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Amidst corruption, luxury, and rage,
The epitaph on Withers affords another instance of common places, though foniewhat diversified, by mingled qualities, and the peculiarity of a profesfion.
The second couplet is abrupt, general, and unpleasing; exclamation seldom succeeds in our language; and, I think, it may
be observed that the particle O! used at the beginning of a sentence, al
The third couplet is more happy; the value expressed for him, by different sorts of men, raises him to esteem; there is yet something of the common cant of superficial satirists, who suppose that the infincerity of a courtier destroys all his sensations, and that he is equally a dissembler to the living and the dead.
At the third cou; it I should with the epitaph to clofe, l. i that I should be unwilling to lose the two next lines, which yet are dearly bought if they cannot be retained wit out the four that follow them.
X On Mr. ELIJAH FENTON. At Easthamsted
in Berkskire, 1730.
This modest stone, what few vain marbles
can, May truly say, Here lies an honest man: A poet, bleft beyond the poet's fate, Whom Heaven kept sacred from the Proud and;
Creat : Foe toʻloud praise, and friend to learned ease, Content with science in the vale of peace. Calmly he look'd on either life, and here Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear;
From Nature's temperate feast rose fatisfy’d, Thank'd heaven that he had liv'd, and that he
The first couplet of this epitaph is borrowed. The four next lines contain a species of praise peculiar, original, and just. Here, therefore, the inscription should have ended, the latter part containing nothing but what is common to every man who is wife and good. The character of Fenton was so amiable, that I cannot forbear to wish for some poet or biographer to display it more fully for the advantage of posterity. If he did not stand in the first rank of genius, he may claim a place in the second ; and, whatever criticism may object to his writings, censure could find
little to blame in his life.
On Mr. GAY.
In Westminster-Abbey, 1732.
Of manners gentle, of affections mild; In wit, a man ; fimplicity, a child : With native humour tempering virtuous rage, Form’d to delight at once and lash the age : Above temptation, in a low estate, And uncorrupted, even among the Great : A safe companion, and an easy friend, Unblam'd through life, lamented in thy end. These are thy honours ! not that here thy bust Is mix'd with heroes, or with kings thy dust; But that the Worthy and the Good fhall say, Striking their pensive bofoms-Here lies GAY.
As Gay was the favourite of our author, this epitaph was probably written with an uncommon degree of attention ; yet it is not more happily executed than the rest, for it does not always happen that the success of a poet is proportionate to his labour. The same observation may be extended to all works of imagination, which are often influenced by causes wholly out of the performer's power, by hints of which he perceives not the origin, by sudden elevations of mind which he cannot produce in himself, and which fometimes rise when he expects them leaft.
The two parts of the first line are only echoes of each other, gentle manners and mild affections, if they inean any thing, must mean the same.
That Gay was a man in wit is a very frigid commendation; to have the wit of a man is not much for a poet. The wit of man, and the simplicity of a child, make a poor and vulgar contrast, and raise no ideas of excellence, either intellectual or moral.