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The criticism upon Pope's Epitaphs, which these inlitations with much harshness ; in long was printed in “The Universal Visitor,” is performances they are scarcely to be avoided, placed here, being too minute and particular to and in shorter they may be indulged, because be inserted in the Life.
the train of the composition may naturally in
volve them, or the scantiness of the subject allow Every art is best taught by example. No- little choice. However, what is borrowed is not thing contributes more to the cultivation of pro- to be enjoyed as our own; and it is the business priety than remarks on the works of those who of critical justice to give every bird of the muses have most excelled. I shall therefore endeavour, his proper feather. at this visit, to entertain the young students in
Blest courtier! poetry with an examination of Pope's Epitaphs.
To define an epitaph is useless; every one Whether a courtier can properly be commendknows that it is an inscription on a tomb. An ed for keeping his ease sacred, may perhaps be epitaph, therefore, implies no particular charac- disputable. To please king and country, withter of' writing, but may be composed in verse or out sacrificing friendship to any change of times, prose. It is indeed commonly panegyrical; be was a very uncommon instance of prudence or cause we are seldom distinguished with a stone felicity, and deserved to be kept separate from but by our friends; but it has no rule to restrain so poor a commendation as care of his ease. I or modify it, except this, that it ought not to be wish our poets would attend a little more accu. longer than common beholders may be expected rately to the use of the word sacred, which surely to have leisure and patience to peruse.
should never be applied in a serious composition 1.
but where some reference may be made to a
higher Being, or where some duty is exacted or On Charles Earl of Dorset, in the Church of implied. A man may keep his friendship sacred, Wythyham in Susser.
because promises of friendship are very awful
ties; but methinks he cannot, but in a burlesque Dorset, the grace of courts, the muse's pride, Patron of arts, and judge of nature, died
sense, be said to keep his ease sacred. The scourge of pride, though sanctified or great ; of fops in learning, and of knaves in state;
Blest peer! Yet soft his nature, though severe his lay,
The blessing ascribed to the peer has no conHis anger moral, and his wisdom gay. Blest satirist! who touch'd the means so true, nexion with his peerage; they might happen to As show'd Vice had his hate and pity too.
any other man whose ancestors were rememberBle : courtier! who could king and country please, ed, or whose posterity are likely to be regarded. Yet sacred kept his friendships and his ease. Blest peer! his great forefather's every grace
Í know not whether this epitaph be worthy Reflecting, and reflected on his race;
either of the writer or the man entombed. Where other Buckhursts, other Dorsets shine, And patriots still, or poets, deck the line.
1. The first distich of this epitaph contains a kind on SIR WILLIAM TRUMBULL, one of the principal of information which few would want, that the Secretaries of State lo King William III. wcho, man for whom the tomb was erected died. There having resigned his place, died in his retirement af are indeed some qualities worthy of praise as- Easihamstead in Berkshire, 1716. cribed to the dead, but none that were likely to
A pleasing form; a firm, yet cautious mind; exempt him from the lot of man, or incline us Sincere, though prudent, constant, yet resign'd; much to wonder that he should die. What is Honour unchang'd, a principle protest, meant by “judge of nature,” is not easy to say.
Fix'd to one side, but inocierate to the reet;
An honest courtier, yet a patriot 100; Nature is not the object of human judgment;
Just to his prince, and to his country true; for it is vain to judge where we cannot alter. If Filld with the sense of age, the fire of youth, by nature is meant what is commonly called na- A scorn of wrangling, yet a zeal for truth; türe by the crities, a just representation of things
A generous faith, from superstition free;
A love to peace, and hatt oftyranny ; really existing and actions really performed, na- Such this man way; who, not from earth remord, ture cannot be properly opposed to art; nature At length enjoys that liberty he lovil. being, in this sense, only the best effect of art.
