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On Sir William Trumbul, One of the Principal
* A pleasing Form, a sirm, yet cautious Mind,
In this Epitaph, as in many others, there ippears, at the sirst View, a Fault which I think scarcely any Beauty can compenfate. The Name is omitted. The End of an Epitaph is to convey some Account of the Dead, and to what Purpose is any Thing told of him whose Name is concealed? An Epitaph, and a History, of a nameless Hero, are equally absurd, since the Virtues and Qualities so recounted in either, are scattered at the Mercy pf Fortune to be appropriated by Guess. The Name, it is true, may be read upon the Stone, but what Obligation has it to the Poet, whose Verses wander over the Earth, and leave their Subject behind them, and who is forced, like an unskilsul Painter, to make his Purpose known by adventitious Help?
This Epitaph is wholly without Elevation, and
contains nothing striking or particular ; but the Poet
is not to be blamed for the Desects of his Subject.
He faid perhaps the best that could be faid. There
O 2 ar« are however some Desects which were not made necessary by the Character in which he was employed. There is no Opposition between an honeji Courtier and a Patriot, for an honeji Courtier cannot but be a Patriot.
It was unsuitable to the Nicety required In short Compositions, to close his Verse with the Word too; every Rhyme should be a Word of Emphasis, nor can this Rule be fasely neglected, except where the Length of the Poem makes slight Inaccuracies excufable, or allows Room for Beauties sufsicient to overpower the Effects of petty Faults.
At the Beginning of the seventh Line the Word filled is weak and profeic, having no particular Adaptation to any of the Words that follow it.
The Thought in the last Line is Impertinent, having no Connection with the foregoing Character, nor with the Condition of the Man described. Had the Epitaph been written on the poor Conspirator who died lately in Prison, aster a Consinement os more than forty Years, without any Crime proved against him, the Sentiment had been just and pathetical; but why should Trumbul be congratulated upon his Liberty, who, had never known Restraint?
On the Hon. Simon Harcourt, only Son of the Lord Chancellor Harcourt; at the Church of StantonHarcourt in Oxfordshire, 1720.
'To this fad Shrine, whoe'er thou art! draw near,
* Here lies the Friend most lov'd, the Son most dear: .' Who ne'er knew Joy, but Friendship might divide,
'Or gave his Father Gries but when he dy'd.
* Is Pope must tell what Harcourt cannot speak.
* Oh, let thy once-lbv'd Friend inscribe thy Stone,
* And, with a Father's Sorrows, mix his own!'
This Epitaph is principally remarkable for the artsul Introduction of the Name, which is inserted with a peculiar Felicity, to which Chance must concur with Genius, which no Man can hope to attain twice, and which cannot be copied but with servile Imitation.
I cannot but wish that, of this Inscription, the two last Lines had been omitted, as they take away from the Energy what they do not add to the Sense.
On James Craggs, Esq. in Westminster-Abbey.
'Regi Magnæ Britanniæ A Secretis
• Et Consiliis Sanctioribus,
* Principis Pariter Ac Populi Amor Et
* VlXIT TlTULIs ET INVIDIA Major,
'Annos Heu Paucos, xxxv.
'Statesman, yet Friend to Truth! os Soul sincere,
* In Action faithful, and in Honour clear!
* Who broke no Promise, serv'd no private End,
* Who gain'd no Title, and who lost no Friend,
* Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd,
* Prais'd, wept, and honour'd, by the Muse he lov'd.'
The Lines on Craggs were not originally intended for an Epitaph; and theresore some Faults are to be imputed to the Violence with which they are torn from the Poem that sirst contained them. We may, however, observe some Desects. There is a Redundancy of Words in the sirst Couplet: It is superfluous to tell of him, who was jincere, true, and faithful; that he was in honour clear.
There seems to be on Opposition intended in the
fourth Line, which is not very obvious: Where is
O3 ths the Wonder, that he who gained no Title, should lose no Friend?
It may be proper here to remark the Absurdity of joining, in the fame Inscription, Latin and Englijh, or Verse and Prose. If either Language be preserable to the other, let that only be used: For no Reason can be given why Part of the Information should be given in one Tongue, and Part in another, on a Tomb, more than in any other Place, on any other Occasion; and to tell all that can be conveniently told in Verse, and then to call in the Help of Prose, has always the Appearance of a very artless Expedient, or of an Attempt unaccomplished. Such an Epitaph resembles the Converfation of a Foreigner, who tells Part of his Meaning by Words, and conveys Part by Signs.
Intended far Mr. Rowe. In Westminster-Abbey.
* Thy Reliques, Rowe, to this fair Urn we trust,
* And facred, place by Dryden's awsul . ust:
* Beneath a rude and nameless Stone he lies,
'To which thy Tomb shall guide inquiring Eyes. 1 Peace to thy gentle Shade, and endless Reft; 1 lilest in thy Genius, in thy Love too blest! 'One gratesul Woman to thy Fame supplies 'What a whole Thankless Land to his denies.'
Of this Inscription the chies Fault is, that it.belongs less to Rowe, for whom it was written, than to Dryden, who was buried near him ; and indeed gives very little Information concerning either.
To wish, Peace tc thy Shade, is too mythological to be admitted into a Christian Temple: The ancient Worship has insected almost all our other Compositions, and might theresore be contented to spare our Epitaphs. Let Fiction, at least, cease with Lise, and let us be serious over the Grave.
3 VI. On VI.
On Mrs. Corbet, who died of a Cancer in her Breaji.
1 Here rests a Woman, good without Pretence,
* Blest with plain Reason, and with sober Sense: f 'No Conquests 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 sirm, yet soft, so strong, yet so resin'd,
* The Saint sustain'd it, but the Woman dy'd. •
I have always considered this as the most valuable of all Pope's Epitaphs; the Subject of it is a Character not discriminated by any lhining or eminent Peculiarities; yet that which really makes, though not the Splendor, the Felicity of Lise, and that which every wise Man will choose for his sinal 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 sit that the Value should be made known, and the Dignity establist;ed. Domestic 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?
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 faid to be our own. I once heard a Lady of great Beauty and Elegance object to the fourth Line, that it contained an unnaO 4 tural