The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray (1891) [e-text], ed. John Bradshaw
THE ALDINE EDITION
OF THE BRITISH
THE POETICAL WORKS OF THOMAS GRAY
THE POETICAL WORKS OF
English and Latin
Edited with an Introduction, Life, Notes,
and a Bibliography
JOHN BRADSHAW, M.A., LL.D
GEORGE BELL & SONS, YORK ST., COVENT GARDEN
and NEW YORK
|Life and Writings of Gray||xxiii|
|I.||Ode on the Spring||3|
|II.||Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat||5|
|III.||Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College||7|
|IV.||Hymn to Adversity||11|
|V.||The Progress of Poesy||13|
|VII.||The Fatal Sisters||31|
|VIII.||The Descent of Odin||35|
|IX.||The Triumphs of Owen||40|
|X.||Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard||42|
|XI.||A Long Story||48|
|XII.||Ode for Music at the Installation||55|
|XIV.||Sonnet on the Death of Richard West||70|
|XV.||Hymn to Ignorance||71|
|XVI.||The Alliance of Education and Government||73|
|XVII.||Stanzas to Mr. Bentley||79|
|XVIII.||Ode on the Pleasure arising from Vicissitude||81|
|XIX.||Epitaph on Mrs. Clarke||83|
|XX.||Epitaph on a Child||84|
|XXI.||Gray on Himself||84|
|XXII.||Epitaph on Sir William Williams||85|
|XXIII.||The Death of Hoel||85|
|XXVII.||Verses from Shakespeare||89|
|XXVIII.||Impromptu, suggested by Ruins at Kingsgate||90|
|XXIX.||Satire on the Heads of Houses||92|
|XXXII.||Epitaph on Mrs. Mason||94|
|III.||The Characters of the Christ-Cross Row||102|
|III.||Imitated from Propertius||112|
|V.||Translation from Dante||119|
|Latin Poems and Verses:—||page|
|I.||Play-Exercise at Eton||124|
|II.||In D. 29am. Maii||127|
|III.||In 5tam. Novembris||128|
|IV.||'Gratia magna tuae fraudi'||130|
|V.||'Oh! nimium felix!'||132|
|VI.||'Vah, tenero quodcunque potest'||133|
|VII.||Paraphrase of Psalm lxxxiv||135|
|X.||Ad C. Favonium Aristium||144|
|XIV.||Ad C. Favonium Zephyrinum||147|
|XV.||Fragment on the Gaurus||149|
|XVI.||A Farewell to Florence||152|
|XVII.||Imitation of an Italian Sonnet||152|
|XIX.||Sophonisba Ad Masinissam||154|
|XX.||De Principiis Cogitandi||156|
|XXI.||'Oh ubi colles'||166|
|XXIII.||From the Anthologia Graeca||168|
|XXIV.||Generic Characters of the Orders of Insects||172|
|Explanation of the Prints in Bentley's "Designs"||282|
INTRODUCTION.The Works of Gray consist of the Poems he published in his lifetime, and his Posthumous Works, Prose and Verse, edited with additions from time to time, and even yet not all printed.
Of scarcely any poet so near our own time is the text in such an unsatisfactory state; though the edition of the Poems published in 1768 was carefully edited by Gray himself, and should therefore be the authority for all it contains, various incorrect readings have crept in, and continue to be repeated in the "Elegy" and some of the "Odes,"* partly owing to the frequency with which they were reprinted
* Thus in such standard works as Ward's "English Poets," the "Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics," Hales' "Longer English Poems," Gosse's "Works of Gray," and Rolfe's "Select Poems," not to speak of countless school-books and popular editions, the following passages are not in all as left us by Gray—the "Elegy," 2, 35, 77, 93, 94, 123; "Hymn to Adversity," 36, 44; the "Bard," 16, 49, 100; "Progress of Poesy," 8, 29; "Long Story," 2; and in my Notes on the "Ode at the Installation" I have noted a curious error into which all editors subsequent to Mason have fallen, except Mathias.
when they first appeared. The first edition of the "Elegy" contained several misprints, which Gray himself pointed out, and he left three MS. copies which vary in several places, and, though he finally decided on the text, one sees from time to time a suggestion in "Notes and Queries" or some similar literary journal, that such and such a reading in the Egerton MS. or in the first edition must be the right one and should be followed.
Of the Posthumous Poems and Works the existing printed texts are of course much more inaccurate. His first editor, Mason, printed what and how he pleased, altering and adding at his will. Mathias, the first to give additional matter from Gray's MSS., printed only a portion, and, though generally accurate, copied incorrectly the last three lines of a famous passage,* always subsequently printed and quoted incorrectly, the present being the first edition in which the lines are given as left by Gray in his Commonplace Book. Another strange error† has also been followed by all subsequent editors, none of whom seems to have compared the text with the MS.
As regards the Poems, I have in this edition faithfully followed Gray's own text of 1768, except that the spelling and the use of capitals conforms to the usage of the present day.
In that edition Gray published all that he cared to give to the world of his poems; these are the first ten as here printed. Two others were also edited by him, the "Long Story" in 1753, and the "Ode at the Installation" in 1769; but with the exception of these twelve none of his other Poems or any of his Prose compositions appeared in print in his lifetime.*
In 1775, Mason published "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Gray, with his Poems." The 'Memoir' consisted of a selection from his Letters, arranged so as to make Gray his own biographer, the thread of the narrative being completed where necessary by Mason. This, of course, is a standard work, and the one on which most subsequent editions of Gray's poems were based. Mason had been left in Gray's will all his "books, manuscripts, coins, music printed or written, and papers of all kinds, to preserve or destroy at his own discretion"; and with this material he was in a position to produce most interesting memoirs of Gray. This his volumes undoubtedly are, but not only are they far from accurate in what they contain, but several passages of Gray's letters were suppressed or altered by Mason. It seems to me that Mason has received
* His squib the "Candidate" was printed as an electioneering leaflet in 1764, but probably without Gray's knowledge.
more blame for this than he deserves; he could never have anticipated the value which we at the end of another century place on every scrap of Gray's writings; besides, several of Gray's occasional verses were satires on people then living, and in his letters to Mason he addressed him by a nickname, called him 'an oaf,' and wrote with a freedom of censure and banter that neither would like to see in print.
The story of Mason's connection with Gray as his literary executor would not be complete without reference to an incident which, strange to say, has never been alluded to in any Life of Gray, or edition of his works since 1786; it shows Mason in a bad light, and justifies Gray's frequent references to his 'avarice' and 'insatiable repining mouth.' In 1776 John Murray, the founder of the famous publishing house of that name, having brought out an edition of Gray's Poems, Mason filed a bill in chancery against him, and obtained an injunction stopping the sale, because this edition contained three of Gray's Posthumous pieces,* which were Mason's property; and in an advertisement to a new edition of his "English Garden," Mason referred to the "fraudulent practises of certain Booksellers." Thereupon Mr. Murray published in
* "The Death of Hoel," "Sonnet on the Death of West," and "Epitaph on Sir W. Williams."
May, 1777, a pamphlet of 64 pages, entitled, "a Letter to W. Mason concerning his edition of Mr. Gray's Poems and the Practices of Booksellers." This Letter is a very severe comment on Mason's action in the matter, and his avarice in desiring to monopolize all Gray's Poems, and concludes with an address such as the writer assumes would be made by Gray to Mason if the latter were admitted into his presence in another world, taxing him with having been "venally industrious to collect and exhibit productions to the world which were never meant for, and but for him had never been exposed to, the public eye, and that thus acting in opposition to every rule of his practice he had erected his little works into a property for his own emolument, and impelled by his sordid love of gain, had attempted to stop the circulation of an edition of his works calculated to reflect credit on his name." There is an allusion to this in Boswell's "Life of Johnson" (under the year 1778),—"Johnson signified his displeasure at Mr. Mason's conduct very strongly, but added, by way of showing that he was not surprised at it, 'Mason's a Whig.'" In 1778 Murray brought out another edition of Gray's Poems (omitting the three pieces), with an Advertisement, written in 1777, regarding Mason's action, in which he taunts him with having made a profit of £1,000 from his quarto edition of the Poems; that it
is out of it he means to erect a monument to the poet in Westminster Abbey, and that this perhaps is due to his Letter. In 1786 Murray published another edition with four new plates, and still retained the Advertisement.
Dr. Johnson, who was born before Gray, lived to include him in his "Lives of the English Poets," published in 1779-81. Johnson was not by nature fitted to do Gray justice, besides, he was near the end of his work, was in a hurry, and wished to be done; as Cradock* says, "When Johnson was publishing his 'Lives of the Poets,' I gave him several anecdotes of Gray, but he was only anxious as soon as possible to get to the end of his labours."
In 1783 there appeared a "Criticism on the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, being a Continuation of Dr. Johnson's Criticism of the Poems of Gray," pp. 148. This was published anonymously, but was said to be by Professor Young of Glasgow; a second edition appeared in 1810. It is a curious and entertaining parody of Johnson's style, and contains much interesting matter, including the "Poetical Rondeau,"† which the writer
* Mr. Matthew Arnold and Mr. Gosse have been misled by Mitford into supposing that it was Cole who said this.
† I have come to the conclusion that the "Rondeau," which is much in the same vein as the "Criticism," is the invention of the writer, as is also [p. xv] 'Dr. Curzon of Brazen Nose.' In Mr. Gosse's edition he thanks Mr. Locker for 'the original of the piece,' but the latter informs me that what he gave him was the 'printed work.'
describes as a "relic of Gray placed in his hands by Dr. Curzon, late of Brazen Nose."
In 1785 the "Critical Essays on English Poets," by John Scott of Amwell, were published, one of which is his valuable criticism on Gray's "Elegy," pp. 185-246.
In 1786 Gilbert Wakefield, late Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, published the "Poems of Gray with Notes." The "Life" prefixed to it is the same as that in Bell's "Poets," 1782, and contained nothing additional to what was in Mason's "Memoirs"; but the notes are valuable and more full than any that had as yet been given on an English poet except Shakespeare and Milton. Wakefield says his notes were partly intended as "an antidote to Dr. Johnson's strictures, lest they might operate with malignant influence upon the public taste, and become ultimately injurious to the cause of polite literature." His notes consist mainly of parallel passages from ancient and modern poetry, as he considered that "no other author seemed to be a more proper vehicle for remarks of this nature than Mr. Gray; for he has exhibited a strength of imagination, a sublimity and tenderness of thought, equal to any writer; with a richness of phrase and an accuracy of
composition, superior to all." From Wakefield's notes Mitford and subsequent editors have borrowed largely.
In 1799 a new edition of Gray's Poetical Works was published—a very accurate copy, with some previously unpublished poems, and a new Life, without any editor's name, but afterwards known to be by Stephen Jones; particular attention was paid to the punctuation, and the lines of the verses were now first indented. It was reviewed in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for October.
In 1800 appeared a second edition of Jones', still anonymous, and a beautiful edition, in two volumes, edited by Upcott, with numerous engravings by Fuseli; the copy of this in the British Museum contains some previously unpublished poems, and a large number of notes in Upcott's beautiful handwriting.
In 1814 Mathias published a large two-volume edition;* the first volume being a reprint of Mason's, and the second containing Gray's "Observations on English Metre, on Rhyme, with Remarks on the Poems of Lydgate," "Notes on Aristophanes," "Geographical Extracts on India and Persia," an "Account of the Writings of Plato, with notes on several of the Dialogues," translations in English verse from Tasso and from Propertius,
* Reviewed in the Quarterly Review, July, 1814.
and in Latin from the Greek Anthology, and other pieces not previously published.
In 1814 Mitford published, in one volume, the "Poems of Thomas Gray, with Critical Notes, Life of the Author, and an Essay on his Poetry." This was the best edition that as yet had appeared, though it contained several inaccuracies in the text and in the quotations in the notes. For forty years the Rev. John Mitford continued to edit and work on Gray. In 1830 he edited the poems for the Aldine Poets; in 1836-43 he edited the entire works* in five volumes for Pickering; in Vol. V. (1843) Norton Nicholls' "Reminiscences of Gray" and much additional matter were included; in 1845 he wrote a new Life of Gray for the Eton Edition; and in 1853 he published the "Correspondence of Gray and Mason, with Letters to Brown."* In addition to these publications Mitford left several volumes of MS., those relating to Gray being copies made by him of unpublished writings of Gray; these were recently† acquired by the British Museum, and I have been able to make use of them for this edition.
In 1882 Mr. Edmund Gosse's "Gray" in the "English Men of Letters" series appeared; it is the most complete biography of Gray yet published, but contains many inaccuracies.
In 1884 Mr. Gosse edited for Messrs. Macmillan and Co. the "Works of Gray in Prose and Verse," in four volumes, which "present to the public for the first time a consecutive collection of Gray's letters and essays"; the text of the Poems, however, is far from accurate. In addition to some verses and comic lines which had not been included in any edition of Gray's Poems, there were printed for the first time in Mr. Gosse's edition a "Satire on the Heads," and a translation of some eighty lines of Dante, from MSS. in the possession of the late Lord Houghton; but these and a few other pieces, then first printed, may now be seen in the Mitford MSS.
In 1890 the Rev. D. C. Tovey published
"Gray and his Friends: Letters and Relics, in
great part hitherto unpublished"; containing
several letters of Gray, Walpole,
Correspondence and Remains of West; two
letters from Miss
Speed to Gray; Gray's Notes
of Travel in France, Italy, and Scotland, and
various fragments from the Mitford MSS.
A great deal of Gray's work, however, still remains unedited. One would imagine from the Preface to Mr. Gosse's four-volume edition that this was not so; but in Gray's Commonplace Books at Pembroke College there is much interesting matter and many notes and essays, that have never been printed. These Books consist
of three large folio volumes, and are otherwise known as the "Stonhewer MSS." or the "Pembroke MSS.," because they were bequeathed to that College by Stonhewer, to whom they had been left by Mason. In the fly-leaf of the first volume there is the following "extract from the Will of the late Richard Stonhewer, Esq., who died January 30th, 1809." "I give to the Society of Pembroke College, Cambridge, the picture of Mr. Mason done by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and the picture of the late Thos. Gray, Esq., drawn from memory by Mr. Benjamin Wilson; and I also give to the said Society three manuscript folio Commonplace Books of Mr. Gray's to be kept under the immediate care of the Master of the College, and deposited in his Lodge."
These volumes contain copies, in Gray's own hand, of almost all his Poems, Translations and Latin Verse, and copies of some of West's; his Metrum (Observations on English Metre); Architecture (English Cathedrals); India and Persia (Geographical); and Notes on Plato. Of unpublished notes, etc., there are parallel passages from Virgil, Homer, Tasso, Milton, Horace, Pastor Fido, Ariosto, Ovid, etc., under the title of "Comparatio"; notes entitled Pecunia, Memoria Technica, Epigramma, Musica; Genealogies; Chronological Tables of Events in England from 1691; Sepulchra (Monuments of the Royal Family of
England, and of the Nobility); Insignia (Names and Arms of the Barons who subscribed the letter to Pope Boniface asserting the liberties of the crown of Scotland, etc.); Venetian History, and Venetian Writers.
Also in the Cole MSS. in the British Museum there are (besides the extracts printed by Mitford) many remarks on and references to Gray, a letter of his to Dr. Farmer, and some verses said by Cole to be by Gray,—all as yet unpublished. The latter are thus introduced: "In the 'Whitehall Evening Post' of July 6, 1765, it was said that Mr. Walpole then laid (sic) dangerously ill of the gout at his house in Arlington Street. I hope there is no danger of his dying, though he has been long complaining. I wrote this July 8, 1765. The verses were inserted in the 'James' Chronicle,' and seem to me to be wrote by our common friend Tho: Gray, of Pembroke Hall, Esq."
"To the 'St. James' Chronicle.'
To the Hon. and Ingenious Author of the 'Castle of Otranto.'
Thou sweet Enchanter! at whose nod
The airy train of phantoms rise,
Who dost but wave thy potent rod
And marble bleeds and canvas sighs.
By thee decoyed, with cautious fear
We tread thy Castle's dreary round,
Though horrid all we see and hear,
Thy horrors charm while they confound.
Full well hast thou pursued the road,
The magic road thy master laid;
And hast with grateful skill bestowed
An offering worthy of his shade.
Again his manners he may trace,
Again his characters may see
In soft Matild, Miranda's grace,
And his own Prospero in thee.
I discovered these verses too late to include
them among the Doubtful Poems attributed to
Gray, but whether they are his or not, Cole's
opinion as a contemporary is worth something,
especially as he met and corresponded with
Gray afterwards, and was in the habit of correcting
his MSS. by the light of subsequent
The present Aldine Edition is an entirely new work, the text being from the Edition of 1768, the "Long Story" from that of 1753, and the "Ode for Music" from the University edition of 1769; and the Posthumous Poems have been compared with the copies in Gray's handwriting in Pembroke College, and with Mitford's copies in the Mitford MSS.
Some of the scraps of verse and occasional pieces should, I think, never have appeared; but they throw some light on the humour and comic vein of the Poet, and, having already been published, are here included in what may
claim to be the most complete as well as the most accurate edition of Gray's Poetical Works.
The Notes contain introductory remarks to
each poem, giving its history or other particulars.
Some of the Notes may appear unnecessary,
but the work is designed to meet
the requirements of students as well as others.
My special thanks are due to Dr. Searle, Master of Pembroke College, for his allowing me, in very exceptional circumstances, to have access to the Stonhewer MSS.; and to Mr. R. A. Neil, Librarian and Fellow of Pembroke, for kindly help in comparing the MSS. I have also to express my thanks to Mr. Jenkinson, Librarian of Cambridge University Library, and to Mr. Leslie Stephen for kind assistance, and to the Rev. D. C. Tovey for information on several points, which his scholarship and accuracy have enabled me to produce correctly for the first time; to the Rev. Dr. Warre for particulars relating to Gray's connection with Eton; to the Rev. F. Churchill, Rector of Everdon, for particulars regarding Gray's uncle William Antrobus; and to the Rev. W. A. Mathews for a copy of the epitaph in Appleby Church parodied by Gray.
1st August, 1891.
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF GRAY.
Thomas Gray was the fifth child of Philip Gray, a scrivener or broker in London. His mother was a Miss Dorothy Antrobus, who, at the time of her marriage, kept a milliner's shop in partnership with her sister Mary, in Cornhill; and here Thomas was born on the 26th December, 1716.
He was one of twelve children, but all the others died in their infancy or childhood. "I have been told," says Mason, "that he narrowly escaped suffocation (owing to too great a fulness of blood, which destroyed the rest), and would certainly have been cut off as early, had not his mother, with a courage remarkable for one of her sex, and withal so very tender a parent, ventured to open a vein with her own hand, which instantly removed the paroxysm." In addition to this instance of his mother's love and courage, it was by her that he was
supported, both as a child and at school and college, as his father, being unsuccessful and indolent, lived at his wife's place of business and on her earnings.
Further, the poetry of Gray and all we have of him we owe to his mother's side of the house. She herself belonged to Buckinghamshire; her brothers, Robert and William Antrobus,* were assistant masters at Eton, therefore Gray was sent to Eton and educated under the direction of his uncle Robert. A sister of hers was married to Jonathan Rogers, a lawyer residing at Burnham, and subsequently at Stoke-Poges,
* The Christian names of Gray's uncles have hitherto not been given at all or given incorrectly. His first biographer, Mason, merely states he was "educated at Eton, under the care of Mr. Antrobus, his mother's brother, who was at that time, one of the Assistant Masters, and also a Fellow of St. Peter's College, Cambridge." Subsequent biographers speak only of his "uncle Mr. Antrobus," some adding "Fellow of Pembroke College." The mistakes and ambiguity originated in the fact that his mother was, as Walpole puts it, "sister to two Antrobus's who were ushers of Eton School." From the Provost of Eton I learn that they were Robert, who entered Eton College as a pupil in 1692, and William, admitted Feb. 15, 1705. According to Graduati Cantabrigienses Robert Antrobus graduated at Peterhouse in 1701, and William Antrobus at King's in 1713. In the Alumni Etonenses the entry in 1709 opposite William Antrobus is "A.B. 1713, A.M. 1717, was for many years an Assistant of Eton School, where he was [p. xxv] tutor to the Poet Gray, to whom he was uncle. He became Rector of Everdon in Northamptonshire, and died in 1742." In Baker's "Northamptonshire" I find that he was "instituted as Rector of Everdon on 21 Dec. 1726," and that he "died May 22, 1742." Robert died in January 1729, and a tablet was erected to his memory in Burnham Church by his brother-in-law, Jonathan Rogers. It was for his uncle Robert, therefore, that Gray was in mourning when Bryant went to Eton, "at the latter end of the year 1729." Mr. Gosse in his "Gray" ("English Men of Letters") speaks of Robert and Thomas Antrobus, and seems to have assumed that 'Thomas' was the Christian name, from the draft of an unfinished letter to Gray from his tutor at Cambridge, in which he says he would do any service for his "uncle Antrobus;" after this there is a word which looks like Thos, but may be Tho'—the beginning of a new and unfinished sentence. Mr. Gosse's quotation from the letter is otherwise incorrect, and even if the word were Thos, it is merely a slip on the part of the tutor.
or Stoke, not far from Windsor, and now famous the world over for the church-yard of the "Elegy"; and from his house at Burnham Gray described the celebrated beeches, and at it met Southern, the author of "Oroonoko," in September 1737.
At Eton, which Gray entered in 1727, he formed a friendship with two school-fellows, Horace Walpole, son of the Prime Minister, and Richard West, son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and grandson of the famous Bishop Burnet. Associated with the names of West
and Walpole are several of Gray's poetical compositions and many of his most interesting letters. Other school friends or contemporaries, with whom his subsequent career was connected, were Thomas Ashton, George Montagu, Stonhewer, Clarke, William Cole, and Jacob Bryant.
"He was educated," says Horace Walpole,* "chiefly under the direction of one of his uncles, who took prodigious pains with him, which answered exceedingly. He particularly instructed him in the virtues of simples. He had a great genius for music and poetry." Bryant, who was in the fourth form with Gray and Walpole,—"the former," he says, "being about four or five boys below, and Walpole as many above me,"—thus describes Gray: "He was in mourning for his uncle, Mr. Antrobus, who had been an Assistant Master at Eton, and after his resignation lived and died there. I remember he made an elegant little figure in his sable dress, for he had a very good complexion, and fine hair, and appeared to much advantage among the boys who were near him in the school, and who were more rough and rude. Indeed, both Mr. Gray and his friend were looked upon as too delicate, upon which account they had few associates, and never engaged in any exercise, nor partook of any boyish amusement.
* In a memorandum prefixed to Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason."
Hence they seldom were in the fields, at least they took only a distant view of those who pursued their different diversions. Some, therefore, who were severe, treated them as feminine characters, on account of their too great delicacy, and sometimes a too fastidious behaviour. Mr. Walpole long afterwards used to say that Gray "was never a boy." This was allowed by many who remembered him, but in an acceptance very different from that which his noble friend intended. Mr. Gray was so averse to rough exercise that I am confident he was never on horseback."
Of West Bryant writes, "I also knew him well, and looked upon him as an extraordinary genius. He was superior to Gray in learning, and to everybody near him. He was, like his friend, quite faultless in respect to morals and behaviour, and, like many great geniuses, often very eccentric and absent."
In 1734 Gray entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge; and on the 3rd of July of that year was admitted to Peterhouse, the college of which his uncle Robert had been a Fellow. Walpole entered King's College, Cambridge, in March, 1735; and about the same time West matriculated in Christ Church, Oxford. The intimacy of the four friends, Gray, West, Walpole, and Ashton, continued at the Universities, and they formed what they called the "Quadruple Alliance."
At Cambridge Gray was studious and retiring; but his compositions that have come down to us are few,—some Latin verse, (the longest pieces being a Hymeneal on the marriage of the Prince of Wales in 1736, and "Luna Habitabilis," a College exercise set in 1737, and printed in "Musae Etonenses"), and a translation in English verse of about one hundred lines of the "Thebaid" of Statius, which he sent to West in May, 1736, and another of a passage of Tasso, in December, 1738. The latter was first published in Mathias' edition in 1814; the last lines are famous, but having been incorrectly printed by Mathias they have always been incorrectly quoted. They are:—
Here the soft emerald smiles of verdant hue,
And rubies flame, with sapphires heavenly blue,
The diamond there attracts the wond'ring sight,
Proud of its thousand dies, and luxury of light.
Gray's life at Cambridge and the studies prescribed by the University were most distasteful to him; mathematics were not his forte, and his fellow-students were not congenial. Writing to West in December, 1736, he tells him that he had endured lectures daily and hourly, supported by the hopes of being able to give himself up to his friends and classical companions. "It is very possible," he writes, "that two and two make four, but I would not give four farthings to demonstrate this ever so clearly;
and if these be the profits of life, give me the amusements of it. The people I behold all around me, it seems, know all this and more, and yet I do not know one of them who inspires me with any ambition of being like him." In his other letters while an undergraduate we see the melancholy—the melancholy of "Il Penseroso"—so characteristic of his poetry; the humour, as when he writes to West "you need not doubt of having a first row in the front box of my little heart," which reappears in the "Long Story," and some satirical pieces, and is everywhere conspicuous in his correspondence; and the love and admiration of Nature,—his letter from Burnham being aptly described as the "first expression of the modern feeling of the picturesque,"—so fully developed in his after life, which led Sir James Mackintosh to observe, "I am struck by the recollection of a sort of merit in Gray, which is not generally observed, that he was the first discoverer of the beauties of Nature in England, and has marked out the course of every picturesque journey that can be made in it."
In September, 1738, Gray left Cambridge without taking his degree. Shortly after, Horace Walpole invited him to accompany him on a tour on the Continent, Walpole bearing the expenses of both. This being agreed to, the two friends started from Dover on the 29th March, 1739. Gray remained abroad for over
two years, and visited the chief places of interest in France and Italy; his having made this continental tour forming one of many points of resemblance between him and Milton, who, just a hundred years previously, had seen many of the spots and sights now visited by Gray.
Gray and Walpole spent two months at Paris, the summer at Rheims, and thence proceeded to Dijon and Lyons, and, travelling through Savoy, visited the Grande Chartreuse on their way to Geneva. In November they arrived at Turin, and after short halts at Genoa, Parma, and Bologna, they reached Florence, where they were the guests of Horace Mann, and this was their headquarters for the next fifteen months. The April and May of 1740 were spent at Rome; June at Naples; and the winter of 1740-41 at Florence. In the end of April, 1741, at Reggio, the friends had a difference which ended in their parting company. Gray went on to Venice, where he spent two months, and, returning home through the north of Italy, arrived in London from Lyons on the 1st September, 1741.
In a letter to Mason, in March, 1773, Horace Walpole takes to himself the blame for his quarrel with Gray:—"I am conscious," he says, "that in the beginning of the differences between Gray and me the fault was mine. I was too young, too fond of my own diversions; nay, I do not doubt, too much intoxicated by
indulgence, vanity, and the insolence of my situation as Prime Minister's son, not to have been inattentive and insensible to the feelings of one I thought below me. . . . I often disregarded his wishes of seeing places which I would not quit other amusements to visit. . . . You will not wonder that with the dignity of his spirit and the obstinate carelessness of mine, the breach must have grown wider till we became incompatible." In another letter he says: "We had not got to Calais before Gray was dissatisfied, for I was a boy, and he, though infinitely more a man, was not enough so to make allowances."
During this tour on the Continent the only poetry that Gray wrote was some Latin verse—short pieces in letters to West, an unfinished didactic poem, "De Principiis Cogitandi," and an ode written in the visitors' album at the Grande Chartreuse on his second visit in August, 1741, remarkable not only for its Latinity, but as containing similar expressions regarding himself to those in the "Progress of Poesy." As yet Gray had written nothing in English poetry, but the Letters which he wrote to his friends, describing the various places he visited, deserve the encomium passed on him as a letter-writer by Cowper, himself one of our best letter-writers:—"I have been reading Gray's Works, and think him the only poet since Shakespeare entitled to the character of sublime. . . . I
once thought Swift's Letters the best that could be written, but I like Gray's better. His humour, or his wit, or whatever it may be called, is never ill-natured or offensive, and yet I think equally poignant with the Dean's." Of the letters from the Continent that have come down to us, thirteen are to his mother, eleven to West, and five to his father.
Two months after Gray's return to England his father died, on the 6th November, 1741. The winter he spent in London, and the summer of 1742 at Stoke; to this place his mother and aunt retired, joining their sister there on the death of Mr. Rogers, in October 1742; and there they resided till their death, Gray frequently paying them long visits.
In December, 1741, Gray commenced his first original composition in English poetry— "Agrippina," a tragedy in blank verse; but of this he wrote only a single scene, consisting of a long speech by Agrippina; this he sent to West for his opinion in March, 1742, and partly because he condemned the style as too antiquated, Gray put it aside and never resumed it.
The year 1742 is an era in Gray's life as a poet; in the summer of that year he wrote at Stoke-Poges his "Ode on the Spring," "On a Distant Prospect of Eton College," "Sonnet on the Death of West," and the "Hymn to Adversity," and in the autumn he commenced the "Elegy." His "Ode on the Spring" he sent
early in June to West, but it was returned, as he had died on the first of that month. His death, immediately following that of his uncle William Antrobus, greatly affected Gray; he lamented West in a sonnet—the first of any value that had been written since those of Milton, and in the "Ode on Eton," written in the same month, his recent losses caused him to take too gloomy a view of the 'fields' of his boyhood, now considered to have been 'beloved in vain,' and of the future of the 'sprightly race' in whom he sees only 'the little victims of Misfortune and Sorrow.' But the 'Quadruple Alliance' was broken not by death only, it had ceased to exist, Gray having fallen out with Ashton as well as with Walpole. "The late unhappy disagreement and separation," says Bryant, "were at that time uppermost in his mind, and when he contemplated this scene of concord and boyish happiness he could not help, in his melancholy mood, forming a contrast. He was led to consider the feuds and quarrels which were likely one day to ensue, when all that harmony and happiness was to cease and enmity and bitterness were to succeed. It is a gloomy picture, but finely executed, and whoever reads the description with this clue, will find that it was formed from a scene before his eyes. The poet saw and experimentally felt what he so masterly describes. I lived at that time almost upon the very spot which gave birth to these noble
ideas, and in consequence of it saw the author very often." Standing alone then, owing to the death of one friend and his difference with the others, he can only 'look homeward' and see his own case in the future of all,—Despair, Unkindness, and Remorse. It is a distorted view and a one-sided picture, with no bright side; as was well observed by the Earl of Carlisle,* "how many germs of future excellence, how much budding promise of yet undeveloped genius and unexercised virtue he might have discovered; . . . . of the last six Prime Ministers four have been Eton men, and not very long after the Poet had cast his desponding glance upon that boyish group, among those who disported on the 'margent green' was Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington."
None of these poems, however, was published for several years; the first that appeared in print being the "Ode on Eton College," which was published anonymously in pamphlet form by itself in 1747. Next year, the "Ode on Eton College," the "Ode on the Spring," and "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat" were published in Dodsley's "Collection of Poems," but without Gray's name.
In the winter of 1742 Gray returned to Cambridge, and went into residence at Peterhouse.
* Lecture on the Writings of Gray, delivered at the Sheffield Mechanics' Institute, Dec. 14, 1852.
He graduated as LL.B. in 1744,* and for the rest of his life made Cambridge his home, with occasional visits to Stoke, to London, and to friends in the country. The next four or five years he devoted to reading, his chief study being the literature and history of ancient Greece. In Dec. 1746, he writes, "We are in the midst of Diog. Laertius and his philosophers, as a prooemium to the series of their works, and those of all the poets and orators that lived before Philip of Macedon's death, and we have made a great Chronological Table with our own hands, the wonder and amazement of Mr. Brown; not so much for public events, but rather, in a literary way, to compare the times of all great men, their writings and transactions." In March 1747, he writes:—"I have read Pausanias and Athenaeus all through, and Æschylus again. I am now in Pindar and Lysias, for I take verse and prose together like bread and cheese. The Chronology is growing daily." He also wrote notes and long commentaries on Plato and Aristophanes, a learned description of India and Persia, in which he cites over ninety ancient and modern authors whose works he had compared in this study. This and the Notes on Plato and Aristophanes were first published by Mathias, the former two from Gray's "Common
* So in Graduati Cantabrigienses. Mason and subsequent editors say 1742.
Place Books" at Pembroke College, which contain besides many learned and interesting historical and literary notes still unpublished.
An event of importance to us as well as to Gray was his reconciliation, in November, 1745,* with Horace Walpole, as the latter not only induced Gray to let his poems appear in print, but actually published the first collected edition of them at his own press at Strawberry Hill. Another interesting incident was an interview between Gray and Pope, which took place probably not long before the death of the latter (May 30, 1744). In 1747 he made the acquaintance of one who for the rest of his life was one of his most intimate friends, and destined to be his executor and biographer— William Mason, then a young scholar of St. John's College, and already a minor poet. Gray himself was still unknown as a poet or an author; it was without his name that his three Odes were published in Dodsley's "Collection" in 1748, and at this time he was over thirty years of age.
During the first half of his life at Cambridge Gray's most intimate friends besides Mason, (appointed Rector of Aston in Yorkshire in 1754, and Precentor of York in 1761), were the Rev. James Brown, Fellow and afterwards Master of Pembroke, and Thomas Wharton,
* See "Gray and his Friends," p. 7.
M.D., an ex-Fellow, residing at Old Park near Durham. His correspondence was mainly with these three; the two former he appointed his executors, and he frequently went on visits to Mason at York, and to Wharton in Durham.
The death of his aunt Mary at Stoke in November, 1749, seems to have led Gray to take up again the unfinished "Elegy" which he had commenced just seven years previously; he kept touching it up for some months longer, and when at last finished he sent a copy of it to Horace Walpole on the 12th June, 1750. Walpole having handed the verses about, it got into the hands of the editors of the "Magazine of Magazines," who wrote to Gray informing him of their intention to print it. To anticipate them Gray requested Walpole to have it published at once, and thus this famous poem appeared, in a quarto pamphlet, on the 16th February, 1751, entitled "An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church-Yard," price sixpence.
The poem became popular at once, and the name of the author was soon known, he was the 'celebrated Mr. Gray,' and it, in Dr. Johnson's words, 'the far-famed Elegy.' It went through four editions in two months, and soon reached the eleventh; and not only did it appear in almost every magazine and in all Collections of Poems, but it was translated into Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and into almost every language of Modern Europe, and polyglot editions of it
published. To no other modern poem had such homage been paid and so abundantly. Nor should the story of the tribute paid to the "Elegy" on an historical occasion a few years later be omitted. On the 13th of September, 1759, the night before the battle on the Plains of Abraham, General Wolfe was descending the St. Lawrence with a part of his troops. "Swiftly but silently," writes Lord Mahon, "did the boats fall down with the tide, unobserved by the enemy's sentinels at their posts along the shore. Of the soldiers on board, how eagerly must every heart have throbbed at the coming conflict! how intently must every eye have contemplated the dark outline, as it lay pencilled upon the midnight sky, and as every moment it grew closer and clearer, of the hostile heights! Not a word was spoken—not a sound heard beyond the rippling of the stream. Wolfe alone—thus tradition has told us—repeated in a low tone to the other officers in his boat those beautiful stanzas with which a country churchyard inspired the muse of Gray. One noble line—'The paths of glory lead but to the grave,' must have seemed at such a moment fraught with mournful meaning. At the close of the recitation Wolfe added, 'Now, gentlemen, I would rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec.'"
To the lover of Gray, however, more pleasing than such distinctions as these is the thought
that his mother—that careful tender mother—lived to read the words that now every one knows, and to hear of the fame of the son who had so fully requited her love.
In the autumn of 1750 Gray wrote the humorous verses entitled a "Long Story,"— a mock-heroic or burlesque account of his introduction to Lady Cobham and Miss Speed at the Manor House at Stoke-Poges.
The year 1753 is remarkable in Gray's literary life for the publication of a handsome edition of his poems with illustrations by Richard Bentley. The work was in reality planned by Horace Walpole, who persuaded Gray to allow the poems to be printed, paid Bentley for his drawings, and supervised the work generally. In Walpole's brief sketch of Gray he thus describes the work: "In March, 1753, was published a fine edition of his poems, with frontispieces, head and tail pieces and initial letters, engraved by Grignion and Muller, after drawings of Richard Bentley, Esq." So modest was Gray as to his contribution to the work that instead of its being called "Poems with Designs," he caused it to be named "Designs by Mr. R. Bentley for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray." The Six Poems were the "Ode on the Spring," "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat," "Ode on Eton College," "A Long Story," "Hymn to Adversity," and the "Elegy."
In March, 1753, Gray's mother died at Stoke,
and was buried in the same grave as that in which her sister had been laid a few years previously. The inscription on the tombstone is the composition of Gray, and is a witness at once to his own faith and to his love for the mother to whom he owed so much. It runs: "In the vault beneath are deposited, in hope of a joyful resurrection, the remains of Mary Antrobus. She died unmarried, Nov. 5, 1749, aged 66. In the same pious confidence, beside her friend and sister, here sleep the remains of Dorothy Gray, widow, the careful tender Mother of many children, one of whom alone had the misfortune to survive her. She died March 11, 1753, aged 67."
In the July of 1753 Gray made a leisurely journey from Cambridge to Durham, where he spent two months with Dr. Wharton. In the autumn he was again at Stoke, tending on his aunt, who "had a stroke of the palsy," referring to which he writes: "Stoke has revived in me the memory of many a melancholy hour that I have passed in it, and, though I have no longer the same cause for anxiety, I do not find myself at all the happier for thinking that I have lost it, as my thoughts do not signify anything to any one but myself. I shall wish to change the scene as soon as ever I can."
In the autumn of 1754 he visited Stowe, Woburn, Wroxton and Warwick, and wrote a long description of the latter to Wharton,
About the same time he wrote his learned Essay on Norman Architecture; it is written from a classical standpoint, but his accuracy of observation, considering the time at which he wrote, is very remarkable. To 1754 also belongs his unfinished "Ode on the Pleasure arising from Vicissitude;" had he completed this it would have ranked with the greatest of his poems. One verse will bear quoting again, the thoughts as well as some of the words are those of Wordsworth:—
"See the Wretch, that long has tost
On the thorny bed of pain,
At length repair his vigour lost,
And breathe and walk again;
The meanest flowret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The common sun, the air, the skies,
To him are opening paradise."
In December, 1754, Gray completed and sent to Dr. Wharton an 'Ode in the Greek manner,' requesting him "by no means to suffer it to be copied, nor even to show it unless to very few." This Ode was what was subsequently known as "The Progress of Poesy;" it and the companion Ode, "The Bard," are the most original of his productions, and at the same time show his art at its highest.
In July, 1755, Gray paid a visit to Mr. Chute at the Vyne in Hampshire; after which he visited Portsmouth, where he saw the fleet, and from Portsdown had a "magnificent and
varied prospect of Hampshire, Berkshire, and the Isle of Wight."
"In the winter of 1755," says Walpole, "George Hervey, Earl of Bristol, who was soon afterwards sent Envoy to Turin, was designed for Minister to Lisbon; he offered to carry Gray as his secretary, but he declined it."
In March, 1756, Gray removed from Peterhouse to Pembroke, an event which he says "may be looked upon as a sort of era in a life so barren of events as mine." The cause of this move was the annoyance he received from some noisy students who occupied part of the same building; it is said that a practical joke was played on him, but in writing to Wharton he says: "I left my lodgings because the rooms were noisy and the people dirty; this is all I would choose to have said about it."
"The Bard" was commenced early in 1755, and laid aside, nothing apparently being done at it in 1756; but in May, 1757, in a fit of enthusiasm roused by some concerts given at Cambridge by John Parry, the famous blind harper, Gray at length finished it. He thus describes the incident in a letter to Mason:— "Mr. Parry has been here and scratched out such ravishing blind harmony, such tunes of a thousand years old, with names enough to choke you, as have set all this learned body a-dancing, and inspired them with due reverence for my old Bard, his countryman, whenever he
shall appear. Parry, you must know, put my Ode in motion again, and has brought it at last to a conclusion."
In August, 1757, the two Pindaric Odes, with the simple title of "Odes by Mr. Gray," were printed at a private printing press that Horace Walpole had set up at Strawberry Hill, "being," as he tells us, "the first production of that printing-house." The motto Gray adopted, from Pindar, was Φωνᾶντα συνετοῖσι—'vocal to the intelligent.' His reputation as a poet was made at once, but it was evident that he had judged rightly in assuming that all his readers and critics could not be included among the 'intelligent.' In a letter to Dr. Wharton a couple of months after the publication of the Odes, Gray wrote:—"Dr. Warburton is come to town, and I am told likes them extremely; he says the world never passed so just an opinion upon anything as upon them; for that in other things they have affected to like or to dislike, whereas here they own they do not understand, which he looks on to be very true; but yet thinks they understand them as well as Milton or Shakespeare, whom they are obliged by fashion to admire. Mr. Garrick's complimentary verses to me you have seen; I am told they were printed* in the 'Chronicle' of last
* Appeared anonymously in the "London Chronicle," October 1, 1757.
Saturday. The 'Critical Review' is in raptures, but mistakes the Æolian lyre for the harp of Æolus, and on this pleasant error founds both a compliment and a criticism." Oliver Goldsmith reviewed the Odes in the "London Monthly Review" for September, and observes of them;—"They will give as much pleasure to those who relish this species of composition as anything that has hitherto appeared in our language, the odes of Dryden himself not excepted." David Garrick's stanzas were six in number, of which the following two may be quoted as a specimen of the great actor's verse and of his mode of treating the subject:—
Repine not, Gray, that our weak dazzled eyes
Thy daring heights and brightness shun;
How few can trace the eagle to the skies,
Or, like him, gaze upon the sun! . . .
Yet droop not, Gray, nor quit thy heaven-born art;
Again thy wondrous powers reveal:
Wake slumbering Virtue in the Briton's heart,
And rouse us to reflect and feel!
Small as the amount of Gray's poetical work had been he was recognized as the greatest living poet, and in December, 1757, on the death of Colley Cibber, he was offered the post of Poet-Laureate. This Gray declined, observing, in a letter to Mason, "I rather wish somebody may accept it that will retrieve the credit of the thing, if it be retrievable or ever
had any credit. . . . Dryden was as disgraceful to the office from his character, as the poorest scribbler could have been from his verses. The office itself has always humbled the possessor hitherto (even in an age when kings were somebody), if he were a poor writer by making him more conspicuous, and if he were a good one by setting him at war with the little fry of his own profession, for there are poets little enough to envy even a poet-laureate."
In 1759 Gray lived mostly in London, lodging in Southampton Row to be near the British Museum, which had been opened to the public in the January of that year; and here he read for several hours almost daily, and copied MSS. of Wyatt and Lydgate. He continued at this and similar work in the winter of 1760-61, copying out Gawin Douglas' "Palace of Honour," and composing his "Observations on English Metre," and other notes for a History of English Poetry he was then planning, which he refers to in the advertisement to his "Fatal Sisters."
In 1760 Lady Cobham died and left Gray twenty guineas. In his pocket-book for that year opposite April 15, I have noted the following, "Lady Cobham's legacy, £21," and on the same day "borrowed of Dr. Clarke, £15," and paid for a "pair of velvet breeches, £2 2s." In September he paid "M. Antrobus for linen
and ruffles, six shirts and making, £5 9s."; and on "14 Nov. bought a lottery ticket, £5 8s. 6d.; it came out a blank on the 18th."
In the autumn of 1762 Gray made a tour in Yorkshire and Derby, visiting Richmond, Ripon, Sheffield, and Chatsworth, and other places of interest. On his return to Cambridge he found that the Professorship of Modern History was vacant, and, being "spirited up by some friends," Gray got his name suggested to Lord Bute; he also wrote to Mr. Chute* asking him to find "an opportunity to mention it to Mr. W.", observing, "I certainly might ask it with as much or more propriety than anyone in this place; if anything more were done, it should be as private as possible, for if the people who have any sway here could prevent it, I think they would most zealously." Gray soon got his answer from Bute—"great professions of his desire to serve me on any future occasion, and many more fine words,"—and the place was given to Lawrence Brockett, tutor to Sir James Lowther, Bute's son-in-law.† This must have been very galling to the sensitive nature of Gray; he had never asked for anything before; and when in 1759 it was thought that Dr. Turner, the Professor, was going to die, in a letter to Dr. Brown Gray says he had been
sounded as to whether he would take it, but he "would not ask for it, not choosing to be refused."
In August, 1764, he made an excursion to Scotland; from Cumberland he visited Dumfries, the Falls of the Clyde, Glasgow (where he met Foulis, the publisher), Loch Lomond, Stirling, Hawthornden, Melrose, Edinburgh, and places near it. In October he made a short tour in the south of England, visiting Winchester, Southampton, Netley Abbey, Salisbury, Wilton, and Stonehenge. His descriptions of the places he visits are as usual most charming reading, especially where he writes on the spot "after the finest walk in the finest day that ever shone to Netley Abbey."
In the autumn of 1765 Gray paid a second visit to Scotland, stopping for a while at Edinburgh, where he "supped with Dr. Robertson* and other literati." From Glamis he wrote a long letter to Dr. Wharton, describing the castle and the surrounding country. Thence he passed westward, still as Lord Strathmore's guest, to Dunkeld, and, by a road winding with the Tay, to the falls of the Tummell and the Pass of Killiecrankie, close by which "rises a hill covered with oak, with grotesque masses of rock staring from among their trunks, like the sullen countenances of
* Author of "History of Scotland," 1759; "History of the Reign of Charles the Fifth," 1769, etc.
Fingal and all his family frowning on the little mortals of modern days." He returned from the Highlands, 'charmed with his expedition;' "the mountains," he says, "are ecstatic, and ought to be visited in pilgrimage once a year; none but those monstrous creatures of God know how to join so much beauty with so much horror. . . . Italy could hardly produce a nobler scene, and this so sweetly contrasted with that perfection of nastiness and total want of accommodation that Scotland only can supply."
While he was stopping at Glamis Castle, the Marischal College of Aberdeen offered to confer on Gray the degree of Doctor of Laws; this proposal was made through Dr. James Beattie, Professor of Moral Philosophy and author of the "Minstrel." Gray declined the honour, on the ground that he had not finished his course for the doctor's degree at Cambridge, and therefore, he says, "I certainly would avoid giving any offence to a set of men, among whom I have passed so many happy hours of my life; yet shall ever retain in my memory the obligations you have laid me under, and be proud of my connection with the University of Aberdeen."
In 1766 he passed the end of May and all June in Kent, visiting "Margate (one would think it was Bartholomew Fair that had flown down from Smithfield in the London machine), Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, and Dover, and
Folkestone, and Hythe, all along the coast very delightful." Here again his descriptions of the scenery are poetry in prose, "showing an eye for nature then without a precedent in modern literature":—"The country is all a garden, gay, rich, and fruitful, and from the rainy season had preserved, till I left it, all that emerald verdure, which commonly one only sees for the first fortnight of the spring. In the west part of it from every eminence the eye catches some long winding reach of the Thames or Medway, with all their navigation; in the east the sea breaks in upon you, and mixes its white transient sails [and] glittering blue expanse with the deeper and brighter greens of the woods and corn."
In 1768, Dodsley having asked Gray to allow him to republish his poems, there appeared the first complete edition of the poems he wished to make public. These numbered only ten,— five of the six that were published in the edition of 1753 (the "Long Story" being now omitted), his two Pindaric Odes and three Odes from the Norse. In this edition he supplied explanatory footnotes, for which he sarcastically apologizes in a prefatory note to the "Progress of Poesy" (see p. 189); but in one of his letters with less reserve he states that he added the notes "out of spite because the public did not understand the two Odes which I call Pindaric, though the first is not
very dark, and the second alluded to a few common facts to be found in any sixpenny history of England, by way of question and answer for the use of children." At the same time, on the suggestion of Beattie, another edition of the same poems was published in Glasgow by Foulis; this was a large and handsome book. In the advertisement to it the publishers state that "as an expression of their high esteem and gratitude, they have endeavoured to print it in the best manner;" and that it is "the first work in the Roman character which they have printed with so large a type."
