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The following elegant Epistle has constantly been prefixed to all the editions of DU FRESNOY, which, have been published since JERVAS corrected the translation of DRYDEN. It is, therefore, here reprinted, in order that a Poem which does so much honour to the original author may still accompany his work, although the translator is but too conscious how much so masterly a piece of versification on the subject of Painting, will, by being brought thus near it, prejudice his own lines.
FRESNOY'S ART OF PAINTING,
TRANSLATED BY MR. DRYDEN*.
HIS verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse
This, from no venal or ungrateful Muse. Whether thy hand strike out some free design, Where life awakes and dawns at every line; Or blend in beauteous tints the colour'd mass, And from the canvas call the mimic face: Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire
Fresnoy's close Art, and Dryden's native fire; And reading wish, like theirs, our fate and fame,
So mix'd our studies, and so join'd our name; Like them to shine through long-succeeding
So just thy skill, so regular my rage.
First printed in 1716,
Smit with the love of Sister-Arts we came And met congenial, mingling flame with flamé;
Like friendly colours found them both unite, And each from each contract new strength and light.
How oft in pleasing tasks we wear the day, While summer suns roll unperceiv'd away? How oft our slowly-growing works impart, While images reflect from art to art?'
How oft review; each finding like a friend, Something to blame, and something to commend?
What flatt'ring scenes our wand'ring fancy wrought,
Rome's pompous glories rising to our thought! Together o'er the Alps methinks we fly, Fir'd with ideas of fair Italy.
With thee, on Raffaelle's monument I mourn, Or wait inspiring dreams at Maro's urn: With thee repose, where Tully once was laid, Or seek some ruin's formidable shade; While Fancy brings the vanish'd pile to view,
And builds imaginary Rome anew.
Here thy well-study'd marbles fix our eye;
Caracci's strength, Correggio's softer line, Paulo's free stroke, and Titian's warmth divine.
How finish'd with illustrious toil appears This small, well-polish'd gem, the work of years *!
Yet still how faint by precept is exprest
An Angel's sweetness, or Bridgwater's eyes.
Muse! at that name thy sacred sorrows shed, Those tears eternal that embalm the dead: Call round her tomb each object of desire, Each purer frame inform'd with purer fire:
* Fresnoy employed above twenty years în finishing
Bid her be all that chears or softens life,
Yet still her charms in breathing paint
Her modest cheek shall warm a future age. Beauty, frail flower, that every season fears, Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years. Thus Churchill's race shall other hearts surprize,
And other beauties envy Wortley's * eyes, Each pleasing Blount shall endless smiles bestow,
And soft Belinda's blush for ever glow.
Oh! lasting as those colours may they shine, Free as thy stroke, yet faultless as thy line!
* In one of Dr. Warburton's Editions of Pope, by which copy this has been corrected, the name is changed to Worsley. If that reading be not an error of the press, suppose the poet altered the name after he had quarrelled with lady M. W. Montague, and being offended at her wit, thus revenged himself on her beauty.