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On the Monument of the Hon. ROBERT DIGBY, and of his Sister Mary, erected by their Father the Lord Digby, in the Church of Sherborne in Dorsetshire, 1727
Go! fair example of untainted youth,
And thou, blest maid! attendant on his doom,
Go, then, where only bliss fincere is known!
Yet take these tears, Mortality's relief,
This epitaph contains of the brother only a general indiscriminate character, and of the sister tells nothing but that she died. The difficulty in writing cpitaphs is to give a particular and appropriate praise. This, however, is not always to be performed, whatever be the diligence or ability of the writer; for the
greater part of mankind have no charafter at all, have little that distinguishes them from others equally good or bad, and therefore nothing can be said of them which may not be applied with equal propriety to a thousand more. , It is indeed no great panegyrick, that there is inclosed in this tomb one who was born in one year, and died in another; yer many useful and amiable lives have been spent which yet leave little materials for any other memorial. These are however not the proper subjects of poetry; and whenever friendship, or any other motive, obliges a poet to write on such subjects, he must be forgiven if he fometimes wanders in generalities, and utters the same praises over different tombs.
The scantiness of human praises can scarcely be made more apparent, than by remarking how often Pope has, in the few epitaphs which he composed, found it necessary to borrow from himfelf. The fourteen epitaphs, which he has written, comprise about an hundred and forty lines, in which there are more repetitions than will easily be found in
all the rest of his works. In the eight lines which make the character of Digby, there is scarce any thought, or word, which may not be found in the other epitaphs.
The ninth line, which is far the strongest and most elegant, is borrowed. The conclusion is the same with that on Harcourt, but is here inore elegant and better connected.
On Sir GODFREY KNELLER. In Weft
Kneller, by heaven, and not a master taught, Whose art was nature, and whose pictures
thought; Now for two ages, having snatch'd from fate Whate'er was beauteous, or whate'er was great, Lies crown'd with Princes honours, Poets lays, Due to his merit, and brave thirst of praise.
Living, Here, Withers, rest! thou bravest, gentlest
Of this epitaph the first couplet is good, the second not bad, the third is deformed with a broken metaphor, the word crowned not being applicable to the honours or the lays, and the fourth is not only borrowed, but of very harsh ! construction.
On General HENRY WITHERS. In West
mind, Thy country's friend, but more of human kind, O! born to arms! O! worth in youth approv’d! 0! soft humanity in age belov'd ! For thee the hardy veteran drops a tear, And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere.
Withers, adieu ! yet not with thee remove Thy martial ipirit, or thy social love !