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the sublimity of thoughts. Isocrates, amongst the Grecian orators, and Cicero, and the younger Pli. ny, amongst the Romans, have left us their precedents for our security; for I think I need not mention the inimitable Pindar, who stretches on these pinions out of sight, and is carried upward, as it were, into another world.
This, at least, my lord, I may justly plead, that, if I have not performed so well as I think I have, yet I have used my best endeavours to excel myself. One disadvantage I have had, which is, never to have known or seen my lady; and to draw the lineaments of her mind from the description which I have received from others, is for a painter to set himself at work without the living original before him ; which, the more beautiful it is, will be so much the more difficult for him to conceive, when he has only a relation given him of such and such features by an acquaintance or a friend, without the nice touches, which give the best resemblance, and make the graces of the picture. Every artist is apt enough to flatter himself, and I amongst the rest, that their own ocular observations would have discovered more perfections, at least others, than have been delivered to them ; though I have received mine from the best hands, that is, from persons who neither want a just understanding of my lady's worth, nor a due veneration for her memory
Doctor Donne, the greatest wit, though not the best poet of our nation, acknowledges, that he had never seen Mrs Drury, whom he has made immortal in his admirable « Anniversaries."* I have
* Donne's character as a love-poet is elsewhere very well given
* by Dryden. “He affects the metaphysics, not only in his sahad the same fortune, though I have not succeeded to the same genius. However, I have followed his footsteps in the design of his panegyric; which was to raise an emulation in the living, to copy out the example of the dead. And therefore it was, that I once intended to have called this poem “ The Pattern;" and though, on a second consideration, I changed the title into the name of that illustrious person, yet the design continues, and Eleonora is still the pattern of charity, devotion, and humility; of the best wife, the best mother, and the best of friends.
And now, my lord, though I have endeavoured to answer your commands, yet I could not answer it to the world, nor to my conscience, if I gave not your lordship my testimony of being the best husband now living: I say my testimony only; for the praise of it is given you by yourself
. They, who despise the rules of virtue both in their practice and their morals, will think this a very trivial commendation. But I think it the peculiar happiness of the Countess of Abingdon, to have been so truly loved by you, while she was living, and so gratefully honoured, after she was dead. Few there are who have either had, or could have, such a loss;
tires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with the speculations of philosophy, where he should engage their hearts, and entertain them with the softness of love." Elizabeth Drury was the daugh. ter of Sir Robert Drury, with whom Donne went to Paris. Donne celebrated her merit, and lamented her death in elegies, entitled, “The Anatomy of the World, wherein, by occasion of the untimely Death of Mrs Elizabeth Drury, the frailty and the decay of this whole World is represented.' These elegiac verses are divided into two anniversaries, through which the editor attempted in vain to struggle, in search of the acknowledgment quoted by Dryden.
and yet fewer, who carried their love and constancy beyond the grave. The exteriors of mourning, a decent funeral, and black habits, are the usual stints of common husbands; and perhaps their wives deserve no better than to be mourned with hypocrisy, and forgot with ease. But you have distinguished yourself from ordinary lovers, by a real and lasting grief for the deceased ; and by endeavouring to raise for her the most durable monument, which is that of verse. And so it would have proved, if the workman had been equal to the work, and your choice of the artificer as happy as your design. Yet, as Phidias, when he had made the statue of Minerva, could not forbear to engrave his own name, as author of the piece; so give me leave to hope, that, by subscribing mine to this poem,
I may live by the goddess, and transmit my name to posterity by the memory of hers. It is no flattery to assure your lordship, that she is remembered, in the present age, by all who have had the honour of her conversation and acquaintance; and that I have never been in any company since the news of her death was first brought me, where they have not extolled her virtues, and even spoken the same things of her in prose, which I have done in verse.
I therefore think myself obliged to your lordship for the commission which you have given me: how I have acquitted myself of it, must be left to the opinion of the world, in spite of any protestation which I can enter against the present age, as incompetent or corrupt judges. For my comfort, they are but Englishmen; and, as such, if they think ill of me to-day, they are inconstant enough to think well of me to-morrow. And after all, I have not much to thank my fortune that I was born amongst them. The good of both sexes are so few, in England, that they stand like exceptions
against general rules; and though one of them has deserved a greater commendation than I could give her, they have taken care that I should not tire my pen with frequent exercise on the like subjects; that praises, like taxes, should be appropriated, and left almost as individual as the person. They say, my talent is satire ; if it be so, it is a fruitful age, and there is an extraordinary crop to gather. But a single hand is insufficient for such a harvest : they have sown the dragon's teeth themselves, and it is but just they should reap each other in lampoons. You, my lord, who have the character of honour, though it is not my happiness to know you, may stand aside, with the small remainders of the English nobility, truly such, and, unhurt yourselves, behold the mad combat. If I have pleased you, and some few others, I have obtained my end. You see I have disabled myself, like an elected Speaker of the House; yet, like him, I have undertaken the charge, and find the burden sufficiently recompensed by the honour. Be pleased to accept of these my unworthy labours, this paper monument; and let her pious memory, which I am sure is sacred to you, not only plead the pardon of my many faults, but gain me your protection, which is ambitiously sought by,
Most obedient servant,
TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE
COUNTESS OF ABINGDON.
From the Marginal Notes of the First Edition. The introduction. Of her charity. Of her prudent management:
Of her humility. Of her piety. Of her various virtues. Of her conjugal virtues. Of her love to her children. Her care of their education. Of her friendship. Reflections on the shortness of her life. The manner of her death. Her preparedness to die. Apostrophe to her soul. Epiphonema, or close of the poem.
As when some great and gracious monarch dies,