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And though, perchance, a smile may gleam
Of casual mirth,
An inward birth;
Heaven were a coinage of the brain,
Then be to us, 0 dear, lost child !
With beam of love,
Smiling above ;
Yet 't is sweet balm to our despair,
Fond, fairest boy,
With him in joy;
Farewell, then—for a while, farewell
Pride of my heart!
Thus torn apart:
Snows muffled earth when thou didst go,
In life's spring bloom,
The silent tomb.
was a lovely Sabbath morning, before happy and full of life, and in the very
summer had quite finished her sojourn spirit of health. The previous day we among us, and when autumn had barely had seen scores of them playing foot-ball touched the topmost branches of the trees in the meadows appropriated to their with her golden wand, that we determined amusement-recalling one of the most on a pilgrimage to Stoke Pogis, and left finished poems of our most finished poetthe pretty hill of Clewer at an early hour
“Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen to go to church,* at the place rendered
Full many a sprightly race, immortal by the poet who wrote so little, Disporting on thy margent green, and yet so much. We passed through the The paths of pleasure trace; ugly scrambling town hanging on the
Who foremost now delight to cleave skirts of royalty, as a tattered parasite
With pliant arm thy glassy wave ?
The captive linnet which enthrall? around a lordly tree; and over the bridge, What idle progeny succeed which Eton youths may not cross, into To chase the rolling circle's speed, the town of the boy-college where the poet
Or urge the flying ball ?” was educated with his friend West: and
But now, on the Sabbath, all was stillthough West went to Oxford, and Gray to the dew, unmarked by a single footstep; Cambridge, their friendship only termi- the shadows-shadows which are to the nated with the life of the former.
Eton lies so very low that it is well the eye what echoes are to the earlying lads have long vacations, though all look (though somewhat out of our road) “ the
heavily upon the grass ! We passed too
ivy-mantled tower ” of Upton Church. • The altar-tomb seen near the church, be It added to our enjoyment to visit the side which two figures stand, covers the grave of Gray's aunt and mother; it was erected by to his favorite village ; to look upon the
scenes of the poet's early days on our way him, and the concluding words of the epitaph old walls within whose sanctuary he imsimply, but most touchingly, record his sense of that most melancholy bereavement, for which bibed that classic taste, perfected at Camthe world can offer no substitute—a mother's bridge, and the fruit of which seemed the love. The poet's name is not upon the tomb; chief solace of his life. It is impossible but he also lies with them in their grave, and it is recorded on a tablet fixed in the church wall: to read his few poems and letters and “Opposite to this stone in the same tomb upon journals without feeling that his affections which he has so feelingly recorded his grief at were circumscribed within a very small the loss of a beloved parent, are deposited the remains of Thomas Gray, the author of the compass—and all under his control. We Elegy written in a Country Churchyard, &c. could not imagine him betrayed into an He was buried August 6, 1771.".
emotion, or shaken by a sympathy. And
yet he was so thoroughly right, so elevated and ennobled by genius, that while you doubt the possibility of his reviving or exciting enthusiasm or affection, you venerate and admire him as a true poet and an admirable man.
His friend Mason, at the commencement of the collected edition of his poems and letters, makes the trite observation — that the lives of men of letters seldom abound with incidents; and perhaps no life ever afforded fewer than that of the poet to whose grave our pilgrimage is made — that is to say, of what people of the world consider" incidents," but to the poetic temperamant, things having neither name nor habitation, yet existing-shadows of thoughts and feelings, revivals of past times, or the creations of the imagination, supply not only “ incidents,” but become events ; so that often a life has been full to overflowing of such as cannot be recorded; or if it were possible to record for his moral constitution. There is in them, they could not be understood. Ma- the volume we have read one letter to his son may most justly describe Gray as a friend West, who was evidently an erratic “ virtuous, a friendly, and an amiable genius, fond of change of scene, and the man ; indeed, his truth, uprightness, and luxury of no employment, or who perhaps sincerity, rendered him peculiarly adapted called his day-dreams occupation : the letfor the highest friendship: it was the at- ter is to be found on the one hundred and mosphere in which he lived
eighty-seventh page of Rivington's little "Neither too hot nor too cold"
edition, with a frontispiece and vignette
STOKE POGIS CHURCH.
