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An Epistle to a friend.
et pauper agelle,
Point out the green lane rough with fern and flower;
The shelter'd gate that opens to my field, EVERY reader turns with pleasure to those pas. And the white front through mingling elms reveald. sages of Horace, and Pope, and Boileau, which de- In vain, alas, a village-friend invites scribe how they lived and where they dwelt; and to simple comforts, and domestic rites, which, being interspersed among their satirical writ- When the gay months of Carnival resume ings, derive a secret and irresistible grace from the Their annual round of glitter and perfume ; contrast, and are admirable examples of what in When London hails thee to its splendid mart, Painting is termed repose.
Its hives of sweets, and cabinets of art; We have admittance to Horace at all hours. We And, lo, majestic as thy manly song, enjoy the company and conversation at his table; and Flows the full tide of human life along. his suppers, like Plato's, “non solum in præsentia, sed! Still must my partial pencil love to dwell etiam postero die jucundæ sunt." But when we look on the home-prospects of my hermit-cell; round as we sit there, we find ourselves in a Sabine The mossy pales that skirt the orchard-green, farm, and not in a Roman villa. His windows have Here hid by shrub-wood, there by glimpses seen; every charm of prospect; but his furniture might have And the brown pathway, that, with careless flow, descended from Cincinnatus; and gems, and pictures, Sinks, and is lost among the trees below. and old marbles, are mentioned by him more than Still must it trace (the flattering tints forgive) once with a seeming indifference.
Each fleeting charm that bids the landscape live. His English Imitator thought and felt, perhaps, more Oft o'er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass (1) correctly on the subject; and embellished his garden Browsing the hedge by fits the pannier'd ass ; and grotto with great industry and success. But to The idling shepherd-boy, with rude delight, these alone he solicits our notice. On the ornaments Whistling his dog to mark the pebble's Right; of his house he is silent; and he appears to have re. And in her kerchief blue the cottage-maid, served all the minuter touches of his pencil for the With brimming pitcher from the shadowy glade. library, the chapel, and the banqueting-room of Far to the south a mountain-vale retires, Timon. “Le savoir de notre siècle," says Rousseau, Rich in its groves, and glens, and village-spires : "tend beaucoup plus à détruire qu'à édifier. On cen- Its upland-lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung, sure d'un ton de maitre; pour proposer, il en faut Its wizard-stream, nor nameless nor unsung : prendre un autre."
And through the various year, the various day, (2) It is the design of this Epistle to illustrate the virtue What scenes of glory burst, and melt away! of True Taste; and to show how little she requires to When April-verdure springs in Grosvenor-square, secure, not only the comforts, but even the elegancies And the furr'd Beauty comes to winter there, of life. True Taste is an excellent Economist. She She bids old Nature mar the plan no more; confines her choice to few objects, and delights in Yet still the seasons circle as before. producing great effects by small means : while False Ah, still as soon the young Aurora plays, Taste is for ever sighing after the new and the rare; Though moons and flambeaux trail their broadest blaze; and reminds us, in her works, of the Scholar of As soon the sky-lark pours his matin-song, Apelles, who, not being able to paint his Helen Though evening lingers at the mask so long. beautiful, determined to make her fine.
There let her strike with momentary ray,
There let her practise from herself to steal,
And look the happiness she does not feel;
The ready smile and bidden blush employ
At Faro-routs that dazzle to destroy ; situation—Its few apartments-furnished with casts
Fan with affected ease the essenced air, from the Antique, etc.— The dining-room— The
And lisp of fashions with unmeaning stare.
Be thine to meditate a humbler flight,
Be thine to blend, nor thine a vulgar aim,
Here no state-chambers in long line unfold, Each with its busy hum, or gilded wing,
Bright with broad mirrors, rough with fretted gold; Its subtle web-work, or its venom'd sting;
Yet modest ornament, with use combined, Let me, to claim a few unvalued hours,
Attracts the eye to exercise the mind.
Small change of scene, small space his home re- When from his classic dreams the student steals,' quires, (3)
Amid the buzz of crowds, the whirl of wheels, Who leads a life of satisfied desires.
To muse unnoticed-while around him press
The meteor-forms of equipage and dress; What though no marble breathes, no canvas glows,
Alone, in wonder lost, he seems to stand From every point a ray of genius flows! (4)
A very stranger in his native land! Be mine to bless the more mechanic skill,
And (though perchance of current coin possest, That stamps, renews, and multiplies at will;
And modern phrase by living lips exprest) And cheaply circulates, through distant climes,
Like those blest Youths, (10) forgive the fabling page, The fairest relics of the purest times.
