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The Works of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. in Nine Volumes, Volume 03 / The Rambler, Volume II By Samuel Johnson Characters: 1474

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

ON GENERAL HENRY WITHERS. In Westminster Abbey, 1723.

Here, Withers, rest! thou bravest, gentlest mind, Thy country's friend, but more of human kind. O! born to arms! O! worth in youth approv'd! O! soft humanity in age belov'd! For thee the hardy vet'ran drops a tear, And the gay courtier feels the sigh sincere.

Withers, adieu! yet not with thee remove Thy martial spirit, or thy social love! Amidst corruption, luxury and rage, Still leave some ancient virtues to our age: Nor let us say (those English glories gone) The last true Briton lies beneath this stone.

The epitaph on Withers affords another instance of commonplaces, though somewhat diversified, by mingled qualities, and the peculiarity of a profession.

The se

cond couplet is abrupt, general, and unpleasing; exclamation seldom succeeds in our language; and, I think, it may be observed, that the particle O! used at the beginning of a sentence, always offends.

The third couplet is more happy; the value expressed for him, by different sorts of men, raises him to esteem; there is yet something of the common cant of superficial satirists, who suppose that the insincerity of a courtier destroys all his sensations, and that he is equally a dissembler to the living and the dead[157].

At the third couplet I should wish the epitaph to close, but that I should be unwilling to lose the two next lines, which yet are dearly bought if they cannot be retained without the four that follow them.

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