1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Hume

W. S., "On Mr. Hume's Grave, on the Calton Hill, near Edinburgh" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (21 October 1777).



Auspicious sod! thee honours due be paid,
O'er the historian's sacred ashes laid.
Deathless alike with those that crown his page,
The greatest, wisest, noblest, of their age.
Each upon each reflecting, that high praise
But worth creates, and genius best can raise.
The friend of nature, and the friend of man,
By no dull creeds restricted in his plan;
That alphabetically would confine,
By words and sounds, the human mind divine.
No dupe to priestcraft, and no slave of state,
For that too virtuous, and for this too great.
Bigots may rant, and their vile rant record,
Disciples false of their ascended Lord;
Who never oil'd his precepts with pretence,
And never utter'd aught but common sense.
Ne'er arm'd his language with opprobrious rage,
But charm'd with gentleness a list'ning age.
Such in the Jewish garb, with pelf defil'd,
The Saviour of mankind himself revil'd.
Call'd him a sinner, and the sinner's guest,
Imposture, affectation, in his breast.
With prudish holiness, and looks demure,
Thought partial Heaven's sole favour to secure:
Excluding millions of the human race,
More than their equals, serve in dark grimace.
Saintish delusion, hypocritic fraud,
Which knaves and devotees alike applaud!
No matter how their sacred acts unjust,
Their hopes self-flatt'ry, and mere shew their trust!
—Peace to all such (shall charity e'er cease?)
Thrice happy men if their's a David's peace!

Illustrious sod! beyond the marble pile,
In sculpture's solemn mockery of style,
That tells (without one tributary tear)
"The bones of heroes and of Kings rot here!"
Time's crumbling tooth on adamant shall prey,
Marmorean firmness shall time's sap obey;
Each spring shall see thy living green renew'd,
By admiration's eye with rapture view'd;
Emblem still fresh of Hume's immortal fame,
While dust below but points whence all men came:
And when that verdure decks no more his urn,
Hume shall step forth spring's emblem in return.