Whose blameless lives deceived a twilight age, Here from the mould to conscious being start
Spent in sweet slumbers; till the miner's spade Those finer forms, the miracles of art;
Unclosed the cavern, and the morning play'd. Here chosen gems, imprest on sulphur, shine,
Ah! what their strange surprise, their wild delight! That slept for ages in a second mine;
New arts of life, new manners meet their sight! And here the faithful graver dares to trace
In a new world they wake, as from the dead; A Michael's grandeur, and a Raphael's grace!
Yet doubt the trance dissolved, the vision filed! Thy Gallery, Florence, gilds my humble walls,
O come, and, rich in intellectual wealth, And my low roof the Vatican recalls !
Blend thought with exercise, with knowledge health! Soon as the morning-dream my pillow flies, Long, in this shelter'd scene of letter'd talk, To waking sense what brighter visions rise ! With sober step repeat the pensive walk; O mark! again the courses of the Sun,
Nor scorn, when graver triflings fail to please, At Guido's call, (5) their round of glory run! The cheap amusements of a mind at ease; Again the rosy Hours resume their fight,
Here every care in sweet oblivion cast, Obscured and lost in floods of golden light! And many an idle hour-not idly pass'd.
No tuneful echoes, ambush'd at my gate, Bat could thine erring friend so long forget
Catch the blest accents of the wise and great. (11) Sweet source of pensive joy and fond regret)
Vain of its various page, no Album breathes
The sigh that Friendship or the Muse bequeaths. And still the Few best loved and most revered (6)
Yet some good Genii o'er my hearth preside,
Oft the far friend, with secret spell, to guide ; Rise round the board their social smile endear'd ?
And there I trace, when the grey evening lours, Selected shelves shall claim thy studious hours; A silent chronicle of happier hours ! There shall thy ranging mind be fed on flowers!' When Christmas revels in a world of snow, There, while the shaded lamp's mild lustre streams, And bids her berries blush, her carols flow; Read ancient books, or dream inspiring dreams ; (7) His spangling shower when Frost the wizard flings; And, when a sage's bust arrests thee there, (8) Or, borne in ether blue, on viewless wings, Pause, and his features with his thoughts compare. O'er the white pane his silvery foliage weaves, -Ah, most that Art my grateful rapture calls, And gems with icicles the sheltering eves ; Which breathes a soul into the silent walls ; ?
-Thy muffled friend his nectarine-wall pursues, Which gathers round the Wise of every Tongue; (9) What time the sun the yellow crocus wooes, All on whose words departed nations hung; Screened from the arrowy North ; and duly hies : Still prompt to charm with many a converse sweet; To meet the morning-rumor as it flies; Gaides in the world, companions in retreat! To range the murmuring market-place, and view Though my thatch'd bath no rich Mosaic knows,
The motley groups that faithful Teniers drew. A limpid spring with unfelt current flows.
When Spring bursts forth in blossoms through the Emblem of Life! which, still as we survey,
vale, Seems motionless, yet ever glides away!
And her wild music triumphs on the gale, The shadowy walls record, with Attic art, Oft with my book I muse from stile to stile;. The strength and beauty that its waves impart. Oft in my porch the listless noon beguile, Here Thetis, bending, with a mother's fears Framing loose numbers, till declining day Dips her dear boy, whose pride restrains his tears. Through the green trellis shoots a crimson ray; There, Venus, rising, shrinks with sweet surprise,
Till the West-wind leads on the twilight hours, As her fair self reflected seems to rise !
And shakes the fragrant bells of closing flowers.
Nor boast, O Choisy! seat of soft delight, Far from the joyless glare, the maddening strife,
The secret charm of thy voluptuous night. And all the dull impertinence of life,
Vain is the blaze of wealth, the pomp of power! These eye-lids open to the rising ray,
Lo, here, attendant on the shadowy hour, And close, when nature bids, at close of day.
Thy closet-supper, served by hands unseen, Here, at the dawn, the kindling landscapo glows;
Sheds, like an evening-star, its ray serene, (12) There noon-day levees call from faint repose. Here the flush'd wave flings back the parting light;
1 Ingenium, sibi quod vacuas desumsit Athenas, There glimmering lamps anticipate the night.
Et studiis annos septem dedit, insenuitque
2 Fallacem circum, vespertinumque pererro
3 Tantôt un livre en main, errant dans les prairie ? Pogter verd quàm Tyrannio mihi libros disposuit, mens addita videtur meis ædibus.-Cic.
