Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Though criticism has been cultivated in every | the principal intention of Epitaphs is to perpen age of learning, by men of great abilities and tuate the examples of virtue, that the tomb of a extensive knowledge, till the rules of writing good man may supply the want of his presence, are become rather burdensome than instructive and veneration for his memory produce the to the mind; though almost every species of same effect as the observation of his life. Those composition has been the subject of particular Epitapis are, therefore, the most perfect, which treatises, and given birth to definitions, distinc- set virtue in the strongest light, and are best tions, precepts, and illustrations; yet no critic adapted to exalt the reader's ideas and rouse his of note, that has fallen within my observation, emulation. has hitherto thought sepulchra inscriptions To this end it is not always necessary to reworthy of a minute examination, or pointed out count the actions of a hero, or enumerate the with proper accuracy their beauties and defects. writings of a philosopher; to imagine such in

The reasons of this neglect it is useless to formations necessary, is to detract from their inquire, and perhaps impossible to discover; it characters, or to suppose their works mortal, cr might be jusily expected that this kind of writ- their achievements in danger of being forgotten. ing would have been the favourite topic of criti- The bare name of such men answers every purcism, and that self-love might have produced pose of a long inscription. some regard for it, in those authors that have Had only the name of Sir Isaac NewTON crowded libraries with elaborate dissertations been subjoined to the design upon his monument, upon Homer ; since to afford a subject for heroic instead of a long detail of his discoveries, which poems is the privilege of very few, but every no philosopher can want, and which none but a man may expect to be recorded in an epitaph, philosopher can understand, those, by whose and therefore finds some interest in providing direction it was raised, had done more honour that his memory may not suffer by an unskilful both to him and to themselves. panegyric,

This indeed is a commendation which it reIf our prejudices in favour of antiquity de- quires no genius to bestow, but which ean never serve to have any part in the regulation of cur become vulgar or contemptible, if bestowed with studies, Epitaphs seem entiiled to more than judgment, because no single age produces many common regard, as they are probably of the men of merit superior to panegyric. None but same age with the art of writing. The most the first names can stand unassisted against the ancient structures in the world, the Pyramids, attacks of time; and if men raised to reputation are supposed to be sepulchral monuments, which by accident or caprice, have nothing but their either pride or gra:itude erected; and the same names engraved on their tombs, there is danger passions which incited men to such laborious and lest in a few years the inscription require an inexpensive methods of preserving their own terpreter. Thus have their expectations been memory, or that of their benefactors, would disappointed who honoured Picus of Mirandola doubtless incline them not to neglect any casier with this pompous epitaph : means by which the same ends mighi be obtained. Nature and reason have dictated w every nation,

Hie situs est Picus Mirandola, cretera norunt that to preserve good actions from oblivion, is

Et Togus et Ganger, forsan et Antipodes. both the interest and duty of mankind; and His name, then celebrated in the remotest cor. therefore we find no people acquainted with the ners of the earth, is now almost forgotten; and use of letters, that omitted to grace the tombs his works, then studied, admired, and applauded. of their heroes and wise men with panegyrical are now mouldering in obscurity. inscriptions.

Next in dignity to the bare name is a short To examine, therefore, in what the perfection character simple and unadorned, without exagof Epitaphs consists, and what rules are to be geration, superlatives, or rhetoric. Such were observed in composing them, will be at least of the inscriptions in use among the Romans, in as much use as other critical inquiries; and for which the victories gained by their emperors assigning a few hours to such disquisitions, great were commemorated by a single epithet; as examples at least, if not strong reasons, may be Cæsar Germanicus, Cæsar Dacicus, Germanicus, pleaded.

Illyricus. Such would be this epitaph, Isaacus An Epitaph, as the word itself implies, is an NEWTONUS, naturæ legibus investigatis hic quiinscription on the tomb, and in its most extensive escit. import may admit indiscriminately satire or But to far the greatest part of mankind a praise. But as malice has seldoñ produced longer encomium is necessary for the publication monuments of defamation, and the tombs hither of their virtues, and the preservation of their to raised have been the work of friendship and memories; and in the composition of these it is benevolence, custoin has contracted the original that art is principally required, and precepts latitude of the word, so that it signifies in the therefore may be useful. general acceptation an inscription engraven on a In writing Epitaphs, one circumstance is to tomb in honour of the person deceased.

be considered, which affects no other composiAs honours are paid to the dead in order to tion; the place in which they are now comincite others to the imitation of their excellences, monly found restrains them to a particular air

[ocr errors]

our own.

