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song: or who, hearing this, would be the better for the information. Had Mr. Hayley been employed in the monumental praises of a private man, this might have been excusable, but, speaking of such a man as Cowper, it is idle. This epitaplı is not appropriate, there-, fore, and we have shewn that it is not remarkable for simplicity. Perhaps the respectable critics themselves may not feel iuclined to dispute this point very tenaciously. Epithets are very convenient little things for rounding off a period; and it will not be the first time that truth has been sacrificed to verbosity and antithesis.
To measure lances with Hayley may be esteemed presumptuous; but probably the following, although much inferior as a composition, would have had more effect than his polished and harmonious lines.
INSCRIPTION FOR A MONUMENT,
TO THE MEMORY OF COWPER.
| READER! if with no vulgar sympathy
Thou view'st the wreck of genius and of worth,
The common portion:—that the voice, now hush'd
This inscription is faulty from its length, but if a painter cannot get the requisite effect at one stroke, he must do it by many. The laconic style of epitaphs is the most difficult to be managed of any, inasmuch as most is expected from it. A sentence standing alone on a tomb, or a monument, is expected to contain soinething particularly striking; and when this expectation is disappointed, the reader feels like a man who, having been promised an excellent joke, is treated with a stale conceit, or a vapid pun. The best specimen of this kind, which I am acquaiuted with, is that on a French general:
Scires è sanguine natos.
IT is common for busy and active men to behold the occupations of the retired and contemplative person with contempt. They consider bis speculations as idle and unproductive: as they participate in none of his feelings, they are strangers to his motives, his views, and his delights: they behold him elaborately employed on what they conceive forwards none of the interests of life, contributes to none of its gratifications, removes none of its inconveniencies: they conclude, therefore, that he is led away by the delusions of futile philosophy, that he labours for no good, and lives to no end. Of the various frames of mind which they observe in him, no one seems to predominate more, and none appears to them more absurd than sadness, which seems, in some degree, to pervade all his views, and shed a solemn tinge over all his thoughts. Sadness, arising from no personal grief, and connected with no individual concern, they regard as moon-struck melancholy, the effect of a mind overcast with constitutional gloom, and diseased with habits of vain and fanciful speculation.--" We can share with the sorrows of the unfortunate," say they, “ but this monastic spleen merits only our derision: it tends to no beneficial purpose, it benefits neither its possessor por society." Those who have thought a little more on this subject than the gay and busy crowd, will draw conclusions of a different nature. That there is a sadness, springing from the noblest and purest sources, a sadness friendly to the human heart, and, by direct consequence to human nature in general, is a truth which a little illustration will render tolerably clear, and which, when understood in its full force, may probably convert contempt and ridicule into respect.
I set out then with the proposition that the man who thinks deeply, especially if his reading be extensive, will, unless his heart be very cold and very light, become habituated to a pensive, or, with more propriety, a mourn ful cast of thought.
This will arise from two more particular sources -from the view of human nature in general, as demonstrated by the experience both of past and present times, and from the contemplation of individual instances of human depravity and of human suffering. The first of these is, indeed, the last in the order of time, for his general views of humanity are in a manner consequential, or resulting from the special, but I have inverted that order for the sake of perspicuity.