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Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send :
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.
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 showers of violets found; The redbreast loves to build and warble there,
And little footsteps lightly priut the grouud.'"
The Editor of the present edition of the Poet, has ventured to recall into the Elegy, one stanza (the fourth) which appears only in the margin of former editions ; upon a hint received from a gentleman resident at Stoke Park, in the following letter : “I do not see how the edition could suffer, in a critical point of view, by the restoration of that fine stanza of Gray's into the body of the Elegy. It is acknowledged by Mason and others, to be equal to any in the poem ; and certainly it contains more to characterise it than any other. The cause of its unfortunate rejection by the author is manifest, and shows that it was not from his having disapproved it. From two
preceding, and a following stanza, which were rejected with it, he withdrew two ideas, and some lines, which he transferred and worked up in other parts of the Elegy, thus leaving this fine stanza insulated ; and because it so became unfitted for the particular place for which he had first designed it, he dropped it altogether. But yet it contained only an abrupt and sudden reflection ; which was suitable equally to other passages or places, though not employed there. This he
appears not to have considered ; and he thereby incautiously despoiled his poem of a sentiment, not only fitting, but moreover eminently requisite. Now, this sentiment finds a natural place immediately after the third stanza ;- after the descriptions of darkness and silence, and before the minuter particulars of the church-yard are entered upon. It would, therefore, I think, most sublimely constitute the fourth stanza of the Elegy. In that place, it would prepare the mind for the solemn sequel, and throw a religious sanctity over it; at the same time correcting and explaining, what has always given me and others, offence and pain,—the equivocal expression,
each in his narrow cell, for ever laid,' showing, that the Poet only meant 'for ever,' with reference to the scenes of this present life.”
ON THE DEATH OF MR. WEST.
In vain to me the smiling mornings shine,
And reddening Phæbus lifts his golden fire : The birds in vain their amorous descant join ;
Or cheerful fields resume their green attire : These ears, alas ! for other notes repine,
A different object do these eyes require : My lonely anguish melts no heart but mine ;
And in my breast the imperfect joys expire. Yet morning smiles the busy race to cheer,
And new-born pleasure brings to happier men : The fields to all their wonted tribute bear:
To warm their little loves the birds complain : 1 fruitless mourn to him that cannot hear,
And weep the more, because I weep in vain.
A LONG STORY.
In the year 1750 Mr. Gray finished his celebrated
Elegy, and communicated it to his friend Mr. Walpole, whose good taste was too much charmed to suffer him to withhold the sight of it from his acquaintance; accordingly it was shown about for some time in manuscript, and received with all the applause it so justly merited. Amongst the rest of the fashionable world, Lady Cobham, who resided at Stoke-Pogis, and to whom the mansion house and park belonged, had read and admired it. Wishing to be acquainted with the author, her relation Miss Speed, and Lady Schaub then at her house, undertook to bring this about, by making him the first visit. He had been accustomed to spend his summer vacations from Cambridge, at the house occupied by Mrs. Rogers his aunt, whither his mother and her sister, Miss Antrobus, had also rea tired, situated at the entrance upon Stoke Common, called West End, and about a mile from the manor house, He happened to be from home when the ladies arrived at the sequester'd habitation, and when he returned, was not a little surprised to find, written on one of his papers in the parlour, the following note: “ Lady Schaub's compliments to Mr. Gray; she is sorry not to have found him a: home, to tell him that Lady Brown is very well." Such a compliment necessitated him to return the visit; and as the beginning of the acquaintance
seemed to have a romantic character, he very soon composed the following ludicrous account of the adventure, for the amusement of the ladies in question, which he entitled, “ A LONG Stoky,”
In Britain's isle, no matter where,
An ancient pile of building stands * The Huntingdons and Hattons there
Employ'd the power of fairy hands
To raise the ceiling's fretted height t,
Each pannel in achievements clothing, Rich windows that exclude the light,
And passages, that lead to nothing.
* In the 16th century, the house belonged to the Earls of Huntingdon, and to the family of Hatton. On the death of Lady Cobham, 1760, the estate was purchased from her executors by the late Hon, Thomas Penn: Lord proprietary of Pennsylvania: his son, the present Johu Penn, Esq., finding the interior of the ancient mansion in a state of considerable decay, it was taken down in the year 1789, with the exception of a wing, which was preserved, partly for the sake of its effect as a ruin, harmonising with the church-yard, the poet's house, and the surrounding scenery.
The style of building called Qucen Elizabeth's is here admirably described, both with regard to its beauties and defects, the third and fourth stanzas delineate the fantastic manners of the time with equal truth and humour.