That only waste their odours o'er the tomb.
Such Drury claimed and claims—nor you refuse
One tribute to revive his slumbering muse;
With garlands deck your own Menander's head,40
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, emblazoned on our line,
Pause—ere their feebler offspring you condemn,50
Reflect how hard the task to rival them!
Must sue alike for pardon or for praise,
Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and Plays
Far be from him that hour which asks in vain
Tears such as flow for Garrick in his strain;
or, Far be that hour that vainly asks in turn Sad verse for him as
[Letter to Lord Holland, Sept. 30, 1812.]
- [Originally, "Ere Garrick died, etc. "By the by, one of my corrections in the fair copy sent yesterday has dived into the bathos some sixty fathom—
"'When Garrick died, and Brinsley ceased to write.'
Ceasing to live is a much more serious concern, and ought not to be first; therefore I will let the old couplet stand, with its half rhymes 'sought' and 'wrote' [vide supra, variant ii.]. Second thoughts in every thing are best, but, in rhyme, third and fourth don't come amiss.... I always scrawl in this way, and smooth as much as I can, but never sufficiently."—Letter to Lord Holland, September 26, 1812, Letters, 1898, ii. 150.]
Such are the names that here your plaudits sought,
When Garrick acted, and when Brinsley wrote.—[MS.]