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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;
Is mix'd with Heroes, or with Kings thy dust; 10
But that the Worthy and the Good shall say,
Ver. 1. Of Manners gentle,] "The eight first lines," says Johnson, "have no grammar; the adjectives are without any substantives, and the epithets without a subject." Warton.
Ver. 2. In Wit, &c.] This seems derived from Dryden's Elegy
on Mrs. Anne Killegrew :
"Her wit was more than man; her innocence a child."
Ver. 12. Here lies GAY.] i. e. in the hearts of the good and worthy. Mr. Pope told me his conceit in this line was not generally understood. For, by peculiar ill-luck, the formulary expression which makes the beauty, misleads the reader into a sense which takes it quite away. Warburton. The conceit in the last line is certainly very puerile, and a false thought borrowed from Crashaw:
"Entomb'd, not in this stone but in my heart."
CRASHAW, Poems, p. 94.
INTENDED FOR SIR ISAAC NEWTON,
Testantur Tempus, Natura, Cœlum:
Hoc marmor fatetur.
Nature and Nature's Laws lay hid in Night: GOD said, Let Newton be! and all was Light.
Ver. 1. Nature] The antithesis betwixt Mortalem and Immortalem is much unsuited to the subject; and the second English line, "God said, &c." borders a little on the profane. The magnificent Fiat of Moses will be always striking and admired, notwithstanding the cold objections of Le Clerc and Huet. Warton.
Ver. 2. Let Newton be!] He was born on the very day on which
Galileo died. When Ramsay was one day complimenting him on his discoveries in philosophy, he answered, as I read it in Spence's Anecdotes, "Alas! I am only like a child picking up pebbles on Warton. the shore of the great ocean of truth.”
And all was Light.] It had been better-and there was Light— as more conformable to the reality of the fact, and to the allusion Warburton. whereby it is celebrated.
ON DR. FRANCIS ATTERBURY,
BISHOP OF ROCHESTER.
Who died in Exile at Paris, 1732, (his only Daughter having expired in his Arms, immediately after she arrived in France to see him).
YES, we have liv'd-one pang, and then we part! May Heav'n, dear Father! now have all thy Heart. Yet ah! how once we lov'd, remember still,
Till you are dust like me.
Dear Shade! I will:
Then mix this dust with thine-O spotless Ghost!
Ver. 1. Yes, we have liv'd-] I know not why this Dialogue should be called an Epitaph. Dr. Johnson says, " it is contemptible, and should have been suppressed for the Author's sake." I see no reason for this harsh sentence passed upon it. Warton.
O more than Fortune, Friends, or Country lost! Is there on Earth one care, one wish beside? Yes-SAVE MY COUNTRY, HEAV'N,
-He said, and dy'd.
Dr. Johnson says, "the contemptible Dialogue between He and She,' should have been suppressed."
Many of our old Epitaphs are written in dialogue. In this instance, nothing could so well express the story of the Daughter and Father meeting in a foreign country, he exiled, and she dying in his arms! Bowles.
Ver. 9. SAVE MY COUNTRY, HEAV'N,] Alluding to the Bishop's frequent use and application of the expiring words of the famous Father Paul, in his prayer for the state, "Esto perpetua." With what propriety the Bishop applied it at his trial, and is here made to refer to it in his last moments, they will understand, who know what conformity there was in the lives of the Prelate and the Monk. The character of our countryman is well known; and that of the Father may be told in very few words. He was profoundly skilled in all divine and human learning. He employed his whole life in the service of the State, against the unjust encroachments of the Church. He was modest, humble, and forgiving, candid, patient, and just; free from all prejudices of party, and all the projects of ambition; in a word, the happiest compound of science, wisdom, and virtue. Warburton.
This severe sarcasm would certainly, if he had seen it, been highly displeasing to Pope, who retained for Atterbury the warmest affection and respect. But from the Letters of Atterbury, printed, in three volumes, by Mr. Nicholls, and particularly from those in p. 148, to p. 168, it almost indisputably appears that the Bishop was engaged in a treasonable correspondence, and in the intrigues of the Pretender. Warton.