Epitaph on General Charles Lee
WARRIOR, farewell! eccentrically brave,
Above all kings, and yet of gold the slave:
In words, a very wit, in deeds less wise,
Forever restless, yet could never rise;
At least no higher than could meet the ground:
If strong the blow-the greater the rebound.
Of all men jealous, yet afraid of none,
In crowds forever, ever still alone.
At once the pride and bubble of a throng,
Preferring right, and yet forever wrong.
By nature form’d to play the monarch’s part,
At best a true republican at heart.
But, to cast up the aggregated sum,
Above all nobles and below all scum.
Unsettled virtues, with great vices mix’t
Like the wide welkin, where few stars are fix’t.
Rest, restless chief, thy sword has taken rust,
Peace to thy manes! honor to thy dust.1
- These lines in manuscript were found in a volume printed in London in 1797, entitled Anecdotes of the late Charles Lee, Esq., Lieutenant
Colonel in the 44th Regiment, and
second in command in the service of the United States of America during
the Revolution, etc. The manuscript copy is in the John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island, and is printed in this edition
through the courtesy of the library.