The tender for another's pain,

Th' 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.

[It has been well remarked by a Writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. lxviii. p. 481. that for this beautiful and affecting Ode, we may have been indebted to the following passage in Walton's Life of Sir Henry Wotton;]

"How useful was that 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 1 sate 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 mixtures 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 have always found it true, as my Saviour did foretel, ' sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.' Nevertheless, I saw there a succession of boys using the same recreation, and questionless possessed with the same thoughts that then possessed me. Thus one generation succeeds another in their lives, recreations, hopes, fears, and death."


[This Ode was originally published by Dodsley, together with " The Long Story," and three or four others, in a 4to Collection, bearing this title: "Poems by Mr. Gray, with Designs by Mr. Bentley," and was then called a " hymn to Adversity." Dr. Johnson says, the hint of •he Poem was first taken from " O Diva, gratum quae Regis Antium ;" but Gray has excelled his original by the variety of his sentiments, and by their moral application. "Of "this piece," adds the rigid Censor, " at once po"etical and rational, I will not, by slight objections "violate the dignity."—What is this, after all, but "to " damn withfaint firaisc.?"]

DAUGHTER of Jove, relentless power,

Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge and tort'ring 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, design'd, To thee he gave the heav'nly birth,

And bade 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 learn'd to melt at others'woe.

Scar'd 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 flatt'ring foe;
By vain Prosperity receiv'd,
To her they vow their truth, and are again believ'd.

Wisdom in sable garb array'd,

Immers'd in rapt'rous 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 chast'ning hand!

Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
Not circled with the vengeful band

f (As by the impious thou art seen) With thund'ring voice, and threat'ning 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 tren'rous 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.

« ForrigeFortsett »