On the 24th of July, 1768, the Professorship of Modern History again fell vacant, and it was at once offered, unsolicited, to Gray by the Duke of Grafton, then Prime Minister. In the same week, Gray attended the King's levee, and kissed hands on his appointment; in letters to his friends he says the King made him several gracious speeches, and told him that he owed his nomination to his "particular knowledge" of him. This professorship, which was worth £400 a year, had always been a sinecure, as the professor was not required to deliver any lectures. Gray, however, drew up a plan for an inaugural lecture; and in 1771 "Rules* concerning the Lectures in Modern
* A copy may be seen in the Webb Collection, University Library.
History" were issued, but the first lectures were by Dr. Symonds, Gray's successor.
The Duke of Grafton having been appointed Chancellor of the University, Gray undertook to write the customary Installation Ode. Dr. Burney was anxious to be the composer, but it was set to music by the Professor of Music, and performed at the Installation on the 1st July, 1769. This Ode is on a well-conceived plan, and contains several passages in Gray's best style, such as that beautiful stanza, in which, as Hallam says, "he has made the founders of Cambridge pass before our eyes like shadows over a magic glass."
In October, 1769, Gray made a tour in the Lake country, visiting Ulleswater, Borrowdale, Lodore, Ambleside, Grasmere, Rydal, and other places afterwards to be associated with the Lake poets, and celebrated by Wordsworth and Southey. He wrote a journal of this tour for the amusement of his friend, Dr. Wharton, which was published in Mason's "Memoirs" in 1775 among Gray's Letters to Wharton. This graphic and picturesque narrative, with its wonderful descriptions of the scenery of Ulleswater and Borrowdale, and of the Lodore waterfall, should be read in Mr. Gosse's edition, vol. i. pp. 249-281, and with them Wordsworth's "Daffodils," "Yew Trees," and the "Evening Walk." The similarity of language in the two poets in more than one passage is too striking to
be merely accidental. Writing of a walk to Crow Park, Gray's note is:—"At distance heard the murmur of many waterfalls not audible in the day time." This re-appears in the "White Doe":—
"A soft and lulling sound is heard
Of streams inaudible by day."
In 1760 Gray took a fancy to an undergraduate, Norton Nicholls, and continued to keep up an interesting correspondence with him after he had left college and had become a country clergyman in Suffolk.
Through Nicholls Gray formed another friendship, which seemed serviceable to him in taking him out of himself; this was with a young Swiss gentleman named Bonstetten, who had come over to England to finish his education; Nicholls persuaded him to go to Cambridge, and gave him a letter of introduction to Gray. For the first three months of 1770 Bonstetten spent almost every evening with Gray, reading with him Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, and other English authors. On his way back to Switzerland, Bonstetten stopped in London, and was shown some of the sights by Gray, among others Dr. Johnson himself, whom Gray knew by sight, but disliked. Bonstetten told Sir Egerton Brydges, among other anecdotes of Gray, that, when he was walking one day with Gray in a crowded street of the city, "a large uncouth figure was rolling before them, upon seeing which Gray exclaimed with some
bitterness, 'Look, look, Bonstetten, the great bear! There goes Ursa Major.'" In addition to interesting us as the companions and correspondents of Gray, Nicholls and Bonstetten have each written a sketch of Gray's character and mode of life. Nicholls' "Reminiscences of Gray" was written in 1805 and published in Mitford's edition in 1843, and in 1831 Bonstetten wrote "Souvenirs" of his own life, in which is a most interesting account of his intercourse with and impressions of "le celèbre poéte Gray,"—quoted in Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," pp. 480-481.
An extract from a letter from the poet Beattie to Sir W. Forbes, dated 4th May, 1770, shows the opinion then held of Gray as a poet. He writes: "Of all the English poets of this age, Mr. Gray is most admired, and, I think, with justice. Yet there are, comparatively speaking, but a few who know anything of his but his 'Churchyard Elegy,' which is by no means the best of his works."
In the summer of 1770 Gray made a tour in company with Nicholls through Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire, "five of the most beautiful counties of the Kingdom"; he descended the Wye in a boat for forty miles, its banks he thought "a succession of nameless wonders"; he also saw Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, and Oxford.
This was the last of his tours; he had looked forward to accompanying Nicholls to Switzerland on a visit to his friend Bonstetten in the summer of 1771, but as the time approached he wrote to Nicholls that he "had neither health nor spirits all the winter"; and, soon after, "I am but indifferently well; and the sense of my own duty (which I do not perform), my own low spirits, and, added to these, a bodily indisposition, make it necessary for me to deny myself that pleasure." This was in the end of May; on the 28th June he writes:— "I foresee a new complaint that may tie me down perhaps to my bed, and expose me to the operations of a surgeon. God knows what will be the end of it." On the 24th July, while at dinner in Pembroke College Hall he was taken suddenly ill; the next day the gout had reached his stomach, and he died before midnight on the 30th July, 1771.
In his will Gray desired that his body might be "deposited in the vault, made by my late dear mother in the churchyard of Stoke-Poges, near Slough in Buckinghamshire, by her remains." There he was buried on the 6th August, the grave, with its altar-shaped tombstone, being just outside the chancel window, and almost under the shadow of the ivy-mantled tower. The only inscription on the tombstone is that which he had put to the memory of his aunt and his mother; but a stone was placed
by Mr. Penn in the wall of the church, with this inscription: "Opposite to this stone, in the same tomb upon which he has so feelingly recorded his grief at the loss of a beloved parent, are deposited the remains of Thomas Gray, the author of the Elegy written in a Country Churchyard, etc. He was buried August 6th, 1771."
In 1778, on the same day (6th August, the anniversary of his funeral), "monuments to the memory of Spenser and Gray were opened in Westminster Abbey."* Gray's monument was erected by Mason; it is in Poets' Corner, just under the monument to Milton and next to that of Spenser; it consists of a medallion of Gray, and below the following inscription written by Mason:—
"No more the Grecian Muse unrivalled reigns,
To Britain let the nations homage pay;
She felt a Homer's fire in Milton's strains,
A Pindar's rapture in the lyre of Gray.
He died July 30th, 1771. Aged 54."
One defect in these lines is that there is as much about Milton as there is about Gray.
In 1799, Mr. John Penn, the owner of Stoke Park, caused a large monumental cenotaph to be erected to Gray's memory in a field adjoining the churchyard at Stoke. On the four sides
* "Gentleman's Magazine," 1778.
of the pedestal there are inscriptions; on the side facing the church there are the 27th and 28th stanzas of the "Elegy,"—the eight lines beginning "Hard by yon wood"; on the next side* facing north are six lines from the "Ode on Eton College":—
"Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,On the side* that looks east are the 4th and 9th stanzas from the "Elegy," beginning—
That crown the watry glade.
* * * * *
Ah happy hills, ah pleasing shade,
Ah fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain!"
"Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,"and
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power."On the fourth side there is the following inscription:—"This Monument, in honour of
* It is a curious fact that in Howitt's "Homes and Haunts of the British Poets" the quotations on these two sides are incorrectly given—sixteen continuous lines being given from the "Eton Ode," and the 4th and 5th stanzas of the "Elegy"; the inscription on the fourth side is also inaccurately quoted; and in Mr. Rolfe's American edition of Gray's "Poems," while he takes credit for correcting Howitt, he also, in his revised edition, gives the wrong verse from the "Elegy."
Thomas Gray, was erected A.D. 1799, among the scenes celebrated by that great Lyric and Elegiac Poet. He died July 31,* 1771, and lies unnoted, in the churchyard adjoining, under the tombstone on which he piously and pathetically recorded the interment of his Aunt and lamented Mother."
In Eton College a bust of Gray, by Behnes, presented by the seventh Earl of Carlisle, stands among the busts of famous Etonians in the upper school. And to further mark the poet's connection with Eton, the present Head-Master, Rev. E. Warre, D.D. (following the example of his predecessors, Dr. Balston and Dr. Hornby) presents a copy of Gray's Poems to each boy in the fifth and sixth forms who leaves Eton with a 'bene discessit,' and a handsomely-bound large edition to such as may have specially distinguished themselves.†
It was not till just a century after his death that at Cambridge due honour was done to the memory of Gray. When the College Hall at Peterhouse was restored in 1870 a stained glass
* This wrong date is also given in several biographies of Gray, owing to Mason's wording in his "Memoirs"—"On the 30th the fit returned with increased violence, and on the next evening he expired."
† Dr. Goodford's "leaving book" was a "Terence," Dr. Hawtrey's a "Juvenal"; and in 1862 Dr. Balston adopted "Gray" as the presentation book.
window, drawn by Mr. F. Madox Brown, was presented by Mr. Hunt; and at Pembroke College a marble bust by Thornycroft was unveiled by Lord Houghton on the 26th May, 1885, and speeches were delivered in honour of the poet by Sir Frederick Leighton and by Mr. Russell Lowell, the American Minister and himself a poet.
Gray's character is best painted by himself; writing to West from Florence, in April, 1741, he says: "As I am recommending myself to your love, methinks I ought to send you my picture. You must add then, to your former idea, two years of age, a reasonable quantity of dulness, a great deal of silence, and something that rather resembles, than is, thinking; a confused notion of many strange and fine things that have swam before my eyes for some time, a want of love for general society, indeed an inability to it. On the good side you may add a sensibility for what others feel, and indulgence for their faults and weaknesses, a love of truth and detestation of everything else. Then you are to deduct a little impertinence, a little laughter, a great deal of pride and some spirits."
'To be employed is to be happy,' was one of Gray's favourite maxims. Study and travel were the two kinds of employment in which he found most happiness. In a letter to Wharton
(April, 1760) he writes "To find oneself business, I am persuaded, is the great art of life; and I am never so angry as when I hear my acquaintance wishing they had been bred to some poking profession, or employed in some office of drudgery, as if it were pleasanter to be at the command of others, than at one's own, and as if they could not go unless they were wound up. Yet I know and feel what they mean by this complaint; it proves that some spirit, something of genius (more than common) is required to teach a man how to employ himself."
Probably the trait in Gray's character most natural in the author of the "Elegy" is his sympathy for the sufferings of others, his 'sensibility,' as he calls it, to know and feel another's woe. Whenever there was sorrow, or sickness, or death, among his friends, his tenderness was shown in language no less touching than beautiful; his letters of condolence to Mason on the death of his wife, and to Nicholls on the loss of his mother are well known. To him sorrow had not come for no purpose; "methinks," he writes, "I can readily pardon sickness, and age, and vexation for all the depredations they make within and without, when I think they make us better friends and better men, which I am persuaded is often the case. I am very sure I have seen the best-tempered, generous, tenderest, young creatures
in the world, that would have been very glad to be sorry for people they liked when under any pain, and could not, merely for the want of knowing rightly what it was themselves."
Unjust and disparaging as is Dr. Johnson's criticism of Gray's poetry, his estimate of his character is, for a contemporary, wonderfully true; "his mind," he says, "had a large grasp; his curiosity was unlimited, and his judgment cultivated; he was a man likely to love much where he loved at all, but he was fastidious and hard to please; his contempt, however, is often employed, where I hope it will be approved, on scepticism and infidelity."
"It is scarcely a paradox to say," writes Mr. Tovey, "that he has left much that is incomplete, but nothing that is unfinished. His handwriting represents his mind; I have seen and transcribed many and many a page of it, but I do not recollect a single carelessly written word, or even letter. The mere sight of it suggests refinement, order, and infinite pains. A mind searching in so many directions, sensitive to so many influences, yet seeking in the first place its own satisfaction in a manner uniformly careful and artistic, is almost foredoomed to give very little to the world. But what he has given is a little gold instead of much silver. . . . . In all that he has left, there is independence, sincerity, thoroughness;
the highest exemplar of the critical spirit, a type of how good work of any kind should be done. He studied Greek when few studied it. . . . . His notes designed for his own use, have been frequently quoted by the late Master of Trinity. . . . . To History he brought the modern spirit of research . . . . His critical opinions are safe, because they are not controversial nor addressed to a public, but the outcome of impressions gathered at leisure by a mind at once comprehensive and exact. We are no losers by the circumstance that they were communicated only to his friends, for next in sincerity to the good criticism which may be found in some poetry is that which we can extract from private letters."
Gray was skilled in architecture, in botany, in zoology, and in music; he made a valuable collection of manuscript music while he was in Italy, and was a judge of both painting and sculpture. In relation to landscape Gray was a prophet and a precursor of all that we love and admire. Speaking as an artist Sir F. Leighton well said:—"Nature knew him for her lover and unsealed for him her inmost secrets. Her beauty revealed to him new and richer meanings, a fuller charm breathed for him out of the meadow, and out of the mere, and the mountains lost their antique gloom and let in a new day, their gloom was turned before his eyes to glory."
One of the first things that strikes one with reference to the Poetry of Gray is the small quantity of it; as Dickens once said, no poet ever gained a place among the immortals with so small a volume under his arm. But Gray wrote only for himself or his friends, and it was merely when pressed by them or by the booksellers that he published anything; the "Elegy" was being circulated in manuscript for months, and it was only when it was about to be printed in an unauthorized manner that he caused it to be published, and even then without his name. What he says of his verses was true of himself—
"To censure cold and negligent of fame."Nor did he write for money; "he could not bear," we are told, "to be thought a professed man of letters, but wished to be regarded as a private gentleman who read for his amusement."
The chief characteristics of Gray's Poetry are the musical sweetness of the versification and his felicity of expression, and besides these a 'philosophic pathos,' to use Coleridge's phrase in describing one of the excellences of the poetry of Wordsworth. "Extreme conciseness of expression, yet pure, perspicuous, and musical, is one of the grand beauties of lyric poetry. This," says Gray, "I have always aimed at and never could attain. The necessity of rhyming is one great obstacle to it."
His chief merit as a poet, however, lies in his art. "Gray," writes Matthew Arnold, "holds his high rank as a poet, not merely by the beauty and grace of passages in his poems; not merely by a diction generally pure in an age of impure diction; he holds it, above all, by the power and skill with which the evolution of his poems is conducted. Here is his grand superiority to Collins, whose diction in his best poem—the "Ode to Evening"—is purer than Gray's; but then the "Ode to Evening" is like a river which loses itself in the sand, whereas Gray's best poems have an evolution sure and satisfying."*
Dryden and Milton seem to be the poets from whom Gray chiefly formed his style; he cites Milton as the "best example of an exquisite ear that he can produce"; and he seems to me to have borrowed more of the language and phraseology of Milton than that of any other poet; and of Dryden he writes that "if there was any excellence in his own numbers he had learned it wholly from that great poet." Norton Nicholls writes: "Spenser was among his favourite poets, and he told me he never sat down to compose poetry without reading Spenser for a considerable time previously. He admired Dryden and could not patiently hear him criticized; "Absalom and Achitophel"
* Emerson. "Macmillan's Magazine," May, 1884.
and "Theodore and Honoria" stood in the first rank of poems in his estimation. He placed Shakespeare high above all poets of all countries and all ages. . . . I asked him why he had not continued that beautiful fragment beginning
"As sickly plants betray a niggard earth,"*he said 'because he could not'; when I expressed surprise at this, he explained himself as follows, that he had been used to write only lyric poetry, in which the poems being short, he had accustomed himself, and was able to polish every part; that this having become habit he could not write otherwise, and that the labour of this method in a long poem would be intolerable. . . . . He thought Goldsmith a genuine poet. I was with him at Malvern when he received the "Deserted Village," which he desired me to read to him; and he listened with fixed attention, and soon exclaimed, 'This man is a poet.'"
A point which I have nowhere seen noted in connection with Gray's style is the frequency with which he uses a word or phrase that seems to please him, several instances of which I have cited in the Notes. Another (to which I have referred in the note on line 63 of the "Elegy") is his reproducing in his printed poems words and thoughts from the verses that he set aside and never intended for publication. I have cited
* "Alliance of Education and Government."
several such from "Agrippina," and there are others in his Translations,—that remarkable expression "luxury of light," in the "Stanzas to Bentley," he had already written in his Translation from Tasso so long previously as 1738; and his "Alliance of Education and Government" contains several words used in a connection almost peculiar to Gray, e.g., that most unpoetical word "circumscribed" (familiar from the "Elegy") occurs in a passage that may be quoted as a specimen of the poetry which he did not think worth publishing—
"Unmanly thought! what seasons can control,
What fancied zone can circumscribe the Soul,
Who, conscious of the source from whence she springs,
By reason's light on resolution's wings,
Spite of her frail companion dauntless goes
O'er Libya's deserts and through Zembla's snows?
She bids each slumb'ring energy awake,
Another touch, another temper take,
Suspends th' inferior laws that rule our clay;
The stubborn elements confess her sway,
Their little wants, their low desires refine,
And raise the mortal to a height divine."
Another peculiarity of Gray's is his use of compounds, not merely such as "many-twinkling" and "ivy-mantled," but "desert-beach," "vermeil-cheek," "iron-sleep," "iron-sleet," "virgin-grace," "tyrant-power," "velvet-green," and others in which the second part as well as the whole word is a substantive.
The principal defects in Gray's poetry are an excess of allegory and rhetoric, and a too frequent recurrence of personification, sometimes so vague that, as Coleridge observes in his remarks on the well-known passage in the "Bard"—"Youth on the prow and Pleasure at the helm"—"it depends wholly in the compositor's putting or not putting a capital, both in this and many other passages, whether the words should be personifications or mere abstracts."
The charge of obscurity is less likely to be made in the present day than it was when his Pindaric Odes appeared, when notes were necessary "to tell the gentle reader," as Gray says, "that Edward I. was not Oliver Cromwell nor Queen Elizabeth the Witch of Endor"; but if such there be, his own motto to the "Odes" is his reply, "Vocal to the intelligent, for the many they need interpreters"; or, as Coleridge said to those who complained of bis poems being obscure, "If any man expect from my poems the same easiness of style which he admires in a drinking song, for him I have not written. Intelligibilia, non intellectum adfero."
ODE ON THE SPRING.
Fair Venus' train, appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckoo's note,
The untaught harmony of spring;
While, whispering pleasure as they fly,
Cool Zephyrs thro' the clear blue sky
Their gathered fragrance fling.
Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader browner shade,
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech
O'er-canopies the glade,1
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think
(At ease reclined in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the crowd,
1 14. "— a bank . . . .
O'ercanopied with luscious woodbine."
Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. 2.
How low, how little are the proud,
How indigent the great!
Still is the toiling hand of Care;
The panting herds repose;
Yet hark, how through the peopled air
The busy murmur glows!
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honied spring,
And float amid the liquid noon;2
Some lightly o'er the current skim,
Some show their gaily-gilded trim
Quick-glancing to the sun.3
To Contemplation's sober eye4
Such is the race of Man;
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Shall end where they began.
Alike the Busy and the Gay
But flutter through life's little day,
In fortune's varying colours drest;
Brushed by the hand of rough Mischance,
Or chilled by age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear in accents low
The sportive kind reply:
Poor moralist! and what art thou?
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glittering female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display;
On hasty wings thy youth is flown
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone—
We frolic, while 'tis May.
ODE ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CAT,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers, that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.
Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.
Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream;
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.
The hapless nymph with wonder saw;
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What Cat's averse to fish?
Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.
Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every wat'ry god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirred;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A fav'rite has no friend!
From hence, ye Beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize;
Nor all, that glisters, gold.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF
Ανθρωπος' ίκανή πρόφασις εις το δυστνχέίν.Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the wat'ry glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry's holy Shade;1
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights the expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.
Ah happy hills, ah pleasing shade,
Ah fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales, that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing
1 4. King Henry the Sixth, Founder of the College.
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,2
To breathe a second spring.
Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green
The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?
The captive linnet which enthrall?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,
Or urge the flying ball?
While some on earnest business bent
Their murmuring labours ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty;
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare descry;
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
2 19. "And bees their honey redolent of spring."
Dryden's Fable on the Pythagorean System.
The sunshine of the breast;
Theirs buxom health of rosy hue,
Wild wit, invention ever-new,
And lively cheer of vigour born;
The thoughtless day, the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light,
That fly th' approach of morn.
Alas, regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,
Nor care beyond to-day;
Yet see how all around 'em wait
The Ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murtherous band!
Ah, tell them, they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' altered eye,
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood denied,
And moody Madness laughing wild3
Amid severest woe.
Lo! in the vale of years beneath
A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their queen.
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage;
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow-consuming Age.
To each his sufferings; all are men,
Condemned alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain,
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
3 79. "Madness laughing in his ireful mood."
Dryden's Fable of Palamon and Arcite, ii. 43.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
HYMN TO ADVERSITY.
—Ζήνα . .Daughter of Jove, relentless Power,
Τόν ϕρονέϊν Βροτούς όδώ-
σαντα, τώ πάθει μαθάν
θέντα κυρίως εχειν.
Æschylus, in Agamemnone.
Thou Tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge and torturing hour
The bad affright, afflict the best!
Bound in thy adamantine chain
The proud are taught to taste of pain,
And purple tyrants vainly groan
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.
When first thy Sire to send on earth
Virtue, his darling child, designed,
To thee he gave the heavenly birth,
And bad to form her infant mind.
Stern rugged Nurse! thy rigid lore
With patience many a year she bore;
What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know,
And from her own she learned to melt at others' woe.
Scared at thy frown terrific, fly
Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood,
Wild Laughter, Noise, and thoughtless Joy,
And leave us leisure to be good.
Light they disperse, and with them go
The summer friend, the flattering foe;
By vain Prosperity received,
To her they vow their truth, and are again believed.
Wisdom in sable garb arrayed,
Immersed in rapturous thought profound,
And Melancholy, silent maid
With leaden eye, that loves the ground,
Still on thy solemn steps attend;
Warm Charity, the general friend,
With Justice to herself severe,
And Pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.
Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head,
Dread Goddess, lay thy chastening hand!
Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
Nor circled with the vengeful band
(As by the impious thou art seen)
With thundering voice, and threatening mien,
With screaming Horror's funeral cry,
Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty.
Thy form benign, oh Goddess, wear,
Thy milder influence impart,
Thy philosophic train be there
To soften, not to wound my heart,
The generous spark extinct revive,
Teach me to love and to forgive,
Exact my own defects to scan,
What others are, to feel, and know myself a Man.
THE PROGRESS OF POESY.
Φωνάντα συνετοϊσιν ές
Δε το πάν ερμηνεων χατίζει.
Pindar, Olymp. ii.
I. 1.Awake, AEolian lyre, awake,1
And give to rapture all thy trembling strings.
From Helicon's harmonious springs
A thousand rills their mazy progress take;
1 1. "Awake, my glory; awake, lute and harp."
Pindar styles his own poetry, with its musical accompaniments, Αίοληίς μολπή, Αίολίδες χορδαι, Αίολίδων πνοαι αυλών, AEolian song, AEolian strings, the breath of the AEolian flute.
The subject and simile, as usual with Pindar, are [p. 14] united. The various sources of poetry, which gives life and lustre to all it touches, are here described; its quiet majestic progress enriching every subject (otherwise dry and barren) with a pomp of diction and luxuriant harmony of numbers; and its more rapid and irresistible course, when swollen and hurried away by the conflict of tumultuous passions.
The laughing flowers, that round them blow,
Drink life and fragrance as they flow.
Now the rich stream of music winds along,
Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong,
Through verdant vales, and Ceres' golden reign;
Now rolling down the steep amain,
Headlong, impetuous, see it pour;
The rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar.
I. 2.2Oh! Sovereign of the willing soul,
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs,
Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares
And frantic Passions hear thy soft control.
On Thracia's hills the Lord of War
Has curbed the fury of his car,
And dropped his thirsty lance at thy command.
Perching on the sceptred hand3
Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feathered king
With ruffled plumes and flagging wing;
Quenched in dark clouds of slumber lie
The terror of his beak, and lightnings of his eye.
I. 3.4Thee the voice, the dance, obey,
Tempered to thy warbled lay.
O'er Idalia's velvet-green
The rosy-crowned Loves are seen
On Cytherea's day
With antic Sports, and blue-eyed Pleasures,
Frisking light in frolic measures;
Now pursuing, now retreating,
Now in circling troops they meet;
To brisk notes in cadence beating
Glance their many-twinkling feet.5
Slow melting strains their Queen's approach declare;
Where'er she turns the Graces homage pay.
With arms sublime, that float upon the air,
In gliding state she wins her easy way;
O'er her warm cheek, and rising bosom, move
The bloom of young Desire, and purple light of Love.6
Man's feeble race what ills await!
Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain,
Disease, and Sorrow's weeping train,
And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate!
The fond complaint, my Song, disprove,
And justify the laws of Jove.
Say, has he given in vain the heavenly Muse?
Night, and all her sickly dews,
Her spectres wan, and birds of boding cry,
He gives to range the dreary sky;
Till down the eastern cliffs afar8
Hyperion's march they spy, and glittering shafts of war.
II. 2.9In climes beyond the solar road,10
Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam,
The Muse has broke the twilight gloom
[To cheer the shivering native's dull abode.]
7 42-53. To compensate the real and imaginary ills of life, the Muse was given to mankind by the same Providence that sends the day, by its cheerful presence, to dispel the gloom and terrors of the night.
8 52. "Or seen the Morning's well-appointed Star
Come marching up the eastern hills afar."
9 54-65. Extensive influence of poetic genius over the remotest and most uncivilized nations: its connection with liberty, and the virtues that naturally attend on [p. 17] it. (See the Erse, Norwegian, and Welsh fragments, the Lapland and American songs.)
10 [p. 17] 54. "Extra anni solisque vias."
Virgil, Æneid, vi. 795.
"Tutta lontana dal camin del sole."
Petrarch, Canzon, 2.
And oft, beneath the odorous shade
Of Chili's boundless forests laid,
She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat,
In loose numbers wildly sweet,
Their feather-cinctured Chiefs, and dusky Loves.
Her track, where'er the Goddess roves,
Glory pursue, and generous Shame,
The unconquerable Mind, and Freedom's holy flame.
II. 3.11Woods, that wave o'er Delphi's steep,
Isles, that crown the AEgean deep,
Fields, that cool Ilissus laves,
Or where Maeander's amber waves
In lingering labyrinths creep,
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
Mute, but to the voice of Anguish!
Where each old poetic mountain
11 66-82. Progress of Poetry from Greece to Italy, and from Italy to England. Chaucer was not unacquainted with the writings of Dante or of Petrarch. The Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyatt had travelled in Italy, and formed their taste there. Spenser imitated the Italian writers; Milton improved [p. 18] on them; but this school expired soon after the Restoration, and a new one arose on the French model, which has subsisted ever since.
Inspiration breathed around;
Every shade and hallowed fountain
Murmured deep a solemn sound;
Till the sad Nine in Greece's evil hour
Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains.
Alike they scorn the pomp of tyrant-Power,
And coward Vice, that revels in her chains.
When Latium had her lofty spirit lost,
They sought, oh Albion! next thy sea-encircled coast.
III. 1.Far from the sun and summer-gale,
In thy green lap was Nature's Darling laid,12
What time, where lucid Avon strayed,
To him the mighty Mother did unveil
Her awful face. The dauntless Child
Stretched forth his little arms, and smiled.
This pencil take (she said) whose colours clear
Richly paint the vernal year;
Thine too these golden keys, immortal Boy!
This can unlock the gates of Joy,
Of Horror that, and thrilling Fears,
Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic Tears.
12 84. Shakespeare.
Nor second He, that rode sublime13
Upon the seraph-wings of Ecstasy,
The secrets of th' Abyss to spy,
He passed the flaming bounds of Place and Time;14
The living Throne, the sapphire-blaze,15
Where Angels tremble, while they gaze,
He saw; but, blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night.16
Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car
Wide o'er the fields of Glory bear
Two Coursers of ethereal race,17
With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding pace.18
III. 3.Hark, his hands the lyre explore!
Bright-eyed Fancy hovering o'er
13 [p. 18] 95. Milton.
14 [p. 18] 98. "Flammantia moenia mundi."
Lucretius, i. 74.
15 [p. 18] 99. "For the spirit of the living creature was in [p. 19] the wheels. . . And above the firmament, that was over their heads, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone. . . This was the appearance of the glory of the Lord."—Ezekiel, i. 20, 26, 28.
16 102. 'Οφθαλμών μεν άμερσε δίδου δ' ήδεϊαν άοιδήν.
Hom. Odyssey, θ. 64.
17 105. Meant to express the stately march and sounding energy of Dryden's rhimes.
18 106. "Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?"
Job, xxxix. 19.
Scatters from her pictured urn
Thoughts, that breathe, and words, that burn.19
But ah! 'tis heard no more——20
Oh! Lyre divine, what daring Spirit
Wakes thee now? tho' he inherit
Nor the pride, nor ample pinion,
That the Theban Eagle bear21
Sailing with supreme dominion
Thro' the azure deep of air;
Yet oft before his infant eyes would run
Such forms, as glitter in the Muse's ray
With orient hues, unborrowed of the Sun;
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate,
Beneath the Good how far—but far above the Great.
19 110. "Words, that weep, and tears, that speak."
20 111. We have had in our language no other odes of the sublime kind, than that of Dryden on St. Cecilia's Day; for Cowley (who had his merit) yet wanted judgment, style, and harmony, for such a task. That of Pope is not worthy of so great a man. Mr. Mason indeed of late days has touched the true chords, and with a masterly hand, in some of his Choruses,—above all in the last of Caractacus:
Hark! heard ye not yon footstep dread? etc.
21 115. Διός προς δρνιχα θείον, Olymp. ii. Pindar compares himself to that bird, and his enemies to ravens that croak and clamour in vain below, while it pursues its flight, regardless of their noise.
The following Ode is founded on a tradition current in Wales, that Edward the First, when he completed the conquest of that country, ordered all the bards that fell into his hands to be put to death.
I. 1.'Ruin seize thee, ruthless King!
'Confusion on thy banners wait,
'Though fanned by Conquest's crimson wing
'They mock the air with idle state.1
'Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail,2
'Nor even thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail
'To save thy secret soul from nightly fears,
'From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears!'
Such were the sounds, that o'er the crested pride3
Of the first Edward scattered wild dismay,
As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side4
He wound with toilsome march his long array.
Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance;5
'To arms!' cried Mortimer, and couched his quivering lance.6
I. 2.On a rock, whose haughty brow,
Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
Robed in the sable garb of woe,
With haggard eyes the Poet stood;
4 11. Snowdon was a name given by the Saxons to that mountainous tract which the Welsh themselves call Craigian-eryri; it included all the highlands of Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire, as far east as the river Conway. R. Hygden, speaking of the castle of Conway built by King Edward the First, says, "Ad ortum amnis Conway ad clivum montis Erery;" and Matthew of Westminster (ad ann. 1283), "Apud Aberconway ad pedes montis Snowdoniae fecit erigi castrum forte."
5 13. Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-in-law to King Edward.
6 14. Edmond de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore. They both were Lords-Marchers, whose lands lay on the borders of Wales, and probably accompanied the king in this expedition.
(Loose his beard, and hoary hair7
Streamed, like a meteor, to the troubled air)8
And with a Master's hand, and Prophet's fire,
Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre.
'Hark, how each giant-oak, and desert cave,
'Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath!
'O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they wave,
'Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe;
'Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day,
'To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.
I. 3.'Cold is Cadwallo's tongue,
'That hushed the stormy main;
'Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed;
'Mountains, ye mourn in vain
'Modred, whose magic song
'Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topped head.
'On dreary Arvon's shore they lie,9
'Smeared with gore, and ghastly pale;
'Far, far aloof th' affrighted ravens sail;
7 [p. 22] 19. The image was taken from a well-known picture of Raphael, representing the Supreme Being in the vision of Ezekiel. There are two of these paintings (both believed original), one at Florence, the other at Paris.
8 20. "Shone, like a meteor, streaming to the wind."
Milton's Paradise Lost, i. 537.
9 35. The shores of Caernarvonshire opposite to the isle of Anglesey.
'The famished Eagle screams, and passes by.10
'Dear lost companions of my tuneful art,
'Dear, as the light that visits these sad eyes,11
'Dear, as the ruddy drops that warm my heart,
'Ye died amidst your dying country's cries—
'No more I weep. They do not sleep.
'On yonder cliffs, a grisly band,
'I see them sit, they linger yet,
'Avengers of their native land;
'With me in dreadful harmony they join,
'And weave with bloody hands the tissue of thy line.'12
II. 1."Weave the warp, and weave the woof,
"The winding-sheet of Edward's race.
"Give ample room, and verge enough
10 38. Cambden and others observe, that eagles used annually to build their aerie among the rocks of Snowdon, which from thence (as some think) were named by the Welsh Craigian eryri, or the crags of the eagles. At this day (I am told) the highest point of Snowdon is called the eagle's nest. That bird is certainly no stranger to this island, as the Scots, and the people of Cumberland, Westmoreland, etc., can testify; it even has built its nest in the Peak of Derbyshire. (See Willoughby's Ornithol., published by Ray.)
11 40. "As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart."—Julius Caesar, ii. 1.
12 48. See the Norwegian Ode that follows.
"The characters of hell to trace.
"Mark the year, and mark the night,
"When Severn shall re-echo with affright13
"The shrieks of death, thro' Berkley's roofs that ring,
"Shrieks of an agonizing King!
"She-Wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs,14
"That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled Mate,
"From thee be born, who o'er thy country hangs15
"The scourge of Heaven. What Terrors round him wait!
"Amazement in his van, with Flight combined,
"And sorrow's faded form, and solitude behind.
II. 2."Mighty Victor, mighty Lord!
"Low on his funeral couch he lies!16
"No pitying heart, no eye, afford
"A tear to grace his obsequies.
"Is the sable Warrior fled?17
"Thy son is gone. He rests among the Dead.
"The Swarm, that in thy noon-tide beam were born?
"Gone to salute the rising Morn.
"Fair laughs the Morn, and soft the Zephyr blows,18
"While proudly riding o'er the azure realm
"In gallant trim the gilded Vessel goes;
"Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm;
"Regardless of the sweeping Whirlwind's sway,
"That, hushed in grim repose, expects his evening-prey.
II. 3."Fill high the sparkling bowl,19
"The rich repast prepare,
"Reft of a crown, he yet may share the feast;
"Close by the regal chair
"Fell Thirst and Famine scowl
17 67. Edward, the Black Prince, dead some time before his Father.
18 71. Magnificence of Richard the Second's reign. See Froissard and other contemporary writers.
19 77. Richard the Second (as we are told by Archbishop Scroop, and the confederate Lords in their manifesto, by Thomas of Walsingham, and all the older Writers) was starved to death. The story of his assassination by Sir Piers of Exon, is of much later date.
"A baleful smile upon their baffled Guest.
"Heard ye the din of battle bray,20
"Lance to lance, and horse to horse?
"Long Years of havoc urge their destined course,
"And thro' the kindred squadrons mow their way.
"Ye Towers of Julius, London's lasting shame,21
"With many a foul and midnight murther fed,
"Revere his Consort's faith, his Father's* fame,22
"And spare the meek Usurper's holy head.23
"Above, below, the rose of snow,24
"Twined with her blushing foe, we spread;
"The bristled Boar in infant-gore25
20 83. Ruinous civil wars of York and Lancaster.
21 87. Henry the Sixth, George Duke of Clarence, Edward the Fifth, Richard Duke of York, etc., believed to be murthered secretly in the Tower of London. The oldest part of that structure is vulgarly attributed to Julius Caesar.
22 89. Margaret of Anjou, a woman of heroic spirit, who struggled hard to save her Husband and her Crown.
* Henry the Fifth.
23 90. Henry the Sixth very near being canonized. The line of Lancaster had no right of inheritance to the Crown.
24 91. The white and red roses, devices of York and Lancaster.
25 93. The silver Boar was the badge of Richard the [p. 28] Third; whence he was usually known in his own time by the name of the Boar.
"Wallows beneath the thorny shade.
"Now, Brothers, bending o'er th' accursed loom
"Stamp we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom.
III. 1."Edward, lo! to sudden fate
"(Weave we the woof. The thread is spun.)
"Half of thy heart we consecrate.26
"(The web is wove. The work is done.)"
'Stay, oh stay! nor thus forlorn
'Leave me unblessed, unpitied, here to mourn;
'In yon bright track, that fires the western skies,
'They melt, they vanish from my eyes.
'But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height
'Descending slow their glitt'ring skirts unroll?
'Visions of glory, spare my aching sight,
'Ye unborn Ages, crowd not on my soul!
26 99. Eleanor of Castile died a few years after the conquest of Wales. The heroic proof she gave of her affection for her Lord is well known. The monuments of his regret and sorrow for the loss of her, are still to be seen at Northampton, Geddington, Waltham, and other places.
'No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail.27
'All hail, ye genuine Kings, Britannia's Issue, hail!28
III. 2.'Girt with many a Baron bold
'Sublime their starry fronts they rear;
'And gorgeous Dames, and Statesmen old
'In bearded majesty, appear.
'In the midst a Form divine!
'Her eye proclaims her of the Briton-Line;
'Her lion-port, her awe commanding face,29
'Attempered sweet to virgin-grace.
'What strings symphonious tremble in the air,
'What strains of vocal transport round her play!
'Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, hear;30
27 109. It was the common belief of the Welsh nation, that King Arthur was still alive in Fairy-Land, and should return again to reign over Britain.
28 110. Accession of the Line of Tudor.—[Gray, Ed. 1757.] Both Merlin and Taliessin had prophesied, that the Welsh should regain their sovereignty over this island; which seemed to be accomplished in the House of Tudor.
29 117. Speed, relating an audience given by Queen Elizabeth to Paul Dzialinski, ambassador of Poland, says: "And thus she, lion-like rising, daunted the malapert Orator no less with her stately port and majestical deporture, than with the tartness of her princely cheeks."
30 121. Taliessin, Chief of the Bards, flourished in the VIth century. His works are still preserved, and [p. 30] his memory held in high veneration among his countrymen.
'They breathe a soul to animate thy clay.
'Bright Rapture calls, and soaring, as she sings,
'Waves in the eye of Heaven her many-coloured wings.
III. 3.'The verse adorn again
'Fierce War, and faithful Love,31
'And Truth severe, by fairy Fiction drest.
'In buskined measures move32
'Pale Grief, and pleasing Pain,
'With Horror, Tyrant of the throbbing breast.
'A Voice as of the Cherub-Choir,33
'Gales from blooming Eden bear;
'And distant warblings lessen on my ear,34
'That lost in long futurity expire.
'Fond impious Man, think'st thou, yon sanguine cloud,
'Raised by thy breath, has quenched the Orb of day?
'To-morrow he repairs the golden flood,
'And warms the nations with redoubled ray.
'Enough for me. With joy I see
'The different doom our Fates assign.
'Be thine Despair, and sceptred Care,
'To triumph, and to die, are mine.'
He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height
Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night.
THE FATAL SISTERS.
(FROM THE NORSE TONGUE,)
In the Orcades of Thormodus Torfseus; Hafniae,
1697, folio; and also in Bartholinus.
Preface.—In the Eleventh Century, Sigurd, Earl of the Orkney-Islands, went with a fleet of ships and a considerable body of troops into Ireland, to the assistance of Sictryg with the silken beard, who was then making war on his father-in-law Brian, king of
Now the storm begins to lower1
(Haste, the loom of Hell prepare,)
Iron-sleet of arrowy shower2
Hurtles in the darkened air.3
1 1. The Valkyriur were female Divinities, servants of Odin (or Woden), in the Gothic mythology. Their name signifies Chusers of the slain. They were mounted on swift horses, with drawn swords in their hands; and in the throng of battle selected such as were destined to slaughter, and conducted them to Valhalla, the hall of Odin, or paradise of the Brave; where they attended the banquet, and served the departed Heroes with horns of mead and ale.
2 3. "How quick they wheeled, and, flying, behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers."
Milton's Par. Regained, iii. 323, 324.
3 4. "The noise of battle hurtled in the air."
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, ii. 2
Glitt'ring lances are the loom,
Where the dusky warp we strain,
Weaving many a soldier's doom,
Orkney's woe, and Randver's bane.
See the grisly texture grow,
('Tis of human entrails made)
And the weights, that play below,
Each a gasping warrior's head.
Shafts for shuttles, dipt in gore,
Shoot the trembling cords along.
Sword, that once a monarch bore,
Keep the tissue close and strong.
Mista black, terrific maid,
Sangrida, and Hilda, see,
Join the wayward work to aid;
'Tis the woof of victory.
Ere the ruddy sun be set,
Pikes must shiver, javelins sing,
Blade with clattering buckler meet,
Hauberk crash, and helmet ring.
(Weave the crimson web of war)
Let us go, and let us fly,
Where our friends the conflict share,
Where they triumph, where they die.
As the paths of fate we tread,
Wading through th' ensanguined field;
Gondula, and Geira, spread
O'er the youthful King your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give,
Ours to kill, and ours to spare;
Spite of danger he shall live.
(Weave the crimson web of war.)
They, whom once the desert beach
Pent within its bleak domain,
Soon their ample sway shall stretch
O'er the plenty of the plain.
Low the dauntless Earl is laid,
Gored with many a gaping wound;
Fate demands a nobler head;
Soon a King shall bite the ground.
Long his loss shall Eirin weep,
Ne'er again his likeness see;
Long her strains in sorrow steep,
Strains of immortality!
Horror covers all the heath,
Clouds of carnage blot the sun.
Sisters, weave the web of death;
Sisters, cease, the work is done.
Hail the task, and hail the hands!
Songs of joy and triumph sing
Joy to the victorious bands;
Triumph to the younger King.
Mortal, thou that hear'st the tale,
Learn the tenor of our song.
Scotland, thro' each winding vale
Far and wide the notes prolong.
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed;
Each her thundering faulchion wield;
Each bestride her sable steed.
Hurry, hurry to the field.
THE DESCENT OF ODIN.
FROM THE NORSE TONGUE,
In Bartholinus, de causis contemnendae mortis;
And saddled strait his coal-black steed;
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Hela's drear abode.1
1 4. Niflheimr, the hell of the Gothic nations, consisted of nine worlds, to which were devoted all such as died of sickness, old-age, or by any other [p. 36] means than in battle. Over it presided Hela, the Goddess of Death.
Him the Dog of Darkness spied,
His shaggy throat he opened wide,
While from his jaws, with carnage filled,
Foam and human gore distilled;
Hoarse he bays with hideous din,
Eyes that glow, and fangs that grin;
And long pursues, with fruitless yell,
The father of the powerful spell.
Onward still his way he takes,
(The groaning earth beneath him shakes,)
Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of hell arise.
Right against the eastern gate,
By the moss-grown pile he sate;
Where long of yore to sleep was laid
The dust of the prophetic Maid.
Facing to the northern clime,
Thrice he traced the runic rhyme;
Thrice pronounced, in accents dread,
The thrilling verse that wakes the dead;
Till from out the hollow ground
Slowly breathed a sullen sound.
Prophetess. What call unkown, what charms presume
To break the quiet of the tomb?
Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite,
And drags me from the realms of night?
Long on these mould'ring bones have beat
The winter's snow, the summer's heat,
The drenching dews, and driving rain!
Let me, let me sleep again.
Who is he, with voice unblest,
That calls me from the bed of rest?
Odin. A Traveller, to thee unknown,
Is he that calls, a Warrior's son.
Thou the deeds of light shalt know;
Tell me what is done below,
For whom yon glitt'ring board is spread,
Drest for whom yon golden bed.
Pr. Mantling in the goblet see
The pure beverage of the bee,
O'er it hangs the shield of gold;
'Tis the drink of Balder bold;
Balder's head to death is given.
Pain can reach the sons of Heaven!
Unwilling I my lips unclose;
Leave me, leave me to repose.
0. Once again my call obey.
Prophetess, arise, and say,
What dangers Odin's child await,
Who the Author of his fate.
Pr. In Hoder's hand the Hero's doom;
His brother sends him to the tomb.
Now my weary lips I close;
Leave me, leave me to repose.
0. Prophetess, my spell obey,
Once again arise, and say,
Who th' Avenger of his guilt,
By whom shall Hoder's blood be spilt.
Pr. In the caverns of the west,
By Odin's fierce embrace comprest,
A wond'rous Boy shall Binda bear,
Who ne'er shall comb his raven-hair,
Nor wash his visage in the stream,
Nor see the sun's departing beam,
Till he on Hoder's corse shall smile
Flaming on the fun'ral pile.
Now my weary lips I close;
Leave me, leave me to repose.
0. Yet a while my call obey.
Prophetess, awake, and say,
What Virgins these, in speechless woe,
That bend to earth their solemn brow,
That their flaxen tresses tear,
And snowy veils, that float in air.
Tell me whence their sorrows rose;
Then I leave thee to repose.
Pr. Ha! no Traveller art thou,
King of Men, I know thee now;
Mightiest of a mighty line—
0. No boding Maid of skill divine
Art thou, nor Prophetess of good;
But Mother of the giant-brood!
Pr. Hie thee hence, and boast at home,
That never shall enquirer come
To break my iron-sleep again;
Till Lok has burst his tenfold chain.2
Never, till substantial Night
Has reassumed her ancient right;
Till wrapped in flames, in ruin hurled,
Sinks the fabric of the world.
2 90. Lok is the evil Being, who continues in chains till the Twilight of the Gods approaches, when he shall break his bonds; the human race, the stars, and sun, shall disappear; the earth sink in the seas, and fire consume the skies; even Odin himself and his kindred-deities shall perish. For a further explanation of this mythology, see Mallet's Introduction to the History of Denmark, 1755, quarto.
THE TRIUMPHS OF OWEN.
From Mr. Evans' Specimens of the Welsh Poetry;
Owen's praise demands my song,
Owen swift, and Owen strong;
Fairest flower of Roderic's stem,
Gwyneth's shield, and Britain's gem.1
He nor heaps his brooded stores,
Nor on all profusely pours;
Lord of every regal art,
Liberal hand, and open heart.
Big with hosts of mighty name,
Squadrons three against him came;
This the force of Eirin hiding,
Side by side as proudly riding,
On her shadow long and gay
Lochlin ploughs the watry way;2
There the Norman sails afar
Catch the winds, and join the war;
Black and huge along they sweep,
Burthens of the angry deep.
Dauntless on his native sands
The Dragon-son of Mona stands;3
In glitt'ring arms and glory drest,
High he rears his ruby crest.
There the thund'ring strokes begin,
There the press, and there the din;
Talymalfra's rocky shore
Echoing to the battle's roar.
Where his glowing eye-balls turn,
Thousand banners round him burn.
Where he points his purple spear,
Hasty, hasty Rout is there,
Marking with indignant eye
Fear to stop, and shame to fly.
There Confusion, Terror's child,
Conflict fierce, and Ruin wild,
Agony, that pants for breath,
Despair and honourable Death.
* * * * *
3 20. The red Dragon is the device of Cadwallader, which all his descendants bore on their banners.
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
1 1. " . . . squilla di lontano
Che paia 'l giorno pianger, che si muore."
Dante, Purgat. l. 8.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbad; nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide.
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhimes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettered Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply;
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.2
For thee, who mindful of th' unhonoured Dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
2 92. "Ch' i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio fuoco,
Fredda una lingua, e due begli occhi chiusi
Rimaner doppo noi pien di faville."
Petrarch, Son. 169.
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
'Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
'To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
'That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
'His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
'And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
'Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
'Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
'Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
'One morn I missed him on the customed hill,
'Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
'Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
'Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
'The next with dirges due in sad array
'Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne.
'Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay,
'Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own,
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompence as largely send;
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heav'n ('twas all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)3
The bosom of his Father and his God.
A LONG STORY.
An ancient pile of building stands;
The Huntingdons and Hattons there
Employed the power of Fairy hands
3 127. . . . paventosa speme.—Petrarch, Son. 114
To raise the ceiling's fretted height,
Each panel in achievements clothing,
Rich windows that exclude the light,
And passages, that lead to nothing.
Full oft within the spacious walls,
When he had fifty winters o'er him,
My grave Lord-keeper led the brawls;1
The seal, and maces, danced before him.
His bushy beard, and shoe-strings green,
His high-crowned hat, and satin-doublet,
Moved the stout heart of England's Queen,
Tho' Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it.
What, in the very first beginning!
Shame of the versifying tribe!
Your Hist'ry whither are you spinning?
Can you do nothing but describe?
A house there is, (and that's enough)
From whence one fatal morning issues
A brace of warriors, not in buff,
But rustling in their silks and tissues.
The first came cap-a-pie from France,
Her conqu'ring destiny fulfilling,
Whom meaner beauties eye askance,
And vainly ape her art of killing.
The other Amazon kind Heaven
Had armed with spirit, wit, and satire;
1 11. Hatton, preferred by Queen Elizabeth for his graceful person and fine dancing.
