Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

contributes more to the cultivation of propriety, tations with much harshness; in long performances than remarks on the works of those who have most they are scarcely to be avoided; and in shorter excelled. I shall therefore endeavour, at this visit, they may be indulged, because the train of the to entertain the young students in poetry with an composition may naturally involve them, or the examination of Pope's Epitaphs.

scantiness of the subject allow little choice. HowTo define an Epitaph is useless; every one knows ever, what is borrowed is not to be enjcyed as our that it is an inscription on a Tomb. An epitaph, own; and it is the business of critical justice to give therefore, implies no particular character of writ- every bird of the Muses his proper feather. ing, but may be composed in verse or prose. It is

Blest courtier indeed commonly panegyrical; because we are seldom distinguished with a stone but by our friends; Whether a courtier can properly be commended but it has no rule to restrain or mollify it, except for keeping his ease sacred, may perhaps be dis this, that it ought not to be longer than common be- putable. To please king and country, without saholders may be expected to have leisure and pa-crificing friendship to any change of times, was a tience to peruse.

very uncommon instance of prudence or felicity,

and deserved to be kept separate from so poor a ON

commendation as care of his case. I wish our poets CHARLES EARL OF DORSET. would attend a little more accurately to the use of In the Church of Wythyham in Sussex.

the word sucred, which surely should never be ap

plied in a serious composition, but where some reDorset, the grace of courts, the Muse's pride,

ference may be made to a higher Being, or where Patron of arts, and judge of pature, died.

some duty is exacted or implied. A man may keep The scourge of pride, though sanctified or great,

his friendship sacred, because promises of friendOf fops in learning, and of knaves in state; Yet soft in nature, though severe his lay.

ship are very awful ties; but methinks he cannot, His anger moral, and his wisdom gay.

but in a burlesque sense, be said to keep his ease Blest satirist! who touch'd the means so true,

sacred. As'Show'd, Vice had his hate and pity too. Blest courtier! who could king and country please,

Blest peer! Yet sacred kept his friendships, and his ease.

The blessing ascribed to the peer has no conBlest peer! his great forefather's every grace Reflecting, and reflected in his race:

nexion with his peerage; they might happen to any Where other Buckhursts, other Dorsets s

other man whose posterity were likely to be reAnd patriots still, or poets, deck the line.

garded.

I know not whether this epitaph be worthy eiThe first distich of this epitaph contains a kind (ther of the writer or the man entombed. of information which few would want, that the man for whom the tomb was erected, died. There are indeed some qualities worthy of praise ascribed to the dead, but none that were likely to exempt him

SIR WILLIAM TRUMBAL, from the lot of man, or incline us much to wonder. One of the principal Secretaries of State to King that he should die. What is meant by “judge of William III. who, having resigned his place, natnre,” is not easy to say.' Nature is not the ob died in retirement at Easthampstead in Berkject of human judgment; for it is vain to judge shire, 1716. where we cannot alter. If by nature is meant what is commonly called nature by the critics, a

A pleasing form; a firm, yet cautious inind;

Sincere, though prudent; constant, yet resign'd; just representation of things really existing, and

Honour unchanged, a principle profest, actions really performed, nature cannot be properly Fix'd to one side, but moderate to the rest ; opposed to art; nature being, in this sense, only the e An honest courtier, yet a patriot too; best effect of art.

Just to his prince, and to his country true;

Fill'd with the sense of age, the fire of youth,
The scourge of pride

A scorn of wrangling, yet a zeal for truth;

A generous faith, from superstition free; Of this couplet, the second line is not, what is

A love to peace, and hate of tyranny; intended, an illustration of the former. Pride, in! Such this man was; who now, from earth removed, the Gredt, is indeed well enough connected with At length enjoys that liberty he loved. knaves in state, though knaves is a word rather too ludicrous and light; but the mention of sanctified! In this epitaph, as in many others, there appears, pride will not lead the thoughts to fops in learn at the first view, a fault which I think scarcely any ing, but rather to some species of tyranny or op

beauty can compensate. The name is omitted. pression, something more gloomy and more formi. The end of an epitaph is to convey some account dable than foppery.

of the dead; and to what purpose is any thing told

of him whose name is concealed? An epitaph, and Yet soft his nature

a history of a nameless hero, are equally absurd,

since the virtues and qualities so recounted in eiThis is a high compliment, but was not first bestowed on Dorset by Pope. The next verse is ex

ther are scattered at the mercy of fortune to be ap

propriated by guess. The name, it is true, tnay be tremely beautiful.

read upon the stone; but what obligation has it to Blest satirist!

the poet, whose verses may wander over the earth,

and leave their subject behind them, and who is In this distich is another line of which Pope was forced, like an unskilful painter, to make his purnot the author. I do not mean to blame these imi-l pose known by adventitious help?