To hail our corning. Not a step profane
agros.” Distant views contain the greatest variety Dares, with rude sound, the cheerful rite restrain; both in themselves and in their accidental variations And, while the frugal banquet glows reveal'd,
Note 3, page 21, col. 1. Pure and unbought, the natives of my field;
Small change of scene, small space bis home requires. While blushing fruits through scatter'd leaves invite,
Many a great man, in passing through the apart Still clad in bloom, and veil'd in azure light!
ments of his palace, has made the melancholy reflecWith wine, as rich in years as HORACE sings,
tion of the venerable Cosmo: “Questa è troppo gran With water, clear as his own fountain flings,
casa à si poco famiglia."---MACH. Ist. Fior. lib. vii. The shifting side-board plays its humbler part,
" Parva, sed apta mihi,” was Ariosto's inscription Beyond the triumphs of a Loriot's art. (13)
over his door in Ferrara; and who can wish to say Thus, in this calm recess, so richly fraught more? “ I confess," says Cowley, “I love littleness With mental light, and luxury of thought,
almost in all things. A little convenient estate, a My life steals on ; (O could it blend with thine!)
little cheerful house, a little company, and a very Careless my course, yet not without design. little feast."-Essay vi. So through the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide, (14) When Socrates was asked why he had built for The light raft dropping with the silent tide ; himself so small a house, “Small as it is," he replied, So, till the laughing scenes are lost in night, * I wish I could fill it with friends."-PHEDRUS, I The busy people wing their various flight,
iii, 9. Culling unnumber'd sweets from nameless flowers, | These indeed are all that a wise man would deThat scent the vineyard in its purple hours. sire to assemble; " for a crowd is not company, and
Rise, erc the watch-relieving clarions play, faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but s Caught through St. James's groves a blush of day;(15) tinkling cymbal, where there is no love." Ere its full voice the choral anthem Alings
Note 4, page 21, col. 1. Through trophied tombs of heroes and of kings.
From every point a ray of genius flows ! Haste to the tranquil shade of learned ease,a
By this means, when all nature wears a louring Though skill'd alike to dazzle and to please ;
countenance, I withdraw myself into the visionary Though each gay scene be search d with anxious eye, I worlds of art; where I meet with shining landscapes, Nor thy shut door be pass’d without a sigh, gilded triumphs, beautiful faces, and all those other
If, when this roof shall know thy friend no more, objects that fill the mind with gay ideas, etc. Addison. Some, form'd like thee, should once, like thee, explore; It is remarkable that Antony, in his adversity, Invoke the lares of this loved retreat,
passed some time in a small but splendid retreat, And his lone walks imprint with pilgrim-feet; which he called his Timonium, and from which Then be it said, (as, vain of better days,
might originate the idea of the Parisian Boudoir, Some grey domestic prompts the partial praise) that favorite apartment, où l'on se retire pour être seu, “ Unknown he lived, unenvied, not unblest; mais où l'on ne boude point.-STRABO, I. xvi. PLUT. Reason his guide, and Happiness his guest.
in Vit. Anton. In the clear mirror of his moral page,
Note 5, page 21, col. 1. We trace the manners of a purer age.
At Guido's call, etc. His soul, with thirst of genuine glory fraught, Alluding to his celebrated fresco in the Rospigliosi Scorn'd the false lustre of licentious thought. Palace at Rome. -One fair asylum from the world he knew,
Note 6, page 21, col. 1. One chosen seat, that charms with various view!
And still the few best loved and most revered. Who boasts of more (believe the serious strain)
The dining-room is dedicated to Conviviality; or, Sighs for a home, and sighs, alas: in vain.
as Cicero somewhere expresses it, Communitati vitæ Through each he roves, the tenant of a day, And, with the swallow, wings the year away!" (16)
atque victûs." There we wish most for the society of our friends; and, perhaps, in their absence, most require their portraits.
Tho moral advantages of this furniture may be NOTES.
illustrated by the pretty story of an Athenian courtesan, " who, in the midst of a riotous banquet with
her lovers, accidentally cast her eye on the portrait Note 1, page 20, col. 2.
of a philosopher, that hung opposite to her seat: the On o'er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass.
happy character of temperance and virtue struck her Cosmo of Medicis took most pleasure in his Apen-,
with so lively an image of her own unworthiness,
that she instantly quitted the room; and, retiring nine villa, because all that he commanded from its
home, became ever after an example of temperance, windows was exclusively his own. How unlike the
i as she had been before of debauchery." wise Athenian, who, when he had a farm to sell, directed the crier to proclaim, as its best recommen
Note 7, page 21, col. 1. dation, that it had a good neighborhood.-Plut. in Read ancient books, or dream inspiring dreams. Vit. Themist.
The reader will here remember that passage of Note 2, page 20, col. 2.
