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who filled the chair of St. Peter in his time ;--one (in short) who could have been a Leonardo, a Michael Angelo, a Titian, a Corregio, a Parmegiano, an Annibal, a Rubens, or any other when he pleased, but none of them could ever have been a Raphael.
Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.
This poem has been noticed in our preface, and in the introduction to the Long Story. It is full of thought, tenderness, and music, and should make the writer beloved by all persons of reflection, especially those who know what it is to visit the scenes of their schooldays. They may not all regard them in the same melancholy light; but the melancholy light will cross them, and then Gray's lines will fall in upon the recollection, at once like a bitter and a balm.
Her Henry's holy shade;
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
His silver-winding way.
Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
Ah, fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,
A stranger yet to pain ?
As waving fresh their gladsome wing
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
The paths of pleasure trace,
The captive linnet which enthrall ?
Or urge the flying ball ?
While some, on earnest business bent,
Their murmuring labors ply 'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty,
And unknown regions dare descry;
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast : Theirs, buxom health of rosy hue, Wild wit, invention ever new,
And lively cheer, of vigor 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!
Nor care beyond to-day :
And black misfortune's baleful train ; Ah, show them where in ambush stand, To seize their prey, the murderous band !
Ah, tell them they are men !
These shall the fury passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
And shame that skulks behind ;
That inly gnaws the secret heart;
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 ;
That mocks the tear it forc'd to flow;
Amidst severest woe.
Lo, in the vale of
beneatb A grisly troop are seen, The painful family of death,
More hideous than their queen ;
Those in tho deeper vitals rage :
And slow consuming age.
Condemn'd alike to groan ;
The unfeeling for his own. Yet, ah ! why should they know their fate! Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies : Thought would destroy their paradise. No more. Where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.