of solemnity, and debars them from the admis- to battle, or Copids sporting round a virgin. sion of all lighter or gayer ornaments. In this The pope who defaced the statues of the deities it is that the style of an Epitaph necessarily at the tomb of Sannazarius, is, in my opinion, differs from that of an elegy. The custom of more easily to be defended, than he that crected burying our dead either in or near our churches, them. perhaps originally founded on a rational design It is for the same reason improper to address of fitting the mind for religious exercises, by the Epitaph to the passenger, a custom which laying before it the most affecting proof of the an injudicious veneration for antiquity introuncertainty of life, makes it proper to exclude duced again at the revival of letters, and which, from our Epitaphs all such allusions as are con- among many others, Passeratius suffered to mistrary to the doctrines for the propagation of which lead him in his Epitaph upon the heart of Henry the churches are erected, and to the end for which king of France, who was stabbed by Clement those who peruse the monuments must be sup- the monk; which yet deserves to be inserteit, posed to come thither. Nothing is, therefore, for the sake of showing how beautiful even immore ridiculous than to copy the Roman inscrip- proprieties may become in the hands of a good sions which were engraven on stones by the writer. highway, and composed by those who generally

Adata, viator, et dole regum rices. reflected on mortality only to excite in them- Cer Reyis isto conditir sub marmore, selves and others a quicker relish of pleasure,

Qui jura Gailis, jura Sarmatis dedit.

Tectus cucullo hunc sustulit sicarius, and a more luxurious enjoyment of life, and

Ali, viator, et dole regum vices. whose regard for the dead extended no farther than a wish that the earth might be light upon

In the monkish ages, however ignorant and then.

unpolished, the Epitaphs were drawn up with All allusions to the heathen mythology are far greater propriety than can be shown in those therefore absurd, and all regard for the senseless which more enlightened times have produced. remains of a dead man impertinent and super- Orate pro Anima--miserrimi Peccatoris, stitious. One of the first distinctions of the primitive christians, was their neglect of bestowing was an address to the last degree striking and garlands on the dead, in which they are very ra- solemn, as it flowed naturally from the religion tionally defended by their apologist in Minutius then believed, and awakened in the reader sentiFelix. "We lavish no flowers nor odours on

ments of benevolence for the deceased, and of the dead,” says he, “because they have no sense concern for his own happiness. There was of fragrance or of beauty." We profess to nothing trifling or ludicrous, nothing that did not reverence the dead, not for their sake, but for tend to the noblest end, the propagation of piety

It is therefore always with indigna- and the increase of devotion. tion or contempt that I read the epitaph on Cow- It may seem very superiluous to lay it down ley, a man whose learning and poetry were his as the first rule for writing Epitaphs, that the lowest merits.

name of the deceaser is not to be omitted ; nor

should I have thought such a precept necessary, Aurea dum late volitant tua scripta per orbem,

had not the practice of the greatest writers shown Eltima eternum vivis, divine Po ta, Hic placida jareas requie, custodiat urnam

that it has not been sufficiently regarded. In Cani Files vigilentque perenni lampade Muse ! most of the poetical Epitaphs, the names for Sit sacer ille locus, nec quis temerarius a usit whom they were composed, may be sought to no Sucrilega turbare manu venerabile bustum. Intacui maneant, maneant per secula dulces

purpose, being only prefixed on the monument. Cowleii cineres, servent que immobile saxum. To expose the absurdity of this omission, it is To pray that the ashes of a friend may lie un have outlived the stones on which they were in

only necessary to ask how the Epitaphs, which disturbed, and that the divinities that favoured him in his life, may watch for ever round him, scribed, would have contributed to the informato preserve his tomb froin violation, and drive tion of posterity, had they wanted the names of sacrilege away, is only rational in him who be those whom they celebrated. lieves the soul interested in the repose of the

In drawing the character of the deceased, body, and the powers which he invokes for its there are no rules to be observed which do not protection able to preserve it

. To censure such equally relate to other compositions. The praise expressions as contrary to religion, or as re:nains ought not to be general, because the mind is lost of heathen superstition, would be too great a

in the extent of any indefinite idea, and cannot degree of severity. I condemn them only as

be affected with what it cannot comprehend. aninstructive and unaffecting, as too ludicrous When we hear only of a good or great man, we for reverence or grief, for christianity and a

know not in what class 10 place trim, nor have temple.

