1724 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Dyer

Richard Savage, "To a young Gentleman, a Painter, advising him to draw a certain Noble and Illustrious Person, occasioned by seeing his Picture of Clio" The Plain Dealer (11 May 1724).



Forgive an Artless, an Officious Friend,
Weak, when I judge, but willing to Commend;
Fall'n as I am, by no kind Fortune rais'd,
Depress'd, Obscur'd, Unpitied, and Unprais'd,
Yet, when these well-known Features I peruse,
Some Warmth awakes, — Some Embers of a Muse.

Ye Muses, Graces, and ye Loves appear!
Your Queen, your VENUS, and your CLIO'S here!
In such pure Fires her Rising Thoughts refine!
Here Eyes with such Commending Sweetness shine!
Sure such bright Tinctures through yon Aether glow,
Strain Summer Clouds, or gild the Watry Bow:
If Life PIGMALION'S Iv'ry Fav'rite fir'd,
Sure some Enamour'd God this Draught inspir'd!
Or, if you rashly caught PROMETHEAN Flame,
Shade the sweet Theft, and mar the Beauteous Frame!
Yet if those Chearing Lights the Prospect fly,
Ah! — Let no pleasing View the Loss supply.
Some dreary Den, some desert Waste prepare,
Wild as my Thoughts, or dark as my Despair.

But still, my Friend, still the sweet Object stays
Still stream your Colours Rich with CLIO'S Rays!
Sure at each kindling Touch your Canvass glows!
Sure the full Form, instinct with Spirit, grows!
Let the dull Artist puzzling Rules explore,
Dwell on the Face, and gaze the Features o'er;
You eye the Soul — there genuine Nature find,
You, through the Meaning Muscles, strike the Mind.

Nor can one View such boundless Pow'r confine,
All Nature opens to an Art like thine!
Now Rural Scenes in simple Grandeur rise!
Vales, Hills, Lawns, Lakes, and Vineyards feast our Eyes!
Now Halycon Peace a smiling Aspect wears!
Now the Red Scene with War and Ruin glares!
Here Britain's Fleets o'er Europe's Seas preside!
There Long-lost Cities rear their Ancient Pride!
You from the Grave can half redeem the Slain,
And bid Great JULIUS charm the World again;
Mark out Pharsalia's, mark out Munda's Fray,
And image all the Honours of the Day.

But if new Glories most our Warmth excite,
If Toils untried to noblest Aims invite;
Wou'd you in Envied Pomp unrival'd reign,
Oh, let HORATIUS grace the Canvass Plain!
His Form might ev'n Idolatry create,
In Lineage, Titles, Wealth, and Worth Elate!
Empires to him might Virgin Honours owe,
From him Arts, Arms, and Laws new Influence know.
For him kind Suns on Fruits and Grain shall shine,
And future Gold lie rip'ning in the Mine:
For him Fine Marble in the Quarry lies,
Which, in due Statius, to his Fame shall rise.
Through those bright Features CAESAR'S Spirit trace,
Each conqu'ring Sweetness, each imperial Grace,
All that is soft, or eminently great,
In Love, in War, in Knowledge, or in State.

Thus shall your Colours, like his Worth, amaze!
Thus shall you Charm, enrich'd with CLIO'S Praise!
Clear, and more clear, your Golden Genius shines;
While my dim Lamp of Life Obscure declines:
Dull'd in damp Shades it wastes, unseen, away,
While yours, Triumphant, grows one Blaze of Day!