Verses To Sir Thomas Hanmer by William Collins

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"Nature In Him Was Almost Lost In Art"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Collins was one of the best of the mid-eighteenth century minor poets. Although his total output was little more than a score of poems, his delicate sense of clarity and structure is notable. These verses addressed to Hanmer on the occasion of his edition of Shakespeare constitute Collins' longest poem. In this work the poet surveys and compares the classical period with the English renaissance and sees in Shakespeare a beginning as splendid as that of any classical figure. He then laments that these beginnings led to no period of comparable development:

Yet ah! so bright her Morning's op'ning Ray,
In vain our Britain hop'd an equal Day!
No second Growth the Western Isle could bear,
At once exhausted with too rich a Year.
Too nicely Jonson knew the Critic's Part;
Nature in him was almost lost in Art.
Of softer Mold the gentle Fletcher came.
The next in Order, as the next in Name.
. . .