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Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust, Or flattery sooth the dull cold ear of death? Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll; Chill penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul. Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air. 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.
The' applause of listening senates to command,
And read their history in a nation's eyes. Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
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. Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, T'heir sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unletter'd Muse,
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.
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries, E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonour'd dead,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
"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. "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. "Him have we seen the greenwood side along, While o'er the heath we hied, our labour done,
Oft as the woodlark piped her farewell song, With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun*.
* This stanza, which completes the account of the Poet's day, although in the author's MS., has hitherto
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove; Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn, 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; 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
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
HERE rests his head upon the lap of earth
A youth; to fortune and to fame unknown: Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth, And melancholy mark'd him for her own.
appeared but in the form of a note; but, as Mr. Mason observes, "without it we have only his morning walk and his noontide repose."
"Before the Epitaph, Mr. Gray originally inserted a very beautiful stanza, which was printed in
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
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 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 acknowleged 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