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Praise-worthy actions are by thee embraced,
And 'tis my praise to make thy praises last.
For even when death dissolves our human frame,
The soul returns to heaven from whence it came;
Earth keeps the body, verse preserves the fame.

of his cousin Chesterton's accomplishments as a justice of peace, fox-hunter, and knight of the shire, even including his prudent abstinence from matrimony, were quite sufficient to justify this classification.






The well-known Sir Godfrey Kneller was a native of Lubec, but settled in London about 1674. He was a man of genius ; but, according to Walpole, he lessened his reputation, by making it subservient to his fortune. No painter was more distinguished by the great, for ten sovereigns sate to him. What may tend longer to preserve his reputation, no painter ever received more incense from the praise of poets. Dryden, Pope, Addison, Prior, Tickell, Steele, all wrote verses to him in the tone of extravagant eulogy. Those addressed to Kneller by Addison, in which the series of the heathen deities is, with unexampled happiness, made to correspond with that of the British monarchs painted by the artist, are not only the best production of that elegant poet, but of their kind the most felicitous ever written. Sir Godfrey Kneller died 27th November, 1723.

Dryden seems to have addressed the following epistle to Sir Godfrey Kneller, as an acknowledgment for the copy of the Chandos' portrait of Shakespeare, mentioned in the verses. It would appear that, upon other occasions, Sir Godfrey repaid the tributes of the poets, by the productions of his pencil.

There is great luxuriance and richness of idea and imagery in

this epistle.


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Once I beheld the fairest of her kind,
And still the sweet idea charms my mind.
True, she was dumb; for nature gazed so long,
Pleased with her work, that she forgot her tongue;
But, smiling, said-She still shall gain the prize;
I only have transferr'd it to her eyes.
Such are thy pictures, Kneller, such thy skill,
That nature seems obedient to thy will;
Comes out, and meets thy pencil in the draught,
Lives there and wants but words to speak herthought.
At least thy pictures look a voice, and we
Imagine sounds, deceived to that degree,
We think 'tis somewhat more than just to see.

Shadows are but privations of the light;
Yet, when we walk, they shoot before the sight;
With us approach, retire, arise, and fall;
Nothing themselves, and yet expressing all,
Such are thy pieces, imitating life
So near, they almost conquer in the strife;
And from their animated canvas came,
Demanding souls, and loosen'd from the frame,

Prometheus, were he here, would cast away
His Adam, and refuse a soul to clay ;
And either would thy noble work inspire,
Or think it warm enough, without his fire.




But vulgar hands may vulgar likeness raise ;
This is the least attendant on thy praise :
From hence the rudiments of art began ;
A coal, or chalk, first imitated man:
Perhaps the shadow, taken on a wall,
Gave outlines to the rude original ;
Ere canvas yet was strain'd, before the grace
Of blended colours found their use and place,
Or cypress tablets first received a face.

By slow degrees the godlike art advanced ;
As man grew polish'd, picture was enhanced :
Greece added posture, shade, and perspective,
And then the mimic piece began to live.
Yet perspective was lame, no distance true,
But all came forward in one common view.
No point of light was known, no bounds of art;
When light was there, it knew not to depart,
But glaring on remoter objects play'd ;
Not languish'd and insensibly decay'd.*

Rome raised not art, but barely kept alive,
And with old Greece unequally did strive;
Till Goths and Vandals, a rude northern race,
Did all the matchless monuments deface.
Then all the Muses in one ruin lie,
And rhyme began to enervate poetry.

* The ancients did not understand perspective; accordingly their figures represent those on an Indian paper. It seems long before it was known in England; for so late as 1634, Sir John Harrington thought it necessary to give the following explanation, in the advertisement to his translation of Orlando Furioso.

“ The use of the picture is evident;-that, having read over the book, they may read it as it were again in the very picture; and one thing is to be noted, which every one haply will not observe, namely, the perspective in every figure. For the personages of men, the shapes of horses, and such like, are made large at the bottom, and lesser upward; as, if you were to behold all the same in a plain, that which is nearest seems greatest, and the farther shews smallest, which is the chief art in picture."

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Thus, in a stupid military state,
The pen and pencil find an equal fate.
Flat faces, such as would disgrace a skreen,
Such as in Bantam's embassy were seen,
Unraised, unrounded, were the rude delight
Of brutal nations, only born to fight.

Long time the sister arts, in iron sleep,
A heavy sabbath did supinely keep;
At length, in Raphael's age, at once they rise,
Stretch all their limbs, and open all their eyes.

Thence rose the Roman, and the Lombard line;
One colourd best, and one did best design.
Raphael's, like Homer's, was the nobler part,
But Titian's painting look'd like Virgil's art.

Thy genius gives thee both ; where true design, Postures unforced, and lively colours join, Likeness is ever there; but still the best, (Like proper thoughts in lofty language drest,) Where light, to shades descending, plays, not strives, Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives. Of various parts a perfect whole is wrought; Thy pictures think, and we divine their thought.

Shakespeare, thy gift, I place before my sight ;* With awe, I ask his blessing ere I write; With reverence look on his majestic face; Proud to be less, but of his godlike race.

* This portrait was copied from one in the possession of Mr Betterton, and afterwards in that of the Chandos family. Twelve engravings were executed from this painting, which, however, the ingenious Mr Stevens, and other commentators on Shakespeare, pronounced a forgery. The copy presented by Kneller to Dryden, is in the collection of Earl Fitzwilliam, at Wentworth-house; and may claim that veneration, from having been the object of our author's respect and enthusiasm, which has been denied to its original, as a genuine portrait of Shakespeare. It is not, however, an admitted point, that the Chandos picture is a forgery: the contrary has been keenly maintained ; and Mr Malone's opinion has given weight to those who have espoused its defence.

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