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Prometheus, were he here, would cast away His Adam, and refuse a soul to clay; And either would thy noble work inspire, Or think it warm enough without his fire.
But vulgar hands may vulgar likeness raise ; This is the least attendant on thy praise : From hence the rudiments of art began; A coal, or chalk, first imitated man : Perhaps the shadow, taken on a wall, Gave outlines to the rude original;
Ere canvass yet was strain'd, before the grace Of blended colours found their use and place, Or cypress tablets first receiv'd a face.
By slow degrees the godlike art advanc'd ; As man grew polish'd, picture was enhanc'd : Greece added posture, shade, and perspective; And then the mimic piece began to live. Yet perspective was lame, no distance true, But all came forward in one common view; No point of light was known, no bounds of art; When light was there, it knew not to depart, But glaring on remoter objects play'd; Not languish'd, and insensibly decay'd.
Rome rais'd not art, but barely kept alive, And with old Greece unequally did strive : Till Goths and Vandals, a rude northern race, Did all the matchless monuments deface. Then all the Muses in one ruin lie, And rhyme began t' enervate poetry. Thus, in a stupid military state, The pen and pencil find an equal fate.
Flat faces, such as would disgrace a screen,
At length, in Raphael's age, at once they rise,
Thy genius gives thee both; where true design, Postures unforc'd, and lively colours join. Likeness is ever there; but still the best, Like proper thoughts in lofty language drest; Where light, to shades descending, plays, not strives, Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives. Of various parts a perfect whole is wrought: Thy pictures think, and we divine their thought. Shakspeare, thy gift, I place before my sight: With awe, I ask his blessing ere I write ; With reverence look on his majestic face; Proud to be less, but of his godlike race, His soul inspires me, while thy praise I write, And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight. [breast Bids thee, through me, be bold; with dauntless Contemn the bad, and emulate the best.
Like his, thy critics, in th' attempt are lost:
When most they rail, know then, they envy most.
While they their barren industry deplore
And Raphael did with Leo's gold abound;
Though Nature there her true resemblance bears,
So warm thy work, so glows the generous frame,
But poets are confin'd in narrower space, To speak the language of their native place : The painter widely stretches his command; Thy pencil speaks the tongue of every land. From hence, my friend, all climates are your own, Nor can you forfeit, for you hold of none.
All nations all immunities will give
To make you theirs, where'er you please to live; And not seven cities, but the world would strive.
Sure some propitious planet then did smile, When first you were conducted to this isle : Our genius brought you here, t'enlarge our fame For your good stars are every where the same. Thy matchless hand, of every region free, Adopts our climate, not our climate thee.
Great Rome and Venice early did impart
If yet thou hast not reach'd their high degree,
But we, who life bestow, ourselves must live:
Good Heaven! that sots and knaves should be so To wish their vile resemblance may remain !
And stand recorded, at their own request,
Else should we see your noble pencil trace
More cannot be by mortal art exprest; But venerable age shall add the rest, For Time shall with his ready pencil stand; Retouch your figures with his ripening hand; Mellow your colours, and imbrown the teint; Add every grace, which Time alone can grant; To future ages shall your fame convey, And give more beauties than he takes away.
THE COCK AND THE FOX: OR THE TALE OF THE NUN's priest. THERE liv'd, as authors tell, in days of yore, A widow, somewhat old, and very poor : Deep in her cell her cottage lonely stood, Well thatch'd, and under covert of a wood. This dowager, on whom my tale I found, Since last she laid her husband in the ground, A simple sober life, in patience, led,
And had but just enough to buy her bread :