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Nemo me decoret lacrumis, nec funera, fletu
Farit. Cur? volito vivu' per ora virum. The reader of this EPITAPH receives scarce any idea from it; he neither conceives any veneration for the man to whom it belongs, nor is instructed by what methods this boasted reputation is to be obtained.
Though a sepulchral inscription is professedly a panegyrick, and, therefore, not confined to historical impartiality, yet it ought always to be written with regard to truth. No man ought to be commended for virtues which he never possessed, but whoever is curious to know his faults must inquire after them in other places; the monuments of the dead are not intended to perpetuate the memory of crimes, but to exhibit patterns of virtue. On the tomb of Mecenas his luxury is not to be mentioned with his munificence, nor is the proscription to find a place on the monument of Augustus.
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. He that has delivered his country from oppression, or freed the world from ignorance and errour, 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.
Of this kind I cannot forbear the mention of two Greek inscriptions ; one upon a man whose
writings are well known, the other upon a person whose memory is preserved only in her EPITAPH, who both lived in slavery, the most calamitous estate in human life:
Ζωσιμη η πριν εισα μονω τω σωματι δελη,
Και τω σωματι νυν ευρεν ελευθεριην. .
Corpore nunc etiam libera facta fuit. “ Zosima, who in her life could only haye her body
enslaved, now finds her body likewise sel at liberty."
It is impossible to read this EPITAPH without being animated to bear the evils of life with constancy, and to support the dignity of human nature under the most pressing afflictions, both by the example of the heroine, whose grave we behold, and the prospect of that state in whicli, to use the language of the inspired writers, “ The poor cease from their labours, and the weary be at rest."
The other is upon Epictetus, the Stoick philosopher:
ΔελG- ΕπικτητG- λενόμην, και σωμ' αναπηρία και
Pauperieque Irus, curaque prima Deúm.
66 Epictetus, who lies here, was a slave and a cripple,
poor as the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite of Heaven."
In this distich is comprised the noblest panegyrick, and the most important instruction. We may
learn from it, that virtue is impracticable in no condition, since Epictetus could recommend himself to the regard of Heaven, amidst the temptations of poverty and slavery: slavery, which has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a slave and a thief are expressed by the same word. And we may be likewise admonished by it, not to lay any stress on a man's outward circumstances, in making an estimate of his real value, since Epictetus the beggar, the cripple, and the slave, was the favourite of Heaven.
STATE OF AFFAIRS IN MDCC,LVI*.
HE time is now come in which every EnglishTHE
man expects to be informed of the national affairs, and in which he has a right to have that expectation gratified. For whatever may be urged by ministers, or those whom vanity or interest make the followers of ministers, concerning the necessity of confidence in our governours, and the presumption of prying with profane eyes into the recesses of policy, it is evident, that this reverence can be claimed only by counsels yet unexecuted, and projects suspended in deliberation.
But when a design has ended in miscarriage or success, when every eye and every ear is witness to general discontent, or general satisfaction, it is then a proper time to disentangle confusion, and illustrate obscurity, to
• Published first in the Literary Magazine, No IV. from July 15, to August 15, 1756. This periodical work was published by Richardson in Paternoster-Row, but was discontinued about two years after. Dr. Johnson wrote many articles, which have been enumerated by Mr. Boswell, and there are others which I should be inclined to attribute to him from internal evidence. C. VOL. II.
show by what causes every event was produced, and in what effects it is likely to terminate: to lay down with distinct particularity what rumour always huddles in general exclamations, or perplexes by undigested narratives; to show whence happiness or calamity is derived, and whence it may be expected; and honestly to lay before the people what inquiry can gather of the past, and conjecture can estimate of the future.
The general subject of the present waris sufficiently known. It is allowed on both sides, that hostilities began in America, and that the French and English quarrelled about the boundaries of their settlements, about grounds and rivers to which, I am afraid, neither can show any other right than that of power, and which neither can occupy but by usurpation, and the dispossession of the natural lords and original inhabitants. Such is the contest, that no honest man can heartily wish success to either party. It
may indeed be alleged, that the Indians have granted large tracts of land both to one and to the other; but these grants can add little to the validity of our titles, till it be experienced how they were obtained: for if they were extorted by violence, or induced by fraud; by threats, which the miseries of other nations had shown not to be vain, or by promises of which no performance was ever intended, what are they but new modes of usurpation, but new instances of cruelty and treachery?.
And indeed what but false hope or resistless terrour can prevail upon a weaker nation to invite a stronger into their country, to give their lands to strangers