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Wherefore I joy that you may see,
God grant to those that white hairs have,
EPITAPH is from the Greek (EPI, upon, and TAPHOS, tomb), and signifies what is written on a tomb, that is, a monumental inscription. It is usually very brief. Its general tone is serious. But often it has been made the vehicle of wit, humor, and satire, and not seldom the channel of gross flattery or slander.
BAMUEL JOHNSON. 1. An epitaph, as the word itself implies, is an inscription on the tomb, and in its most extensive import may admit indiscriminately satire or praise. But, as malice has seldom produced monuments of defamation, and the tombs hitherto raised have been the work of friendship and benevolence, custom has contracted the original latitude of the word, so that it signifies, in the general acceptation, an inscription engraven on a tomb in · honor of the person deceased.
2. As honors are paid to the dead in order to incite others to the imitation of their excellencies, the principal intention of epitaphs is to perpetuate the examples of virtue, that the tomb: of a good man may supply the want of his presence, and veneration for his memory produce the same effect as the observation of his life. Those spitaphs are, therefore, the most perfect, which set virtue in the strongest light, and are best adapted to exalt the reader's ideas and rouse his emulation.
3. The best subject for epitaphs is private virtue; virtua exerted in the same circumstances in which the bulk of man. kind are placed, and which, therefore, may admit of many imitadrs. He that has delivered his country from oppression, or freed the world from ignorance and error, can excite the emulation of a very small number; but he that has repelled the temptations of poverty, and disdained to free himself from distress at the expense of his virtue, may animate multitudes, by his example, to the same firmness of heart and steadiness of resolution.
Underneath this sable hearse
ON A LADY FAMED FOR HER CAPRICE.
Stop, Christian passer-by, stop, child of God !
Mercy, for praise-to be forgiven, for fame,
Stranger ! behold, interred together,
EPITAPH ON SAMUEL JOHNSON.
WILLIAM COWPKR Here Johnson lies—a sage by all allowed, Whom to have bred, may well make England proud ; Whose prose was eloquence, by wisdom taught, The graceful vehicle of virtuous thought; Whose verse may claim-grave, masculine, and strong, Superior praise to the mere poet's song; Who many a noble gift from heaven possessed, And faith at last, alone worth all the rest. O man, immortal by a double prize, By fame on earth—by glory in the skies !
* Blackett was a shoemaker and a poet.
ON CHARLES II.
Here lies our sovereign lord the king,
Whose word no man relies on;
And never did a wise one.
ON SIR ISAAC NEWTON.
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night:
From life's superfluous cares enlarged,
ON A MISER. Here crumbling lies beneath this mold A man whose sole delight was gold; Content was never once his guest, Though twice ten thousand filled his chest; For he, poor man, with all his store, Died in great want the want of more!
NOTHING BUT LEAVES.
Nothing but leaves; the spirit grieves
Over a wasted life;
Hatred, battle, and strife;
Nothing but leaves; no garnered sheaves
Of life’s fair, ripened grain ; Words, idle words, for earnest deeds ; We sow our seeds—lo! tares and weeds; We reap with toil and pain
Nothing but leaves !
Nothing but leaves; memory weaves
No vail to screen the past :
Nothing but leaves !