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VI.

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.'

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 3 ?

inscription be examined it will There is scarce one line taken be that in which only Virtue

If the particular lines of this appear less faulty than the rest. from common-places, unless it 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
peace to remember that he is a
Christian, and not to sacrifice his
catechism to his poetry.' The Spec-
tator, No. 523.

"In the north aisle of St. Mar-
garet's, Westminster.' Johnson's
Works, 1787, iv. 149. She was the
daughter of Sir Uvedale Corbett,
Bart. N. & 2. 8 S. xi. 150.

2 The best subject for epitaphs is private virtue; virtue exerted in the same circumstances in which the bulk of mankind are placed and which therefore may admit of many imitators.' JOHNSON, Works, v. 265. Ante, POPE, 396.

3

Miss Molly Aston, according to Mrs. Piozzi. John. Misc. i. 258.

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

VII.

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 3.

'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 shore2,
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!

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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!'

This epitaph contains of the brother only a general indis- 415 criminate character, and of the sister tells nothing but that she died. 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

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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.

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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.

VIII.

On Sir GODFREY KNELLER.

In Westminster-Abbey, 17232.

'Kneller, by heav'n, and not a master, taught,
Whose art was nature, and whose pictures thought;

to analyse the characters of others,
especially of those whom we love, is
not a common or natural employment
of men at any time. ... Least of all
do we incline to these refinements
when under the pressure of sorrow,
admiration, or regret.' WORDS-
WORTH, Works, 1857, vi. 316.
''Thou wilt have time enough for
hymns divine,

2

Since Heaven's eternal year is
thine.'

To Mrs. Anne Killigrew, 1. 14.
Pope wrote in 1725:-'My Lady

Kneller has petitioned the Doctors' Commons to pull down my father's monument [in Twickenham Church].' She wished to set up in its stead 'a large one to Sir G. and herself with both their figures.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 177, 201. He adds that Kneller on his deathbed 'said, "By God, I will not be buried in Westminster." I asked him why? He answered, "They do bury fools there." He desired me to take down my father's monument, for it was the best place in the church to

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 2.

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Down with more monuments! more room (she cried),

For I am very large and very wide.'

Pope's Works (E. & C.), x. 179. 'Being unable to get the spot in Twickenham Church which he desired, Kneller left money for his monument in Westminster Abbey.' Dict. Nat. Biog. xxxi. 242. ['He is said to have been buried in the garden of his manor at Whitton, now Kneller Hall (in the parish of Twickenham); but of the place of his interment there is no trace.' Cobbett's Hist. of Twickenham, pp. 65, 386. His burial appears in the Twickenham Parish Church Register, Nov. 7, 1723. Ib. p. 64.]

I

'Pope laid a wager that there was no flattery so gross but Kneller would swallow. To prove it, Pope said to him as he was painting :"Sir Godfrey, I believe if God Almighty had had your assistance the world would have been formed more perfect." "Fore God, Sir," replied Kneller, "I believe so."' WALPOLE,

Anecdotes of Painting, 1782, iii. 207. For other versions of this story see Warton's Essay on Pope, ii. 463 and his Pope's Works, ii. 357.

Pope wrote to him on Feb. 18, 1717-8:-'I really believe (from the conviction I have how much better you make things than Nature herself) that even a Man in love would think his Mistress improved by you.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ix. 511.

Gay laughed at him in Mr. Pope's Welcome from Greece:

'Kneller amid the triumph bears his part,

Who could (were mankind lost)

anew create;

What can th' extent of his vast soul confine?

A painter, critic, engineer, divine!'
Ib. v. 176.

2 In The Universal Visiter, p. 215, the sentence ran :-' the fourth wants grammatical construction, the word dying being no substantive.'

According to Hawkins (Life o Johnson, p. 539), Johnson's criticism was productive of the total erasure of the epitaph, which had long been objected to as being a very indifferent imitation of Cardinal Bembo's distich on Raphael:

"Ille hic est Raphael, timuit quo sospite vinci

Rerum magna parens, et mo

riente mori.'

[The monument, now in the south aisle of the choir, is placed so high, that the inscription cannot be read.]

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IX.

On General HENRY WITHERS.

In Westminster-Abbey, 1729*.

'Here, Withers, rest! 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 stone3.'

The epitaph on Withers affords another instance of commonplaces, though somewhat diversified by mingled qualities and the peculiarity of a profession.

The second couplet is abrupt, general, and unpleasing; exclamation 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".

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 (Elwin and 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 fellowsoldier.'

'Now pass we Gravesend with a

friendly wind, [Blackwall,
And Tilbury's white fort, and long
Greenwich, where dwells the friend
of human kind,
[hall,
More visited than either park or
Withers the good.'

GAY, Mr.Pope's Welcome from Greece,

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