But Cobham had the polish given
And tipped her arrows with good-nature.
To celebrate her eyes, her air——
Coarse panegyrics would but tease her.
Melissa is her nom de guerre.
Alas, who would not wish to please her!
With bonnet blue and capucine,
And aprons long they hid their armour,
And veiled their weapons bright and keen
In pity to the country farmer.
Fame, in the shape of Mr. Purt,
(By this time all the parish know it)
Had told that thereabouts there lurked
A wicked imp they call a Poet,
Who prowled the country far and near,
Bewitched the children of the peasants,
Dried up the cows, and lamed the deer,
And sucked the eggs, and killed the pheasants.
My Lady heard their joint petition,
Swore by her coronet and ermine,
She'd issue out her high commission
To rid the manor of such vermin.
The Heroines undertook the task,
Thro' lanes unknown, o'er stiles they ventured,
Rapped at the door, nor stayed to ask,
But bounce into the parlour entered.
The trembling family they daunt,
They flirt, they sing, they laugh, they tattle,
Rummage his Mother, pinch his Aunt,
And up stairs in a whirlwind rattle.
Each hole and cupboard they explore,
Each creek and cranny of his chamber,
Run hurry-skurry round the floor,
And o'er the bed and tester clamber;
Into the drawers and china pry,
Papers and books, a huge imbroglio!
Under a tea-cu[p] he might lie,
Or creased, like dogs-ears, in a folio.
On the first marching of the troops,
The Muses, hopeless of his pardon,
Conveyed him underneath their hoops
To a small closet in the garden.
So Rumor says. (Who will, believe.)
But that they left the door a-jar,
Where, safe and laughing in his sleeve,
He heard the distant din of war.
Short was his joy. He little knew
The power of Magic was no fable;
Out of the window, whisk, they flew,
But left a spell upon the table.
The words too eager to unriddle,
The Poet felt a strange disorder;
Transparent birdlime formed the middle,
And chains invisible the border.
So cunning was the apparatus,
The powerful pot-hooks did so move him,
That, will he, nill he, to the great-house
He went, as if the Devil drove him.
Yet on his way (no sign of grace,
For folks in fear are apt to pray)
To Phoebus he preferred his case,
And begged his aid that dreadful day.
The godhead would have backed his quarrel,
But, with a blush on recollection,
Owned that his quiver and his laurel
'Gainst four such eyes were no protection.
The Court was sate, the Culprit there,
Forth from their gloomy mansions creeping
The lady Janes and Joans repair,
And from the gallery stand peeping.
Such as in silence of the night
Come (sweep) along some winding entry,
(Styack has often seen the sight)2
Or at the chapel-door stand sentry;
In peaked hoods and mantles tarnished,
Sour visages, enough to scare ye,
High Dames of honour once, that garnished
The drawing-room of fierce Queen Mary!
The Peeress comes. The audience stare,
And doff their hats with due submission;
She curtsies, as she takes her chair,
To all the people of condition.
The Bard, with many an artful fib,
Had in imagination fenced him,
Disproved the arguments of Squib,3
And all that Groom could urge against him.4
But soon his rhetoric forsook him,
When he the solemn hall had seen;
A sudden fit of ague shook him,
He stood as mute as poor Macleane.5
Yet something he was heard to mutter,
"How in the park beneath an old tree,
(Without design to hurt the butter,
Or any malice to the poultry,)
"He once or twice had penned a sonnet;
Yet hoped, that he might save his bacon;
Numbers would give their oaths upon it,
He ne'er was for a conjuror taken."
The ghostly Prudes with hagged face
Already had condemned the sinner.
My Lady rose, and with a grace——
She smiled, and bid him come to dinner.
"Jesu-Maria! Madame Bridget,
Why, what can the Viscountess mean?"
(Cried the square hoods in woful fidget)
"The times are altered quite and clean!
"Decorum's turned to mere civility;
Her air and all her manners show it.
Commend me to her affability!
Speak to a Commoner and Poet!"
And so God save our noble King,
And guard us from long-winded lubbers,
That to eternity would sing,
And keep my Lady from her rubbers.
ODE FOR MUSIC.
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, 1769.
Air."Hence, avaunt, ('tis holy ground)
Comus, and his midnight crew,
And Ignorance with looks profound,
And dreaming Sloth of pallid hue,
Mad Sedition's cry profane,
Servitude that hugs her chain,
Nor in these consecrated bowers
Let painted Flatt'ry hide her serpent train in flowers.
Chorus."Nor Envy base, nor creeping Gain,
Dare the Muse's walk to stain,
While bright-eyed Science watches round;
Hence, away, 'tis holy ground!"
Recitative.From yonder realms of empyrean day
Bursts on my ear th' indignant lay;
There sit the sainted Sage, the Bard divine,
The few, whom Genius gave to shine
Thro' every unborn age, and undiscovered clime.
Rapt in celestial transport they,
Yet hither oft a glance from high
They send of tender sympathy
To bless the place, where on their opening soul
First the genuine ardor stole.
'Twas Milton struck the deep-toned shell,
And, as the choral warblings round him swell,
Meek Newton's self bends from his state sublime,
And nods his hoary head, and listens to the rhyme.
Air."Ye brown o'er-arching groves,
That Contemplation loves,
Where willowy Camus lingers with delight!
Oft at the blush of dawn
I trod your level lawn, Oft wooed the gleam of Cynthia silver-bright
In cloisters dim, far from the haunts of Folly,
With Freedom by my side, and soft-eyed Melancholy."
Recitative.But hark! the portals sound, and pacing forth,
With solemn steps and slow,
High potentates, and dames of royal birth,
And mitred fathers in long order go;
Great Edward, with the lilies on his brow
From haughty Gallia torn,
And sad Chatillon, on her bridal morn
That wept her bleeding Love, and princely Clare,
And Anjou's Heroine, and the paler Rose,
The rival of her crown and of her woes,
And either Henry there,
The murthered saint, and the majestic lord
That broke the bonds of Rome.
Accompanied.(Their tears, their little triumphs o'er,
Their human passions now no more,
Save Charity, that glows beyond the tomb.)
All that on Granta's fruitful plain
Rich streams of regal bounty poured,
And bad these awful fanes and turrets rise,
To hail their Fitzroy's festal morning come;
And thus they speak in soft accord
The liquid language of the skies:—
Quartetto."What is grandeur, what is power?
Heavier toil, superior pain.
What the bright reward we gain?
The grateful memory of the good.
Sweet is the breath of vernal shower,
The bee's collected treasures sweet,
Sweet music's melting fall, but sweeter yet
The still small voice of gratitude."
Recitative.Foremost and leaning from her golden cloud
The venerable Margaret see!
"Welcome, my noble son, (she cries aloud)
To this, thy kindred train, and me;
Pleased in thy lineaments we trace
A Tudor's fire, a Beaufort's grace."
Air."Thy liberal heart, thy judging eye,
The flower unheeded shall descry,
And bid it round heaven's altars shed
The fragrance of its blushing head;
Shall raise from earth the latent gem
To glitter on the diadem."
Recitative."Lo! Granta waits to lead her blooming band,
Not obvious, not obtrusive, she
No vulgar praise, no venal incense flings;
Nor dares with courtly tongue refined
Profane thy inborn royalty of mind;
She reveres herself and thee.
With modest pride to grace thy youthful brow,
The laureate wreath, that Cecil wore, she brings,
And to thy just, thy gentle hand
Submits the fasces of her sway,
While spirits blest above and men below
Join with glad voice the loud symphonious lay."
"Thro' the wild waves as they roar,
With watchful eye and dauntless mien,
Thy steady course of honour keep,
Nor fear the rocks, nor seek the shore;
The Star of Brunswick smiles serene,
And gilds the horrors of the deep."
Nero, the Emperor.
Poppaea, believed to be in love with Otho.
Otho, a young man of quality, in love with Poppaea.
Seneca, the Emperor's Preceptor.
Anicetus, Captain of the Guards.
Demetrius, the Cynic, friend to Seneca.
Aceronia, Confidant to Agrippina.
In the mean while, Anicetus, to whose care Poppaea had been intrusted by Otho, contrives the following plot to ruin Agrippina; he betrays his trust to Otho, and brings Nero, as it were by chance, to the sight of the beautiful Poppaea. The Emperor is immediately struck with her charms, and she, by a feigned resistance, increases his passion; though, in reality, she is from the first dazzled with the prospect of empire, and forgets Otho. She therefore joins with Anicetus in his design of ruining Agrippina, soon perceiving that it will be for her interest. Otho hearing that the Emperor had seen Poppaea, is much enraged; but not knowing that this interview was obtained through the treachery of Anicetus, is readily persuaded by him to see Agrippina in secret, and acquaint her with his fears that her son Nero would marry Poppaea. Agrippina, to support her own power, and to wean the Emperor from the love of Poppaea, gives Otho encouragement, and promises to support him. Anicetus secretly introduces Nero to hear their discourse; who resolves immediately on his mother's death, and, by Anicetus's means, to destroy her by drowning. A solemn feast, in honour of their reconciliation, is to be made; after which she being to go by sea to Bauli, the ship is so contrived as to sink or crush her; she escapes by accident, and returns to Baiae.
In this interval Otho has an interview with
The message needs no comment. Tell your master,
His mother shall obey him. Say you saw her
Yielding due reverence to his high command;
Alone, unguarded and without a lictor,
As fits the daughter of Germanicus.
Say, she retired to Antium; there to tend
Her household cares, a woman's best employment.
What if you add, how she turned pale and trembled;
You think, you spied a tear stand in her eye,
And would have dropped, but that her pride restrained it?
(Go! you can paint it well) 'twill profit you,
And please the stripling. Yet 'twould dash his joy
To hear the spirit of Britannicus
Yet walks on earth; at least there are who know
Without a spell to raise, and bid it fire
A thousand haughty hearts, unused to shake
When a boy frowns, nor to be lured with smiles
To taste of hollow kindness, or partake
His hospitable board; they are aware
Of the unpledged bowl, they love not aconite.
Acer. He's gone; and much I hope these walls alone
And the mute air are privy to your passion.
Forgive your servant's fears, who sees the danger
Which fierce resentment cannot fail to raise
In haughty youth, and irritated power.
Agrip. And dost thou talk to me, to me, of danger,
Of haughty youth and irritated power,
To her that gave it being, her that armed
This painted Jove, and taught his novice hand
To aim the forked bolt; while he stood trembling,
Scared at the sound, and dazzled with its brightness?
'Tis like, thou hast forgot, when yet a stranger
To adoration, to the grateful steam
Of flattery's incense, and obsequious vows
From voluntary realms, a puny boy,
Decked with no other lustre, than the blood
Of Agrippina's race, he lived unknown
To fame, or fortune; haply eyed at distance
Some edileship, ambitious of the power
To judge of weights and measures; scarcely dared
On Expectation's strongest wing to soar
High as the consulate, that empty shade
Of long-forgotten liberty; when I
Oped his young eye to bear the blaze of greatness;
Showed him where empire towered, and bade him strike
The noble quarry. Gods! then was the time
To shrink from danger; fear might then have worn
The mask of prudence; but a heart like mine,
A heart that glows with the pure Julian fire,
If bright Ambition from her craggy seat
Display the radiant prize, will mount undaunted,
Gain the rough heights, and grasp the dangerous honour.
Acer. Through various life I have pursued your steps,
Have seen your soul, and wondered at its daring;
Hence rise my fears. Nor am I yet to learn
How vast the debt of gratitude which Nero
To such a mother owes; the world, you gave him,
Suffices not to pay the obligation.
I well remember too (for I was present)
When in a secret and dead hour of night,
Due sacrifice performed with barb'rous rites
Of muttered charms, and solemn invocation,
You bade the Magi call the dreadful powers,
That read futurity, to know the fate
Impending o'er your son; their answer was,
If the son reign, the mother perishes.
Perish (you cried) the mother! reign the son!
He reigns, the rest is heaven's; who oft has bad,
Even when its will seemed wrote in lines of blood,
Th' unthought event disclose a whiter meaning.
Think too how oft in weak and sickly minds
The sweets of kindness lavishly indulged
Rankle to gall; and benefits too great
To be repaid, sit heavy on the soul,
As unrequited wrongs. The willing homage
Of prostrate Rome, the senate's joint applause,
The riches of the earth, the train of pleasures
That wait on youth, and arbitrary sway;
These were your gift, and with them you bestowed
The very power he has to be ungrateful.
Agrip. Thus ever grave and undisturbed reflection
Pours its cool dictates in the madding ear
Of rage, and thinks to quench the fire it feels not.
Say'st thou I must be cautious, must be silent,
And tremble at the phantom I have raised?
Carry to him thy timid counsels. He
Perchance may heed 'em. Tell him, too, that one,
Who had such liberal power to give, may still
With equal power resume that gift, and raise
A tempest that shall shake her own creation
To its original atoms—tell me, say!—
This mighty emperor, this dreaded hero,
Has he beheld the glittering front of war?
Knows his soft ear the trumpet's thrilling voice,
And outcry of the battle? Have his limbs
Sweat under iron harness? Is he not
The silken son of dalliance, nursed in ease
And pleasure's flowery lap?—Rubellius lives,
And Sylla has his friends, though schooled by fear
To bow the supple knee, and court the times
With shows of fair obeisance; and a call,
Like mine, might serve belike to wake pretensions
Drowsier than theirs, who boast the genuine blood
Of our imperial house.
Acer.* Did I not wish to check this dangerous passion,
* From line 82 to the end was one continued speech; [p. 67] as Gray thought it too long, Mason broke it in three places, here by altering this passage and putting it into the mouth of Aceronia, and by inserting two lines to be spoken by her, after line 158, and at line 162; but I have removed these interpolations.—J. B.
I might remind my mistress that her nod
Can rouse eight hardy legions, wont to stem
With stubborn nerves the tide, and face the rigour
Of bleak Germania's snows. Four, not less brave,
That in Armenia quell the Parthian force
Under the warlike Corbulo, by you
Marked for their leader; these, by ties confirmed,
Of old respect and gratitude, are yours.
Surely the Masians too, and those of Egypt,
Have not forgot your sire; the eye of Rome
And the Praetorian camp have long revered,
With customed awe, the daughter, sister, wife,
And mother of their Caesars.
Agrip. Ha! by Juno,
It bears a noble semblance. On this base
My great revenge shall rise; or say we sound
The trump of Liberty; there will not want,
Even in the servile senate, ears to own
Her spirit-stirring voice; Soranus there,
And Cassius, Vetus too, and Thrasea,
Minds of the antique cast, rough, stubborn souls,
That struggle with the yoke. How shall the spark
Unquenchable, that glows within their breasts,
Blaze into freedom, when the idle herd
(Slaves from the womb, created but to stare,
And bellow in the Circus) yet will start,
And shake 'em at the name of Liberty,
Stung by a senseless word, a vain tradition,
As there were magic in it! Wrinkled beldams
Teach it their grandchildren, as somewhat rare
That anciently appeared, but when, extends
Beyond their chronicle—oh! 'tis a cause
To arm the hand of childhood, and rebrace
The slackened sinews of time-wearied age.
Yes, we may meet, ingrateful boy, we may!
Again the buried Genius of old Rome
Shall from the dust uprear his reverend head,
Roused by the shout of millions; there before
His high tribunal thou and I appear.
Let majesty sit on thy awful brow,
And lighten from thy eye; around thee call
The gilded swarm that wantons in the sunshine
Of thy full favour; Seneca be there
In gorgeous phrase of laboured eloquence
To dress thy plea, and Burrhus strengthen it.
With his plain soldier's oath, and honest seeming.
Against thee, Liberty and Agrippina;
The world, the prize; and fair befall the victors.
But soft! why do I waste the fruitless hours
In threats unexecuted? Haste thee, fly
These hated walls that seem to mock my shame,
And cast me forth in duty to their lord.
My thought aches at him; not the basilisk
More deadly to the sight, than is to me
The cool injurious eye of frozen kindness.
I will not meet its poison. Let him feel
Before he sees me. Yes, I will be gone,
But not to Antium—all shall be confessed,
Whate'er the frivolous tongue of giddy fame
Has spread among the crowd; things, that but whispered
Have arched the hearer's brow, and riveted
His eyes in fearful ecstasy; no matter
What; so't be strange, and dreadful.—Sorceries,
Assassinations, poisonings—the deeper
My guilt, the blacker his ingratitude.
And you, ye manes of Ambition's victims,
Enshrined Claudius, with the pitied ghosts
Of the Syllani, doomed to early death,
(Ye unavailing horrors, fruitless crimes!)
If from the realms of night my voice ye hear,
In lieu of penitence, and vain remorse,
Accept my vengeance. Though by me ye bled,
He was the cause. My love, my fears for him,
Dried the soft springs of pity in my heart,
And froze them up with deadly cruelty.
Yet if your injured shades demand my fate,
If murder cries for murder, blood for blood,
Let me not fall alone; but crush his pride,
And sink the traitor in his mother's ruin.
Otho. Thus far we're safe. Thanks to the rosy queen
Of amorous thefts; and had her wanton son
Lent us his wings, we could not have beguiled
With more elusive speed the dazzled sight
Of wakeful jealousy. Be gay securely;
Dispel, my fair, with smiles, the tim'rous cloud
That hangs on thy clear brow. So Helen looked,
So her white neck reclined, so was she borne
By the young Trojan to his gilded bark
With fond reluctance, yielding modesty,
And oft reverted eye, as if she knew not
Whether she feared, or wished to be pursued.
* * * * *
In vain to me the smiling Mornings shine,
And reddening Phoebus lifts his golden fire;
The birds in vain their amorous descant join;
Or cheerful fields resume their green attire;
These ears, alas! for other notes repine,
A different object do these eyes require;
My lonely anguish melts no heart but mine;
And in my breast the imperfect joys expire.
Yet Morning smiles the busy race to cheer,
And new-born pleasure brings to happier men;
The fields to all their wonted tribute bear;
To warm their little loves the birds complain;
I fruitless mourn to him that cannot hear,
And weep the more because I weep in vain.
At Stoke, Aug., 1742.
HYMN TO IGNORANCE.
Hail, horrors, hail! ye ever gloomy bowers,
Ye gothic fanes, and antiquated towers,
Where rushy Camus' slowly-winding flood
Perpetual draws his humid train of mud;
Glad I revisit thy neglected reign,
Oh take me to thy peaceful shade again.
But chiefly thee, whose influence breathed from high
Augments the native darkness of the sky;
Ah, Ignorance! soft salutary power!
Prostrate with filial reverence I adore.
Thrice hath Hyperion rolled his annual race,
Since weeping I forsook thy fond embrace.
Oh say, successful dost thou still oppose
Thy leaden aegis 'gainst our ancient foes?
Still stretch, tenacious of thy right divine,
The massy sceptre o'er thy slumbering line?
And dews Lethean through the land dispense
To steep in slumbers each benighted sense?
If any spark of wit's delusive ray
Break out and flash a momentary day,
With damp, cold touch forbid it to aspire,
And huddle up in fogs the dang'rous fire.
Oh say—she hears me not, but, careless grown,
Lethargic nods upon her ebon throne.
Goddess! awake, arise! alas, my fears!
Can powers immortal feel the force of years?
Not thus of old, with ensigns wide unfurled,
She rode triumphant o'er the vanquished world;
Fierce nations owned her unresisted might,
And all was Ignorance, and all was Night.
Oh! sacred Age! Oh! Times for ever lost!
(The Schoolman's glory, and the Churchman's boast.)
For ever gone—yet still to Fancy new,
Her rapid wings the transient scene pursue,
And bring the buried ages back to view.
High on her car, behold the grandam ride
Like old Sesostris with barbaric pride;
. . . a team of harnessed monarchs bend
* * * * *
1st, He asserts that men without education are like sickly plants in a cold or barren soil (l. 1 to 5, and 8 to 12); and, 2dly, he compares them, when unblest with a just and well-regulated government, to plants that will not blossom or bear fruit in an unkindly and inclement air (l. 5 to 9, and l. 13 to 22). Having thus laid down the two propositions he means to prove, he begins by examining into the characteristics which (taking a general view of mankind) all men have in common one with another (l. 22 to 39); they covet pleasure and avoid pain (l. 31); they feel gratitude for benefits (l. 34); they desire to avenge wrongs, which they effect either by force or cunning (l. 35); they are linked to each other by their common feelings, and participate in sorrow and in joy (l. 36, 37).
If then all the human species agree in so many
* Formed by Mason, "on carefully reviewing the scattered papers in prose which he writ, as hints for his own use in the prosecution of this work."—Mason, vol. iii. p. 98.
It is confessed, however, that men receive an early tincture from the situation they are placed in, and the climate which produces them (l. 84 to 88). Thus the inhabitants of the mountains, inured to labour and patience, are naturally trained to war (l. 88 to 96); while those of the plain are more open to any attack, and softened by ease and plenty (l. 96 to 99). Again, the Egyptians, from the nature of their situation, might be the inventors of home navigation, from a necessity of keeping up an intercourse between their towns during the inundation of the Nile (l. 99, etc.).
Those persons would naturally have the first turn to commerce who inhabited a barren coast like the Tyrians, and were persecuted by some neighbouring tyrant; or were drove to take refuge on some shoals, like the Venetian and Hollander; their discovery of some rich island, in the infancy of the world, described. The Tartar, hardened to war by his rigorous climate and pastoral life, and by his disputes for water and herbage in a country without landmarks, as also by skirmishes between his rival clans, was consequently fitted to conquer his rich southern
. . . Πόταγ', ω 'γαθε· τάν γάρ άοιδάνAs sickly plants betray a niggard earth,
Ούτι πα εις Aιδάν γε τον εκλελάθοντα ϕυλαξεϊς.
Theocritus, Id. I. 63.
Whose barren bosom starves her generous birth,
Nor genial warmth, nor genial juice retains
Their roots to feed, and fill their verdant veins;
And as in climes, where Winter holds his reign,
The soil, though fertile, will not teem in vain,
Forbids her gems to swell, her shades to rise,
Nor trusts her blossoms to the churlish skies,
So draw mankind in vain the vital airs,
unformed, unfriended, by those kindly cares,
That health and vigour to the soul impart,
Spread the young thought, and warm the opening heart.
So fond Instruction on the growing powers
Of Nature idly lavishes her stores,
If equal Justice with unclouded face
Smile not indulgent on the rising race,
And scatter with a free though frugal hand
Light golden showers of plenty o'er the land.
But Tyranny has fixed her empire there,
To check their tender hopes with chilling fear,
And blast the blooming promise of the year.
This spacious animated scene survey
From where the rolling orb, that gives the day,
His sable sons with nearer course surrounds,
To either pole, and life's remotest bounds.
How rude so e'er th' exterior form we find,
Howe'er Opinion tinge the varied mind,
Alike to all the kind impartial Heaven
The sparks of truth and happiness has given;
With sense to feel, with memory to retain,
They follow pleasure, and they fly from pain;
Their judgment mends the plan their fancy draws,
Th' event presages, and explores the cause.
The soft returns of gratitude they know,
By fraud elude, by force repel the foe,
While mutual wishes, mutual woes endear
The social smile, and sympathetic tear.
Say then, thro' ages by what fate confined
To different climes seem different souls assigned?
Here measured laws and philosophic ease
Fix and improve the polished arts of peace;
There Industry and Gain their vigils keep,
Command the winds, and tame th' unwilling deep.
Here Force and hardy deeds of blood prevail.
There languid Pleasure sighs in every gale.
Oft o'er the trembling nations from afar
Has Scythia breathed the living cloud of war;
And, where the deluge burst, with sweepy sway
Their arms, their kings, their gods were rolled away.
As oft have issued, host impelling host,
The blue-eyed myriads from the Baltic coast.
The prostrate South to the destroyer yields
Her boasted titles and her golden fields.
With grim delight the brood of Winter view
A brighter day, and heavens of azure hue;
Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose,
And quaff the pendent vintage as it grows.
Proud of the yoke, and pliant to the rod,
Why yet does Asia dread a monarch's nod,
While European freedom still withstands
Th' encroaching tide, that drowns her lessening lands,
And sees far off with an indignant groan,
Her native plains, and empires once her own.
Can opener skies, and suns of fiercer flame
O'erpower the fire that animates our frame;
As lamps, that shed at eve a cheerful ray,
Fade and expire beneath the eye of day?
Need we the influence of the northern star
To string our nerves and steel our hearts to war?
And, where the face of nature laughs around,
Must sick'ning virtue fly the tainted ground?
Unmanly thought! what seasons can control,
What fancied zone can circumscribe the Soul,
Who, conscious of the source from whence she springs,
By Reason's light, on Resolution's wings,
Spite of her frail companion, dauntless goes
O'er Libya's deserts and through Zembla's snows?
She bids each slumb'ring energy awake,
Another touch, another temper take,
Suspends th' inferior laws that rule our clay;
The stubborn elements confess her sway,
Their little wants, their low desires, refine,
And raise the mortal to a height divine.
Not but the human fabric from the birth
Imbibes a flavour of its parent earth,
As various tracts enforce a various toil,
The manners speak the idiom of their soil.
An iron-race the mountain-cliffs maintain,
Foes to the gentler genius of the plain;
For where unwearied sinews must be found
With side-long plough to quell the flinty ground,
To turn the torrent's swift-descending flood,
To brave the savage rushing from the wood,
What wonder, if to patient valour trained
They guard with spirit what by strength they gained?
And while their rocky ramparts round they see,
The rough abode of want and liberty,
(As lawless force from confidence will grow)
Insult the plenty of the vales below?
What wonder in the sultry climes, that spread
Where Nile redundant o'er his summer-bed
From his broad bosom life and verdure flings
And broods o'er Egypt with his wat'ry wings,
If with adventurous oar and ready sail,
The dusky people drive before the gale;
Or on frail floats to distant cities ride,
That rise and glitter o'er the ambient tide?
* * * * *
When love could teach a monarch to be wise,
And gospel-light first dawned from Bullen's eyes.
STANZAS TO Mr. BENTLEY.
Half pleased, half blushing, let the Muse admire,
While Bentley leads her sister-art along,
And bids the pencil answer to the lyre.
See, in their course, each transitory thought
Fixed by his touch a lasting essence take;
Each dream, in fancy's airy colouring wrought,
To local symmetry and life awake!
The tardy rhymes that used to linger on,
To censure cold, and negligent of fame,
In swifter measures animated run,
And catch a lustre from his genuine flame.
Ah! could they catch his strength, his easy grace,
His quick creation, his unerring line;
The energy of Pope they might efface,
And Dryden's harmony submit to mine.
But not to one in this benighted age
Is that diviner inspiration given,
That burns in Shakespeare's or in Milton's page,
The pomp and prodigality of heaven.
As, when conspiring in the diamond's blaze,
The meaner gems, that singly charm the sight,
Together dart their intermingled rays,
And dazzle with a luxury of light.
Enough for me, if to some feeling breast
My lines a secret sympathy . .
And as their pleasing influence . . .
A sigh of soft reflection . . . .
ON THE PLEASURE ARISING FROM
Waves her dew-bespangled wing,
With vermeil cheek and whisper soft
She woos the tardy spring;
Till April starts, and calls around
The sleeping fragrance from the ground;
And lightly o'er the living scene
Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.
New-born flocks, in rustic dance,
Frisking ply their feeble feet;
Forgetful of their wintry trance,
The birds his presence greet;
But chief, the sky-lark warbles high
His trembling thrilling ecstasy
And, lessening from the dazzled sight,
Melts into air and liquid light.
Rise, my soul! on wings of fire,
Rise the rapturous choir among;
Hark! 'tis Nature strikes the lyre,
And leads the general song.
* * * *
Yesterday the sullen year
Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;
Mute was the music of the air,
The Herd stood drooping by;
Their raptures now that wildly flow,
No yesterday, nor morrow know;
'Tis man alone that joy descries
With forward and reverted eyes.
Smiles on past Misfortune's brow
Soft Reflection's hand can trace;
And o'er the cheek of Sorrow throw
A melancholy grace;
While Hope prolongs our happier hour,
Or deepest shades, that dimly lower
And blacken round our weary way,
Gilds with a gleam of distant day.
Still, where rosy Pleasure leads,
See a kindred Grief pursue;
Behind the steps that Misery treads,
Approaching Comfort view;
The hues of Bliss more brightly glow,
Chastised by sabler tints of woe;
And blended form, with artful strife,
The strength and harmony of Life.
See the Wretch, that long has tost
On the thorny bed of Pain,
At length repair his vigour lost,
And breathe and walk again;
The meanest flowret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The common Sun, the air, the skies,
To him are opening Paradise.
Humble Quiet builds her cell,
Near the source whence Pleasure flows;
She eyes the clear chrystalline well,
And tastes it as it goes.
* * * *
EPITAPH ON MRS. CLARKE.
A Friend, a Wife, a Mother sleeps;
A heart, within whose sacred cell
The peaceful virtues loved to dwell.
Affection warm, and faith sincere,
And soft humanity were there.
In agony, in death, resigned,
She felt the wound she left behind,
Her infant image here below
Sits smiling on a father's woe;
Whom what awaits, while yet he strays
Along the lonely vale of days?
A pang, to secret sorrow dear,
A sigh, an unavailing tear;
Till time shall every grief remove,
With life, with memory, and with love.
EPITAPH ON A CHILD.
A Child, the darling of his parents' eyes;
A gentler lamb ne'er sported on the plain,
A fairer flower will never bloom again!
Few were the days allotted to his breath;
Here let him sleep in peace his night of death.
GRAY ON HIMSELF.
He had not the method of making a fortune;
Could love, and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd;
No very great wit, he believed in a God.
A place or a pension he did not desire,
But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire.
EPITAPH ON SIR WILLIAM WILLIAMS.
Young Williams fought for England's fair renown;
His mind each Muse, each Grace adorned his frame,
Nor envy dared to view him with a frown.
At Aix, his voluntary sword he drew,
There first in blood his infant honour sealed;
From fortune, pleasure, science, love, he flew,
And scorned repose when Britain took the field.
With eyes of flame, and cool undaunted breast
Victor he stood on Belleisle's rocky steeps—
Ah, gallant youth; this marble tells the rest,
Where melancholy friendship bends, and weeps.
THE DEATH OF HOEL.
With headlong rage and wild affright
Upon Deira's squadrons hurled,
To rush, and sweep them from the world!
Too, too secure in youthful pride,
By them my friend, my Hoel, died,
Great Cian's son; of Madoc old
He asked no heaps of hoarded gold;
Alone in nature's wealth arrayed,
He asked and had the lovely maid.
To Cattraeth's vale in glitt'ring row
Thrice two hundred warriors go;
Every warrior's manly neck
Chains of regal honour deck,
Wreathed in many a golden link;
From the golden cup they drink
Nectar that the bees produce,
Or the grape's ecstatic juice.
Flushed with mirth and hope they burn;
But none from Cattraeth's vale return,
Save Aëron brave, and Conan strong,
(Bursting through the bloody throng)
And I, the meanest of them all,
That live to weep and sing their fall.
Or the bull, with sullen roar,
On surrounding foes advance?
So Caràdoc bore his lance.
Build to him the lofty verse,
Sacred tribute of the bard,
Verse, the hero's sole reward.
As the flame's devouring force;
As the whirlwind in its course;
As the thunder's fiery stroke,
Glancing on the shivered oak;
Did the sword of Conan mow
The crimson harvest of the foe.
With a lick of court white-wash, and pious grimace,
A wooing he went, where three sisters of old
In harmless society guttle and scold.
"Lord! sister," says Physic to Law, "I declare,
Such a sheep-biting look, such a pick-pocket air!
Not I for the Indies!—You know I'm no prude,—
But his nose is a shame,—and his eyes are so lewd!
Then he shambles and straddles so oddly—I fear—
No—at our time of life 'twould be silly, my dear."
"I don't know," says Law, "but methinks for his look,
'Tis just like the picture in Rochester's book;
Then his character, Phyzzy,—his morals—his life—
When she died, I can't tell,—but he once had a wife.
They say he's no Christian, loves drinking and whoring,
And all the town rings of his swearing and roaring!
And filching and lying, and Newgate-bird tricks;—
Not I—for a coronet, chariot and six."
Divinity heard, between waking and dozing,
Her sisters denying, and Jemmy proposing;
From table she rose, and with bumper in hand,
She stroked up her belly, and stroked down her band—
"What a pother is here about wenching and roaring!
Why, David loved catches, and Solomon whoring;
Did not Israel filch from the Egyptians of old
Their jewels of silver and jewels of gold?
The prophet of Bethel, we read, told a lie;
He drinks—so did Noah;—he swears—so do I;
To reject him for such peccadillos, were odd;
Besides, he repents—for he talks about God—
Come buss me—I'll be Mrs. Twitcher myself."
* * * * *
VERSES FROM SHAKESPEARE
Precentor of York.
(But stint your clack for sweet St. Charitie)
'Tis Willy begs, once a right proper man,
Though now a book, and interleaved you see.
Much have I borne from cankered critic's spite,
From fumbling baronets and poets small,
Pert barristers, and parsons nothing bright,
But what awaits me now is worst of all.
'Tis true, our master's temper natural
Was fashioned fair in meek and dove-like guise;
But may not honey's self be turned to gall
By residence, by marriage, and sore eyes?
If then he wreak on me his wicked will;
Steal to his closet at the hour of prayer;
And (when thou hear'st the organ piping shrill)
Grease his best pen, and all he scribbles, tear.
Better to bottom tarts and cheesecakes nice,
Better the roast meat from the fire to save,
Better be twisted into caps for spice,
Than thus be patched and cobbled in one's grave.
So York shall taste what Clouet never knew,
So from our works sublimer fumes shall rise;
While Nancy earns the praise to Shakespeare due,
For glorious puddings and immortal pies.
RUINS OF A DECEASED NOBLEMAN, AT KINGSGATE, KENT.
Here Holland formed the pious resolution
To smuggle a few years, and strive to mend
A broken character and constitution.
On this congenial spot he fixed his choice;
Earl Goodwin trembled for his neighbouring sand;
Here sea-gulls scream, and cormorants rejoice,
And mariners, though shipwrecked, dread to land.
Here reign the blustering North and blighting East,
No tree is heard to whisper, bird to sing;
Yet Nature could not furnish out the feast,
Art he invokes new horrors still to bring.
Here mouldering fanes and battlements arise,
Turrets and arches nodding to their fall,
Unpeopled monast'ries delude our eyes,
And mimic desolation covers all.
"Ah!" said the sighing peer, "had Bute been true,
Nor Mungo's, Rigby's, Bradshaw's friendship vain,
Far better scenes than these had blest our view,
And realised the beauties which we feign;
"Purged by the sword, and purified by fire,
Then had we seen proud London's hated walls;
Owls would have hooted in St. Peter's choir,
And foxes stunk and littered in St. Paul's."
SATIRE ON THE HEADS OF HOUSES;
To the Satire I've penned
On the Heads of thy Houses,
Thou Seat of the Muses!
Know the Master of Jesus
Does hugely displease us;
The Master of Maudlin
In the same dirt is dawdling;
The Master of Sidney
Is of the same kidney;
The Master of Trinity
To him bears affinity;
As the Master of Keys
Is as like as two pease,
So the Master of Queen's
Is as like as two beans;
The Master of King's
Copies them in all things;
The Master of Catherine
Takes them all for his pattern;
The Master of Clare
Hits them all to a hair;
The Master of Christ
By the rest is enticed;
But the Master of Emmanuel
Follows them like a spaniel;
The Master of Benet
Is of the like tenet;
The Master of Pembroke
Has from them his system took;
The Master of Peter's
Has all the same features;
The Master of St. John's
Like the rest of the Dons.
As to Trinity Hall
We say nothing at all.
To weep without knowing the cause of my anguish;
To start from short slumbers, and wish for the morning—
To close my dull eyes when I see it returning;
Sighs sudden and frequent, looks ever dejected—
Words that steal from my tongue, by no meaning connected!
Ah! say, fellow-swains, how these symptoms befell me?
They smile, but reply not—Sure Delia will tell me!
Ere the spring he would return—
Ah! what means yon violet flower!
And the buds that deck the thorn!
'Twas the lark that upward sprung!
'Twas the nightingale that sung!
Idle notes! untimely green!
Why this unavailing haste?
Western gales and skies serene
Speak not always winter past.
Cease, my doubts, my fears to move,
Spare the honour of my love.
EPITAPH ON MRS. MASON.
'Twas e'en to thee, yet, the dread path once trod,
Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids the pure in heart behold their God.
While frighted prelates bowed and called him friend;
I saw them bow, and while they wished him dead,
With servile simper nod the mitred head.
Our mother-church, with half-averted sight,
Blushed as she blessed her grisly proselyte;
Hosannas rung through hell's tremendous borders,
And Satan's self had thoughts of taking orders.
Stonehewer the lewd, and Delaval the loud.
For thee does Powell squeeze, and Marriot sputter,
And Glynn cut phizzes, and Tom Neville stutter.
Brown sees thee sitting on his nose's tip,
The Widow feels thee in her aching hip;
For thee fat Nanny sighs, and handy Nelly,
And Balguy with a bishop in his belly.
after dining with Harry Vane.
Very good claret and fine champaign.
The Bishop of Chester,
Though wiser than Nestor
And fairer than Esther,
If you scratch him will fester.
Here lies Edmund Keene Lord Bishop of Chester,
He eat a fat goose, and could not digest her.
Here lies Mrs. Keene the she Bishop of Chester,
She had a bad face which did sadly molest her.
This parody was made on a tour with Dr. Wharton in Cumberland and Westmoreland in September, 1767. Wharton made a copy of the lines and added the following note:—"Extempore Epitaph on Ann Countess of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery, made by Mr. Gray on reading the Epitaph on her mother's tomb in the Church at Appleby, composed by the Countess in the same manner."
Now clean, now hideous, mellow now, now gruff,
She swept, she hissed, she ripened and grew rough,
At Brougham, Pendragon, Appleby and Brough.
When you rise from your dinner as light as before,
'Tis a sign you have eat just enough and no more.
Norton Nicholls in his Reminiscences of Gray gives the following as "two verses made by Mr. Gray as we were walking in the spring in the neighbourhood of Cambridge." This couplet was first printed in Mathias' edition of Gray's Works (1814), vol. ii. p. 596.
There pipes the woodlark, and the song-thrush there
Scatters his loose notes in the waste of air.
Nature in my soul implanted;
But the genial hand of time
Still to ripen 'em is wanted;
Or, soon as they begin to blow,
My cold soil nips the buds with snow.
If a plenteous crop arise,
Copious numbers, swelling grain;
Judgment from the harvest flies
And careless spares to weed the plain;
Tares of similes choke the roots,
Or poppy-thoughts blast all the shoots.
Youth, his torrid beams that plays,
Bids the poetic Spirit flourish;
But, tho' flowers his ardour raise,
Maggots too 'twill form and nourish;
And variegated Fancy's seen
Vainly enamelling the green.
First when Pastorals I read,
Purling streams and cooling breezes
I only wrote of; and my head
Rhimed on, reclined beneath the tree-zes;
In pretty Dialogue I told
Of Phoebus' heat and Daphne's cold.
Battles, sieges, men, and arms,
(If heroïc verse I'm reading)
I burn to write; with Myra's charms
In episode, to show my breeding;
But if my Myra cruel be
I tell her so in Elegy.
Tragic numbers, buskined strains,
If Melpomene inspire,
I sing; but fickle throw my trains
And half an act into the fire;
Perhaps Thalia prompts a Sonnet
On Chloe's fan, or Caelia's bonnet.
For one silk-worm thought that thrives
Twenty more in embryo die;
Some spin away their little lives
In ductile lines of foolery;
Then for one moiety of the year
Pent in a chrysalis appear.
Till again the rolling sun
Bursts the inactive shell, and thoughts
Like butterflies their prison shun,
Buzzing with all their parent faults;
And, springing from the sluggish mould,
Expand their wings of flimsy gold.
But, my Dear, these flies, they say,
Can boast of one good quality;
To Phoebus gratefully they pay
Their little songs, and melody;
So I to you this trifle give,
Whose influence first bid it live.
December, 1736. Celadon.
Long to seek a mutual heart,—
Late to find it;—and, again,
Leave and lose it,—oh the pain!
Some have loved, and loved (they say)
'Till they loved their love away;
Then have left, to love anew;
But, I wot, they loved not true!
True to love,—and then to part,—
Long to seek a mutual heart,—
Late to find it,—and, again,
Leave, and lose it,—oh the pain!
Some have loved, to pass the time,
And have loved their love in rhyme;
Loathed the love; and loathed the song;
But their love could not be strong.
Strong to love,—and then to part,—
Long to seek a mutual heart,—
Late to find it,—and, again,
Leave, and lose it,—oh the pain!
Some have just but felt the flame
Lightly lambent o'er their frame,—
Light to them the parting knell;
For, too sure, they love not well.
Well to love,—and then to part,—
Long to seek a mutual heart,—
Late to find it,—and, again,
Leave and lose it,—oh the pain!
But when once the potent dart
Cent'ring, rivets heart to heart,
'Tis to tear the closing wound,
Then to sever what is bound.
Bound to love,—and then to part,—
Long to seek a mutual heart,—
Late to find it,—and, again,
Leave and lose it,—oh! the pain.
THE CHARACTERS OF THE CHRIST CROSS ROW.
* * * *Great D draws near—the Duchess sure is come,
Open the doors of the withdrawing-room;
Her daughters decked most daintily I see,
The Dowager grows a perfect double D
E enters next, and with her Eve appears,
Not like yon Dowager deprest with years;
What Ease and Elegance her person grace,
Bright beaming, as the Evening-star, her face;
Queen Esther next—how fair e'en after death,
Then one faint glimpse of Queen Elizabeth;
No more, our Esthers now are nought but Hetties,
Elizabeths all dwindled into Betties;
In vain you think to find them under E,
They're all diverted into H and B.
F follows fast the fair—and in his rear,
See Folly, Fashion, Foppery, straight appear,
All with fantastic clews, fantastic clothes,
With Fans and Flounces, Fringe and Furbelows.
Here Grub-street Geese presume to joke and jeer,
All, all, but Grannam Osborne's Gazetteer.
High heaves his hugeness H, methinks we see,
Henry the Eighth's most monstrous majesty,
But why on such mock grandeur should we dwell,
H mounts to Heaven, and H descends to Hell.
As H the Hebrew found, so I the Jew,
See Isaac, Joseph, Jacob, pass in view;
The walls of old Jerusalem appear,
See Israel, and all Judah thronging there.
* * * *P pokes his head out, yet has not a pain;
Like Punch, he peeps, but soon pops in again;
Pleased with his Pranks, the Pisgys call him Puck,
Mortals he loves to prick, and pinch and pluck;
Now a pert Prig, he perks upon your face,
Now peers, pores, ponders, with profound grimace,
Now a proud Prince, in pompous Purple drest,
And now a Player, a Peer, a Pimp, or Priest;
A Pea, a Pin, in a perpetual round,
Now seems a Penny, and now shows a Pound;
Like Perch or Pike, in Pond you see him come,
He in plantations hangs like Pear or Plum,
Pippin or Peach; then perches on the spray,
In form of Parrot, Pye, or Popinjay.
P, Proteus-like all tricks, all shapes can show,
The Pleasantest Person in the Christ-Cross row.
As K a King, Q represents a Queen,
And seems small difference the sounds between;
K, as a man, with hoarser accent speaks,
In shriller notes Q like a female squeaks;
Behold K struts, as might a King become,
Q draws her train along the Drawing-room,
Slow follow all the quality of State,
Queer Queensbury only does refuse to wait.
Thus great R reigns in town, while different far,
Rests in Retirement, little Rural R;
Remote from cities lives in lone Retreat,
With Rooks and Rabbit-burrows round his seat—
S, sails the Swan slow down the Silver stream.
* * * *So big with Weddings, waddles W,
And brings all Womankind before your view;
A Wench, a Wife, a Widow, and a Whore,
With Woe behind, and Wantonness before.
Whoe'er the quoit can wield,
And furthest send its weight athwart the field,
Let him stand forth his brawny arm to boast.
Swift at the word, from out the gazing host,
Young Pterelas with strength unequal drew,
Labouring, the disc, and to small distance threw.
The band around admire the mighty mass,
A slipp'ry weight, and formed of polished brass.
The love of honour bade two youths advance,
Achaians born, to try the glorious chance;
A third arose, of Acarnania he,
Of Pisa one, and one from Ephyre;
Nor more, for now Nesimachus's son,†—
By acclamations roused, came tow'ring on.
Another orb upheaved his strong right hand,
Then thus: "Ye Argive flower, ye warlike band,
Who trust your arms shall raise the Tyrian towers,
And batter Cadmus' walls with stony showers,
Receive a worthier load; yon puny ball
Let youngsters toss:"——
He said, and scornful flung th' unheeded weight
Aloof; the champions, trembling at the sight,
Prevent disgrace, the palm despaired resign;
All but two youths th' enormous orb decline,
These conscious shame withheld, and pride of noble line.
As bright and huge the spacious circle lay,
With double light it beamed against the day;
So glittering shows the Thracian Godhead's shield,
With such a gleam affrights Pangaea's field,
When blazing 'gainst the sun it shines from far,
And, clashed, rebellows with the din of war.
Phlegyas the long-expected play began,
Summoned his strength, and called forth all the man.
All eyes were bent on his experienced hand,
For oft in Pisa's sports, his native land
Admired that arm, oft on Alpheus' shore
The pond'rous brass in exercise he bore;
Where flowed the widest stream he took his stand;
Sure flew the disc from his unerring hand,
Nor stopped till it had cut the further strand.
And now in dust the polished ball he rolled,
Then grasped its weight, elusive of his hold;
Now fitting to his gripe and nervous arm,
Suspends the crowd with expectation warm;
Nor tempts he yet the plain, but hurled upright,
Emits the mass, a prelude of his might;
Firmly he plants each knee, and o'er his head,
Collecting all his force, the circle sped;
It towers to cut the clouds; now through the skies
Sings in its rapid way, and strengthens as it flies;
Anon, with slackened rage comes quiv'ring down,
Heavy and huge, and cleaves the solid ground.
So from th' astonished stars, her nightly train,
The sun's pale sister, drawn by magic strain,
Deserts precipitant her darkened sphere;
In vain the nations with officious fear
Their cymbals toss, and sounding brass explore;
Th' AEmonian hag enjoys her dreadful hour,
And smiles malignant on the labouring power.
Thebaidos vi. 646-688.
* * * * *Third in the labours of the disc came on,
With sturdy step and slow, Hippomedon;
Artful and strong he poised the well-known weight,
By Phlegyas warned, and fired by Mnestheus' fate,
That to avoid, and this to emulate.
His vigorous arm he tried before he flung,
Braced all his nerves, and every sinew strung;
Then, with a tempest's whirl, and wary eye,
Pursued his cast, and hurled the orb on high;
The orb on high tenacious of its course,
True to the mighty arm that gave it force,
Far overleaps all bound, and joys to see
Its ancient lord secure of victory.
The theatre's green height and woody wall
Tremble ere it precipitates its fall;
The ponderous mass sinks in the cleaving ground,
While vales and woods and echoing hills rebound.
As when, from AEtna's smoking summit broke,
The eyeless Cyclops heaved the craggy rock;
Where Ocean frets beneath the dashing oar,
And parting surges round the vessel roar;
'Twas there he aimed the meditated harm,
And scarce Ulysses scaped his giant arm.
A tiger's pride the victor bore away,
With native spots and artful labour gay,
A shining border round the margin rolled,
And calmed the terrors of his claws in gold.
Thebaidos vi. 704-724.
Dismissed at length, they break through all delay
To tempt the dangers of the doubtful way;
And first to Ascalon their steps they bend,
Whose walls along the neighbouring sea extend,
Nor yet in prospect rose the distant shore;
Scarce the hoarse waves from far were heard to roar,
When thwart the road a river rolled its flood
Tempestuous, and all further course withstood;
The torrent stream his ancient bounds disdains,
Swoll'n with new force, and late-descending rains.
Irresolute they stand; when lo! appears
The wondrous Sage; vigorous he seemed in years,
Awful his mien, low as his feet there flows
A vestment unadorned, though white as new-fall'n snows;
Against the stream the waves secure he trod,
His head a chaplet bore, his hand a rod.
As on the Rhine, when Boreas' fury reigns,
And winter binds the floods in icy chains,
Swift shoots the village-maid in rustic play,
Smooth, without step, adown the shining way,
Fearless in long excursion loves to glide,
And sports and wantons o'er the frozen tide.
