« PreviousContinue »
My life, if thou preserv'st my life,
Thy sacrifice shall be ;
And death, if death must be my doom,
Shall join my soul to thee.
MATTHEW PRIOR. 1664-1721.
As the chameleon, who is known To have no colours of his own, But borrows from his neighbour's hue His white or black, his green or blue; And struts as much in ready light, Which credit gives him upon sight, As if the rainbow were in tail Settled on him and his heirs male ; So the young 'squire, when first he comes From country school to Will's or Tom's, And equally, in truth, is fit To be a statesman or a wit; Without one notion of his own, He saunters wildly up and down, Till some acquaintance, good or bad, Takes notice of a staring lad, Admits him in among the gang ; They jest, reply, dispute, harangue : He acts and talks as they befriend him, Smeard with the colours which they lend him.
Thus, merely as his fortune chances, His merit or his vice advances.
If, haply, he the sect pursues That read and comment upon news, He takes up their mysterious face, He drinks his coffee without lace;
This week his mimic tongue runs o'er
What they have said the week before ;
His wisdom sets all Europe right,
And teaches Marlborough when to fight.
Or if it be his fate to meet
With folks who have more wealth than wit;
He loves cheap port, and double bub,
And settles in the Hum-drum club:
He learns how stocks will fall or rise;
Holds poverty the greatest vice;
Thinks wit the bane of conversation,
And says that learning spoils a nation.
When poets wrote and painters drew,
As nature pointed out the view;
Ere Gothic forms were known in Greece
To spoil the well-proportion'd piece ;
And in our verse ere monkish rhymes
Had jangled their fantastic chimes ;
Ere on the flowery lands of Rhodes
Those knights had fix'd their dull abodes,
Who knew not much to paint or write,
Nor cared to pray, nor dared to fight :
Protogenes, historians note,
Lived there, a burgess, scot and lot;
And, as old Pliny's writings show,
Apelles did the same at Co.
Agreed these points of time and place,
Proceed we in the present case.
Piqued by Protogenes's fame,
From Co to Rhodes Apelles came,
To see a rival and a friend,
Prepared to censure or commend;
Here to absolve, and there object,
As art with candour might direct.
He sails, he lands, he comes, he rings;
His servants follow with the things :
Appears the governante of th' house,
For such in Greece were much in use:
If young or handsome, yea or no,
Concerns not me or thee to know.
Does Squire Protogenes live here?
Yes, sir, says she, with gracious air
And court'sy low, but just call’d out
By lords peculiarly devout,
Who came on purpose, sir, to borrow
Our Venus for the feast to-morrow,
To grace the church ; 'tis Venus' day:
I hope, sir, you intend to stay
To see our Venus ; 'tis the piece
The most renown'd throughout all Greece;
So like th' original, they say:
But I have no great skill that way.
But, sir, at six ('tis now past three)
Dromo must make my master's tea;
At six, sir, if you please to come,
You'll find my master, sir, at home.
Tea, says a critic, big with laughter, Was found some twenty ages after ; Authors, before they write, should read. 'Tis very true; but we'll proceed.
And, sir, at present would you please To leave your name? Fair maiden, yes. Reach me that board. No sooner spoke But done. With one judicious stroke, On the plain ground Apelles drew A circle regularly true : And will you please, sweetheart, said he, To show your master this from me? By it he presently will know How painters write their names at Co.
He gave the panel to the maid. Smiling and court'sying, Sir, she said,
I shall not fail to tell my master;
And, sir, for fear of all disaster,
I'll keep it my own self: safe bind,
Says the old proverb, and safe find.
So, sir, as sure as key or lock-
Your servant, sir-at six o'clock.
Again at six Apelles came,
Found the same prating, civil dame.
Sir, that my master has been here,
Will by the board itself appear.
If from the perfect line be found
He has presumed to swell the round,
Or colours on the draught to lay,
'Tis thus (he order'd me to say),
Thus write the painters of this isle:
Let those of Co remark the style.
She said; and to his hand restored
The rival pledge, the missive board.
Upon the happy line were laid
Such obvious light and easy shade,
That Paris' apple stood confess'd,
Or Leda's egg, or Chloe's breast.
A pelles view'd the finish'd piece:
And live, said he, the arts of Greece!
Howe'er Protogenes and I
May in our rival talents vie;
Howe'er our works may have express'd
Who truest drew or colour'd best,
When he beheld my flowing line,
He found at least I could design:
And from his artful round, I grant
That he with perfect skill can paint.
The dullest genius cannot fail
To find the moral of my tale ;
That the distinguish'd part of men,
pencil, sword, or pen, Should in life's visit leave their name, In characters which may proclaim
That they with ardour strove to raise
At once their arts and country's praise ;
And in their working took great care,
That all was full, and round, and fair.
TO THE HON. CHARLES MONTAGUE, ESQ. Howe'ER, 'tis well, that while mankind
Through fate's perverse meander errs, He can imagined pleasures find,
To combat against real cares.
Fancies and notions he pursues,
Which ne'er had being but in thought; Each, like the Grecian artist, woos
The image he himself has wrought.
Against experience he believes;
He argues against demonstration; Pleased, when his reason he deceives;
And sets his judgment by his passion.
The hoary fool, who many days
Has struggled with continued sorrow, Renews his hope, and blindly lays
The desperate bet upon to-morrow.
To-morrow comes; 'tis noon, 'tis night;
This day like all the former flies :
Yet on he runs, to seek delight
To-morrow, till to-night he dies.
Our hopes, like towering falcons, aim
At objects in an airy height:
The little pleasure of the game
Is from afar to view the flight.