« PreviousContinue »
“ Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove; Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz’d with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
6 One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his fav’rite tree; 110 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 through the church-way path we saw
M. and W.
Var. V. 106. He would] Would he. Ms.
V. 109. On] From. Ms. M.
Upon the brook, that brawls along this wood.”
As You Like It, act ii. sc. 1. W. V. 105. “ Yet at my parting sweetly did she smile In scorn.
Shakespeare Sonnets. “smylynge halfe in scorne At our foly.” Skelton. Prol. to the Bouge of Courte, p. 59. “ It makes me smile in scorn.” App. and Virg. (Old Plays, vol. v. p. 363.) “ Laughing in scorn.” Massinger. B. Lover. Rogers. Milt. P. L. iv. 903. “ Disdainfully half smiling.' V. 107. “ For pale and wanne he was, alas ! the while May seeme he lov'd or else some care he tooke."
Spenser. January 8. V. 109. “ Simul assueta sidetque sub ulmo.”
Milt. Ep. Damonis. G. Steevens. V. 114. “In the church-way paths to glide.”
Mids. N. Dr. act v. sc. 2. W. V. 115. “ Tell, (for you can,) what is it to be wise.”
Pope. Ep. iv. 260. W. “ And steal (for you can steal) celestial fire.” Young. “ Scrutare tu causas (potes enim.)” Plin. Ep. iv. 30.
Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay
Gravid on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown: Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.
* “ Before the Epitaph,” says Mason, “ Gray originally inserted a very beautiful stanza, which was printed in some of the first editions, but afterwards omitted, because he thought that it was too long a parenthesis in this place. The lines, however, are in themselves exquisitely fine, and demand preservation: “There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen are show'rs of violets found;
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.""
As in my mother's lap." Par. Lost, x. 777. Also Spens. F. Qu. v. 7. 9:
“On their mother earth's dear lap did lie.” “ Redditur enim terræ corpus, et ita locatum ac situm quasi operimento matris obducetur.” Cicero de Legibus, ii. 22. Lucr. i. 291..“ gremium matris terrai.”
I cannot help adding to this note, the short and pathetic sentence of Plin. Hist. Nat. ii. 63. “ Nam terra novissime complexa gremio jam a reliquâ naturâ abnegatos, tum maxime, ut mater, operit.” V. 119. “ Quem tu, Melpomene, semel Nascentem placido lumine videris.”
Hor. Od. iv. 3. 1. W. V. 121. “ Large was his soul, as large a soul as e'er Submitted to inform a body here.”
Cowley, vol. i. p. 119. “ A passage which,” says the editor, “Gray seemed to have had his eye on.”
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send ; He gave to mis’ry (all he had) a tear, He gain'd from heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.
V. 123. “Has lacrymas memori quas ictus amore, fundo quod possum.” Lucr. ii. 27. “ His fame ('tis all the dead can have) shall live.” Pope. Hom. xvi. 556.
V. 127. “ paventosa speme,” Petr. Son. cxiv. Gray. « Spe trepido," Lucan. vii. 297. W. And Mallet: “ With trembling tenderness of hope and fear.”
Funeral Hymn, ver. 473. “ Divided here twixt trembling hope and fear."
Beaum. Psyche, c. xv. 314. Hooker has defined • hope to be a “trembling expectation of things far removed,” Eccl. Pol. B. I. cited in Quart. Rev. No. xxii. p. 315.
In the Gentleman's Magaz. vol. lii. p. 20, it is asserted that Gray's Elegy was taken from Collins's Ode to Evening; while in the Monthly Rev. vol. liii. p. 102, it is said to be indebted to an Elegy by Gay. I see, however, no reason for assenting to these opinions. The passages from • Celio Magno,' produced in the Edinb. Rev. vol. v. p. 51, are very curious, and form an interesting comparison. It is well known how much the Italian poet Pignotti is indebted to the works of Gray: some passages would have been given, but the editor was unwilling to increase the number of the notes, already perhaps occupying too much space.
A LONG STORY.*
[See Mason's Memoirs, vol. iii. p. 130, and Pennant's Life,
Gray's Elegy in a Country Church-yard, previous to its publi
cation, was handed about in manuscript ; and had amongst other admirers the Lady Cobham, who resided at the mansion-house at Stoke-Pogeis. The performance inducing her to wish for the author's acquaintance, her relation, Miss Speed, and Lady Schaub, then at her house, undertook to effect it. These two ladies waited upon the author at his aunt's solitary habitation, where he at that time resided; and not finding him at home, they left a card behind them. Mr. Gray, surprised at such a compliment, returned the visit. And as the beginning of this acquaintance bore some appearance of romance, he soon after gave a humorous account of it in the following copy of verses, which he entitled “ A Long Story.” Printed in 1753 with Mr. Bentley's designs, and repeated in a second edition.
In Britain's isle, no matter where,
An ancient pile of building stands :
Employ'd the pow'r of fairy hands
* This Poem was rejected by Gray in the Collection published by himself; and though published afterwards by Mason in his Memoirs of Gray, he placed it amongst the Letters, together with the Posthumous Pieces ; not thinking himself authorized to insert among the Poems what the author had rejected.
V. 2. The mansion-house at Stoke-Pogeis, then in the possession of Viscountess Cobham. The house formerly belonged to the earls of Huntingdon and the family of Hatton. Mason. Sir Edmond Coke's mansion at Stoke-Pogeis, 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
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 ;
The seals and maces danc'd before him.
His bushy beard, and shoe-strings green,
His high-crown'd hat, and satin doublet, Mov'd the stout heart of England's queen,
Though Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it.
What, in the very first beginning!
Shame of the versifying tribe!
Can you do nothing but describe?
A house there is (and that's enough)
From whence one fatal morning issues
fancy, and a column with a statue of Coke marks the former abode of its illustrious inhabitant. D’Israeli. Cur. of Lit. (New Ser.) i. 482. Coke married Lady Hatton, relict of Sir William Hatton, sister of Lord Burlington. V. 7. “ And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light." Il Pens. 159. And Pope. Eloisa, 142:
- Where awful arches make a noonday night,
And the dim windows shed a solemn light.” W. V. 11. Sir Christopher Hatton, promoted by Queen Elizabeth for his graceful person and fine dancing. Gray. See Hume's England, vol. v. p. 330. Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia, and Ocklandi Elizabetha, mi. Barrington on the Statutes, p. 405.