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to be remembered by them in our absence: this would be expressed clearer, if the metaphorical term fires was rejected, and the line ran thus:
Awake and faithful to her first desires.
I do not put this alteration down for the idle vanity of aiming to amend the passage, but purely to explain it.
5. To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
On the high brow of yonder hanging lawn.
After which, in his first manuscript, followed this stanza:
Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
I rather wonder that he rejected this stanza, as it not only has the same sort of Doric delicacy, which charms us peculiarly in this part of the Poem, but also compleats the account of his whole day: whereas, this Evening scene being omitted, we have only his Morning walk, and his Noon-tide repose.
6. Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.
Between this line and the Epitaph, Mr. Gray originally inserted a very beautiful stanza, which was printed in some of the first editions, but afterwards omitted; because he thought (and in my own opinion very justly) 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,
7. There they alike in trembling hope repose.
Petrarch. Son. 114. G.
END OF THE NOTES, &c.
THE lives of men of letters seldom abound with incidents; and perhaps no life ever afforded fewer than that which I have undertaken to write. But I am far from mentioning this by way of previous apology, as is the trite custom of biographers. The respect which I owe to my deceased friend, to the public, and (let me add) to myself, prompts me to wave so impertinent a ceremonial. A reader of sense and taste never expects to find in the memoirs of a Philosopher, or Poet, the same species of entertainment, or information, which he would receive from those of a Statesman or
General: He expects, however, to be either informed or entertained: Nor would he be disappointed, did the writer take care to dwell principally on such topics as characterize the man, and distinguish that peculiar part which he acted in the varied Drama of Society.