Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

for a painter to set himself at work without the living original before him : which, the more beautiful it is, will be so much the more difficult for him to conceive, when he has only a relation given him of such and such features by an acquaintance or a friend, without the nice touches, which give the best resemblance, and make the graces of the picture. Every artist is apt enough to flatter himself (and I amongst the rest) that their own ocular observations would have discovered more perfections, at least others, than have been delivered to them : tho I have received mine from the best hands, that is, from persons who neither want a just understanding of my lady's worth, nor a due veneration for her memory.

Doctor Donne, the greatest wit, tho not the greatest poet of our nation, acknowleges, that he had never seen Mrs. Drury, whom he has made immortal' in his admirable Anniversaries. I have had the same fortune, tho I have not succeeded to the same genius. However, I have followed his footsteps in the design of his panegyric; which was to raise an emulation in the living, to copy out the example of the dead. And therefore it was, that I once intended to have called

gave not

by this poem, The Pattern: and tho, on a second E consideration, I changed the title into the name

of the illustrious person, yet the design conti

nues, and Eleonora is still the pattern of charity, OTI devotion, and humility; of the best wife, the

best mother, and the best of friends.

And now, my lord, tho I have endeavored to answer your commands, yet I could not answer it to the world, nor to my conscience, if I your lordship my testimony of being the best hufband now living : I say my testimony only; for the praise of it is given you by yourself. They, who despise the rules of virtue both in their

practice and their morals, will think this a very trivial commendation. But I think it the peculiar happiness of the Countess of Abingdon, to have been so truly loved by you, while she was living, and so gratefully honored, after she was dead. Few there are who have either had, or could have, such a loss ; and yet fewer who carried their love and constancy beyond the grave.

The exteriors of mourning, a decent funeral, and black habits, are the usual stints of common hufbands : and perhaps their wives deserve no better than to be mourned with hypocrisy, and forgot

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

with case. But you have distinguished yourself from ordinary lovers, by a real and lasting grief for the deceased; and by endeavoring to raise for her the most durable monument, which is that of verse. And so it would have proved, if the workman had been equal to the work, and your choice of the artificer as happy as your design. Yet, as Phidias, when he had made the ftatue of Minerva, could not forbear to ingrave his own name, as author of the piece : fo give me leave to hope, that, by subscribing mine to this poem, I may

I may live by the goddess, and transmit my name to posterity by the memory of hers. 'Tis no flattery to assure your lordship, that she is remembered, in the present age, by all who have had the honor of her conversation and acquaintance; and that I have never been in any company since the news of her death was first brought me, where they have not extolld her virtues, and even spoken the same things of her in prose, which I have done in verse.

I therefore think myself obliged to thank your lordship for the commiffion which

you me: how I have acquitted myself of it, must be Jeft to the opinion of the world, in spite of

any protestation which I can enter against the pre

have given sent age, as incompetent or corrupt judges. For my comfort, they are but Englishmen, and, as such, if they think ill of me to-day, they are inconftant enough to think well of me to-morrow. And after all, I have not much to thank

my

fortune that I was born amongst them. The good of both sexes are fo few, in England, that they stand like exceptions against general rules : and tho one of them has deferved a greater commendation than I could give her, they have taken care that I should not tire my pen with frequent exercise on the like subjects; that praises, like taxes, should be appropriated, and left almost as individual as the person. They say, my talent is satire : if it be so, 'tis a fruitful age, and there is an extraordinary crop to gather. But a single hand is insufficient for such a harvest : they have sown the dragons teeth themselves, and 'tis but just they should

each other in lampoons. You, , my lord, who have the character of honor, tho 'tis not my happiness to know you, may stand afide, with the small remainders of the English nobility, truly such, and, unhurt yourselves, behold the mad combat. If I have pleased you, and some few others, I have obtained my end.

reap

[ocr errors]

You see I have disabled myself, like an elected speaker of the house: yet like him I have undertaken the charge, and find the burden sufficiently recompensed by the honor. Be pleased to accept of these my unworthy labors, this

papermonument; and let her pious memory, which I am fure is sacred to you, not only plead the don of my many faults, but gain me your protection, which is ambitiously fought by,

par

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »