Page images
PDF
EPUB

petty faults.

be said. There are, however, some defects (.Wemay, however, observe some defects. There which were not made necessary by the character is a redundancy of words in the 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 rhyme 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 here 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;

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 a 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 ?

Intended for Mr. Rowe.
III.

In Westminster Abbey.*

Thy relics, Rowe, to this fair urn we trust, On the Hox. Simon HARCOURT, only Son of the Lord

And, sacred, place by Dryden's awful dust ; Chancellor HARCOURT, at the Church of Stanton Beneath a rude and nameless stone he lies, Harcourt in O.xfordshire, 1720.

To which thy tomb shall guide inquiring eyes.

Peace to thy gentle shade, and endless rest! 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.
Or gave his father grief but when he died.

How vain is reason! eloquence how weak! Of this inscription the chief fault is, that it be-
If Pope must tell what Harcourt cannot speak.
Oh ! let thy once-lov'd friend inscribe thy stone,

longs less to Rowe, for whom it is written, than And with a father's sorrows mix his own!

to Bryden, who was buried near him; and in

deed gives very little information concerning This epitaph is principally remarkable for the either. artful introduction of the name, which is inserted with a peculiar felicity, to which chance must to be admitted into a Christian temple: the an

To wish Peace to thy shade is too mythological concur with genius, which no man can hope to cient worship has infected almost all our other attain ewice, and which cannot be copied but compositions, and might therefore be contented with servile imitation. 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 omitted, as they take away from the energy what they do not add to

VI. the sense.

On Mrs. CORBET,
IV.

Who died of a Cancer in her Breast
On JAMES CRAGGs, Esq.

Here rests a woman, good without pretence,

Blest with plain reason and with sober sense ;
In Westminster Abbey.

No conquest she, but o'er herself, desir'd:

No arts essay'd, but not to be admir'd.
JACOBVCRAGGS,

Passion and pride were to her soul unknown,
Convinc'd that virtue only is our own.
So unaffected, so compos da mind,

So firm, yet soft, so strong, yet so refin'd,
VIXIT TITVLIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR

Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures tried ;
ANNOS HEV PAVcos, XXXV.

The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died.
OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.

I have always considered this as the most Statesman, yet friend to truth! 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 promise, serv'd no private end, Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friend!

or eminent peculiarities ; yet that which really Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd,

makes, though not the splendour, the felicity of Prais'il, wepl, 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 Rowe and his

daughter.-Warb. • Major Bernardi, who died in Newgate, Sept. 20, + In the north aisle of the parish church of St. Mar. 1736. See Gent. Mag. vol. 1. p. 125.-N.

garet, Wonminster.-H.

REGI MAGNÆ BRITANNIXA SECRETIS

ET CONSILIIS SANCTIORIBVS
PRINCIPIS PARITER AC POPVLI AMOR ET DELICIÆ:

departs weary and disgusted from the ostenta- In the eight Hnes 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 in such a manner as might attract regard, and

VIII. 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 taught, If the particular lines of this inscription be Whose art was nature and whose pictures thought, examined, it will appear less faulty than the Now for two ages, having snatch'd from fate

Whate'er was beauteous or whate'er was great, rest. There is scarcely one line taken from

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 fear'd he might outvie 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 panegyrie. 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 Dicby, in the Church of Sherborne in Dore Raphael, but of a very harsh construction. setshire, 1727.

IX, Go! fair example of untainted yonth, or modest wisdom and pacific truth :

On GenerAL HENRY WITHERS.
Compos’d in sufferings, and in joy sedate,

In Westminster Abbey, 1729.
Good without noise, without pretension great:
Just of thy word, in every thought sincere,

Here, Withers, rest! thou bravest, gentlest mind!
Whu knew no wish but what the world might hear : Thy country's friend, but more of human kind.
Of softest manners, unaffected mind,

0: burn to arms! 0! worth in youth approv'd! Lover of peace, and friend of human kind :

0! soft humanity in age belov'd! 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, blest maid ! attendant on his doom,

Withers, adieu! yet not with thee remove
Pensive hast follow'd to the silent lomb;

Thy martia) 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, then, where only bliss sincere is known !

