The Bijou

The Bijou;

or Annual of Literature and the Arts

compiled by William Fraser

London: William Pickering,


[Page 139] page image and link
A Familiar Epistle to Sir Thomas Lawrence
By Barry Cornwall
LAWRENCE! — although the Muse and I have parted, 1
(She to her airy heights, and I to toil, 2
Not discontent, nor wroth, nor gloomy-hearted, 3
Because I now must till a rugged soil,) — 4
Although self-banished from the peerless Muse, 5
Banish'd from Art's gay groups and blending hues, 6
I still gaze on thy lines, where Beauty reigns, 7
With pleasure which rewards mine errant pains. 8
Thus, though I con no more the common page, 9
With learned Milton still and Shakespeare sage 10
I commune, when the labouring day is over, 11
Filled with a deep delight; like some true lover, 12
Whom frowning fate may not entirely sever 13
From her whose love, perhaps, is lost for ever! 14

Even now thy potent art witches my sight. 15
I see thee again, (with all my old delight,) — 16
With rainbows o'er thy beaming figures flung, 17
Still bright, and like Lyaeus, "ever young." 18
For thou, as Raffaelle and Correggio smiled 19
On beauty in the bud, and made the child 20
Immortal as the man of thoughtful brow, 21
By dint of their sweet power, — so dost thou. 22

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And who, whilst those fair matchless children1 are, 23
Which, with thy radiant pencil, like a star, 24
Thou broughtest into light and pictured grace, 25
Shall dare assign to thee a second place? 26
Yet,—thou so lov'st the art thou dost profess, 27
(I know,) that thou would'st rather be deemed less 28
Than thine own stature, so that they who first 29
Gave art nobility, and burst 30
Like dawn upon the world to shine and reign, 31
Sole homage of mens' souls may still retain. 32

— With whom dost thou now commune, — night by night, 33
When Nature, lady thine, withdraws her light, 34
And even thou must cease to charm all time? 35
Is it with Michael and his stern-sublime? 36
With Rembrandt's riddles dark, — a "mighty maze?" 37
Caracci's learned lines? — or Rubens' blaze? 38
With hoary Leonardo, great and wise? 39
With Parma's painters and their angel eyes? 40
Or Raffaelle sent us down from out the sunny skies? 41

Or, leav'st thou these to their immortal rest, 42
Turning unto some youthful artist guest? 43
Or with some high mind or accomplished friend 44
Dost thou delight the evening hours to spend 45
By thine own fire, where proud shapes stand around, 46
Deathless and eloquent, though without sound, — 47

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All in the poet's dreams and fancies born, 48
But wrought by sculptor-poets like the morn? 49
Dost thou with Ottley talk, a spirit learn'd, 50
In whom so long the smother'd fire has burned, — 51
Who should have been what many hope to be, 52
A painter stamp'd with immortality? 53
Speak! — or is't all enough that thou canst dream 54
Of ages when thyself must be the theme 55
Of praise unmixed, from rival envy free, 56
(If rival envy ever aimed at thee — )? 57
— Not that all those around thee (thou the sun) 58
perish when their beauteous toil is done: 59
For some there are whose works are wrought for time, 60
For future wonder, and eternal rhyme; — 61
Good Stothard, — old, but in his youth of fame; 62
Who is, and must survive — a potent name! 63
Chantrey, — and Flemish Wilkie, — Landseer young, 64
(Whose skill hath given the very beast a tongue — 65
Life — motion — till it chains the admiring eyes;) 66
And Turner, famous for his Claudian skies; 67
Hilton, Dewint, (rare brothers) formed to last; 68
And Collins, with his landscapes unsurpassed; 69
Callcott, whom river gods should all adore; 70
Westall, — and Leslie, — perhaps many more, 71
Who now expand their wings, and strive and hope to soar. 72

— The Great live free from envy, free from hate, 73
Born or self-raised beyond that puny state 74

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Where warfare frets the heart, and shrinks the soul, 75
Which else all grandly might itself unroll 76
Like morning in the east, when summer skies 77
Grow bright with beauty as the darkness dies. 78
Though near them wars and tempests shake the clime, 79
They live unvanquished through the storms of Time, 80
Like the centurion oak, whose tower of grey 81
Endureth age, but scarcely owns decay! 82
Thus free dost thou live, Lawrence! — and thus free 83
From hate, from wrong, envy and calumny, 84
Free from the pain thou giv'st not — may thy life 85
Glide onwards without taint of care, or strife! 86
Meantime, with every grace, and many a friend, 87
Continue still thy evening time to spend, 88
Feeding on lovely scenes and lofty shapes, — 89
Pondering on thoughts, while not a charm escapes, — 90
Sitting 'midst all the gods whom painters own, 91
Each standing on his pale and sculptured throne; — 92
Sitting and sharing all: — No miser thou, 93
Who hoard'st the wealth which may be useful now, 94
But to the artist young and yet unrefined, 95
Unbaring thoughts of many a master mind, — 96
Tracing the learned lines, — and sweetening all 97
With graceful converse, never known to pall. 98
Even I, deserter from the Muse's bowers, 99
Have shared with thee some pleasant, pleasant hours! 100
Since when — (those winter evenings fair and few!) 101
I see the spells have raised sweet shadows new. 102

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— How long is't Lawrence, since this2 creature young, 103
Out of thy sportive mood so bravely sprung 104
Into bright life, and took his stand in joy 105
With things that Time shall never dare destroy? — 106
— What matter? — he is here, and here shall be, 107
A shape to speak, in far futurity, 108
Of thy rare merits to the Muse of Song, 109
When I and all these rhymes have vanished long! 110

from The Bijou, 1828, pp. 139-143
TEI-encoded version

1. [Note to "A Familiar Epistle to Sir Thomas Lawrence":] The children of Mr. Calmeady. [Fraser and/or Author] Back

2. [Note to "A Familiar Epistle to Sir Thomas Lawrence":] See the accompanying Engraving. [Bijou Editor, William Fraser] Back