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"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by. 104
Var. V. 100.
"On the high brow of yonder hanging lawn." After which, in his first MS., followed this stanza: "Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
W bile o'er the heath we hied, our labour done, Oft as the woodlark pip'd her farewell song, With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun." *' I rather wonder (says Mason) that he rejected this stanza, as it not only has the same sort of Doric delicacy which charms us peculiarly in this part of the poem, but also completes the account of his whole day: whereas, this evening scene being omitted, we have only his morning walk, and his noon-tide repose."
V. 99." From off the ground, each morn,
We brush mellifluous dews." Par. Lost. v. 429. So also Arcades, ver. 50:
"And from the boughs brush off the evil dew."
Add Tempest, act i. sc. 4. V. 100. So Petrarch,
"Re degli altri, superbo, altero fiume Che 'n contril sol, quando e ne mena il giorno." And Tasso, in his Sonnet to Camoens: "Vasco, te cui felice ardite antenne Incontro al sol che ne riporta il giorno," &c. And in another Sonnet:
"Come va innanzi a V altro sol V aurora," &c. V. 100. "Ere the high lawns appeared
Under the opening eyelids of the morn."
Lycidas, 25. W. V. 102. Spenser. R. of Rome. s. xxviii. "Shewing her wreathed rootes and naked armes." Luke V. 103. " His goodly length stretched on a lily bed." Spens. B. Ida, c. 3. s. 2. Luke. V. 104. "Unde loquuces lympha desiliunt tuae."
Hor. Od. iii. 13.15. "He lay along Under an oak, whose antique root peep'd out
"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.
One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill, Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree ; no 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
Var. V. 106. He would] Would he. Ms. M. and W.
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. W. 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. * "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
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne:— Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth,
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
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;
V. 117." How glad would lay me down,
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 terrae 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 gremiojam a reliqud naturd abnegatos, turn 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."
Heaven 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 friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose, iss
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
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.
"Spe trepido," Lucan. vii. 297. W. And Mallet: "With trembling tenderness of hope and fear."
Funeral Hymn, ver. 473. "Divided here twixt tremlding hope and fear."
Beaum. Psyche, c. xv. 314. Hooker has defined * hope' to be a " trembling expectation of things far removed," Ecel. 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, p. 23.]
Gray's Elegy in a Country Church-yard, previous to its publication, 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. Ms.
In Britain's isle, no matter where,
The Huntingdons and Hattons there
* 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 StokePogeis, now the seat of Mr. Penn, was the scene of Gray's Long Story. The antique chimneys have been allowed to