Imágenes de páginas

VI. 411

On Mrs. CORBET",
who died of a Cancer in her Breast.
'Here rests a woman, good without pretence,
Blest with plain reason, and with sober sense :
No conquest she, but o'er herself, desir'd;
No arts essay'd, but not to be admir'd.
Passion and pride were to her soul unknown,
Convinc'd that Virtue only is our own.
So unaffected, so compos'd a mind,
So firm, yet soft, so strong, yet so refin'd,
Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures try'd ;

The saint sustain'd it, but the woman dy'd.' 412 I have always considered this as the most valuable of Pope's

epitaphs; the subject of it is a character not discriminated by any shining or eminent peculiarities, yet that which really makes, though not the splendour, the felicity of life, and that which every wise man will choose for his final and lasting companion in the languor of age, in the quiet of privacy, when he departs weary and disgusted from the ostentatious, the volatile, and the vain. Of such a character, which the dull overlook and the gay despise, it was fit that the value should be made known, and the dignity established”. Domestick virtue, as it is exerted without great occasions or conspicuous consequences in an even unnoted tenor, required the genius of Pope to display it in such a manner as might attract regard, and enforce reverence. Who can forbear to lament that this amiable woman has no

name in the verses 37 413 If the particular lines of this inscription be examined it will

appear less faulty than the rest. There is scarce one line taken from common-places, unless it be that in which only Virtue is said to be our own. I once heard a lady of great beauty and excellence + object to the fourth line, that it contained one writing on the subject of a general · "The best subject for epitaphs is peace to remember that he is a private virtue; virtue exerted in the Christian, and not to sacrifice his same circumstances in which the bulk catechism to his poetry.' The Spec- of mankind are placed and which tator, No. 523.

therefore may admit of many imitaIn the north aisle of St. Mar- tors.' JOHNSON, Works, v. 265. garet's, Westminster.' Johnson's

3 Ante, POPE, 396. Works, 1787, iv. 149. She was the * Miss Molly Aston, according to daughter of Sir Uvedale Corbett, Mrs. Piozzi. John. Misc. i. 258. Bart. N. & l. 8 S. xi. 150.

an unnatural and incredible panegyrick. Of this let the ladies judge.


On the Monument of the Hon. ROBERT DIGBY, and of his Sister 414

MARY, erected by their Father the Lord DIGBY, in the Church
of Sherborne in Dorsetshire, 1727'.

'Go! fair example of untainted youth,
Of modest wisdom, and pacifick truth:
Compos'd in suff'rings, and in joy sedate,
Good without noise, without pretension great.
Just of thy word, in ev'ry thought sincere,
Who knew no wish but what the world might hear :
Of softest manners, unaffected mind,
Lover of peace, and friend of human kind:
Go, live! for heav'n's eternal year is thine,
Go, and exalt thy mortal to divine.

"And thou, blest maid! attendant on his doom,
Pensive hast follow'd to the silent tomb,
Steer'd the same course to the same quiet shore?,
Not parted long, and now to part no more !
Go, then, where only bliss sincere is known!
Go, where to love and to enjoy are one !

• 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 !' This epitaph contains of the brother only a general indis- 415 criminate character, and of the sister tells nothing but that she died 3. The difficulty in writing epitaphs is to give a particular and appropriate praise. This, however, is not always to be performed, whatever be the diligence or ability of the writer, for the greater part of mankind have no character at all,' have little

I'This can scarcely have been the Where billows never break nor case, for Mary died of small-pox on

tempests roar April 5,1729.' Pope's Works (Elwin GARTH, The Dispensary, iii. 225. and Courthope), iv. 386. Perhaps her Ante, DRYDEN, 283. epitaph was an addition.

* Most women have no characters My father,' writes Warton, 'who was contemporary at Magdalen Col

POPE, Moral Essays, ii. 2. lege, Oxford, with Mr. Digby, was 'Every man has a character of his always saying that this character was own, to the eye that has skill to pernot overdrawn. Warton, ii. 374. ceive it. The real cause of the ac"To die is landing on some silent knowledged want of discrimination in shore,

sepulchral memorials is this :—That


at all.'

that distinguishes them from others equally good or bad, and therefore nothing can be said of them which may not be applied with equal propriety to a thousand more. It is indeed no great panegyrick that there is inclosed in this tomb one who was born in one year and died in another; yet many useful and amiable lives have been spent which yet leave little materials for any other memorial. These are, however, not the proper subjects of poetry, and whenever friendship or any other motive obliges a poet to write on such subjects, he must be forgiven if he sometimes wanders in generalities and utters the same praises over

different tombs. 416 The scantiness of human praises can scarcely be made more

apparent than by remarking how often Pope has, in the few epitaphs which he composed, found it necessary to borrow from himself. The fourteen epitaphs which he has written comprise about an hundred and forty lines, in which there are more repetitions than will easily be found in all the rest of his works. In the eight lines which make the character of Digby there is scarce any thought or word which may not be found in the other epitaphs.

The ninth line, which is far the strongest and most elegant, is borrowed from Dryden! The conclusion is the same with that on Harcourt, but is here more elegant and better connected.





In Westminster-Abbey, 1723.
• Kneller, by heav'n, and not a master, taught,
Whose art was nature, and whose pictures thought;

to analyse the characters of others, Kneller has petitioned the Doctors' especially of those whom we love, is Commons to pull down my father's not a common or natural employment monument [in Twickenham Church).' of men at any time. ... Least of all She wished to set up in its stead 'a do we incline to these refinements large one to Sir G. and herself with when under the pressure of sorrow, both their figures.' Pope's Works admiration, or regret.' WORDS- (Elwin and Courthope), x. 177, 201. WORTH, Works, 1857, vi. 316.

