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it up in terms as flattering as possible; and that he would make it the employment of his life to deserve it.
I have not yet been in a place called Westminster Abbey, but soon intend to visit it. There, I am told, I shall see justice done to deceased merit; none, i am told, are permitted to be buried there but such as have adorned as well as improved mankınd. There no intruders, by the influence of friends or fortune, presume to mix their unhallowed ashes with philosophers, heroes, and poets. Nothing but true merit has a place in that awful sanctuary. The guardianship of the tombs is committed to several reverend priests, who are never guilty, for a superior reward, of taking down the names of good men to make room for others of equivocal character, nor ever profane the sacred walls with pageants that posterity cannot know or shall blush to own.
I always was of opinion that sepulchral honours of this kind should be considered as a national concern, and not trusted to the care of the priests of any country, how respectable soever; but from the con
; duct of the reverend personages, whose disinterested patriotism I shall shortly be able to discover, I am taught to retract my former sentiments. It is true, the Spartans and the Persians made a fine political use of sepulchral vanity: they permitted none to be thus interred who had not fallen in the vindication of their country. A monument thus became a real mark of distinction; it nerved the hero's arm with tenfold vigour; and he fought without fear who only fought for a grave. Farewell.
FROM THE SAME.
An Account of Westminster Abbey. I am just returned from Westminster Abbey, the place of sepulture for the philosophers, heroes, and kings of England. What a gloom do monumental inscriptions and all the venerable remains of deceased merit inspire! Imagine a temple marked with the hand of antiquity, solemn as religious awe, adorned with all the magnificence of barbarous profusion, dim windows, fretted pillars, long colonnades, and dark ceilings. Think, then, what were my sensations at being introduced to such a scene. I stood in the midst of the temple, and threw my eyes round on the walls, filled with the statues, the inscriptions, and the monuments of the dead.
“ Alas !” I said to myself, “how does pride attend the puny child of dust even to the grave! Even humble as I am, I possess more consequence in the present scene than the greatest hero of them all ; they have toiled for an hour to gain a transient immortality, and are at length retired to the grave, where they have no attendant but the worm, none to flatter but the epitaph.”
As I was indulging such reflections, a gentleman dressed in black, perceiving me to be a stranger, came up, entered into conversation, and politely offered to be my instructer and guide through the temple. “If any monument,” said he, “should particularly excite your curiosity, I shall endeavour to satisfy your demands." I accepted, with thanks, the gentleman's offer, adding that I was come to observe the policy, the wisdom, and the justice of the English in conferring rewards on deceased merit. “If adulation like this,” continued I, “ be properly conducted, as it can nowise injure those who are flattered, so it may be a glorious incentive to those who are now capable of enjoying it. It is the duty of every good government to turn this monumental pride to its own advantage; to become strong in the aggregate from the weakness of the individual. If none but the truly great have a place in this awful repository, a temple like this will give the finest lessons of morality, and be a strong incentive
to true ambition. I am told that none have a place here but characters of the most distinguished merit.”' The man in black seemed impatient at my observations, so I discontinued my remarks, and we walked on together to take a view of every particular monument in order as it lay.
As the eye is naturally caught by the finest objects, I could not avoid being particularly curious about one monument, which appeared more beautiful than any of the rest; "that,” said I to my guide, “I take to be the tomb of some very great man. By the peculiar excellence of the workmanship and the magnificence of the design, thiş must be a trophy raised to the memory of some king who has saved his country from ruin; or lawgiver, who has reduced his fellow-citizens from anarchy into just subjection.” “ It is not requisite,” replied my companion, smiling, “to have such qualifications in order to have a very fine monument here ; more humble abilities will suffice." 6 What! I suppose, then, the gaining two or three battles, or the taking half a score towns, is thought a sufficient qualification ?” “ Gaining battles or taking towns,” replied the man in black, “may be of service ; but a gentleman may have a very fine monument here without ever seeing a battle or a siege.” “ This, then, is the monument of some poet, 1 presume; of one whose wit has gained him immortality.” “ No, sir,” replied my guide,“ the gentleman who lies here has never made verses ; and as for wit, he despised it in others because he had no himself.” Pray tell me, then, in a word,” said I, peevishly," what is the great man who lies here particularly remarkable for?" markable, sir!" said my companion; "why, sir, the gentleman that lies here is remarkable, very remarkable--for a tomb in Westminster Abbey.” head of my ancestors! how has he got here? I fancy he could never bribe the guardians of the temple to give him a place. Should he not be ashamed
to be seen among company where even moderate merit would look like infamy?”. “I suppose," replied the man in black," the gentleman was rich, and his friends, as is usual in such a case, told him he was great. He readily believed them; the guardians of the temple, as they got by the self-delusion, were ready to believe him too ; so he paid his money for a fine monument, and the workman, as you see, has made him one of the most beautiful. Think not, however, that this gentleman is singular in his desire of being buried among the great ; there are several others in the temple, who, hated and shunned by the great while alive, have come here fully resolved to keep them company now they are dead.”
As we walked along to a particular part of the temple, " There,” says the gentleman, pointing with his finger, " that is the Poets' Corner; there you see the monuments of Shakspeare, and Milton, and Prior, and Drayton.” Drayton !" I replied; “I never heard of him before, but I have been told of one Pope; is he there ?" “ It is time enough,” replied my guide, “these hundred years; he is not long dead; people have not done hating him yet.” Strange,
,” cried I; “can any be found to hate a man whose life was wholly spent in entertaining and instructing his fellow-creatures!” “Yes,” says my guide,
they hate him for that very reason. There are a set of men called answerers of books, who take upon them to watch the republic of letters, and distribute reputation by the sheet. These answerers have no other employment but to cry out dunce and scribbler; to praise the dead and revile the living ; to grant a man of confessed abilities some small share of merit ; to applaud twenty blockheads in order to gain the reputation of candour; and to revile the moral character of the man whose writings they cannot injure. Such wretches are kept in pay by some mercenary bookseller, or, more frequently, the bookseller himself takes this
dirty work off their hands, as all that is required is to be very abusive and very dull. Every poet of any genius is sure to find such enemies ; he feels, though he seems to despise their malice; they make him miserable here, and, in the pursuit of empty fame, at last he gains solid anxiety.”
“Has this been the case with every poet I see here?" cried I. Yes, with every mother's son of them,” replied he, “except he happened to be born a mandarine. If he has much money, he may buy reputation from your book-answerers, as well as a monument from the guardians of the temple."
“ But are there not some men of distinguished taste, as in China, who are willing to patronise men of merit, and soften the rancour of malevolent dulness ?"
“I own there are many,” replied the man in black; “but, alas! sir, the book-answerers crowd about them, and call themselves the writers of books; and the patron is too indolent to distinguish ; thus poets are kept at a distance, while their enemies eat up all their rewards at the mandarine's table.”
Leaving this part of the temple, we made up to an iron gate, through which my companion told me we were to pass in order to see the monuments of the kings. Accordingly. I marched up without farther ceremony, and was going to enter, when a person who held the gate in his hand told me I must pay first. I was surprised at such a demand, and asked the man whether the people of England kept a show? whether the paltry sum he demanded was not a national reproach? whether it was not more to the honour of the country to let their magnificence or their antiquities be openly seen, than thus meanly to tax a curiosity which tended to their own honour ? “ As for your questions,” replied the gatekeeper, “ to be sure they may be very right, because I don't understand them; but as for that