ON

This epitaph is wholly without elevation, and Ennobled by himself, by all approved, contains nothing striking or particular; but the poet| Praised, wept, and honour'd, by the Muse he loved. is not to be blamed for the defects of his subject.

ct.

T

The lines on Craggs were not originally intended He said perhaps the best that could be said. There for an epitaph: and therefore some faults are to be are, however, some defects which were not made

e imputed to the violence with which they are torn necessary by the character in which he was em

" from the poem that first contained them. We may, ployed. There is no opposition between an honest

however, observe some defects. There is a recourtier and a patriot; for, an honest courtier cannot

dundancy of words in the first couplet: it is superbut be a patriot.

fluous to tell of him, who was sincere, true, and It was unsuitable to the nicety required in short

faithful, that he was in honour clear. compositions, to close his verse with the word too;

There seems to be an opposition intended in the every rhyme should be a word of emphasis; norf

of fourth line, which is not very obvious: where is can this rule be safely neglected, except where the

the relation between the two positions, that he length of the poem makes slight inaccuracies ex

gained no title and lost no friend? cusable, or allows room for beauties sufficient to

' It may be proper here to remark the absurdity overpower the effects of petty faults.

of joining, in the same inscription, Latin and EnAt the beginning of the seventh line the word

glish, or verse and prose. If either language be filled is weak and prosaic, having no particular

preferable to the other, let that only be used; for, adaptation to any of the words that follow it.

no reason can be given why part of the information The thought in the last line is impertinent, hav

AV should be given in one tongue, and part in another, ing no connexion with the foregoing character, nor

on a tomb, more than in any other place, or on any with the condition of the man described. Had the

other occasion; and to tell all that can be conveniepitaph been written on the poor conspirator* who

ently told in verse, and then to call in the help of died lately in prison, after a confinement of more

prose, has always the appearance of a very artless than forty years, without any crime proved against

expedient, or of an attempt unaccomplished. Such him, the sentiment had been just and pathetical;

an epitaph resembles the conversation of a foreigner, but why should Trumbal be congratulated upon his

who tells part of his meaning by words, and conliberty, who had never known restraint?

veys part by signs.
ON THE

INTENDED FOR MR. ROWE.
HON. SIMON HARCOURT,
Only Son of the Lord Chancellor Harcourt, at the

In Westminster Abbey. Church of Stanton-Harcourt, in Oxfordshire, Thy relics, Rowe, to this fair urn we trust, 1720.

And sacred place by Dryden's awful dust;

Beneath a rude and nameless stone he lies,
To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art, draw near, To which thy tomb shall guide inquiring eyes.
Here lies the friend most loved, the son most dear; Peace to thy gentle shade, and endless rest!
Who ne'er knew joy, but friendship might divide, Blest in thy genius; in thy love too, blest!
Or, gave his father grief but when he died.

One grateful woman to thy fame supplies
How vain is reason, eloquence how weak!

What a whole thankless land to his denies.
If Pope must tell what HARCOURT cannot speak.
Oh, let thy once loved friend inscribe thy stone,

Of this inscription the chief fault is, that it be And with a father's sorrows mix his own.

longs less to Rowe, for whom it was written, than This epitaph is principally remarkable for the lo Dry

the to Dryden, who was buried near him; and indeed artful introduction of the name, which is inserted 87

ed gives very little information concerning either. with a peculiar felicity, to which chance must con

To wish Peace to thy shade is too mythological cur with genius, which no man can hope to attain

to be admitted into a Christian temple: the ancient twice, and which cannot be copied but with servile

worship has infected almost all our other composi

tions, and might therefore be contented to spare our imitation. I cannot but wish that, of this inscription, the two epitaph

epitaphs. Let fiction, at least, cease with life, and last lines had been omitted, as they take away

|let us be serious over the grave.
from the energy what they do not add to the sense.
ON

MRS. CORBET,
JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ.

