Изображения страниц

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 Spunish 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 sense as 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 a 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.

[blocks in formation]


He knew the comparison was forced beyond nature,
and raised too high: he therefore softens the metaphor
with a credas. You would almost believe that moun-
tains or islands rushed against each other :-

Credas innare revulsas
Cycladas ; aut montes concurrere montibus æquos.
But here I must break off without finishing the dis.

“ Cynthius aurem vellit, 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 comme

mendation, that it is scarcely an excuse. 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.

[ocr errors]




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







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 every line ;
Or blend in beauteous tints the coloured mass,
And from the canvass 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.

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?

* First printed in 1716.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »