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Imperial wonders rais'd on nations spoil'd,
Where mix'd with slaves the groaning martyr toil'd:
Huge theatres, that now unpeopled woods,
Now drain'd a distant country of her floods;
Fanes, which admiring gods with pride survey,
Statues of men, scarce less alive than they!
Some felt the silent stroke of mouldering age,
Some hostile fury, some religious rage:
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire,
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire.
Perhaps, by its own ruins sav'd from flame,
Some buried marble half preserves a name :
That name the learn'd with fierce disputes pursue,
And give to Titus old Vespasian's due.
Ambition sigh'd: she found it vain to trust
The faithless column and the crumbling bust;
Huge moles, whose shadow stretch'd from shore to
Their ruins perish'd, and their place no more!
Convinc'd, she now contracts her vast design,
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.
A narrow orb each crowded conquest keeps,
Beneath her palm here sad Judea weeps.
Now scantier limits the proud arch confine,
And scarce are seen the prostrate Nile or Rhine;
A small Euphrates through the piece is roll'd,
And little eagles wave their wings in gold.
The medal, faithful to its charge of fame, Through climes and ages bears cach form and name: In one short view subjected to our cye, Gods, emperors, heroes, sages, beauties, lie. With sharpen'd sight pale antiquaries pore, Th' inscription value, but the rust adore. This the blue varnish, that the green endears, The sacred rust of twice ten hundred years! To gain Pescennius one employs his schemes, One grasps a Cecrops in ecstatic dreams. Poor Vadius, long with learned spleen devour'd, Can taste no pleasure since his shield was scour'd;
And Curio, restless by the fair one's side,
Sighs for an Otho, and neglects his bride.
Theirs is the vanity, the learning thine:
Touch'd by thy hand, again Rome's glories shine;
Her gods and godlike heroes rise to view,
And all her faded garlands bloom anew.
Nor blush these studies thy regard engage;
These pleas'd the fathers of poetic rage;
The verse and sculpture bore an equal part,
And art reflected images to art.
Oh, when shall Britain, conscious of her claim,
Stand emulous of Greek and Roman fame?
In living medals see her wars enroll'd,
And vanquish'd realms supply recording gold?
Here, rising bold, the patriot's honest face;
There warriors frowning in historic brass:
Then future ages with delight shall see
How Plato's, Bacon's, Newton's looks agree;
Or in fair series laurell'd bards be shewn,
A Virgil there, and here an Addison:
Then shall thy Craggs (and let me call him mine)
On the cast ore another Pollio shine;
With aspect open shall erect his head,
And round the orb in lasting notes be read,-
"Statesman, yet friend to truth! of soul sincere,
In action faithful, and in honour clear;
Who broke no promise, serv'd no private end,
Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friend;
Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd,
And prais'd, unenvied, by the Muse he lov'd."
WITH MR. DRYDEN'S TRANSLATION OF FRESNOY'S
ART OF PAINTING
HIS verse be thine, my friend! nor thou refuse
This from no venal or ungrateful Muse.
This epistle, and the two following, were written some years before the rest, and originally printed in 1717.
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 canvas 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*! 40
* Fresnoy employed above twenty years in finishing his poem.
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 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 charins in breathing paint engage, 55
Her modest cheek shall warm a future age.
Beauty, frail flow'r, 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 siniles bestow,
And soft Belinda's blush for ever glow.
O! 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 vic,
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.
TO MISS BLOUNT,
WITH THE WORKS OF VOITURE.
In 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 mortals 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. 30
Too much your sex is 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.