Who died of a Cancer in her Breast. **
In Westminster Abbey.

Here rests a woman, good without pretence,

Blest with plain reason, and with sober sense;
JACOBUS CRAGGS,

No conquest she, but o'er herself, desired;
REGI MAGNE BRITANNIE A SECRETIS

No arts essay'd, but not to be admired.
ET CONSILIIS SANCTORIBUS

Passion and pride were to her soul unknown,
PRINCIPIS PARITER AC POPULI AMOR ET DELICIE

Convinced that virtue only is our own.
VIXIT TITULIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR,

So unaffected, so composed a mind,
' ANNOS HEU PAUCOS, XXXV.

So firm, yet soft, so strong, yet so refined,
OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.

Heaven, as its purest gold, by tortures tried;
Statesman, yet friend to truthl of soul sincere :

The saint sustaind it, but the woman died. In action faithful, and in honour clear!

I have always considered this as the most valuaWho broke no promise, served no private end

ble of all Pope's epitaphs; the subject of it is a Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friends

* In the North aisle of the parish church of St. Marga: * Major Bernardi, who died in Newgate, Sept. 20, 1736. ret, Westminster.

[graphic]

character not discriminated by any shining or emi- [ subjects, he must be forgiven if he sometimes wannent peculiarities; yet that which really makes, ders in generalities, and utters the same praises though not the splendour, the felicity of life, and over different tombs. that which every wise man will choose for his The scantiness of human praises can scarcely be final, and lasting companion in the languor of age, made inore apparent, than by remarking how often in the quiet of privacy, when he departs weary and Pope has, in the few epitaphs which he composed, disgusted from the ostentatious, the volatile, and the found it necessary to borrow from himself., The vain. Of such a character, which the dull over- fourteen epitaphs which he has written, comprise look, and the gay despise, it was fit that the value about a hundred and forty lines, in which there should be made known, and the dignity establish are more repetitions than will easily be found in all ed. Domestic virtue, as it is exerted without the rest of his works. In the eight lines which great occasions, or conspicuous consequences, in an make the character of Digby, there is scarce any even unnoted tenor, required the genius of Pope to thought, or word, which may not be found in the display it in such a manner as might attract regard, other epitaphs. and enforce reverence. Who can forbear to la-). The ninth line, which is far the strongest and ment that this amiable woman has no name in the most elegant, is borrowed from Dryden. The converses?

clusion is the same with that on Harcourt, but is If the particular lines of this inscription be ex- here more elegant and better connected. amined, it will appear less faulty than the rest. There is scarcely one line taken from common

ON places, unless it be that in which only Virtue is said

SIR GODFREY KNELLER, to be our own. I once heard a Lady of great beauty and excellence object to the fourth line, that it con [ In Westminster Abbey, 1723. tained an unnatural and incredible panegyric. Of| this, let the ladies judge.

Kneller! by Heaven, and not a master taught,

Whose art was nature, and whose pictures thought; ON THE MONUMENT OF THE

Now for two ages, having snatch'd from fate

Whate'er was beauteous, or whate'er was great, HON. ROBERT DIGBY AND OF HIS SISTER Lies crown'd with Princes' honours, Poets' lays, MARY,

Due to his merit and brave thirst of praise.

Living, great Nature fear'd he might outvie Erected by their Father the Lord Digby, in the Her works; and dying, fears herself may die. Church of Sherborne in-Dorsetshire, 1727.

of this epitaph the first couplet is good, the seGo! fair example of untainted youth,

cond not bad, the third is deformed with a broken Of modest wisdom, and pacific truth; Composed in sufferings, and in joy sedate,'

metaphor, the word crowned not being appliacable Good without noise, without pretension great.

to the honours or lays; and the fourth is not only Just of thy word, in every thought sincere,

borrowed from the epitaph on Raphael, but of a
Who knew no wish but what the world might hear: very harsh construction.
Of softest manners, unaffected mind,
Lover of peace, and friend of human kind.

ON
Go, live! for heaven's eternal year is thine,
Go, and exalt thy mortal to divine.

