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On MaR Y Countess Dowager of Pembroke.
Take another Epitaph of Ben Johnson's, on a beautisul and virtuous lady, which has been deservedly admired by very good judges.
Underneath this stone doth lie
Mr. Pope has drawn the character of Mr. Gay, in an Epitaph now to be seen on his monument in WeftminsterAbbey, which he has closed with such a beautisul turn, that I cannot help looking upon it as a master-piece in its kind, as indeed are most of the productions of that surprising genius.
On Mr. Gay.
Of manners gentle, of assections mild;
There is something fo tender and moving, and such a strain of paternal and silial assection in Mr. Pope's Epitaph on Dr. Atterbury, that we shall give it a place among these examples, tho' the Critics, perhaps, will object to its being a true Epitaph.
On Dr. Francis Atterbury, Bisbop of Rochester, ixho died in exile at Paris, 1732.
[His only Daughter having expired in his arms, immediately after she arrived in France to see him.]
She. Yes, we have liv'd—one pang, and then we part!
He. Dear shade! I will:
Then mix this dust with thine—O spotless ghost!
He faid, and dy'd.
Tshall conclude^ these examples of the serious kind with an Epitaph written by Mr. Smart, to the memory of Master * • *, who died of a lingering illness, aged eleven.
Henceforth be every tender tear suppress,
Or let us weep for joy that he is blest;
From grief to bKss, from earth to heav'n remov'd,
His mem'ry honour'd, as his lise belav'd.
That heart o'er which no evil e'er had pow'r!
That.disposition, sickness cou'd not four!
That sense, fo oft to riper years deny'd!
That patience, heroes might have own'd with pride!
His painsul race undauntedly he ran,
And in th' eleventh winter died a Man.
Amongst the Epitaphs of a punning and ludicrous cast, I know of none prettier than that which is faid to have been written by Mr. Prior on himself, wherein he is pleafantly fatirical upon the folly of those who value themselves on account of the long series of ancestors through which. they can trace their pedigree.
Nobles and Heralds, by your leave,
The fon of Adam and of Eve:
Of the fame cast is that written by Mr. Pope on one who would not be buried in Westminster-abbey.
Heroes, and kings! your distance keep,
The following Epitaph on a Mifer containr a good caution and an agreeable raillery.
Reader, beware immod'rate love of pels:
Here lies the worst of thieves, who robb'd himself.
But Dr. Swift's Epitaph on the fame subject is, I think, a master-piece of the kind.
Epitaph on a Miser.
Beneath this verdant hillock lies
We shall give but one example more of this kind, which is a merry Epitaph on an old Fiddler, who was remarkable (we may suppose) for beating time to his own rausick.
On Stephen the Eiddler.
Stephen and Time are now both even;
We are now come to that fort of Epitaph which rejects Rhyme, and has no certain and determinate measure; but where the diction must be pure and strong, every word have weight, and the antithesis be preserved in a clear and direct opposition. We cannot give a better example of this fort of Epitaph, than that on the tomb of Mr. Pulteney, in thecloysters of Westminster-Abbes.
If than art a Briton,
Behold this Tomb with Reverence and Regret:
Here lie the Remains of
The kindest Relation, the truest Friend,
The warmest Patriot, the worthiest Man;
He exercifed Virtues in this Age,
Susficient to have distinguished him even in the best.
Sagacious by Nature,
Industrious by Habit,
Inquifitive with Art;
He gain'd a complete Knowledge of the State of Britain,
Foreign and domestic.
In most the backward Fruit of tedious Experience,
In him the early Acquifition of undiffipated Youth:
He ferv'd the Court several Years:
rK Abroad, in the auspicious Reign ef Queen Ame,
At home, in the Reign of that excellent Prince K. George the sirst.
He served his Country always,
At Court independent,
In the Senate unbiass'd,
At every Age, and in every Station:
This was the bent of his generous Sool,
This the Business of his laborious Lise.
Public Men, and Public Things,
He judged by one constant Standard,
The true lulere/l of Britain:
He made no other Distinction of Party,
He abhorred all other:
Gentle, humane, disinterested, benesicent,
He created no Enemies on his own Account".
Firm, determin'd, inflexible,
He seared none he could create in the Cause of Britain.
In this Misfortune of thy Country lament thy own:
The Loss of su much private Virtue
Is a public Calamity.
That poignant fatire, as well as extravagant praife, may be conveyed in this manner, will be seen by the following Epitaph written by Tir. Arbuthnot on Francis Cbartres; which is too well known, and too much admired, to need our commendation.
Here eontinueth to rot
The Body of FRANCIS CHARTRE5,
Who with an Inflexible Constancy,
And Inimitable Uniformity of Life,
In spite of Age and Infirmities,
In the Practice of Etery Human Vice,
Excepting Prodigality and Hypocrisy:
His infatiable Avarice exempted him from the sirst,
His matchless Impudence from the second.
Nor was he more singular
In the undeviating Pravity of his Matmtri,
In Accumulating Wealth:
For, without Trade or Profession,
Without Trust of Public Money,
And without Bribe-worthy Service,
He acquired, or more properly created,
A Ministerial Estate.
He was the only Perfon of his Time
Who could Cheat without the Mask of Honesty,
Retain his Primæval Meanness
When possess'd of Ten Thousand a year;
And having daily deserved the Gibbet for what he did,
Was at last condemn'd to it for what he could not do.
Oh Indignant Reader!
Think not his Lise useless to Mankind;
Providence conniv'd at his execrable Designs,
To give to After-ages
A conspicuous Proof and Example,
Of how small Estimation is Exorbitant Wealth
in the Sight of GOD,
By his bestowing it on the most Unworthy of All
This fort of Epitaph may alfo admit of humour and ridicule, as will appear by the following on a boon companion who is supposed to have lost his lise to obtain his friend a borough.