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'A little bench of heedless bishops here,
Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so,
As Milton, Shakspeare-names that ne'er shall die," &c.
These lines, are thought by Mr. D'Israeli, to have suggested to Gray, the ines in nis Elegy
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood, &c.
Chambers thinks the conception of Shenstone-that in the undeveloped minds of these young children there may slumber the powers of poet or statesman far more natural, than that of Gray, that the peasant should have grown up to be a man, and to have gone to his grave, without having given indications of the existence of these powers.
(6.) Embowered in trees, and hardly known to fame,
For the illustration of Sarah Lloyd's thatched cottage, near Hales-Owen, Shropshire, we are indebted to J. P. Jewett & Co., Boston, the publishers of "Rural Poetry," a royal octavo volume of 544 pages of the best poetry which has been inspired by the charms of nature, the occupations of the garden and the field, and the genius of domestic life. The cut is copied from one introduced by Shenstone in the original edition of his poem-which was printed in red letter, and illustrated by designs of his own. The last edition published by Shenstone contains seven stanzas more than the first, with several omissions and verbal alterations. To the first edition was appended a “ludicrous index,” so styled by Shenstone himself, in one of his letters, "purely to show fools that I am in jest." As a contribution to the literature of Education, we publish this Index, from Mr. D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, second series."
The subject proposed,
Stanza. structure, decoration, and fortifications of an HORN-BIBLE, A surprising picture of sisterly affection by way of episode, 20, 21
A short list of the methods now in use
A circumstance in the situation of the
Some peculiarities indicative of a COUN-
A hint of great importance,
The secret connection between WHIP-
A parallel instance of the advantages of LEGAL GOVERNMENT with regard to children and the wind,
The force of example,
A sketch of the particular symptoms of
Her TITLES, and punctilious nicety in
A view of this RURAL POTENTATE as
The ACTION of the poem commences
to avoid a whipping-which nevertheless follows,
[Another stanza omitted.]
THE SCHOOL AND TEACHER IN LITERATURE.
THOMAS GRAY. 1716-1771.
THOMAS GRAY, of all English poets the most finished artist, was born in London, in 1716, and was the only one of twelve children who survived the period of infancy. His father was a money-scrivener, and of harsh and violent disposition, whose wife was forced to separate from him; and to the exertions of this excellent woman, as partner with her sister in a millinery business, the poet owed the advantages of a learned education, toward which his father had refused all assistance. He was sent to be educated at Eton, where a maternal uncle, named Antrobus, was one of the assistant-masters. He remained here six years, and made himself a good classic; he was an intimate associate of the accomplished Richard West, this being one of the most interesting school-friendships on record. West went to Oxford, whence he thus wrote to Gray:
"You use me very cruelly: you have sent me but one letter since I have been at Oxford, and that too agreeable not to make me sensible how great my loss is in not having more. Next to seeing you is the pleasure of seeing your handwriting; next to hearing you is the pleasure of hearing from you. Really and sincerely, I wonder at you, that you thought it not worth while to answer my last letter. I hope this will have better success in behalf of your quondam school-fellow; in behalf of one who has walked hand in hand with you, like the two children in the wood,
Thro' many a flow'ry path and shelly grot,
The very thought, you see, tips my pen with poetry, and brings Eton to my view."
Another of Gray's associates at Eton was Horace Walpole; they removed together to Cambridge; Gray resided at Peterhouse from 1735 to 1738, when he left without a degree. The spirit of Jacobitism and its concomitant hard-drinking, which then prevailed at Cambridge, ill-suited the taste of Gray; nor did the uncommon proficiency he had made at Eton hold first rank, for he complains of college impertinences, and the endurance of lectures, daily and hourly. "Must I pore into metaphysics?" asks Gray. "Alas, I can not see in the dark; nature has not furnished me with the optics of a cat. Must I pore upon mathematics? Alas, I can not see in too much light; I am no eagle. It is very possible that two and two make four, but I would
not give four farthings to demonstrate this ever so clearly; and if these be the profits of life, give me the amusements of it." Yet Gray subsequently much regretted that he had never applied his mind to the study of mathematics; and once, rather late in life, had an intention to undertake it. His time at Cambridge was devoted to classics, modern languages, and poetry; and a few Latin poems and English translations were made by him at this period. In "the agonies of leaving college," he complains of "the dust, the old boxes, the bedsteads, and tutors," that were about his ears. "I am coming away," he says, "all so fast, and leaving behind me, without the least remorse, all the beauties of Stourbridge Fair. Its white bears may roar, its apes may wring their hands, and crocodiles cry their eyes out, all's one for that; I shall not once visit them, nor so much as take my leave."
In a letter to Mr. West, he says: "I learn Italian like any dragon, and in two months am got through the 16th Book of Tasso, whom I hold in great admiration; I want you to learn too, that I may know your opinion of him; nothing can be easier than that language to any one who knows Latin and French already, and there are few so copious and expressive."
In 1739, Gray accompanied Horace Walpole on a tour through France and Italy; but, as they could not agree, Gray being, as Walpole has it, "too serious a companion," the former returned to England in 1741. He next went to Cambridge, to take his degree in Civil Law. He now devoted himself to the classics, and at the same time cultivated his muse. At Cambridge he was considered an unduly fastidious man, and the practical jokes and "incivilities" played off upon him by his fellow-inmates at Peterhouse-one of which was a false alarm of fire, through which he descended from his window to the ground by a rope-was the cause of his migrating to Pembroke Hall. He subsequently obtained the professorship of Modern History in the University. He usually passed the summer with his mother, at Stoke, near Eton, in which picturesque locality he composed his two most celebrated poems-the Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, and his Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.
Gray continued to reside at Cambridge, and prosecuted his studies in natural history, as well as in almost every department of learning, until 1771, when he died, and was buried, according to his desire, by the side of his mother, at Stoke.
There scattered oft, the earliest of the year,
Alas! regardless of their doom,
No sense have they of ills to come,
Yet see how all around 'em wait
The Ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand To seize their prey the murth'rous band: Ah, tell them they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear,
And Shame that sculks behind;
And Envy wan, and faded Care, Grim-visaged comfortless Despair, And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood, those shall try,
Lo, in the vale of years beneath
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their Queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins.
That every laboring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand, And slow-consuming Age.
To each his suff'rings: all are men,
The tender for another's pain,
Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate!
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise. No more; where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.