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How did she here, when Jervas was the theme,
Waft thro' the ivory gate the Poet's dream!
How view, indignant, error's base alloy
The sterling lustre of his praise destroy,
Which now, if praise like his my Muse could

coin,
Current through ages, she would stamp forthine!

Let friendship, as she caus’d, excuse the deed ; With thee, and such as thee, she must succeed.

But what, if fashion tempted Pope astray? The witch has spells, and Jervas knew a day When mode-struck Belles and Beaux were

proud to come And buy of him a thousand years of bloom*.

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Ev'n then I deem it but a venal crime:

Perish alone that selfish sordid rhyme,
Which flatters lawless sway, or tinsel pride ;
Let black Oblivion plunge it in her tide.

Alluding to another couplet in the same Epistle:

Beauty, frail flower, that every season fears,
Blooms in thy colours for a thousand year ,

From fate like this my truth-supported lays, , Ev’n if aspiring to thy pencil's praise, Would flow securę: but humbler aims are mine; Know, when to thee I consecrate the line, 'Tis but to thank thy genius for the ray Which

pours on Fresnoy's rules a fuller day: Those candid strictures, those reflections new, Refind by taste, yet still as nature true, Which, blended here with his instructive strains, Shall bid thy art inherit new domains ; Give her in Albion as in Greece to rule, And guide (what thou hast form’d) a British

School.

And, O, if aught thy Poet can pretend Beyond his favourite wish to call thee friend, Be it that here his tuneful toil has drest The Muse of Fresnoy in a modern vest ; And, with what skill his fancy could bestow, Taught the close folds to take an easier flow Be it, that here thy partial smile approv'd The pains he lavish'd on the art he lov’d. OCT. 10, 1782.

W. MASON.

PREFACE.

THE

poem of M. du Fresnoy, when considered as a treatise on Painting, may unquestionably claim the merit of giving the leada ing principles of the art with more precision, conciseness, and accuracy, than any work of the kind that has either preceded or followed it; yet as it was published about the middle of the seventeenth century, many

of the

precepts it contains have been so frequently repeated by later writers, that they have lost the air of novelty, and will, consequently, now be held common; some of them too may, perhaps, not be so generally true as to claim the authority of absolute rules: Yet the reader of taste will always be pleased to see a Frenchman holding out to his countrymen the study of nature, and the chaste models of antiquity, when (if we except Le Seur and Nicolo Poussin, who were Fresnoy's contemporaries)

so few painters of that nation have regarded either of these archetypes. The modern artist also will be proud to emulate that simplicity of style, which this work has for more than a century recommended, and which, having only very lately got the better of fluttering drapery and theatrical attitude, is become one of the principal tests of picturesque excellence.

But if the text may have lost somewhat of its original merit, the notes of M. du Piles, which have hitherto accompanied it, have lost much more. Indeed it may be doubted whether they ever had merit in any considerable degree. Certain it is that they contain such a parade of common-placé quotation, with so small a degree of illustrative science, that I have thought proper to expel them from this edition, in order to make room for their betters.

As to the poetical powers of my author, I do not suppose that these alone would ever have given him a place in the numerous libraries which he now holds; and I have, there. fore, often wondered that M. de Voltaire, when he gave an account of the authors who appeared in the

age

of Louis XIV. should dismiss Fresnoy, with saying, in his decisive manner, that “ his poem has succeeded with such persons as could bear to read Latin verse,

” not of the Augustan age.

This is the criti. cism of a mere Poet. Nobody, I should suppose, ever read Fresnoy to admire, or even criticise his versification, but either to be instructed by him as a Painter, or improved as a Virtuoso.

*

It was this latter motive only, I confess, that led me to attempt the following translation; which was begun in very early youth, with a double view of implanting in my own memory

* Du Frenoi (Charles) né à Paris 1611, peintre & poete. Son poeme de la peinture a reussi aupres de ceux qui peuvent lire d'autres vers Latins que ceux du siecle d'Auguste.

Siecle de Louis XIV. Tom. I.

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