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epithet or metaphor drawn from Nature ennobles Art; an epithet or metaphor drawn from Art degrades Nature. Gray is too fond of words arbitrarily compounded'. 'Many-twinkling' was formerly censured as not analogical”; we may say manyspotted, but scarcely many-spotting. This stanza, however, has something pleasing.
Of the second ternary of stanzas the first endeavours to tell 36 something, and would have told it had it not been crossed by Hyperion; the second describes well enough the universal prevalence of poetry, but I am afraid that the conclusion will not rise from the premises. The cavems of the North and the plains of Chili are not the residences of Glory' and 'generous Shame.' But that Poetry and Virtue go always together is an opinion so pleasing that I can forgive him who resolves to think it true.
The third stanza sounds big with Delphi, and Egean, and 37 Ilissus, and Meander, and “hallowed fountain' and 'solemn sound'; but in all Gray's odes there is a kind of cumbrous splendour which we wish away. His position is at last false: in the time of Dante and Petrarch, from whom he derives our first school of poetry’, Italy was overrun by 'tyrant power' and 'coward vice'; nor was our state much better when we first borrowed the Italian arts.
Of the third ternary the first gives a mythological birth of 38 Shakespeare. What is said of that mighty genius is true; but it is not said happily : the real effects of this poetical power are put out of sight by the pomp of machinery 4. Where truth is
• Goldsmith says of 'Gray, Aken- Glance their many-twinkling feet.' side, and other modern writers':- The Progress of Poesy, ll. 34, 35. 'Their compounded epithets... seem Perhaps it had been censured when evidently borrowed from Spenser.' used by Thomson :Works, iv. 203.
The many-twinkling leaves 'In the Comus and other early Of aspen tall.' Spring, l. 157 poems of Milton there is a superfluity Lyttelton had objected to Gray's of double epithets; while in the use of it. Walpole wrote to him: Paradise Lost we find very few, in 'In answer to your objection I will the Paradise Regained scarce any. quote authority to which you will yield. The same remark holds almost equally As Greek as the expression is, it true of the Love's Labour's Lost, struck Mrs. Garrick; and she says Romeo and Juliet, Venus and Adonis that Mr. Gray is the only poet who and Lucrece, compared with the Lear, ever understood dancing.' Walpole's Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet of our Letters, iii. 97. Walpole described great dramatist.' COLERIDGE, Biog. her in her youth as the finest dancer Lit. i. 3. For Coleridge's coinage of in the world.' 16. ii. 48. myriad-minded see ib. ii. 16.
Johnson refers to Il. 79-82. .To brisk notes in cadence beat- Ante, MILTON, 222.
sufficient to fill the mind, fiction is worse than useless; the
counterfeit debases the genuine'. 39 His account of Milton's blindness, if we suppose it caused by
study in the formation of his poem, a supposition surely allowable, is poetically true, and happily imagined'. But the car' of Dryden, with his 'two coursers,' has nothing in it peculiar 3;
it is a car in which any other rider may be placed. 40 The Bard* appears at the first view to be, as Algarottis and
others have remarked, an imitation of the prophecy of Nereus 6. Algarotti thinks it superior to its original', and, if preference
lepends only on the imagery and animation of the two poems, his judgement is right. There is in The Bard more force, more thought, and more variety. But to copy is less than to invent, and the copy has been unhappily produced at a wrong time. The fiction of Horace was to the Romans credible; but its revival disgusts us with apparent and unconquerable falsehood.
Incredulus odi%. 41 To select a singular event, and swell it to a giant's bulk by
fabulous appendages of spectres and predictions, has little difficulty, for he that forsakes the probable may always find the marvellous. And it has little use : we are affected only as we believe; we are improved only as we find something to be imitated or declined. I do not see that The Bard promotes any
truth, moral or political'. 42 His stanzas are too long, especially his epodes; the ode is finished
I'A lady of quality,' wrote Gray, that observation that The Bard is who is a great reader, never sus- taken from Pastor quum traheret, pected there was anything said about and the advice to be more an original.' Shakespeare or Milton, till it was Gray's Letters, i. 367. explained to her. Mitford, iii. 166; Mason, i. 84. He does not say Gray's Letters, i. 346.
that Gray imitated Horace. For Milton's blindness see ante, HORACE, Ars Poet. I. 188. Bos. MILTON, 68 n. 2.
