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The tender for another's pain,
Th' unfeeling for his own.
And happiness too swiftly flies?
'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,
The bad affright, afflict the best!
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,
And leave us leisure to be good.
Wisdom in sable garb array'd,
Immers'd in rapt'rous thought profound,
With leaden eye that loves the ground.
Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head,
Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
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.