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Observe the war, in every annual course ; What has been done, was done with British force : Namur subdued, is England's palm alone; The rest besieged, but we constrained the town: We saw the event that followed our success; France, though pretending arms, pursued the peace, Obliged, by one sole treaty, to restore What twenty years of war had won before. Enough for Europe has our Albion fought; Let us enjoy the peace our blood has bought. When once the Persian king was put to flight, The weary Macedons refused to fight; Themselves their own mortality confessed, And left the son of Jove to quarrel for the rest.
Even victors are by victories undone; Thus Hannibal, with foreign laurels won, To Carthage was recalled, too late to keep his own. While sore of battle, while our wounds are green, Why should we tempt the doubtful dye again? In wars renewed, uncertain of success; Sure of a share, as umpires of the peace.
A patriot both the king and country serves ; Prerogative and privilege preserves: Of each our laws the certain limit show; One must not ebb, nor t'other overflow: Betwixt the prince and parliament we stand, The barriers of the state on either hand; May neither overflow, for then they drown the land.
* Our poet had originally accompanied his praises of the British soldiers with some aspersions on the cowardice of the Dutch, their allies. These he omitted at his cousin's desire, who deemed them disrespectful to King William. In short, he complains he had corrected his verses so far, that he feared he had purged the spirit out of them; as Bush by used to whip a boy so long, till be made him a confirmed blockhead.
When both are full, they feed our blessed abode; Like those that watered once the paradise of God.
Some overpoise of sway, by turns, they share; In peace the people, and the prince in war : Consuls of moderate power in calms were made 2; When the Gauls came, one sole dictator swayed.
Patriots, in peace, assert the people's right, With noble stubbornness resisting might; No lawless mandates from the court receive, Nor lend by force, but in a body give. Such was your generous grandsire; free to grant In parliaments, that weighed their prince's want: But so tenacious of the common cause, As not to lend the king against his laws; And, in a loathsome dungeon doomed to lie, In bonds retained his birthright liberty, And shamed oppression, till it set him free. t
O true descendant of a patriot line,
+ Sir Robert Bevile, maternal grandfather to John Driden of Chesterton, seems to have been imprisoned for resisting some of Charles I.'s illegal attempts to raise supplies without the authority of parlia
Perhaps our author now viewed his opposition to the royal will as more excusable than he would have thought it in the reigns of Charles II. or of James II. It is thought, that the hard usage which Sir Robert Bevile met on this score, decided our poet's uncle, his son-in-law, in his violent attachment to Cromwell.
The reader will perhaps doubt, whether Mr Dryden's account 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.
Praise-worthy actions are by thee embraced,
EPISTLE THE SIXTEENTH.
SIR GODFREY KNELLER.
PRINCIPAL PAINTER TO
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 tune 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 telicitous 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 the epistle.
EPISTLE THE SIXTEENTH.
Once I beheld the fairest of her kind,
Shadows are but privations of the light;
Prometheus, were he here, would cast away