well says of Johnson :—'I never knew 3 Voltaire made Dryden drive 'a any person who, upon hearing an coach and six stately horses.' Bos- extraordinary circumstance told, diswell's Johnson, ii. 5:
covered more of the incredulus odi.' * For 'a bit of the prophecy, very
Boswell's Johnson, iii. 229. rough and unpolished,' sent by Gra Ante, DRYDEN, 380. "The tento Wharton on Aug. 21, 1755, see dency of The Bard, writes Mitford, Gray's Letters, i. 272. See also ib. is to show the retributive justice that p.
follows an act of tyranny and wickedAnte, MILTON, 230 n. 4; Mit, , .
ness. . . . The vanquished has risen ford, iv. 6, 8, 98.
superior to his conqueror, and the • HORACE, Odes, i. 15. Gray wrote reader closes the poem with feelings on Oct. 7, 1757 :- The Review I of content. Mitford, ii. Preface, have read, and admire it, particularly p. 63.
before the ear has learned its measures, and consequently before it can receive pleasure from their consonance and recurrence'.
Of the first stanza the abrupt beginning has been celebrated '; 43 but technical beauties can give praise only to the inventor. It is in the power of any man to rush abruptly upon his subject, that has read the ballad of Johnny Armstrong,
• Is there ever a man in all Scotland - 3 The initial resemblances, or alliterations, 'ruin,' 'ruthless, 44 'helm nor hauberk,' are below the grandeur of a poem that endeavours at sublimity*
In the second stanza the Bard is well described; but in the 45 third we have the puerilities of obsolete mythology. When we are told that Cadwallo-hush'd the stormy main, and that Modred 'made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-top'd head,' attention recoils from the repetition of a tale that, even when it was first heard, was heard with scorn.
The 'weaving' of the 'winding sheet' he borrowed, as he 46 owns, from the northern Bards?; but their texture, however, was very properly the work of female powers, as the art of spinning the thread of life in another mythology. Theft is always dangerous ; Gray has made weavers of his slaughtered bards by a fiction outrageous and incongruous. They are then called upon to Weave the warp, and weave the woof, perhaps with no great propriety 8 ; for it is by crossing the woof with the warp
Ante, AKENSIDE, 23. Gray wrote to Wharton in 1755 : I am not quite of your opinion with regard to strophe and antistrophe; setting aside the difficulties, methinks it has little or no effect
which scarce perceives the regular return of metres at so great a distance from one another. To make it succeed I am persuaded the stanzas must not consist of above nine lines each, at the most.' Letters, i. 261. In The Bard the strophe and antistrophe (the first and second stanzas of every ternary) consist of fourteen lines, and the epode (the third stanza) of twenty.
Mr. Gray,' writes Walpole, had shackled himself with strophe, antistrophe, and epode (yet acquitting himself nobly). Letters, iii. 97.
Mason, i. 96.
Cowper wrote in 1777:~ I have been reading Gray's Works, and think him the only poet since Shakespeare entitled to the character of sublime. Letters, xv. 38.
Adam Smith described Gray as one who joins to the sublimity of Milton the elegance and harmony of Pope, and to whom nothing is wanting to render him perhaps the first poet in the English language but to have written a little more.' Moral Sentiments, 1801, i. 255.
s Ante, BUTLER, 41.
The Bard, I. 29.
that men weave the web or piece ; and the first line was dearly bought by the admission of its wretched correspondent, Give ample room and verge enough. He has, however, no other line
as bad. 47 The third stanza of the second ternary is commended, I think,
beyond its merit?. The personification is indistinct. Thirst and Hunger are not alike, and their features, to make the imagery perfect, should have been discriminated. We are told, in the same stanza, how 'towers' are 'fed.' But I will no longer look for particular faults; yet let it be observed that the ode might have been concluded with an action of better example *: but suicide
is always to be had without expence of thoughts. 48 These odes are marked by glittering accumulations of un
graceful ornaments 6: they strike, rather than please; the images are magnified by affectation; the language is laboured into harshness. The mind of the writer seems to work with unnatural violence. 'Double, double, toil and trouble?' He has a kind of strutting dignity, and is tall by walking on tiptoe 8. His art and his struggle are too visible, and there is too little appearance of ease and nature'.
in The Critical Review, iv. 167, for me. Ib.
