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On EDMUND Duke of BUCKINGHAM, who died in the 19th Year of his Age, 1735.
If modeft youth, with cool reflection crown'd,
This epitaph Mr. Warburton prefers to the reft, but I know not for what reafon. To crown with reflection is furely a mode of speech approaching to nonfenfe. Opening virtues blooming round, is fomething like tautology; the fix following lines are poor and profaick. Art is in another couplet ufed for arts, that a rhyme may be had to heart. The fix last lines are the best, but not excellent.
The rest of his fepulchral performances hardly deferve the notice of criticism. The contemptible "Dialogue" between HE and SHE fhould have been fuppreffed for the author's fake.
In his laft epitaph on himself, in which he attempts to be jocular upon one of the few things that make wife men ferious, he confounds the living man with the dead:
Under this ftone, or under this fill,
When a man is once buried, the queftion, under what he is buried, is eafily decided. He forgot that though he wrote the epitaph in a state of uncertainty, yet it could not be laid over him till his grave was made. Such is the folly of wit when it is ill employed.
The world has but little new; even this wretchednefs ieems to have been borrowed from the following tunclefs lines:
Ludovici Arcofti humantur offa
Sub hoc marmore, vel fub hac humo, feu
Sub quicquid voluit benignus hæres
Nam fcire haud potuit futura, fed nec
Olim fiquod haberetis fepulchrum.
Surely Ariofto did not venture to expect that his trifle would have ever had fuch an illuftrious imi
HRISTOPHER PITT, of whom whatever I fhall relate, more than has been already pub ́lifhed, I owe to the kind communication of Dr. Warton, was born in 1699 at Blandford, the fon of a phyfician much efteemed.
He was, in 1714, received as a fcholar into Winchefter College, where he was diftinguifhed by exercifes of uncommon elegance, and, at his removal to New College in 1719, prefented to the electors, as the product of his private and voluntary ftudies, a compleat verfion of Lucan's poem, which he did not then know to have been translated by Rowe.
This is an instance of early diligence which well deferves to be recorded. The fuppreffion of fuch a work, recommended by fuch uncommon circumftances, is to be regretted. It is indeed culpable, to load libraries with fuperfluous books; but incitements to early excellence are never fuperfluous, and from this example the danger is not great of many imitations.
When he had refided at his College three years, he was presented to the rectory of Pimpern in Dorsetfhire (1722), by his relation, Mr. Pitt of Stratfieldfea in Hampshire; and, refigning his fellowship, continued at Oxford two years longer, till he became Mafter of Arts (1724).
He probably about this time tranflated "Vida's "Art of Poetry," which Triftram's fplendid edition had then made popular. In this tranflation he distinguished himself, both by its general elegance, and by the fkilful adaptation of his numbers to the images expreffed; a beauty which Vida has with great ardour enforced and exemplified.
He then retired to his living, a place very pleafing by its fituation, and therefore likely to excite the imagination of a poet; where he paffed the reft of his life, reverenced for his virtue, and beloved for the foftness of his temper and eafinefs of his manners. Before strangers he had fomething of the scholar's ti midity or diftruft; but, when he became familiar, he was in a very high degree chearful and entertaining. His general benevolence procured general refpe&t; and he paffed a life placid and honourable, neither too great for the kindnefs of the low, nor too low for the notice of the
AT what time he compofed his mifcellany, published in 1727, it is not eafy nor neceffary to know: those which have dates appear to have been very early productions; and I have not obferved that any rife above mediocrity.
The success of his Vida animated him to a higher undertaking; and in his thirtieth year he publifhed a verfion of the first book of the Æneid. This being, I fuppofe, commended by his friends, he fome time afterwards added three or four more; with an advertisement, in which he reprefents himfelf as tranflating with great indifference, and with a progrefs of which himself was hardly confcious. This can hardly be true, and, if true, is nothing to the reader.
At laft, without any further contention with his modefty, or any awe of the name of Dryden, he gave us a complete English Æneid, which I am forry not to see joined in this publication with his other poems *. It would have been pleafing to have an opportunity of comparing the two beft tranflations that perhaps were ever produced by one nation of the fame author.
Pitt engaging as a rival with Dryden, naturally obferved his failures, and avoided them; and, as he wrote after Pope's Iliad, he had an example of an exact, equable, and fplendid verfification. With these advantages, feconded by great diligence, he might fuccefstully labour particular paffages, and escape many errors. If the two verfions are compared, perhaps the refult would be, that Dryden
* It is added to the late edition. R.