GENERAL HENRY WITHERS,
And thou, blest maid! attendant on his doom,

In Westminster Abbey, 1729.
Pensive has follow'd to the silent tomb,
Steer'd the same course to the same quiet shore,

Here, Withers, rest! thou bravest, gentlest mind, Not parted long, and now to part no more!

Thy country's friend, but more of human kind. Go, then, where only bliss sincere is known!

O! born to arms! 01 worth in youth approved! Go, where to love and to enjoy are one!

O! soft humanity in age beloved ! Yet take these tears; mortality's relief,

For thee the hardy veteran drops a tear, And, till we share your joys, forgive our grief:

And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere. These little rites, a stone, a verse receive,

Withers, adieu! yet not with thee remove "Tis all a father, all a friend can give!"

Thy martial spirit, or thy social love!

Amidst corruption, luxury, and rage, This epitaph contains of the brother only a gene

Still leave some ancient virtues to our age: ral indiscriminate character, and of the sister tells Nor let us say (those English glories gone,) nothing but that she died. The difficulty in writ- The last true Briton lies beneath this stone. ing epitaphs is to give a particular and appropriate praisc. This, however, is not always to be per- The epitaph on Withers affords another instance formed, whatever be the diligence or ability of the of common-places, though somewhat diversified, writer; for, the greater part of mankind have no by mingled qualities, and the peculiarity of a procharacter at all, have little that distinguishes them fession. from others equally good or bad, and therefore no- The second couplet is abrupt, general, and unthing can be said of them which may not be applied pleasing; exclamation seldom succeeds in our lanwith equal propriety to a thousand more. It is in-guage, and, I think, it may be observed that the deed no great panegyric, that there is inclosed in particle O! used at the beginning of the sentence, this tomb one who was born in one year, and died always offends. in another; yet many useful and amiable lives have The third couplet is more happy; the value exbeen spent, which leave little materials for any pressed for him by different sorts of men, raises other memorial. These are however not the pro- him to esteem; there is yet something of the comper subjects of poetry; and whenever friendship, mon cant of superficial satirists, who suppose that or any other motive, obliges a poet to write on such the insincerity of a courtier destroys all his sensa

tions, and that he is equally a dissembler to the for a poet. The wit of man, and the simplicity of living and the dead."

i la child, make a poor and vulgar contrast, and raise At the third couplet I should wish the epitaph no ideas of excellence either intellectual or moral. to close, but that I should be unwilling to lose the In the next couplet rage is less properly introtwo next lines, which yet are dearly bought if duced after the mention of mildness and gentleness, they cannot be retained without the four that fol- which are made the constituents of his character; low them.

for a man somild and gentle to temper his rage, was

not difficult. SON .

The next line is inharmonious in its sound, and MR. ELIJAH FENTON,

mean in its conception; the opposition is obvious,

and the word lash used absolutely, and without any At Easthamstead in Berkshire, 1730.

modification, is gross and improper. This modest stone, what few vain marbles can,

To be above temptation in poverty, and free from May truly say, “Here lies an honest man!

corruption among the Great, is indeed such a pecuA Poet, blest beyond the poet's fate,

liarity as deserved notice. But to be a safe comWhom heaven kept sacred from the Proud and Great; panion, is à praise merely negative, arising not Foe to loud praise, and friend to learned ease, from possession of virtue, but the absence of vice, Content with science in the vale of peace.

and that one of the most odious. Calmly he look'd on either life, and here

As little can be added to his character, by asSaw nothing to regret, or there to fear;

serting that he was lamented in his end. Every From Nature's temperate feast rose satisfied, Thank'd heaven that he lived, and that he died.

man that dies is, at least by the writer of his epi

taph, supposed to be lamented; and therefore this The first couplet of this epitaph is borrowed from general lamentation does no honour to Gay. Crashaw. The four next lines contain a species of The first eight lines have no grammar; the ad. praise peculiar, original, and just. Here, there-jectives are without any substantives and the epifore, the inscription should have ended, the latter thets without a subject. part containing nothing but what is common to The thought in the last line, that Gay is buried every man who is wise and good. The character in the bosoms of the worthy and the good, who are of Fenton was so amiable that I cannot forbear to distinguished only to lengthen the line, is so dark wish for some poet or biographer to display it that few understand it; and so harsh, when it is more fully for the advantage of posterity. If he explained, that still fewer approve. did not stand in the first rank of genius, he may claim a place in the second; and, whatever criti

INTENDED FOR cism may object to his writings, censure could find

SIR ISAAC NEWTON, very little to blame in his life.

