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EPISTLE TO MR. JERVAS, WITH FRESNOY'S ART OF PAINTING, by             Poem Explanation     Poet's Biography
First Line: This verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse
Last Line: Thou but preserv'st a face and I a name.
Subject(s): Dryden, John (1631-1700); Dufresnoy, Charles Alphonse (1611-1665); Granville, George. Lord Lansdowne; Paintings And Painters

This 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 ev'ry 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 thro' 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 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, 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 a-new.
Here thy well-study'd Marbles fix our eye;
A fading Fresco here demands a sigh:
Each heav'nly piece unweary'd we compare,
Match Raphael's grace, with thy lov'd Guido's air,
Caracci'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!
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 chears 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 charms in breathing paint engage;
Her modest cheek shall warm a future age.
Beauty, frail flow'r that ev'ry season fears,
Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years.
Thus Churchill's race shall other hearts surprize,
And other Beauties envy Worsley's eyes,
Each pleasing Blount shall endless smiles bestow,
And soft Belinda's blush for ever glow.
Oh 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 thro' 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 ev'ry face;
Yet should the Muses bid my numbers roll,
Strong as their charms, and gentle as their soul;
With Zeuxis' Helen thy Bridgewater vie,
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.

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