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Ev'n now, observant of the parting ray,
TO JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ. SECRETARY OF
A SOUL as full of worth as void of pride,
TO MR. JERVAS, WITH MR. DRYDEN'S TRANSLATION OF FRESNOY'S ART OF PAINTING*.
THIS 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 ev'ry line, Or blend in beauteous tints the colour'd mass,
5 And from the canvass call the mimic face; Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire, Fresnoy's close art, and Dryden's native fire; And reading with, like theirs, our fate and fame, So mix'd our studies, and so join'd our name; 10 Like them to shine thro' long succeeding age; So just thy skill, so regular my rage.
Smit with the love of sister arts we came, And met congenial, mingling flame with flame; Like friendly colours found them both unite, 15 And each from each contract new strength and light. How oft' in pleasing tasks we wear the day, While summer's suns roll unperceiv'd away!
* This Epistle, and the two foilowing, were written some years before the rest, and originally printed in 1717.
How oft our slowly-growing works impart,
20 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,
25 Fir'd with ideas of fair Italy. With thee on Raphael'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 vanquish'd piles to view, And builds imaginary Rome a-new, Here thy well-studied marbles fix our eye, A fading fresco here demands a sigh: Each heav'nly piece unweary'd we compare, 35 Match Raphael's grace with thy lov’d Guido's air, Carracci's strength, Corregio'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*; 40 Yet still how faint by precept is exprest The living image in the painter's breast?
* Fresnoy employed above 20 years in finishing his Poem.
Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow,
Muse! at that name thy sacred sorrow shed,
Yet still her charms in breathing paint engage, 55 Her modest cheek shall warm a future age. Beauty, frail flow'r! that ev'ry season fears, Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years. Thus Churchill's race shall other hearts surprise, And other beauties envy Worsley's eyes ;
60 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; New graces yearly like thy works display, 65 Soft without weakness, without glaring gay ; Led by some rule that guides, but not constrains, And finish'd more thro' happiness than pains :