In this epitaph, as in many others, there apThe scourge of pride
pears, al the first view, a fault which I think Of this couplet, the second line is not, what is scarcely any beauty can compensate. The intended, an illustration of the former. Pride name is omitted. The end of an epitaph is to in the great is indeed well enough connected with convey some account of the dead; and to what knaves in state, though knaves is a word rather purpose is any thing told of him whose name is too ludicrous and light; but the mention of concealed ? An epitaph, and a history of a sanctified pride will not lead the thoughts to fops nameless hero, are equally absurd, since the virin learning, but rather to some species of tyranny tues and qualities so recounted in either are or oppression, something more gloomy and more scattered at the mercy of fortune to be appropriformidable than foppery.
ated by guess. The name, it is true, may be Yet soft his nature
read upon the stone ; but what obligation has
it to the poet, whose versez wander over the This is a high compliment, but was not first earth and leave their subject behind them, and bestowed on Dorset by Pope. The next verse who is foreed, like an unskilful painter, to make is extremely beautiful."
his purpose known by adventitious help ?
This epitaph is wholly without elevation, and Blest satirist!
contains nothing striking or particular ; but the In this distich is another line of which Pope poet is not to be blamed for the defects of his was not the author. I do not mean to blame subject. He said, perhaps, the best that could be said. There are, however, some defects | We may, however, observe some defects. There which were not made necessary by the character is a redundancy of words in tho first couplet: it in which he was employed. There is no oppo- is superfluous to tell of him who was sincere, true, sition between an honest courtier and a patriot; and faithful, that he was in honour clear. for, an honest courtier cannot but be a patriot. There seems to be an opposition intended in
It was unsuitable to the nicety required in the fourth line, which is not very obvious : where short compositions to close his verse with the is the relation between the two positions, that word too: every rhymne should be a word of he gained no title, and lost no friend? emphasis ; nor can this rule be safely neglected, It may be proper bere to remark the absurdity except where the length of the poem makes of joining in the same inscription Latin and slight inaccuracies excusable, or allows room for English, or verse and prose. If either language beauties sufficient to overpower the effects of he preferable to the other, let that only be used; petty faults.
for no reason can be given why part of the inAt the beginning of the seventh line the word formation should be given in one tongue, and filled is weak and prosaic, having no particular part in another, on a tomb more than in any adaptation to any of the words that follow it. other place, or any other occasion ; and to tell
The thought in the last line is impertinent, all that can be conveniently told in verse, and having no connexion with the foregoing cha- then to call in the help of prose, has always the racter, nor with the condition of the man de- appearance of a very artless expedient, or of an scribed. Had the epitaph been written on the attempt unaccomplished. Such an epitaph repoor conspirator who died lately in prison after sembles the conversation of a foreigner, who & confinement of more than forty years, without tells part of his meaning by words, and conveys any crime proved against him, the sentiment had part by signs. been just and pathetical; but why should Trumbull be congratulated upon his liberty, who had
V. never known restraint ?
Inter.ded for Mr. Rowe.
In Westminster Abbey.*
Thy relics, Rowe, to this fair urn we trust,
And, sacred, place by Dryden's awful dust;
Beneath a rude and nameless stone he lies, Harcourt in Oxfordshire, 1720.
To which thy tomb shall guide inquiring eyes.
Peace to thy gentle shade, and endless resi! To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art, draw near;
Blest in thy genius, in thy love too blest! Here lies the friend most lov'd, the son most dear:
One grateful woman to thy fame supplies Who ne'er knew joy, but friendship might divide,
What a whole thankless land to his denies.
How vain is reason! eloquence how weak! Of this inscription the chief fault is, that it be-
longs less to Rowe, for whom it is written, than And with a father's sorrows mix his own!
to Dryden, who was buried near him ; and inThis epitaph is principally remarkable for the either.
deed gives very little information concerning artful introduction of the name, which is inserted
To wish Peace to thy shade is too mythological with a peculiar felicity, to which chance must to be admitted into a Christian temple: the anconcur with genius, which no man can hope to cient worship has infected almost all our other attain twice, and which cannot be copied but with servile imitation.
compositions, and might therefore be contented I cannot but wish that of this inscription the with life, and let us be serious over the grave.
to spare our epitaphs. Let fiction at least cease two last lines had been onnitted, as they take away from the energy what they do not add to
VI. the sense.
On Mrs. CORBET,
Who died of a Cancer in her Breaslt
Here rests a woman, good without pretence,
Blest with plain reason and with snber sense ;
No conquest she, bit o'er herself, desir'd:
No arts essay'd, but not to be admir'd.