Nor let us say (those English glories gone)
Go, where to love and to enjny are one!

The last true Briton lies beneath this stone.
Yet take these cears, Mortality's relief,
And, till we share your joys, forgive our grief :

The epitaph on Withers affords another inThese little rites, a stone, a verse receive,

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, by 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 applied with equal suppose that the insincerity of the courtier depropriety 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 epitaph 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 vain 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 fate,

Whom Heav'n kept sacred from the proud and great ; composed, found it necessary to borrow from Foe to loud 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 lines, in which there are more repetitions than

Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear;

From Nature's temp rate feast rose satisfied, will easily be found in all the rest of his works. Thank'd Heavon that he liy'd, 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. The first eight lines have no grammar; the Here, therefore, the inscription should have adjectives are without any substautive, 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 is 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

XII.
second ; and, whatever criticism may object to
his writings, censure could find very little to Intended for Sir Isaac Newton.
blame in his life.

In Westminster Abbey.
XI.

ISAACUS NEWTONIUS:
On MR. GAY.

Quem Immortalem
In Westminster Abbey, 1732.

Testantur, Tempus, Natura, Cælum,

Mortalem of manners gentle, of affections mild;

Hoc marmor fatetur. In wit, a man; simplicity, a child;

Nature and Nature's laws, lay hid in night, With native humour temp'ring virtuous rage,

God said, Let Nerolon be! And all was light. Form'd to delight at once and lash the age;

Of this epitaph, short as it is, the faults seem Above temptation in a low estate, 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 More 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 attention ; yet it is not more suc

XIII. cessfully executed than the rest, for it will not On EDMOND 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 face, 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,

Or sadly told how many hopes lie here ! of mind which he cannot produce himself, and The living virtue now had shone approv'd, which sometimes rise when he expects them The senate heard him, and his country lov'd. least.

Yet softer bonours, and less noisy fame, The two parts of the first line are only echoes

Attend the shade of gentle Buckingham:

In whom a race, for courage fam'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 giv'n,

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 I know not for what reason. To crown 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 bloomtrast, 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 inharmonious in its sound and ble “ Dialogue” between He and Sue 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 vice, and that one of the most odious.

When a man is once buried, the question, unAs little can be added to his character by as

der what he is buried, is easily decided. He serting that he was lamented in his end. Every state of uncertainty, yet it could not be laid over

forgot that, though he wrote the epitaph in a man that dies is, at least by the writer of his epi- him till his grav was made. Such is the folly "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 this

same,

wretchedness seems to have been borrowed from Tanti erat vacuum sibi cadaver the following tuneless lines :

Ut urnam cuperel parare vivens,

Vivens ista camen sibi paravit.
Ludovici Areosti humantur ossa

Quæ inscribi voluit euo sepulchro
Sub hoc marmore, vel sub hac humo, seu

Olim siquod haberet is sepulchrum.
Sub quicquid voluit benignus hæres
Sive hærede benignior comes, seu

Surely Ariosto did not venture to expect that
Opportunius incidens Viator :

his trifle would have ever had such an illustrious Nam scire haud poluit futura, sed nec

imitator.

PITT.

CHRISTOPHER 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 “Iliad,” he had pern, in Dorsetshire, (1722,) by his relation, Mr. an example of an exact, equable, and splendid Þitt, 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 forArt of Poetry,” which Tristram's splendid ward by his general vigour and sprightliness, edition had then made popular. In this transla- and Pitt often 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 Pitt 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,

CHR. 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 manners. low, nor too low for the notice of the great.

He lived innocent;
and died beloved,

Apr. 13. 1748.
Ar what time he composed his “Miscellany,"

Aged 45. published in 1727, it is not easy or necessary to know: those which have dates appear to have

