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the noblest which Mr. Gray ever attempted; and also, as far as he carried it into execution, the most exquisitely finished. That he carried it no further is, and must ever be, a most sensible loss to the republic of letters.
STANZAS TO MR. BENTLEY.
[See Mason's Memoirs, vol. iii. p. 148.]
These were in compliment to Bentley, who drew a set of designs for Gray's poems, particularly a head-piece to the Long Story. The original drawings are in the library at Strawberry Hill. See H. Walpole's Works, vol. ii. p. 447.
IN silent gaze the tuneful choir among
Half pleas'd, half blushing, let the Muse admire, While Bentley leads her sister-art along,
And bids the pencil answer to the lyre.
See, in their course, each transitory thought Fix'd by his touch a lasting essence take; Each dream, in fancy's airy colouring wrought, To local symmetry and life awake!
V. 3. So Pope. Epist. to Jervas, 13:
"Smit with the love of sister-arts we came;
And met congenial, mingling flame with flame." V. Dryden to Kneller, "Our arts are sisters," "Long time the sister-arts in iron sleep."
V. 7. "Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow, Strike on the sketch, or in the picture glow." Pope. Epist. to Jervas, ver. 42. V. 8. "When life awakes and dawns at every line." Pope. Ep. to Jervas, v. 4. See also Kidd's note to Hor. A. P. v. 66, from Plato.
The tardy rhymes that us'd to linger on,
To censure cold, and negligent of fame, In swifter measures animated run,
And catch a lustre from his genuine flame.
Ah! could they catch his strength, his easy grace,
And Dryden's harmony submit to mine.
But not to one in this benighted age
That burns in Shakespeare's or in Milton's page,
A sigh of soft reflection 'heaves the heart.' †
As when conspiring in the diamond's blaze,
The meaner gems that singly charm the sight, Together dart their intermingled rays,
And dazzle with a luxury of light.
V. 20. "Heaven, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakspear gave as much, she could not give him more." Dryden to Congreve. Luke. The words within the inverted commas were supplied by Mason, a corner of the old manuscript copy being torn: with all due respect to his memory, I do not consider that he has been successful in the selection of the few words which he has added
SKETCH OF HIS OWN CHARACTER.
WRITTEN IN 1761, AND FOUND IN ONE OF HIS POCKET
Too poor for a bribe, and too proud to importune, He had not the method of making a fortune: Could love, and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd;
No very great wit, he believed in a God:
A post or a pension he did not desire,
But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire.
to supply the imperfect lines: my own opinion is, that Gray had in his mind Dryden's Epistle to Kneller, from which he partly took his expressions: under the shelter of that supposition, I shall venture to give another reading:
"Enough for me, if to some feeling breast
V. 1. This is similar to a passage in one of Swift's letters to Gay, speaking of poets: "I have been considering why poets have such ill success in making their court. They are too libertine to haunt ante-chambers, too poor to bribe porters, and too proud to cringe to second-hand favourites in a great family." See Pope. Works, xi. 36. ed. Warton.
V. 4. "I pay my debts, believe, and say my prayers."
V. 6. Squire] At that time Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and afterwards Bishop of St. David's. Dr. S. Squire died 1766, see Nicholl. Poems, vol. vii. p. 231. Bishop Warburton one day met Dean Tucker, who said that he hoped his Lordship liked his situation at Gloucester; on which the sarcastic Bishop replied, that never bishopric was so bedeaned, for that his predecessor Dr. Squire had made religion his trade,
The following lines by Gray first appeared in Warton's* edition of Pope, vol. i. p. 285.
WITH beauty, with pleasure surrounded, to languish —
To weep without knowing the cause of my anguish : To start from short slumbers, and wish for the morning
To close my dull eyes when I see it returning;
Sighs sudden and frequent, looks ever dejected Words that steal from my tongue, by no meaning connected!
Ah! say, fellow-swains, how these symptoms befell me?
They smile, but reply not-Sure Delia will tell me!
and that he Dr. Tucker had made trade his religion. See Cradock. Mem. iv. 335.
Perhaps these lines of Gray gave a hint to Goldsmith for his character of Burke in the Retaliation : '
Tho' equal to all things, for all things unfit,
For a patriot too cool, for a drudge disobedient,
*As Dr. Warton has here favoured us with some manuscript lines by Gray, it will be a species of poetical justice to give the reader some lines from a manuscript of Dr. Warton, which he intended to insert in his Ode to Fancy, and which are placed within the inverted commas:
In converse while methinks I rove
THYRSIS, when we parted, swore
Ere the spring he would return
And the bud that decks the thorn?
Var. V. 1. Thyrsis, when we parted] In Mr. Park's edition, for "when we parted," it is printed "when he left me." And, for "Ere the spring," "In the spring."
Var. V. 3. Yon violet flower] In Mr. Park's edition, "the
And after the couplet
V. 5. 'Twas the lark] In Mr. Park's edition, this and lowing line are transposed.
Or to the towers where pine
Add, from the MS.
On which thou lov'st to sit at eve,
To whom came trooping at thy call
From sea and earth, from heaven and hell,
*Written at the request of Miss Speed, to an old air of Geminiani: the thought from the French. This and the preceding Poem were presented by Miss Speed, then Countess de Viry, to the Rev. Mr. Leman of Suffolk, while on a visit at her castle in Savoy, where she died in 1783. Admiral Sir T. Duckworth, whose father was vicar of Stoke from 1756 to 1794, remembers Gray and Miss Speed at that place. Gray left Stoke about the year 1758, on the death of his aunt Mrs. Rogers when his acquaintance with Miss Speed probably closed.