So moved the Seer, but on no hardened plain;
The river boiled beneath, and rushed towards the main.
Where fixed in wonder stood the warlike pair,
His course he turned, and thus relieved their care:
"Vast, oh my friends, and difficult the toil
To seek your Hero in a distant soil!
No common helps, no common guide ye need,
Art it requires, and more than winged speed.
What length of sea remains, what various lands,
Oceans unknown, inhospitable sands!
For adverse fate the captive chief has hurled
Beyond the confines of our narrow world.
Great things and full of wonder in your ears
I shall unfold; but first dismiss your fears;
Nor doubt with me to tread the downward road
That to the grotto leads, my dark abode."
Scarce had he said, before the warriors' eyes
When mountain-high the waves disparted rise;
The flood on either hand its billows rears,
And in the midst a spacious arch appears.
Their hands he seized, and down the steep he led
Beneath the obedient river's inmost bed;
The wat'ry glimmerings of a fainter day
Discovered half, and half concealed their way;
As when athwart the dusky woods by night
The uncertain crescent gleams a sickly light.
Through subterraneous passages they went,
Earth's inmost cells, and caves of deep descent.
Of many a flood they viewed the secret source,
The birth of rivers rising to their course,
Whate'er with copious train its channel fills,
Floats into lakes, and bubbles into rills;
The Po was there to see, Danubius' bed,
Euphrates' fount, and Nile's mysterious head.
Further they pass, where ripening minerals flow,
And embryon metals undigested glow,
Sulphureous veins and living silver shine,
Which soon the parent sun's warm powers refine,
In one rich mass unite the precious store,
The parts combine and harden into ore;
Here gems break through the night with glittering beam,
And paint the margin of the costly stream;
All stones of lustre shoot their vivid ray,
And mix attempered in a various day;
Here the soft emerald smiles of verdant hue,
And rubies flame, with sapphires heavenly blue,
The diamond there attracts the wond'ring sight,*
Proud of its thousand dies, and luxury of light.†
Gerus. Lib. xiv. 32.
IMITATED FROM PROPERTIUS.*
Liber III. Elegia 5.
Love, gentle Power! to Peace was e'er a friend;
Before the Goddess' shrine we too, Love's vot'ries, bend.
Still may his Bard in softer fights engage;
Wars hand to hand with Cynthia let me wage.
* * * *Long as of youth the joyous hours remain,
Me may Castalia's sweet recess detain,
Fast by th' umbrageous vale lulled to repose,
Where Aganippe warbles as it flows;
Or roused by sprightly sounds from out the trance,
I'd in the ring knit hands, and join the Muses' dance.
Give me to send the laughing bowl around,
My soul in Bacchus' pleasing fetters bound;
Let on this head unfading flowers reside,
There bloom the vernal rose's earliest pride;
* In the Pembroke MSS. this translation from Propertius is as here and not in the form in which Mr. Gosse prints it.
And when, our flames commissioned to destroy,
Age step 'twixt Love and me, and intercept the joy;
When my changed head these locks no more shall know,
And all its jetty honours turn to snow;
Then let me rightly spell of Nature's ways;
To Providence, to Him my thoughts I'd raise,
Who taught this vast machine its steadfast laws,
That first, eternal, universal Cause;
Search to what regions yonder star retires,
That monthly waning hides her paly fires,
And whence, anew revived, with silver light
Relumes her crescent orb to cheer the dreary night;
How rising winds the face of ocean sweep,
Where lie th' eternal fountains of the deep,
And whence the cloudy magazines maintain
Their wintry war, or pour the autumnal rain
How flames perhaps, with dire confusion hurled,
Shall sink this beauteous fabric of the world;
What colours paint the vivid arch of Jove;
What wondrous force the solid earth can move,
When Pindus' self approaching ruin dreads,
Shakes all his pines, and bows his hundred heads;
Why does yon orb, so exquisitely bright,
Obscure his radiance in a short-lived night;
Whence the Seven Sisters' congregated fires,
And what Bootes' lazy waggon tires;
How the rude surge its sandy bounds control;
Who measured out the year, and bad the seasons roll;
If realms beneath those fabled torments know,
Pangs without respite, fires that ever glow,
Earth's monster-brood stretched on their iron bed,
The hissing terrors round Alecto's head,
Scarce to nine acres Tityus' bulk confined,
The triple dog that scares the shadowy kind,
All angry heaven inflicts, or hell can feel,
The pendent rock, Ixion's whirling wheel,
Famine at feasts, and thirst amid the stream;
Or are our fears th' enthusiast's empty dream,
And all the scenes, that hurt the grave's repose,
But pictured horror and poetic woes.
These soft inglorious joys my hours engage;
Be love my youth's pursuit, and science crown my Age.
You whose young bosoms feel a nobler flame
Redeem what Crassus lost, and vindicate his name.
Whence the soft strain and ever-melting verse?
From Cynthia all that in my numbers shines;
She is my Genius, she inspires the lines;
No Phoebus else, no other Muse I know,
She tunes my easy rhime, and gives the lay to flow.
If the loose curls around her forehead play,
Or lawless, o'er their ivory margin stray;
If the thin Coan web her shape reveal,
And half disclose the limbs it should conceal;
Of those loose curls, that ivory front I write;
Of the dear web whole volumes I indite;
Or if to music she the lyre awake,
That the soft subject of my song I make,
And sing with what a careless grace she flings
Her artful hand across the sounding strings.
If sinking into sleep she seem to close
Her languid lids, I favour her repose
* The whole of this is in Gray's handwriting in the Pembroke MS., which is here followed. The first thirty lines are in the Mitford MSS., the remainder first appeared in Mathias' edition.
With lulling notes, and thousand beauties see
That slumber brings to aid my Poetry.
When, less averse, and yielding to desires,
She half accepts, and half rejects, my fires,
While to retain the envious lawn she tries,
And struggles to elude my longing eyes,
The fruitful Muse from that auspicious night
Dates the long Iliad of the amorous fight.
In brief whate'er she do, or say, or look,
'Tis ample matter for a lover's book;
And many a copious narrative you'll see
Big with the important Nothing's History.
Yet would the tyrant Love permit me raise
My feeble voice, to sound the victor's praise,
To paint the hero's toil, the ranks of war,
The laurelled triumph and the sculptured car;
No giant race, no tumult of the skies,
No mountain-structures in my verse should rise,
Nor tale of Thebes, nor Ilium there should be,
Nor how the Persian trod the indignant sea;
Not Marius' Cimbrian wreaths would I relate,
Nor lofty Carthage struggling with her fate.
Here should Augustus great in Arms appear,
And thou Maecenas, be my second care;
Here Mutina from flames and famine free,
And there the ensanguined wave of Sicily,
And sceptred Alexandria's captive shore,
And sad Philippi, red with Roman gore;*
* These two lines are in the margin in the Pembroke MS.
Then, while the vaulted skies loud Ios rend,
In golden chains should loaded monarchs bend,
And hoary Nile with pensive aspect seem
To mourn the glories of his sevenfold stream,
While prows, that late in fierce encounter met,
Move through the Sacred Way and vainly threat.
Thee too the Muse should consecrate to fame,
And with his garlands weave thy ever-faithful name.
But nor Callimachus' enervate strain
May tell of Jove, and Phlegra's blasted plain
Nor I with unaccustomed vigour trace
Back to its source divine the Julian race.
Sailors to tell of winds and seas delight,
The shepherd of his flocks, the soldier of the fight,
A milder warfare I in verse display;
Each in his proper art should waste the day;
Nor thou my gentle calling disapprove,
To die is glorious in the bed of Love.
Happy the youth, and not unknown to Fame,
Whose heart has never felt a second flame.
Oh, might that envied happiness be mine!
To Cynthia all my wishes I confine;
Or if, alas! it be my fate to try
Another Love, the quicker let me die.
But she, the Mistress of my faithful breast,
Has oft the charms of constancy confest,
Condemns her fickle sex's fond mistake,
And hates the Tale of Troy for Helen's sake.
Me from myself the soft enchantress stole;
Ah! let her ever my desires control,
Or if I fall the victim of her scorn,
From her loved door may my pale corse be borne.
The power of herbs can other harms remove,
And find a cure for every ill, but love.
The Melian's* hurt Machaon could repair,
Heal the slow chief, and send again to war;
To Chiron Phoenix owed his long-lost sight,
And Phoebus' son recalled Androgeon to the light.
Here arts are vain, e'en magic here must fail,
The powerful mixture and the midnight spell;
The hand that can my captive heart release,
And to this bosom give its wonted peace,
May the long thirst of Tantalus allay,
Or drive the infernal vulture from his prey.
For ills unseen what remedy is found,
Or who can probe the undiscovered wound?
The bed avails not, or the leech's care,
Nor changing skies can hurt, nor sultry air.
'Tis hard th' elusive symptoms to explore;
To-day the lover walks, to-morrow is no more;
A train of mourning friends attend his pall,
And wonder at the sudden funeral.
* Gray first wrote 'Lemnian's,' but corrected it in the margin (Pembroke MS.). Mathias printed 'Lemnian's,' and was followed by Mitford and Moultrie.
When then my Fates that breath they gave shall claim,
When the short marble but preserve a name,
A little verse my all that shall remain;
Thy passing courser's slackened speed restrain;
(Thou envied honour of thy poet's days,
Of all our youth the ambition and the praise!)
Then to my quiet urn awhile draw near,
And say, while o'er the place you drop a tear,
Love and the Fair were of his life the pride;
He lived, while she was kind; and when she frowned, he died.
TRANSLATION FROM DANTE.
I have followed the copy made by Mitford (Mitford MSS.) from Stonehewer. Mitford's note is:—
"It is uncertain when Gray translated the following from Dante, but most probably very early, and when he was making himself master of the Italian language."
From his dire food the grisly Felon raised
His gore-dyed lips, which on the clottered locks
Of th' half devoured head he wiped, and thus
Began. Wouldst thou revive the deep despair,
The anguish, that unuttered nathless wrings
My inmost heart? yet if the telling may
Beget the traitor's infamy, whom thus
I ceaseless gnaw insatiate; thou shalt see me
At once give loose to utterance, and to tears.
I know not, who thou art; nor on what errand
Sent hither; but a Florentine my ear,
Won by thy tongue, declares thee. Know, thou seest
In me Count Ugolino, and Ruggieri,
Pisa's perfidious Prelate this; now hear
My wrongs, and from them judge of my revenge.
That I did trust him, that I was betrayed
By trusting, and by treachery slain, it recks not
That I advise thee. That which yet remains
To thee and all unknown (a horrid tale)
The bitterness of death, I shall unfold.
Attend, and say if he have injured me.
Thro' a small crevice opening, what scant light
That grim and antique tower admitted (since
Of me the Tower of Famine hight, and known
To many a wretch) already gan the dawn
To send; the whilst I slumb'ring lay, a Sleep
Prophetic of my woes with direful hand
Oped the dark veil of Fate. I saw methought
Toward Pisa's Mount, that intercepts the view
Of Lucca, chased by hell-hounds gaunt and bloody
A wolf full-grown; with fleet and equal speed
His young ones ran beside him. Lanfranc there
And Sigismundo, and Gualandi rode
Amain, my deadly foes! headed by this
The deadliest. He their chief, the foremost he
Flashed to pursue, and cheer the eager cry;
Nor long endured the chase; the panting sire,
Of strength bereft, his helpless offspring soon
O'erta'en beheld, and in their trembling flanks
The hungry pack their sharp-set fangs embrued.
The morn had scarce commenced, when I awoke;
My children (they were with me) sleep as yet
Gave not to know their sum of misery,
But yet in low and uncompleted sounds
I heard 'em wail for bread. Oh! thou art cruel,
Or thou dost mourn to think, what my poor heart
Foresaw, foreknew; oh! if thou weep not now,
Where are thy tears? too soon they had aroused 'em
Sad with the fears of sleep, and now the hour
Of timely food approached; when at the gate
Below I heard the dreadful clank of bars,1
And fast'ning bolts; then on my children's eyes
Speechless my sight I fixed, nor wept, for all
Within was stone; they wept, unhappy boys!
They wept, and first my little dear Anselmo
Cried, 'Father, why, why do you gaze so sternly?
What would you have?' yet wept I not, or answered
All that whole day, or the succeeding night
Till a new sun arose with weakly gleam,
And wan, such as mought entrance find within
That House of Woe. But oh! when I beheld
My sons, and in four faces saw my own
Despair reflected, either hand I gnawed
For anguish, which they construed hunger; straight
Arising all they cried, 'Far less shall be
Our suffering, Sir, if you resume your gift;
These miserable limbs with flesh you clothed;
Take back, what once was yours.' I swallowed down
My struggling sorrow, not to heighten theirs;
That day, and yet another, mute we sate,
And motionless. Oh Earth! could'st thou not gape
Quick to devour me? yet a fourth day came
When Gaddo, at my feet out-stretched, imploring
In vain my help, expired; ere the sixth morn
Had dawned, my other three before my eyes
Died one by one; I saw 'em fall; I heard
Their doleful cries; for three days more I groped
About among their cold remains (for then
Hunger had reft my eye-sight), often calling
On their dear names, that heard me now no more;
The fourth, what sorrow could not, famine did.
He finished. Then with unrelenting eye
Askance he turned him, hasty to renew
The hellish feast, and rent his trembling prey.
Dell' Inferno, Canto 33.
PLAY-EXERCISE AT ETON.
"Quem te Deus esse
Jussit, & humana qua parte locatus es in re
Disce . . ."
Pendet Homo incertus gemini ad confinia mundi
Cui parti accedat dubius; consurgere stellis
An socius velit, an terris ingloria moles
Reptare, ac muto se cum grege credere campis;
Inseruisse choro divum hic se jactat, & audet
Telluremque vocare suam, fluctusque polumque,
Et quodcunque videt, proprios assumit in usus.
'Me propter jam vere expergefacta virescit
'Natura in flores, herbisque illudit, amatque
'Pingere telluris gremium, mihi vinea foetu
'Purpureo turget, dulcique rubescit honore;
'Me rosa, me propter liquidos exhalat odores;
'Luna mihi pallet, mihi Olympum Phoebus inaurat,
'Sidera mi lucent, volvunturque aequora ponti.'
Sic secum insistit, tantumque haec astra decores
AEstimat esse suae sedis, convexaque coeli
Ingentes scenas, vestique aulaea theatri.
At tibi per deserta fremit, tibi tigris acerbum
Succenset, nemorum fulmen, Gangeticus horror?
Te propter mare se tollit, surgitque tumultu?
Hic ubi rimari, atque impallescere libris
Perstitit, anne valet qua vi connexa per aevum
Conspirent elementa sibi, serventque tenorem;
Sufficiant scatebrae unde mari, fontesque perennes
Jugis aquae fluviis, unde aether sidera pascat,
Pandere? nequaquam; secreta per avia mundi
Debile carpit iter, vix, et sub luce maligna
Pergit, et incertam tendit trepidare per umbram.
Fata obstant; metam Parcae posuere sciendi,
Et dixere, veni huc, Doctrina, hic terminus esto.
Non super aethereas errare licentius auras
Humanum est, at scire hominem; breve limite votum
Exiguo claudat, nec se quaesiverit extra.
Errat, qui cupit oppositos transcendere fines,
Extenditque manus ripae ulterioris amore;
Illic gurges hiat late, illic saeva vorago
Et caligantes longis ambagibus umbrae.
Oceani fontes, et regna sonantia fluctu,
Machina stellantis coeli, terraeque cavernae
Nullis laxantur mortalibus, isque aperiret
Haec qui arcana poli, magnumque recluderet aequor,
Frangeret aeternos nexus, mundique catenam.
Plurimus (hic error, demensque libido lacessit)
In superos coelumque ruit, sedesque relinquit,
Quas natura dedit proprias, jussitque tueri,
Humani sortem generis pars altera luget,
Invidet armento, et campi sibi vindicat herbam.
'O quis me in pecoris felicia transferet arva,
'In loca pastorum deserta, atque otia dia?
'Cur mihi non Lyncisve oculi, vel odora canum vis
'Additur, aut gressus cursu glomerare potestas?
'Aspice, ubi, teneros dum texit aranea casses,
'Funditur in telam, et late per stamina vivit!
'Quid mihi non tactus eadem exquisita facultas,
'Taurorumve tori solidi, pennaeve volucrum.'
Pertaesos sortis doceant responsa silere.
Si tanto valeas contendere acumine visûs,
Et graciles penetrare atomos; non aethera possis
Suspicere, aut lati spatium comprendere ponti.
Vis si adsit major naris; quam vane, doleres,
Extinctus fragranti aura, dulcique veneno!
Si tactus, tremat hoc corpus, solidoque dolore
Ardeat in membris, nervoque laboret in omni;
Sive auris, fragor exanimet, cum rumpitur igne
Fulmineo coelum, totusque admurmurat aether;
Quam demum humanas, priscasque requirere dotes
Attonitus nimium cuperes, nimiumque reverti
In solitam speciem, veterique senescere forma.
Nubila seu tentes, vetitumque per aëra surgas,
Sive rudes poscas sylvas, et lustra ferarum;
Falleris; in medio solium Sapientia fixit.
Desine sectari majora, minorave sorte,
Quam Deus, et rerum attribuit natura creatrix.
IN D: 29AM MAII.
Bella per Angliacos plusquam civilia campos
Praeteritae videre dies; desaevit Enyo,
Tempestasque jacet; circum vestigia flammae
Delentur, pacisque iterum consurgit imago;
Littore, quo nuper Martis fremuere procellae,
Alcyone tutum struit imperterrita nidum.
Reddita spes solii regno, regemque vagantem
Patria chara tenet, dictisque affatur amicis.
Quas ego te terras, quot per discrimina vectum
Accipio, quantis jactatum, Nate, periclis?
Quam metui, nequid tibi Gallica regna nocerent,
Belgarumque plagae, perjuraque Scotia patri!
Quam tremui, cum laeva tuas Vigornia turmas
Fudit praecipites, hostemque remisit ovantem!
Tuque, Arbor, nostrae felix tutela coronae,
Gloria camporum, et luci regina vocare;
Tota tibi sylva assurget, quae fronde dedisti
Securas latebras, nemorosa palatia regi!
Sacra Jovi Latio quondam, nunc sacra Britanno.
Olim factus honos, illi velasse capillos,
Qui leto civem abripuit, salvumque reduxit;
Jam potes ipsa tribus populis praestare salutem.
IN 5TAM NOVEMBRIS.
Lis anceps, multosque diu protracta per annos,
Judice nec facili dissoluënda fuit;
Cui tribuenda modo sceleratae premia palmae?
Quem merito tantus nobilitaret honos?
Multa sibi Romae saevi ascivere tyranni,
Multa sibi primus, posteriorque Nero;
Qui retulit praedam nostra de litore Conchas;
Quem dedit ex pura Flavia stirpe domus:
Multa sibi Phalaris petiit, Trinacria pestis;
Diraque causa tui, magna Diana, rogi:
Quaeque referre mora est, portenta replentia famae
Invitae annales, crimine nota suo.
At demum innumeris belli Anglia clara triumphis
Militis ostentat parta tropaea manu;
Nec satis est, gemina palma insignita nitere
Artibus et bellis, orbis et esse decus;
Accedat nactae sceleris nisi gloria famae,
Et laudis numeros impleat ilia suae;
Ex natis surgit mens aspernata priores,
Et tentare novas ingeniosa vias,
Quae caecis novit Martem sepelire latebris,
Tectosque a visu Solis habere dolos;
Scilicet, ut fallat, non ire in viscera terrae,
Non dubitat simili clade vel ipse mori.
Jamque incepit opus; careat successibus, opto;
Et vetet inceptum Sors, precor, istud opus;
Nec frustra; effulget subito lux aurea caeli,
(Aspice) rimanti dum domus atra patet;
Reclusamque vides fraudem, letique labores,
Antraque miraris sulphure foeta suo;
Quod si venturi haec armamentaria fati
Panderat haud sacri gratia dia poli;
Jure scelus se jactaret, procerumque ruina
Tantum una gentem perdomuisse manu.
Gratia magna tuae fraudi quod Pectore, Nice,
Non gerit hoc ultra regna superba Venus:
Respirare licet tandem misero mihi, tandem
Appensa in sacro pariete vincla vides
Numquam . . . . . . uror; liber sum: crede doloso
Suppositus Cineri non latet ullus amor.
Praesto non ira est, cujus se celet amictu;
Sera, sed et rediit vix mihi nota quies.
Nec nomen si forte tuum prevenit ad aures
Pallor et alternus surgit in ore rubor,
Corda nec incerto trepidant salientia pulsu
Irrigat aut furtim lacryma fusa genas.
Non tua per somnos crebra obversatur imago
Non animo ante omnes tu mihi mane redis.
Te loquor; at tener ille silet sub pectore sensus
Nec quod ades laetor; nec quod abes doleo.
Rivalem tacitus patior; securus eburnea
Quin ego colla simul laudo, manusque tuas.
Longa nec indignans refero perjuria: prodis
Obvia, mens certâ sede colorque manet.
Quin faciles risus, vultusque assume superbos;
Spernentem sperno, nec cupio facilem.
Nescit ocellorum, ut quondam penetrabile fulgur
Ah! nimium molles pectoris ire vias;
Nec tam dulce rubent illi, mea cura, labelli*
juris ut immemores imperiique sui.
Laetari possum, possum et maerere; sed a te
gaudia nec veniunt, nec veniunt lacrymae.
Tecum etiam nimii Soles, et frigora laedunt;
Vere suo sine te prata nemusque placent.
Pulchra quidem facies, sed non tua sola videtur
(forsitan offendam rusticitate mea)
Sed quiddam invenies culpandum, qua mihi nuper
parte est praecipuè visus inesse lepos.
Cum primùm evulsi fatale ex vulnere telum
Credebam, ut fatear, viscera et ipsa trahi;
Luctanti rupere (pudor) suspiria pectus,
tinxit et invitas plurima gutta genas.
Aspera difficilem vicit Medicina furorem;
ille dolor saevus, sed magis asper Amor
Aucupis insidiis, et arundine capta tenaci
sic multo nisu vincula rupit avis;
Plumarum laceros reparat breve tempus honores,
nec cadit in similes cautior inde dolos.
Tu tamen usque illam tibi fingis vivere flammam,
Et male me veteres dissimulare faces.
Quod libertatem ostento, fractamque Catenam,
tantus et insolitae pacis in ore sonus,
Praeteritos meminisse jubet natura dolores;
quae quisque est passus, dulce pericla loqui.
Enumerat miles sua vulnera; navita ventos
Narrat et incautae saxa inimica rati.
Sic ego servitium durum, et tua regna, laborant
Nice, nullam a te quaerere dicta fidem;
Nil nimium haec mandata student tibi velle placere,
Nec rogito quali perlegis ore notas.
Oh! nimium felix! cura et discordibus armis
Cui procul exiguâ non deficiente Crumenâ
Splendet adhuc Solidus. Non illum torquet egentem
Ostriferi Cantus, non allae* dira Cupido.
Ille inter Socios gelido sub vespere notum
Tendit iter, genialis ubi se Curia pandit
* Explained by reference to the original—
. . . "he nor hears with pain
New oysters cried, nor sighs for cheerful ale."
Juniperive Lares*; hic Nympham, si qua protervo
Lumine pertentat Sensus, uritque videndo
(Sive Chloe, seu Phillis amanti gratior audit)
Alternis recolit cyathis, tibi, virgo, salutem
Laetitiamque optans, et amoris mutua vincla
Nec minus interea fumique jocique benignus
Non lateri parcit, si quando argutior alter
Fabellam orditur lepidam, vel Scommata spargit
Ambiguosve Sales, festiva Crepundia vocum.
* * * *
Vah, tenero quodcunque potest obsistere amori
Exulet ex animo et Delia car[a] meo
Ne timor infelix, mala ne fastidia sancti
Gaudia distineant, Delia cara, tori.
Quid si nulla olim regalia munera nostras
Ornarunt titulis divitiisque domos?
At nobis proprioque et honesto lumine claris
Ex meritis ortum nobile nomen erit.
* "To Juniper's Magpie or Town-hall repairs." Two ale-houses at Oxford.
Dum tanto colimus virtutem ardore volabit
Gloria dulce sonans nostra per ora virum.
Interea nostram mirata Superbia famam
Talis splendoris tantum habuisse gemet
Quid si Diva potens nummorum divitis auri
Haud largo nostras proluit imbre Lares?
At nobis erit ex humili bona copia [c]ensu
Vitaque non luxu splendida, laeta tamen
Sic horas per quisque suas revolubilis annus
Nostra quod explerit vota precesque dabit
Nam duce natura peragemus, Delia, vitam
Vita ea vitalis dicier una potest.
Et juvenes et amore senes florebimus aequo
Et vitae una alacres conficiemus iter,
Nostros interea ornabit pax alma Penates
Jucundum Pueri pignora cara torum.
Oh quanta aspicerem lepidam dulcedine gentem
Luderet ad patrium dum pia turba genu,
Maternos vultu ridenti effingere vultus
Balbo maternos ore referre sonos.
Jamque senescentes cum nos insederit aetas
Nostraque se credat surripuisse bona,
In vestris tu rursus amabere pulchra puellis
Rursus ego in pueris Delia amabo meis.
We may conjecture that it is an early effort. Nothing but immaturity can account for some peculiarities in it; 'vestris,' for example, in the last line but one.—Tovey.
PARAPHRASE OF PSALM LXXXIV.
Oh! summa Sancti Religio loci
Quae me laborantem perurit
Sacra fames, et amicus ardor?
Praeceps volentem quo rapit impetus!
Ad limen altum tendo avidas manus
Dum lingua frustratur precantem
Cor tacitum mihi clamat intus.
Illic loquacem composuit domum
Laresque parvos Numinis in fidem
Praesentioris credit ales
Veris amans, vetus Hospes arae:
Beatus ales! sed magis incola
Quem vidit aedes ante focos [Dei*]
Cultu ministrantem perenni
Quique sacrâ requievit umbrâ.
Bis terque felix qui melius Deo
Templum sub imo Pectore consecrat
Huic vivida affulget voluptas
Et liquidi sine nube Soles.
Integriori fonte fluentia
Mentem piorum gaudia recreant,
* In the Mitford MS. 'focos' is partly struck out, and the line ends incomplete.
Quod si datur lugere, quiddam
Dulce ferens venit ipse luctus.
Virtute virtus firmior evenit
Nascente semper, semper amabili
AEterna crescit, seque in horae
Subjiciet per aperta caeli.
Me, dedicatum qui Genus, et tuae
Judaeae habenas tempero, Regio
Madens olivo, dexter audi
Nec libeat repulisse Regem.
Lux una Sanctis quae foribus dedit
Haerere, amatae limine Januae,
Lux inter extremas Columnas
Candidius mihi ridet una,
Quam Seculorum Secula Barbaros
Inter Penates sub trabe gemmea
Fastus tyrannorum brevesque
Delicias et amoena Regni;
Feliciori flumine Copiam
Pronâque dextrâ Caelicolum Pater
First published among Gray's Poems, in S. Jones' edition, 1799.
Ignarae nostrum mentes, et inertia corda,
Dum curas regum, et Sortem miseramur iniquam,
Quae Solio affixit, vetuitque calescere flamma
Dulci, quae dono Divum, gratissima serpit
Viscera per, mollesque animis lene implicat aestus;
Nec teneros sensus, Veneris nec praemia norunt,
Eloquiumve oculi, aut facunda silentia linguae:
Scilicet ignorant lacrymas, saevosque dolores,
Dura rudimenta, et violentae exordia flammae;
Scilicet ignorant, quae flumine tinxit amaro
Tela Venus, caecique armamentaria Divi,
Irasque, insidiasque, et tacitum sub pectore vulnus;
Namque sub ingressu, primoque in limine Amoris
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae;
Intus habent dulces Risus, et Gratia sedem,
Et roseis resupina toris, roseo ore Voluptas:
Regibus huc faciles aditus; communia spernunt
Ostia, jamque expers duris custodibus istis
Panditur accessus, penetralisque intima Templi.
Tuque Oh! Angliacis, Princeps, spes optima regnis,
Ne tantum, ne finge metum: quid imagine captus
Haeres, et mentum pictura pascis inani?
Umbram miraris: nec longum tempus, et Ipsa
Ibit in amplexus, thalamosque ornabit ovantes.
Ille tamen tabulis inhians longum haurit amorem,
Affatu fruitur tacito, auscultatque tacentem
Immemor artificis calami, risumque, ruboremque
Aspicit in fucis, pictaeque in virginis ore:
Tanta Venus potuit; tantus tenet error amantes.
Nascere, magna Dies, qua sese Augusto Britanno
Committat Pelago, patriamque relinquat amoenam;
Cujus in adventum jam nunc tria regna secundos
Attolli in plausus, dulcique accensa furore
Incipiunt agitare modos, et carmina dicunt:
Ipse animo sedenim juvenis comitatur euntem
Explorat ventos, atque auribus aëra captat,
Atque auras, atque astra vocat crudelia; pectus
Intentum exultat, surgitque arrecta cupido;
Incusat spes aegra fretum, solitoque videtur
Latior effundi pontus, fluctusque morantes.
Nascere, Lux major, qua sese Augusta Britanno
Committat juveni totam, propriamque dicabit;
At citius (precor) Oh! cedas melioribus astris;
Nox finem pompae, finemque imponere curis
Possit, et in thalamos furtim deducere nuptam;
Sufficiat requiemque viris, et amantibus umbras:
Adsit Hymen, et subridens cum matre Cupido
Accedant, sternantque toros, ignemque ministrent;
Ilicet haud pictae incandescit imagine formae
Ulterius juvenis, verumque agnoscit amorem.
Sculptile sicut ebur, faciemque arsisse venustam
Pygmaliona canunt: ante hanc suspiria ducit,
Alloquiturque amens, flammamque et vulnera narrat;
Implorata Venus jussit cum vivere signum,
Foemineam inspirans animam; quae gaudia surgunt,
Audiit ut primae nascentia murmura linguae,
Luctari in vitam, et paulatim volvere ocellos
Sedulus, aspexitque nova splendescere flamma;
Corripit amplexu vivam, jamque oscula jungit
Acria confestim, recipitque rapitque; prioris
Immemor ardoris, Nymphaeque oblitus eburneae.
Dum Nox rorantes, non incomitata per auras
Urget equos, tacitoque inducit sidera lapsu;
Ultima, sed nulli soror inficianda sororum,
Huc mihi, Musa; tibi patet alti janua coeli,
Astra vides, nec te numeri, nec nomina fallunt.
Huc mihi, Diva veni; dulce est per aperta serena
Vere frui liquido, campoque errare silenti;
Vere frui dulce est; modo tu dignata petentem
Sis comes, et mecum gelida spatiere sub umbra.
Scilicet hos orbes, coeli haec decora alta putandum est,
Noctis opes, nobis tantum lucere; virumque
Ostentari oculis, nostrae laquearia terrae,
Ingentas scenas, vastique aulaea theatri?
Oh! quis me pennis aethrae super ardua sistet
Mirantem, propiusque dabit convexa tueri;
Teque adeo, undè fluens reficit lux mollior arva
Pallidiorque dies, tristes solata tenebras?
Sic ego, subridens Dea sic ingressa vicissim:
Non pennis opus hìc, supera ut simul illa petamus:
Disce, Puer, potiùs coelo deducere Lunam;
Neu crede ad magicas te invitum accingier artes,
Thessalicosve modos; ipsam descendere Phoeben
Conspicies novus Endymion; seque offeret ultrò
Visa tibi ante oculos, et nota major imago.
Quin tete admoveas (tumuli super aggere spectas),
Compositum tubulo; simul imum invade canalem
Sic intenta acie, coeli simul alta patescent
Atria; jamque, ausus Lunaria visere regna,
Ingrediere solo, et caput inter nubila condes.
Ecce autem! vitri se in vertice sistere Phoeben
Cernis, et Oceanum, et creb[r]is Freta consita terris
Panditur ille atram faciem caligine condens
Sublustri; refugitque oculos, fallitque tuentem;
Integram Solis lucem quippè haurit aperto
Fluctu avidus radiorum, et longos imbibit ignes:
Verum his, quae, maculis variata nitentibus, auro
Coerula discernunt, celso sese insula dorso
Plurima protrudit, praetentaque littora saxis;
Liberior datur his quoniàm natura, minusque
Lumen depascunt liquidum; sed tela diei
Detorquent, retròque docent se vertere flammas.
Hinc longos videas tractus, terrasque jacentes
Ordine candenti, et claros se attollere montes;
Montes queis Rhodope assurgat, quibus Ossa nivali
Vertice: tum scopulis infrà pendentibus antra
Nigrescunt clivorum umbra, nemorumque tenebris.
Non rores illi, aut desunt sua nubila mundo;
Non frigus gelidum, atque herbis gratissimus imber;
His quoque nota ardet picto Thaumantias arcu,
Os roseum Aurorae, propriique crepuscula coeli.
Et dubitas tantum certis cultoribus orbem
Destitui? exercent agros, sua moenia condunt
Hi quoque, vel Martem invadunt, curantque triumphos
Victores: sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi;
His metus, atque amor, et mentem mortalia tangunt
Quin, uti nos oculis jam nunc juvat ire per arva,
Lucentesque plagas Lunae, pontumque profundum;
Idem illos etiàm ardor agit, cum se aureus effert
Sub sudum globus, et terrarum ingentior orbis;
Scilicèt omne aequor tum lustrant, scilicèt omnem
Tellurem, gentesque polo sub utroque jacentes;
Et quidam aestivi indefessus ad aetheris ignes
Pervigilat, noctem exercens, coelumque fatigat;
Jam Galli apparent, jam se Germania latè
Tollit, et albescens pater Apenninus ad auras;
Jam tandem in Borean, en! parvulus Anglia naevus
(Quanquam aliis longè fulgentior) extulit oras;
Formosum extemplò lumen, maculamque nitentem
Invisunt crebri Proceres, serùmque tuendo;
Haerent, certatimque suo cognomine signant:
Forsitan et Lunae longinquus in orbe Tyrannus
Se dominum vocat, et nostra se jactat in aula.
Terras possim alias propiori sole calentes
Narrare, atque alias, jubaris queis parcior usus,
Lunarum chorus, et tenuis penuria Phoebi;
Ni, meditans eadem haec audaci evolvere cantu,
Jam pulset citharam soror, er praeludia tentet.
Non tamen has proprias laudes, nec facta silebo
Jampridèm in fatis, patriaeque oracula famae.
Tempus erit, sursùm totos contendere coetus
Quo cernes longo excursu, primosque colonos
Migrare in lunam, et notos mutare Penates:
Dum stupet obtutu tacito vetus incola, longèque
Insolitas explorat aves, classemque volantem.
Ut quondam ignotum marmor, camposque natantes
Tranavit Zephyros visens, nova regna, Columbus;
Litora mirantur circùm, mirantur et undae
Inclusas acies ferro, turmasque biformes,
Monstraque foeta armis, et non imitabile fulmen.
Foedera mox icta, et gemini commercia mundi,
Agminaque assueto glomerata sub aethere cerno.
Anglia, quae pelagi jamdudum torquet habenas,
Exercetque frequens ventos, atque imperat undae;
Aëris attollet fasces, veteresque triumphos
Hùc etiam feret, et victis dominabitur auris.
AD C. FAVONIUM ARISTIUM.*
Quas Eris semper fovet inquieta,
Lis ubi latè sonat, et togatum
Dulcius quanto, patulis sub ulmi
Hospitae ramis temerè jacentem
Sic libris horas, tenuique inertes
Saepe enim curis vagor expedita
Mente; dum, blandam meditans Camaenam,
Vix malo rori, meminive serae
Et, pedes quò me rapiunt, in omni
Colle Parnassum videor videre
Fertilem sylvae, gelidamque in omni
* This is Gray's heading in his Commonplace Book. The Ode forms part of a letter to West in June, 1738.
Risit et Ver me, facilesque Nymphae
Nare captantem, nec ineleganti,
Manè quicquid de violis eundo
Me reclinatum teneram per herbam;
Quà leves cursus aqua cunque ducit,
Et moras dulci strepitu lapillo
Nectit in omni.
Hae novo nostrum ferè pectus anno
Simplices curae tenuere, coelum
Quamdiù sudum explicuit Favoni
Otia et campos nec adhuc relinquo,
Nec magis Phoebo Clytie fidelis;
(Ingruant venti licet, et senescat
Namque, seu, laetos hominum labores
Prataque et montes recreante curru,
Purpura tractus oriens Eoos
Vestit, et auro;
Sedulus servo, veneratus orbem
Prodigum splendoris: amoeniori
Sive dilectam meditatur igne
Usque dum, fulgore magìs magìs jam
Languido circum, variata nubes
Labitur furtim, viridisque in umbras
O ego felix, vice si (nec unquam
Surgerem rursus) simili cadentem
Parca me lenis sineret quieto
Multa flagranti radiisque cincto
Integris ah! quam nihil inviderem,
Cum Dei ardentes medius quadrigas
O lacrymarum Fons, tenero sacros
Ducentium ortus ex animo; quater
Felix! in imo qui scatentem
Pectore te, pia Nympha, sensit!
Horridos tractus, Boreaeque linquens
Regna Taurini fera, molliorem
Advehor brumam, Genuaeque amantes
Qu[a] Trebie glaucas salices intersecat unda,
Arvaque Romanis nobilitate malis,
Visus adhuc amnis veteri de clade rubere,
Et suspirantes ducere moestus aquas,
Maurorumque ala, et nigrae increbescere turmae,
Et pulsa Ausonidum ripa sonare fuga.
AD C. FAVONIUM ZEPHYRINUM.
Mater rosarum, cui tenerae vigent
Aurae Favoni, cui Vernus it comes
Lasciva, Nympharum choreis
Et volucrum celebrata cantu!
Dic, non inertem fallere qua diem
Amat sub umbra, seu sinit aureum
Dormire plectrum, seu retentat
Pierio Zephyrinus antro
Furore dulci plenus, et immemor
Reptantis inter frigora Tusculi
Umbrosa, vel colles amici
Palladiae superantis Albae.
Dilecta Fauno, et capripedum choris
Pineta, testor vos, Anio minax
Quaecunque per clivos volutus
Praecipiti tremefecit amne,
Illius altum Tibur, et Æsulae
Audisse sylvas nomen amabiles,
Illius et gratas Latinis
Naiasin ingeminasse rupes;
Nam me Latinae Naiades uvida
Videre ripa, qua niveas levi
Tam saepe lavit rore plumas
Dulcè canens Venusinus ales;
Mirum! canenti conticuit nemus,
Sacrique fontes, et retinent adhuc
(Sic Musa jussit) saxa molles
Docta modos, veteresque lauri.
Mirare nec tu me citharae rudem
Claudis laborantem numeris: loca
[ ]Amoena, jucundumque ver in-
[ ] [C]ompositum docuere carmen;
Haerent sub omni nam folio nigri
Phoebea luci (credite) somnia,
Argutiusque et lympha et aurae
Nescio quid solito loquuntur.
FRAGMENT OF A LATIN POEM ON THE GAURUS.
In the copy in Gray's handwriting in the Pembroke MSS., he has appended this note:—"Rome, July 1740; just returned from Naples."
* * * *Nec procul infelix se tollit in aethera Gaurus
Prospiciens vitreum lugenti vertice pontum:
Tristior ille diu, et veteri desuetus oliva
Gaurus, pampineaeque eheu jam nescius umbrae;
Horrendi tam saeva premit vicinia montis,
Attonitumque urget latus, exuritque ferentem.
Nam fama est olim, media dum rura silebant
Nocte, Deo victa, et molli perfusa quiete,
Infremuisse aequor ponti, auditamque per omnes
Latè tellurem surdùm immugire cavernas:
Quo sonitu nemora alta tremunt: tremit excita tuto
Parthenopaea sinu, flammantisque ora Vesevi.
At subitò se aperire solum, vastosque recessus
Pandere sub pedibus, nigraque voragine fauces;
Tum piceas cinerum glomerare subaethere nubes
Vorticibus rapidis, ardentique imbre procellam.
Praecipites fugere ferae, perque avia longè
Silvarum fugit pastor, juga per deserta,
Ah, miser! increpitans saepè alta voce per umbram
Nequicquam natos, creditque audire sequentes.
Atque ille excelso rupis de vertice solus
Respectans notasque domos, et dulcia regna,
Nil usquàm vidot infelix praeter mare tristi
Lumine percussum, et pallentes sulphure campos
Fumumque, flammasque, rotataque turbine saxa.
Quin ubi detonuit fragor, et lux reddita coelo;
Maestos confluere agricolas, passuque videres
Tandem iterum timido deserta requirere tecta:
Sperantes, si forte oculis, si forte darentur
Uxorum cineres, miserorumve ossa parentum
(Tenuia, sed tanti saltem solatia luctus)
Unà colligere et justa componere in urna.
Uxorum nusquam cineres, nusquam ossa parentum
(Spem miseram!) assuetosve Lares, aut rura videbunt.
Quippe ubi planities campi diffusa jacebat;
Mons novus: ille supercilium, frontemque favilla
Incanum ostentans, ambustis cautibus, aequor
Subjectum, stragemque suam, maesta arva, minaci
Despicit imperio, soloque in littore regnat.
Hinc infame loci nomen, multosque per annos
Immemor antiquae laudis, nescire labores
Vomeris, et nullo tellus revirescere cultu.
Non avium colles, non carmine matutino
Pastorum resonare; adeò undique dirus habebat
Informes latè horror agros saltusque vacantes.
Saepius et longè detorquens navita proram
Monstrabat digito littus, saevaeque revolvens
Funera narrabat noctis, veteremque ruinam.
Montis adhuc facies manet hirta atque aspera saxis:
Sed furor extinctus jamdudum, et flamma quievit,
Quae nascenti aderat; seu fortè bituminis atri
Defluxere olim rivi, atque effoeta lacuna
Pabula sufficere ardori, viresque recusat;
Sive in visceribus meditans incendia jam nunc
(Horrendùm) arcanis glomerat genti esse futurae
Exitio, sparsos tacitusque recolligit ignes.
Raro per clivos haud secius ordine vidi
Canescentem oleam: longum post tempus amicti
Vite virent tumuli; patriamque revisere gaudens
Bacchus in assuetis tenerum caput exerit arvis
Vix tandem, infidoque audet se credere coelo.
A FAREWELL TO FLORENCE.
. . Oh Faesulae amoena
Frigoribus juga, nec nimiùm spirantibus auris!
Alma quibus Tusci Pallas decus Apennini
Esse dedit, glaucaque sua canescere sylva!
Non ego vos posthàc Arni de valle videbo
Porticibus circum, et candenti cincta corona
Villarum longè nitido consurgere dorso,
Antiquamve Ædem, et veteres praeferre Cupressus
Mirabor, tectisque super pendentia tecta.
IMITATION OF AN ITALIAN SONNET*
In the same letter as the foregoing.
Lusit amicitiae interdum velatus amictu,
Et benè compositâ veste fefellit Amor.
Spesso Amor sotto la forma
D'amistà ride, e s'asconde: [p. 153]
Poi si mischia, e si confonde
Con lo sdegno, e col rancor.
In Pietade ei si trasforma;
Par trastullo, e par dispetto;
Mà nel suo diverso aspetto
Sempr' egli, è l' istesso Amor.
Mox irae assumpsit cultus, faciemque minantem,
Inque odium versus, versus et in lacrymas:
Ludentem fuge, nec lacrymanti, aut crede furenti;
Idem est dissimili semper in ore Deus.
The heading to this in the Pembroke MSS. is:— "In the Book at the Grande Chartreuse among the Mountains of Dauphiné."
Oh Tu, severi Religio loci,
Quocunque gaudes nomine (non leve
Nativa nam certè fluenta
Numen habet, veteresque sylvas;
Praesentiorem et conspicimus Deum
Per invias rupes, fera per juga,
Clivosque praeruptos, sonantes
Inter aquas, nemorumque noctem;
Quàm si repostus sub trabe citreâ
Falgeret auro, et Phidiacâ manu)
Salve vocanti ritè, fesso et
Da placidam juveni quietem.
Quod si invidendis sedibus, et frui
Fortuna sacrâ lege silentii
Vetat volentem, me resorbens
In medios violenta fluctus:
Saltem remoto des, Pater, angulo
Horas senectae ducere liberas;
Tutumque vulgari tumultu
Surripias, hominumque curis.
SOPHONISBA AD MASINISSAM.
Inque manu mortem, jam fruitura, fero:
Atque utinam citius mandasses, luce vel una;
Transieram Stygios non inhonesta lacus.
Victoris nec passa toros, nova nupta, mariti,
Nec fueram fastus, Roma Superba, tuos.
Scilicet haec partem tibi, Masinissa, triumphi
Detractam, haec pompae jura minora suae
Imputat, atque uxor quòd non tua pressa catenis,
Objecta et saevae plausibus orbis eo:
Quin tu pro tantis cepisti praemia factis,
Magnum Romanae pignus amicitiae!
Scipiadae excuses, oro, si, tardius utar
Munere. Non nimiùm vivere, crede, velim.
Parva mora est, breve sed tempus mea fama requirit:
Detinet haec animam cura suprema meam.
Quae patriae prodesse meae Regina ferebar,
Inter Elisaeas gloria prima nurus,
Ne videar flammae nimis indulsisse secundae,
Vel nimis hostiles extimuisse manus.
Fortunam atque annos liceat revocare priores,
Gaudiaque heu! quantis nostra repensa malis.
Primitiasne tuas meministi atque arma Syphacis
Fusa, et per Tyrias ducta trophaea vias?
(Laudis at antiquae forsan meminisse pigebit,
Quodque decus quondam causa ruboris erit.)
Tempus ego certe memini, felicia Poenis
Quo te non puduit solvere vota deis;
Moeniaque intrantem vidi: longo agmine duxit
Turba salutantum, purpureique patres.
Foeminea ante omnes longe admiratur euntem
Haeret et aspectu tota caterva tuo.
Jam flexi, regale decus, per colla capilli,
Jam decet ardenti fuscus in ore color!
Commendat frontis generosa modestia formam,
Seque cupit laudi surripuisse suae.
Prima genas tenui signat vix flore juventas,
Et dextrae soli credimus esse virum.
Dum faciles gradiens oculos per singula jactas,
(Seu rexit casus lumina, sive Venus)
In me (vel certè visum est) conversa morari
Sensi; virgineus perculit ora pudor.
Nescio quid vultum molle spirare tuendo,
Credideramque tuos lentius ire pedes.
Quaerebam, juxta aequalis si dignior esset,
Quae poterat visus detinuisse tuos:
Nulla fuit circum aequalis quae dignior esset,
Asseruitque decus conscia forma suum.
Pompae finis erat. Tota vix nocte quievi,
Sin premat invitae lumina victa sopor,
Somnus habet pompas, eademque recursat imago;
Atque iterum hesterno numere victor ades.
* * * *
DE PRINCIPIIS COGITANDI.
Principiis seriem rerum, tenuemque catenam
Mnemosyne: Ratio unde rudi sub pectore tardum
Augeat imperium; et primum mortalibus aegris
Ira, Dolor, Metus, et Curae nascantur inanes,
1 [note in left margin:] Plan of the Poem.
Hinc canere aggredior. Nec dedignare canentem, |2
Oh decus! Angliacae certe O lux altera gentis!
Si quà primus iter monstras, vestigia conor
Signare incerta, tremulaque insistere planta.
Quin potius duc ipse (potes namque omnia) sanctum
Ad limen (si ritè adeo, si pectore puro,)
Obscurae reserans Naturae ingentia claustra.
Tu caecas rerum causas, fontemque severum
Pande, Pater; tibi, enim, tibi, veri magne Sacerdos,
Corda patent hominum, atque altae penetralia Mentis.
Tuque aures adhibe vacuas, facilesque, Favoni,
(Quod tibi crescit opus) simplex nec despice carmen,
Nec vatem: non illa leves primordia motus, |3
Quanquam parva, dabunt. Laetum vel amabile quicquid
Usquam oritur, trahit hinc ortum; nec surgit ad auras,
Quin ea conspirent simul, eventusque secundent.
Hinc variae vitaï artes, ac mollior usus,
Dulce et amicitiae vinclum: Sapientia dia
Hinc roseum accendit lumen, vultuque sereno
Humanas aperit mentes, nova gaudia monstrans
Deformesque fugat curas, vanosque timores:
Scilicet et rerum crescit pulcherrima Virtus.
