Page images

All this thou wert; and being this before,
Know, kings and fortune cannot make thee more.
Then scorn to gain a friend by servile ways,

Nor wish to lose a foe these virtues raise;
But candid, free, sincere, as you began,
Proceed--a minister, but still a man.
Be not (exalted to whate'er degree)
Asham'd of any friend, not ev'n of me:
The patriot's plain, but untrod, path pursue;
If not, 'tis I must be asham'd of you.


With Mr. Dryden's Translation of Fresnoy's Art of Painting.

This Epistle, and the two following, were written some years before the rest, and originally printed in 1717.


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 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 flattering scenes our wandering fancy

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 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 vanish'd piles to view,
And builds imaginary Rome anew.

Here thy well-studied marbles fix our eye;
A fading fresco here demands a sigh :
Each heavenly piece unwearied we compare,
Match Raphael'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-polish'd gem, the work of years!
Yet still how faint by precept is express'd
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 Bridgewater'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:
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!

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 race shall other hearts surprise, And other beauties envy Worsley'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 every face; Yet should the Muses bid my numbers roll Strong as their charms, and gentle as their soul; With Zeuxis' Helen thy Bridgewater 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.


With the Works of Voiture.

N these gay thoughts the Loves and Graces shine,


And all the writer lives in every line:

His easy art may happy nature seem,
Trifles themselves are elegant in him.
Sure to charm all was his peculiar fate,

Who without flattery pleas'd the fair and great;

Still with esteem no less convers'd than read;
With wit well-natur'd, and with books well-bred :
His heart, his mistress and his friend did share;
His time, the muse, the witty, and the fair.
Thus wisely careless, innocently gay,
Cheerful he play'd the trifle, life, away;
Till fate, scarce felt, his gentle breath supprest,
As smiling infants sport themselves to rest.
Ev'n rival wits did Voiture's death deplore,
And the gay mourn'd who never mourn'd before;
The truest hearts for Voiture heav'd with sighs,
Voiture was wept by all the brightest eyes:
The smiles and loves had died in Voiture's death,
But that for ever in his lines they breathe.
Let the strict life of graver mortal be
A long, exact, and serious comedy;
In every scene some moral let it teach,

And, if it can, at once both please and preach.
Let mine, an innocent gay farce appear,

And, more diverting still than regular,
Have humour, wit, a native ease and grace,
Though not too strictly bound to time and place:
Critics in wit, or life, are hard to please;
Few write to those, and none can live to these.
Too much your sex are by their forms confin'd,
Severe to all, but most to womankind;

Custom, grown blind with age, must be your guide;
Your pleasure is a vice, but not your pride;
By nature yielding, stubborn but for fame;
Made slaves by honour, and made fools by shame.
Marriage may all those petty tyrants chase,
But sets up one, a greater, in their place:
Well might you wish for change by those accurst,
But the last tyrant ever proves the worst.
Still in constraint your suffering sex remains,
Or bound in formal, or in real chains:

Whole years neglected, for some months ador'd,
The fawning servant turns a haughty lord.
Ah, quit not the free innocence of life,
For the dull glory of a virtuous wife;

Nor let false shows, nor empty titles please:
Aim not at joy, but rest content with ease.

The gods, to curse Pamela with her prayers, Gave the gilt coach and dappled Flanders mares, The shining robes, rich jewels, beds of state, And, to complete her bliss, a fool for mate. She glares in balls, front boxes, and the ring, A vain, unquiet, glittering, wretched thing! Pride, pomp, and state, but reach her outward part; She sighs, and is no duchess at her heart.

But, madam, if the fates withstand, and you Are destin'd Hymen's willing victim too; Trust not too much your now resistless charms, Those, age or sickness, soon or late, disarms: Good-humour only teaches charms to last, Still makes new conquests, and maintains the past; Love rais'd on beauty will, like that, decay, Our hearts may bear its slender chain a day; As flowery bands in wantonness are worn, A morning's pleasure, and at evening torn ; This binds in ties more easy, yet more strong, The willing heart, and only holds it long.

Thus Voiture's early care still shone the same,
And Monthausier was only chang'd in name;
By this, ev'n now they live, ev'n now they charm,
Their wit still sparkling, and their flames still warm.
Now crown'd with myrtle, on th' Elysian coast,
Amid those lovers, joys his gentle ghost:
Pleas'd, while with smiles his happy lines you view,
And finds a fairer Rambouillet in you.

The brightest eyes in France inspir'd his muse;
The brightest eyes in Britain now peruse;
'And dead, as living, 'tis our author's pride
Still to charm those who charm the world beside,

* Mademoiselle Paulet.

« PreviousContinue »