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Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
PROLOGUE SPOKEN AT THE OPENING OF THE
DRURY LANE THEATRE.
When Learning's triumph o'er her barbarous foes
Then Jonson came, instructed from the school,
The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame, Nor wished for Jonson's art or Shakespeare's flame ;
Themselves they studied, as they felt they writ;
Then crushed by rules, and weakened as refined,
But who the coming changes can presage,
Hard is his lot that, here by Fortune plac'd,
Then prompt no more the follies you decry,
'Tis yours, this night, to bid the reign commence
PROLOGUE TO THE COMEDY OF A WORD TO THE WISE.
This night presents a play which public rage,
To wit reviving from its author's dust
JOHN AND CHARLES WESLEY.
[John Wesley, founder of the people called Methodists,' was the second son of Samuel Wesley, Rector of Epworth. He was born June 17, 1703. Educated at the Charterhouse and Oxford, he was elected Fellow of Lincoln College in 1726, and there with some brief intervals remained till 1735, when having been ordained by Potter, then Bishop of Oxford, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, he laid the first foundations of the society which, from the rigid and almost ascetic rules adopted by its members, was called • Methodists.'
In 1735 he went to Georgia, at the inducement of General Oglethorpe, governor of that colony, to preach to the Indians. This mission, for personal reasons, was a comparative failure. He returned to England in 1738, and there found that his former friend and disciple, George Whitefield, had embarked on the course of itinerant preaching, in which John Wesley, though with considerable difference of character and opinions, joined him —and this from henceforth became the purpose of his life. A career of incessant activity, in which preaching, writing, and organising played almost equal parts, occupied the remainder of his long career, which closed on March 2, 1791. He had, as Matthew Arnold expresses it, ' a genius for godliness, and he united with it a breadth of sympathy and a soundness of judgment which, although occasionally betrayed into eccentricity, gave him a conspicuous place amongst the teachers of the eighteenth century. His life is best told, in a literary point of view, by Southey, and with the utmost detail of admiring yet truthful partisanship, by Dr. Tyerman.
CHARLES WESLEY, John's younger brother, was born Oct. 18, 1708. He was educated at Westminster School, and Christ Church, Oxford, and shared his brother's career in Oxford and in Georgia. He was more of a scholar and poet than of a pieacher, and his connexion with the Church of England was exposed to a less severe strain than that of John. He died in 1788.]
It was a fine conception which prompted John Wesley to the arduous task of creating for his followers not merely an ecclesiastical
society, a code of laws, and a rule of life, but also a poetical literature which should fulfil their religious aspirations. The thought was no doubt inspired by two motives, pressed tersely by a famous Scottish statesman, the other by himself. Fletcher of Saltoun is reported to have said, 'Give others the making of a nation's laws, if only you give to me the making of a nation's ballads'; and John Wesley, from another point of view, added to this sense of the importance of popular poetry the feeling that it ought to be rescued from the exclusive possession of the world, —'Why should the devil have all the best tunes ?
The poetical works of John and Charles Wesley extend through ten volumes, edited lately with scrupulous care by Dr. G. Osborn. Such a demand as he thus imposed on his own poetical powers was too extensive even for a great poet to have met ; but in his case the difficulty was aggravated partly by the nature of the subject, partly by his own deficiencies. The question why poetry, as applied to sacred subjects, has not had a greater success, has been often debated. A distinguished critic of our times, in his professorial chair, is reported one day to have held out in one hand 'The Golden Treasury of English Lyrics, collected by Francis Palgrave, and in the other “The Book of Praise,' collected from all English hymnody by Lord Selborne, and to have asked, 'Why is it that the Golden Treasury contains almost nothing that is bad, and why is it that the Book of Praise contains almost nothing that is good ?' The complaint does not apply exclusively to the hymns of Protestant Churches. Dean Milman, in his Latin Christianity, has observed that the fame of the Latin hymns of the Mediæval Church rests chiefly on six or seven well-known examples. Take away the Dies Iræ, the Veni Sanctus Spiritus, the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, the Pange Lingua Gloriosa, the Lauda Sion Salvatorem,—and there remains very little that from a literary point of view deserves any attention. In the numerous hymns which have lately been translated into English from the Latin in Lord Bute's edition of the Roman Breviary, it is observable that whilst in those which are rendered into English by Cardinal Newman there is a distinct poetical glow and artistic finish, all the rest are couched in the uniform pedestrian style which is unfortunately familiar to English Churchmen in the vast mass of the verses contained in ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern.' It is the English poet of the nineteenth century not the Latin hymnodists of the