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either by force or cunning (1. 35); they are linked to each other by their common feelings, and participate in sorrow and in joy (1. 36, 37).

“If then all the human species agree in so many moral particulars, whence arises the diversity of national characters? This question the poet puts at l. 38, and dilates upon to l. 64. Why, says he, have some nations shown a propensity to commerce and industry; others to war and rapine; others to ease and pleasure? (1. 42 to 46). Why have the northern people overspread, in all ages, and prevailed over the southern? (l. 46 to 58). Why has Asia been, time out of mind, the seat of despotism, and Europe that of freedom ? (1. 59 to 64). Are we from these instances to imagine men necessarily enslaved to the inconveniences of the climate where they were born? (1. 64 to 72). Or are we not rather to suppose there is a natural strength in the human mind, that is able to vanquish and break through them? (1. 72 to 84).

“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 labor and patience, are naturally trained to war (1. 88 to 96); while those of the plain are more open to any attack, and softened by ease and plenty (1. 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 (1. 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 neighboring 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 neighbors, whom ease and luxury had enervated. Yet this is no proof that liberty and valor may not exist in southern climes, since the Syrians and Carthaginians gave noble instances of both; and the Arabians carried their conquests as far as the Tartars. Rome also (for many centuries) repulsed those very nations which, when she grew weak, at length demolished her extensive empire."

The motto, which, translated, reads, “Come, my friend; for your song you shall not hoard up for Hades, which . brings forgetfulness,” is taken from Theocritus, Idyl I, 11. 62– 63.

47. Scythia. A name formerly given to northern Asia and northeastern Europe.

51. The blue-eyed myriads from the Baltic coast. The Germanic peoples who eventually overthrew Rome.

77. O’er Libya's deserts and through Zembla's snows. Libya. An ancient name given the northern part of Africa west of Egypt. Zembla. An island in the Arctic Ocean north of Russia; commonly called Nova Zembla.


The “Ode for Music” was written and published in 1769, the occasion for its writing being the installation of the Duke of Grafton as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge that year. Gray was under obligation to the Duke, for it was through him that he was appointed to the Professorship of Modern History of Cambridge, and he sought to express his appreciation by writing the customary installation ode. It was Gray's last poem.

2. Comus, and his midnight-crew. A reference to Milton's "Comus.” Comus, like his mother Circe, was an

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enchanter that sullied the characters of those who fell under his influence.

25. Meek Newton's self. Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), the philosopher, who was a resident at Trinity College, Cambridge, for thirty-five years.

29. Camus. The river Cam, which flows through Cambridge, is a favorite resort with the university students.

32. Cynthia. Diana, the goddess of the chase; she was born on Mount Cynthus on the island of Delos; hence the name Cynthia.

37–66. High potentates, and dames of royal birth, etc. The persons referred to in these lines aided materially in the development of the University of Cambridge.

39. Great Edward, with the lilies on his brow. Edward the Third, who added the fleur-de-lys of France to the English coat-of-arms.

41. Sad Chatillon. “Mary de Valentia, Countess of Pembroke, daughter of Guy de Chatillon, Comte de St. Paul in France; of whom tradition says, that her husband Aude. mar de Valentia, Earl of Pembroke, was slain at a tourna ment on the day of his nuptials.” (Author's note.)

42. Princely Clare. Elizabeth de Burg, Countess of Clare, granddaughter of Edward the First.

43. And Anjou's heroine, and the paler rose. Anjou's heroine. Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry the Sixth. (See note, l. 89, “The Bard.”) Paler rose. Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward the Fourth; her husband belonged to the House of York, of which the white rose was the insignia. (See note, 11. 91–92, “The Bard.”)

45. Either Henry. Henry the Sixth and Henry the Eighth.

46–47. The murdered saint, and the majestic lord, etc. The murdered saint. Henry the Sixth. (See notes, 1. 4, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” and l. 87, “The Bard.") The majestic lord, etc. Henry the Eighth,

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who severed the connection between the Pope and the English church.

51. Granta's fruitful plain. The river Cam was also known as the Granta. (See note, 1. 29 above.)

54. Fitzroy's festal morning. The family name of the Duke of Grafton was Fitzroy. (See introductory note.)

66. Venerable Margaret. Lady Margaret Beaufort, wife Edmund Tudor, ar mother of Henry the venth.

67. My noble son. The Duke of Grafton was a descendant of Edmund Tudor and Lady Beaufort through Henry the Seventh.

84. Cecil. William Cecil, made Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1558.

86. Fasces. Insignia of authority.

93. Star of Brunswick. Brunswick, the reigning House of England; usually known as the House of Hanover. It came into power in 1713 with George the First.



“The Diverting History of John Gilpin” was written in October, 1782, and was published in the Public Advertiser in November of the same year. It became popular at once, and to-day is ranked as one of the greatest humorous poems in the English language.

Southey, in his life of the author, tells the following story of its origin: “Lady Austen's conversation had as happy an effect upon the melancholy spirit of Cowper as the harp of David upon Saul. Whenever the cloud seemed to be coming over him, her sprightly powers were exerted to dispel it. One afternoon, when he appeared more than usually depressed, she told him the story of John Gilpin, which had

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been told to her in her childhood, and which, in her relation, tickled his fancy as much as it has that of thousands and tens of thousands since, in his. The next morning he said to her that he had been kept awake during the greater part of the night by thinking of the story and laughing at it, and that he had turned it into a ballad."

The original John Gilpin is said to have been a Mr. Beyer, a linen-draper who kept a shop at the corner of Paternoster Row and Cheapside.

11. Edmonton. A village a few miles north of London.

23. Calender. A person who presses and smooths out cloth in a machine.

44. Cheapside. One of the main streets of London; it extends through the central part of the city from east to west.

52. Three customers come in. It was formerly the custom in London for a shop-keeper to live over his place of business.

61. Good lack. An archaic expression implying surprise. 100. Running such a rig. Taking such a frolic.

133. Islington. A borough in the northern part of London.

135. Wash. A shallow part of a river. Edmonton is located on a branch of the river Lea.

152. Ware. A town twenty-one miles north of London.

178. In merry pin. In merry humor. The expression was derived from the custom of drinking from mugs with pins fixed in them, to regulate the quantity to be drunk.

236. The hue and cry. The pursuit of a criminal with loud outcries to give an alarm.

252. The following stanzas omitted by Cowper were found among his papers:

Then Mrs. Gilpin sweetly said

Unto her children three,

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