Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog, sometimes referred to as Epitaph to a Dog commemorates the life of Byron’s dog, Boatswain. Lord Byron wrote it shortly before Boatswain’s death, later published in his popular poetry collection, The Corsair in 1814.
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity;
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man without his
This praise, which would be unmeaning
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
Boatswain, a Dog,
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead November 18, 1808.
Newfoundland portrait in a natural history of British dogs
When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below;
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been:
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonour’d falls, unnotic’d all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth:
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debas’d by slavery, or corrupt by power,
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye! who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on—it honours none you wish to mourn:
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise,
I never knew but one, and here he lies.
Newstead Abbey, Oct. 30, 1808.