Illa etiam, quae te (mirum) noctesque diesque
Assiduè fovet inspirans, linguamque sequentem
Temperat in numeros, atque horas mulcet inertes;
Aurea non alia se jactat origine Musa.
Principio, ut magnum foedus Natura creatrix 4|
Firmavit, tardis jussitque inolescere membris
Sublimes animas; tenebroso in carcere partem
Noluit aetheream longo torpere veterno:
Nec per se proprium passa exercere vigorem est,
Ne sociae molis conjunctos sperneret artus,
Ponderis oblita, et coelestis conscia flammae.
Idcircò innumero ductu tremere undique fibras
Nervorum instituit: tum toto corpore miscens 5|
Implicuit latè ramos, et sensile textum,
Implevitque humore suo (seu lympha vocanda,
Sive aura est) tenuis certè, atque levissima quaedam
Vis versatur agens, parvosque infusa canales
Perfluit; assiduè externis quae concita plagis,
Mobilis, incussique fidelis nuntia motus,
Hinc indè accensa contage relabitur usque
Ad superas hominis sedes, arcemque cerebri.
Namque illìc posuit solium, et sua templa sacravit
Mens animi: hanc circum coëunt, densoque feruntur 6|
Agmine notitiae, simulacraque tenuia rerum:
Ecce autem naturae ingens aperitur imago
Immensae, variique patent commercia mundi.
Ac uti longinquis descendunt montibus amnes.
Velivolus Tamisis, flaventisque Indus arenae,
Euphratesque, Tagusque, et opimo flumine Ganges,
Undas quisque suas volvens, cursuque sonoro
In mare prorumpunt: hos magno acclinis in antro
Excipit Oceanus, natorumque ordine longo
Dona recognoscit venientum, ultròque serenat
Caeruleam faciem, et diffuso marmore ridet.
Haud aliter species properant se inferre novellae
Certatim menti, atque aditus quino agmine complent.
Primas tactus agit partes, primusque minutae
Laxat iter caecum turbae, recipitque ruentem.
Non idem huic modus est, qui fratribus: amplius ille
Imperium affectat senior, penitusque medullis,
Visceribusque habitat totis, pellisque recentem |7
Funditur in telam, et latè per stamina vivit.
Necdum etiam matris puer eluctatus ab alvo
Multiplices solvit tunicas, et vincula rupit;
Sopitus molli somno, tepidoque liquore
Circumfusus adhuc: tactus tamen aura lacessit
Jamdudum levior sensus, animamque reclusit.
Idque magis simul, ac solitum blandumque calorem
Frigore mutavit coeli, quod verberat acri
7 The Touch, our first and most extensive Sense.
Impete inassuetos artus: tum saevior adstat
Humanaeque comes vitae Dolor excipit; ille
Cunctantem frustrà et tremulo multa ore querentem
Corripit invadens, ferreisque amplectitur ulnis.
Tum species primùm patefacta est candida Lucis 8|
(Usque vices adeò Natura bonique, malique,
Exaequat, justaque manu sua damna rependit)
Tum primùm, ignotosque bibunt nova lumina soles.
Carmine quo, Dea, te dicam, gratissima coeli 9|
Progenies, ortumque tuum; gemmantia rore
Ut per prata levi lustras, et floribus halans
Purpureum Veris gremium, scenamque virentem
Pingis, et umbriferos colles, et caerula regna?
Gratia te, Venerisque Lepos, et mille Colorum,
Formarumque chorus sequitur, motusque decentes.
At caput invisum Stygiis Nox atra tenebris
Abdidit, horrendaeque simul Formidinis ora,
Pervigilesque aestus Curarum, atque anxius Angor:
Undique laetitia florent mortalia corda,
Purus et arridet largis fulgoribus Æther.
Omnia nec tu ideò invalidae se pandere Menti
(Quippe nimis teneros posset vis tanta diei
Perturbare, et inexpertos confundere visus)
Nec capere infantes animos, neu cernere credas
Tam variam molem, et mirae spectacula lucis:
Nescio qua tamen haec oculos dulcedine parvos |10
Splendida percussit novitas, traxitque sequentes;
Nonne videmus enim, latis inserta fenestris
Sicubi se Phoebi dispergant aurea tela,
Sive lucernarum rutilus colluxerit ardor,
Extemplo hùc obverti aciem, quae fixa repertos
Haurit inexpletum radios, fruiturque tuendo.
Altior huic verò sensu, majorque videtur
Addita, Judicioque arctè connexa potestas,
Quod simul atque aetas volventibus auxerit annis,
Haec simul, assiduo depascens omnia visu,
Perspiciet, vis quanta loci, quid polleat ordo, |11
Juncturae quis honos, ut res accendere rebus
Lumina conjurant inter se, et mutua fulgent.
Nec minor in geminis viget auribus insita virtus, |12
Nec tantum in curvis quae pervigil excubet antris
Hinc atque hinc (ubi Vox tremefecerit ostia pulsu
Aëriis invecta rotis) longèque recurset:
Scilicet Eloquio haec sonitus, haec fulminis alas,
Et mulcere dedit dictis et tollere corda,
Verbaque metiri numeris, versuque ligare
Repperit, et quicquid discant Libethrides undae,
Calliope quotiès, quotiès Pater ipse canendi
Evolvat liquidum carmen, calamove loquenti
Inspiret dulces animas, digitisque figuret.
At medias fauces, et linguae humentia templa |13
Gustus habet, quà se insinuet jucunda saporum
Luxuries, dona Autumni, Bacchique voluptas.
Naribus interea consedit odora hominum vis, 14|
Docta leves captare auras, Panchaïa quales
Vere novo exhalat, Floraeve quod oscula fragrant,
Roscida, cum Zephyri furtìm sub vesperis hora
Respondet votis, mollemque aspirat amorem.
Tot portas altae capitis circumdedit arci 15|
Alma Parens, sensusque vias per membra reclusit;
Haud solas: namque intùs agit vivata facultas,
Qua sese explorat, contemplatusque repentè
Ipse suas animus vires, momentaque cernit.
Quid velit, aut possit, cupiat, fugiatve, vicissim
Percipit imperio gaudens; neque corpora fallunt
Morigera ad celeres actus, ac numina mentis.
Qualis Hamadryadum quondam si fortè sororum
Una, novos peragrans saltus, et devia rura;
(Atque illam in viridi suadet procumbere ripa
Fontis pura quies, et opaci frigoris umbra)
Dum prona in latices speculi de margine pendet,
Mirata est subitam venienti occurrere Nympham:
Mox eosdem, quos ipsa, artus, eadem ora gerentem
Unà inferre gradus, una succedere sylvae
Aspicit alludens; seseque agnoscit in undis.
Sic sensu interno rerum simulacra suarum
Mens ciet, et proprios observat conscia vultus. |16
Nec verò simplex ratio, aut jus omnibus unum
Constat imaginibus. Sunt quae bina ostia norunt;
Hae privos servant aditus; sine legibus illae
Passìm, quà data porta, ruunt, animoque propinquant.
Respice, cui à cunis tristes extinxit ocellos, |17
Saeva et in eternas mersit natura tenebras:
Illi ignota dies lucet, vernusque colorum
Offusus nitor est, et vivae gratia formae.
Corporis at filum, et motus, spatiumque locique
Intervalla datur certo dignoscere tactu: |18
Quandoquidem his iter ambiguum est, et janua duplex,
Exclusaeque oculis species irrumpere tendunt
Per digitos. Atqui solis concessa potestas
Luminibus blandae est radios immittere lucis.
Undique proporrò sociis, quacunque patescit |19
Notitiae campus, mistae lasciva feruntur
Turba voluptatis comites, formaeque dolorum
Terribiles visu, et porta glomerantur in omni.
Nec vario minus introïtu magnum ingruit Illud, |20
Quo facere et fungi, quo res existere circùm
Quamque sibi proprio cum corpore scimus, et ire
Ordine, perpetuoque per aevum flumine labi.
Nunc age quo valeat pacto, qua sensilis arte
Affectare viam, atque animi tentare latebras |21
Materies (dictis aures adverte faventes)
Exsequar. Imprimìs spatii quam multa per aequor
Millia multigenis pandant se corpora seclis,
Expende. Haud unum invenies, quod mente licebit
Amplecti, nedum propriùs deprendere sensu,
Molis egens certae, aut solido sine robore, cujus 22|
Denique mobilitas linquit, texturave partes,
Ulla nec orarum circumcaesura coërcet.
Haec conjuncta adeò tota compage fatetur
Mundus, et extremo clamant in limine rerum,
(Si rebus datur extremum) primordia. Firmat
Haec eadem tactus (tactum quis dicere falsum
Andeat?) haec oculi nec lucidus argnit orbis.
Inde potestatum enasci densissima proles;
Nam quodcunque ferit visum, tangive laborat,
Quicquid nare bibis, vel concava concipit auris,
Quicquid lingua sapit, credas hoc omne, necesse est
Ponderibus, textu, discursu, mole, figura
Particulas praestare leves, et semina rerum.
Nunc oculos igitur pascunt, et luce ministra
Fulgere cuncta vides, spargique coloribus orbem,
Dum de sole trahunt alias, aliasque supernè
Detorquent, retròque docent se vertere flammas.
Nunc trepido inter se fervent corpuscula pulsu,
Ut tremor aethera per magnum, latèque natantes
Aurarum fluctus avidi vibrantia claustra
Auditus queat allabi, sonitumque propaget.
Cominùs interdum non ullo interprete per se
22 Magnitude, Solidity, Mobility, Texture, Figure.
Nervorum invadunt teneras quatientia fibras,
Sensiferumque urgent ultrò per viscera motum.
* * * *
Musarum interpres, primusque Britanna per arva
Romano liquidum deduxi flumine rivum.
Cum Tu opere in medio, spes tanti et causa laboris,
Linquis, et aeternam fati te condis in umbram!
Vidi egomet duro graviter concussa dolore
Pectora, in alterius non unquam lenta dolorem;
Et languere oculos vidi, et pallescere amantem
Vultum, quo nunquam Pietas nisi rara, Fidesque,
Altus amor Veri, et purum spirabat Honestum.
Visa tamen tardi demùm inclementia morbi
Cessare est, reducemque iterum roseo ore Salutem
Speravi, atque unà tecum, dilecte Favoni!
Credulus heu longos, ut quondàm, fallere Soles:
Heu spes nequicquam dulces, atque irrita vota!
Heu maestos Soles, sine te quos ducere flendo
Per desideria, et questus jam cogor inanes!
At Tu, sancta anima, et nostri non indiga luctus,
Stellanti templo, sincerique aetheris igne,
Unde orta es, fruere; atque oh si secura, nec ultra
Mortalis, notos olìm miserata labores
Respectes, tenuesque* vacet cognoscere curas;
Humanam si fortè altâ de sede procellam
Contemplere, metus, stimulosque cupidinis acres,
Gaudiaque et gemitus, parvoque in corde tumultum
Irarum ingentem, et saevos sub pectore fluctus;
Respice et has lacrymas, memori quas ictus amore
Fundo; quod possum, juxtà lugere sepulchrum
Dum juvat, et mutae vana haec jactare favillae.
* * * *
It is in the Commonplace Book, and was first printed by Mr. Tovey.
Palladis curae, plaga, Formiaeque
* In the Pembroke MS. it is 'parvas,' and in the margin 'tenues.'
In the margin opposite line 23 Gray has written ο τηϛ ψυχηϛ χειμων. Epicurus ad Menaecum.
Prodigae florum, Genuaeque amantes
Abstulit campos oculis amoenos
Montium quantus, nemorumque tractus!
Quot natant eheu! medii profundo
Quin credunt omnes; dura sed illa negat,
Illa negat, soli volumus cui posse probare;
Quin videt, et visos improba dissimulat.
Ah, durissima mi, sed et, ah, pulcherrima rerum!
Nonne animam in misera, Cynthia, fronte vides?
Omnibus illa pia est; et, si non fata vetassent,
Tam longas mentem flecteret ad lacrymas.
Sed tamen has lacrymas, hunc tu, quem spreveris, ignem,
Carminaque auctori non bene culta suo,
Turba futurorum non ignorabit amantum:
Nos duo, cumque erimus parvus uterque cinis,
Jamque faces, eheu! oculorum, et frigida lingua,
Hae sine luce jacent, immemor illa loqui;
Infelix musa aeternos spirabit amores,
Ardebitque urna multa favilla mea.
* First published by Mathias, in 1814.
FROM THE ANTHOLOGIA GRÆCA.*
tempore sementis, rusticus isse domum;
(Sideris an felix tempestas, messis an esset
magna, vel agricolam falleret ustus ager)
Ille supercilio adducto multâ anxius arte
disposuit sortes, consuluitque Deos:
Tum responsa dedit: vernus suffecerit imber
Si modo, nec fruges laeserit herba nocens;
Si mala robigo, si grando pepercerit arvis,
attulerit subitum pigra nec aura gelu;
Caprea si nulla, aut culmos attriverit haedus;
nec fuerit caelum, nec tibi terra gravis:
Largas polliceor segetes, atque horrea plena.
tu tamen, ut veniat sera locusta, cave.†
In Medeae Imaginem, Nobile Timomachi Opus.
Jamque animum nati, jamque maritus, habent!
* Mr. Gray paid very particular attention to the Anthologia Graeca, and he enriched an interleaved edition of it (by Henry Stephens in 1566) with copious notes, with parallel passages from various authors, and with some conjectural emendations of the text.—Mathias.
Mathias published only eleven of the imitations; all are here given from the Pembroke Commonplace Books, for the first time together and in Gray's order.
† First printed by Mr. Tovey, in Gray and his Friends, 1890, from the Commonplace Books.
Succenset; miseret; medio exardescit amore
Dum furor, inque oculo gutta minante tremit.
Cernis adhuc dubiam; quid enim? licet impia matris
Colchidos, at non sit dextera Timomachi.
In Bacchae Furentis Statuam.
Artificis rabiem miscuit aere manus.
In Alexandrum, Ære Effictum.
Spiritus, atque oculis bellicus ignis adest:
Spectate hos vultus, miserisque ignoscite Persis:
Quid mirum, imbelles si leo sparsit oves?
In Niobes Statuam.
Praxiteles vivam reddidit e lapide.
Offering a Statue of herself to Venus.*
Cum tibi, quod ferrem, te, Dea, nil habui.
In Amorem Dormientem.*
Anne potest in te somnus habere locum?
Laxi juxta arcus, et fax suspensa quiescit,
Dormit et in pharetra clausa sagitta sua;
Longè mater abest, longe Cythereïa turba:
Verùm ausint alii te prope ferre pedem,
Non ego; nam metui valdè, mihi, perfide, quiddam
Forsan et in somnis ne meditere mali.
Fundit ubi densam myrtea sylva comam,
Intus Amor teneram visus spirare quietem,
Dum roseo roseos imprimit ore toros;
Sublimem procul a ramis pendere pharetram,
Et de languidula spicula lapsa manu,
Vidimus, et risu molli diducta labella
Murmure quae assiduo pervolitabat apis.
In Fontem aquae Calidae.
Dormiit, in ripa deposuitque facem.
Tempus adest, sociae! Nympharum audentior una,
Tempus adest: ultra quid dubitamus? ait.
Ilicet incurrit, pestem ut divumque hominumque
Lampada collectis exanimaret aquis.
Demens! nam nequiit saevam restinguere flammam
Nympha, sed ipsa ignes traxit, et inde calet.
Atque ait, heus, a me numquid, amice, velis?
Ille autem ridens, metuas nihil, inquit, apud te,
O bone, non epulas, hospitium petimus.
Respue nec Musae supplicis aure preces;
Oro brevem lacrymis veniam, requiemque furori:
Ah, ego non possum vulnera tanta pati!
Intima flamma, vides, miseros depascitur artus,
Surgit et extremis spiritus in labiis:
Quòd si tam tenuem cordi est exsolvere vitam,
Stabit in opprobrium sculpta querela tuum.
Juro perque faces istas, arcumque sonantem,
Spiculaque hoc unum figere docta jecur;
Heu fuge crudelem puerum, saevasque sagittas!
Huic fuit exitii causa, viator, Amor.
nil mihi cum plumis, nil mihi cum corio.
Non ego per tegulas mittor liquefactus in aurum:
promo duos obolos: sponte venit Danaë.
Has tibi decerpens texerat ipse rosas;
Est viola, est anemone, est suave-rubens hyacinthus,
Mistaque Narcisso lutea caltha suo:
Sume; sed aspiciens, ah, fidere desine formae;
Qui pingit, brevis est, sertaque teque, color.
OF THE ORDERS OF INSECTS,
First published in Mathias' edition of Gray's Works.
I. Coleoptera.Alas lorica tectas Coleoptera jactant.
* First printed in Gray and his Friends.
Serra pedum prodit Scarabaeum et fissile cornu.
Dermesti antennae circum ambit lamina caulem,
Qui caput incurvum timidus sub corpore celat.
In pectus retrahens caput abdit claviger Hister.
Occiput Attelabi in posticum vergit acumen.
Curculio ingenti protendit cornua rostro.
Silpha leves peltae atque elytrorum exporrigit oras.
Truncus apex clavae, atque antennula Coecionellae.
Cassida sub clypei totam se margine condit.
Chrysomela inflexa loricae stringitur ora.
Gibba caput Meloë incurvat, thorace rotundo.
Oblongus frontem et tenues clypei exerit oras
Tenebrio. Abdomen Mordellae lamina vestit.
Curta elytra ostentat Staphylis, caudamque recurvam.
Tubere cervicis valet, antennisque Cerambyx.
Pectore Leptura est tereti, corpusque coarctat.
Flexile Cantharidis tegmen, laterumque papillae.
Ast Elater resilit sterni mucrone supinus.
Maxilla exerta est oculoque Cicindela grandi.
Bupresti antennae graciles, cervice retracta.
Nec Dytiscus iners setosa remige planta.
Effigiem cordis Carabus dat pectore trunco.
Necydalis curto ex elytro nudam explicat alam.
Curtum, at Forficulae tegit hanc, cum forcipe caudae.
Depressum Blattae corpus, venterque bicornis.
Dente vorax Gryllus deflexis saltitat alis.
II. Hemiptera.Dimidiam rostrata gerunt Hemiptera crustam.
Foemina serpit humi interdum: volat aethere conjux.
Rostro Nepa rapax pollet, chelisque: Cicada
Remigio alarum et rostrato pectore saltat.
Tela Cimex inflexa gerit, cruce complicat alas
Notonecta crucem quoque fert, remosque pedales;
Cornua Aphis caudae et rostrum; saepe erigit alas;
Deprimit has Chermes, dum saltat, pectore gibbo.
Coccus iners caudae setas, volitante marito;
Thrips alas angusta gerit, caudamque recurvam.
III. Lepidoptera.Squamam alae, linguae spiram Lepidoptera jactant.
Papilio clavam et squamosas subrigit alas.
Prismaticas Sphinx antennas, medioque tumentes;
At conicas gravis extendit sub nocte Phalaena.
IV. Neuroptera.Rete alae nudum, atque hamos Neuroptera caudae.
Dente alisque potens, secat aethera longa Libella.
Cauda setigera, erectis stat Ephemera pennis.
Phryganea elinguis rugosas deprimit alas,
Hemerinusque bidens; planas tamen explicat ille:
Et rostro longo et cauda Panorpa minatur.
Raphidia extento collo setam trahit unam.
V. Hymenoptera.At vitreas alas, jaculumque Hymenoptera caudae
Foemineo data tela gregi, maribusque negata.
Telum abdit spirale Cynips, morsuque minatur.
Maxillas Tenthredo movet, serramque bivalvem,
Ichneumon gracili triplex abdomine telum.
Haurit Apis lingua incurva quod vindicat ense.
Sphex alam expandit laevem, gladiumque recondit.
Alae ruga notat Vespam caudaeque venenum,
Squamula Formicam tergi telumque pedestrem.
Dum minor alata volitat cum conjuge conjux.
Mutilla impennis, sed cauda spicula vibrat.
VI. Diptera.Diptera sub geminis alis se pondere librant.
Os Oestro nullum est, caudaque timetur inermi.
Longa caput Tipula est, labiisque et praedita palpis.
Palpis Musca caret, retrahitque proboscida labris;
Qua Tabanus gaudet pariter, palpis sub acutis.
Os Culicis molli e pharetra sua spicula vibrat,
Bostrum Empis durum et longum sub pectore curvat;
Porrigit articuli de cardine noxia Conops,
Porrigit (at rectum et conicum) sitibundus Asilus,
Longum et Bombylius, qui sugit mella volando.
Unguibus Hippobosca valet; vibrat breve telum.
VII. Aptera.Aptera se pedibus pennarum nescia jactant.
I.—ODE ON THE SPRING.
This Ode was written at Stoke
in June, 1742, and sent by Gray to his
school friend, West, at Hatfield
in Hertfordshire, but was returned as
West had died on the first of the month.
The copy in Gray's handwriting in his Commonplace Books (otherwise known as the Stonehewer MSS. at Pembroke College), is entitled "Noon-Tide, an Ode." At the foot, Gray has written:—" The beginning of June 1742, sent to Fav.: not knowing he was then dead." Favonius was Gray's name for West.
It was first published in 1748 in the second volume of Dodsley's "Collection of Poems by Several Hands," under the title of "Ode," and without the author's name; it next appeared as the first poem in the "Designs by Mr. Bentley for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray," published in 1753, still called merely "Ode." The notes were first added by Gray in the edition of 1768.
Mitford says this Ode is formed on Horace's Ode, "Ad Sestium," i. 4; but Gray seems to have been fresh from Milton and Green,—the moral he says is from the latter, and observe how many words and expressions are from Milton.
5. The Attic warbler, the nightingale. The neighbourhood of Athens abounded with nightingales, reference to which is made by Sophocles, and connected
with this fact is the fable that Philomela, the daughter of Pandion, king of Attica, was turned into a nightingale. Gray had in mind the well-known description of Athens in "Paradise Regained":—
"Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long."
pours her throat. Throat is used by metonymy for "song from her throat." It is the throat of birds that poets generally speak of when they refer to their singing. Cf. "full-gorged lark," and
"When the linnet-like confided, IKeats in his "Ode to a Nightingale" speaks of it as singing "in full-throated ease," "pouring forth her soul"; and Shelley:—
With shriller throat shall sing."
—Lovelace, To Althea.
"Hail to thee, blithe Spirit,Gray's expression is taken from Pope's "Essay on Man":—
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart."—To a Skylark.
"Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat?"
24. The busy murmur. In the same passage referred to in note on line 5, Milton has:—
Of bees' industrious murmur."
—Par. Regained, iv. 247.
31-40. In a letter to Horace Walpole, written in 1748,* Gray refers to his having taken these ideas from Green. The passage is as follows:—
* Wrongly placed by Mitford and Gosse.
"I send you a bit of a thing for two reasons; first, because it is of one of your favourites, Mr. M. Green; and next, because I would do justice. The thought on which my second Ode* turns is manifestly stole from hence; not that I knew it at the time, but having seen this many years before, to be sure it imprinted itself on my memory, and, forgetting the author, I took it for my own. The subject was the "Queen's Hermitage."
42. Writing to Gray, January 8, 1761, Mason says:—"'Celibate life,' says Jeremy Taylor, 'like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in a perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined, and dies in singularity. But marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house, gathers sweetness from every flower, labours and unites into societies and republics, etc.' If I survive you, and come to publish your works, I shall quote this passage, from whence you so evidently (without ever seeing it) took that thought, 'Poor moralist, and what art thou,' etc. But the plagiarism had been too glaring, had you taken the heart of the apple, in which, however, the great beauty of the thought consists. After all, why will you not read Jeremy Taylor? Take my word and more for it, he is the Shakespeare of divines."
Thy sun is set. The sunshine is the period in which the insects
flourish, but that part of his life is over.
Compare the following lines from Blackstone's "Farewell to his Muse," also published in Dodsley's "Collection" in 1748:—
"Thus though my noon of life be past,
Yet let my setting sun, at last,
Find out the still the rural cell."
This Ode was sent in a letter to Horace
Walpole, dated March 1, 1747, on
the occasion of the death of one of his cats; at the same time, Gray sent a
copy of it to Thomas
Wharton, describing it, in mock-heroic style, as the
"most noble of my performances latterly." There is a third copy in
his handwriting in the Pembroke MSS. The letter to Walpole is as
"Cambridge, March 1, 1747.
"As one ought to be particularly careful to avoid blunders in a compliment of condolence, it would be a sensible satisfaction to me (before I testify my sorrow, and the sincere part I take in your misfortune) to know, for certain, who it is I lament. I knew Zara and Selima (Selima, was it? or Fatima?) or rather I knew them both together; for I cannot justly say which was which. Then as to your handsome Cat, the name you distinguish her by, I am no less at a loss, as well knowing one's handsome cat is always the cat one likes best; or, if one be alive and the other dead, it is usually the latter that is the handsomest. Besides, if the point were never so clear, I hope you do not think me so ill-bred or so imprudent as to forfeit all my interest in the survivor; oh no! I would rather seem to mistake, and imagine to be sure it must be the tabby one that had met with this sad accident. Till this affair is a little better determined, you will excuse me if I do not begin to cry:—
'Tempus inane peto, requiem, spatiumque doloris.'Which interval is the more convenient, as it gives
time to rejoice with you on your new honours.* This is only a beginning; I reckon next week we shall hear you are a free-mason, or a Gormogon† at least.— Heigh ho! I feel (as you to be sure have done long since) that I have very little to say, at least in prose. Somebody will be the better for it; I do not mean you, but your Cat, feuë Mademoiselle Selime, whom I am about to immortalize for one week or fortnight, as follows:—
[Here followed the Ode.]There's a poem for you, it is rather too long for an Epitaph."
The Ode was first printed in 1748 in Vol.
II. of Dodsley's "Collection
of Poems," and forms the second
piece in the 1753 edition of Gray's
"Six Poems" and in the subsequent editions.
The drowning of the cat took place in Arlington Street; and, after the death of Gray, Walpole placed the vase on a pedestal at Strawberry Hill, with a label containing the first stanza of the poem. I am indebted to the kindness of Lord Derby for the information that the vase and pedestal were bought at the sale at Strawberry Hill, in 1842, for £42, by the grandfather of the present Earl, and the vase is now in the picture gallery at Lord Derby's seat at Knowsley.
1-6. The exordium of this mock-heroic is in imitation of the opening lines of Dryden's "Alexander's Feast":—
"'Twas at the royal feast for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son;
Aloft in awful state
The godlike hero sat
On his imperial throne."
Where China's, etc. "On which China vase the full-blown flowers had been painted in blue." Azure is derived from the Persian lajaward, through the Arabic azr-aq, in which the l is dropped, the lapis lazuli. Cf. Lady M. W. Montagu's "Town Eclogues":—
"Where the tall jar erects its stately pride,
With antic shapes in China's azure dyed."
Exception was taken by Dr. Johnson to the redundancy of "that blow,"
but not only is redundancy of the kind poetical, but here the expression
requires no such defence—"that blow" = "that are blowing
on it," so that we, as it were, see the flowers in full blow. The same
expression occurs in the "Progress of Poesy," line 5, where also it is not redundant.
When first published, the last three lines of this stanza stood:—
"The pensive Selima reclined,The punctuation was then correct, but in the next edition Gray transposed lines four and five as they now stand, and retained the comma after reclined, thus separating the subject (Selima) from its verb by one comma. Stephen Jones was the first (1799) to correct the punctuation by putting a comma after Selima also.
Demurest of the tabby kind,
Gazed on the lake below."
Tabby. Walpole had two cats, and seems to have written to Gray that "his handsome cat was dead." Gray wrote the Ode, not knowing which cat it was,
but (as he says in the letter in which he sent the Ode) he did not wish to appear not to know which cat was dead, so he would imagine "it must be the tabby one." A tabby cat is one whose coat is brindled, black and grey, like the waves of watered silk. Tabby is from Fr. tabis, watered silk, from Arabic attabi, a part of Bagdad, where it was made.
From line 10 Mr. Gosse argues "she cannot have been a tabby," but a tortoise-shell cat; and is followed by other annotators. Mr. Storr, in his note on line 4, says, "Prove that she was not a tabby." But, since Gray plainly states he intends the Ode to refer to the tabby one, why should we suppose that just after speaking of her as "of the tabby kind," he forgot that, and now describes her as a tortoise-shell cat because he says her coat vied with the tortoise? Walpole's other cat may have been a tortoise-shell, and therefore Gray would describe this—the handsome one— as vying with her in beauty, and purring with pleasure at the sight of it. Or it may be he wrote so as to be right whichever cat it was; if we take "tabby kind" as equivalent to "cat-kind," the Ode will be applicable to a tortoise-shell cat.
31-36. See the Explanation of the Designs in the edition of 1753, quoted after the Notes, infra.
37-42. Nor all, that glisters, gold. Like many another phrase or saying adopted by Gray, this has been given greater currency from being in his oft-read poems. It occurs in several old poets before Gray:—
"But all which shineth as the goldMitford quotes it from the "Paradise of Dainty Devices," "England's Helicon," the "Faerie Queene," etc. It also occurs in Shakespeare and Dryden:—
Ne is no gold, as I have been it told."
—Chaucer, Yeman's Tale.
"All that glisters is not gold."
—Merchant of Venice, ii. 7.
"All, as they say, that glitters is not gold."
—Hind and Panther.
14. In the Pembroke and Walpole MSS. and in the 1748 "Collection," Two beauteous forms.
24. In the "Collection" of 1748, A foe to fish.
25. Looks—in the Wharton MS., eyes; in the Pembroke, eye.
35. In the Walpole and Wharton MSS. and in the "Collection" of 1748, nor Harry heard.
36. In the Walpole MS. and in the "Collection" of 1748, What favourite has a friend!
40. Tempts. Pembroke and Wharton MSS., strikes.
III.—ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.
In Gray's MS. at Pembroke College, the title is, "Ode on a Distant
Prospect of Windsor, and the adjacent Country."* At the foot Gray
has written:— "At Stoke, Aug., 1742."
Though written in 1742, Gray did not publish this Ode till 1747, and it was the first of his English productions which appeared in print. It was published anonymously, in a folio pamphlet of eight pages, as "An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. London. Printed for R. Dodsley at Tully's Head in Pall Mall; and sold by M. Cooper at the Globe in Pater-noster Row, 1747. (Price Sixpence.)"
It appeared, still without his name, in Vol. II. of Dodsley's "Collection of Poems" in 1748; and comes third in the "Six Poems" of 1753.
* The title is incorrectly given by Mr. Gosse.
The motto from Menander and the notes were first printed in 1768. In the Pembroke MS. the motto is written in Gray's hand along the margin commencing opposite the middle of the sixth stanza; and is as it were in explanation of the line—
"Ah, tell them, they are men!"The passage in Menander from which the motto is taken being in reply to the query, "Why are you miserable?" several reasons are given ending with [Greek word (omitted)], etc., "Because I am a man,—a sufficient excuse for being miserable."
1-10. Antique, Ancient; "antique" is now applied to old-fashioned things, and would not be used of a building. Milton spells it antic, and probably Gray took the epithet from the line in "Il Penseroso":—"With antic pillars massy proof."
12-20. Beloved in vain. Because they do not still afford him the sensations he had as a "careless" boy; there is also a reference to the recent death of his school friend, West.
21-30. With the apostrophe to Father Thames and what follows compare the following lines from Green's "Grotto," the poem Gray said he had in mind when writing the "Ode on the Spring":—
"Say, Father Thames, whose gentle pace
Gives leave to view what beauties grace
Your flowery banks, if you have seen
The much-sung grotto of the Queen."
29. In the Pembroke MS. this line runs:—
"To chase the hoop's elusive speed."This curious expression occurs in the fragment of a tragedy, "Agrippina," which Gray had written a few months previously in 1742:—
"we could not have beguiled
With more elusive speed the dazzled sight
Of wakeful jealousy."
55-59. all. Completely; an adverb, 'em. This abbreviation of them, or perhaps a survival of the O.E. eom, is now a vulgarism or only used colloquially, but Gray printed it thus to avoid the unmusical sound of the d and th; and he has it in "Agrippina":—"He perchance may heed 'em."
Murder was formerly also spelt murther, d and th
being in many words interchangeable, e.g. burden, burthen, thrill,
drill. Murtherous is a very expressive form, and suits the rhythm of
the line better; he uses it again in the "Ode for Music,"
In the Pembroke MS. it is "griesly," and "murtherous" is entered in the margin.
alike goes with condemned, "all equally condemned."
Lines 96 and 97 should be taken with
95:—"Since sorrow never comes
too late, and happiness too swiftly dies, why should they know their
fate?" The punctuation here is correct, as would also be a comma after
fate and a query after flies; but some editors have a comma
Sir H. Wotton, Provost of Eton, the summer before his death visited Winchester College where he had been educated, and when he was returning to Eton, he made the following reflections, as given in his Life by Isaac Walton:—"How useful was the advice of a holy monk, who persuaded his friend to perform his customary devotions in a constant place, because in that place we usually meet with those very thoughts which possessed us at our last being there; and I find it thus far experimentally true, that at now being in that school, and seeing that very place, where I sat when I was a boy, occasioned me to remember those very thoughts of my youth which then possessed me; sweet thoughts indeed, that promised my growing years numerous pleasures without mixture of cares, and those to be enjoyed when time (which I therefore thought slow-paced)
had changed my youth into manhood. But age and experience have taught me that these were but empty hopes; for I now always found it true, as my Saviour did foretell, 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.' Nevertheless, I saw there a succession of boys using the same recreations, and questionless possessed with the same thoughts that then possessed me. Thus one generation succeeds another in their lives, recreations, hopes, fears, and death."
A correspondent of the "Gentleman's Magazine," June, 1798, considers that this passage may have "occasioned" Gray's Writing the "Ode on Eton."
IV.—HYMN TO ADVERSITY.
In the MS. of this poem at Pembroke College the heading
is:—"Ode. To Adversity," and at the foot Gray has written
"At Stoke, Aug. 1742."
It was first printed in the edition of 1753 as the fifth of the "Six Poems," and next appeared in 1755 in Vol. IV. of Dodsley's "Collection of Poems by Several Hands." In both places, and in Gray's edition of 1768, it is called "Hymn to Adversity," "which title" Mason "dropped for the sake of uniformity in the page;" as he numbers the first eleven pieces in his edition of 1775 Ode I., II., etc.; and several editors have followed him in calling it "Ode to Adversity." Mason and others after him are also wrong in stating that the poem first appeared in Dodsley's "Collection";—only three volumes were published at first (1748), and in 1755 a second edition of these was issued, with a fourth volume, which opened with the "Elegy," and the "Hymn to Adversity," "by the Same," was the next in the "Collection;" in 1758 the four volumes were reprinted,
with a fifth and sixth, Gray's "Pindaric Odes" being the last two pieces in Vol. VI.*
The motto from Æschylus first appeared in the edition of 1768. In the Pembroke MS. Gray adds a second (printed only in Lackington's edition, 1788):—
[Greek motto (omitted)] (sic.)—Id. Eumenid. 523.(It profits to learn discretion through suffering.)
1-8. In three places in this stanza Gray borrows from "Paradise Lost":—
"The vassals of his anger, when the scourgeAdamantine chains occurs in Æschylus, Horace, and several English poets.
Inexorably, and the torturing hour,
Calls us to penance."—ii. 90-92.
"In adamantine chains and penal fire."—i. 48.
"Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."—ii. 703.
8. In the Pembroke MS. he first wrote "and Misery not their own;" a line is drawn through these words and "unpitied and alone" written above.
27. Almost all editors have a comma after maid, but there is none in any of the editions of this Ode printed in Gray's lifetime.
32. In the margin of the Pembroke MS. Gray has written opposite this line, "[Greek line (omitted)]." "I imagine" (writes Mr. Tovey to me) "he has transferred
* From Mitford's reference to the pages of the edition of 1755, and other allusions in his notes, it would seem that he was not aware that the first three volumes were published in 1748, and he misplaces Gray's letter criticising some of the poems when the "Collection" first appeared.
this epithet to Pity from Meleager's [Greek line (omitted)], where the line descriptive of Love runs—
[Greek line (omitted)]
36. Mitford, Palgrave, Gosse, Ward, Rolfe and others wrongly read "Not" for "Nor," and have a full stop at end of line 44.
43. philosophic train. Your followers who are of a "philosophic mind," and have learned that "sweet are the uses of adversity." See the train named in "Il Penseroso," 45-55.
45-47. There is probably an allusion here to Walpole's disagreement with Gray, on their travels a year previously, and Gray's regret for it.
V.—THE PROGRESS OF POESY.
This Ode was written at Cambridge
in 1754, and in a letter dated 26th
December, Gray sent it as an "Ode in the Greek manner" to Dr.
Wharton, observing "If this be as tedious to you as it is grown to
me, I shall be sorry that I sent it to you."
In 1757 it was printed along with the "Bard," but neither with their present title, but merely Ode I. and Ode II. The little quarto volume of twenty-one pages was published on the 8th of August—the first issue of Horace Walpole's printing press—with an engraving of Strawberry Hill, and the following title:—"Odes by Mr. Gray. [Greek motto (omitted)]—Pindar, Olymp. II. Printed at Strawberry Hill, for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall Mall, MDCCLVII. (Price One Shilling.)"
There were no notes in the edition of 1757, but they were supplied by Gray in the edition of 1768, who apologized for so doing thus:—"Advertisement.— When the Author first published this and the following Ode, he was advised, even by his Friends, to subjoin some explanatory Notes, but had too much
respect for the understanding of his Readers to take that liberty."
Before reading the Poem it would be well for the student to read the commentary Gray gives in his notes, which is virtually an analysis of the Ode.
1. Gray quotes (incorrectly) from the Prayer Book version of Psalm lvii. 9. Æolian lyre. This is equivalent to "lyre of Pindar." Æolia extended along the coast of Asia Minor from the Troad to the Hermus. Alcaeus and Sappho belonged to Lesbos, an island of the Æolians, and hence one of the chief Greek rhythms was called Æolian. Cf. the following lines from Milton, "Paradise Regained," iv. 254:—
"There thou shalt hear and learn the secret powerIn a letter to Wharton, dated October 7, 1757, Gray says:—"The 'Critical Review' . . . is in raptures, but mistakes the Æolian lyre for the harp of Æolus, and on this pleasant error founds both a compliment and a criticism." In spite of this and Gray's footnote a recent annotator has repeated the wrong interpretation.
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
Æolian charms and Dorian lyric odes."
13. the willing soul. Cf. Milton's "Vacation Exercise," 50-52:—
"While sad Ulysses' soul and all the rest
Are held with his melodious harmony
In willing chains and sweet captivity."
14. solemn-breathing. This compound is taken from Milton; the whole passage in which the following lines occur should be read:—
"At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
Rose like a stream of rich distilled perfumes."
20-21. the feathered king, the eagle, the "bird of
Jove," "Par. Lost," xi. 185. This expression occurs in verses attributed to Shakespeare:—
"Every fowl of tyrant wing,
Save the eagle, feathered king."
22. flagging wing. Horace Walpole, in describing the famous Boccapadugli eagle, of Greek sculpture, says "Mr. Gray has drawn the flagging wing."
27. Idalia. Idalium, in Cyprus, where there was a temple sacred to the worship of Venus. She was also called Cytherea, from Cythera, an island off the coast of Laconia, where she was said to have landed when she rose from the foam of the sea. velvet green The green grass-plot as soft as velvet; green is a noun, and velvet, an adj. Gray prints velvet-green, and has several similar compounds, e.g., "desert-beach," "Fatal Sisters," 37. Dr. Johnson objected to the use of velvet, on the ground that Nature should not borrow from Art; but Gray follows Shakespeare and other poets:—
"Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds."
—Henry V. i. 2.
31. frolic is here an adjective, as also in the two places it occurs in Milton, "Comus," 59, and "l'Allegro," 18:—
"The frolic wind that breathes the spring."And Tennyson has "with a frolic welcome" in "Ulysses."
35. many-twinkling. An incorrectly formed compound; but it occurs in Thomson's "Spring" (1728):—
"Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves
Of aspen tall."
39. wins her way. The phrase is in "Paradise Lost," ii. 1016:—
" . . . on all sides round
Environed, wins his way."
He gives. He permits; a Latinism. See "Ode for Music,"
Mitford noted that "the couplet from Cowley was wrongly quoted by Gray, and so continued by his different editors;" but he himself did not give the
lines correctly. They are:—
"One would have thought 't had heard the Morning crow,Gray was fond of reproducing a word or phrase that pleased him; in his Journal of his Tour in the Lake District he writes under Oct. 4, 1769:—"While I was here a little shower fell, red clouds came marching up the hills from the east, a part of a bright rainbow seemed to rise along the side of Castle-hill."
Or seen her well-appointed Star
Come marching up the Eastern Hill afar."
—Brutus, an Ode.
53. spy. See, espy; without the idea of secrecy now always attaching to it; see "Paradise Lost," iv. 1005. of war. Equivalent to "of armed men in battle array;" the rays of the sun being compared to the spears and other shining weapons of an army. Mr. Rolfe quotes from Lowell:—
"'Tis from these heights alone your eyesIn "Agrippina" Gray has "the glittering front of war." Twice elsewhere he rhymes far with war:—
The advancing spears of day can see;
Which o'er the eastern hill-tops rise,
To break your long captivity."
—Above and Below.
"Oft o'er the trembling nations from afar,
Has Scythia breathed the living cloud of war."
—Education and Government.
"When blazing 'gainst the sun it shines from far,
And, clashed, rebellows with the din of war."
—Translation from Statius.
69. Maeander. The Maeander, proverbial for its wandering course, flowed through Phrygia, into the Icarian Sea. Miletus, on the Maeander, was the birth-place of Thales and other Greek philosophers; but the reference is probably suggested by Milton's lines:—
"Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that livest unseen,With lines 66-72, compare Byron's:—
Within thy airy shell;
By slow Maeander's margent green."—Comus, 230.
"The Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece,
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their Sun, is set."—Don Juan.
73. Each old poetic Mountain. In the "Christian Year" (third Sunday in Lent) Keble refers to these words in a note to his lines:—
"Fly from the 'old poetic' fields,Those who are familiar with Gray's letters will remember the one to West, where he says:—" In our little journey up to the Grande Chartreuse, I do not remember to have gone ten paces without an exclamation that there was no restraining; not a precipice, not a torrent, not a cliff, but is pregnant with religion and poetry."—November 16, 1739.
Ye Paynim shadows dark!
Immortal Greece, dear land of glorious lays."
83. Far from the sun, etc. In the more northern clime of England—far from sunny Italy.
84. Nature's Darling. Mitford quotes from Cleveland:—
"Here lies, within this stony shade,Nature's Darling. Knowledge of Greek and Latin being the recognized learning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and Shakespeare having little of it, he is often spoken of as deriving his knowledge from Nature; see in particular Ben Jonson's lines "To the Memory of Shakespeare:"—
Nature's darling, whom she made
Her fairest model, her brief story,
In him heaping all her glory."
"He was not of an age but for all time! . . .And in Milton ("l'Allegro," 132-134):—
Nature herself was proud of his designs. . . .
The merry Greek . . . now not please, . . .
As they were not of Nature's family,
Yet must I not give Nature all; thy Art," etc.
"If Jonson's learnèd sock be on.
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood notes wild."
89. pencil. Paint-brush; an old use of the word, from Lat. pensillum, a brush; he has it again in the "Stanzas to Mr. Bentley," 4.
87, 88. The Child stretched forth, etc. Mitford quotes from Sandys' Ovid, "Metam." iv. 515:—
Stretched forth its little arms, and on him smiled."
91. golden keys. Cf. Milton:—
"Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of eternity."—Comus, 12-14.
105. Coursers, horses; literally, runners. There is an allusion to the fabulous winged horse Pegasus, associated with poetic inspiration. ethereal, belonging to the upper air, of pure ether. Wakefield quotes from the "Æneid," vii. 280:—
"Currum, geminosque jugales
Semine ab aethereo, spirantes naribus ignem."
106. Cf. Pope, "Epistles," I. ii. 267:—
"Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine."
109. pictured urn, with pictures on it. Cf. "storied urn," "Elegy," 41, and Milton's "Penseroso," "storied windows richly dight." The idea is probably borrowed from a picture of a female figure scattering gifts from a jar.
121, 122. Yet shall he mount. In the last three lines, Gray expresses his own feelings and character, his pride, and, at the same time, his retiring disposition, vulgar, ordinary, common. Cf. the last stanza of the Ode Gray wrote in the album at the Grande Chartreuse, p. 15.
123. "Still show how much the good outshone the great."—Katharine Philips.
1. Awake, my lyre; my glory, wake.
2. Rapture. Transport.
11. With torrent rapture, see it pour.
23. Dark, Black.
30. Sports. Sport.
34. In cadence. The cadence.
52, 53. Till
fierce Hyperion from afar
Pours on their scatter'd rear his glittering shafts of war.
Hurls at their flying rear his glitt'ring shafts of war.
Hurls o'er their scatter'd rear his glitt'ring shafts of war.
Hurls o'er their shadowy rear his glitt'ring shafts of war.
Till o'er their shadowy rear from afar
Hyperion hurls around his glitt'ring shafts of war.
57. Shivering. Buried—in the margin of the MS. Dull in the margin of the Pembroke MS.; and chill in the text.
76. Murmured a celestial sound.
93. Horror. Terror in the margin of the Pembroke MS.
108. Bright-eyed. Full-plumed.
118. Yet when they
first were opened on the day
Before his visionary eyes would run.
119. Forms. Shapes.
122. Yet never can he fear a vulgar fate.
In a letter, dated August 6, 1755,
Gray sent Dr.
Wharton the first part of "The Bard," and on the 21st August a
bit more of the "Prophecy" (from line 57 to the end, but unfinished
in places). In May, 1757, in a letter to
Mason, he states that Parry, the Welsh harper, had been at Cambridge, and his
"ravishing blind harmony" and "tunes of a thousand years
old" had put the "Odikle" in motion again, and that he had then
completed it, and he concluded his letter with the last two stanzas. It was
printed, as we have seen, with "The Progress of Poesy" at Horace
Walpole's press, and published on
the 8th August, 1757, and bore the title of "Ode II."
In his Commonplace Book, Gray wrote the following as what he originally intended to be the argument of the "Bard"; but he did not finish it in accordance with his original plan:—"The army of Edward I., as they march through a deep valley, and approach Mount Snowdon, are suddenly stopped by the appearance of a venerable figure seated on the summit of an inaccessible rock, who, with a voice more than human, reproaches the king with all the
desolation and misery which he had brought on his country; foretells the misfortunes of the Norman race, and with prophetic spirit declares that all his cruelty shall never extinguish the noble ardour of poetic genius in this island; and that men shall never be wanting to celebrate true virtue and valour in immortal strains, to expose vice and infamous pleasure, and boldly censure tyranny and oppression. His song ended, he precipitates himself from the mountain, and is swallowed up by the river that rolls at its foot."
11. shaggy. Rough and uneven-looking, owing to being covered with trees. Milton applies the epithet to hills:—
"Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high."
"They plucked the seated hills with all their load—
Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops."
—Par. Lost, vi. 645.
16. Old Conway's. In Mitford's "Aldine" Edition it is misprinted "cold Conway's," and this is followed in Ward's "English Poets."
28. Hoel is called high-born, being the son of Owen Gwynedd, prince of North Wales. He was one of his father's generals in his wars against the English, Flemings, and Normans, in South Wales; and was a famous bard, as his poems that are extant testify.
Llewellyn was a French Prince who was killed in the wars with Edward I. He was also a poet. In contemporary poets he is described as the "tender-hearted" and "mild" Llewellyn; so soft should be taken with Llewellyn and not with lay.
29. Cadwallo and Urien are Welsh bards, but none of their poems are now extant. See Southey's "Madoc in Wales."
"Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song."
—Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. 2. 150.
Modred may be Myrddin, a disciple of Taliessin, or a name invented by Gray.
34. Plinlimmon, a mountain on the borders of Cardigan and Glamorgan. cloud-topped. Cf. "cloud-capt towers," in the "Tempest," iv. 1. 172. The lines mean that even the lofty mountain bent to listen to his song.