by Mr. Uwins, designed before the ac As we drove along we talked over what complished painter went to Italy and re we had read, until we remembered that turned to delight all who look upon his the calm dignified classic poet, who loved pictures——the letter, as we have said, on Cambridge only when it was without inthe one hundred and eighty-seventh page, habitants, was born amid the bustle of is a model of refined feeling, practical Cornhill, on the 26th of December, 1716, sense, and earnest, hardy, disinterested and was educated at Eton under the care friendship, evincing the extent of his dis- of his mother's brother, Mr. Antrobus, who cretion and the soundness of his judgment was at that time one of the assistant-masat the age of four-and-twenty. It is much ters, and also a Fellow of St. Peter's more philosophic than poetic, and proves College, Cambridge, to which Mr. Gray that the excitement of foreign travel (he removed, and was admitted as a pensioner dates from Florence) did not in the least in the year 1734. His friendship with throw his mind off its well-poised balance. Horace Walpole commenced at Eton and Indeed, nothing can be more matter-of-fact was continued at college; Walpole was than Mr. Gray's account of his lengthened fond of asserting, in his keen epigrammatic stay abroad :
“ We went there, and saw way, what seems to be very true, that that, and then visited the other.” There is Gray never was a boy.” Gray's corlittle more in his descriptions; and yet he respondence with this trifler in great things is so clear, that you see all he wishes you | is very interesting. He accompanied Mr. to see. He is rarely, if ever, roused into | Walpole abroad, and though their acquaintenthusiasm ; his warmth is that of a Greek ance was dissevered, Mr. Mason says statue ; his eye is of stone rather than of Mr. Walpole laid the blame on himself. fire. At Rome he met " The Pretender" | The poet had all the sensitiveness and and his two sons; the peculiar character mistrust of self which accompanies true of Gray prevented his giving any sym- genius; and there is something to excite pathy to this crushed branch of the house a smile in his nervous anxiety touching his of Stuart ; and his account of Charles “misfortune," as he expresses it, “ of reEdward in age singularly contrasts with ceiving a communication from the · Magathat of the Charles Edward either of his-zine of Magazines,'* for the time beingtory or imagination, when, in his young saying that an ingenious poem, called days, he held court at Holyrood, and en- • Reflections in a Country Churchyard,' listed the warm sympathies of many a has been communicated to the editor, high-hearted man and pure-souled woman. which the editor is printing ; and begging, The fallen fortunes of the prince might not only the writer's confidence, but the have excited the enthusiasm of the poet; honor of his correspondence.” Like all but Gray was a remarkable example of persons of narrow views, the proprietors poetry without enthusiasm.
of the “ Magazine of Magazines ” thought The letters and journals are, however, they conferred an honor on the author of full of interest, and models of a close and the Elegy by bringing him into notice ! yet graceful style ; of rare value now-a- | Gray so instinctively shrunk from this, days, when writers elaborate words rather that he wrote a most simple and earnest than thoughts. His morale also was of letter to Walpole, entreating him to get the highest. He was, certainly, of a Dodsley to print the “ Elegy" forthwith musing, melancholy turn, not likely to anonymously, and to print it without any move the affections of any except those interval between the stanzas, giving as a who knew him in his earlier years, when reason, that the sense is in some places the yielding heart readily receives strong impress from light matters; for in one of This journal was originated by a speculative his letters he complains bitterly of living bookseller, and it was intended to combine in for a month in the house with three women,
its pages the pith of its various monthly cotem
"Gentleman's who did little but laugh from morning to poraries, in the same way that the
Magazine” had first done by the newspapers. night, and would concede nothing to the The success of the last-named miscellany, which sullenness of his disposition. Again, and was begun by Cave in 1731, soon led to the in another, he says seriously, “Cambridge establishment of the “ London Magazine ;" and is a delight of a place, now there is nobody their number led to the establishment of this
the success of both to a host of imitators : and in it. I do believe you would like it if you
“ Magazine of Magazines,” which was to conknew what it was without inhabitants." dense the best articles from all.
