« ElőzőTovább »
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.
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 every
Or blend in beauteous tints the coloured mass,
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 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 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,
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, o'er 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;
A fading fresco here demands a sigh :
Each heavenly piece unwearied we compare,
Match Raffaelle's grace with thy lov'd Guido's air,
Carracci'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-polished gem, the work of years !*
Yet still how faint by precept is exprest
The living image in the Painter's breast ?
Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow,
Strike in the sketch, or in the picture glow;
Thence beauty, waking all her forms, supplies
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,
frame inform’d with
Bid her be all that cheers or softens life,
The tender sister, daughter, friend, and wife !
Bid her be all that makes mankind adore ;
Then view this marble, and be vain no more !
Fresnoy employed above twenty years in finishing this poem.
Yet still her charms in breathing paint engage :
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 face shall other hearts surprise,
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 !
New graces yearly, like thy works, display :
Soft without weakness, without glaring gay ;
Led by some rule, that guides, but not constrains ;
And finish'd more through happiness than pains !
The kindred Arts shall in their praise conspire,
One dip the pencil, and one string the lyre.
Yet should the Graces all thy figures place,
And breathe an air divine on ev'ry face ;
Yet should the Muses bid my numbers roll,
Strong as their charm, and gentle as their soul;
With Zeuxis' Helen thy Bridgwater vie,
And these be sung till Granville's Myra die ;
Alas ! how little from the grave we claim !
Thou but preserv’st a Face, and I a Name.
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, I 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.