35. Arvon. Caernarvon, Caer in Arvon, the camp in Arvon. they, the bards who had been put to death.
49. From this line down to the end of line 100, the "lost companions" of the bard "join in harmony" with him, and then disappear, and he continues the prophecy alone. This is clearly indicated in all the editions published in Gray's lifetime; in these each line spoken by the bard alone—1 to 8 and 23 to 48—begins with a single inverted comma, and there is one at the end of line 48. Then from line 49 to 100 there are two inverted commas at the beginning of each line, and two at the end of line 100; and, again, one inverted comma at each line from 101 to 142, which also ends with one. In Wakefield's edition (1786) and Lackington's (1788), the marks are correct. Mason (1775) is also correct, and all reprints I have seen of his editions, except that the two inverted commas at the end of line 100 are placed within the bracket. But in Mitford's edition (1814), the commas at the end of line 100 are omitted, and in other respects the portion of the poem from line 23 to 142 is printed as if an uninterrupted speech by the bard alone. The omission of the inverted commas at the end of line 100 obscures the intention of the poet, and in this Mitford has been followed by almost every subsequent editor of Gray's "Poems"—Moultrie (the Eton edition); Candy (Longmans) 1868; Rolfe (New York), 1876; Gosse, 1884; the Clarendon Press; Hales' "Longer English Poems," "the Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics," and Ward's "English Poets."
Berkeley Castle is on the south-east side of the town of Berkeley. Mitford incorrectly reads "Berkeley's roof." Mitford quotes Drayton, "Barons' Wars":—
"Berkley, whose fair seat hath been famous long,
Let thy sad echoes shriek a deadly sound
To the vast air; complain his grievous wrong,
And keep the blood that issued from his wound."
56. For the events of Edward the Second's reign, the faithlessness of his wife, Isabella of France, the treason of Mortimer, and the cruel death of the king, read the "Student's Hume," chap, ix., or Green's "Short History."
agonizing King. The expression seems to have been taken from Hume's description: "The screams with which the agonizing king filled the castle." The first volume of Hume's "History" was published in 1754, and it is therefore probable that Gray had just been reading it. agonizing. Suffering agony; more commonly used as a transitive verb:—
"The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel."
—Goldsmith's Traveller, 435.
69. There is a note of interrogation at this line, and the question may be supplied thus: "The Swarm, that were born in thy noon-tide beam, where are they?" or "are they fled?" The next line answers "They are gone," etc. The Swarm, etc. He has the same metaphors in "Agrippina":—
"The gilded swarm that wantons in the sunshine
Of thy full favour."
71. Fair laughs the Morn, etc. These lines may be paraphrased thus:—The morning (i.e., the early years of Richard's reign) is magnificent, and softly the west wind (flattery of courtiers) blows, as the vessel (with the gay king and his friends), decked in all its grandeur, rides proudly on the sea of life, with youth to
point the way and pleasure to steer the course. No thought is there of the whirlwind that lies silently in wait to sweep away the prey which at sunset must be his.
In his "Biographia Literaria" (p. 9) Coleridge states his preference for the simile in Shakespeare:—
"How like a younger, or a prodigal,"I preferred," he says, "the original, on the ground that, in the imitation, it depended wholly on the compositor's putting or not putting a small capital both in this and many other passages of the same poet, whether the words should be personifications or mere abstracts. I mention this because in referring various lines in Gray to their original in Shakespeare and Milton—and in the clear perception how completely all the propriety was lost in the transfer—I was, at that early period, led to a conjecture which, many years afterwards, was recalled to me from the same thought having been started in conversation, but far more ably and developed more fully, by Mr. Wordsworth, namely, that this style of poetry, which I have characterized above as translations of prose thoughts into poetic language, had been kept up, if it did not wholly arise from, the custom of writing Latin verses, and the great importance attached to these exercises in our public schools." He also observes that the words "realm" and "sway" are rhymes dearly purchased.
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
Hugged and embraced by the strumpet wind!
How like a prodigal doth she return,
With over-weathered ribs, and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind!"
—Merchant of Venice, ii. 6. 14.
75. Cf. in his "Education and Government":—
"And where the deluge burst with sweepy sway."—48.
The expression is from Dryden's tranlation of Virgil:—
"And rolling onwards with a sweepy sway."
—Georgics, i. 483.
91-94. Above and below in the loom we intertwine the roses, to be united by the marriage of Henry VII. of Lancaster and Elizabeth of York; under the shade of which (union of rose trees) Richard wallows in the blood of the slain princes. He is represented as guilty of their murder, and is under the shade of the united roses, having been slain at the battle of Bosworth.
99. Half of thy heart. Cf. Horace's "animae dimidium meae," "Ode" I. 3. Tennyson alludes to the story of Eleanor's devotion to her husband in his "Dream of Fair Women":—
"Or her who knew that love can vanquish death,
Who kneeling with one arm about her king
Drew forth the poison with her balmy breath,
Sweet as in new buds in spring."
105, 106. "Scenes unroll their skirts" is a peculiar poetic imagery. A skirt is the edge or lower part of a garment; cf. "outskirts." Gray had in mind Milton's use of shirt; he applies it to the outer edging of mists and exhalations—
"Till the sun rise to deck your fleecy skirts with gold."—Par. Lost, v. 187.to the edge of the horizon—
"From skirt to skirt a fiery region."—vi. 80.to the distant appearance of God's glory—
"Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear."—iii. 380.
"Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts
Of glory."—xi. 332.
107. Visions of glory. Webster, the American orator, introduced this passage thus, "Unborn ages
and visions of glory crowd upon my soul!" with fine effect in an eloquent passage in an historical address on the anniversary of Washington's birth, 23rd February, 1852.
108. unborn age occurs in the "Ode at the Installation."
109-110. No more . . . All hail, ye genuine Kings. None of the annotators have noted the point in this couplet and in the remainder of the bard's song, though Gray hints at it in his note on line 110. Hitherto the bard has been denouncing the woes that were to befall the Plantagenet line, but on the extinction of the House of York he foresees visions of glory for his native land—not only was England to become a Welsh dependency, ruled by Welsh monarchs, but the race of the bards, that had been cut off by the ruthless Edward, is restored in Spencer and Shakespeare—a new era of bards under a sovereign of Welsh descent!
110, 116. Britannia's issue and of the Briton-Line, are equivalent to "Welsh" the Kelts, original Britons, having been driven into Wales. genuine. Native; lit. "born," proceeding from the original stock. He has it in the same sense in "Agrippina":—
" . . . who boast the genuine blood
Of our imperial house."
115-118. Elizabeth. Of the Briton-Line, i.e., of the Welsh line, her grandfather Henry VII. being the grandson of Owen Tudor, himself a Welsh chief, and a descendant of the ancient princes of that country.
123. soaring, as she sings. Mitford refers to Congreve's "Ode to Lord Godolphin":—
"And soars with rapture while she sings."Shelley in his "Ode to a Skylark" has given a new turn to the words:—
"And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest."
133. warblings. Warble is a favourite word of Gray's for song or verse—whether of birds or poets. Cf. "Ode on Spring," 5, "Progress of Poesy," 26. He seems to have taken it like many another word or phrase from Milton; in "l'Allegro" Shakespeare is said to
"Warble his native wood-notes wild."Warble or warbling occurs fourteen times in Milton, applied to birds, rivers, and the human voice.
137. repairs, etc. This seems borrowed from Milton:—
"So sinks the daystar in the ocean-bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head."
the golden flood. The bright beams of light.
With joy . . . our Fates, etc. The Bard is still addressing Edward, and says he rejoices at the different doom that awaits the king and himself—the evil that is to fall on the house of the monarch and his descendants, and the triumph of his own poetical descendants in the persons of the Elizabethan poets.
63. Victor. Conqueror.
64. His. The.
65. No . . . no. What . . . what.
69. Hovered in the noontide ray.
70. Morn. Day.
Mirrors of Saxon truth and loyalty
Your helpless, old, expiring master view!
They hear not; scarce religion dares supply
* These "readings" are what Gray wrote originally, but struck out, writing above them, or in the margin, what he finally approved of.
Her muttered requiems, and her holy dew.
Yet thou, proud boy, from Pomfret's walls shall send
A sigh, and envy oft thy happy grandsire's end.
82. A baleful smile. A smile of horror.
87. Ye. Grim.
90. Holy. Hallowed.
101. Thus. Here.
102. Me unblessed, unpitied, here. Your despairing Caradoc.
103. Track. Clouds.
104. Melt. Sink.
105. Solemn scenes. Scenes of heaven.
106. Glittering. Golden.
109. No more our long lost, etc.—
From Cambria's thousand hills a thousand strains
Triumphant tell aloud, another Arthur reigns.
Youthful knights, and barons bold
With dazzling helm, and horrent spear.
117. Her . . . her. A . . . an.
VII.—THE FATAL SISTERS.
This Ode was written in 1761, and first published as the seventh in the
Poems of 1768.
In a letter to Beattie,
1st February, 1768, Gray states that
his "sole reason" for publishing this and the following odes is
"to make up for the omission of the Long Story," which he did not
include in his poems in 1768.
The Ode is a translation or paraphrase from the Norwegian, the original being an Icelandic court poem written about 1029, entitled "Darradar Liod, or the Lay of Darts." It refers to the battle of Clontarf, fought on Good Friday, 1014, and represents the
Weird Sisters as appearing before the battle and weaving the web of the fate of the King. There is also a Latin version, referred to by Gray.
The friend referred to in the advertisement was Mason, and the "design was dropped" on his hearing that Thomas Warton was engaged on a History of English Poetry. Warton (1728-1790) was Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and succeeded Whitehead as Poet-Laureate; his "History of English Poetry" was not published till 1774-78-81.
The title in the Pembroke MS. is "The Song of the Valkyries."
2. the loom, etc. With the weaving here and in the "Bard" compare the paraphrase of the gipsy's song in "Guy Mannering":—
"Twist ye, twine ye! even so
Mingle shades of joy and woe,
Hope and fear, and peace and strife
In the thread of human life.
. . . . . .
Now they wax and now they dwindle,
Whirling with the whirling spindle," etc.
17, 18. The names of the sisters in the original are Hilda, Hiorthrimula, Sangrida, and Swipula. see. Lo! used interjectionally.
desert beach. Gray prints and spells thus—desart-beach.
The meaning of this verse is that the tribe which has hitherto been confined to the sea-coast shall rule over rich provinces in the interior of Ireland.
59, 60. These lines are not in the original. The reference to Scotland is explained in the Preface.
15. Sword. Blade.—Wharton MS.
17. Mista black. Sangrida.—Wharton MS.
18. Sangrida. Mista black.—Wharton MS.
23. Blade. Sword.—Wharton MS.
28. Triumph is struck out and 'conquer' in the margin, Pembroke MS.
31. Gondula, and Geira. Gunna and Gondula.—Pembroke and Wharton MSS.
33. Slaughter. havoc—Pembroke MS.
44. Shall. Must.—Wharton MS.
45. His. Her.—Pembroke MS.
50. Blot. Veil.—Wharton MS.
59. Winding. Echoing.—Wharton MS.
Sisters, hence, 'tis time to ride;
Now your thundering faulchion wield;
Now your sable steed bestride.
Hurry, hurry to the field.—Pembroke MS.
VIII.—THE DESCENT OF ODIN.
This Ode, as well as the preceding and the following one, was first
published in the edition of 1768.
Mitford follows the original title in the
Wharton MS. and calls it "The Vegtam's Kivitha."
The original is to be found in Saemund's Edda. The first five stanzas of this Ode are omitted; in which Balder, one of the sons of Odin, was informed that he should soon die. Upon his communication of his dream, the other gods, finding it true, by consulting the oracles, agreed to ward off the approaching danger, and sent Frigga to exact an oath from every thing not to injure Balder. She, however, overlooked the mistletoe, with a branch of which he was afterwards slain by Hoder, at the instigation of Lok. After the execution of this commission, Odin, still alarmed for the life of his son, called another council; and hearing nothing but divided opinions among the gods, to consult the Prophetess "he up-rose with speed." Vali, or Ali, the son of Rinda, afterwards
avenged the death of Balder, by slaying Hoder, and is called a "wondrous boy, because he killed his enemy, before he was a day old; before he had washed his face, combed his hair, or seen one setting-sun." See Herbert's "Icelandic Translations."—Mitford.
The first five stanzas are given in S. Jones' edition of Gray.
4. Hela, in the Edda, is described with a dreadful countenance, and her body half flesh-colour, and half blue.*
5. The Edda gives this dog the name of Managarmar. He fed upon the lives of those that were to die.—Mason.
22. In a little poem called the "Magic of Odin" (Bartholinus, p. 641), Odin says, "If I see a man dead, and hanging aloft on a tree, I engrave Runic characters so wonderful, that the man immediately descends and converses with me. When I see magicians travelling through the air, I disconcert them with a single look, and force them to abandon their enterprise."—Mitford.
24. verse that wakes the dead. The original word is Valgalldr; from Valr, mortuus, and Galldr, incantatio.*
40. Odin we find both from this Ode and the Edda was solicitous about the fate of his son, Balder, who had dreamed he was soon to die. The Edda mentions the manner of his death when killed by Odin's other son, Hoder, and also that Hoder was himself slain
* The notes marked thus (*) are marked G in Mason's Notes, but they never appeared in any edition published in Gray's lifetime. They were taken by Mason from notes in Gray's Commonplace Book, Pembroke MSS.
by Vali, the son of Odin and Rinda, consonant with this prophecy.—Mason,
51. Women were looked upon by the Gothic nations as having a peculiar insight into futurity; and some there were that made profession of magic arts and divination. These travelled round the country, and were received in every house with great respect and honour. Such a woman bore the name of Volva, Seidkona, or Spakona. The dress of Thorbiorga, one of these prophetesses, is described at large in Eirik's "Rauda Sogu" (apud Bartholin, lib. iii. cap. iv. p. 688). She had on a blue vest spangled all over with stones, a necklace of glass beads, and a cap made of the skin of a black lamb lined with white cat-skin. She leaned on a staff adorned with brass, with a round head set with stones; and was girt with an Hunlandish belt, at which hung her pouch full of magical instruments. Her buskins were of rough calf-skin, bound on with thongs studded with knobs of brass, and her gloves of white cat-skin, the fur turned inwards, etc. They were also called Fiolkyngi, or Fiolkunnug, i.e., Multi-scia; and Visindakona, i.e., Oraculorum Mulier, Nornir, i.e., Parcae.*
55. See Matthew Arnold's "Balder Dead," 1-8:—
So on the floor lay Balder dead: and round
Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts, and spears,
Which all the Gods in sport had idly thrown
At Balder, whom no weapon pierced or clove;
But in his breast stood fixt the fatal bough
Of mistletoe, which Lok the Accuser gave
To Hoder, and unwitting Hoder threw—
'Gainst that alone had Balder's life no charm."
66. King Harold made (according to the singular custom of his time) a solemn vow never to clip or
comb his hair, till he should have extended his sway over the whole country. Herbert, "Icelandic Translations." In the "Dying Song of Asbiorn."—Mitford.
75. What virgins these. These were the Norns or Fates, invisible to mortals; so by recognizing them Odin revealed his divinity.
Various Readings in the Wharton MS.
11. Fruitless. Ceaseless.
14. Shakes. Quakes.
23. Accents. Murmurs.
27. Call. Voice.
29. My troubled. A weary.
35. He. This.
41. Yon. The.
48. Reach. Touch.
Prophetess, my call obey,
Once again arise and say.
Once again my call obey,
Prophetess, arise and say.
61, 62. Who th' Avenger, etc. These verses are transposed in the Wharton MS.
65. Wond'rous. Giant.
74. Awake. Arise.
77. That. Who. Flaxen. Flowing.
79. Tell me. Say from.
83. The mightiest of the mighty line.
87. Hence and. Odin.
90. Has. Have.
92. Has reassumed. Reassumes her.
IX.—THE TRIUMPHS OF OWEN.
The original Welsh of the above poem was the composition of Gwalchmai, the son of Melir, immediately after Prince Owen Gwynedd had defeated the combined fleets of Iceland, Denmark, and Norway, which
had invaded his territory on the coast of Anglesea. There is likewise another poem which describes this famous battle, written by Prince Howel, the son of Owen Gwynedd.—Mitford.
10. Squadrons three. The fleets of Ireland (Eirin), Denmark (Lochlin), and Norway.
11-14. The construction is: "This (squadron) hiding (concealing) the Irish force; Lochlin, riding side by side as proudly, ploughs the way," etc.
13. On her shadow. The Danish fleet sails on the shadow it makes in the water. Canning, in his celebrated simile, speaks of "those tremendous fabrics now reposing on their shadows in perfect stillness."—Candy. Her stands for Lochlin, an army or fleet being often described by the name of the country itself, long and gay agree with Lochlin.
14, 15. See Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel," vi. 22:—
"For thither came, in times afar,
Stern Lochlin's sons of roving war,
The Norsemen trained to spoil and blood."
22. ruby crest. A red dragon was the device Owen wore.
25. Talymalfra. Moelfre, a small bay on the north-east coast of Anglesea.
27. After line 26 there are the four following lines in the MS.; but, though Gray never printed them, Mason inserted them in his edition, and they have been retained in the text by all subsequent editors.
Checked by the torrent-tide of blood,
Backward Meinai rolls his flood;
While, heaped his master's feet around,
Prostrate warriors gnaw the ground.
27. From this line to the end is Gray's amplification rather than a translation, very little of it being
in the original, which closes as follows: "And the glory of our Prince's wide-wasting sword shall be celebrated in a hundred languages, to give him his merited praise."
The omission of this sentence and his not printing the four lines quoted above may account for Gray's describing this as "a Fragment."
30, 31. Marking . . . Fear, etc. Marking with indignant looks those who were afraid to stop, or ashamed to fly. This is a peculiar use of the abstract for the concrete. Marking agrees with he.
The "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard" was begun at Stoke-Poges
probably about the time of the death of Gray's uncle,
Jonathan Rogers, who died there on the 21st of October. In the winter of
after the death of his aunt, Mary Antrobus, Gray resumed it at Cambridge,
and finished it at Stoke early in June, 1750; and on the 12th of that month he
sent a copy of it in MS. to Horace
Walpole, who circulated it among his
friends. On the 10th of February, 1751,
Gray received a letter from the
editors of the "Magazine of Magazines," asking permission to publish
it. He thereupon wrote next day to Walpole, as follows:—
"Cambridge, Feb. 11, 1751.
"As you have brought me into a little sort of distress, you must assist me, I believe, to get out of it as well as I can. Yesterday I had the misfortune of receiving a letter from certain gentlemen (as their bookseller expresses it), who have taken the 'Magazine of Magazines' into their hands. They tell me that an ingenious Poem, called 'Reflections in a Country Church-yard,' has been communicated to
them, which they are printing forthwith; that they are informed that the excellent author of it is I by name, and that they beg not only his indulgence, but the honour of his correspondence, etc. As I am not at all disposed to be either so indulgent, or so correspondent as they desire, I have but one bad way left to escape the honour they would inflict upon me; and therefore am obliged to desire you would make Dodsley print it immediately (which may be done in less than a week's time), from your copy, but without my name, in what form is most convenient for him, but on his best paper and character; he must correct the press himself, and print it without any interval between the stanzas, because the sense is in some places continued beyond them; and the title must be,—'Elegy, written in a Country Church-yard.' If he would add a line or two to say it came into his hands by accident, I should like it better. If you behold the 'Magazine of Magazines' in the light that I do, you will not refuse to give yourself this trouble on my account, which you have taken of your own accord before now. If Dodsley do not do this immediately, he may as well let it alone."
Walpole lost no time, and on the 16th of February the poem was published in a quarto pamphlet, the following being the contents of the title-page:—"An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard. London: Printed for R. Dodsley in Pall-Mall; and sold by M. Cooper in Pater-Noster Row. 1751. (Price sixpence.)"
This then was the first appearance of the "Elegy" in print. It was anonymous, and contained these prefatory remarks by Walpole:—
Advertisement.—The following Poem came into my Hands by Accident, if the general Approbation with which this little Piece has been spread, may be called by so slight a Term as Accident. It is this
Approbation which makes it unnecessary for me to make any Apology but to the Author: As he cannot but feel some Satisfaction in having pleas'd so many Readers already, I flatter myself he will forgive my communicating that Pleasure to many more. — The Editor.
The poem was at once reproduced in the magazines; it appeared in the "Magazine of Magazines" on the 28th of February, in the "London Magazine" and in the "Scots' Magazine," on the 31st of March, and in the "Grand Magazine of Magazines" on the 30th of April.
Gray has entered the following note in the margin of the Pembroke MS.:—"Published in Febry. 1751, by Dodsley, & went thro' four editions, in two months; and afterwards a fifth, 6th, 7th, & 8th, 9th, 10th, & 11th; printed also in 1753 with Mr. Bentley's Designs, of wch. there is a 2d edition; & again by Dodsley in his 'Miscellany,' vol. 4th, & in a Scotch Collection call'd the 'Union'; translated into Latin by Chr. Anstey, Esq., and the Revd. Mr. Roberts, & published in 1762, & again in the same year by Rob. Lloyd, M.A."
It first appeared with Gray's name in the "Six Poems" of 1753.
Mason says that Gray "originally gave it only the simple title of 'Stanzas written in a Country Church-yard,'" but that he "persuaded him first to call it an Elegy, because the subject authorized him so to do, and the alternate measure seemed particularly fit for that species of composition; also so capital a poem written in this measure, would as it were appropriate it in future to writings of this sort."
The title of the eighth edition, 1753, is "Elegy, originally written in a Country Churchyard."
Three copies of the "Elegy" in Gray's handwriting still exist. One of these belonged to Wharton, and
is now among the Egerton MSS. in the British Museum, and this copy is therefore referred to as the "Egerton MS." The two other copies were among the "books, manuscripts, coins, music printed or written, and papers of all kinds," which Gray bequeathed in his will to Mason, "to preserve or destroy at his own discretion." These Mason bequeathed to Stonehewer (Fellow of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, and a friend of Gray's), who, at his death in 1809, left the greater portion to Pembroke College, and the remainder to his friend Mr. Bright,—each set containing a copy of the "Elegy." The copy in the possession of the College is usually described as the "Pembroke MS.," and of it there is a facsimile in Mathias' edition of Gray's Works, published in 1814. The collection left to Mr. Bright was sold by auction in 1845; the MS. of the "Elegy" was bought by Mr. Granville John Penn, of Stoke Park, for £100; in 1854 the MS. was sold for £131; and in 1875 it was bought by Sir William Fraser for £230, who had 100 copies of it printed in 1884. Mr. Rolfe calls this the "Fraser MS."; and Mr. Gosse refers to it as the "Mason MS."; but it may not always belong to the Fraser family; and "Mason MS." is not sufficiently distinctive, as the "Pembroke MS." was also Mason's. As this MS. seems to have been the rough draft, and contains a greater number of original readings and alterations, the other two apparently being made from it by Gray when he had almost ceased correcting the "Elegy," I shall refer to it in the Notes and Various Readings as the "Original MS."
1. The Curfew. The curfew was a bell, or the ringing of a bell, rung at eight o'clock in the evening for putting out fires (Fr. couvre, cover, and feu, fire), a custom introduced by William the Conqueror. The word continued to be applied to an evening bell long after the law for putting out fires ceased, but it is not
now so used, and the word would have become obsolete but for Gray's use of it here, and when one speaks of the curfew one thinks of the first line of the "Elegy." It occurs frequently in Shakespeare, and Milton uses it twice,—"Comus," 435, and in the well-known lines in "Il Penseroso":—
"I hear the far-off curfew soundGray quotes in original the lines from Dante which suggested this line. Cary's translation is as follows:—
Over some wide-watered shore."—74, 75.
"And pilgrim, newly on his road with love,
Thrills if he hear the vesper bell from far,
That seems to mourn for the expiring day."
2. wind. This is the correct reading, as, though winds occur in the first printed edition (1751), wind is what Gray has in the MS. copies and in the first edition of his Poems (1768), as well as in all reprints of the "Elegy" approved by him. After 1751 the first edition I find with winds is Stephen Jones' (1799), and though Mitford in his edition of 1814 has wind, in the Aldine edition (1836) he has winds, and is followed—without comment—by almost all subsequent editors of Gray's "Poems," and in popular reprints of the "Elegy." Another false reading is herds for herd.
13. that yew-tree. The yew-tree under which Gray often sat in Stoke churchyard still exists there; it is on the south side of the church, its branches spread over a large circumference, and under it as well as under its shade there are several graves.
14. Wakefield quotes from Parnell's "Night Piece on Death" (1722):—
"Those graves with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground."—29, 30.
16. rude here means rustic, simple; he applies it to the beach, "Spring," 13. Throughout the "Elegy" he refers to the poor, the people of the hamlet, as contrasted with the rich, who were interred and had their monuments inside the church. In the MSS. left by Mitford, now in the British Museum, he has recorded the following line found among Gray's papers, jotted down probably for the "Elegy," cf. lines 57-60; it may be quoted here as an illustration of his use of rude:—
"The rude Columbus of an infant world."
13-16. This stanza and the ninth form the inscription on the east side of the monument to Gray in Stoke Park.
17. incense-breathing. Sending forth fragrant smells.
"Now whenas sacred light began to dawn
In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed
Their morning incense."—Par. Lost, ix. 192-194.
19. The cock's shrill clarion. A clarion is a wind instrument, a kind of trumpet, with a shrill sound, from Lat. clarus, clear. It is from Milton that he takes clarion for the sound of the cock's crow:—
". . . . the crested cock, whose clarion soundsCf. also:—
The silent hours."—Par. Lost, vii. 443.
"When chanticleer with clarion shrill recallsIn the original MS. the reading is:—"Or chanticleer so shrill or echoing horn"; the word "chanticleer" itself meaning "clear-singing," and the name of the
The tardy day."—Philip's Cyder, i. 753 (pub. 1708).
"The cock that is the trumpet to the morn
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day."—Hamlet, i. 1. 150.
cock in Chaucer's "Nun's Priest's Tale" was 'Chauntecleer.' the echoing horn. The huntsman's horn, that wakens echoes. Cf. Milton again:—
"Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill
Through the high wood echoing shrill."
20. their lowly bed. The humble bed in which they have been sleeping. Lloyd in his Latin translation strangely mistook "lowly bed" for the grave.
21-24. The following are parallel passages:—
"Jam jam non domus accipiet te laeta, neque uxor
Optima, nec dulces occurrent oscula nati
Praeripere, et tacita pectus dulcedine tangent."
—Lucretius, iii. 894.
"Quod si pudica mulier in partem juvet
Domum atque dulces liberos, . . .
Sacrum et vetustis exstruat lignis focum
Lassi sub adventum viri."—Horace, Epode, ii. 39.
"In vain for him the officious wife prepares
The fire fair-blazing, and the vestment warm;
In vain his little children, peeping out
Into the mingled storm, demand their sire
With tears of artless innocence."
—Thomson, Winter, 311.
22. ply her . . . care. Be busied at her household duties. Some annotators take exception to this use of ply; but it is a shortened form of apply similarly used by Milton and old writers:—"He is ever at his plow, he is ever applying his business."—Latimer.
"The birds their choir apply"—Par. Lost, iv. 264.
"Assiduous in his bower the wailing owl
Plies his sad song."—Thomson, Winter, 114.
And Gray has "their labours ply" in the "Ode on Eton," 32. The expression is a good instance of the poetical language against which Wordsworth protested. When he had occasion to refer to a similar scene, he wrote:—
"And she I cherished turned her wheel
Beside an English fire."
2. the stubborn glebe. Luke quotes from Gay's "Fables":—
"'Tis mine to tame the stubborn glebe."Glebe is used in its primary sense from Lat. gleba, a sod, the ground:—
"Rastris glebas qui frangit inertes."—Georgics, i. 94.
27. afield. To the field. Milton's expression, "we drove afield," "Lycidas," 27.
28. Wakefield quotes from Spenser's "Shepherd's Kalendar":—
"But to the root bent his sturdie stroak,sturdy stroke also occurs in Dryden's translation of the "Georgics," iii. 639.
And made many wounds in the wast oak."
32. This, like many another line in the "Elegy," may be said to be part of the English language; it was "chiselled for immortality."
stanza is the second of the two on the east side of the monument, vide
note on 13-16.
Hurd refers to these lines in his note on the following passage in Cowley:—
"Beauty, and strength, and wit, and wealthy and power,
Have their short flourishing hour;
And love to see themselves, and smile,
And joy in their pre-eminence a while;But Gray is likely to have had West and his "Monody on Queen Caroline" in his mind; not only as the early death of his friend, which occurred a few months before he began to write the "Elegy," was almost always before him, but as West's Ode (which Gray refers to in a letter in Nov. 1747 as, "in spite of the subject, excellent") had been published a few months before he finished the "Elegy," in Vol. II. of Dodsley's "Collection," immediately after Gray's three Odes. The lines are:—
E'en so in the same land
Poor weeds, rich corn, gay flowers together stand.
Alas! Death mows down all with an impartial hand."
"These are thy glorious deeds, almighty Death!
These are thy triumphs o'er the sons of men,
That now receive the miserable breath,
Which the next moment they resign again!
Ah me! what boots us all our boasted power,
Our golden treasure, and our purple state;
They cannot ward th' inevitable hour,
Nor stay the fearful violence of fate."—73-80.
35. Awaits. This is Gray's reading in his MSS. and in the editions published by him; but almost all editors follow Mason and Mitford and read await. Scott of Amwell in his "Critical Essay" on the "Elegy," published in 1785, writes in a footnote: "It should be await, the plural, for it includes a number of circumstances." I have traced await back to the appearance of the "Elegy" in Dodsley's "Collection of Poems," i.e., in Volume IV. published in 1755. But as in the editions of the "Elegy" in 1753, "corrected by the author," and in his last edition, 1768, Gray prints awaits, it is clear that he intended it to be so retained; besides, it is better to take "inevitable hour" as the subject of "awaits," and not
"boast," "pomp," etc.; as not only is this inversion more in Gray's manner, but also the statement that the inevitable hour of death is waiting for the great, the beautiful and the wealthy, like the
"whirlwind's sway,Also see "Epitaph on Mrs. Clarke," 11; and "Shakespeare Verses," 8.
That hushed in grim repose expects his evening prey."
36. In Hayley's "Life of Crashaw," in the Biographia Britannica, it is said that this line is "literally translated from the Latin prose of Bartholinus in his Danish Antiquities."
44. dull cold. These words occur together in Shakespeare:—
"And, when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble."
—Henry VIII. iii. 2. 433.
46. pregnant with celestial fire. Full of heaven-sent inspiration; cf. "the Muse's flame," line 72; a "prophet's fire," "The Bard," 21. Cowper has the expression in "Boadicea":—
"Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre."
47. rod. He first wrote reins; and changed it probably because Tickell has it in his lines on the death of Addison "To Earl Warwick":—
"Proud names, who once the reins of empire held."—37.
53-56. Various originals have been cited for this famous stanza, but often as the thought may have occurred before Gray it is in the form in which he has
worded it that it is known the world over. Mitford quotes:—
"There is many a rich stone laid up in the bowels of the earth, many a fair pearl in the bosom of the sea, that never was seen, nor never shall be." Bishop Hall's "Contemplations," vi. 872.
A writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for May, 1782, refers to Young, "Universal Passion":—
"In distant wilds, by human eyes unseen,Gray introduces "the gem and the flower" in his "Ode at the Installation" (written nearly twenty years later) thus:—
She rears her flowers, and spreads her velvet green;
Pure gurgling rills the lonely desert trace,
And waste their music on the savage race."—Sat. v.
"Thy liberal heart, thy judging eye,
The flower unheeded shall descry,
And bid it round heaven's altars shed
The fragrance of its blushing head;
Shall raise from earth the latent gem
To glitter on the diadem."—71-76.
56. This line occurs in Churchill's "Gotham," ii. 19, 20, published 1764, by which time it was probably a familiar quotation:—
"So that they neither give a tawdry glare,
'Nor waste their sweetness on the desert air.'"
59. For the allusions
to Hampden (1594-1643), Milton (1608-1674), and Cromwell (1599-1658), the
student should refer to a History.
Instead of these three names there are, in the Original MS., Cato, Tully, and Caesar; but the change to well-known characters of our own country has added to the vividness as well as fixed the nationality of a poem that has been translated into so many languages.
It is noteworthy that both Hampden and Milton lived in Buckinghamshire—the county in which is the Stoke-Poges Churchyard. Hampden was M.P. for Buckingham, and it was as a resident of that county that he refused to pay ship money. Chalfont, in which is the cottage where Milton finished "Paradise Lost," is only a few miles from the "Churchyard" of the "Elegy."
Mitford quotes the following from Plautus as the thought in brief of this stanza and lines 45-48:—
"Ut saepe summa ingenia in occulto latent,
Hic qualis imperator, nunc privatus est."
—Captiv. iv. 2.
63. To scatter plenty, etc. Mitford quotes a line from Tickell, and one from Mrs. Behn containing these expressions; but Gray repeats what he wrote in "Education and Government":—
"If equal Justice with unclouded faceThe early poems and translations of Gray, unpublished in his lifetime, and now so little read, are like a storehouse from which he took thoughts and expressions for the "Odes" and "Elegy." In "Agrippina" he has "the senate's joint applause," 77 ("Elegy," 61); "he lived unknown to fame or fortune," 38 ("Elegy," 118), and (besides several others):—
Smile not indulgent on the rising race,
And scatter with a free, though frugal, hand
Like golden showers of plenty o'er the land."—15-18.
"Thus ever grave and undisturbed reflection
Pours its cool dictates in the madding ear
Of rage, and thinks to quench the fire it feels not."
70. quench the blushes. This is in Shakespeare, "Winter's Tale," iv. 4. 67:—
"Come, quench your blushes, and present yourself."
ingenuous. Genuine, natural; the "in" has not a negative force.
72. After this verse, in the Original MS. of the poem, are the four following stanzas:—
The thoughtless world to Majesty may bow,
Exalt the brave, and idolize success;
But more to innocence their safety owe
Than power and genius e'er conspired to bless.
And thou, who mindful of th' unhonoured dead
Dost in these notes their artless tale relate,
By Night and lonely Contemplation led
To linger in the gloomy walks of Fate;
Hark! how the sacred Calm, that broods around,
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous passion cease;
In still small accents whispering from the ground
A grateful earnest of eternal Peace.
No more with reason and thyself at strife,
Give anxious cares and endless wishes room;
But thro' the cool sequestered vale of life
Pursue the silent tenor of thy doom.
73. madding. "Maddening" would be the more correct formation; but Gray's use of madding has given it currency, and "Far from the Madding Crowd" has been adopted as the title of a novel, just as "Annals of the Poor," 32, supplies the title of Leigh Richmond's well-known work. Rogers quotes from one of Drummond's "Sonnets":—
"Far from the madding worldling's hoarse discord."Madding occurs in "Paradise Lost":—
"the madding wheelsGray has it in "Agrippina," 83, already quoted.
Of brazen chariots raged."—vi. 210.
81. spelt by th' unlettered Muse means composed or
engraved by an illiterate person. Gray had probably in mind that under the yew-tree there is a tombstone with several words wrongly spelt and some letters ill-formed, and that even in the inscription which he composed for his aunt's tomb the word resurrection is spelt incorrectly by the unlettered stone-cutter.
85-88. This stanza is capable of two constructions, according as we take prey in agreement with who or with being. I prefer the former:—For what person, a prey to forgetfulness, ever resigned his life, and left the world, without casting a regretful look behind? If prey be taken with being, then "to dumb Forgetfulness a prey" is the completion of the predicate resigned, and we have two questions asked:—For who ever resigned this life to be a prey to forgetfulness, and left the world without, etc.?
85. The For refers to what has gone before, lines 77-84; even to these poor rustics there are memorials that ask for the sympathy of the passer-by, because who ever left the world without a regretful look and a desire to be remembered? a prey, given over to, the victim of.
87. precincts of the day. Gray probably took this expression from "Paradise Lost," iii. 88, the only place in Milton's poems where "precincts" occurs:—
"Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light."
stanza may be regarded as an answer to the question in the last: When dying
one rests on some loving friend, and needs the tears of affection; and even
after one is buried the same natural desire for loving remembrance shows
itself; and when all is dust and ashes the fire that was accustomed to be in
those ashes lives in them (and finds expression in the inscription on the
Here Mitford quotes Drayton and Pope:—
"It is some comfort to a wretch to die,
(If there be comfort in the way of death)
To have some friend, or kind alliance by
To be officious at the parting breath."—Moses.
"No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier,
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed."
92. The translation (by Nott) of the lines Gray quotes from Petrarch is:—
"These, my sweet fair, so warns prophetic thought,Gray translated this sonnet into Latin Elegiacs, the last two lines of his version being:—
(Closed thy bright eye, and mute thy poet's tongue)
E'en after death shall still with sparks be fraught."
Infelix musa aeternos spirabit amores,Still more closely does line 92 resemble one in Chaucer, in the "Reeve's Prologue," speaking of old men not forgetting the passions of their youth:—
Ardebitque urnâ multa favilla meâ.
"Yet in our ashen cold is fire yreken."—3880.It has been suggested that the first line of this stanza seems to regard the near approach of death; the second, its actual advent; the third, the time immediately succeeding its advent; the fourth, a time still later.
93-96. This stanza is altered from the second of the rejected stanzas quoted above as coming after line 72 in the Original MS.; and in that MS. instead of this stanza (lines 93-96) there are two, the entry in the MS. being:—"For thee who mindful, etc., as above," i.e., the remainder of the rejected stanza, and after that the following:—
"If chance that e'er some pensive spirit more
By sympathetic musings here delayed,
With vain tho' kind inquiry shall explore
Thy once loved haunt, this long deserted shade."
98. peep of dawn. Both here and in the "Installation Ode" Gray has Milton's expressions in view:—
"See the blabbing eastern scout,And in the "Installation Ode" he puts the following words into Milton's mouth,—dawn rhyming as here with lawn —
The nice Morn, on the Indian steep,
From her cabined loophole peep,
And to the tell-tale sun descry
Our concealed solemnity."—Comus, 138-142.
"Oft at the blush of dawn
I trod your level lawn."—30, 31.
99, 100. Brushing . . . the dews . . . upland lawn. Milton's words again:—
. . . "though from off the boughs each mornAfter this stanza there is the following in the Original MS.:—
We brush mellifluous dews."—Par. Lost, v. 428, 429.
"Together both, ere the high lawns appeared
Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
We drove afield."—Lycidas, 25-27.
Him have we seen the greenwood side along,"I rather wonder that he rejected this stanza, as it not only has the same sort of Doric delicacy which charms us peculiarly in this part of the poem, but also completes the account of his whole day; whereas, this evening scene being omitted, we have only his morning walk, and his noon-tide repose."—Mason.
While o'er the heath we hied, our labours done,
Oft as the woodlark piped her farewell song,
With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun.
In a footnote the reviewer of Mason's edition of Gray's Poems, in the "Gentleman's Magazine," June, 1775, says Gray plainly alludes to this stanza and this evening employment when in a subsequent
stanza he mentions not only the customed hill, etc., but also the heath.
101. yonder nodding beech. It is "at the foot" of a beech that Gray describes himself as "squatting," in a letter to Walpole (already quoted, note on line 17 of the "Ode on the Spring"), and there he "grows to the trunk for a whole morning."
103. listless length. Cf. in "As You Like It," ii. 1, 31:—
"he lay along
Under an oak, whose antique roots peep out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood."
107. In the Pembroke MS. there is no comma after drooping, and there is a hyphen between woful and wan. Mitford prints "woful-wan," but in the printed copies published in Gray's lifetime the line stands as in this edition, woful wan means sad and pale, not "wofully pale."
110. Along the heath, the reference is to the heath mentioned in the rejected stanza which came after line 100. his fav'rite tree, the tree that he was fond of lying under (lines 101-104); not necessarily that he preferred the beech to other kinds of trees, but this beech was his favourite resort.
105-112. These two stanzas form the inscription on the monument to Gray, in Stoke Park, on the side that faces the church.
114. the church-way path, the path leading (from the main road) to the church. Shakespeare has the phrase in "Midsummer Night's Dream":—
"Now it is the time of nightGray may not have taken the words from Shakespeare; the graveyard at Stoke-Poges is reached by paths
That, the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide."—v. 1. 386-389.
leading from the road; and it is one of these paths rather than a path in the graveyard that is referred to.
115. for thou canst read. Mr. Hales considers that these words are introduced because "reading was not such a common accomplishment then that it could be taken for granted"; and Mr. Rolfe says "the 'hoary-headed swain' of course could not read." I rather take it as a poetical turn, a repetition that gives vividness to the speech of the old swain, and well brought in as he had not hitherto personally addressed the kindred spirit. Cf. the following from Milton and Young:—
"And chiefly thou, O Spirit! . .lay is used for the sake of the rhyme, and not in its strict sense of song or lyrical poem, but here stands for verse or poetry; cf. "Ode for Music," 14, and "Imitations from the Welsh," 5.
Instruct me (for thou knowest) . . ."
—Par. Lost, i. 17, 19.
"And steal (for you can steal) celestial fire."
116. In the Pembroke MS. of the "Elegy" Gray has entered after this stanza: "Insert
There scattered oft, the earliest of the year,This stanza, which may be described as "the red-breast stanza," was first printed in the third edition of the "Elegy," the date of which I have been able to fix as March, 1751, as I find the "Elegy" with the redbreast stanza in the "Scots' Magazine" for that month, and it was then published in the end of the month. Opposite this stanza in the Pembroke MS. Gray has written "Omitted, 1753." Mason states that the reason for his omitting it was "because he thought that it was too long a parenthesis
By hands unseen, are showers of violets found;
The red-breast loves to build, and warble there,
And little footsteps lightly print the ground."
in this place." Another reason may be that this stanza was different in character from the preceding, as it dealt in fancies whereas the former described facts. Also he may have noted the resemblance it bears to some expressions and lines in Collins' "Dirge in Cymbeline " (pub. 1747):—
"Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet of earliest bloom. . . .
The red-breast oft, at evening hours,
Shall kindly lend its little aid," etc.
118. This line has become a hackneyed quotation. In Gray's translation of Propertius, he has—
"Happy the youth, and not unknown to Fame."
119. Science. Knowledge in general; see "Ode on Eton," 3, where it is applied to the learning that is to be had in that College, frowned not on his birth, looked favourably on him. Wakefield quotes from Horace:—
"Quem tu, Melpomene, semelWhom thou, Melpomene, may have looked on with a favourable eye at the hour of his birth.
Nascentem placido lumine videris."—Odes, iv. 3.
123. all he had. Mitford and others misprint this by placing these words in brackets; it does not mean to say that "he gave to Mis'ry a tear," but he gave to Misery all he had, and that all was only a tear.
Various Readings.Except where otherwise noted, the following "various readings" are from the Original MS.
6. All. Now.
8. And. Or.—Egerton MS.
For ever sleep; the breezy call of Morn,
Or swallow, etc.
19. Or chanticleer so shrill, or echoing horn.
24. Or. Nor. Envied. Coming.
25. Sickle. Sickles.—Egerton MS.
29. Useful. Homely.
30. Homely. Rustic.
Forgive, ye proud, th' involuntary fault,The present reading is written in the margin.
If Memory to these no trophies raise.
43. Provoke. Awake.
47. Rod. Reins.—Egerton MS.
51. Repressed. Had damped.
57. Hampden. Cato.
59. Milton. Tully.
60. Cromwell. Caesar.
66 Growing. Struggling.
68. And. Or.—Egerton MS.
71. Or heap. And at the. Shrine. Shrines.— Egerton MS.
72. With. Burn.
74. Learned. Knew.
76. Noiseless. Silent.
79. Rhimes. Rhime.
82. Elegy. Epitaph.
92. And buried ashes
glow with social fires.—Original MS.
And in our ashes glow their wonted fires.—Egerton and Pembroke MSS.
97. May. Shall.
With hasty footsteps brush the dews away.
On the high brow of yonder hanging lawn.
101. There. Oft. Nodding. Hoary.
105. Hard by yon wood. With gestures quaint.
106. He would. Would he.—Egerton and Pembroke MSS.
107. Now woful wan he drooped, as one forlorn.
109. I. We.
110. By the heath-side and at his fav'rite tree.
113. Due. Meet.
116. Graved. Wrote.
121. Soul. Heart.
Nor seek to draw them from their dread abode.
His frailties there in trembling hope repose.
The "Elegy" having been handed about in MS. by Horace Walpole
was seen by Lady Cobham, then residing at the Mansion-house, Stoke-Poges;
being anxious to make the poet's acquaintance, she learned from the
Rev. Mr. Purt of Stoke that the poet lived in the neighbourhood and was
Mr. Gray, whom she did not know. This was in the summer of
1750, and two ladies who were stopping
with her, Miss
Speed and Lady
Schaub, on the strength of the latter knowing
Lady Brown, a friend of Gray's, called at his aunt's house, but the poet was
not at home. He returned the call, and thus began his acquaintance and
friendship with Lady Cobham and Miss Speed, which resulted in his humorous
account of his introduction to them, which he called "A Long Story,"
and his "Amatory Lines" and the "Song" written at the
request of Miss Speed. See the Notes on the "Amatory Lines" and
The "Long Story" was only once printed in Gray's lifetime, viz., in the edition with Bentley's "Designs" in 1753. In a letter to Dr. Beattie, dated 24th December, 1767, Gray says he had consented to let Dodsley reprint all he ever published "if he would omit entirely the "Long Story" (which was never meant for the public, and only suffered to appear in that pompous edition because of Mr. Bentley's designs, which were not intelligible without it)."
There is a copy of the "Long Story" in the Pembroke MSS., and in the margin, at the top, the date "Aug. 1750" is entered.
1. The first line of Parnell's "Fairy Tale" is:—
"In Britain's Isle, and Arthur's days."
2. Sir Edward Coke's mansion at Stoke-Poges, now the seat of Mr. Penn, was the scene of Gray's "Long
Story." The antique chimneys have been allowed to remain as vestiges of the Poet's fancy, and a column with a statue of Coke marks the former abode of its illustrious inhabitant.—Mitford.
The Mr. Penn who bought the mansion on the death of Lady Cobham in 1760, was a son of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and it remained in the possession of the Penn family until 1848, when it was bought by the Rt. Hon. H. Labouchere (Baron Taunton), and by him sold to Mr. Edward Coleman, from whom it was purchased in 1887 by Mr. Wilberforce Bryant. For further information and illustrations of Stoke see the "Universal Review" for May, 1889, and "Cathedrals, Abbeys and Churches of England and Wales," Cassell and Co., Part 13.
2. Building. Misprinted buildings in Mr. Gosse's edition.
11. The residence of Sir Christopher Hatton at Stoke is doubted by his biographer, Sir Harris Nicolas, who believes the tradition originated in the marriage of his widow with Sir E. Coke, to whom Stoke Mansion belonged, and by whom Queen Elizabeth was entertained there.
brawls were a sort of French figure-dance, then in vogue. See "England's Helicon" and Ben Jonson's "Masque":—
"And thence did Venus learn to lead
The Idalian brawls."
29-31. Miss Speed, who, after the death of her father, Colonel Speed, was brought up in the family of Lord Cobham. Mason says she was a relation of Lady Cobham's. See "Gray and his Friends." In a letter to Martha Blount, July 4, 1739, Pope refers to Lady Cobham and Miss Speed being at Stowe, the seat of Lord Cobham.
35. Melissa, A beneficent fairy invented by the Italian poets.
37. capucine, now spelt "capuchin," a cloak with a hood like that of the monks of the Capuchin order, so-called from their wearing this garment; the primary root is caput, the head, just as hood is another form of head.
41. Mr. Robert Purt
was Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, 1738, assistant master at Eton, and
tutor to Lord Baltimore's son there; in 1749 he was presented to the rectory
of Settrington in Yorkshire. He died in April, 1752, of the small-pox.
"It has been said that this gentleman, a neighbour and acquaintance of Gray's in the country, was much displeased with the liberty here taken with his name; yet, surely, without any great reason."—Mason.
51. "Henry the Fourth, in the fourth year of his reign, issued out the following commission against this species of vermin:—'And it is enacted, that no master-rimour, minstrel, or other vagabond, be in any wise sustained in the land of Wales, to make commoiths, or gatherings upon the people there.' 'Vagabond,' says Ritson, 'was a title to which the profession had been long accustomed.'
'Beggars they are with one consent,
And rogues by act of parliament.'"—Mitford.
