[Page 59]


The Painter who pleased No body and Every body.

1 Lest men suspect your tale untrue,
2 Keep probability in view.
3 The trav'ler, leaping o'er those bounds,
4 The credit of his book confounds;
5 Who with his tongue hath armies routed
6 Makes ev'n his real courage doubted.
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7 But flatt'ry never seems absurd,
8 The flatter'd always take your word,
9 Impossibilities seem just,
10 They take the strongest praise on trust;
11 Hyperboles, though ne'er so great,
12 Will still come short of self-conceit.
13 So very like a Painter drew,
14 That ev'ry eye the picture knew;
15 He hit complexion, feature, air,
16 So just, the life itself was there.
17 No flatt'ry, with his colours laid,
18 To bloom restor'd the faded maid,
19 He gave each muscle all its strength,
20 The mouth, the chin, the nose's length
21 His honest pencil touch'd with truth,
22 And mark'd the date of age and youth.
23 He lost his friends, his practice fail'd,
24 Truth should not always be reveal'd;
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25 In dusty piles his pictures lay,
26 For no one sent the second pay.
27 Two bustos, fraught with ev'ry grace,
28 A Venus' and Apollo's face,
29 He plac'd in view; resolv'd to please,
30 Whoever sate, he drew from these,
31 From these corrected ev'ry feature,
32 And spirited each aukward creature.
33 All things were set; the hour was come,
34 His pallet ready o'er his thumb,
35 My lord appear'd, and seated right
36 In proper attitude and light,
37 The Painter look'd, he sketch'd the piece,
38 Then dipt his pencil, talk'd of Greece,
39 Of Titian's tints, of Guide's air;
40 Those eyes, my lord, the spirit there
41 Might well a Raphael's hand require,
42 To give them all the native fire;
43 The features fraught with sense and wit
44 You'll grant are very hard to hit,
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45 But yet with patience you shall view
46 As much as paint and art can do.
47 Observe the work. My lord reply'd,
48 'Till now I thought my mouth was wide,
49 Besides, my nose is somewhat long,
50 Dear sir, for me, 'tis far too young.
51 Oh, pardon me, the artist cry'd,
52 In this we painters must decide.
53 The piece ev'n common eyes must strike,
54 I warrant it extreamly like.
55 My lord examin'd it anew;
56 No looking-glass seem'd half so true.
57 A lady came, with borrow'd grace
58 He from his Venus form'd her face,
59 Her lover prais'd the painter's art;
60 So like the picture in his heart!
61 To ev'ry age some charm he lent,
62 Ev'n Beautys were almost content.
63 Through all the town his art they prais'd,
64 His custom grew, his price was rais'd.
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65 Had he the real likeness shown,
66 Would any man the picture own?
67 But when thus happily he wrought,
68 Each found the likeness in his thought.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): FABLE [18] XVIII. The Painter who pleased No body and Every body.
Author: John Gay
Themes: animals
Genres: fable

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Source edition

Gay, John, 1685-1732. FABLES. By Mr. GAY. London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Watts, MDCCXXVII., 1727, pp. 59-63. [14],173,[1]p.: ill.; 4°. (ESTC T13818)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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