To Sir Godfrey Kneller, on His Picture of the King


Kneller! with silence and surprise
We see Britannia's monarch rise,
A godlike form, by thee display'd
In all the force of light and shade,
And, aw'd by thy delusive hand,
As in the Presence-chamber stand.
 The magic of thy art calls forth
His secret soul and hidden worth,
His probity and mildness shows,
His care of friends and scorn of foes:
In every stroke, in every line,
Does some exalted virtue shine,
And Albion's happiness we trace
Thro' all the features of his face,
 O may I live to hail the day
When the glad nation shall survey
Their sov'reign thro' his wide command,
Passing in progress o'er the land!
Each heart shall bend, and ev'ry voice
In loud applauding shouts rejoice,
Whilst all his gracious aspect praise,
And crowds grow loyal as they gaze.
 The image on the medal placed,
With its bright round of titles graced,
And stampt on British coins, shall live,
To richest ores the value give,
Or, wrought within the curious mould,
Shape and adorn the running gold.
To bear this form the genial sun
Has daily, since his course begun,
Rejoic'd the metal to refine,
And ripen'd the Peruvian mine.
 Thou, Kneller! long with noble pride,
The foremost of thy art, hast vy'd
With Nature in a gen'rous strife,
And touch'd the canvass into life:
Thy pencil has, by monarchs sought,
From reign to reign in ermine wrought,
And, in the robes of state array'd,
The kings of half an age display'd.
 Here swarthy Charles appears, and there
His brother with dejected air:
Triumphant Nassau here we find,
And with him bright Maria join'd:
There Anna, great as when she sent
Her armies thro' the Continent,
Ere yet her hero was disgrac'd:
O may fam'd Brunswick be the last,
(Tho' Heav'n should with my wish agree,
And long preserve thy art in thee)
The last, the happiest, British king,
Whom thou shalt paint or I shall sing!
 Wise Phidias thus, his skill to prove,
Thro' many a god advanc'd to Jove,
And taught the polish'd rocks to shine
With airs and lineaments divine,
Till Greece, amaz'd, and half afraid,
Th' assembled deities survey'd.
 Great Pan, who wont to chase the fair,
And lov'd the spreading oak, was there;
Old Saturn, too, with up-cast eyes
Beheld his abdicated skies;
And mighty Mars, for war renown'd,
In adamantine armour frown'd;
By him the childless goddess rose,
Minerva, studious to compose
Her twisted threads; the web she strung,
And o'er a loom of marble hung:
Thetis, the troubled ocean's queen,
Match'd with a mortal, next was seen
Reclining on a fun'ral urn,
Her short-liv'd darling son to mourn:
The last was he whose thunder slew
The Titan race, a rebel crew,
That from a hundred hills ally'd
In impious leagues their king defy'd.
 This wonder of the sculptor's hand
Produc'd, his art was at a stand;
For who would hope new fame to raise,
Or risk his well-establish'd praise,
That, his high genius to approve,
Had drawn a George or carv'd a Jove?
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