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say. Nature is not the object of human judgement; for it is vain to judge where we cannot alter. If by nature is meant, what is commonly called nature by the criticks, a just representation of things really existing, and actions really performed, nature cannot be properly opposed to art; nature being, in this sense, only the best effect of art.
The scourge of pride Of this couplet, the second line is not, what is intended, an illustration of the former. Pride, in the Great, is indeed well enough connected with knaves in ftate, though knaves is a word rather too ludicrous and light; but the mention of sanctified pride will not lead the thoughts to fops in learning, but rather to some species of tyranny or oppression, something more gloomy and more formidable than foppery
Yet soft his nature This is a high compliment, but was not first bestowed on Dorset by Pope. The next verse is extremely beautiful.
Bleft fatyris! In this distich is another line of which Pope was not the author. I do not mean to blame these imitations with much harshness; in long performances they are scarcely to be avoided, and in shorter they may be indulged, because the train of the composition may naturally involve them, or the scantiness of the subject allow little choice. However, what is borrowed is not to be enjoyed as our own; and it is the business of critical justice to give every bird of the Muses his pro
Bleft courtier!Whether a courtier can properly be commended for keeping his eafe sacred, may perhaps be disputable. To please king and country, without sacrificing friendShip to any change of times, was a very uncommon instance of prudence or felicity, and deserved to be kept separate from so poor a commendation as care of his ease. I wish our poets would attend a little more accurately to the use of the word facred, which surely should never be applied in a serious composition, but where some reference may be made to a higher Being, or where some duty is exacted or implied. A man may keep his friendship sacred, because promises of friendship are very awful ties; but methinks he cannot, but in a burlesque sense, be said to keep his ease sacred.
Bleft peer! The blessing ascribed to the peer has no connection with his peerage: they might happen to any other man,
whose ancestors were remembered, or whose posterity were likely to be regarded.
I know not whether this epitaph be worthy either of the writer or of the man entombed.
On Sir William Trumbal, one of the principal Secre
taries of State to King WILLIAM III. who, having resigned his place, died in bis retirement at Eastbamstead in Berkshire, 1716.
A pleasing form, a firm, yet cautious mind,
An honest courtier, yet a patriot too,
Just to his prince, and to his country true.
At length enjoys that liberty he lov'd. In this epitaph, as in many others, there appears, at the first view, a fault which I think scarcely any beauty can compensate. The name is omitted. The end of an epitaph is to convey fome 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 fo recounted in either are scattered at the mercy of 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 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 defects 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 clofe his verse with the word too; every rhyme should be a word of emphalis, nor can
this rule be safely neglected, except where the length of the poem makes flight 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 connexion with the foregoing character, nor with the condition of the man described. Had the epitaph been written on the poor conspirator * who died lately
Bernardi. Orig. Edit. The short note above is a proof of Johnson's unwillingness to furnith information from books not within his reach. The - Bio“ graphia Britannica” contains an account of Major Bernardi to the following effect :
John Bernardi, the son of Count Francis Bernardi, was a steady adherent to James II, at a time when the power of the prince of Orange was daily increasing in this kingdom ; afterwards when Capt. Rookwood was seized as one of the conspirators in the Plot to killking William, Bernarcii, who was an oldi acquaintance of Rcokwood's, happening to be in his conipany, was apprehended with him, and notwithstanding his most folemn protestations of his total ignorance of the plot, they were both carricd to the Counter, and afterwards to Newgate. Rookwood was tried, and convicted of high treafon ; but Bernardi, though, as it is said, he petitioned for it, was never put upon his trial. Some years afterwards the earl of Burlingtoa obtained a proinise from the king, that Bernardi should, with others who had been committed on the fame account, be dischargedl; but the king dying before their enlargement, the call applied to queen Anne for the same purpose: Be too died before any order was made, and an act having policd in the reign of George I, and another in the reign of George II, for confining them during the royal plealure, Bernardi did in Newgate, 20th Sept. 1735, after an imprionment of nearly forty years. Vol. IV.
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 Trumbal be congratulated upon his liberty, who had never known reftraint ?
On the Hon. Simon HARCOURT, only Son of the Lord
Chancellor HARCOURT, at the Church of Stanton-Harcourt 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 with 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,
I Mall not dismiss this note without remarking, that the unjust and cruel treatment of this gentleman would fix a figma on the character of the best prince, and the best administration that ever ruled a country.