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Yet take these Tears, Mortality's relief, And till we share your joys, forgive our grief: These little rites, a Stone, a Verse receive;
'Tis all a Father, all a Friend can give!
ON SIR GODFREY KNELLER,
IN WESTMINSTER-ABBEY, 1723.
KNELLER, by Heav'n and not a Master taught, Whose Art was Nature, and whose Pictures
Now for two Ages having snatch'd from fate Whate'er was beauteous, or whate'er was great, Lies crown'd with Princes' honours, Poets' lays, 5 Due to his Merit, and brave Thirst of Praise.
Living, great Nature fear'd he might outvie Her works; and, dying, fears herself may die.
Ver. 7. Living, great Nature] Much better translated by Mr. W. Harrison, of New College, a favourite of Swift, communicated to me by Dr. Lowth :
"Here Raphael lies, by whose untimely end
Nature both lost a rival and a friend."
Notwithstanding the partiality of Pope, this artist little deserved
Ver. 7. Imitated from the famous Epitaph on Raphael.
"Raphael, timuit, quo sospite, vinci
Rerum magna parens, et moriente, mori."
to be consulted by our Poet, as he was, concerning the arrangement of the subjects represented on the shield of Achilles. These required a genius of a higher order. Mr. Flaxman, lately arrived from Italy, by a diligent study of the antique, and the force of his genius, has given designs from Homer far beyond any that have yet appeared. Warton.
There are some very good pictures by Kneller, at Donhead Hall, near Shaftesbury, Wilts, the seat of his descendant John Kneller, Esq. particularly a St. Cecilia, and the Conversion of St. Paul; his natural daughter is painted in the character of Cecilia, which, in action and attitude, is very like that of the late Mrs. Sheridan, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. I should have imagined Sir Joshua must have seen it, or perhaps a copy of it. There is a painting by Sir Godfrey, at Donhead Hall, of Pope.
I take this opportunity of explaining a ridiculous anecdote, which Warton has admitted of Kneller's vanity. Walpole has related it in this manner: "Sir Godfrey," says Pope, " if God had consulted you, the world would have been made more perfect." "'Fore God," replies Kneller, " I think so." Now the real story is this: When Pope, with an affected and pert superiority, said, "If Sir Godfrey had been consulted, the world would have been made more perfect;" Kneller immediately turned the laugh upon Pope, by looking at his diminutive person, and saying, with a good humoured smile, "'Fore God, there are some little things in it, I think I COULD have mended." This is humourous and pleasant; whereas, as the wits have told the story themselves, Sir Godfrey's stupidity appears equal to his vanity. Bowles.
Pope had made Sir Godfrey, on his death-bed, a promise to write his Epitaph, which he seems to have performed with reluctance. He thought it "the worst thing he ever wrote in his life." Spence's Anec. 165. Singer's Ed.
ON GENERAL HENRY WITHERS,
IN WESTMINSTER-ABBEY, 1729.
HERE, WITHERS, rest! thou bravest, gentlest mind,
For thee the hardy Vet'ran drops a tear,
WITHERS, adieu! yet not with thee remove
Here, Withers, rest!] In the early part of his life, Pope associated much with General Withers, and his friend Colonel Disney, commonly called, in Pope's correspondence, Duke Disney, who resided with the General at Greenwich. They are mentioned in Gay's Poem on Pope's supposed return from Greece, in the following
Now pass we Gravesend with a friendly wind,
Facetious DISNEY, greet thee first of all.
I see his chimney smoke, and hear him say,
ON MR. ELIJAH FENTON,
AT EASTHAMSTED IN BERKS, 1730.
THIS modest Stone, what few vain marbles can, May truly say, Here lies an honest Man:
A Poet, blest beyond the Poet's fate,
Whom Heav'n kept sacred from the Proud and Great:
Foe to loud Praise, and Friend to learned Ease, 5 Content with Science in the Vale of Peace.
Ver. 9. From Nature's temp'rate feast, &c.] Wakefield quotes Horace :
Inde fit, ut raro qui se vixisse beatum
Dicat, et exacto contentus tempore vitæ,
His integrity, his learning, and his genius, deserved this character; it is not in any respect over wrought. His poems are not sufficiently read and admired. The Epistle to Southerne, the Ode to the Sun, the Fair Nun, and, above all, the Ode to Lord Gower, are excellent. Akenside frequently said to me, that he thought this Ode the best in our language, next to Alexander's Feast. "I envy Fenton," said Pope to Mr. Walter Harte, "his Horatian Epistle to Lambard." Parts of Mariamne are beautiful, and it ought to take its turn on the stage. Just before he died, Fenton was introduced into Mr. Craggs' family by Pope's recommendation. Warton.
Pope has left another character of Fenton, not inconsistent with the above. "Fenton is a right honest man. He is fat and indolent; a very good scholar; sits within, and does nothing but read, or compose."-Spence's Anec. p. 19. Singer's Ed.
Calmly he look'd on either Life, and here
ON MR. GAY,
IN WESTMINSTER-ABBEY, 1732
Or Manners gentle, of Affections mild
And uncorrupted ev'n among the Great:
Ver. 1. Of Manners gentle,]" The eight firs lines," says Johnson," have no grammar; the adjectives are whout any substantives, and the epithets without a subject."
Ver. 2. In Wit, &c.] This seems derived from Lyden's Elegy on Mrs. Anne Killegrew :
"Her wit was more than man; her innocenc a child.”
Ver. 3. virtuous Rage,] Silius Italicus, v. 652, ha the same ex
Virtutis sacram rabiem.