Passion and pride wore to her soul unknown,
Convic'd that virtue only is our own.
So unaffected, so compus da mind,
Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures triad;
The saint sustain d it, but the woman died.
I have always considered this as the most Statesman, yet friend to trith! of soul sincere, valuable of all Pope's epitaphs ; the subject of it. In action faithful, and in honour clear!
is a character not discriminated by any shining Who broke no promisa, sarvid no private end, Who gain'i noritle, and who lost no friend!
or eminent peculiarities; yet that which really Ennobled by himsell, by all approv'd,
makes, though not the splendour, the felicity of Prais’d, wepe, and honour'd by the Muse he lov'd! life, and that which every wise man will choose The lines on Craggs were not originally in- for his final and lasting companion in the lantended for an epitaph; and therefore some faults guor of age, in the quiet of privacy, when he are to be imputed to the violence with which they are, torn from the poem that first contained them. * This was altered much for the better as it now stands
on the monument in the Abbey, erected to Rowc and his
daughter. -Warb. * Major Bernarii, who died in Newgate, Sept. 20, † In the north aisle of the parish rhurch of St. Mar. 1734. See Gent Mag vol. 1. p. 125.-N.
garel, Westminster --H.
ET CONSILIIS SAXCTIORIBVS
VIXIT TITVLIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR
OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.
departs weary and disgusted from the ostenta- In the eight anes which make the character of tious, the volatile, and the vain. Of such a Digby, there is scarce any thought, or word, character, which the dull overlook, and the gay which may not be found in the other epitaphs. despise, it was fit that the value should be made The ninth line, which is far the strongest and known, and the dignity established. Domestic most elegant, is borrowed from Dryden. The virtue, as it is exerted without great occasions, conclusion is the same with that on Harcourt, or conspicuous consequences, in an even unnoted but is here more elegant and better connected. tenor, required the genius of Pope to display it
VIII. in such a manner as might attract regard, and enforce reverence. Who can forbear to lament
On Sir GODFREY KNELLER. that this amiable woman has no name in the
In Westminster Abbey, 1723. verses ?
Kneller, by Heav'n, and not a master tanght, If the particular lines of this inscription be Whose are was nature and whose pictures though, examined, it will appear less faulty than the Now for two ages, having snatch'd from fare rest. There is scarcely one line taken from
Whate'er was beauteous or whate'er was great,
Lies crown'd with prince's honours, poet's lays, common-places, unless it be that in which only
Due to his merit and brave thirst of praise. virtue is said to be our own. I once heard a lady Living, great nature feard he might outyja of great beauty and elegance object to the fourth Her works; and dying, fears herself may die. line, that it contained an unnatural and incredi- Of this epitaph the first couplet is good, the ble panegyric. Of this let the ladies judge. second not bad, the third is deformed with a VII.
broken metaphor, the word crowned not being
applicable to the honours or the lays ; and the On the Monument of the Hon. ROBERT DIGBY, and fourth is not only borrowed from the epitaph on
LORD Digby, in the Church of Sherborne in Dore Raphael, but of a very harsh construction. eetshire, 1727.
IX. Go ! fair example of unlainted youth, or modest wisdom and pacific truth :
On GENERAL HENRY WITHERS.
In Westminster Abbey, 1729.
Here, Withers, rest! thou brarest, genilest mind!
o: born to‘arins ! 0! worth in youth approv'd' Lover of peace, and friend of human kind :
O! soft humanity in age belord? Go, live! for heav'n's eternal year is thine,
For thee the hardy vetran drops a tear, Go, and exalt thy moral to divine.
