Samuel Johnson

(1709 - 1784 / Lichfield / England)

Epitaph on Sir Thomas Hanmer, Bart.


Thou who survey'st these walls with curious eye,
Pause at this tomb where Hanmer's ashes lie;
His various worth through varied life attend,
And learn his virtues while thou mourn'st his end.
His force of genius burn'd in early youth,
With thirst of knowledge, and with love of truth;
His learning, joined with each endearing art,
Charm'd every ear, and gain'd every heart.
Thus early wise, the endanger'd real to aid,
His country call'd him from the studious shade;
In life's first bloom his public toils began,
At once commenced the senator and man.
In business dexterous, weighty in debate,
Thrice ten long years he labour'd for the state;
In every speech persuasive wisdom flow'd,
In every act refulgent virtue glow'd;
Suspended faction ceased from rage and strife,
To hear his eloquence, and praise his life.
Resistless merit fix'd the senate's choice,
Who hail'd him Speaker with united voice.
Illustrious age! how bright thy glories shone,
When Hanmer fill'd the chair - and Anne the throne.
Then when dark art obscured each fierce debate,
When mutual frauds perplex'd the maze of state,
The Moderator firmly mild appear'd -
Beheld with love - with veneration heard.
This task perform'd - he sought no gainful post
Nor wish'd to glitter at his country's cost;
Strict on the right he fix'd his stedfast eye,
With temperate zeal, and wise anxiety;
Nor e'er from Virtue's paths was lured aside,
To pluck the flowers of pleasure or of pride.
Her gifts despis'd, Corruption blush'd and fled,
And Fame pursued him where Conviction led.
Age call'd, at length, his active mind to rest,
With honour sated, and with cares oppress'd;
To letter'd ease retired and honest mirth,
To rural grandeur, and domestic worth:
Delighted still to please mankind, or mend,
The patriot's fire yet sparkled in the friend.
Calm Conscience then, his former life survey'd,
And recollected toils endeared the shade,
Till Nature call'd him to the general doom,
And Virtue's sorrow dignified his tomb.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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