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On Sir WILLIAM TRUMBUL, One of the Principal
Secretaries of State to King WILLIAM III. wha having resigned his Place, died in his Retirement at Easthamsted, in Berkshire, 1716.
• A pleasing Form, a firm, yet cautious Mind, • Sincere, tho' prudent; constant, yet relign'd; Honour unchang’d, a Principle profest,
Fix'd to one side, but mod’rate to the rest : • An honest Courtier, yet a Patriot too,
Just to his Prince, and to his Country true. • Filld with the Sense of Age, the Fire of Youth, - A Scorn of Wrangling, yet a Zeal for Truth; 6 A gen'rous Faith, from Superftition free ; " A Love to Peace, and Hate of Tyranny; 6 Such this Man was; who now, from Earth remov'd, « 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 foine 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 abfurd, 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, whofe Verses wander over the Earth, and leave their Subject behind them, and who is forced, like an unskilful Painter, to make his Puro pose 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 faid. There
are however fome Defects which were not made ne. cessary by the Character in which he was employed. There is no Opposition between an honeft 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 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 profaic, 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 foregoing 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 Trumbul be congratulated up. on his Liberty, who had never known Restraint ?
III. On the Hon. SIMON HARCOURT, only Son of the Lord
Chancellor HARCOURT ; at the Church of StantonHarcourt in Oxfordshire, 1720.
« To this fad Shrine, whoe'er thou art! draw near, • Here lies the Friend most lov’d, the Son most dear :
Who ne'er knew Joy, but Friendship might divide, « Or gave his Father Grief but when he dy’d. ,
How vain is Reason, Eloquence how weak! If Pope must tell what Harcourt cannot speak. . « Oh, let thy once-lov'd Friend inscribe thy Stone, • And, with a Father's Sorrows, mix his own!
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.
.ET CONSILIIS SANCTIORIBUS, PRINCIPIS PARITER AC POPULI AMOR ET
. DELICIÆ :
Annos Heu Paucos, XXXV.
Statesnan, yet Friend to Truth! of Soul sincere, • In Action faithful, and in Honour clear! • Who broke no Promise, serv'd no private End, • Who gain'd no Title, and who lost no Friend, ' • Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd, Prais’d, wept, and honour'd, by the Muse he lov’d.'
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 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 honour clear.
There seems to be on Opposition intended in the fourth Line, which is not very obvious : Where is
the Wonder, that he who gained no Title, should lose no Friend?
It may be proper here to remark the Absurdity of joining, in the same Inscription, Latin and English, or Verse and Profe. If either Language be preferable to the other, let that only be used : For no Rea. fon can be given why Part of the Information should be given in one Tongue, and Part in another, on à Tomb, more 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 Prole, 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,
Peace to thy gentle Shade, and endless Reft; < Bleft in thy Genius, in thy Love too blest!
• One grateful Woman to thy Fame fupplies .. "What a whole Thankless Land to his denies.'
Of this Inscription the chief Fault is, that it beJongs 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 wilh, 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.
VI. . On Mrs. CORBET, who died of a Cancer in her Breafi.
i Here rests a Woman, good without Pretence, • Bleft with plain Reason, and with fober Sense: 6.No Conquests She, but o'er herself defir'd; ( No Arts essay'd, but not to be admir'd. « Passion and Pride were to her Soul unknown,
Convinc'd that Virtue only is our own.
So unaffected, so compos'd a Mind, • So firm, yet foft, so strong, yet fo refin'd, • Heav'n, 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 moft valuable of all Pope's Epitaphs ; the Subject of it is a Character not discriminated by any thining 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 Oftentatious, 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 confpicuous 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 exa. mined, 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 Elegance object to the fourth Line, that it contained an unna