Horace, Nunc veterum libris, munc somno, etc. which And through the various year, the various day.
was inscribed by Lord Chesterfield on the frieze of Horace commends the house, “ longos que prospicit his library
· Note 8, page 21, col. 1. 1- dapes inemptas.-Hor.
And, when a sage's bust arrests thee there. 9 Innocuas amo delicias doctamque quietem. | Siquidem non solum ex auro argentove, aut certe ex
ere in bibliothecis dicantur illi, quorum immortales Hence every artist requires a broad and high anims in iisdem locis ibi loquuntur: quinimo etiam light. Hence also, in a banquet-scene, the most quæ non sunt, finguntur, pariuntque desideria non picturesque of all poets has thrown his light from traditi vultus, sicut in Homero evenit. Quo majus the ceiling.-Æn. i, 726. (ut equidem arbitror) nullum est felicitatis specimen, And hence the "starry lamps" of Milton, that quam semper omnes scire cupere, qualis fuerit ali
from the arched roof ços.- PLIN. Nat. Hist.
Pendent by subtle magic,Cicero speaks with pleasure of a little seat under
- yielded light Aristotle in the library of Atticus. “Literis sustentor
As from a sky. el recreor; maloque in illa tua sedecula, quam habes
Note 13, page 22, col. 1. kub imagine Aristotelis, sedere quàm in istorum sella
Beyond the triumphs of a Loriot's art. auruli --Ep. ad Att. iv, 10. Nor should we forget that Dryden drew inspira
At the petits soupers of Choisy were first introtion from the majestic face" of Shakspeare ; and
duced those admirable pieces of mechanism, after
wards carried to perfection by Loriot, the Confidente that a portrait of Newton was the only ornament
and the Servante; a table and a side-board, which of the closet of Buffon.—Ep. to Kneller. Voyage à
descended and rose again covered with viands and Montbart. In the chamber of a man of genius we
wines. And thus the most luxurious Court in Eu
rope, after all its boasted refinements, was glad to Write all down:
return at last, by this singular contrivance, to the Such and such pictures there the window the arras, figures,
quiet and privacy of humble life.- Vie privée de Why, such and such.
Louis XV, tom. ii, p. 43.
Between l. 10, and I. 11, col. 1, were these lines,
since omitted: Which gathers round the Wise of every Tongue. Quis tantis non gaudeat et glorietur hospitibus,
Hail, sweet Society ! in crowds unknown,
Though the vain world would claim thee for its own. eclaims Petrarch. Spectare, etsi nihil aliud, certè
Still where thy small and cheerful converse flows, jerat-Homerus apud me mutus, imò verò ego apud Be mine to enter, ere the circle close. illum surdus sum. Gaudeo tamen vel aspectû solo, When in retreat Fox lays his thunder by. et xepe illam amplexus ac suspirens dico: O magne
And Wit and Taste their mingled charms supply;
When Siddons, born to melt and freeze the heart, - rir, etc.- Epist. Par. lib. 20.
Performs at home her more endearing part;
When he, who best interprets to mankind
The winged messengers from mind to mind,
Leans on his spade, and, playful as profound,
His genius sheds its evening-sunshine round,
Ever too modest or too proud to rate
Myself by my companions, self-compellid
To earn the station that in life I held.
his :. They were written in 1796. guests. Nor is this an exclusive privilege of the
Note 14, page 22, col. 1. poet. The Medici Palace at Florence exhibits a So through the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide. long and imposing catalogue. “Semper hi parietes
An allusion to the floating bee-house, or barge columneque eruditis vocibus resonuerunt."
|laden with bee-hives, which is seen in some parts Another is also preserved at Chanteloup, the seat of France and Piedmont. of the Duke of Choiseul.
Note 15, page 22, col. 1.
Caught through St. James's groves at blush of day.
After this line in the MS. At a Roman supper, statues were sometimes em
Groves that Belinda's star illumines still, ployed to hold the lamps.
And ancient Courts and faded splendors fill.
Note 16, page 22, col. 1.
Lucr. ii, 24.
And, with the swallow, wings the year away! A fashion as old as Homer !--Odyss. vii, 100. It was the boast of Lucullus that he changed his
On the proper degree and distribution of light, we climate with the birds of passage.--Plut. in Vit. may consult a great master of effect. Il lume grande, Lucull. ed alto, e non troppo potente, sarà quello, che ren- How often must he have felt the truth here inderà le particole de' corpi molto grate.-Tratt. della culcated, that the master of many houses has no Pittura di LIONARDO DI VINCI, c. xli.
'Twas Autumn ; through Provence had ceased
Up rose St. Pierre, when morning shone ;
And who but she could soothe the boy,
And, as she pass'd her father's door,
Oh! she was good as she was fair;
Soon as the sun the glittering pane