Page images


In the Name of Mrs. BUTLER's Spirit, lately deceased.

STRIPT to the naked soul, escap'd from clay,
From doubts unfetter'd, and diffolv'd in day;
Unwarm'd by vanity, unreach'd by strife,
And all my hopes and fears thrown off with life;
Why am I charm'd by friendship's fond effays,
And though unbody'd, conscious of thy praise?
Has pride a portion in the parted foul?
Does paffion ftill the firmless mind controul!
Can gratitude out-pant the filent breath!

Or a friend's forrow pierce the gloom of death!
No-'tis a fpirit's nobler task of bliss;


[ocr errors]

That feels the worth it left, in proofs like this;
That not its own applaufe, but thine approves,
Whose practice praises, and whofe virtue loves;
Who liv'ft to crown departed friends with fame; 15
Then dying, late, shalt all thou gav❜st reclaim.


Addreffed to Dr. Bolton, late Dean of Carlisle, who lived fome time at Twickenham with old Lady Blount. On the death of her mother, Mrs. Butler of Suffex, Dr. Bolton drew up the mother's character; and from thence Mr. Pope took occafion to write this Epiftle to Dr. Bolton, in the name of Mrs. Butler's Spirit, now in the regions of bliss. RUFFHEAD. VER. 8. firmless] A new-coined, and not a very happy epithet.



His faltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani

Munere !

DD 4


[ocr errors]

WARBURTON points out fome lines in the Epiftle to Jervas, which he thinks would have made the finest Epitaph ever written. They are certainly uncommonly beautiful:

"Call round her tomb each object of desire,
"Each purer frame inform'd by purer fire;
"Bid her be all that cheers or foftens life,
"The tender fifter, daughter, friend, and wife;
Bid her be all that makes mankind adore,

“Then view this marble, and be vain no more."

It is aftonishing to think, confidering the great number of funeral infcriptions which are extant, how few we have that unite all that should be required in fuch compofitions. An Epitaph fhould be fimple, characteristic, and, as Johnfon juftly remarks, not longer than common beholders may have time and leifure to perufe. We rarely ever meet the genuine Aλ, which diftinguished most of the Grecian infcriptions. Contemptible jeft, or affected quaintneffes, indifcriminate and cumbersome panegyrics, often fet off with puns, describe the majority of the records of the dead in England from the 14th to the 17th century.

One of the best in Weever is "On Maude, daughter of Malcolm "Camoir, King of Scots, and wife to King Henry the First." "She had an excellent Epigram," fays Weever, “made to her "commendation, whereof these four verses only remain :

"Profpera non lætam fecere, nec afpera tristem,
Afpera rifus erant, prospera terror erant.
Nec decor effecit fragilem, nec fceptra fuperbam,
Sola potens, humilis, fola pudica decens."

"Thus," he adds, "paraphraftically tranflated:
"No profperous ftate did make her glad,
"Nor adverfe chances make her fad ;
"If fortune frown'd-fhe then did fmile
"If fortune imil'd-fhe fear'd the while:

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

"If beauty tempted-fhe faid Nay;
"No Pride fhe took in Sceptre's fway.
"She only high, herself debas'd,

"A Lady only fair and chafte."

Funeral Monuments, p. 234.

This is poor enough; but the Epitaph "which was," Weever fays, "no doubt penned with applaufe in thofe days," may be quoted as truly ridiculous:

"Rex Ethelbertus hic clauditur in Poliandro,

"Fana fidus certus Chrifto meet abfque Meandro."


King Ethelbert lies buried here,

"Clofed in this Poliander;

"For building churches fure he goes

"To Chrift, without Meander !""

The former Epitaph may put the reader, perhaps, in mind of a beautiful line of Spenfer's:


Gently he took all that ungently came."

Among the more modern Epitaphs a laboured elegance seems too much to prevail, at the expence of fimplicity, and thofe appropriate touches of character, which conftitute the chief beauty, as well as difficulty, of this fpecies of writing. There are few more elegant, and at the fame time more affecting and characteristic, than the lines often afcribed to Dr. Hawkefworth, but certainly written by the late Lord Palmerston :


"Whoe'er, like me, his heart's whole treasure brings," &c.

T. Warton's Latin Epitaph on Mrs. Serle, in Teftwood church, near Southampton, is claffical, appropriate, and beautiful.

« EelmineJätka »