And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere. And thou, blesi maid! attendant on his doom,
Withers, adjeu! yet not with thee remove Pensive hast follow'd to the silent lomb;
Thy martial spirit or thy social love! Steer'd the same course to the same quiet shore,
Amidst corruption, luxury, and rage, Not parted long, and now to part no more!
Still leave some ancient virtues to our age; Go, ihen, where only bliss sincere is known !
Nor let us say (those English glories gone)
The last true Briton lies beneath this stone.
The cpitaph on Withers affords another in-
stance of common-places, though somewhat di'Tis all a father, all a friend can give!
versified by mingled qualities and the peculiarity This epitaph contains of the brother only a of a profession. general indiscriminate character, and of the sis
The second couplet is abrupt, general, and ter tells nothing but that she died. The diffi- unpleasing; exclamation seldom succeeds in our culty in writing epitaphs is to give a particular language; and, I think, it may be observed that and appropriate praise. This, however, is not the particle O! used at the beginning of the senalways to be performed, whatever be the dili- tence, always offends. gence or ability of the writer; for the greater
The third couplet is more happy; the value part of mankind have no character at all
, have expressed for him, hy different sorts of men, little that distinguishes them from others, equally raises him to esteem: there is yet something of good or bad, and therefore nothing can be said the common cant of superficial satirists, who of them which may not be applicd with equal suppose that the insincerity of the courtier de. propriety to a thousand more. It is indeed no
stroys all his sensations, and that he is equally great panegyric, that there is inclosed in this a dissembler to the living and the dead. tomb one who was born in one year and died in
At the third couplet I should wish the epitapb another ; yet many useful and amiable lives to close, but that I should be unwilling to lose have been spent which yet leave little materials the two next lines, which yet are dearly bought for any other memorial. These are however if they cannot be retained without the four that not the proper subjects of poetry; and when follow them. ever friendship, or any other motive, obliges a
X. poet to write on such subjects, he must be forgiven if he sometimes wanders in generalities,
On MR. ELIJAH Fenton. and utters the same praises over different tombs.
At Easthamstead in Berkshire, 1730. The scantiness of human praises can scarcely This modest stone, what few rain marbles can, be made more apparent, than by remarking how
May truly say, Here lies an honest man; often Pope has, in the few epitaphs which he
A poet, blest beyond the poet's tate,
Whom Heav'n kept sacred from the proud and great ; composed, found it necessary to borrow from Foe to lond praise, and friend to learned ease, himself. The fourteen epitaphs which he has
Content with science in the vale of peace. written, comprise about a hundred and forty Calmly he look'd on either life, and here
Saw nothing to regret, or there to far: lines, in which there are more repetitions than Froni Xature's temp rate feast rose satisfied, will easily be found in all the rest of his works. Thank'd Heaven tai he lis id, and that he died
The first couplet of this epitaph is borrowed | taph, supposed to be lamented; and therefore from Crashaw. The four next lines contain a this general lamentation does no honour to Gay. species of praise peculiar, original, and just.—1 The first eight lines have no grammar; the Here, therefore, the inscription should have adjectives are without any substantive, and the ended, the latter part containing nothing but epithets without a subject. what is common to every man who is wise and The thought in the last line, that Gay ia good. The character of Fenton was so amiable, buried in the bosoms of the worthy and the good, that I cannot forbear to wish for some poet or who are distinguished only to lengthen the line, biographer to display it more fully for the ad- is so dark that few understand it; and so harsh vantage of posterity. If he did not stand in the when it is explained, that still fewer approve. first rank of genius, he may claim a place in the
In Westminster Abbey.
