Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
To Sir Godfrey Kneller on His Picture of the King
By Joseph Addison (1672–1719)
 
KNELLER, with silence and surprise
We see Britannia’s monarch rise,
A godlike form, by thee displayed
In all the force of light and shade;
And, awed by thy delusive hand,        5
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:        10
In every stroke, in every line,
Does some exalted virtue shine,
And Albion’s happiness we trace
Through all the features of his face.
  O may I live to hail the day,        15
When the glad nation shall survey
Their sovereign, through his wide command,
Passing in progress o’er the land!
Each heart shall bend, and every voice
In loud applauding shouts rejoice,        20
Whilst all his gracious aspect praise,
And crowds grow loyal as they gaze.
  This image on the medal placed,
With its bright round of titles graced,
And stampt on British coins shall live,        25
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,        30
Rejoiced the metal to refine,
And ripened the Peruvian mine.
  Thou, Kneller, long with noble pride,
The foremost of thy art, has vied
With nature, in a generous strife,        35
And touched the canvass into life.
Thy pencil has, by monarchs sought,
From reign to reign in ermine wrought,
And, in their robes of state arrayed,
The kings of half an age displayed.        40
  Here swarthy Charles appears, and there
His brother with dejected air:
Triumphant Nassau here we find,
And with him bright Maria joined;
There Anna, great as when she sent        45
Her armies through the continent.
Ere yet her hero was disgraced:
O may famed Brunswick be the last,
(Though heaven should with my wish agree,
And last, preserve thy art in thee)        50
The last, the happiest British king,
Whom thou shalt paint, or I shall sing!
  Wise Phidias, thus his skill to prove,
Through many a god advanced to Jove,
And taught the polished rocks to shine        55
With airs and lineaments divine;
Till Greece, amazed, and half afraid,
Th’ assembled deities surveyed.
  Great Pan, who wont to chase the fair,
And loved the spreading oak, was there;        60
Old Saturn too, with upcast eyes;
Beheld his abdicated skies;
And mighty Mars, for war renowned,
In adamantine armour frowned;
By him the childless goddess rose,        65
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,
Matched with a mortal, next was seen,        70
Reclining on a funeral urn,
Her short-lived darling son to mourn.
The last was he, whose thunder slew
The Titan race, a rebel crew,
That from a hundred hills allied        75
In impious leagues their king defied.
  This wonder of the sculptor’s hand
Produced, his art was at a stand:
For who would hope new fame to raise,
Or risk his well-established praise,        80
That, his high genius to approve,
Had drawn a GEORGE, or carved a Jove!
 
 
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