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have designed it for his honour; and I take an opportunity from it to advise others, that when they would praise they cautiously avoid every looser qualification, and fix only where there is a real foundation in merit.


Divine Euripides, this tomb, we see
So fair, is not a monument for thee
So much as thou for it, since all will own
Thy name and lasting praise adorn the stone.

“ The thought here is fine, but its fault is, that it is general, that it may belong to any great man, because it points out no particular character. It would be better if, when we light upon such a turn, we join it with something that circumscribes and bounds it to the qualities of our subject. He who gives his praise in gross, will often appear either to have been a stranger to those he writes upon, or not to have found any thing in them which is praise-worthy.

Wind, gentle ever-green, to form a shade
Around the tomb where Sophocles is laid ;
Sweet ivy, wind thy boughs, and intertwine
With blushing roses and the clust'ring vine :
Thus will thy lasting leaves, with beauties hung,
Prove grateful emblems of the lays he sung,
Whose soul, exalted like a god of wit,
Among the Muses and the Graces writ.

This epigram I have opened more than any of the former; the thought towards the latter end seemed closer couched, so as to require an explication. I fancied the poet aimed at the picture which is generally made of Apollo and the Muses, he sitting


his harp in the middle, and they around him. This looked beautiful to my thought ; and because the image arose before me out of the words of the original as I was reading it, I ventured to explain them so.


The very bees, O sweet Menander, hung
To taste the Muses' spring upon thy tongue :
The very Graces made the scenes you writ
Their happy point of fine expression hit.
Thus still you live, you make your Athens shine,
And raise its glory to the skies in thine.

“ This epigram has a respect to the character of its subject ; for Menander writ remarkably with a justness and purity of language. It has also told the country he was born in, without either a set or a hidden manner, while it twists together the glory of the poet and his nation, so as to make the nation depend upon his for an increase of its own.

o I will offer no more instances at present to show that they who deserve praise have it returned them from different ages ; let these which have been laid down show men that envy will not always prevail. And to the end that writers may more successfully enliven the endeavours of one another, let them consider, in some such manner as I have attempted, what may be the justest spirit and art of praise. It is indeed

very hard to come up to it. Our praise is trifling when it depends upon fable; it is false when it depends upon wrong qualifications; it means nothing when it is general; it is extremely difficult to hit when we propose to raise characters high, while we keep to them justly. I shall end this with transcribing that excellent epitaph of Mr.Cowley, wherein, with a kind of grave and philosophic humour, he

very beautifully speaks of himself, withdrawn from the world, and dead to all the interests of it, as of a man really deceased. At the same time, it is an instruction how to leave the public with a good grace.


Hic, O viator, sub lare parvulo
Couleius hic est conditus, hic jacet

Defunctus humani laboris

Sorte, supervacuaque vita ;
Non indecora pauperie nitens,
Et non inerti nobilis otio,

Vanoque dilectis popello

Divitüïs animosus hostis.
Possis ut illum dicere mortuum,
En terra jam nunc quantula sufficit !

Exempta sit curis, viator,

Terra sit illa levis, precare.
Hìc sparge flores, sparge breves rosas,
Nam vita gaudet mortua floribus,

Herbisque odoratis corona
Vatis adhuc cinerem calentem.


From life's superfluous cares enlarged,
His debt of human toil discharged,
Here Cowley lies, beneath this shed,
To ev'ry worldly interest dead :
With decent poverty content;
His hours of ease not idly spent;
To fortune's goods a foe profess'd,
And hating wealth, by all caress'd.
'Tis sure, he's dead; for lo! how small
A spot of earth is now his all !
O! wish that earth may lightly lay,
And ev'ry care be far away!
Bring flowers, the short-lived roses bring,
To life deceased fit offering !
And sweets around the poet strow,

Whilst yet with life his ashes glow.


The publication of these criticisms having procured me the following letter from a very ingenious gentleman. I cannot forbear inserting it in the volume *, though it did not come soon enough to have a place in any of my single papers.


MR. SPECTATOR, “ Having read over in your paper, No. 551. of the epigrams made by the Grecian wits, in commendation of their celebrated poets, I could not forbear sending you another, out of the same collection; which I take to be as great a compliment to Homer

any that has yet been paid him.


Τις ποθ' ο τον Τροΐης πόλεμον, &c.

Who first transcribed the famous Trojan war,

And wise Ulysses' acts, 0 Jove, make known;
For since, 'tis certain thine those poems are,

No more let Homer boast they are his own.


think it worthy of a place in your speculations, for aught I know, by that means, it may

in time be printed as often in English as it has already been in Greek. I am, like the rest of the world,


6. Your great admirer, 4th Dec.

“ G. R."

The reader may observe that the beauty of this epigram is different from that of


in the foregoing An irony is looked upon as the finest palliative of praise : and very often conveys the noblest panegyric under the appearance of satire. Homer is here seem

* The translation of Cowley's epitaph, and all that follows, except the concluding letter signed Philonicus, was not printed in the Spectator in folio, but added in the 8vo. edition of 1712.

ingly accused and treated as a plagiary; but what is drawn up in the form of an accusation is certainly, as my correspondent observes, the greatest compliment that could have been paid to that divine poet.

“ DEAR MR. SPECTATOR, “I am a gentleman of a pretty good fortune, and of a temper impatient of any thing which I think an injury. However, I always quarrelled according to law, and instead of attacking my adversary by the dangerous method of sword and pistol, I made my assaults by that more secure one of writ or warrant. I cannot help telling you, that either by the justice of my causes or the superiority of my counsel, I have been generally successful: and to my great satisfaction I can say it, that by three actions of slander, and half a dozen trespasses, I have for several years enjoyed a perfect tranquillity in my reputation and estate: by these means also I have been made known to the judges; the sergeants of our circuit are my intimate friends; and the ornamental counsel pay a very profound respect to one who has made so great a figure in the law. Affairs of consequence having brought me to town, I had the curiosity the other day to visit Westminster-hall; and, having placed myself in one of the courts, expected to be most agreeably entertained. After the court and counsel were with due ceremony seated, up stands a learned gentleman, and began, When this matter was last stirred before your lordship; the next humbly moved to 'quash' an indictment; another complained that his adversary had snapped' a judgement; the next informed the court that his client was 'stripped of his possession; another begged leave to acquaint his lordship that they had been saddled with costs. At last up got a grave sergeant

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