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sations, and that he is equally a dissembler to the living and the dead 1.

At the third couplet I should wish the epitaph to close, but 424 that I should be unwilling to lose the two next lines, which yet are dearly bought if they cannot be retained without the four that follow them.



At Easthampsted in Berkshire, 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 ease3,
Content with science in the vale of peace.

Calmly he look'd on either life; and here

Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear;

From Nature's temp'rate feast rose satisfy'd*;

Thank'd heav'n that he had liv'd, and that he dy'd.'


The first couplet of this epitaph is borrowed from Crashaw 5. 426 The four next lines contain a species of praise peculiar, original, and just. Here, therefore, the inscription should have ended; the latter part containing nothing but what is common to every man who is wise and good. The character of Fenton was so amiable that I cannot forbear to wish for some poet or biographer to display it more fully for the advantage of posterity. If he did not stand in the first rank of genius he may claim a place in the second; and, whatever criticism may object to his writings, censure could find very little to blame in his life.

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On Mr. GAY.

In Westminster-Abbey, 1732.

'Of manners gentle, of affections mild;
In wit, a man; simplicity, a child:
With native humour temp'ring virtuous rage,
Form'd to delight at once and lash the age:
Above temptation, in a low estate,

And uncorrupted, ev'n among the Great:
A safe companion, and an easy friend,
Unblam'd thro' life, lamented in thy end.
These are thy honours! not that here thy bust
Is mix'd with heroes, or with kings thy dust;
But that the Worthy and the Good shall say,
Striking their pensive bosoms-Here lies GAY.'

As Gay was the favourite of our author3 this epitaph was probably written with an uncommon degree of attention; yet it is not more successfully executed than the rest, for it will not always happen that the success of a poet is proportionate to his labour. The same observation may be extended to all works of imagination, which are often influenced by causes wholly out of the performer's power, by hints of which he perceives not the origin, by sudden elevations of mind which he cannot produce in himself, and which sometimes rise when he expects them least *. The two parts of the first line are only echoes of each other; gentle manners and mild affections, if they mean anything, must

mean the same.

That Gay was a man in wit is a very frigid commendation; to have the wit of a man is not much for a poet. The wit of man and the simplicity of a child make a poor and vulgar

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contrast, and raise no ideas of excellence, either intellectual or moral'.

In the next couplet rage is less properly introduced after the 431 mention of mildness and gentleness, which are made the constituents of his character; for a man so mild and gentle to temper his rage was not difficult.

The next line is unharmonious in its sound, and mean in its 432 conception; the opposition is obvious, and the word lash used absolutely and without any modification is gross and improper.

To be above temptation in poverty and free from corruption 433 among the Great is indeed such a peculiarity as deserved notice. But to be a safe companion is praise merely negative, arising not from the possession of virtue but the absence of vice, and that one of the most odious.

As little can be added to his character by asserting that he 434 was lamented in his end. Every man that dies is, at least by the writer of his epitaph, supposed to be lamented, and therefore this general lamentation does no honour to Gay.

The first eight lines have no grammar; the adjectives are with- 435 out any substantive, and the epithets without a subject 2.

The thought in the last line, that Gay is buried in the bosoms 436 of the worthy and the good, who are distinguished only to lengthen the line, is so dark that few understand it; and so harsh, when it is explained, that still fewer approve 3.

Swift wrote to Pope:-'Some gentlemen here object against the expression in the second line,-A child's simplicity; not against the propriety, but in compliance with the vulgar, who cannot distinguish simplicity and folly.... I confess I lay little weight upon this.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 300.

'Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.'

DRYDEN, To Mrs. Killigrew, 1. 70. 2 Swift objected:-'The whole is intended for an apostrophe to the dead person, which, however, does not appear till the eighth line.' Pope's Works (E. & C.), vii. 299.

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3 The same thought is found in George Whetstone's epitaph on the good Lord Dyer, 1582:

"Et semper bonus ille bonis fuit;
ergo bonorum

Sunt illi demum pectora sarco-

Works, viii. 360 n.

'Mr. Pope told me his conceit in
this line was not generally under-
stood. For, by peculiar ill-luck, the
formulary expression which makes
the beauty, misleads the reader into
a sense which takes it quite away.'
Warburton, vi. 83.

The conceit is borrowed from
Crashaw :-

'For now (alas!) not in this stone
(Passenger who e're thou art)

Is he entomb'd, but in thy heart.'
Crashaw's Poems, Camb. Univ. Press,
1904, p. 143. See Warton, ii. 378.





Intended for Sir ISAAC NEWTON.
In Westminster-Abbey.


Quem Immortalem

Testantur, Tempus, Natura, Calum:


Hoc marmor fatetur.

'Nature, and Nature's laws, lay hid in night,
God said, Let Newton be! And all was light.'

Of this epitaph, short as it is, the faults seem not to be very few. Why part should be Latin and part English it is not easy to discover'. In the Latin the opposition of Immortalis and Mortalis is a mere sound or a mere quibble; he is not immortal in any sense contrary to that in which he is mortal.

In the verses the thought is obvious, and the words night and light are too nearly allied".



On EDMUND Duke of BUCKINGHAM, who died in the
19th Year of his Age, 17353.

'If modest youth, with cool reflection crown'd,
And ev'ry op'ning virtue blooming round,
Could save a parent's justest pride from fate,
Or add one patriot to a sinking state;
This weeping marble had not ask'd thy tear,
Or sadly told, how many hopes lie here!

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The living virtue now had shone approv'd,
The senate heard him, and his country lov'd,
Yet softer honours and less noisy fame
Attend the shade of gentle Buckingham:
In whom a race, for courage fam'd and art,
Ends in the milder merit of the heart;
And, chiefs or sages long to Britain giv'n,
Pays the last tribute of a saint to heav'n.'

This epitaph Mr. Warburton prefers to the rest, but I know 441 not for what reason. To crown with reflection is surely a mode of speech approaching to nonsense. Opening virtues blooming round is something like tautology; the six following lines are poor and prosaick. Art is in another couplet used for arts that a rhyme may be had to heart. The six last lines are the best, but not excellent.

The rest of his sepulchral performances hardly deserve the 442 notice of criticism. The contemptible Dialogue between HE and SHE should have been suppressed for the author's sake 2.

In his last epitaph on himself, in which he attempts to be 443 jocular upon one of the few things that make wise men serious, he confounds the living man with the dead:

'Under this stone, or under this sill,

Or under this turf, &c.3'

When a man is once buried the question under what he is 444 buried is easily decided. He forgot that though he wrote the epitaph in a state of uncertainty, yet it could not be laid over him till his grave was made. Such is the folly of wit when it is ill employed *.

The world has but little new; even this wretchedness seems to 445 have been borrowed from the following tuneless lines:

' Warburton, vi. 71.

2On 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.') Warburton, vi. 85. He' was Atterbury, and 'She' his daughter. See also Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iv. 390, ix. 61.

3 Under this marble, or under this sill,

Or under this turf, or e'en what they will:

Whatever an heir, or a friend in
his stead,

Or any good creature shall lay
o'er my head,

Lies one who ne'er car'd, and still

cares not a pin

What they said, or may say, of the
mortal within:

But who, living or dying, serene
still and free,

Trusts in God, that as well as he
was, he shall be.'
Ib. iv. 392.
The Essay, as first published in
The Universal Visiter, 1756, ended

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