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subject behind them, and who is forced, like an unskilful 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 defect of his subject. He said perhaps the best that could be said. There are, however, some defects which were not made necessary by the character in which he was employed. There is no opposition between an honest courtier and a patriot; for an honest 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 safely neglected, except where the length of the poem makes slight inaccuracies excusable, or allows room for beauties sufficient to overpower the effects of petty faults.
At the beginning of the seventh line the word filled is weak and prosaic, 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 fore oing character, nor with the condition of the man described. Had the epitaph been written on the poor conspirator who died lately in prison, after a confinement of more than forty years, without any crime proved against him, the sentiment had been just and pathetical ; but why should Trumbull be congratulated upon his liberty who had never known restraint ?
III. On the Hon. SIMON HARCOURT, only son of the Lord
Chancellor HARCOURT, at the Church of Stanton-Ilarcourt in Oxfordshire, 1720.
To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art, draw near,
How vain is reason, eloquence how weak !
This epitaph is principally remarkable for the artful 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.
REGI MAGNAE BRITANNIAE A SECRETIS
ET CONSILIIS SANCTIORIBVS,
VIXIT TITVLIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR
OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.
Statesman, yet friend to truth ; of soul sincere,
The lines on Craggs were not originally intended for an epitaph ; and therefore some faults are to be imputed to the violence with which they are torn from the poems that first contained them. We may, however, observe some defects. There is a redundancy of words in the first couplet : it is superfluous to tell of him, who was sincere, true, and faithful, that he was in honour clear. There seems to be an opposition intended in the fourth line,
which is not very obvious : where is the relation between the two positions, that he gained no title and lost no friend ?
It may be proper here to remark the absurdity of joining in the same inscription Latin and English for verse and prose. If either language be preferable 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, or 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 conversation of a foreigner, who tells part of his meaning by words, and conveys part by signs.
Thy reliques, Rowe, to this fair urn we trust,
Of this inscription the chief 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 in. formation concerning either.
To wish peace to thy shade is too mythological to be admitted into a Christian temple : the ancient worship has infected almost all our other compositions, and might therefore be contented to spare our epitaphs. Let fiction, at least, cease with life, and let us be serious over the
Here rests a woman, good without pretence,
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 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, ir, 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. 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 commonplaces, unless it be that in which only Virtue is said to be our own. heard a lady of great beauty and excellence object to the fourth line that it contained an unnatural and incredible panegyric. Of this let the ladies judge.
VII. On the Monument of the Hon. ROBERT DIGBY, and of his
Sister MARY, erected by their Father the Lord DIGBY in the Church of Sherborne in Dorsetshire, 1727.
Go ! fair example of untainted youth,
And thou, blest maid ! attendant on his doom,
Yet take these tears, Mortality's relief,
This epitaph contains of the brother only a general indiscriminate 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 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 panegyric that there is enclosed in this tomb one who was born in one year, and died in another; yet many useful and amiable lives have been spent