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Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,

The little Tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's

blood [41].

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

(41) Mr. Edwards (Author of the Canons of Criticism), who, though an old bachelor, like Mr. Gray, was more attentive to the fair sex than our Pindaric Poet, endeavoured to supply what he thought a defect in this admired Poem, by introducing after this the two following stanzas, the first of which is certainly the happiest effort of the iwo:

Some lovely fair, whose unaffected charms

Shone with attraction to herself unknown;
Whose beauty might have blest a monarch's arms,

And virtue cast a lustre on the throne:

That humble beauty warm’d an honest heart,

And cheer'd the labours of a faithful spouse;
That virtue form’d, for every decent part,

The healthy offspring that adorn'd their house.

Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,

And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious Truth to hide,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous Shame, Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame [42].

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

[42] After this verse, in Mr. Gray's first Ms. of the Poem, were the four following:

The thoughtless world to Majesty may bow,

Exalt the brave, and idolize success;
But more to innocence their safety owe,

Than Pow'r or Genius e'er conspir'd to bless.

And thou who, mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead,

Dost in these notes their artless tale relate,
By night and lonely contemplation led

To wander in the gloomy walks of fate:


Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect

Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture

deck'd, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd

The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,

That teach the rustic Moralist to die.

For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing ling’ring look behind ?

Hark! how the sacred calm, that breathes around,

Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease ;
In still small accents whispering from the ground,

A grateful earnest of eternal peace.
No more, with reason and thyself at strife,

Give anxious cares and endless wishes room;
But through the cool sequester'd vale of life

Pursue the silent tenor of thy doom. And here the Poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of the hoary-headed Swain, &c. suggested itself to him. The third of these rejected stanzas has been thought equal to any in the whole Elegy.

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires ; Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,

Ev'ninour Ashes (8) live their wonted Fires [43].

(8) Evin in our ashes live their wonted fires.

Ch'i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio fuoco,
Fredda una lingua, & due begli occhi chiusi
Rimaner doppo noi pien di faville.

Petrarch, Son. 169.
[43] Variation :- Awake and faithful to her wonted fires.

Thus (says Mr. Mason) it stood in the first and some following edi. tions, and I think rather better; for the authority of Petrarch does not destroy the appearance of quaintness in the other : the thought, however, is rather obscurely expressed in both readings. He means to say, in plain prose, that we wish to be remembered by our friends after our death, in the same manner as when alive we wished to be remembered by them in our absence.

An anonymous writer has, in my opinion, much better illustrated the Poet's meaning in the following words:

“ After observing the desire which appears in the humblest stations to indulge the melancholy pleasures of erecting some frail memorial, with uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d, imploring the passing tribute of a sigh’ for departed friends, the Poet, in the belief that the anticipation of this pious act is consolatory to the deceased themselves in their last moments, bursts into this beautiful interrogatory. Who is there, what indifferent wretch ever existed, who, a prey to dull forgetfulness, left this pleasing anxious being, without casting a longing lingering look behind him? For (he adds) on some fond breast the parting soul relies; that is, some kind consoling friend is ever looked up to on those occasions, in whose soothing attentions, from whose pious tears the closing eye derives comfort, and the pangs of dissolution are assuaged; the companion, the sharer of the sunshine of life, who now, in the last gloomy hour of its evening, promises to pay that last sad and simple tribute which is to supply the place of fame and elegy. For, though sinking into the tomb, arrived at its very border, still is the voice of Nature heard,' still are we alive to the feelings and sensibilities of humanity ; in our very ashes still glow our former passions and affections."

For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,

Some kindred Spirit shall enquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,

“ Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn “ Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,

To meet the sun upon the upland lawn [44],

« 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.

[44] Variation :-On the high brow of yonder hanging lawn. After which, in the first manuscript, followed this stanza:

Him have we seen the greenwood side along,

While 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 Mr. 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.”


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