AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS EPITAPH ON WILLIAM SHENSTONE (1714-1763), signed ('R.G. A.O.P.'), 16 lines, written at the end of an autograph letter signed ('Ricd. Graves'), to Mrs Wigan at John Hodgetts' house on Snow Hill, Birmingham, 3 pages, small quarto, recipient's note of arrival on 21 September, straight-line BATH handstamped postal marking, trace of seal, Claverton, 21 August 1772
Whoe'er thou art, with remembered tread
These sacred mansions of the dead! -
Not that the monumental bust,
Or sumptuous tomb here guards the dust
Of rich or great: (Let rank, wealth, birth
Sleep undistinguish'd in the earth -)
This simple Urn records a name,
That shines with more exalted fame...
Ah! Smite thy breast & drop a tear;
For Know, Thy Shenstone's dust lies here.
In the letter Graves expresses pleasure at her account of the situation of the urn, though he is surprised at the expense of it and suggests that John Hodgetts takes over more of the cost, especially as Graves has suffered a financial loss of late; he also explains why he put 'Thy Shenstone' in the last line.
This is the only manuscript by Richard Graves to have been sold at auction in the last forty years at least. Shenstone was well-known for the epitaphs he wrote for others.
The urn with its inscription was erected in Hales-Owen churchyard, Shropshire. Graves, Robert Dodsley and John Hodgetts were the executors of Shenstone's will.