Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.

VITAL spark of heavenly flame,

Quit, 0, quit this mortal frame!
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying;

O, the pain, the bliss of dying !
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life!

II.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
• Sister spirit, come away!'
What is this absorbs me quite ?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight?

Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

10

[ocr errors]

The world recedes; it disappears :
Heaven opens on my eyes; my ears

With sounds seraphic ring :
Lend, lend your wings! I mount ! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?

O Death! where is thy sting?

15

POPE.

EPITAPHS.

The difficulty of producing a good epitaph is to be estimated by the singular rareness of success. To be at once clear and comprehensive, forcible and refined, pointed without the terseness of epigram, and laudatory without the extravagance of panegyric, are palpably among the happiest efforts of the mind. Still, if success in this difficult art must be only comparative, Pope has the merit of possessing the highest rank. Johnson's well-known eramen of his epitaphs is the work more of cavil than of criticism : he begins with a determination to find defects: where he finds, he exaggerates; where he cannot find, he makes them.

Difficult as the task might be, it is strongly to be desired, that some man of ability would rescue this fine but neglected style from its modern humiliation. The general order of epitaphs in our churchyards is a mixture of barbarism and absurdity dishonorable to the national name: the lowest work of ignorance seems to be held sufficient for the sacredness of the grave; and the finest feelings of the man and the Christian are scandalised by language worthy only of clowns. By a folly scarcely inferior, the chief inscriptions on our public monuments are in Latin, as if they were written for foreigners, and not for our own countrymen; or, as if the language of Rome could be transmitted to posterity with nobler recollections than the language of England.

EPITAPHS. :

ON CHARLES EARL OF DORSET.

IN THE CHURCH OF WITHYAM, IN SUSSEX.

Dorset, the grace of courts, the Muses' pride,
Patron of arts, and judge of nature, died :
The scourge of pride, though sanctified or great ;
Of fops in learning, and of knaves in state :
Yet soft his nature, though severe his lay; 5
His anger moral, and his wisdom gay.
Bless'd satirist! who touch'd the mean so true,
As show'd vice had his hate and pity too.
Bless'd courtier ! who could king and country

please,
Yet sacred keep his friendships and his ease. 10
Bless'd peer! his great forefathers' every grace
Reflecting, and reflected in his race;
Where other Buckhursts, other Dorsets shine;
And patriots still, or poets, deck the line.

[ocr errors][merged small]

One of the principal secretaries of state to King William III.,

who having resigned his place, died in his retirement at Easthamsted, in Berkshire, 1716.

A PLEASING form ; a firm, yet cautious mind ;
Sincere, though prudent; constant, yet resign'd:
Honor unchanged, a principle profess'd,
Fix'd to one side, but moderate to the rest :
An honest courtier, yet a patriot too;
Just to his prince, and to his country true :
Filld with the sense of age, the fire of youth,
A scorn of wrangling, yet a zeal for truth :
A generous faith from superstition free ;
A love to peace, and hate of tyranny:
Such this man was; who now, from earth re-

moved,
At length enjoys that liberty he loved.

10

III.

ON THE HON. SIMON HARCOURT,

ONLY SON OF THE LORD CHANCELLOR HARCOURT,

At the church of Stanton-Harcourt in Oxfordshire, 1720.

To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art, draw near! Here lies the friend most loved, the son most dear: Who ne'er knew joy, but friendship might divide; Or gave his father grief but when he died.

[ocr errors]

How vain is reason, eloquence how weak! If Pope must tell what Harcourt cannot speak. 0, let thy once-loved friend inscribe thy stone, And with a father's sorrows mix his own!

« ZurückWeiter »