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the main action. But Virgil concludes with the death of Turnus; for, after that difficulty was removed, Æneas might marry, and establish the Trojans when he pleased. This rule I had before my eyes in the conclusion of the Spanish Friar, when the discovery was made that the king was living ; which was the knot of the play untied : the rest is shut up in the compass of some few lines, because nothing then hindered the happiness of Torismond and Leonora. The faults of that drama are in the kind of it, which is Tragi-comedy. But it was given to the people, and I never writ any thing for myself but Antony and Cleopatra.
The remark, I must acknowledge, is not so proper for the colouring as the design; but it will hold for both. As the words, &c. are evidently shown to be the clothing of the thought, in the same colours are the clothing of the design; so the Painter and the Poet ought to judge exactly when the colouring and expressions are perfect, and then to think their work is truly finished. Apelles said of Protogenes, that “ he knew not when to give over.” A work may be over-wrought as well as under-wrought : too much labour often takes away the spirit, by adding to the polishing; so that there remains nothing but dull correctness, a piece without any considerable faults, but with few beauties : for when the spirits are drawn off, there is nothing but a “caput mortuum.” Statius never thought an expression could be bold enough; and if a bolder could be found, he rejected the first. Virgil had judgment enough to know daring was necessary : but he knew the difference betwixt a glowing colour and a glaring; as when he compared the shocking of the fleets at Actium to the justling of islands rent from their foundations and meeting in the ocean. He knew the comparison was forced beyond nature,
PARALLEL BETWEEN POETRY AND PAINTING.
and raised too high; he therefore softens the metaphor with a credas. You would almost believe that mountains or islands rushed against each other :
-Credas innare revulsas Cycladas; aut montes concurrere montibus æquos. But here I must break off without finishing the discourse.
Cynthius aurem vellet, et admonuit, &c.” the things which are behind are of too nice a consideration for an Essay begun and ended in twelve mornings; and perhaps the judges of Painting and Poetry, when I tell them how short a time it cost me, may make me the same answer which my late Lord Rochester made to one who, to commend a tragedy, said it was written in three weeks : “ How the Devil could he be so long about it? for that Poem was infamously bad :” and I doubt this Parallel is little better; and then the shortness of the time is so far from being a commendation, that it is scarcely an
But if I have really drawn a Portrait to the knees, or an half-length, with a tolerable likeness, then I may plead with some justice for myself, that the rest is left to the imagination. Let some better Artist provide himself of a deeper canvass; and taking these hints which I have given, set the figure on its legs, and finish it in the Invention, Design, and Colouring.
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.
This verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse
Smit with the love of Sister-Arts we came
* First printed in 1716.