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ON CHARLES EARL OF DORSET.
IN THE CHURCH OF WITHYAM, IN SUSSEX.
DORSET, the Grace of Courts, the Muses' Pride,
Where other BUCKHURSTS, other DORSETS shine,
DORSET, the grace of Courts, &c.] "The first distich of this Epitaph," says Dr. Johnson, " contains a kind of information which few would want; that the man for whom the tomb was erected, died. There are indeed some qualities worthy of praise ascribed to the dead, but none that were likely to exempt him from the lot of man, or incline us much to wonder that he should die."--But surely these remarks cannot prevent our perceiving
the impressive effect produced in the opening of the Epitaph, by announcing-not merely that an individual was dead-which would indeed have been an insipid truism-but that a person who had added grace to a Court, of whom the Muses were proud, who had patronized the arts, and was a Judge of nature, was dead; which is as much as to say, in a more concise and striking form, that the highest accomplishments of humanity cannot preserve their possessor from the common lot; a reflection eminently calculated to recall us to a due sense of the uncertainty of life, and which is in fact a beautiful imitation of the fine expression in scripture,
"Know ye not that there fallen in Israel?"
is a prince and a great man this day
Ver. 2. Judge of nature,] What is meant by "Judge of nature," is not easy to say. Nature is not the object of human judgment; for it is in vain to judge where we cannot alter. If by nature is meant what is commonly called nature by the critics, 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." Johnson.
Can we suppose that Johnson meant to say, that because it is not in our power to alter the works of nature, which is far from being in all cases true, it is of no use or advantage to us to study them, and to form the best judgment in our power respecting them? Is there any employment more suitable to us, more consistent with our true dignity, improvement and happiness, than the contemplation of the works of nature? or, in other words, of that immense universe which the Creator of all has given us faculties in a great degree to comprehend, and has offered to our inquiry and admiration? and is it not the highest honour that can be conferred on a mortal, to say that he was "a judge" of this wonderful system? When such are the observations with which the learned critic commences his remarks on these epitaphs, it will not be difficult for the reader to form an idea of the spirit in which they are, for the most part, written.
ON SIR WILLIAM TRUMBAL,
One of the principal Secretaries of State to King WILLIAM III., who having resigned his Place, died in his Retirement at Easthamsted, in Berkshire, 1716.
A PLEASING Form; a firm, yet cautious Mind;
Ver. 5. a Patriot too;] 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 slight 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. Johnson,
Dr. Johnson further objects to this Epitaph, because the name
of the person on whom it was written is omitted-a fault which he thinks scarcely any beauty can compensate. To this he adds, that "it is wholly without elevation, and contains nothing striking or particular, &c." The former observation seems well founded; but the many peculiarities of character enumerated in the Epitaph prevent our acceding to the latter. Dr. Warton remarks that "the whole of this epitaph is one string of antithesis throughout;" which may be admitted, without any great censure; as qualities appear stronger when placed in opposition to each other.
ON THE HON. SIMON HARCOURT,
ONLY SON OF THE LORD CHANCELLOR HARCOURT,
At the Church of Stanton-Harcourt in Oxfordshire,
To this sad 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 died.
How vain is Reason, Eloquence how weak! 5 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!
Ver. 1. To this sad shrine,] 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. Johnson.
Ver. 4. but when he died] These were the very words used by Louis XIV. when his Queen died, 1683; though it is not to be imagined they were copied by Pope. Such coincidences in writers Warton.
are not uncommon.
ON JAMES CRAGGS,* ESQ.
REGNI MAGNÆ BRITANNIÆ A SECRETIS
ET CONSILIIS SANCTIORIBUS,
PRINCIPIS PARITER AC POPULI AMOR ET DELICIÆ : VIXIT TITULIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR
ANNOS, HEU PAUCOS, Xxxv.
OB. FEB. XIV. MDCCXX.
Statesman, yet Friend to Truth! of Soul sincere, In Action faithful, and in Honour clear!
* He was the only son of James Craggs, who has been before mentioned. He had his education at a French seminary in Chelsea; from thence he went to Hanover, thence to the Court of Turin. He removed to Barcelona, and in the absence of Lord Stanhope, he afterwards served as Under-Minister to the Emperor. Upon the death of Queen Ann, he was sent to Hanover, for which he was made, by the assistance of the Duke of Marlborough, Cofferer to the Prince, and afterwards Principal Secretary of