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Poets Laureat
by [?]

The Emperor of Germany retains the laureatship in all its splendour. The selected bard is called Il Poeta Cesareo. APOSTOLO ZENO, as celebrated for his erudition as for his poetic powers, was succeeded by that most enchanting poet, METASTASIO.

The French never had a Poet Laureat, though they had Regal Poets; for none were ever solemnly crowned. The Spanish nation, always desirous of titles of honour, seem to have known that of the Laureat; but little information concerning it can be gathered from their authors.

Respecting our own country little can be added to the information of Selden. John Kay, who dedicated a History of Rhodes to Edward IV., takes the title of his humble Poet Laureat. Gower and Chaucer were laureats; so was likewise Skelton to Henry VIII. In the Acts of Rymer, there is a charter of Henry VII. with the title of pro Poeta Laureato, t hat is, perhaps, only a Poet laureated at the university, in the king’s household.

Our poets were never solemnly crowned as in other countries. Selden, after all his recondite researches, is satisfied with saying, that some trace of this distinction is to be found in our nation. Our kings from time immemorial have placed a miserable dependent in their household appointment, who was sometimes called the King’s poet, and the King’s versificator. It is probable that at length the selected bard assumed the title of Poet Laureat, without receiving the honours of the ceremony; or, at the most, the crown of laurel was a mere obscure custom practised at our universities, and not attended with great public distinction. It was oftener placed on the skull of a pedant than wreathed on the head of a man of genius. Shadwell united the offices both of Poet Laureat and Historiographer; and by a MS. account of the public revenue, it appears that for two years’ salary he received six hundred pounds. At his death Rymer became the Historiographer and Tate the Laureat: both offices seem equally useless, but, if united, will not prove so to the Poet Laureat.