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How did she here, when Jervas was the theme, Waft thro' the ivory gate the Poet's dream! How view, indignant, error's base alloy The sterling lustre of his praise destroy, Which now, if praise like his if praise like his my Muse could coin,
Current through ages, she would stamp for thine!
Let friendship, as she caus'd, excuse the deed; With thee, and such as thee, she must succeed.
But what, if fashion tempted Pope astray? The witch has spells, and Jervas knew a day When mode-struck Belles and Beaux were proud to come
And buy of him a thousand years of bloom*.
Ev'n then I deem it but a venial crime: Perish alone that selfish sordid rhyme, Which flatters lawless sway, or tinsel pride; Let black Oblivion plunge it in her tide.
*Alluding to another couplet in the same Epistle : Beauty, frail flower, that every season fears, Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years.
From fate like this my truth-supported lays, Ev'n if aspiring to thy pencil's praise,
Would flow secure; but humbler aims are mine;
Give her in Albion as in Greece to rule,
And guide (what thou hast form'd) a British School.
And, O, if aught thy Poet can pretend. Beyond his fav'rite wish to call thee friend, Be it that here his tuneful toil has drest The Muse of Fresnoy in a modern vest; And, with what skill his fancy could bestow, Taught the close folds to take an easier flow; Be it, that here thy partial smile approv'd The pains he lavish'd on the art he lov'd.
OCT. 10, 1782.
THE poem of M. du Fresnoy, when considered as a treatise on Painting, may unquestionably claim the merit of giving the leading principles of the art with more precision, conciseness, and accuracy, than any work of the kind that has cither preceded or followed it; yet as it was published about the middle of the last century, many of the precepts it contains have been so frequently repeated, by later writers, that they have lost the air of novelty, and will, consequently, now be held common; some of them too may, perhaps, not be so generally true as to claim the authority of absolute rules: Yet the reader of taste will always be pleased to see a Frenchman holding out to his countrymen the study of nature, and the chaste models of antiquity, when (if we except Le Seur and Nicolo Poussin, who were Fresnoy's contemporaries)
Was doom'd (my friend, let pity warm thy tears,)
For ill-placed loyalty, and courtly zeal,