Johnson, in his Dictionary, gives 'Gray,' said Johnson, 'was the almost the same definition of each very Torré of poetry. He played his word—'Warp. That order of thread coruscations so speciously that his in a thing woven that crosses the steel-dust is mistaken by many for woof. Woof. The set of threads a shower of gold. Torré let off firethat crosses the warp..
works. John. Misc. ii. 321. Landor, quoting 'The thread is • Talking of Gray's Odes, Johnson spun,' continues : -'The thread must said:—“They are forced plants raised have been spun before they began in a hot-bed ; and they are poor weaving.' Imag. Conver. iii. 383. plants ; they are but cucumbers after Boswell's Johnson, ii. 327.
all.”! Boswell's Johnson, iv. 13. The manner of Richard's death Macbeth, iv. 1. 10. by Famine exhibits such beauties of "Whatever Prior obtains above mepersonification as only the richest diocrity seems the effort of struggle and most vivid imagination could and of toil.' Ante, PRIOR, 72. supply.' Mason, i. 99.
8 “We meet with a similar thought 3 ° Feil Thirst and Famine scowl in Quintilian (ii. 3) :-“Prima est A baleful smile upon their baffled eloquentiae virtus perspicuitas ; et guest.
The Bard, 1. 81. quo quisque ingenio minus valet, hoc "Thirst and hunger mocking Rich- se magis attollere et dilatare conatur; ard II appear to me too ludicrously ut statura breves in digitos eriguntur, like the devils ['the strange Shapes '] et plura infirmi minantur." PARR, in The Tempest, that whisk away Works, iv. 324. the banquet' from the shipwrecked 9 "I think there is something very Dukes.' WALPOLE, Letters, iii. 98. majestic in Gray's Installation Ode
• The last stanza has no beauties [Ode for Music]; but as to The Bard To say that he has no beauties would be unjust: a man like 49 him, of great learning and great industry, could not but produce something valuable. When he pleases least, it can only be said that a good design was ill directed.
His translations of Northern and Welsh Poetry deserve praise : 50 the imagery is preserved, perhaps often improved; but the language is unlike the language of other poets'.
In the character of his Elegy I rejoice to concur with the 51 common reader; for by the common sense of readers uncorrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours. The Church-yard abounds with images which find a mirrour in every mind, and with sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo". The four stanzas beginning ‘Yet
and the rest of his lyrics, I must say
also ib. v. 91. I think them frigid and artificial.' 2' About things on which the COLERIDGE, Table Talk, 1884, p. 264. public thinks long it commonly at
'Gray was a singular instance of tains to think right.' Ante, ADDISON, a man of taste, poetic feeling and 136; see also ante, POPE, 280. fancy without imagination.' Ib. p.275. 'This is a very fine poem, but over
'Gray's Pindaric Odes are stately loaded with epithet. The latter and pedantic, a kind of methodical part is pathetic and interesting.' borrowed frenzy.' HAZLITT, Lectures GOLDSMITH, Works, iii. 436. See on the English Poets, 1819, p. 234. Boswell's Johnson, i. 404 n., for Gold
'He failed as a poet, not because smith'mending the Elegy by leaving he took too much pains, and so ex- out an idle word in every line,' and tinguished his animation, but because ante, PARNELL, 10. he had very little of that fiery quality Coleridge (in his Literary Life) to begin with, and his pains were of says that his friend Mr. Wordsworth the wrong sort. He wrote English had undertaken to show that the verses as his brother Eton school- language of the Elegy is unintelboys wrote Latin, filching a phrase ligible : it has however been undernow from one author and now from stood. HAZLITT, Lectures on the another. I do not profess to be a English Poets, 1819, p. 234. person of very various reading ; Professor Robison told how 'he nevertheless, if I were to pluck out was on the boat in which Wolfe went of Gray's tail all the feathers which to visit some of his posts, the night I know belong to other birds, he before the battle sat Quebec). As would be left very bare indeed.' they rowed along, the General, with WORDSWORTH, R. P. Gillies's Me- much feeling, repeated nearly the moirs, 1851, ii. 165.
whole of the Elegy to an officer who Carlyle, writing of Goethe, describes sat with him in the stern, adding Gray's poetry as 'a laborious mosaic, that "he would prefer being the through the hard stiff lineaments of author of that poem to the glory of which little life or true grace could be beating the French to-morrow.' expected to look.' Misc. (n.d.), i. 185. John Playfair's Works, 1822, iv. 126.
Walpole wrote in 1761 :— Gray JOHNSON. His Elegy has a has translated two noble incanta- happy selection of images, but I don't tions from the Lord knows who, a like what called his great Danish Gray, who lived the Lord things.' Boswell's Johnson, i. 403. knows when. Letters, iii. 399. See * See Appendix AA.