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veniently told in verse, and then to call in the help of prose, has always the appears ance 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,
And, sacred, place by Dryden's awful dust;
Beneath a rude and nameless stone he lies,
'To which thy tomb shall guide inquiring eyes,
Peace to thy gentle shade, and endless rest!
Blest in thy genius, in thy love too blest!
One grateful woman to thy fame supplies

What a whole thankless land to his denies, Of this inscription the chief fault is, that it belongs less to Rowe, for whom it is written, than to Dryden, who was buried near him; and indeed gives very little information 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 grave.


Here rests a woman, good without pretence,
Blest with plain reason, and with sober sense ;
No conquest she, but o'er herseif, desir'd :
No arts essay'd, but not to be admir'd;
Passion and price 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,
Heaven, 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 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, 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. Domestic virtue, as it is exerted without great occasions, or conspicuous consequences, in an even unnoted tenour, required the genius of Pope

3 This was altered much for the better as it now stands on the monument in the abbey, erected to Rowe and his daughter. Warb.

* In the North aile of the parish church of St. Margaret, Westminster. H.

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 scarcely one line taken from common places, unless, it be
that in which only virtue is said to be our own. I once heard a lady of great beauty
and elegance object to the fourth line, that it contained an unnatural and incredible
panegyric. Of this let the ladies judge.




Go! fair example of untainted youth,
Of modest wisdom, and pacific truth :
Compos'd in sufferings, and in joy sedate,
Good without noise, without pretension great.
Just of thy word, in every 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 Heaven's eternal year is thine,
Go, and exalt thy moral 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 shore,
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!

Yct 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 !

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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, 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, be must be forgiven if he sometimes wanders in generalities, and utters the same praises over different tombs.

The scantiness of human praises can scarcely be made more apparent, than by remarking how often Pope has, in the few epitaplis which he composed, found it

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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.

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 ele gant and better connected.


Kneller, by Heaven, and not a master, taught,
Whose art was Nature, and whose pictures thoughts
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 inay dic. Of this epitaph the first couplet is good, the second not bad, the third is deformed with a broken metaphor, the word crowned not being applicable to the honours or thie luys; and the fourth is not only borrowed from the epitaph on Raphael, but of a Fery harsh construction.


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 veteran drops a tear,
And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere.

Withers, adieu! yet not with thee remove
Thy martiai spirit, or thy social love!
Amidst corruption, luxury, and rage,
Still leave some ancient virtues to our age;
Nor let us say, (thuse English glories gone)

The last true Briton lies beneath this stone. The epitaph on Withers aflords another instance of common-places, 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 (! 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 bis sensations, and that he is equally a dissembler to the living and the dead.

At the third couplet I should wish the epitaph to closis but 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.

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This modest stone, what few vain marbles can,
Diay truly say, Here lies an honest man :
A poet, blest beyond the poet's fate,
Whom Heaven kept sacred from the proud and great :
Foe to loud praise, and friend to learned ease,
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 temperate feast rose satisfy'd,

Thank'd Heaven that he had liv'd, and that he dy'd.
The first couplet of this epitaph is borrowed from Crashaw. The four next lines
contain a species of praise peculiar, original, and just. Here, therefore, the in-
scription 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 gevius,
he may claim a place in the second; and, whatever criticism may object to his writ-
ings, censure could find very little to blame in his life.


Of manners gentle, of affection mild;
In wit, a man; simplicity, a child;
With native humour tempering 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 through 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 author, 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 bimself, 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 any thing, 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 poet. The wit of mans, and the simplicity of a child, make a poor and vulgar contrast, and raise no ideas of excellence either intellectual or moral.

In the next couplet rage is less properly introduced after the 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 inharmonious in its sound, and mean in its 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 among the great, is indeed such a peculiarity as deserved notice. But to be a safe companion is a praise merely negative, arising not from 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 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 without any substantive, and the epithets without a subject.

The thought in the last line, that Gay is buried in the bosoms 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.





Quem immortalem
Testantur, Tempus, Natura, Cælum :


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

Dryden on Mrs. Killigrev. C.

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