It has since been added to the collection

THOMSON

James Thomson, the son of a nyinister well | couragement, and came to seek in London esteemed for his piety and diligence, was born patronage and fame. September 7, 1700, at Ednam, in the shire of At his arrival he found his way to Mr. Mallet, Roxburgh, of which his father was pastor. His then tutor to the sons of the Duke of Montrose. mother, whose name was Hume,* inherited as He had recommendations to several persons of co-heiress a portion of a small estate. The re- consequence, which he had tied up carefully in venue of a parish in Scotland is seldom large ; . his handkerchief; but as he passed along the and it was probably in commiseration of the street, with the gaping curiosity of a new-comer, difficulty with which Mr. Thomson supported his attention was upon every thing rather than his family, having nine children, that Mr. Ric- his pocket, and his magazine of credentials was carton, a neighbouring minister, discovering in stolen from him. James uncommon promises of future excellence, His first want was a pair of shoes. For the undertook to superintend his education and pro- supply of all his necessities, his whole fund was vide him books.

his “'Winter;" which for a time could find no He was taught the common rudiments of purchaser; tili

, at last, Mr. Millan was perlearning at the school of Jedburg, a place which suaded to buy it at a low price; and this low he delights to recollect in his poem of “Au- price he had for some time reason to regret; but tumn;" but was not considered by his master as by accident, Mr. Whatley, a man not wholly superior to common boys, though in those early unknown among authors, happening to turn hig days he amused his patron and his friends with eye upon it, was so delighted that he ran from poetical compositions; with which, however, he place to place celebrating its excellence. Thomso little pleased himself, that on every new-year's son obtained likewise the notice of Aaron Hill, day he threw into the fire all the productions of whom, being friendless and indigent, and glad the foregoing year.

of kindness, he courted with every expression of From the school he was removed to Edinburgh, servile adulation. where he had not resided two years when his “ Winter” was dedicated to Sir Spencer father died, and left all his children to the care of Compton, but attracted no regard from him to their mother, who raised upon her little estate the author, till Aaron Hill awakened his attenwhat money a mortgage could afford, and remov- tion by some verses addressed to Thomson, and ing with her family to Edinburgh, lived to see published in one of the newspapers, which cenher son rising into eminence.

sured the great for their neglect of ingenious The design of Thomson's friends was to breed men. Thomson then received a present of twenhim a minister. He lived at Edinburgh, as at ty guineas, of which he gives this account to Mr. school, without distinction or expectation, till, at Hill: the usual time, he performed a probationary ex “I hinted to you in my last, that on Saturday ercise by explaining a psalm. His diction was morning I was with Sir Spencer Compton. A 80 poetically splendid, that Mr. Hamilton, the certain gentleman without my desire spoke to Professor of Divinity, reproved him for speaking him concerning me: his answer was, that I had language unintelligible to a popular audience; never come near him. Then the gentleman put and he censured one of his expressions as inde- the question, If he desired that I should wait cent, if not profane.

on him? He returned, he did. On this, the This rebuke is reported to have repressed his gentleman gave me an introductory letter to thoughts of an ecclesiastical character, and he him. He received me in what they commonly probably cultivated with new diligence his blos- call a civil manner; asked me some commonsoms of poetry, which, however, were in some place questions, and made me a present of twendanger of a blast; for, submitting his produc- iy guineas. I am very ready to own that the tions to some who thought themselves qualified present was larger than my performance deto criticise, he heard of nothing but faults ; but served ; and shall ascribe it to his generosity, finding other judges more favourable, he did not or any other cause, rather than the merit of the suffer himself to sink into despondence. address."

He easily discovered that the only stage on The poem, which being of a new kind, few which a poet could appear with any hope of ad- would venture at first to like, by degrees gained vantage was London ; a place too wide for the upon the public; and one edition was very operation of petty competition and private ma- speedily succeeded by another. lignity, where merit might soon become con Thomson's credit was now high, and every spicuous, and would find friends as soon as it day brought him new friends; among others became reputable to befriend it. A lady, who Dr. Rundle, a man afterwards unfortunately was acquainted with his mother advised him to famous, sought his acquaintance, and found his the journey, and promised some countenance or qualities such, that he recommended him to the assistance, which at last he never received ; Lord Chancellor Talbot. however, he justified his adventure by her en “Winter” was accompanied, in many edi

tions, not only with a preface and dedication, but • His mother's name was Beatrix Trotter. His grand. with poetical praises by Mr. Hill, Mr. Mallet,

(then Malloch,) and Mira, the fictitious name

mother's name was Hume.-C.

« EelmineJätka »