He adds that Kneller on his deathThou wilt have time enough for bed ‘said, “By God, I will not be hymns divine,

buried in Westminster.” I asked him Since Heaven's eternal year is why? He answered, “They do bury thine.'

fools there." He desired me to take To Mrs. Anne Killigrew, l. 14. down my father's monument, for it Pope wrote in 1725: My Lady was the best place in the church to

[ocr errors]

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,
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? Of this epitaph the first couplet is good, the second not bad, 419 the third is deformed with a broken metaphor, the word crowned not being applicable to the honours or the lays, and the fourth is not only borrowed from the epitaph on Raphael, but of very harsh construction ?

be seen at a distance. ... I said I Anecdotes of Painting, 1782, iii. 207.
feared it would be indecent, and that For other versions of this story see
my mother must be asked as well as Warton's Essay on Pope, ii. 463 and
I. He fell crying again, and seemed his Pope's Works, ii. 357.
so violently moved, that in pure Pope wrote to him on Feb. 18,
humanity to a dying man ... I said 1717-8:-—'I really believe (from the
I would do for him all that I could conviction I have how much better
with decency.' Pope adds an epitaph you make things than Nature herself)
for Lady Kneller : -

that even a Man in love would think ‘One day I mean to fill Sir Godfrey's his Mistress improved by you.' Pope's tomb,

Works (Elwin and Courthope), ix. If for my body all this church has 511. room.

Gay laughed at him in Mr. Pope's Down with more monuments! more Welcome from Greece :room (she cried),

"Kneller amid the triumph bears his For I am very large and very wide.' part,

Pope's Works (E. & C.), x. 179. Who could (were mankind lost)

Being unable to get the spot in anew create; Twickenham Church which he de- What can th' extent of his vast soul sired, Kneller left money for his confine ? monument in Westminster Abbey:' A painter, critic, engineer, divine!' Dict. Nat. Biog. xxxi. 242. ['He is

Ib. v. 176. said to have been buried in the gar

2 In The Universal Visiter, p. 215, den of his manor at Whitton, now the sentence ran :-' the fourth wants Kneller Hall (in the parish of Twic- grammatical construction, the word kenham); but of the place of his in- dying being no substantive.' terment there is no trace. Cobbett's According to Hawkins (Life oj Hist. of Twickenham, pp. 65, 386. Johnson, p. 539), Johnson's criticism His burial appears in the Twicken- was productive of the total erasure ham Parish Church Register, Nov. of the epitaph, which had long been 7, 1723. Ib. p. 64.]

objected to as being a very indifferent 'Pope laid a wager that there imitation of Cardinal Bembo's distich was no flattery so gross but Kneller on Raphael :would swallow. To prove it, Pope “Ille hic est Raphael, timuit quo said to him as he was painting :

sospite vinci “Sir Godfrey, I believe if God Al- Rerum magna parens, et momighty had had your assistance the riente mori. world would have been formed more [The monument, now in the south perfect." "'Fore God, Sir," replied aisle of the choir, is placed so high, Kneller, “I believe so."' WALPOLE, that the inscription cannot be read.]




In Westminster-Abbey, 1729'.
'Here, Withers, rest I thou bravest, gentlest mind,
Thy country's friend, but more of human kind.
O! born to arms! O! worth in youth approv'd!
O! soft humanity in age belov'd?!
For thee the hardy vet’ran drops a tear,
And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere.

Withers, adieu ! yet not with thee remove
Thy martial spirit, or thy social love!
Amidst corruption, luxury, and rage,
Still leave some ancient virtues to our age:
Nor let us say (those English glories gone)

The last true Briton lies beneath this stone 3.' 421 The epitaph on Withers affords another instance of common

places, though somewhat diversified by mingled qualities and

the peculiarity of a profession. 422 The second couplet is abrupt, general, and unpleasing ; ex

clamation seldom succeeds in our language, and I think it may be observed that the particle O! used at the beginning of a

sentence always offends. 423 The third couplet is more happy; the value expressed for him

by different sorts of men raises him to esteem: there is yet something of the common cant of superficial satirists, who suppose that the insincerity of a courtier destroys all his sen


? 'The prose epitaph in the Abbey
on his monument (east cloister] is an
expansion of these lines.' Pope's
Works (Elwinand Courthope), iv. 387.

• In The Tatler, No. 46, it is said
that Mr. Withers gives his orders
with the familiarity, and enjoys his
fortune with the generosity of a fellow-
*Now pass we Gravesend with a

friendly wind, [Blackwall,
And Tilbury's white fort, and long
Greenwich, where dwells the friend
of human kind,

More visited than either park or
Withers the good.'
GAY, Mr.Pope's Welcome from Greece,

Pope's Works (E. & C.), v. 171.
[See also Luttrell's Relation, vi. 234,
715; Journal to Stella, Jan. 25, 1712,
Ap. 2, 1713; Dalton's Army Lists,
Here, last of Britons! let your

names be read;
Are none, none living? let me
praise the dead.'

Epil. Sat. ii. 250. Swift would have objected to Britons. Mentioning England in a letter to Stella (Nov. 23, 1711) he continues: -I never will call it Britain, pray don't call it Britain.' Works, ii. 411.

Post, THOMSON, 19.

« AnteriorContinuar »