In Westminster Abbey.
ON

ISAACUS NEWTONIUS:

Quem Immortalem
MR. GAY,

Testantus, Tempus, Natur, Cælum:

Mortalem
In Westminster Abbey, 1732.

Hoc marmoe fatetur.
Of manners gentle, of affections mild;

Nature, and Nature's laws, lay hid in night:
In wit, a man; simplicity, a child;

God said, Let Newton be! And all was light.
With native humour tempering virtuous rage,
Form'd to delight at once and lash the age;

- Of'this epitaph, short as it is, the faults seem not Above teniptation, in a low estate,

to be very few. Why part should be Latin, and And uncorrupted, even among the Great:

part English, is not easy to discover. In the Latin A safe companion and an easy friend,

the opposition of Immortalis and Mortalis, is a Unblamed through life, lamented in thy end.

mere sound, or a more quibble; he is not immortal These are thy honours! not that here thy bust

in any sense contrary to that in which he is mortal. Is mix'd with heroes, or with kings thy dust! But that the Worthy and the Good shall say,

In the verses the thought is obvious, and the Striking their pensive bosoms-Here lies Gay! words night and light are too nearly allied.

As Gay was the favourite of our author, this epitaph was probably written with an uncommon degree of attention; yet it is not more successfully executed than the rest, for it will not always happen that the success of a poet is proportionate to his labour. The same observation may be extended to all works of imagination, which are often influenced by causes wholly out of the performer's power, by hints of which he perceives not the origin, by sudden elevations of mind which he cannot produce in himself, and which sometimes rise when he expects them least.

The two parts of the first line are only echoes of each other; gentle manners and mild affections, if they mean any thing, must mean the same.

That Gay was a man in wit is a very frigid commendation; to have the wit of a man is not much!

ON
EDMUND DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM.
Who died in the 19th Year of his Age, 1735
If modest youth, with cool reflection crown'd,
And every opening virtue blooming round,
Could save a parent's justest pride from fate,
Or add one patriot to a sinking state;
This weeping marble had not ask'd thy tear,
Or sadly told how many hopes lie here!
The living virtue now had shone approved,
The senate heard him, and his country loved
Yet softer honours, and less noisy fame,
Attend the shade of gentle Buckingham:
In whom a race, for courage famed, and art,
Ends in the milder merit of the heart: .
And, chiefs or sages, long to Britain given,
Pays the last tribute of a saint to Heaven.

This epitaph Mr. Warburton prefers to the rest; that though he wrote the epitaph in a state of unbut I know not for what reason. To crown with certainty, yet it could not be laid over him till his reflection, is surely a mode of speech approaching grave was made. Such is the folly of wit when it to nonsense. Opening virtues blooming round, is is ill employed. something like tautology: the six following lines The world has but little new; even this wretchare poor and prosaic. Art is in another coupletedness seems to have been borrowed from the fol. used for arts, that a rhyme may be had to heart. lowing tuneless lines; The six last lines are the best, but not excellent.

Ludovici Areosti humantur ossa The rest of his sepulchral performances hardly

Sub hoc marmore, vel sub hac humo, deserve the notice of criticism. The contemptible

Sub quicquíd voluit benignus hæres, Dialogue' between He and She should have been

Sive hærede benignior comes, seu suppressed for the author's sake.

Opportunius incidens Viator: ". In his last epitaph on himself, in which he at Nam scire haud potuit futura, sed nec tempts to be jocular upon one of the few things that Tanti erat vacuum sibi cadaver make wise men serious, he confounds the living

Ut utnam cuperet parare vivens, man with the dead:

Vivens ista tamen sibi caravit,

Quæ inscribi voluit suo sepulchro
Under this stone, or under this sill,

Olim siquod haberetis sepulchrum. '
Or under this turf, &c.

|| Surely Ariosto did not venture to expect that bis When a man is once buried, the question, under trifle would have ever had such an illustrious imiwhat he is buried, is easily decided. He forgot, tator.

« ZurückWeiter »