards.