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On JAMES CRAGGS, Esq;
ET CONSILIIS SANCTIORIBVS
VIXIT TITULIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR,
ANNOS HEV PAVCOS, XXXV.
OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.
Statesman, yet friend to truth! of soul fincere,
The lines on Craggs were not originally intended for an epitaph; and therefore fome faults are to be imputed to the violence with which they are torn from the poem 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 fincere, true, and faithful, that he was in bonour 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 loft no friend?
It may be proper here to remark the absurdity of joining, in the same inscription, Latin and Eng
lish, or verse and profe. 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 à tomb, inore than in any other place, on 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.
Intended for Mr. Rowe.
In Westminster Abbey.
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 information concerning either.
To wish, Peace to thy fade, is too mythological to be admitted into a christian temple: the ancient worthip has infected almost all our other compositions, and might therefore be contented to spare our epitaphs.
Let fiktion, at least, cease with life, and let us be ferious over the grave.
On Mrs. CORBET,
The faint 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 splendor, 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. Domestick virtue, as it is exerted without great occafions, 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 re
* In the north aile of the parish church of St. Margaret Welminsler.
verence. 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 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 excellence object to the fourth line, that it contained an unnatural and incredible panegyrick. Of this let the Ladies judge.
On the Monument of the Hon. Robert Digby, and of his
Sister Mary, ere&ted by their Father the Lord DIGBY, in the Church of Sherborne in Dorsetshire, 1727.
Go! fair example of untainted youth,
And thou, bleft 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 ochers equally good or bad, and therefore nothing can be said of them which may not be applied with equal propriety to a thousand
It is indeed no great panegyrick, that there is inclosed 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, he 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 epitaphs which he composed, found it necessary to borrow from himself. 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 L 4