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THE

ART OF PAINTING,

OF

CHARLES ALPHONSE DU FRESNOY ;

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE.

BY

WILLIAM MASON, M.A.

WITH ANNOTATIONS

BY

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

EPISTLE

TO

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

WHEN DRYDEN, worn with sickness, bow'd with years,
Was doom'd (my friend, let pity warm thy tears,)
The galling pang of penury to feel,
For ill-placed loyalty, and courtly zeal,
To see that laurel which his brows o'erspread,
Transplanted droop on SHADWELL’s barren head :
The Bard oppress'd, yet not subdued by fate,
For
very

bread descended to translate :
And he, whose fancy, copious as his phrase,
Could light at will expression's brightest blaze,
On Fresnoy's lay employ’d his studious hour ;
But niggard there of that melodious power,
His

pen in haste the hireling task to close
Transform’d the studied strain to careless prose,
Which, fondly lending faith to French pretence,
Mistook its meaning, or obscur’d its sense.

Yet still he pleas'd, for DRYDEN still must please, Whether with artless elegance and ease He glides in prose, or from its tinkling chime, By varied pauses, purifies his rhyme, And mounts on Maro's plumes, and soars his heights

sublime.

This artless elegance, this native fire
Provok'd his tuneful heir* to strike the lyre,
Who, proud his numbers with that prose to join,
Wove an illustrious wreath for friendship’s shrine.

How oft, on that fair shrine when Poets bind
The flowers of song, does partial passions blind
Their judgment's eye! How oft does truth disclaim
The deed, and scorn to call it genuine fame !
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 for thine !

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.t

Ev’n then I deem it but a venial crime: Perish alone that selfish sordid rhyme, Which flatters lawless sway, or tinsel pride; Let black Oblivion plunge it in her tide.

* Mr. Pope, in his Epistle to Jervas, has these lines :

Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire

Fresnoy's close art with Dryden's native fire.
+ Alluding to another couplet in the same Epistle :-

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

From fate like this my truth-supported lays,
Ev’n if aspiring to thy pencil's praise,
Would flow secure: 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,
Refin’d by taste, yet still as nature true,
Which, blended here with his instructive strains,
Shall bid thy heart 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 fav’rite 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.

W. MASON.

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