continued beyond them.* Being thus could not recall a single line of Gray's
had not yet commenced sending forth their “Sure you are not out of your wits; this I
summons; and the elders of the people know, if you suffer my head to be printed, you were standing beneath the shadows of will infallibly put me out of mine. I conjure their homesteads, or looking after the you immediately to put a stop to any such design. Who is at the expense of engraving it I of their toil and their dwellings, with as
“ young men and maidens," the heritors know not; but if it be Dodsley, I will make up the loss to him. The thing as it was I know much pride as pleasure. There had been will make me ridiculous enough; but to appear a long continuance of rain previous to our in proper person, at the head of my works, consisting of half-a-dozen ballads in thirty pages, Sabbath one of more than ordinary beauty
excursion ; so that the sunshine made this would be worse than the pillory. I do assure you, if I had received such a book, with such a and happiness: the leaves clung to their frontispiece, without any warning, I believe it parent trees, and the verdure was more would have given me a palsy!"
bright and fresh than usual for the season ; We had thought of visiting Burnham, the swallows “hawked ” rapidly through where the poet's uncle resided, if it were
the air ; the cattle stood sleepily in the only in memory of the description, half ponds fringed by graceful willows; many serious, half absurd, which he gives of a hard-worked horses felt that this, even to spot famous for its beauty and its beeches; them, was a day of rest, and looked, we but the summer had passed without our put- fancied, with pitying eyes on those who ting our design into action. Much as Gray experienced no freedom from labor; the loved and venerated his mother, and re- dogs winked in the sunbeams, and the spected the aunt (Miss Antrobus) who, to dignified hen stalked triumphantly at the remedy his father's extravagance, joined head of her full-grown brood. Few spots with her in the establishment of a ware
in England can boast of anything more house for the sale of "Indian goods” lovely than the park and lane scenery imin Cornhill, there is a tone of well-bred mediately in the neighborhood of Stoke mannerism and respect in his letters to his Pogis; the church, in its intense retiremother, rather than the outpouring of warm ment, forming a portion, and a most affection. In all his memoirs there is no beautiful and hallowed portion, of the trace of his having formed an attachment, domain, does not stand, like ordinary or, as it is called, “ fallen in love" with churches, by the way-side or in a village, anything more mortal than a classic Muse; but, like the church at Great Hampden, and while we loitered through the beauti- amid time-honored trees, shedding a halo ful drive which, as we approached Stoke
on the residence which has lately found a Green, became perfectly umbrageous, we new proprietor-one who is entitled to all
respect, and who is worthy to be its ocGray's “Elegy," like all his other poems,
cupant. appears to have been much elaborated in thought,
All matters at Stoke Pogis are better and subject to great supervision. At the sale cared for than at Great Hampden : you of some of his books and papers, at the end of drive through a pretty gate-way guarded the year 1845, the original manuscript was sold for $500. There was a curious instance of this
on the left by a lodge covered with climbsupervision of the lines which now stand ers; on the right an embowered path leads "Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
to the monument, and the parterre which Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood." surrounds this memento of respect and They had originally been
admiration is kept in as perfect order as "Some mute inglorious Tully here may rest,
any flower-garden can be; it is separated Bome Cæsar guiltless of his country's blood." from the meadow, through which the
The alteration is curious, as it shows Gray's carriage-road continues after passing the love of classicality; ultimately overruled by the lodge, by a sunk fence, and you see, to dictates of a sound criticism, which would make such allusions out of place in a poem so emi- great advantage, the church, with nently full of pure English simplicity.
“Those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,"