56. bounce, with a sudden jump; an adverb, like whisk, 79.
67. "There is a very great similarity," says Mitford, "between the style of part of this poem and Prior's 'Dove;' as for instance in the following stanzas, which Gray must have had in his mind:—
'With one great peal they rap the door
Like footmen on a visiting day:
Folks at her house at such an hour,
Lord! what will all the neighbours say? . . .
Her keys he takes, her door unlocks,
Thro' wardrobe, and thro' closet bounces,
Peeps into every chest and box,
Turns all her furbelows and flounces. . . .
I marvel much, she smiling said,
Your poultry cannot yet be found.
Lies he in yonder slipper dead,
Or may be in the tea-pot drowned?'"
80. a spell, a writing that would have a magical effect; this refers to the little note that the ladies left for him, which was:—"Lady Schaub's compliments to Mr. Gray; she is sorry not to have found him at home, to tell him that Lady Brown is very well."
83, 84. birdlime and chains, a playful way of describing the contents of the note as evidently written to catch him like a bird, and cause him to come to their house; while the border of the paper is compared to chains that will have the same effect, but are invisible.
100. the gallery, the picture gallery; we are now to suppose that the ladies in the large portraits, high dames of honour that lived as long ago as Queen Mary's time, come down from their pictures, or their spirits appear, as they often did on dark nights.
103. In the
elegant little edition of Gray's poems, published by Sharpe, with
illustrations by Westall, in 1826, this name is printed Tyacke in the text,
and there is the following footnote:—"Her name which has hitherto,
in all editions of Gray's Poems, been written Styack, is corrected from her
gravestone in the churchyard, and the accounts of contemporary persons in the
parish. House-keepers are usually styled Mrs.; the final s doubtless
caused the name to be misapprehended and misspelt." There is a similar
manuscript note in Upcott's edition, 1800, in the British Museum, signed
It is very probable that Gray mistook "Mrs. Tyacke" for "Mrs. Styacke," as when he wrote the "Long Story" he had only just become acquainted with Lady Cobham's household. I see no necessity,
however, for altering the name in the text; but the point is worth recording, as it has not been referred to by any other editor of Gray. In the edition published by Bickers and Bush, 1858, 'Tyacke' is the reading in the text, without note.
115. James Squibb, the son of Dr. Arthur Squibb, chaplain to Colonel Bellasis's regiment about 1685, attracted the notice of Lord Cobham, in whose service he continued for many years, and died at Stowe in June, 1762.
116. Groom. "His grave is close to that of Tyacke in the south-west corner of the churchyard."—'P.' in Upcott's MS. Notes.
120. From the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1750, I find that James Maclean (wrongly spelt by Gray), was hanged on the 3rd October, 1750; this then, taken with Gray's footnote, gives us the date of his finishing the poem. "Since the 27th of July, the conversation of the town has been turned upon the gentleman highwayman." He was sentenced to death in September for robbery in the Salisbury coach, near Turnham Green, on June 26th. When he was called to receive sentence, he only said, "My Lord, I cannot speak." Several pamphlets about him are announced in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for September, 1750.
129. The ghostly Prudes, the ghosts of the ladies in the portraits, hagged. Mason has the following note:—"The face of a witch or hag; the epithet haggard has been sometimes mistaken as conveying the same idea; but it means a very different thing, viz., wild and farouche, and is taken from an unreclaimed hawk, called an haggard, in which its proper sense the poet uses it finely on a sublime occasion. Ode VI." See "The Bard," 18, and the note.
135. the square hoods, the dames of honour in the portraits, so-called from their wearing square or peaked hoods.
The full title of this Ode explains the occasion of its being written; it
is:—Ode | Performed in the | Senate-House at Cambridge | July 1, 1769, |
at the Installation of His Grace Augustus-Henry Fitzroy | Duke of Grafton |
Chancellor of the University. | Set to music by | Dr. Randal, | Professor of
Music. | Cambridge | Printed for J. Archdeacon Printer to the University |
The Duke of Grafton, as Prime Minister, had in July, 1768, conferred on Gray the Professorship of Modern History at Cambridge, and when he was elected to succeed, as Chancellor, the Duke of Newcastle, who died in November, 1768, Gray determined to show his gratitude by writing the usual Installation Ode. He refers to it thus in a letter of July 16, 1769, to Dr. Beattie (author of "The Minstrel"):—"I thought myself bound in gratitude to his Grace, unasked, to take upon me the task of writing those verses which are usually set to music. I do not think them worth sending you, because they are by nature doomed to live but a single day; or, if their existence be prolonged beyond that date it is only by means of newspaper parodies and witless criticism. This sort of abuse I had reason to expect, but do not think it worth while to avoid." And in a note to Mr. Stonehewer, the Duke's secretary, to whom he sent the Ode in manuscript, on the 12th June, for the Duke's perusal, he says:—"I did not intend the Duke should have heard me till he could not help it. You are desired to make the best excuses you can to his Grace for the liberty I have taken of praising him to his face, but as somebody must necessarily do this I did not see why Gratitude should sit silent and leave it to Expectation to sing, who certainly would have sung, and that à gorge deployee upon such an occasion."
It was this Duke of Grafton to whom "Junius" addressed some of his "Letters." Here are two passages from them in strong contrast to Gray's eulogy:—"The first uniform principle, or, if I may call it, the genius, of your life has carried you through every possible change and contradiction of conduct, without the momentary imputation or colour of a virtue, and the wildest spirit of inconsistency has never once betrayed you into a wise or honourable action." And as regards his descent from royalty he tells him:—"The character of the reputed ancestors of some men has made it possible for their descendants to be vicious in the extreme without being degenerate. Those of your Grace, for instance, left no distressing example of virtue even to their legitimate posterity, and you may look back with pleasure to an illustrious pedigree, in which heraldry has left not one single good quality on record to insult or upbraid you."
In a letter to the Duke, dated 8th July, 1769, "Junius" refers to this "Installation Ode:"—"even the venal muse, though happiest in fiction, will forget your virtues."
The compliments Gray paid the Duke in this Ode led to a parody on the Epitaph in the "Elegy," in a newspaper in 1769, which is to be found cut out therefrom and pasted on the last page of Vol. II. of Upcott's edition of Gray in the British Museum. The letter runs as follows:—"As a certain Church-yard Poet has deviated from the principles he once profest, it is very fitting that the necessary alterations should be made in his Epitaph."—Marcus.
"Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
One nor to fortune nor to fame unknown;
Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And smooth-tongued flatt'ry mark'd him for her own.
Large was his wish—in this he was sincere—Gray finished the Ode in April, 1769; it was his last poetical composition, and except the Odes from the Norse and the Welsh, written in 1761 and 1764, he had published nothing new for twelve years, i.e., since the "Progress of Poesy" and the "Bard" appeared in 1757.
Fate did a recompence as largely send,
Gave the poor C . . r four hundred pounds a year,
And made a d . . . y Minister his friend.
No further seek his deeds to bring to light,
For, ah! he offer'd at Corruption's shrine;
And basely strove to wash an Ethiop white,
While Truth and Honour bled in ev'ry line."
The "Ode for the Installation" was published by the University in quarto, the second title being "Ode for Music." It was never edited by Gray, and when Mason published it in his editions of Gray's Poems, he entitled it simply "For Music," and added, the epithet "Irregular"; he also, "for the sake of uniformity in the page, divided the Ode into stanzas, and discarded the musical divisions of Recitative, Air, and Chorus." Mason has been followed in most of these changes, and in no other edition (except that edited by me for Messrs. Macmillan and Co.) has the Ode been correctly printed, as now, with the divisions, etc., as it appeared when first published.
A still more noteworthy point is that Gray has been credited with some of Mason's work. There were no notes in the University edition of the Ode, but Mason wrote notes in the manner of the historical notes which Gray wrote for the "Bard," and placed them as footnotes to the Ode in his edition of 1775, and Gray's notes on the other poems as footnotes in their proper places; he also had additional notes of his own as an appendix. With the exception of
Mathias, every editor of Gray concluded that the footnotes to the Ode were by Gray, and all the notes which I have marked Mason, from line 41 to 84, are in all other editions (except Mathias') marked Gray. The note on "Elizabeth de Burg" ought to have led them to suspect that the reference to "the poet" was not by Gray; still stranger is it that it has escaped so many editors to the present day that Mason states in the appendix that the notes are by himself:—"I have added," he says, "at the bottom of the page a number of explanatory notes, which this Ode seemed to want still more than that which preceded it [the "Bard"]; especially when given not to the University only, but the public in general, who may be reasonably supposed to know little of the particular founders of different colleges and their history here alluded to."
4. Sloth of pallid hue. Contrast this with the "rosy hue, and lively cheer of vigour born," "Ode on Eton," 45, 47.
14. th' indignant lay, the previous verses which the poet feigns to have heard said by sages and bards as they look down on their old University, "indignant" lest Comus, Ignorance, etc., should profane the "holy ground."
21. their opening soul, their minds when, as students there, they were expanding. Cf. in Gray's "Education and Government":—
"Spread the young thought, and warm the opening heart."—12.
25. Meek. Sir Isaac Newton, though one of the greatest philosophers that ever lived, had an humble opinion of his knowledge. He was born in 1642 and died in 1727, aged 85, hence here spoken of as "hoary." He was twenty-five years old when "Paradise Lost" was published in 1667. According to Dr.
Whewell he resided at Trinity College for thirty-five years without the interruption of a single month.
27-34. "This stanza, being supposed to be sung by Milton, is very judiciously written in the metre which he fixed upon for the stanza of his Christmas Hymn; 'Twas in the winter wild," etc.—Mason. It is also written in the language of Milton, his very words as well as thoughts and manner being adopted:—
"when the sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me, Goddess, bring
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown."—Il Penseroso, 131-134.
"By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the willow and the osier dank."
"Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow."
"Together both, ere the high lawns appeared
Under the opening eyelids of the morn
We drove afield."—Ib. 25, 26.
[In the above lines Milton refers to his life at Cambridge.]
"After short blush of morn."—Par. Lost, xi. 185.
"The shepherds on the lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn."—Christmas Hymn, 85.
"I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove."
"The Cherub Contemplation,
And the mute Silence hist along, . . .
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke
Gently o'er the accustomed oak.
Sweet bird, that shunnest the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy."
—Il Penseroso, 54-62.
"But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale."—Ib. 155-156.
29. willowy. With willows growing on the banks; cf. "rushy brink," "Ode on Spring," 15; and his "Hymn to Ignorance":—
"Where rushy Camus' slowly-winding flood."
35. the portals sound, i.e., the doors are opened. Portals occurs only twice in "Paradise Lost," iii. 508, vii. 575, and in each place refers to the gates of heaven; and in this sense Gray uses it again in his lines in the epitaph on Mrs. Mason.
39. "Edward the Third, who added the fleur-de-lys of France to the arms of England. He founded Trinity College."—Mason. Mitford quotes from Denham:—
"Great Edward, and thy greater son,
He that the lilies wore, and he that won."
41. "Mary de Valentia, Countess of Pembroke, daughter of Guy de Chatillon, Comte de St. Paul in France; of whom tradition says that her husband, Audemar de Valentia, Earl of Pembroke, was slain at a tournament on the day of his nuptials. She was the foundress of Pembroke College or Hall, under the name of Aula Mariae de Valentia."—Mason.
42. "Elizabeth de Burg, Countess of Clare, was wife of John de Burg, son and heir of the Earl of Ulster, and daughter of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, by Joan de Acres, daughter of Edward the First. Hence the poet gives her the epithet of 'princely.' She founded Clare Hall."—Mason.
43. "Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry the Sixth, foundress of Queen's College. The poet has celebrated her conjugal fidelity in the former Ode ("The Bard," 89)."—Mason. the paler Rose. "Elizabeth Widville, wife of Edward the Fourth, hence called the paler
rose, as being of the House of York. She added to the foundation of Margaret of Anjou."—Mason.
45. "Henry the Sixth and Eighth. The former the founder of King's, the latter the greatest benefactor to Trinity College."—Mason. either. Each, the one and the other; either is properly one of two; but in old writers and in poetry is used for each of two:—
"In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents."—Par. Lost, xii. 637.
61-64. These lines may be based on that well-known passage in "Paradise Lost," in which Eve says to Adam:—
"Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet;Another passage recalled by both is Byron's
. . . . fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild. . . . .
But neither breath of Morn,
. . . . without thee is sweet."—iv. 641-656.
"'Tis sweet to see the evening star appear . . . .
'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark
Our coming, and look brighter when we come."
65. her golden cloud, her abode in heaven; so in "Paradise Lost," vi. 28:—
"from whence a voice,
From midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard."
66. "Countess of Richmond and Derby; the mother of Henry the Seventh, foundress of St. John's and Christ's Colleges."—Mason.
70. "The Countess was a Beaufort, and married to a Tudor; hence the application of this line to the Duke of Grafton, who claims descent from both these families."—Mason.
In the volume in the British Museum (No. 840, l. 5) which contains Gray's "Odes," Ed. 1757, there is, in neat handwriting on a fly-leaf at the end, the following genealogical tree drawn out to illustrate the lines,
"Pleased in thy lineaments we trace
A Tudor's fire, a Beaufort's grace."
Beaufort, Duke of Somerset,
Grandson to John of Gaunt.
Earl of Richmond.
who founded Christ's College, St.
wife of James IV. of Scotland.
|James V. of Scotland.|
|Mary, Queen of Scots.|
|James VI. of
and I. of Gt. Britain.
|Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton, |
born 1663, died 1690.
|Charles Fitzroy, 2nd Duke of Grafton, |
born 1683, died 1757.
|George, Earl of Euston|
|Ld. Augustus Fitzroy,
|Augustus Henry Fitzroy,
3rd Duke of |
Grafton, born 1735, installed Chancellor
of Cambridge, July 1, 1769.
75. the latent gem, the gem that lies hid. The stanza means "Thy discriminating eye will find out men of genius, who would otherwise be unknown, and will raise them to places of honour and usefulness." He reproduces his simile of the "gem and the flower" from the "Elegy," 53-56.
78. This line is taken from Adam's description of Eve ("Paradise Lost," viii. 504):—
"Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired."
Treasurer Burleigh was Chancellor of the University in the reign of Queen
laureate wreath is from Milton:—"Worcester's laureate wreath," "Sonnet to Cromwell."
89. The words of Milton again, "Comus," 87:—
"Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar."
92. This means "guide the ship of state safely," in allusion to the Duke being Prime Minister; the idea is from Horace:—
Semper urgendo, neque, dum procellas
Cautus horrescis, nimium premendo
Littus iniquum."—Odes, ii. 10.
93. The Star of Brunswick, etc. This is a double compliment to the King and to the Prime Minister. "The star that guides your royal master is now in the ascendant, and shines brightly to guide you in steering the ship of state." Mitford refers to Pope, "Essay on Criticism":—
"The mighty Stagyrite first left the shore,
Spread all his sails, and durst the deeps explore;
He steered securely, and discovered far,
Led by the light of the Maeonian star."—645.
"Agrippina" was begun in London in December, 1741. The first scene was sent to West
in Hertfordshire about 31st March, 1742,
with the following remarks:—"I take the liberty of sending you a
long speech of Agrippina; much too long, but I could be glad you would
retrench it. Aceronia, you may remember, had been giving quiet counsels. I
fancy, if it ever be finished, it will be in the nature of Nat. Lee's
"Bedlam Tragedy," which had twenty-five acts and some odd
scenes." On the 4th April West wrote in reply, "I own, in general, I
think Agrippina's speech too long; but how to retrench it I know not. But I
have something else to say, and that is in relation to the style, which
appears to me too antiquated."
Gray replied defending his style, observing, "the language of the age is never the language of poetry; except among the French, whose verse, where the thought or image does not support it, differs in nothing from prose. Our poetry, on the contrary, has a language peculiar to itself, to which almost every one that has written has added something by enriching it with foreign idioms and derivatives, nay sometimes words of their own composition or invention. Shakespeare and Milton have been great creators this way."
To this West replied in a very interesting letter; and in his next letter Gray dismisses the subject thus: "As to Agrippina, I begin to be of your opinion, and find myself (as women of their children) less enamoured of my productions the older they grow. She is laid up to sleep till next summer, so bid her good-night."
Gray never resumed it; possibly West's death made him unwilling to take up again what had been a subject of interest to each; also, as he told Norton Nicholls, the labour of polishing a long poem would be intolerable. Gray thought the first ten or twelve lines of "Agrippina" the best, but West preferred the last fourteen in the first scene.
This fragment no longer exists in Gray's MS.
35. flattery's incense, cf. the "Elegy," 71, 72; "Ode for Music," 79.
42. Writing to Stonehewer when sending the "Ode for Music" for the perusal of the Duke of Grafton, Gray says: "I did not see why Gratitude should sit silent and leave it to Expectation to sing, who certainly would have sung and that à gorge deployee upon such an occasion."
94. Cf. "Progress of Poesy," 53.
98. Cf. Shakespeare's "Henry V." ii. Chorus:—
"And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies."
114. Old respect is from Milton, "Samson Agonistes," 333.
124. Spirit-stirring. Cf. "Othello," iii. 3:—
"The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife."
149. gorgeous phrase, cf. 'gorgeous Tragedy,' "Il Penseroso," 97.
154. fruitless, cf. "Sonnet on the Death of West," 13.
165. Cf. Pope's "Prologue to the Satires":—
"Whom have I hurt? has poet yet or peer
Lost the arched brows or Parnassian sneer?"—95.
188. elusive, cf. "Ode on Eton," 29 and Note.
This is one of Gray's earliest original productions in English verse, the
first being the first scene of "Agrippina," sent to West
in March, 1742; the next was the
"Ode on the Spring," sent to West in June;
and then this Sonnet, written at Stoke
There is a copy of this Sonnet in Gray's handwriting in his Commonplace Books, in Pembroke College.
It is remarkable that since the Sonnets of Milton (1642-1655) there had been no Sonnets that have survived, except a single one by Walsh "On Death" (see my "English Anthology," p. 236), more than fifty years before this of Gray's, which, moreover, was not published till Mason's "Life of Gray" in 1775.
This Sonnet possesses an additional interest from the use made of it by Wordsworth in the Preface to his "Lyrical Ballads" (1800), in illustration of his assertion that "there neither is nor can be any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition"; and on account of Coleridge's criticism of Wordsworth's theory, and of the Sonnet itself, in his "Biographia Literaria" (1817), chap, xviii.
1. smiling. Milton three times speaks of the "smiling morn," "Paradise Lost," v. 124, 168; xi. 175.
3. amorous descant is from Milton, "Paradise Lost," iv. 603:—
"all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung."
4. attire. Milton also uses this word of the clothing of the fields:—
"Earth in her rich attire
Consummate lovely smiled."—Par. Lost, vii. 501.
8. imperfect, incomplete, because he no longer has his friend to share them.
14. "A similar line occurs in Cibber's Alteration of 'Richard the Third':—
'So we must weep, because we weep in vain.'—ii. 2.'Solon, when he wept for his son's death, on one saying to him, 'Weeping will not help,' answered: [Greek line (omitted)] 'I weep for that very cause, that weeping will not avail.' It is also told of Augustus. See also Fitzgeoffry's 'Life and Death of Sir Francis Drake':—
'Oh! therefore do we plaine,
And therefore weepe, because we weepe in vaine.'"—Mitford.
XV.—HYMN TO IGNORANCE.
This, as may be inferred from line 11, was written on Gray's return to
to reside there, in the winter of 1742.
The title was given by Mason who states:—"I find among his papers a small fragment of verse; . . . it seems to have been intended as a Hymn or Address to Ignorance, and, I presume, had he proceeded with it, would have contained much good satire upon false science and scholastic pedantry."
2. fanes, see "Ode for Music," 53.
3. rushy Camus. Cf. Milton, "Elegia" I.:—
Jam nec arundiferum mihi cura revisere Camum.—11.
4. Also from Milton, "Paradise Lost," vii. 306:—
"Where rivers now
Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train."
36. In Young's "Love of Fame," Sat. 5, Philips' "Blenheim," and Pope's "Temple of Fame," there are similar references to Sesostris:—
"As curst Sesostris, proud Egyptian King,
That monarchs harnessed to his chariot yoked."
"High on his car, Sesostris struck my view,
Whom sceptred slaves in golden harness drew."
38. It has not been noted before that in the Pembroke MSS. after the asterisks after this line there is the following:—
"The ponderous waggon lumbered slowly on" . . . .
XVI.—THE ALLIANCE OF EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT.
The first fifty-seven lines of this poem were sent from Stoke,
in August, 1748, in a letter to
Dr. Wharton, which concludes as follows:—"I
fill up with the beginning of a sort of Essay; what name to give it I know
not, but the subject is the Alliance of Education and Government; I mean to
show that they must necessarily concur to produce great and useful men. I
desire your judgment upon so far before I proceed any further. Pray show it to
no one (as it is a fragment) except it be Stonehewer, who has seen most of it
already, I think." Mason says, "he was busily employed in it at the
time when M. de Montesquieu's book 'L' Esprit des Lois' was first
published. On reading it he found the Baron had forestalled some of his best
thoughts; . . . yet the two writers differ a little in one very material
point, viz., the influence of soil and climate on national manners. Some time
after, he had thoughts of resuming his plan, and of dedicating it, by an
introductory ode, to M. de Montesquieu, but that great man's death, which
happened in 1755, made him drop his design finally."
In a note to his Roman History, Gibbon says: "Instead of compiling tables of chronology and natural
history, why did not Mr. Gray apply the powers of his genius to finish the philosophic poem of which he has left such an exquisite specimen?" Vol. iii. p. 248. Would it not have been more philosophical in Gibbon to have lamented the situation in which Gray was placed; which was not only not favourable to the cultivation of poetry, but which naturally directed his thoughts to those learned inquiries, that formed the amusement or business of all around him?—Mitford.
2. Flinty. This and the other words which Mr. Gosse (in the footnotes to pages 113-115 of vol. i. of his edition of Gray's "Works") attributes to Mason are really Gray's, as may be seen in the Pembroke MSS., where the whole of this poem is in Gray's handwriting and as given by Mason except in line 106.
9. "Vitales auras carpis."—Virg. Æneid, i. 387.
12. Opening heart. See "Ode for Music," 21.
14. "And lavish Nature laughs and throws her stores around."—Dryden, Virgil, vii. 76.
17. Scatter . . . . plenty. Cf. the "Elegy," 63.
19, 21. Tyranny has,—he first wrote "gloomy sway have," and for "blooming" he had "vernal."
48. sweeping sway, cf. the "Bard," 75, and note.
56. Cf. "gathered fragrance," "Ode on Spring," 10, and Milton, "Arcades," 32:—
"And ye, ye breathing roses of the wood."
66. Rogers refers to Dryden's "Religio Laici":—
"And as these nightly tapers disappear,Eve should be "ev'n," the reading in the Pembroke MS.
When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere."
103. flings, cf. the use of "fling," "Ode on Spring," 10.
105. drive, etc. Cf. "Paradise Lost," iii. 438:—
"Where Chineses drive
With sails and wind their cany waggons light."
106. distant. Mason has 'neighb'ring.'
And gospel-light. In the short notice of Gray by Horace Walpole, prefixed to Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," he says he began a poem on the reformation of learning, but soon dropped it on finding his plan too much resembling the "Dunciad." It had this admirable line in it—
"When gospel-light," etc.Walpole seems to have quoted from memory; the couplet does not occur in the "Hymn to Ignorance," to which he refers, nor yet in the poem before us, but among the papers in which Mason found the plan in prose of this poem.
Walpole imitated the couplet in an inscription on a Gothic column to Queen Catherine:—
"From Katherine's wrongs a nation's bliss was spread,
And Luther's light from Henry's lawless bed."
XVII.—STANZAS TO MR. BENTLEY.
These verses were written in 1752 as a compliment to Bentley for drawing the designs for the "Six Poems" of 1753.
3. Bentley. This Richard Bentley was a son of the celebrated critic. sister-art. Painting and poetry are often spoken of as sister-arts; thus Dryden to Kneller, "Our arts are sisters," "Long time the sister-arts in iron sleep." And Pope, "Epistle to Jervas":—
"Smit with the love of sister-arts we came,And in the title of Dryden's Ode "To the Memory of
And met congenial, mingling flame with flame."—13.
Mrs. Anne Killigrew," she is described as "Excellent in the two sister arts of Poesy and Painting."
"Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow,
Strike on the sketch, or in the picture glow."
—Pope, Epistle to Jervas, 43.
"When life awakes and dawns at every line."—Ib. 4.
17-20. Gray was the favourite poet of the late Earl of Carlisle. The bust of Gray in the upper school-room in Eton College was presented by him; he delivered an admirable lecture on the writings of Gray at the Sheffield Institute, in December, 1852, which is published in the Eton edition of Gray's "Poems"; and on another occasion I heard him recite this stanza with much feeling.
20. Luke quotes from Dryden:—
"Heaven, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakespeare gave as much, she could not give him more."
—To my Friend, Mr. Congreve.
21-24. The thought in this stanza and the remarkable expression "luxury of light" occur in Gray's translation of a passage in Tasso, which he made while a student in Cambridge in 1738. The lines are:—
"The diamond there attracts the wondring sight,Mitford, in his "Life of Gray," in the Eton edition, tells us he remembers hearing Dr. Edward Clarke, when Professor of Mineralogy, finish one of his lectures with the eight concluding lines of this translation of Tasso, and rest on the beautiful expression in the last line, quoted above, with peculiar enunciation.
Proud of its thousand dies, and luxury of light."
26. The corner of the last stanza of the only existing MS. was torn off when Mason found it, and these
stanzas are incomplete. Mason filled up the blanks thus, observing that he was "not quite satisfied with the words inserted in the third line":—
"Enough for me, if to some feeling breastMitford says:—"I do not consider that he has been successful in the selection of the few words which he had added to supply the imperfect lines: my own opinion is, that Gray had in his mind Dryden's 'Epistle to Kneller,' from which he partly took his expressions; under the shelter of that supposition, I shall venture to give another reading:—
My lines a secret sympathy impart;
And as their pleasing influence flows confest,
A sigh of soft reflection heaves the heart."
'Enough for me, if to some feeling breast
My lines a secret sympathy convey;
And as their pleasing influence is exprest,
A sigh of soft reflection dies away.'"
XVIII.—ODE ON THE PLEASURE ARISING FROM VICISSITUDE.
This Ode was left unfinished by Gray; it was first published by Mason in
his "Memoirs" of Gray, 1775,
and he "had the boldness to
attempt to finish it himself, making use of some other lines and broken
stanzas which Gray had written." Almost every editor of Gray's
"Poems" has reprinted this Ode as defaced by Mason.
Gray wrote what we have of this Ode probably in the winter of 1754-55. In a letter to Dr. Wharton, dated 9th March, 1755, he speaks of his objection to publishing the Ode on the "Progress of Poesy" alone; and adds:—"I have two or three ideas more in my head"; "one of these," says Mason, "was
unquestionably this Ode,—since I found in his memorandum book, of 1754, a sketch of his design as follows:—Contrast between the winter past and coming spring.—Joy owing to that vicissitude.—Many that never feel that delight.—Sloth.—Envy.—Ambition. How much happier the rustic that feels it, though he knows not how."
13-16. Cf. Wordsworth's "To a Skylark":—
"To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain . . .
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain."
have heard Gray say, that Gresset's "Epitre à ma Soeur" gave
him the first idea of this Ode; and whoever compares it with the French poem
will find some slight traits of resemblance, but chiefly in our author's
Mitford quotes the following lines from Gresset:—
"Mon âme, trop long terns flétrie
Va de nouveau s'épanouir;
Et loin de toute réverie
Voltiger avec le Zéphire,
Occupé tout entier du soin du plaisir d'être," etc.
29-36. This stanza is an expansion of lines 25-28; beasts and birds have no yesterday or to-morrow, but man has both Reflection and Hope.
45-52. This is one of the finest stanzas in Gray's poetry, and is quite distinct in tone from the artificial poetry of the eighteenth century, resembling in sentiment and in the ring of the verse Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," the last lines of which may have been borrowed in part from this passage of Gray:—
"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."
55. crystalline, a Miltonic word, "crystalline sphere," "Par. Lost," iii. 482; "the crystalline sky," vi. 772; "crystalline ocean," vii. 271; the "cool crystalline stream," "Samson Agonistes," 546.
The following incomplete lines are in Gray's MS. Mason filled up the gaps, and added three stanzas more.
"Far below the crowd,
Where broad and turbulent it grows
with resistless sweep
They perish in the boundless deep.
Mark where Indolence and Pride,
Softly rolling, side by side,
Their dull, but daily round."
XIX.—EPITAPH ON MRS. CLARKE.
This epitaph is on a mural tablet of slate and marble in the Church at Beckenham, Kent. The inscription is—
"Jane Clarkeand then follow the verses in two columns.
Died April 27, 1757. Aged 31."
The epitaph was first printed in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for October, 1774.
Mason's note is: "This Lady, the wife of Dr. Clarke, Physician at Epsom, died April 27, 1757, and is buried in the Church of Beckenham, Kent."
Subsequent editors have repeated his note, but the fact that the epitaph is on a tablet in the church, and that it appeared in print before Mason's edition of Gray, has not been recorded before. Clarke was a college friend of Gray's.
1. this silent marble weeps. This was a common
poetical phrase last century in speaking of monuments to the dead.
6. soft humanity. Mitford cites lines from Dryden and Pope in which this phrase occurs.
7-10. Mitford gives the six following lines as in a manuscript copy instead of lines 7 to 10 as finally decided on:—
"To hide her cares her only art,
Her pleasure, pleasures to impart,
In ling'ring pain, in death resigned,
Her latest agony of mind
Was felt for him, who could not save
His all from an untimely grave."
9. Mrs. Clarke died in childbirth, but the infant survived her.
XX.—EPITAPH ON A CHILD.
This epitaph was written at the request of Dr. Wharton, whose then only son
died in infancy in April, 1758. Gray
describes his difficulty in writing it in a letter to Wharton, dated June 18,
1758, as follows:—"You flatter me in thinking that anything I can
do could at all alleviate the just concern your late loss has given you; but I
cannot flatter myself so far, and know how little qualified I am at present to
give any satisfaction to myself on this head, and in this way, much less to
you. I by no means pretend to inspiration, but yet I affirm that the faculty
in question is by no means voluntary. It is the result, I suppose, of a
certain disposition of mind, which does not depend on oneself, and which I
have not felt this long time. You that are a witness how seldom this spirit
has moved me in my life, may easily give credit to what I say."
It is here printed from a copy in the Mitford MSS.,
now in the British Museum (32, 561, Add. MSS.). Mitford has entered it in two places in his volume of MSS.; at p. 74 with the note,—"N.B. in Gray's writing"; and at p. 182, "Not in Gray's writing." The former version, therefore, I have followed.
It was first printed by Mr. Gosse (1884) "from a copy in the handwriting of Alexander Dyce, lately found slipped into a book at South Kensington, and made by him when the original MS. was sold in 1854."
Each of the three copies differs slightly from the others. In line 1 there is a comma after "Here" in the Dyce copy; and it is "free from pain," in Mitford No. 2, p. 182. In line 8 in the Dyce copy it is "Now" instead of "Here"; and in Mitford No. 2 it is "the Night of Death." Also in the Mitford copies almost every substantive begins with a capital letter.
XXI.—GRAY ON HIMSELF.
1. "This is similar to a passage in one of Swift's letters to Gay, speaking of poets: 'I have been considering why poets have such ill success in making their court. They are too libertine to haunt ante-chambers, too poor to bribe porters, and too proud to cringe to second-hand favourites in a great family.' See Pope's 'Works,' xi. 36, ed. Wharton."—Mitford.
importune must here be pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, for the sake of the rhyme.
4. This means—"I am not like some of the wits of the day who profess not to believe in God."
6. Charles Townshend was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Chatham's last ministry (1767). Horace Walpole regarded him as scarcely inferior to Charles James Fox in wit and forensic ability; and Macaulay calls him the most brilliant and versatile of mankind, adding that he "belonged to every party and cared for none."
Squire. Dr. Samuel Squire, at that time
Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and afterwards Bishop of
St. David's. He died in 1766.
Some editors suppose that Goldsmith took these lines as the model of his character of Burke in "Retaliation"; but the latter was published in April, 1774, and Gray's lines did not appear till printed in Mason's edition in 1775 (as a footnote to a letter dated August, 1758).
XXII.—EPITAPH ON SIR W. WILLIAMS.
Sir William Peere Williams, Bart., was killed at the siege of Belleisle,
1761. "In the recklessness of a desponding mind, he approached too near
to the enemy's sentinels, and was shot through the body." Walpole
describes Williams as "a gallant and ambitious young man, who had devoted
himself to war and politics." He was a Captain in Burgoyne's Dragoons,
raised in 1759, now the 16th Lancers; see the "Graphic," 4th April,
A letter of Gray's to Mason, in August, 1761, gives the date of the composition of this epitaph, and contains the following remarks of Gray on it:—"Mr. Montagu (as I guess at your instigation) has earnestly desired me to write some lines to be put on a monument which he means to erect at Belleisle. It is a task I do not love, knowing Sir William Williams so slightly as I did; but he is so friendly a person, and his affliction seemed to me so real, that I could not refuse him. I have sent him the following verses, which I neither like myself nor will he, I doubt; however, I have showed him that I wished to oblige him. Tell me your real opinion."
Writing to Brown on the 23rd October, 1760, Gray says:—"In my way to town I met with the first
news of the expedition from Sir William Williams, who makes a part of it, and perhaps may lay his fine Vandyke head in the dust."
In the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1761, under date 7th May, it is stated, "An express from Belleisle brought advice that Sir W. P. Williams, Bart., a captain of Burgoyne's Dragoons, and M.P. for Shoreham, had been killed reconnoitering." The date of his death is not given, but it was probably in the last week of April. See also the "Annual Register," 1761, p. 17, and the "Scots' Magazine," 1761, p. 437. The citadel of Belleisle capitulated on the 7th June* ("Gentleman's Magazine," 1761, p. 282, under date 13 June*).
In a letter to Brown, dated 26th May, 1761, Gray writes:—"Montagu had thoughts of going thither [Cambridge] with me, but I know not what his present intentions may be. He is in real affliction for the loss of Sir W. Williams, who [has left him one of his executors, and (as I doubt his affairs were a good deal embarrassed) he possibly may be detained in town on that account."
The version in the text is that given by Mason, and it has been generally followed by subsequent editors. The copy in the Mitford MSS. and in the "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," p. 268, differs from that published by Mason in three places; and it seems probable that Mason, acting on Gray's request for his "real opinion," took the liberty, as he did in several other instances, of altering the wording when he printed it among Gray's "Poems" in 1775.
* Mitford, "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," by mistake gives the 13th June as the date of the capitulation. Mr. Gosse makes a further mistake in stating that Williams was "killed at the storming of Belleisle, June 13."
There is also a copy, but not in Gray's handwriting, in the Pembroke MSS. with the following "Rejected stanza":—
"Warrior, that midst the melancholy line
* * * * *
Oh be his genius, be his spirit thine,
And share his virtues with a happier fate."
5. "In the expedition to Aix he was on board the Magnanime with Lord Howe, and was deputed to receive the capitulation."—Mason.
5. Sir W. Scott probably took from this the similar expression:—
"Since, riding side by side, our handIn the Mitford MSS. and "Correspondence" it is
First drew the voluntary brand."
—Marmion, C. iv. Introduction, 10.
"At Aix uncalled his maiden sword he drew."
6. honour, glory. Mitford MSS. and "Correspondence."
9. undaunted, intrepid. Mitford MSS. and "Correspondence."
10. Victor. Belleisle had not surrendered at the time that Williams was killed, but he calls him "victor" as belonging to the side that was ultimately victorious, and also for poetical effect and as more calculated to call forth sympathy that he should have met his death instead of returning home with the victorious troops.
Belleisle is a fortified island off the coast of France, in the north of the Bay of Biscay.
XXIII.—THE DEATH OF HOEL.
This and the "Imitations from the Welsh" were probably written about the same time, 1764, as the "Triumphs of Owen," and inspired, like it, by Evans' "Specimens of the Welsh Poetry."
Gray's heading to this in the Pembroke MSS. is "From Aneurin, Monarch of the Bards, extracted from the Gododin."
The original Welsh is by Aneurin, who flourished about the time of Taliessin, A.D. 570. Gray's version is from the Latin translation in Evans' "Specimens."
"Aneurin with the flowing Muse, King of Bards, brother to Gildas Albanius the historian, lived under Mynyddawg of Edinburgh, a prince of the North, whose Eurdorchogion, or warriors wearing the golden torques, 363 in number, were all slain, except Aneurin and two others, in a battle with the Saxons at Cattraeth, on the eastern coast of Yorkshire. His 'Gododin,' a heroic poem written on that event, is perhaps the oldest and noblest production of that age."—Jones, Relics.
3. "The kingdom of Deïra included the counties of Yorkshire, Durham, Lancashire, Westmoreland, and Cumberland."—Jones, Relics.
11. Cattraeth. Catterick, in the valley of the Swale, near Richmond, in Yorkshire.
12. Gray gives the number in round numbers to suit his verse; in the Latin it is "tricenti et sexaginta tres," 363.
14. Collars of gold were badges of distinction amongst Keltic nations.
16-18. These three lines are a rather unnecessary expansion, in so short a piece, of three words in the Latin,—"nimio potu madidi," which might have been translated by "flushed with wine," as line 19 also is not in the original.
23. And I. It should be me, "save me"; but I sounds more emphatic here; the Latin is:—"Non evasere nisi tres, Acron et Conanus, et egomet ipse." Cf. a similar license in "Paradise Lost," vi. 900:—
"Of those too high aspiring, who rebelled
With Satan,—he, who envies now thy state."
This and the following are Imitations from the Welsh, and were first published in the Notes at the end of Mason's edition.
1. tusky. In Webster's "Dictionary" another instance is given from Dryden:—
"The scar indented by the tusky boar."
2. sullen originally meant lonely (through the French from the Lat. solus); hence gloomy; Milton applies it to a wintry day, and Gray follows him in speaking of the "sullen year," "Ode on Vicissitude," 21; "with sullen roar" he also takes from Milton:—
"I hear the far-off curfew sound,
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar."—Il Penseroso, 76.
1. rehearse. Cf. "repeat their Chiefs and Loves." "Progress of Poesy," 60.
2. Build the lofty verse. The expression is from "Lycidas":—
"He knewAnd before Milton we have it in Horace and Spenser:—
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme."—10, 11.
"Seu condis amabile carmen."—Epistola, I. iii. 25.
"To build with level of my lofty style."—Ruins of Rome, 2.
8. shivered, shattered by lightning.
10. crimson. See the "Fatal Sisters," 36, and "Triumphs of Owen," 29.
This squib was written by Gray on the occasion of the Earl of Sandwich
being a candidate for the office of High Steward of the University of
Cambridge in 1764. "Jemmy Twitcher" was Lord Sandwich's nickname,
and his followers were called "Twitcherites." Lord Sandwich was a
schoolfellow of Gray's at Eton; he refers to him and Lord Halifax in a letter
to West, dated 27 May, 1742, as then
statesmen, though not long before "dirty boys playing at cricket."
See also letters of Feb. 21, and July 10, 1764, and 29 April, 1765.
A printed copy of these verses, entitled "The Candidate, by Mr. Gray," in a quarto double sheet, is preserved in the Webb Collection* in the Cambridge University Library. In January, 1782, they appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine." The first edition of Gray's Poems in which they appeared, was the second edition of S. Jones', in 1800.
There are a few trifling verbal differences in the printed sheet in the Webb papers, and it contains the last couplet (which I have never seen elsewhere in print), exactly as follows:—
"D——n ye both for a couple of Puritan bitches!
He's Christian enough that repents and that. . . ."
9. Mitford quotes from Mason's "Heroic Epistle":—
"That babe of grace
Who ne'er before at sermon showed his face
See Jemmy Twitcher shambles."
XXVII.—VERSES FROM WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
These verses were sent from Hartlepool to Mason in
* "A Collection of Papers [College notices, newspaper cuttings, etc.], formed by the late Dr. Webb, Master of Clare College, relating to the University of Cambridge."
a letter dated July 16, 1765. They were first published in Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," 1853.
The letter begins with the verses, and then proceeds to say:—"Tell me if you do not like this, and I will send you a worse. I rejoice to hear your eyes are better, as much as if they were my own." Mason acknowledged it on the 22nd July, saying, "As bad as your verses were they are yours, and, therefore, when I get back to York, I will paste them carefully in the first page of my Shakespeare to enhance its value. . . . You will not pity me now, no more than you did when I was in residence and sore eyes."
I have followed the copy given in Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," p. 339; but in the Mitford MSS. there is another copy with several variations which I shall note in their places.
1. Mistress Anne. Mason's servant at York.
3. right proper man, this is an archaic expression, and here simply means "a real man" (not a mere book or a name), right is an adverb, "truly,"— "right fat."—Chaucer. proper, "well-formed":—"Thou art a proper man."—Chaucer. "Moses was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child."—Hebrews, xi. 23.
5. cankered. In the Mitford MSS. it is "crabbed."
6-7. The references are to the editions of Shakespeare published by Rowe, 1709; Pope, 1721; Theobald, 1733 (an attorney); Sir Thomas Hanmer, 1743 (a 'baronet'); Warburton, 1747 (a 'parson'), and Dr. Johnson, 1765 (a 'small poet'). Steevens', published in 1766, and Capell's, 1767, were probably announced as in preparation when Gray wrote these lines.
8. worst of all. 'Worse than all,'—Mitford MSS.
12. residence. Mason was Precentor of York, and "Residentiary" in the cathedral; in a letter of Gray's (October 19, 1763) he refers to Mason's "repining
at his four and twenty weeks' residence at York, unable to visit his bowers, the work of his own hands, at Aston." marriage. Mason at the time Gray sent these verses, was engaged to be married, and his marriage took place on the 25th of September. sore eyes. In the Mitford MSS. it is "mince pies"; but sore eyes is evidently the correct reading as shown by the extracts from the letters quoted above.
17-20. In the Mitford MSS. this verse is the third.
Clouet was a celebrated cook; the meaning is, people in York will taste
cakes and pies that even Clouet never heard of—being made with the help
of Shakespeare, i.e., of the paper of a copy of Shakespeare.
In the British Museum there is the copy of Verral's "Cookery" which belonged to Gray. The title is—"A Complete System of Cookery, in which is set forth a variety of genuine receipts collected from several years' experience under the celebrated M. de St. Clouet, sometime since Cook to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, by William Verral, Master of the White Hart Inn in Lewes, Sussex, 1759." This copy contains several receipts in Gray's handwriting; it subsequently belonged to Mitford.
22. works. In the Mitford MS. it is "work"; and instead of fumes the word seems to be "views."
24. For . . . puddings. The Mitford MS. has "To . . . cheesecakes."
These lines were written at Denton in Kent, in June, 1766, when Gray was on a visit to the Rev. William Robinson, and were found in the drawer of Gray's dressing-table after he was gone. They were restored to him, for he had no other copy, and had forgotten them. Walpole writes: "I am very sorry that he ever wrote them and ever gave a copy of them.
You may be sure I did not recommend them being printed in his works, nor were they."
The first four stanzas appeared in the supplement to the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1777, prefaced by the following letter from the correspondent who sent them:—"The immortal Gray is sufficiently known by his elegiac poetry. The world has not yet known to revere him as a lover of his country, and an abhorrer of its intestine foes. Learn from the underwritten stanzas, suggested by a view, in 1766, of the late lord H——d's seat and ruins at King's-gate, no longer to consider Gray as a mere man of rhyme, but as possessing a constitutional spirit of liberty congenial to Churchill's."
In February, 1778, the two last stanzas were supplied, but incorrectly, by another correspondent; and in January, 1782, in a third letter to the "Gentleman's Magazine" the errors in the previous one were pointed out, the writer "lamenting that Mr. Gray did not apply himself more to satire in which undoubtedly he would have excelled." The first edition of Gray's Poems in which the verses appeared was Stephen Jones'.
The house was that built for Lord Holland as a correct imitation of Cicero's Formian villa at Baiae, under the superintendence of Sir T. Wynne, afterwards Lord Newborough.
17. Lord Bute was Prime Minister, 1762-63. Gray got his name suggested to Bute in 1762 for the Professorship of Modern History, but was not successful.
18. In Upcott's edition the names given are Mansfield, Rigby, Bedford. In the Egerton MSS. they are Shelburne, Rigby, Calcraft. For all these see the Index to the "Letters of Junius." Rigby was Paymaster of the British Forces. Thomas Bradshaw was Secretary to the Duke of Grafton, and afterwards a Lord of the Admiralty.
These lines were first printed in Mr. Gosse's edition of Gray's
"Works" from a MS. then in the possession of Lord Houghton.
I have taken them from the Mitford MSS. in the British Museum.
These verses were first printed by Warton in his edition of Pope's
"Works," 1797, as a footnote to Pope's "Imitations of English
Poets," with this note:—"In the following love-verses is a
strain of sensibility which the reader will be pleased, I suppose, to see,
being now first published from a manuscript of Mr. Gray." They next
appeared in a letter signed "C. L. T. Etonenis," in the
"Gentleman's Magazine" for Aug. 1799, described as a "literary
curiosity, being the only specimen of Gray's excellence in amatory
The original MS. was presented by the Countess de Viry (Miss Speed) with the ensuing "Song," to the Rev. Mr. Leman when he visited her in 1780, and by him they were given to Warton.
It is probable that like the "Song," and the "Rondeau," they were written at the request of this lady, of whom Gray says in the "Long Story,"—"Alas who would not wish to please her."
The first edition of Gray's "Poems" in which these verses appeared was Stephen Jones' (1799), who gave them the title of "The Enquiry," observing, "the following amatory lines having been found among the MSS. of Gray, but bearing no title, I have ventured for the sake of uniformity in this volume to prefix the above"; and Mitford (ed. 1814) gave them the title
of "Amatory Lines," by which they have been known ever since.
In a brief memoir of Gray by Horace Walpole, prefixed to Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," Walpole says;—"In October, 1761, he made words for an old tune of Geminiani, at the request of Miss Speed. It begins—
'Thyrsis, when we parted, swore.'Two stanzas—the thought adapted from the French."
In a long note to the "Long Story," in the edition of Gray's "Poetical Works," published by Sharpe, 1826, after referring to the fact that his "gallantry had no deeper root than the complaisance of friendship," the anonymous editor proceeds to say:—"Another erroneous surmise of the same nature [i.e., that he was in love with Miss Speed] might be formed on hearing (what nevertheless is true) that the beautiful rondeau, which appears in the later editions of his works, was inspired by the 'wish to please' this lady. The fact is, however, that it was produced (and probably about this time) on a request she made to the poet one day, when he was in company with Mr. Walpole, that she might possess something from his pen on the subject of love. . . . It was in the year 1780 that Miss Speed (then Countess de Viry) enabled the lovers of poetry to see in print the 'Rondeau,' and another small amatory poem of Gray's, called 'Thyrsis,' by presenting them to the Rev. Mr. Leman, of Suffolk, while on a visit at her castle in Savoy. She died there in 1783."
The following references to Miss Speed in Gray's "Letters" are interesting. In June, 1760, writing to Wharton, he says:—"I remain . . . still in town, though for these three weeks I have been going into
Oxfordshire with Madam Speed . . . She has got at least £30,000 with a house in town, plate, jewels, china and old japan infinite [left by Lady Cobham]." On Oct. 21, 1760:—"You astonish me in wondering that my Lady Cobham left me nothing. For my part, I wondered to find that she had given me £20 for a ring, as much as she gave to several of her nieces. The world said before her death that Miss Speed and I had shut ourselves up with her in order to make her will, and that afterwards we were to be married" In Jan., 1761:—"My old friend Miss Speed has done what the world would call a very foolish thing. She has married the Baron de la Peyriere, son to the Sardinian Minister, the Comte de Viry. The Castle of Viry is in Savoy, a few miles from Geneva, commanding a fine view of the Lake."