any notion of his character, distinct from that That the designs and decorations of monu- effect upon our conduct, as we have nothing re

of a thousand others; his example can have no ments ought likewise to be formed with the same regard to the solemnity of the place, cannot be markable or eminent to propose to our imitation. denied; it is an established principle, that all The Epitaph composed by Ennius for his own ornaments owe their beauty to their propriety. tomb, has both the faults last mentioned. The same glitter of dress that adds graces to

Nemo me decoret lacrumis, nec funera, fetu gayety and youth, would make age and dignity

Faxit. Cur? volito visu' per ora virum. contemptible. Charon with his boat is far from The reader of this Epitaph receives scarce any heightening the awful grandeur of the universal idea from it; he neither conceives any veneration judgment, though drawn by Angelo himself; for the man to whom it belongs, nor is instructed nor is it easy to imagine a greater absurdity by what methods this boasted reputation is to be than that of gracing the walls of a christian obtained. temple with the figure of Mars leading a hero Though a sepulchral inscription is professedly PREFACE TO AN ESSAY ON PARADISE LOST.

519 a panegyric, and, therefore, not confined to his-,“ Zosima, who in her life could only have her body pa torical iinpartiality, yet it ought always to be

slaved, now finds her body likewise sel at liberty: : written with regard to truth. No man onght to It is impossible to read this Epitaph without be commended for virtues which he never pos- being animated to bear the evils of life with colo sessed, but whoever is curious to know his faults stancy, and to support the dignity of human namust inquire after them in other places; the ture under the most pressing afilictions, both by monuments of the dead are not intended to per- the example of the heroine, whose grave we bepetuate the memory of crimes, but to exhibit hold, and the prospect of that state in which, o patterns of vittne. On the tomb of Mæcenas his use the language of the mspired writers, “The luxury is not to be mentioned with his munif- poor cease from their labours, and the weary Le cence, nor is the proscription to find a place on at rest." the monument of Augustus.

The other is upon Epictetus, the stoic philoThe best subject for Epitaphs is private virtue; sopher : virtue exerted in the same circumstances in which Δουλος Επικτητος γενομην, και σωμ' αναπηρος, the bulk of mankind are ptaced, and which, there- Και πενιην Ιρος, και Ψιλος Αθανατους. fore, may admit of many imitators. He that has

Servus Epictetus, mutlatus corpore, v'ri delivered his country from oppression, or freed Pauperie que Irus, curaque prima Deum. the world from ignorance and error, can excite

Epicte!us, who lies here, was a slave and a cripple, the emulation of a very small number; but he poor as the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite ur chant has repelled the temptations of poverty, and Heaven.” disdivined to free himself from distress at the ex

In this distich is comprised the noblest panepense of his virtue, may animate multitudes, by gyric, and the most important instruction. We his exemple, to the same firmness of heart and may learn from it that virtue is impracticable in sieadiness of resolution.

no condition, since Epictetus could recommend of this kind I cannot forbear the mention of himself to the regard of Heaven, amidst the two Greck inscriptions; one upon a man whose temptations of poverty and slavery; slavery, writings are well known, the other upon a per- which has always been found so destructive to son whose memory is preserved only in her Ep! virtue, that in many languages a slave and a taph, who both lived in slavery, the most calami-thief are expressed by the same word. And we tous estate in human life:

may be likewise admonished by it, not to lay Ζωσιμη και πριν εουσα μονω τω σωματι δουλη, , any stress on a man's outward circumstances, in Και τη σωματι νυν εύρεν ελευθεριην.

making an estimate of his real value, since EpicZosima, quæ solo fuit olim corpore serra,

tetus, the beggar, the cripple, and the slave, was Corpore nunc etiam libera facta fuil.

the favourite of Heaven.





It is now more than half a century since the tion. There seems to have arisen a contest, “ Paradise Lost,” huviny broke through the among men of genius and literature, who should cloud with which the unpopularity of ihe au- most advance its honour, or best distinguish its thor, for a time, obscured it, has attracted the beauties. Some have revised editions, others general admiration of mankind; who have en have published commentaries, and all have endeavoured to compensate the error of their first deavoured to make their particular studies, in negleci, by lavish praises and boundless venera- some degree, subservient to this general emula.

tion. . “It is to be haped, nay, it is expec!rd, that the ele. Among the inquiries, to which this ardour of gant and nervous writer, whose judicious se timent; criticism has naturally given occasion, none iş Preface and Possieripe, will no longer allow one to plume more obscure in itself, or more worthy of rational himself with his feuthers, who appears so little to have curiosity, than a retrospection of the progress of de served his assistance ; an assistanre which tam per this mighty, genius, in the construction of his be n the least s spicion of those facty which l’have been work; a view of the fabric gradually rising, the instrument of conveying to the world in these sheet" perhaps from small beginnings, till its foundation

- Milton rindicated from the charge of plag'ar em rests in the centre, and its turrets sparkle in the brought aga ngth in by Nr Lauder, and Lauder n'm skies; to trace back the structure, through all lions on the public. By John Douglas, 1. A. Recior of I find what was first projected, whence the scheme self com coed of sterat forgeries and grossi posif its varieties, to the simplicity of its first plan; to Esi m Constanii, Salop. Svo. 171, p. 77.


