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they confess they have corrected the old Latin interpretation very often by his version. For my part, I generally took the author's meaning to be as you have explained it; yet their authority, joined to the knowledge of my own imperfectness in the language, over-ruled me. However, Sir, you may be confident I think you in the right, because you happen to be of my opinion: (for men (let them say what they will) never approve any other's sense, but as it squares with their own.) But you have made me much more proud of, and positive in my judgment, since it is strengthened by yours. I think your criticisms, which regard the expression, very just, and shall make my profit of them; to give you some proof that I am in earnest, I will alter three verses on your bare objection, though I have Mr. Dryden's example for each of them. And this, I hope, you will account no small piece of obedience from one, who values the authority of one true at above that of twenty criticks or commentators. But though I speak thus of commentators, I will continue to read carefully all I can procure, to make up, that way, for my own want of critical understanding in the original beauties of Homer. Though the greatest of them are certainly those of Invention and Design, which are not at all confined to the language: for the distinguishing excellences of Homer are (by the consent of the best criticks of all nations) first in the manners, (which include all the speeches, as being no other than the representations of each person's manners by his words:) and then in that rapture and fire, which carries you away with him, with that wonderful force, that no man who has a true poetical spirit is master of himself while he reads him. Homer makes you interested and concerned befote you are aware, all at once, whereas Virgil does it by soft degrees. This, I believe, is what a translator of Homer ought principally to imitate; and it is very hard for any translator to come up to it, because the chief reason why all translations fall short of their originals is, that the very constraint they are obliged to, renders them heavy and dispirited.
“ The great beauty of Homer's language, as I take it, consists in that noble simplicity which runs through all his works; (and yet his diction, contrary to what one would imagine consistent with simplicity, is at the same time very copious). I don't know how I have run into this pedantry in a Letter, but I find I have said too much, as well as spoken too inconsiderately; what farther thoughts I have upon this subject, I shall be glad 10 communicate to you (for my own improvement) when we meet; which is a happiness I very earnestly desire, as I do likewise some opportunity of proving how much I think myself obliged to your friendship, and how truly I am, Şir, Your most faithful, humble servant,
The Criticism upon Pope's Epitaphs, which was printed in “The Universal Visitor,” is placed here, being too minute and particular to be inserted in the Life.
EVERY Art is best taught by example. Nothing contributes more to the cultivation of propriety than remarks on the works of those who have most excelled. I shall therefore endeavour, at this visit, to entertain the young students in poetry, with an examination of Pope's Epitaphs.
To define an epitaph is useless; every one knows that it is an inscription on a tomb. An epitaph, therefore, implies no particular character of writing, but may be composed in verse or prose.. It is indeed.commonly panegyric; because we are seldom distinguished with a stone but by our friends; but it has no rule to restrain or molify it, except this, that it ought not to be longer than common beholders may be expected to have leisure and patience to peruse.
On CHARLES Earl of DORSET, in the Church of Wythybam in Sussex.
grace of courts, the Muse's pride,
The first distich of this epitaph 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 done that were likely to exempt him from the lot of man, or incline us much to wonder thai he should die. 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 criticks, 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,
The scourge of pride Of this couplet, the second line is not, what is intended, an illustration of the former. Pride, in the Great, is indeed well enough connected with knaves in state, though knaves is a word rather too ludicrous and light; but the mention of sanctified pride will not lead the thoughts to fops in learning, but rather to some species of tyranny or oppression, something more gloomy and more formidable than foppery.
Yet soft his nature in This is a high compliment, but was not first bestowed on Dorset by Popee The next verse is extremely beautiful.
Blest satyrist! In this distich is another line of which Pope was not the author. I do not mean to blame these imitations with much harshness; in long performances they are scarcely to be avoided, and in shorter they may be indulged, because the train of the compositiot may naturally involve them, or the scantiness of the subject allow little choice. However, what is borrowed is noe to be enjoyed as our own; and it is the business of critical justice to give every bird of the Muses his proper feather.
Blest courtier! Whether a courtier can properly be commended for keeping his ease saa cred, may perhaps be disputable. To please king and country, without sacrificing friendship to any change of times, was a very uncommon instance of prudence or felicity, and deserved to be kept separate from so poor a commendation as care of his ease. I wish our poets would attend a little more accurately to the use of the word sacred, which surely should never be applied in a serious composition, but where some reference may be made to a higher Being, or where some duty is exacted or implied. A man may keep his friendship sacred, because promises of friendship are very awful ties; but methinks he cannot, but in a burlesque sense, be said to keep his ease sacred,
Blest peer !-The blessing ascribed to the peer has no connection with his peerage; they might happen to any other man, whose ancestors were remembered, or whose posterity were likely to be regarded.
I know not whether this epitaph be worthy either of the writer or the man entombed.
II. On Sir WULIAM TRUMBAL, one of the principal Secretaries of State to King
William III, who having resigned his place, died in his retirement at East-bazastead in Berkshire, 1716.
A pleasing form, a firm, yet cautious mind,
At length enjoys that liberty he lov'd, . In this epitaph, as in many others, there appears, at the first view, a fault which I think scarcely any beauty can compensate. The name is omitted. The end of an epitaph is to convey some account of the dead; and to what purpuse is any thing told of him whose name is concealed? An epitaph, and a history of a nameless hero, are equally absurd, since the virtues and qualities so recounted in either are scattere at the mercy of fortune to be appropriated by guess. The name, it is true, may be read upon the stone; but what obligation has it to the poet, whose verses wander over the earth, and leave their subject behind them, and who is forced like an unskilful painter, to make his purpose known by adventitious help?
This epitaph is wholly without elevation, and contains nothing striking or particular; but the poet is not to be blamed for the defects of his subject. He said perhaps the best that could be said. There are, however, some defects which were not made necessary by the character in which he was employed. There is no opposition between an honest courtier and a patriot; for an honest courtier cannot but be a patriot.
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 excuseable, or allow3 room for beauties sufficient to overpower the ejects 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.
The thought in the last line is impertinent, having no connection with the foregoing character, nor with the condition of the man described. Had the epitaph been written on the poor conspirator* who died lately in prison,
* Major Bernardi; who died in Newgate, Sept 20, 1736. See Gent Mag. vol. Lo po 125, N,
after a confinement of more than forty years, without any crime proved against him, the sentiment had been just and pathetical; but why should' Trumbal be congratulated upon his liberty, who had never known restraint?
To this sad shrine, whoe'er thou art, draw near,
And with a father's sorrows mix his own!. This epitapla 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 insitation.
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.
ET CONSILIIS SANCTIORIBVS
VIXIT TITULIS ET INVIDIA MAJOR,
ANNOS HEV PAVCOS, XXXV. ,
OB. FEB. XVI. MDCCXX.
Prais'd, wept, and honour'd, by the Muse he lov'd. The lines on Craggs were not originally intended for an epitaph ; and therefore some faults are to be imputed to the violence with which they are torn from the poems that first contained them. We may however, observe some defects. There is a redundancy of words in the first couplet: it is superfluous to tell of him, who was sincete, true, and faithful, that he was in honour clear. 4 E2