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"life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
"he lies like an epitaph,"—Old English Proverb.
"When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey, and yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the churchyard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tombstones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another: the whole history of his life being comprehended in those.-two circumstances that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons who had left no other memorial of themselves, but that they were born and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned 'n the battles of heroic poems, who have sounding names given them,, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head.
'rXauxov Ts MsJowa Tj degcriXo^oy rt. Homer. * Glaucumque, Medontaque, Thersilochumque. Virgil. The life of these men is finely described in holy writ by 'the path of an arrow,' which is immediately closed up and lost.'*
"When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow: when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind; when I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together."—Addison.
|HE word Epitaph is derived from the two Greek words em, upon, and Ta<fwt, a sepulchre, and simply means an inscription upon a tomb. It is also applied to certain eloges, either in prose or verse, composed without any intention of engraving them on tombs; as that of Newton by Pope,
"Nature, and Nature's laws lay hid in night;
and that of Alexander the Great,
"Sufficit huic tumulus, cui non suffecerat orbis."
Weever, in his work on " Monumental Inscriptions," published in the seventeenth century, defines an epitaph to be "a superscription either in verse or prose, written, carved or engraven on the sepulchre or grave of the deceased, briefly declaring (and that sometimes with a kind of commiseration) the name, age, deserts, dignities, the praises both of body and mind, the good or