PREFACE TO AN ESSAY ON PARADISE LOST. was taken, how it was improved, by what assist

POSTSCRIPT. ance it was executed, and from what stores the When this essay was almost finished, the materials were collected, whether its founder dug splendid Edition of "Paradise Lost,” so long them from the quarries of nature, or demolished promised by the Rev. Dr. Newton, fell into my other buildings to embellish his own.

hands; of which I had, however, so litile irse, This inquiry has been, indeed, not wholly ne- that as it would be injustice to censure, it would glected, nor, perhans, prosecuted with the care be flattery to commend it: and I should have and diligence that it deserves. Several critics totally forborne the mention of a book tbat I have offered their conjectures; but none have have not read, had not one passage at the conmuch endeavoured to enforce or ascertain them. clusion of the life of Milton, excited in me too Mr. Voltaire tells us without proof, that the first much pity and indignation to be suppressed in hint of “ Paradise Lost” was taken from a farce silence. called Adamo, written by a player ; Dr. Pearce, “Deborah, Milton's youngest daughter," says that it was derived from an Italian tragedy, called the Editor, '" was married to Mr. Abraham Il Paradiso Perso; and* Mr. Peck, that it was Clarke, a weaver, in Spitalfields, and died in borrowed from a wild romance. Any of these August, 1727, in the 76th year of her age. She conjectures may possibly be true, but, as they had ten children. Elizabeth, the youngest, was stand without sufficient proof, it must be granted, married to Mr. Thomas Foster, a weaver in likewise, that they may all possibly be false; at Spitalfields, and had seven children, who are all least they cannoi preclude any other opinion, dead; and she herself is aged about sixty, and whick without argument has the same claim to weak' and infirm. She seemeth to be a good credit, and may perhaps be shown, by resistless plain, sensible woman, and has confirmned several evidence, to be better founded.

particulars related above, and informed me of It is related, by steady and uncontroverted some others, which she had often heard from her tradition, that ihe"“Paradise Lost" was at first mother.” These the doctor enumerates, and a Tragedy, and therefore, among tragedies, the then adds, “In all probability, Milton's whole first hint is properly to be sought. In a manu- family will be extinct with her, and he can live script, published from Milton's own hand, among only in his writings. And such is the caprice of a great number of subjects for tragedy, is, " Adam fortune, this grand-daughter of a man, who will unparadised,” or “ Adam in Exile;" and this, be an everlasting glory to the nation, has now, therefore, may be justly supposed the embryo of for some years, with her husband, kepi a little this great poem. As it is observable that all chandler's or grocer's shop, for their subsistence, these subjects had been treated by others, the lately at the lower Holloway, in the road bemanuscript can be supposed nothing more than tween Highgate and London, and at present in a memorial or catalogue of plays, which, for Cock Lane, not far from Shoreditch Churca." some reason, the writer thought worthy of his That this relation is true, cannot be questionattention. When, therefore, I had observed that cd: but, surely, the honour of letters, the dig: “Adam in Exile” was named amongst them, I nity of sacred poetry, the spirit of the English doubted not but, in finding the original of that nation, and the glory of human nature, require tragedy, I should disclose the genuine source of —that it should be true no longer.-In an age in “ Paradise Logi." Nor was my expectation which statues are erected to the honour of this disappointed; for, having procured the Adamus great writer, in which his effigy has been diffused Erul of Grotius, I found, or imagined myself to on medals, and his works propagated by transfind, the first draught, the prima stamina of this lations, and illustrated by commentaries; in an wonderful poem.

age, which amidst all its vices, and all its follies, Having thus traced the original of this work, has not become infamous for want of chanty;I was naturally induced to continue my search it may be, surely, allowed to hope, that the living to the collateral relations, which it might be sup- remains of Milion will be no longer suffered to posed to have contracted, in its progress to ma- languish in distress. It is yet in the power of a turity: and having, at least, persuaded my own great people, to reward the poet whose name judgment that the search has not been entirely they boast, and from their alliance to whose geineffectual, I now lay the result of my labours nius, they claim some kind of superiority to every before the public; with full conviction, that in other nation of the earth; that poet, whose questions of this kind, the world cannot be mis- works may possibly be read when every other taken, at least cannot long continue in error. monument of British greatness shall be oblite