ISAACUS NEWTONIUS :
Testantur, Tempus, Natura, Celum, or manners gentle, of affections mild,
Hoc marmor fatetur. In wit, a man ; simplicity, a child;
Nature and Nature's laws, lay hid in night,
God said, Let Newton be! And all was ligh..
of this epitaph, short as it is, the faults seem And uncorrupted, e'en among the great;
not to be very few. Why part should be Latin, A safe companion and an easy friend,
and part English, it is not easy to discover. In Unblam'd through life, lamented in thy end,
the Latin the opposition of Immortalis and Mor. These are thy honours! not that here thy bust Is mix'd with heroes, or with kings thy dust;
talis is a mere sound or a mere quibble; he is But that the worthy and the good shall say,
not immortal in any sense contrary to that in Striking their pensive bosoms-Here lies Gay. which he is mortal.
As Gay was the favourite of our author, this In the verses the thought is obvious, and the epitaph was probably written with an uncom- words night and light are too nearly allied. mon degree of atiention ; yet it is not more suc
XIII. cessfully executed than the rest, for it will not on EDMUND Duke of BUCKINGHAM, who died in always happen that the success of a poet is pro
the 19th Year of his Age, 1735. portionate to his labour. The same observation
if modest youth with cool reflection crown'd, may be extended to all works of imagination,
And every opening virtue blooming round, which are often influenced by causes wholly out Could save a parent's justest pride from fate, of the performer's power, by hints of which he Or add one patriot to a sinking state ; perceives not the origin, by sudden elevations
This weeping marble had not ask'd thy tear, of mind which he cannot produce himself, and
Or sadly told how many hopes lie here!
The living virtue now had shone approvid, which sometimes rise when he expects them The senate heard him, and his country lov'd. least.
Yet softer honours, and less noisy fame,
Attend the shaile of gentle Buckingham: The two parts of the first line are only echoes
In whom a race, for courage sam’d and art, of each other; gentle manners and mild affec- Ends in the milder merit of the heart: tions, if they mean any thing, must mean the And, chiefs or sages long to Britain givin, same.
Pays the last tribute of a saint to Heav'n. That Gay was a man in wit is a very frigid This epitaph Mr. Warburton prefers to the commendation; to have the wit of a man is not rest; but Î know not for what reason. To crorin much for a poet. The wit of man,* and the with reflection is surely a mode of speech apsimplicity of a child, make a poor and vulgar con- proaching to nonsense. Opening virtues bloointrast, and raise no ideas of excellence either in- ing round is something like tautology; the six tellectual or moral.
following lines are poor and prosaic. Art is In the next couplet rage is less properly intro- another couplet used for arls, that a rhyme may duced after the mention of mildness and gentle be had to heart. The six last lines are the best, ness, which are made the constituents of his cha- but not excellent. racter; for a man so mild and gentle to temper The rest of his sepulchral performances hardly his rage was not difficult.
deserve the notice of criticism. The contemptiThe next line is in harmonious in its sound and ble “Dialogue" between He and She should mean in its conception; the opposition is obvi- have been suppressed for the author's sake. ous, and the word lash, used absolutely, and In his last epitaph on himself, in which he without any modification, is gross and improper. attempts to be jocular upon one of the few
To be above temptation in poverty, and free things that make wise men serious, he confounds from corruption among the great, is indeed such a the living man with the dead : peculiarity as deserved notice. But to be a safe Under this stone, or under this sill, companion is a praise merely negative, arising Or under this turf, &c. not from possession of virtue, but the absence of
When a man is once buried, the question, uno vice, and that one of the most odious.
der what he is buried, is easily decided. He As little can be added to his character by as- forgot that, though he wrote the epitaph in a serting that he was lamented in his end. Every man that dies is, at least by the writer of his epi- him till his grave was made. Such is the folly
state of uncertainty, yet it could not be laid over • "Her wil was more than man, her innocence a child." of wit when it is ill employed.
Dryden on Mrs. Killigrew.-C. The world has but little new; even the wretchedness seems to have been borrowed from Tanti erat vacuum sibi cadaver the following tuneless lines :
Ut urnam cuperel parare vivens,
Vivens ista tamen sibi paravit.
