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trifling or ludicrous, nothing that did not tend to the noblest end, the propagation of piety and the increase of devotion.
It may seem very superfluous to lay it down as the first rule for writing EPITAPHS, that the name of the deceased is not to be omitted; nor should I have thought such a precept necessary, had not the practice of the greatest writers shewn, that it has not been sufficiently regarded. In most of the poetical EPITAPHS, the names for whom they were composed, may be sought to no purpose, being only prefixed on the monument. To expose the absurdity of this omission, it is only necessary to ask how the EPITAPHS, which have outlived the stones on which they were inscribed, would have con. tributed to the information of posterity, had they wanted the names of those whom they celebrated.
In drawing the character of the deceased, there are no rules to be observed which do not equally relate to other compositions. The praise ought not to be general, because the mind is lost in the extent of
indefinite idea, and cannot be affected with what it cannot comprehend. When we hear only of a good or great man, we know not in what class to place him, nor have any notion of his character, distinct from that of a thousand others; his example can have no effect upon our conduct, as we have nothing remarkable or eminent to propose to our imitation. The EPITAPH composed by Ennius for his own tomb, has both the faults last mentioned.
Nemo me decoret lacrumis, nec funera, fletu
Faxit. Cur? volito vivu' per ora virum.
The reader of this EPITAPH receives scarce any idea from it; he neither conceives any veneration for the man to whom it belongs, nor is instructed by what methods this boasted reputation is to be obtained.
Though a sepulchral inscription is professedly a panegyrick, and, therefore, not confined to historical impartiality, yet it ought always to be written with regard to truth. No man ought to be commended for virtues which he never possessed, but whoever is curious to know his faults must enquire after them in other places; the monuments of the dead are not intended to perpetuate the memory of crimes, but to exhibit patterns of virtue. On the tomb of Mæcenas his luxury is not to be mentioned with his munificence, nor is the proscription to find a place on the monument of Augustus.
The best subject for EPITAPHS is private virtue; virtue exerted in the same circumstances in which the bulk of mankind are placed, and which, therefore, may admit of many imitators. He that has delivered his country from oppression, or freed the world from ignorance and error, can excite the emulation of a very small number; but he that has repelled the temptations of poverty, and disdained to free himself from distress at the ex. pence of his virtue, may animate multitudes, by his example, to the same firmness of heart and steadiness of resolution.
Of this kind I cannot forbear the mention of two Greek inscriptions; one upon a man whose writings are well known, the other upon a person
whose memory is preserved only in her EPITAPH, who both lived in slavery, the most calamitous estate in human life:
Ζωσιμη ή πριν ευσα μονω τω σωματι δέλη,
ZOSIMA, que solo fuit olim corpore serva,
"ZOSIMA, who in her life could only have her body
It is impossible to read this EPITAPH without being animated to bear the evils of life with constancy, and to support the dignity of human nature under the most pressing afflictions, both by the example of the heroine, whose grave we behold, and the prospect of that state in which, to use the language of the inspired writers, "The poor cease from their labours, and the weary be at rest."
The other is upon Epictetus, the Stoick philosopher:
Δελ. Επικτητα γενόμην, και σωμα αναπηρί
Servus Epictetus, mutilatus corpore vixi
"EPICTETUS, who lies here, was a slave and a cripple, poor as the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite of Heaven."
In this distich is comprised the noblest panegyrick, and the most important instruction. We may learn from it, that virtue is impracticable in no
condition, since Epictetus could recommend him. self to the regard of Heaven, amidst the tempta, tions of poverty and slavery; slavery, which has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a slave and a thief are expressed by the same word. And we may be likewise admonished by it, not to lay any stress on a man's outward circumstances, in making an estimate of his real value, since Epictetus the beggar, the eripple, and the slave, was the favourite of Heaven,
STATE OF AFFAIRS IN MDCCLVI.
THE time is now come in which every English
man expects to be informed of the national affairs, and in which he has a right to have that expectation gratified. For whatever may be urged by ministers, or those whom vanity or interest make the followers of ministers, concerning the necessity of confidence in our governors, and the presumption of prying with profane eyes into the recesses of policy, it is evident, that this reverence can be claimed only by counsels yet unexecuted, and projects suspended in deliberation. But when a design has ended in miscarriage or success, when every eye and
every ear is witness to general discontent, or general satisfaction, it is then a proper time to disentangle confusion, and illustrate obscurity, to shew