1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Smith

T. I., "To Mr. George Smith, Landskip-Painter" Gentleman's Magazine 35 (February 1765) 91.



A Bard unknown to fame and public view
Ventures to give, what to desert is due;
From th' Aonian grove, a laurel brings,
And as he decks your brow — this strain he sings.
"Hail artist! who the way to please hath found,
And fix the British taste to English ground.
No more, for Raphael's out lines, Visto sighs,
Nor Titian's landskip views, with partial eyes;
Thy beauties, Albion's own, we now receive,
And to a Briton, Rome the crown must give:
Each pow'rfull way to charm we trace in you,
Guided by Genius and Example too.
Bred up in nature's school, the lib'ral maid,
Calls you her son, and gives you heav'nly aid
An inward light; by which, the means you find,
At once, to paint thy worth, and please the mind,
Unlike, those bold contenders for a name,
Who, on the works of others build their fame,
With servile praise, they court the antique gout,
And, only shew us, what Apelles drew.

"Some, with the great, or big sublime, surprise,
Content, to earn applause, from vulgar eyes:
The gaping crowd, unthinkingly admire
Storms, ruins, shipwrecks, battles, frost, and fire.
Your softer pencil can the Critic move,
Call forth his skill, and force him to approve.
With looks, intent, he scans the op'ning glade;
The well contrasted group, of light and shade;
The local colour, natural and free;
The touches light, that moving seem to be;
The objects, well arrang'd, and aptly chose,
The yellow sky, a neighbouring shade's repose;
The fore-ground richly wrought, with choicest hues,
And grace, which through the whole its beauty shews.

"Whene'er the muse, or friends, invited, view,
Those flowing lines, your rising genius drew,
A new creation courts our roving sight,
And scene contends with scene to give delight.
Here rural beauties captivate the eye,
Clad in their native charms, simplicity;
The homely shepherd and his flock appear,
Dress'd in their garb, as in the fields they were,
See! how yon rock, displays its barren side!
Lo! near, the polish'd river seems to glide!
There! in the flow'ry mead, a chosen band,
(Plain honest swains, bred up in freedom's land,)
With musick pass away the social hour;
Contented, with the blessings, in their power.
Yon shrubby hill! yon vale! so gay appear,
That Clodio looks, and wishes he was there;
Cymbia beholds the secret shade, and sighs;
Philis, the distant church, with eager eyes:
The forest Pius strikes; with awful fear,
He looks within; while Chloe lends her ear,
Hoping that warbling Philomel is there.
Happy the man, cries Celadon, whose lot,
Kind heav'n has fix'd, to dwell upon that spot,
That peaceful spot, where trees are ever green,
And that cool brook looks always so serene;
Where those fair shrubs wear a perpetual bloom,
And that proud grove retains its pleasing gloom .
O! still, great master! thus affect our heart;
And shew the wonders of your matchless art:
Long may you live to paint and we contend
Who most, and best, your works shall recommend,
Ah! let not drooping pity see and mourn,
Another brother, from the public torn,
Let her not feel, a second loss, too soon,
A brighter sun, eclips'd by death, at noon;
Ye Parcae, lengthen out his thread; his days,
Be colour'd, only, with the lights of praise:
May envy never blast his blooming fame!
Nor censure sully what it cannot blame!
And may, O! Smith! this monument supply,
The mimic bust! nor fall when you shall die!
May these few lines, not death, nor time, invade,
But speak your merit, when your landskips fade!
May they outvie, in praise, the breathing stone!
And plant you laurels, where you least are known."