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“There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
“ Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
While o'er the heath we hied, our labour done,
With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun
“Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Or crazed 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 favourite tree;
up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:
“The next, with dirges due in sad array
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”
* This stanza, which completes the account of the Poet day, although in the author's MS. has hitherto appeared bu in the form of a note ; bat as Mr. Mason observes,“ with out it, we have only his morning walk and his noontid repose."
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown:
And melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Heaven did a recompense as largely send :
He gain'd from heaven ('twas all he wish’d) a friend.
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
The bosom of his Father and his God.
* “Before the Epitaph, Mr. 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 showers of violets found;
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.””
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 characterize 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 be 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 thiro stanza:-after the descriptions of darkness and silence, anc before the minuter particulars of the churchyard are entered upon. It would, therefore, I think, most sublimely constitute the fourth stanza of the Elegy. In that place, it would pre pare the mind for the solemn sequel, and throw a religiou: sanctity over it; at the same time correcting and explaining what has always given me and others offence and pain,--thequivocal expression,' each in his narrow cell for ever laid showing, that the Poet only meant for ever, with referenc to the scenes of this present life.”
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In vain to me the smiling, mornings shine,
And reddening Phoebus 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 : I 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 StokePogis, 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 retired, 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 sequestered habitation, and when he returned, was not a little surprised to find, writter 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 at 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 STORY.”
In Britain's isle, no matter where,
An ancient pile of building stands *: The Huntingdons and Hattons there
Employed the power of fairy hands * In the 16th century, the house belonged to the Earls o