It would seem that there were two or three manuscript copies of this Song. It was published in Horace Walpole's "Works," in his Letters to the Countess of Ailesbury, and that copy was followed by Mitford, and is identical with the version in Mr. Gosse's edition which he incorrectly describes as "printed from a copy by Stonehewer at Pembroke College." In the "Gentleman's Magazine" for Oct. 1799, it is quoted in a letter in which it is stated that it was first published in Walpole's "Works."
is the name of a shepherd in Theocritus and Virgil, and used in Milton's
"l'Allegro," 83, for a shepherd or rustic, and hence, in the
pastoral and amatory poetry of the eighteenth century, it is used to designate
In Stephen Jones' edition, in which he states that this song then appears for the first time among Gray's poems, there are the following variations from the usual text:—
1. when we parted. When he left me.
2. Ere. In.
3. yon violet flower. The opening flower.
Line 5 comes after line 6.
8. this. such.
9. Western. Gentle. skies. sky.
There is also a copy in the Mitford MSS., which has the following variations in the second verse:—
7. green. Bloom.
9. Western. Warmer.
10. Cannot prove that winter's past.
12. Dare not to reproach my love.
XXXII.—EPITAPH ON MRS. MASON.
Mason's wife died in March, 1767, and he erected a monument to her in the Cathedral at Bristol, with the following inscription:—
Mary, the daughter of William Sherman,A copy of it appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for January, 1794, and it was always assumed
of Kingston upon Hull, Esq.
and wife of the Rev. William Mason,
Died March 27, 1767, aged 28.
Take, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear:
Take that best gift which Heaven so lately gave:
To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form: she bowed to taste the wave,
And died. Does Youth, Does Beauty, read the line?
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm?
Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine:
E'en from the grave thou shalt have power to charm.
Bid them be chaste, be innocent like thee;
Bid them in Duty's sphere as meekly move;
And if so fair, from vanity as free,
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love,
Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die
('Twas e'en to thee) yet the dread path once trod,
Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids the pure in heart behold their God.
that the whole of the epitaph was by Mason till the "Reminiscences of Norton Nicholls" were published by Mitford in 1843, in which he states that when Mason sent what he had writen to Gray, he showed it to Nichols, saying, "that will never do for an ending. I have altered them thus," and wrote in it the last four lines as they now stand.
In a letter to Mason, not published by him, dated May 23, 1767, Gray refers to the epitaph and to the line "Heaven lifts, etc." being his.
The person satirized in these lines was the Rev. Henry Etough, rector of
Therfield, Herts, and Colmnorth, Bedfordshire. He was a converted Jew, and the
allusion in the second line is to the fact that he "kept the
conscience" of Sir R. Walpole, who was his patron. The epigram was first
printed in the "Gentleman's Magazine," May, 1785, where it is stated
that he was principally remarkable for the intimate knowledge he had obtained
of the private and domestic history of all the great families in the kingdom,
which made him, in spite of outward civilities, an object of secret
Further particulars about him may be found in the Cole MSS., in Coxe's Life of Sir R. Walpole, and in Nichols' "Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century." In the latter is given the epitaph from his monument in the church at Therfield, which concludes thus:—"With a robust constitution, through a singular habit of body, he lived many years without the use of animal food, or of any fermented liquid; and died suddenly, Aug. 10, 1757, in the 70th year of his age."
Previous to Mr. Gosse's "Gray" in "English Men
of Letters," only six lines of this epigram had been printed,—lines 5 and 6 being omitted. In the Pembroke MSS. the lines are in Stonhewer's hand, with the heading "Inscription on a Portrait," and the first two lines are—
"Such Tophet was, so looked the grinning Fiend,A note indicates that lines 3 and 4 are an "addition in the first copy."
Whom many a frighted Prelate called his friend."
Regarding the portrait of Etough and the occasion of Gray's writing these lines, Nichols writes:—"Mr. Tyson, of Bene't College, who, amongst other various and better attainments, successfully cultivated a taste for drawing, made an etching of him, a small whole-length figure, and presented it to Mr. Gray; who wrote underneath it the following epigram." (Here follow the lines.)
An engraving from Tyson's drawing was first published in Stephen Jones' edition, who states that he was indebted for the sketch of the portrait to John Nichols, Esq. There is a pen-and-ink sketch in the Cole MSS., and of this the outline here given, first published in the Aldine edition, appears to be a copy.
1. Etough. This is a misprint for "Tophet," Mr. Gosse's incorrect text having been inadvertently followed.
These lines occur in a letter from Gray to Mason, dated Pembroke College,
8th January, 1768, and are written to
tell him that all "his old and new friends are in constant expectation of
him at Cambridge."
They were first published in Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason," and were reprinted therefrom by Mr. Gosse. A slightly different version of them is in the Mitford MSS. I have followed Mitford's printed copy, except that from the MS. I have supplied in the second line the words omitted in the "Correspondence," and by Mr. Gosse.
Weddell. In the Mitford MSS. it is "Prim Hurd." Mitford's
note is: "Mr. Weddell, of Newby, who made the collection of statues,
since belonging to Lord de Grey, collected during his travels in Italy with
Palgrave, one of the Fellows of Pembroke,
familiarly called "Old Pa." in Gray's letters. He died 1799. See "Gentleman's Magazine."
2. Stonehewer, the lewd. These words are represented by dashes in Mitford's "Correspondence of Gray and Mason."
Delaval the loud. Edward Delaval, Fellow of Pembroke and F.R.S. In a letter to Brown, March, 1769, Gray writes "Delaval is by no means well, and looks sadly, yet he goes about and talks as loud as ever."
3. Powell. William Samuel Powell, elected Master of St. John's College, 1764. His sermons have been highly praised. Cole has given a long account of him in Nichols' "Anecdotes," i. 564. Died in Jan. 1775.
Marriot. Sir James Marriot, Kt., Master of Trinity Hall, from 1764 to 1803. There are some verses by him in Dodsley's "Collection," vol. iv.
4. Glynn. Dr. Glynn was Gray's physician at Cambridge, and a very intimate friend; he was "the loved lapis on the banks of Cam."
Tom Neville. Thomas Neville, Fellow of Jesus College, published Imitations of Horace, 1758, and of Juvenal and Persius in 1769; and translated the Georgics of Virgil, 1767. In the "Horace" he praises
"Mason, who writes not with low sons of rhyme,Neville was one of the first persons to whom Gray showed the "Bard"; see letter to Mason, June, 1757.
But on Pindaric pinions soars sublime."
5. Brown. Dr. James Brown (or Browne) was Fellow, and in 1770 Master, of Pembroke; died 1784. He and Mason were Gray's executors.
8. Dr. Thomas Balguy, of St. John's, refused a bishopric.
Parody on an Epitaph.
The epitaph (which has never before been given along with the parody) is as follows:
"Who Faith, Love, Mercy, noble ConstancyIt is on an altar tomb, with recumbent figure, in the chancel of Appleby Church; the monument was erected in 1617, to Margaret (Russell), widow of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, by her only daughter, Anne, successively Countess of Dorset and of Pembroke and Montgomery; her own tomb, for which she also wrote the inscription, stands opposite.
To God, to Virtue, to Distress, to Right
Observed, expressed, showed, held religiously
Hath here this monument thou seest in sight,
The cover of her earthly part, but passenger
Know Heaven and Fame contains the best of her."
3. These were four castles of the Barony of Westmoreland, which the Countess inherited, all of which she rebuilt.
Couplet about Birds.
This couplet was first published in Mathias' edition of Gray's Works
(1814), vol. ii., p. 596, introduced thus:—"One fine morning in the
spring Mr. Nicholls was walking in the neighbourhood of Cambridge with
Mr. Gray, who, feeling the influence of the season, and cheered with the
melody of the birds on every bough, turned round to his friend, and expressed
himself extempore in these beautiful lines." Mathias, no doubt, based his
remarks on Norton Nicholls' "Reminiscences of Gray," written in
1805, the MS. of which was in his possession,—Nicholls' reference to
them being:—"Two verses made by Mr. Gray as we were walking in the
spring in the neighbourhood of Cambridge."
Norton Nicholls' "Reminiscences" were printed by Mitford in vol. v. of his "Works of Gray," published by Bell and Daldy in 1843.
This "Ode" was first published by Mr. Gosse. "It
occurs," he says, "in Gray's handwriting, and among other pieces
known to be his, in the Stonehewer MSS. Gray has written 'Celadon, Dec. 1736,'
at the foot of it. At that date Gray was an undergraduate at Peterhouse. The
verses do not bear the stamp of his mature manner, but I know not to whom they
must be attributed, if not to Gray."
I have compared it with the MS., and there are four errors in Mr. Gosse's copy.
Horace Walpole says "one of his first pieces of poetry was an answer in English verse to an epistle from H. W." This may be it, but why should he sign it "Celadon" in his Commonplace Book?
These verses were first printed (in 1783) in Professor Young's
"Criticism on the Elegy written in a country Churchyard, being a
continuation of Dr. Johnson's Criticism on the Poems of Gray"—in
reality an extravagant parody of Dr. Johnson's style and criticism.
In criticising the alliteration in "longing lingering look," the writer says:—
"Of all the elementary constituents of oral articulate sound, there is no one which has had more attention paid to it by the adepts in representative composition, than the semivocal incomposite l. It is easy of access, ready to grant, or even proffer its services, and ever within call. To it, of all the rest, Gray seems to have paid peculiar court. The kindness of Dr. Curzon, late of Brazenose, now residing in Italy for his health, and to whom I embrace
this opportunity of recording my obligation for materials that have been of use to me in the present work, has put me in possession of a little relic of Gray, furnishing a striking illustration of his fondness for this letter, and how much, as the Doctor terms it, it had insensibly gained his ear. Of this relic I do not know that, in any edition of Gray's works, the communication has yet been indulged to the public; not even in that one in which the author's literary correspondence and fragments of projected poems have been printed. I am contented, therefore, to give it to the world with part of the letter to the Doctor, in which it was inserted, as particularly connected with the present subject, and as illustrative, moreover, of that leading feature in the character of Gray, the love of project; hoping that I may do so without offence; as in offering this gratification to rational literary curiosity, for which I have the Doctor's permission, I invade no property, nor violate any known right."
After some further remarks, there follows a long letter (of 8 pp.) which the writer would have us believe is by Gray, but which I do not think is in Gray's style, but is rather of a piece with the burlesque "Criticism" itself. The "Rondeau" referred to in Sharpe's edition of Gray's "Poetical Works," quoted in my note on the "Song" (xxxi), is, I think, the "Amatory Lines" (xxx).
The copy printed by Mr. Gosse, for the original of which he thanks Mr. Frederick Locker, differs from that in the "Criticism" (2nd. ed.) (which I have followed) in the following points:—
21. "They who just have felt the flame."
"Then to sever what is bound,
Is to tear the closing wound."
33. Thus to love, etc.
This fragment was first printed by Mitford in 1843, Gray's
"Works," vol. v. p. 217. Horace Walpole says:—"Gray never
would allow the foregoing Poem to be his, but it has too much merit, and the
humour and versification are so much in his style, but I cannot believe it to
be written by any other hand.—(Signed) H. W."
"Dyce mentions, in a MS. note at South Kensington, that Gray's original autograph of these lines has been destroyed."
Walpole preserved the following fragment of a letter from Gray, in which the verses were introduced:—
"When I received the testimonial of so many considerable personages to adorn the second page of my next edition, and (adding them to the Testimonium Autoris de seipso) do relish and enjoy all the conscious pleasure resulting from six pennyworths of glory, I cannot but close my satisfaction with a sigh for the fate of my fellow-labourer in poetry, the unfortunate Mr. Golding, cut off in the flower or rather the bud of his honours, who had he survived but a fortnight more, might have been by your kind offices as much delighted with himself, as I. Windsor and Eton might have gone down to posterity together, perhaps appeared in the same volume, like Philips and Smith, and we might have sent at once to Mr. Pond for the frontispiece, but these, alas! are vain reflections. To return to myself. Nay! but you are such a wit! sure the gentlemen an't so good, are they? and don't you play upon the word. I promise you, few take to it here at all, which is a good sign (for I never knew anything liked here, that ever proved to be so any where else); it is said to be mine, but I strenuously
deny it, and so do all that are in the secret, so that nobody knows what to think; a few only of King's College gave me the lie, but I hope to demolish them; for if I don't know, who should? Tell Mr. Chute, I would not have served him so, for any brother in Christendom, and am very angry. To make my peace with the noble youth you mention, I send you a Poem that I am sure they will read (as well as they can) a masterpiece—it is said, being an admirable improvement on that beautiful piece called Pugna Porcorum, which begins
Plangite porcelli Porcorum pigra propago;but that is in Latin, and not for their reading, but indeed, this is worth a thousand of it, and unfortunately it is not perfect, and it is not mine.
"When you and Mr. Chute can get the remainder of 'Marianne,'* I shall be much obliged to you for it,—I am terribly impatient."
The letter to West in which this was sent begins thus:—"What I send you now, as long as it is, is but a piece of a poem. It has the advantage of all fragments to need neither introduction nor conclusion; besides, if you do not like it, it is but imagining that which went before and came after, to be infinitely better. Look in Sandys' 'Travels' for the history of Monte Barbaro and Monte Nuovo."
* In July, 1742, Gray sent "3 Parts of Marianne, a novel by Marivaux," to Chute.
The passage in Sandys' "Travels" is as follows:—
"West of Cicero's Villa stands the eminent Gaurus, a stony and desolate mountain, in which there are divers obscure caverns, choked almost with earth, where many have consumed much fruitless industry in searching for treasure. The famous Lucrine Lake extended formerly from Avernus to the aforesaid Gaurus, but is now no other than a little sedgy plash, choked up by the horrible and astonishing eruption of the new mountain; whereof as oft as I think, I am easy to credit whatsoever is wonderful. For who here knows not, or who elsewhere will believe, that a mountain should arise (partly out of a lake and partly out of the sea) in one day and a night, unto such a height as to contend in altitude with the high mountains adjoining?
In the year of our Lord 1538, on the 29th of September, when for certain days foregoing the country here about was so vested with perpetual earthquakes, as no one house was left so entire as not to expect an immediate ruin; after that the sea had retired two hundred paces from the shore (leaving abundance of fish, and springs of fresh water rising in the bottom) this mountain visibly ascended, about the second hour of the night, with an hideous roaring, horribly vomiting stones, and such store of cinders as overwhelmed all the building thereabout and the salubrious baths of Tripergula, for so many ages celebrated, consumed the vines to ashes, killing birds and beasts; the fearful inhabitants of Puzzol flying through the dark with their wives and children, naked, defiled, crying out and detesting their calamities. Manifold mischiefs have they suffered by the barbarous, yet none like this which nature inflicted.
The new mountain, when newly raised, had a number of issues; at some of them smoking and sometimes flaming; at others disgorging rivulets of hot
water; keeping within a terrible rumbling; and many miserably perished that ventured to descend into the hollowness above. But that hollow on the top is at present an orchard, and the mountain throughout is bereft of its terrors."—Bk. iv. p. 275.
There is a translation of this poem in the "Gentleman's Magazine" for July, 1775.
In the letter to West in which Gray sent the fragment on the
"Gaurus," he says—"There was a certain little ode set out
from Rome, in a letter of recommendation to you, but possibly fell into the
enemies' hands, for I never heard of its arrival. It is a little impertinent
to inquire after its welfare, but you that are a father, will excuse a
parent's foolish fondness."
Stephen Jones gives two translations in verse of this, one by "a gentleman of Sunderland," and the other by Mr. Seward,—the latter appeared in the "European Magazine" for 1791. It was also translated by Walpole ("Works" iv. p. 454), and by Samuel Rogers.
EXPLANATION OF THE PRINTS IN BENTLEY'S "DESIGNS FOR SIX POEMS BY MR. GRAY," 1753.*
Ode on the Spring.Frontispiece.—A Figure musing, etc. The ornaments allude to the chief subjects of the poems, as the altar, chaplet of flowers and rustic pipe, to this ode; a boy with a hobby-horse and a book, to that on Eton; a cat-arion, or cat with a lyre, sitting on a dolphin's back, to that line on the death of a cat—
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirred;a monkey with a violin and a lawyer's wig, to my lord keeper Hatton's dancing in the "Long Story"; a Roman sepulchral altar inscribed Diis Manibus Sacrum, with a spade and skull, to the elegy. The monkey painting, the lyre, the pen and crayon, are allusive to the poems and drawings.
Headpiece.—The Graces and Zephyrs sporting.
Tailpiece.—A landscape with herds reposing.
Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat.Frontispiece.—The cat standing on the brim of the tub, and endeavouring to catch a goldfish. Two cariatides of a river god stopping his ears to her cries, and Destiny cutting the nine threads of life, are on each side. Above, is a cat's head between two expiring lamps, and over that, two mouse-traps, between a mandarin-cat sitting before a Chinese pagoda, and angling for goldfish in a china jar; and another cat drawing up a net. At the bottom are mice enjoying
* Now first reprinted.
themselves on the prospect of the cat's death; a lyre and pallet.
Headpiece.—The cat almost drowned in the tub. A standish on a table to write her elegy. Two cats as mourners with hatbands and staves. Dead birds, mice and fish hung up on each side.
Initial Letter.—The cat, demurest of the tabby kind, dozing in an elbow chair.
Tailpiece.—Charon ferrying over the ghost of the deceased cat, who sets up her back on seeing Cerberus on the shore.
Ode on the Distant Prospect of Eton.Frontispiece.—Boys at their sports, near the chapel of Eton, the god of the Thames sitting by; the passions, misfortunes, and diseases coming down upon them. On either side, terms representing Jealousy and Madness. Above is a head of Folly; beneath are playthings intermixed with thorns, a sword, a serpent, and a scorpion.
Headpiece.—Science adorning the shade of Henry VI. Two angels, bearing shields inscribed with that king's name, support a Gothic building, in allusion to his foundations at Eton and Cambridge.
Initial Letter.—Part of Windsor Castle.
Tailpiece.—Two boys drest in watermen's cloaths, rowing another. A view of Eton college at a distance.
The Long Story.Frontispiece.—The Muses conveying the Poet under their hoops to a small closet in the garden. Fame in the shape of Mr. P—— is flying before; and after him the two female warriors, as described in the verses. On one side is my lord keeper Hatton dancing; and among the ornaments are the heads of the Pope and queen Elizabeth nodding at one another; behind him is a papal bull, a phial of sublimate, a
dagger and a crucifix; behind her the cannon called queen Elizabeth's pocket-pistol.
Headpiece.—A view of the house which formerly belonged to the earls of Huntingdon and lord keeper Hatton.
Initial Letter.—A coronet, fan, muff and tippet, in the manner of Hollar.
Tailpiece.—Ghosts of ancient ladies and old maids, peeping over the gallery.
Hymn to Adversity.Frontispiece.—Jupiter delivering infant Virtue to Adversity to be educated. Minerva and Hercules on each side.
Headpiece.—Adversity disturbing the orgies of Folly, Noise and Laughter.
Initial Letter.—A Gorgon's head, and instruments of punishment.
Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.Frontispiece.—A Gothic gateway in ruins, with the emblems of nobility on one side; on the other, the implements and employments of the poor. Through the arch appears a churchyard and village church built out of the remains of an abbey. A countryman showing an epitaph to a stranger.
Initial Letter.—An owl disturbed and flying from a ruinous tower.
Tailpiece.—A country burial. At bottom, a torch fallen into an ancient vault.
I.*—THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF THOMAS GRAY.
Extracted from the Registry of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.
In the Name of God. Amen. I Thomas Gray, of Pembroke-Hall in the University of Cambridge, being of sound mind and in good health of body, yet ignorant how long these blessings may be indulged me, do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following. First, I do desire that my body may be deposited in the vault, made by my late dear mother in the churchyard of Stoke-Pogeis, near Slough in Buckinghamshire, by her remains, in a coffin of seasoned oak, neither lined nor covered, and (unless it be very inconvenient) I could wish that one of my executors may see me laid in the grave, and distribute among such honest and industrious poor persons in the said parish as he thinks fit, the sum of ten pounds in charity.—Next, I give to George Williamson, esq. my second cousin by the father's side, now of Calcutta in Bengal, the sum of five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, now standing in my name. I give to Anna Lady Goring, also my second cousin by the father's side, of the county of Sussex, five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, and a pair of large blue and white old Japan china jars. Item, I give to Mary Antrobus of Cambridge, spinster, my second cousin by the mother's
* The first eight of the following extracts appeared in the Aldine edition, edited by Mitford. They have been compared with the originals and corrected.
side, all that my freehold estate and house in the parish of St. Michael, Cornhill, London, now let at the yearly rent of sixty-five pounds, and in the occupation of Mr. Nortgeth perfumer, provided that she pay out of the said rent, by half-yearly payments, Mrs. Jane Olliffe, my aunt, of Cambridge, widow, the sum of twenty pounds per annum during her natural life; and after the decease of the said Jane Olliffe I give the said estate to the said Mary Antrobus, to have and to hold to her heirs and assigns for ever. Further, I bequeath to the said Mary Antrobus the sum of six hundred pounds new South-sea annuities, now standing in the joint names of Jane Olliffe and Thomas Gray, but charged with the payment of five pounds per annum to Graves Stokeley of Stoke-Pogeis, in the county of Bucks, which sum of six hundred pounds, after the decease of the said annuitant, does (by the will of Anna Rogers my late aunt) belong solely and entirely to me, together with all overplus of interest in the mean-time accruing. Further, if at the time of my decease there shall be any arrear of salary due to me from his Majesty's Treasury, I give all such arrears to the said Mary Antrobus. Item, I give to Mrs. Dorothy Comyns of Cambridge, my other second cousin by the mother's side, the sums of six hundred pounds old South-sea annuities, of three hundred pounds four per cent. Bank annuities consolidated, and of two hundred pounds three per cent. Bank annuities consolidated, all now standing in my name. I give to Richard Stonehewer, esq. one of his Majesty's Commissioners of Excise, the sum of five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, and I beg his acceptance of one of my diamond rings. I give to Dr. Thomas Wharton, of Old Park in the Bishoprick of Durham, five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, and desire him also to accept one of my diamond rings. I give to my servant, Stephen Hempstead, the sum of fifty pounds reduced Bank annuities, and if he continues in my service to the time of my death I also give him all my wearing-apparel
and linen. I give to my two cousins above-mentioned, Mary Antrobus and Dorothy Comyns, all my plate, watches, rings, china-ware, bed-linen and table-linen, and the furniture of my chambers, at Cambridge, not otherwise bequeathed, to be equally and amicably shared between them. I give to the Reverend William Mason, precentor of York, all my books, manuscripts, coins, music printed or written, and papers of all kinds, to preserve or destroy at his own discretion. And after my just debts and the expenses of my funeral are discharged, all the residue of my personal estate, whatsoever, I do hereby give and bequeath to the said Reverend William Mason, and to the Reverend Mr. James Browne, President of Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge, to be equally divided between them, desiring them to apply the sum of two hundred pounds to an use of charity concerning which I have already informed them. And I do hereby constitute and appoint them, the said William Mason and James Browne, to be joint executors of this my Last Will and Testament. And if any relation of mine, or other legatee, shall go about to molest or commence any suit against my said executors in the execution of their office, I do, as far as the law will permit me, hereby revoke and make void all such bequests or legacies as I had given to that person or persons, and give it to be divided between my said executors and residuary legatees, whose integrity and kindness I have so long experienced, and who can best judge of my true intention and meaning. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 2d day of July, 1770. Tho. Gray.
Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said Thomas Gray, the testator, as and for his Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have signed our names as witnesses hereto.
Proved at London the 12th of August, 1771, before the Worshipful Andrew Coltre Ducarel, Doctor of Laws and Surrogate, by the oaths of the Reverend William Mason, Clerk, Master of Arts, and the Reverend James Browne,* Clerk, Master of Arts, the executors, to whom administration was granted, having been first sworn duly to administer.
Henry Stevens. |- Deputy Registers.
Geo. Gostling, jun.
II.—"CASE" SUBMITTED TO COUNSEL BY MRS. PHILIP GRAY.
The following curious paper I owe to the kindness of Sir Egerton Brydges and his friend Mr. Haslewood. It was discovered in a volume of manuscript law cases, purchased by the latter gentleman at the sale of the late Isaac Reed's books. It is a case submitted by the mother of Gray to the opinion of an eminent civilian in 1735; and it proves, that to the great and single exertions of this admirable woman, Gray was indebted for his education, and consequently for the happiness of his life. The sorrow and the mournful affection with which he dwelt on his mother's memory, serves to show the deep sense he retained of what she suffered, as well as what she did for him. Those who have read the Memoirs of Kirke White in Mr. Southey's Narrative, will recognize the similarity of the situation in which the two poets were placed, in their
* Mr. Gray used to go with his friend Browne to a reading-room in the evening. Browne, who was a very punctual man, just before the hour of going, used to get up, walk about the room, and make a bustle with his gown, etc. "Now," says Gray, "Browne is going to strike."—Mitford.
entrance into life; and they will see, that if material love and courage had not stept in, in both cases, their genius and talents would have been lost in the ignorance, or stifled by the selfishness, of those about them.—Mitford.
"Philip Gray, before his marriage with his wife, (then
Dorothy Antrobus, and who was then partner with her sister Mary Antrobus,)
entered into articles of agreement with the said Dorothy, and Mary, and their
brother Robert Antrobus, that the said Dorothy's stock in trade (which was
then 240l.) should be employed by the said Mary in the said trade, and
that the same, and all profits arising thereby, should be for the sole benefit
of the said Dorothy, notwithstanding her intended coverture, and her sole
receipts alone a sufficient discharge to the said Mary and her brother Robert
Antrobus, who was made trustee. But in case either the said Philip or Dorothy
dies, then the same to be assigned to the survivor.
"That in pursuance of the said articles, the said Mary, with the assistance of the said Dorothy her sister, hath carried on the said trade for near thirty years, with tolerable success for the said Dorothy. That she hath been no charge to the said Philip; and during all the said time, hath not only found herself in all manner of apparel, but also for all her children, to the number of twelve, and most of the furniture of his house; and paying 40l. a year for his shop, almost providing every thing for her son, whilst at Eton school, and now he is at Peter-House at Cambridge.
"Notwithstanding which, almost ever since he hath been married, he hath used her in the most inhuman manner, by beating, kicking, punching, and with the most vile and abusive language; that she hath been in the utmost fear and danger of her life, and hath been obliged this last year to quit her bed, and lie with her sister. This she was resolved, if possible, to bear; not to leave her
shop of trade for the sake of her son, to be able to assist in the maintenance of him at the University, since his father won't.
"There is no cause for this usage, unless it be an unhappy jealousy of all mankind in general (her own brother not excepted); but no woman deserves, or hath maintained, a more virtuous character: or it is presumed if he can make her sister leave off trade, he thinks he can then come into his wife's money, but the articles are too secure for his vile purposes.
"He daily threatens he will pursue her with all the vengeance possible, and will ruin himself to undo her, and his only son; in order to which he hath given warning to her sister to quit his shop, where they have carried on their trade so successfully, which will be almost their ruin: but he insists she shall go at Midsummer next; and the said Dorothy, his wife, in necessity must be forced to go along with her, to some other house and shop, to be assisting to her said sister, in the said trade, for her own and son's support.
"But if she can be quiet, she neither expects or desires any help from him: but he is really so very vile in his nature, she hath all the reason to expect most troublesome usage from him that can be thought of.
Question."What he can, or possibly may do to molest his wife in living with her sister, and assisting in her trade, for the purposes in the said articles; and which will be the best way for her to conduct herself in this unhappy circumstance, if he should any way be troublesome, or endeavour to force her to live with him? And whether the said Dorothy in the lifetime of the said Philip, may not by will, or otherwise, dispose of the interest, or produce, which hath, or may arise, or become due for the said stock as she shall think fit, it being apprehended as part of her separate estate?"
"If Mrs. Gray should leave her husband's house, and go to live with her sister in any other, to assist her in her trade, her husband may, and probably will call her, by process in the Ecclesiastical Court, to return home and cohabit with him, which the court will compel her to do, unless she can show cause to the contrary. She has no other defence in that case, than to make proof, before the court, of such cruelties as may induce the judge to think she cannot live in safety with her husband: then the court will decree for a separation.
"This is a most unhappy case, and such a one, as I think, if possible, should be referred to, and made up by some common friend; sentences of separation, by reason of cruelty only, being very rarely obtained.
"What the cruelties are which he has used towards her, and what proof she is able to make of them, I am yet a stranger to. She will, as she has hitherto done, bear what she reasonably can, without giving him any provocation to use her ill. If, nevertheless, he forces her out of doors, the most reputable place she can be in, is with her sister. If he will proceed to extremities, and go to law, she will be justified, if she stands upon her defence, rather perhaps than if she was plaintiff in the cause.
"As no power of making a will is reserved to Mrs. Gray, by her marriage settlement, and not only the original stock, but likewise the produce and interest which shall accrue, and be added to it, are settled upon the husband, if he survives his wife; it is my opinion she has no power to dispose of it by will, or otherwise.
Feb. 9th, 1735."
(Rector of Burnham in Buckingham, and of Milton in Cambridgeshire).
On Tuesday, July 30th, 1771, Mr. Essex calling on me, in his way to Ely,
told me that Mr. Gray was thought to be dying of the gout in his stomach. I
had not heard before that he was ill, though he had been so for some days. So
I sent my servant in the evening to Pembroke-Hall, to enquire after his
welfare; but he was then going off, and no message could be delivered; and he
died that night. He desired to be buried early in the morning at
Stoke-Pogeis;* and accordingly was put in lead, and conveyed from
Cambridge on Sunday morning, with a design to rest at Hodsdon the first night,
and Salt-hill on Monday night, from whence he might be very early on Tuesday
morning at Stoke. He made the master of Pembroke (his particular friend) his
executor; who, with his niece† Antrobus, Mr. Cummins a merchant
of Cambridge, who had married her sister, and a young gentleman of
Christ's-College with whom he was very intimate, went in a mourning-coach
after the hearse, to see him put into his grave.
He left all his books and MSS. to his particular friend Mr. Mason, with a desire that he would do with the latter what he thought proper. When he saw all was over with him, he sent an express to his friend Mr. Stonehewer, who immediately came to see him; and as Dr. Gisborne happened to be with him when the messenger came, he brought him down to Cambridge with
him; which was the more lucky, as Professor Plumptre* had refused to get up, being sent to in the night. But it was too late to do any good: and indeed he had all the assistance of the faculty† besides at Cambridge. It is said, that he has left all his fortune to his two nieces‡ at Cambridge; and just before his death, about a month, or thereabout, he had done a very generous action, for which he was much commended.
His aunt Olliffe, an old gentlewoman of Norfolk, had left that county, two or three years, to come and live at Cambridge; and dying about the time I speak of, left him and Mr. Cummins executors and residuary legatees; but Mr. Gray generously gave up his part to his nieces,‡ one of whom Mrs. Olliffe had taken no notice of, and who wanted it sufficiently. . . . . I was told by Alderman Burleigh, the present mayor of Cambridge, that Mr. Gray's father had been an Exchange-broker, but the fortune he had acquired of about £10,000 was greatly hurt by the fire in Cornhill; so that Mr. Gray, many years ago, sunk a good part of what was left and purchased an annuity, in order to have a fuller income. I have often seen at his chambers, in his ink-stand, a neat pyramidal bloodstone seal, with these arms at the base, viz.§ a lion rampant, within a border engrailed, being those of the name of Gray, and belonged, as he told me, to his father. His mother was in the millinery way of business.
His person was small, well put together, and latterly tending to plumpness. He was all his life remarkably
* Dr. Plumptre certainly refused to get up to attend Gray in his last illness; but it was to be considered, that he was grown old, and had found it necessary to adopt this rule with all his patients.—Mitford.
† Dr. Glynn was Gray's physician at Cambridge, and likewise a very intimate friend.—Ib.
‡ Second cousins.
§ Sir Egerton Brydges informs me, that Gray's arms are the same as those of Lord Gray of Scotland; who claimed a relationship with him, (see Mason's "Memoirs," vol. iv. letter 55,) and as the present Earl Grey's.—Mitford.
sober and temperate, but his manner from a boy was disgustingly effeminate, finical and affected. I think, I heard bim say he never was across a horse's back in his life. He gave me a small print or etching of himself by Mr. Mason, which is extremely like him.
In Gil Blas, the print of Scipio in the arbour, beginning to tell his own adventures to Gil Blas, Antonio, and Beatrix, was so like the countenance of Mr. Gray, that if he sat for it, it could not be more so. It is in a 12mo edition in four volumes, printed at Amsterdam, chez Herman Vytwerf, 1735, in the 4th volume, p. 94—p.m. It is ten times more like him than his print before Mason's life of him, which is horrible, and makes him a fury. That little one done by Mr. Mason is like him; and placid Mr. Tyson spoilt the other by altering it.
and elegant in his person, dress, and behaviour, even to a degree of finicalness and effeminacy. So that nothing but their extensive learning and abilities could ever have coalesced two such different men, and both of great value in their own line and walk. They were ever after great friends; and Dr. Farmer, and all of his acquaintance, had soon after too much reason to lament his loss, and the shortness of their acquaintance.
IV.—TWO LATIN EPITAPHS
In the Church of Burnham, in Buckinghamshire, supposed by Cole to have been composed by Gray.*
Vir fuit, si quis unquam fuit, Amicorum amans,
Et Amicis amandus.
Ita Ingenio et Doctrinâ valuit,
Ut suis Honori fuerit, et aliis Commodo
Si Mores respicis, probus et humanus.
Si Animum, semper sibi constans.
Si Fortunam, plura meruit quam tulit.
In Memoriam defuncti posuit
Frater amantissimus/moestissimus J. Rogers, A.D. 1731.
Qui Juris in Negotia diu versatus,
Opibus modicis laudabili Industriâ partis.
Extremos Vitae Annos
Sibi, Amicis, Deo dicavit.
Humanitati ejus nihil Otium detraxit,
* I doubt if the epitaph on Antrobus was by Gray, as he was then but fifteen.—J. B.
Quaenam bonae Spei justior Causa,
Quam perpetua Morum Innocentia
Animus erga Deum reverenter affectus,
Erga omnes Homines benevole?
Vixit Ann. lxv. Ob. Stoke in Com. Bucks.
A. D. MDCCXLII. Octob. xxi.*
Anna, Conjux moestissima,
per Annos xxxiii.
Nullâ unquam intercedente
Omnium Curarum Particeps,
(Sub quo et suos Cineres juxta condi destinat)
Pietatis Officium heu! ultimum,
V.—FROM SIR EGERTON BRYDGES TO REV. J. MITFORD.
Among the friends of Gray, was the Rev. William Robinson, (third brother of
Mrs. Montagu,) of Denton Court, near Canterbury, and rector of Burfield,
Berks. He was educated at Westminster, and at St. John's College, Cambridge,
where he formed a particular intimacy with Gray, who twice visited him at
Denton.† He died December, 1803, aged about seventy-five.
Mr. Robinson was an admirable classical scholar, to whose taste Gray paid great deference. He did not consider Mason as equal to the task of writing Gray's Life; and on that account when Mason (from his knowledge of Mr. R.'s intimacy with Gray) communicated his intention to him, Mr. Robinson declined returning him an answer,
which produced a coolness between them which was never afterwards made up. Mr. Robinson, however, owned that Mason had executed his task better than he had expected.
The "Lines on Lord Holland's House at Kingsgate," were written when on a visit to Mr. Robinson, and found in the drawer of Gray's dressing table after he was gone. They were restored to him; for he had no other copy, and had forgotten them.
What was the real ground of the quarrel between Gray and Walpole when abroad, I do not know; but have reason to believe that it was of too deep a nature ever to be eradicated from Gray's bosom; which I gather from certain expressions half dropped to Mr. Robinson. Mr. R. thought Gray not only a great poet, but an exemplary, amiable, and virtuous man. Gray's poems on "Lord Holland" first appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine" (1777), vol. xlvii. p. 624, and vol. xlviii. p. 88; that on "Jemmy Twitcher," in vol. lii. (January, 1782).
When he went to court to kiss the king's hand* for his place, he felt a mixture of shyness and pride, which he expressed to one of his intimate friends in terms of strong ill-humour.
VI.—FROM CRADOCK'S "MEMOIRS."
The pleasantest morning that I passed at Cambridge, was in company with Mr. Gray, and some critics, at the rehearsal of the music for his Ode, previous to its grand performance at the Senate House; and I thought that as he had so many directions to give, and such nice distinctions to make, it was well he had to deal with the pliant Dr. Randall, rather than with some of the very able composers in the metropolis. Mr. Gray was not
* "What if for nothing once you kist
Against the grain, a monarch's fist."—Swift.
much more comfortable than the Chancellor himself; for the press was teeming with abuse, and a very satirical parody* was then preparing, which soon afterwards appeared. His own delicious Ode must always be admired, yet this envenomed shaft was so pointedly levelled at him, though he affected in his letter† to Mason to disregard it, that with his fine feelings he was not only annoyed, but very seriously hurt by it.—Vol. i. p. 107-8.
From time to time I had treasured up many bon-mots of Gray communicated by Mr. Tyson, and by the former fellow-collegian of Gray, the Rev. Mr. Sparrow, of Walthamstow, who was always attentive to his witty effusions.
Some few of these have been printed incorrectly, and freely bestowed on others in the Johnsoniana. Johnson was highly displeased, that any should be attributed to him, as mentioned by Mr. Davies. When he was publishing his "Lives of the Poets," I gave him several anecdotes of Gray, but he was only anxious as soon as possible to get to the end of his labours. Not long since I received a very kind message from the Rev. Mr. Bright, Skeffington Hall, Leicestershire, to inform me that he had wished to deposit with me all the remaining papers and documents of Gray, as bequeathed to him by Mr. Stonhewer, but that he found they all had been carried to Rome inadvertently by a learned Editor. If recovered they should certainly be consigned to me.—Ib. p. 183-4.
VII.—EXTRACTS FROM MR. BRAY'S NOTES.
See Mrs. Bray's Description of Devonshire, in letters to R. Southey, Esq., vol. iii. p. 311.
Jan. 27, 1807. In a conversation which I had with Mr. Mathias on Italian literature, he informed me that Gray, though so great a poet himself, and an admirer of the
poets of Italy, was unacquainted with the works of Guidi, Menzini, Filicaia, etc., and indeed of almost all, that are contained in his "Componimenti Lirici." He had once in his possession the commonplace book of Gray, and it contained very copious extracts from the Commentary of Crescembini. He told me that he could gratify me with a sight of Gray's hand writing, and fetched from his library a fac-simile, being a kind of commentary in English on Pindar and Aristophanes. It was written remarkably neat and plain, but rather stiff, and bearing evident marks of being written slowly. It had a great resemblance to the Italian mode of writing, every part of the letters being nearly of an equal thickness. He wrote always with a crow-quill.
Observing no obliterations or erasures, and indeed only one or two interlineations; I remarked that it must have been a fair copy, and wondered how he could have taken so much pains, unless he had intended it for publication. But Mr. Mathias assured me, that Gray was so averse to publication, that had not a surreptitious copy of his "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" appeared, he never would have published it; and even when he did, it was without his name. The reason that he was so correct, was that he never committed any thing to paper till he had most maturely considered it before hand.
Mr. Mathias explained to me how he was so well acquainted with these particulars respecting Gray, by informing me that he was most intimate with Mr. Nichols, the familiar friend and executor of Gray, who had lent him the MSS. On my lamenting that they were never made public, he said that it was not for want of his most earnest solicitation, but that Mr. Nichols was an old man, and wished ever to conceal that he was in possession of any such precious reliques, lest he should be plagued with requests to have them copied, or at least to show them. He therefore in a manner enjoined me to secrecy, and I consequently commit the pleasant memoranda to paper,
merely for my own satisfaction, that, on occasional inspection, the pleasure I received from this conversation may be more firmly brought to my recollection. For the same reason, and as these MSS. are never likely to be made public, I shall enter more at large upon the consideration of them; at least as much as a cursory inspection during a morning call would permit.
As Gray always affixed the date to everything he wrote, which as Mr. Mathias assured me, was the custom of Petrarch, it seems that he wrote his remark on Pindar at rather an early age. I think the date was 1747. It is very closely written: the Greek characters are remarkably neat. He begins with the date of the composition, and takes into his consideration almost every thing connected with it, both chronologically and historically. The notes of the Scholiasts do not escape him, and he is so minute as to direct his attention to almost every expression. He appears to have reconciled many apparent incongruities, and to have elucidated many difficulties. I the more lament these valuable annotations remain unpublished, as they would prove that in the opinion of so great a man, the English language is in every respect adequate to express everything that criticism the most erudite can require. It presented to my eye a most gratifying novelty, to see the union of Greek and English, and to find that they harmonized together as well as Greek and Latin.
The remarks on the plays of Aristophanes were so minute, not only expressing where they were written and acted, but when they were revived; that as Mr. Mathias justly observed, "one would think he was reading the account of some modern comedy, instead of the dramatic composition of about two thousand years old." Gray also left behind him very copious remarks upon Plato, which had also formerly been in Mr. Mathias's hands, likewise large collections respecting the customs of the ancients, etc. And so multifarious and minute were his investigations,
that he directed his attention even to the Supellex, or household furniture of the ancients, collecting together all the passages of the classics that had any reference to the subject.
Mr. Mathias showed me likewise many sheets copied by Gray from some Italian author; also, I believe, an historical composition, and a great many genealogies, of which Gray was particularly fond. On my remarking that I wished Gray had written less genealogies and more poetry, he informed me that the reason he had written so little poetry, was from the great exertion it cost him, (while he made no reserve in composing) in the labour of composition. Mr. Mathias informed me that he had seen the original copy of Gray's "Ode on the Progress of Poesy," that there were not so many alterations as he expected; which was evidently owing to his method of long previous meditation, and that some of the lines were written three or four times over; and then, what is not always the case with an author, the best is always adopted.
He said there was nothing of which Gray had not the profoundest knowledge, at least of such subjects as come under the denomination of learning, except mathematics, of which, as well as his friend Mason, he was as completely ignorant, and which he used frequently to lament. He was acquainted with botany, but hardly seems to have paid it the compliment it deserves, when he said he learnt it merely for the sake of sparing himself the trouble of thinking.
VIII.—SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH ON GRAY'S POETICAL CHARACTER.
"Gray was a poet of a far higher order (than Goldsmith), and of an almost opposite kind of merit. Of all English poets he was the most finished artist. He attained the highest degree of splendour of which poetical style seems
to be capable. If Virgil and his scholar Racine may be allowed to have united somewhat more ease with their elegance, no other poet approaches Gray in this kind of excellence. The degree of poetical invention diffused over such a style, the balance of taste and of fancy necessary to produce it, and the art with which the offensive boldness of imagery is polished away, are not indeed always perceptible to the common reader, nor do they convey to any mind the same species of gratification, which is felt from the perusal of those poems, which seem to be the unpremeditated effusions of enthusiasm. But to the eye of the critic, and more especially to the artist, they afford a new kind of pleasure, not incompatible with a distinct perception of the art employed, and somewhat similar to the grand emotions excited by the reflection on the skill and toil exerted in the construction of a magnificent palace. They can only be classed among the secondary pleasures of poetry, but they never can exist without a great degree of its higher excellencies.
Almost all his poetry was lyrical—that species which, issuing from a mind in the highest state of excitement, requires an intensity of feeling which, for a long composition, the genius of no poet could support. Those who complained of its brevity and rapidity, only confessed their own inability to follow the movements of poetical inspiration.* Of the two grand attributes of the Ode, Dryden had displayed the enthusiasm, Gray exhibited the magnificence.
* In another place, the same writer observes:—"The obscurity of the Ode on the 'Progress of Poesy,' arises from the variety of the subjects, the rapidity of the transitions, the boldness of the imagery, and the splendour of the language; to those who are capable of that intense attention, which the higher order of poetry requires, and which poetical sensibility always produces, there is no obscurity. In the 'Bard' some of these causes of obscurity are lessened; it is more impassioned and less magnificent, but it has more brevity and abruptness. It is a lyric drama, and this structure is a new source of obscurity."
He is also the only modern English writer whose Latin verses deserve general notice, but we must lament that such difficult trifles had diverted its genius from its natural objects. In his Letters he has shown the descriptive powers of a poet, and in new combinations of generally familiar words, which he seems to have caught from Madame de Sevigné (though it must be said he was somewhat quaint) he was eminently happy. It may be added, that he deserves the comparatively trifling praise of having been the most learned poet* since Milton."†
IX.—ADVERTISEMENT TO FOULIS' GLASGOW EDITION OF GRAY'S POEMS, 1768.
Some gentlemen may be surprised to see an edition of Mr. Gray's Poems
printed at Glasgow, at the same time that they are printed for Mr. Dodsley at
London. For their satisfaction the printers mention what follows.
The property belongs to the author, and this edition is by his permission. As an expression of their high esteem and gratitude, they have endeavoured to print it in the best manner.
Mr. Beattie, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Aberdeen, first proposed this undertaking. When he
* Gray and Mason first detected the imposition of Chatterton. See "Archaeological Epistle to Dean Milles," Stanza xi. It appears that Gray did not admire Hudibras. "Mr. Gray," says Warburton, "has certainly a true taste. I should have read Hudibras with as much indifference as perhaps he did, were it not for a fondness of the transactions of those times, against which it is a satire."—Warburton's "Letters," xxxi. p. 290. He appears highly to have praised some of W. Whitehead's poems. See Mason's "Life of Whitehead," p. 40, etc., and he approved H. Walpole's "Tragedy of the Mysterious Mother." See "Letter to G. Montagu," p. 406.—Mitford.
† See "Life of Sir J. Mackintosh," vol. ii. p. 172.
found that it was most agreeable to the printers, he procured Mr. Gray's consent, and transcribed the whole with accuracy. His transcription is followed in this edition.
This is the first work in the Roman character which they have printed with so large a type; and they are obliged to Doctor Wilson for preparing so expeditiously, and with so much attention, characters of so beautiful a form.
X.—EXTRACT FROM ADVERTISEMENT IN JOHN MURRAY'S EDITION OF GRAY'S POEMS, 1778.
After stating that Mr. Mason had filed a bill in chancery against the publisher for having trespassed on his property by inserting fifty lines in a former edition which belonged to him, and had retained Thurlow, Wedderburn, and Denning as his counsel, the publisher adds:—"Fifty lines cannot be an object for a man to throw £100 or more money after; it leads an impartial person to suspect that Mr. Mason has a further object in view, and that although he has realised already nearly £1,000 from the profits of his quarto edition of Mr. Gray's Poems, he is not satisfied, but desires to suppress the publisher's little volume altogether, although it has not hitherto paid the expenses incurred in printing it, in order to retain the monopoly of Mr. Gray's Poems entirely in his own hands."
I have compiled the following lists chiefly from the Catalogues in the British Museum, and in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.*
* Those marked thus † are in the Bodleian Library also.
Parody on the Elegy"; "The Bard, a Burlesque Ode, written by R. Lloyd and G. Colman." Also Latin translations of the "Elegy" by the Rev. Mr. Lloyd, by C. Anstey, and by Signor Costa; in Italian, by S. Abbati Crocchi, and (terze rime), by Gennari. Dublin, 1775. 12mo.
poems by Gray, transcribed by W. Upcott, and many portraits, views, etc.] 2 vols. London, 1800. 8vo.
Poetical Works, Translations.
Miscellaneous Works by and on Gray.
Parodies on Gray's Poems.
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE.
|Half-title||The Aldine Edition of the British Poets||p. [i]|
|Title page||The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray English and Latin||p. [iii]|
|Preface||The Life and Writings of Gray 1716-1771||p. [xxiii]|
|Section||Posthumous Poems||p. 60|
|Section||Doubtful Poems||p. 98|
|Section||Latin Poems and Verses||p. 124|
|Appendix||Explanation of the Prints in Bentley's "Designs"||p. 282|
|Digital Library ID:||BrJ_1891|
|Title:||The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin [e-text]|
|Author:||Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771|
|Collaborator:||Bradshaw, John, 1845-1894 [editor]|
|Print Source:||London and New York: George Bell & Sons, 1891|
|Series:||The Aldine Edition of the British Poets|
|Medium:||lxvi, 319,  p. front. (port.); 18 cm|
|Holding Library:||Thomas Gray Archive|
|Notes:||388 pages: OCR, proofreading, and markup by the Thomas Gray Archive, 18/04 - 20/05/2005. The corrections made in Starr 1024 have been incorporated, missing l. 57 of "The Progress of Poesy" has been supplied.|
|Copyright of the |
|Copyright © 2005 Thomas Gray Archive; access to digitized documents is granted strictly for non-commercial educational, research and private purposes only.|