Quæ inscribi voluit suo sepulchro
Olim siquod haberet is sepulchrum.
Surely Ariosto did not venture to expect that
his trifle would have ever had such an illustrious Nam scire la pocuit futura, sed nec
CARISTOPHER Pitt, of whom, whatever I shall been very early productions; and I have not obrelate, more than has been already published, I served that any rise above mediocrity. owe to the kind communication of Dr. Warton, The success of his “Vida” animated him to was born in 1699, at Blandford, the son of a a higher undertaking; and in his thirtieth year physician much esteemed.
he published a version of the first book of the He was, in 1714, received as a scholar into “ Æneid.” This being, I suppose, commended Winchester College, where he was distinguished by his friends, he some time afterwards added by exercises of uncommon elegance, and, at his three or four more, with an advertisement, in removal to New College, in 1719, presented to which he represents himself as translating with the electors, as the product of his private and great indifference, and with a progress of which voluntary studies, a complete version of Lucan's himself was hardly conscious. This can hardly poem, which he did not then know to have be true, and, if true, is nothing to the reader. been translated by Rowe.
At last, without any further contention with This is an instance of early diligence, which his modesty, or any awe of the name of Dryden, well deserves to be recorded. The suppression he gave us a complete English “ Æneid,” which of such a work, recommended by such uncom- I am sorry not to see joined in this publication mon circumstances, is to be regretted. It is in- with his other poems.* It would have been deed culpable to load libraries with superfluous pleasing to have an opportunity of comparing the books; but incitements to early excellence are two best translations that perhaps were ever pronever superfluous, and from this example the duced by one nation of the same author. danger is not great of many imitations,
Pitt, engaging as a rival with Dryden, natuWhen he had resided at his college three rally observed his failures, and avoided them; years, he was presented to the rectory of Pim- and, as he wrote after Pope's “Tiad,” he had pern, in Dorsetshire, (1722,) by his relation, Mr. an example of an exact, equable, and splendid Pitt, of Stratfield Say, in Hampshire; and, re- versification. With these advantages, seconded signing his fellowship, continued at Oxford two by great diligence, he might successfully labour years longer, till he became master of arts, particular passages and escape many errors. If (1724.)
the two versions are compared, perhaps the reHe probably about this time translated Vida's sult would be, that Dryden leads the reader for“Art of Poetry,” which Tristram's splendid ward by his general vigour and sprightliness, edition had then made popular. In this transla- and Pitt osten stops him to contemplate the tion he distinguished himself, both by its general excellence of a single couplet : that Dryden's elegance, and by the skilful adaptation of his faults are forgotten in the hurry of delight, and numbers to the images expressed ; a beauty that Pitt's beauties are neglected in the languor which Vida has with great ardour enforced and of a cold and listless perusal ; that Pitt pleases exemplified.
the critics, and Dryden the people; that Piu is He then retired to his living, a place very quoted, and Dryden read. pleasing by its situation, and therefore likely to He did not long enjoy the reputation which excite the imagination of a poet; where he pass- this great work deservedly conferred; for he left ed the rest of his life, reverenced for his virtue, the world in 1748, and lies buried under a stone and beloved for the softness of his temper, and at Blandford, on which is this inscription :the easiness of his manners. Before strangers he had something of the scholar's timidity or
In Memory of distrust ; but, when he became familiar, he was,
Car. Pitt, clerk, M. A.
Very eminent in a very high degree, cheerful and entertaining.
for his talents in poetry; His general benevolence procured general re
and yet more spect; and he passed a life placid and honour
For the universal candour of
his mind, and the primitive able, neither too great for the kindness of the
simplicity of his inannere. low, nor too low for the notice of the great.
and died beloved, At what time he composed his “Miscellany,"
Apr. 13, 1745.
Agel 45. published in 1727, it is not easy or necessary to know: those which have dates appear to have * It has since isen added to the collection
He lived innocent;