« AnteriorContinuar »
to employ the magnificence of Words, and the force of Figures, to adorn the fublimity of Thoughts. Isocrates amongst the Grecian Orators, and Cicero, and the younger Pliny, amongst the Romans, have left us their Precedents for our security: For I think I need not mention the inimitable Pindar, who stretches on these Pinions out of fight, and is carried upward, as it were, into another World.
This, at least, my Lord, I may justly plead, that, if I have not perform'd so well as I think I have, yet I have us’d my best endeavours to excel
self. One Disadvantage I have had ; which is, never to have known or leen my Lady: And to draw the Lineaments of her Mind, from the Description, which I have received from others, is 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 discover'd more Perfections, at least others, than have been deliverd to them : Though 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, though not the greatest Poet of our Nation, acknowledges, that he had never seen Mrs. Drury, whom he has made immortal in his admirable Anniversaries. I have had the fame Fortune, though I have not succeeded to the fame Genius. However I have follow'd his Footsteps in the Design of his Panegyrick; which was to raise
an Emulation in the Living, to copy out the Exam. ple of the Dead. And therefore it was, that I once intended to have call’d this Poem, The Pattern : And though,on a second Consideration, I chang’d the Title into the Name of the Illustrious Person, yet the Design continues, and Eleonora is still the Patiern of Charity, Devotion, and Humility; of the best Wife, the best Mother, and the best of Friends.
And now, my Lord, though I have endeavour'd to answer your Commands, yet I cou'd not answer it to the World, nor to my Conscience, if I gave not your Lordship my Testimony of being the best Husband now living: I say my Testimony only; for the Praise of it is given you by your self. 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 lov'd by you, while she was living, and so gratefully honour'd, after she was dead. Few there are who have either had, or cou'd 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 Husbands : And perhaps their Wives deserve no better than to be mourn'd with Hypocrisy, and forgot with Ease. But you have distinguish'd yourfelf from ordinary Lovers; by a real and lasting Grief for the Deceas’d; and by endeavouring to raise for her the most durable Monument, which is that of Verfe. And so it would have prov'd, 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 Statue of Minerva, cou'd not forbear to ingrave his own Name, as Author of the Piece ; So give me leave to hope, that, by subscribing mine to
this Poem, I may live by the Goddess, and transmit my Name to Pofterity by the Memory of Hers. 'Tis no Flattery to assure Your Lordship, that she is remember'd, in the present Age, by all who have had the Honour 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 extollid her Virtues, and even spoken the same things of her in Prose, which I have done in Verse.
I therefore think my self oblig'd to thank your Lordship for the Commission which you have given me: How I have acquitted my self of it, must be left to the Opinion of the World, in spite of any Protestation, which I can enter against the present 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 inconstant 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 so few, in England, that they stand like Exceptions against General Rules : And though one of them has deservd a greater Commendation than I cou'd 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 reap each other in Lampoons. You, my Lord, who have the Character of Honour, though'tis not my Happiness to know You, may stand afide, with the small Remainders of the English
Nobility, truly such, and, unhurt your felves, behold the mad Combat. If I have pleas'd you, and some few others, I have obtain'd my end. You see I have disabled my self, like an elected Speaker of the House: yet like him I have undertaken the Charge, and find the Burden sufficiently recompens'd by the Honour. Be pleas'd to accept of these my unworthy Labours, this Paper Monument ; and let her pious Memory, which I am sure is sacred to You, not only plead the Pardon of my many Faults, but gain me your Protection, which is ambitiously fought by,
Moj Obedient Servant,
A Panegyrical Poem, Dedicated to the Memory of the late
Countess of ABINGDON.
o S when some Great and Gracious Monarch
dies, Soft Whispers, first, and mournful Mur
Among the sad Attendants ; then the Sound
The Nation felt it in th' extremelt Parts,