I cannot avoid acknowledging the candour of rated ; to reward him-not with pictures, or with the author of that excellent monthly book, the medals, which if he sees, he sees with contempl, “Gentleman's Magazine,” in giving admission but—with tokens of gratitude, which he, perhaps to the specimens in favour of this argument ; may even now consider as not unworthy the reand his impartiality in as freely inserting the gard of an immortal spirit. And, surely, to several answers. I shall here subjoin some ex- those who refuse their names to no other scheme tracts from the xviith volume of this work, which of expense, it will not be unwelcome, that a subo I think suitable to my purpose. To which I scriplion is proposed, for relieving, in the languor have added, in order to obviate every pretence of age, the pains of disease, and the contempt for civil, a list of the authors quoted in the fol- of poverty, the grand-daughter of the author of lowing Essay, with their respective dales, in com- “Paradise Lost.” Nor can it be questioned, that parison with the date of “Paradise Lost.”

if I, who have been marked out as the Zoilus of Milton, think this regard due to his posterity,

the design will be warmly seconded by those, New Memoirs of Mr. John Milton. By Francis whose lives have been employed in discovering Peck. 4to. 1740, p 52.

his excellences, and extending his reputation.


For the Relief of
Grand-daughter to JOHN MILTON,

are taken in by

Mr. Dodsley, in Pall Mall;
Messrs. Cox & Collings, under the Royal Ex-

change ;
Mr. Cave, at St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell; and
Messrs. Payne & Bouquet, in Paternoster Row.






Quem pænitet peccasse pane est innocens.-SENECA
Corpora magnanimo satis est prostrasse Leoni.
Pugna suum finem, quum jacet hostis, habet.-OVID.

-Prætuli clementium
Juris rigori.-Grotu Adamus Exsul.



but to confess, without the least dissimulation, Sir,Candour and tenderness are in any rela- lation I have made in those authors, which you

subterfuge, or concealment, every other interpotion, and on all occasions, eminently

amiable; I huve not yet had opportunity to examine. but when they are found in an adversary, and found so prevalent, as to overpower that zeal fession I am willing to depend for all the future

On the sincerity and punctuality of this conwhich his cause excites, and that heat which naturally increases in the prosecution of argument; hopes, that they whom my offence has alienated

regard of mankind, and cannot but indulge some and which may be in a great measure justified from me, may by this instance of ingenuity and by the love of truth, they certainly appear with particular advantages ; and it is impossible not

repentance, be propitiated and reconciled. Whatto envy those who possess the friendship of him, that can be done in reparation of my former in.

ever be the event, I shall at least have done all whom it is even some degree of good fortune to have known as an enemy.

juries to Milton, to truth, and to mankind, and I will not so far dissemble my weakness, or will examine their own hearts, whether they

intreat that those who shall continue implacable, my fault, as not to confess that my wish was to have not committed equal crimes without equal have passed undetected; but since it has been my fortune to fail in my original design, to have proofs of sorrow, or equal acts of atonement.* the supposititious passages which I have inserted

INTERPOLATED IN MASENIUS. in my quotations made known to the world, and the shade which began to gather on the splen- The word Pandæmonium in the marginal notes dour of Milton totally dispersed, I cannot but of Book I. Essay, page 10. count it an alleviation of my pain, that I have been defeated by a man who knows how to use

Citation VI. Essay, page 38. advantages with so much moderation, and can enjoy the honour of conquest without the inso- Materies! et triste nefas!) vesana momordit

Adnuit ipsa dolo, malumque (heu! longa dolendi lence of triumph.

It was one of the maxims of the Spartans, not Tanti ignari mali. Mora nulla, solutus Avernus to press upon a Aying

army, and therefore their Exspuit infandas acies ; fractumque remugit enemies were always ready to quit the field, be- Divulso compage solum. Nabathæa receptum cause they knew the danger was only in oppos

Regna dedere sonum, Pharioque in littore

Nereus ing.

The civility with which you have thought Territus erubuit: simul adgemuere dolentes proper to treat me, when you had incontestible superiority, has inclined me to make your vic- Hesperiæ valles, Libyæque calentis arena tory complete, without any further struggle, and not only publicly to acknowledge the truth of

* The interpolations are distinguished by Italic cha the charge which you have hitherto advanced, ) racters.


« ZurückWeiter »