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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*.
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 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.
* First printed in 1716.
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
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, or 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;
How finish'd with illustrious toil appears This small, well polish'd 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, Each purer frame inform’d with
* Fresnoy employed above twenty years in finishing this Poem.