Imatges de pÓgina

'cite as any additional proof of the point in question, but as the ⚫ clearest illustration of his meaning in the foregoing quotation. "Quorum similia sunt quædam etiam apud nostros: velut illa ❝ in Thyeste,

Quemnam te esse dicam? qui tardâ in senectute:

"Et quæ sequuntur: quæ, nisi cùm tibicen accessit, orationi


66 sunt solutæ simillima.”---Ibid.---' The second testimony, that ' of Quintilian, is also full to our present purpose. "Poëtas "certè legendos Oratori futuro concesserint: num igitur hi sine "Musce? at si quis tam cæcus animi est, ut de aliis dubitet; “ illos ertè, qui carmina ad lyram composuerunt."-Quintilianus, lib. 1. ap. 17.-Here we see, that, whatever might be the case ' with some other kinds of Poetry, in the Ode the want of an accompanying Lyre could not be dispensed with.

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'Thus then, if we rely on these classical authorities, stood the Greek-Oe; claiming, in the exhibition of a beauty so essen'tial to its perfection, the kind assistance of an inferior Art: 'while the brics of Mr. Gray, with the richness of Imagery and the glow of Expression, breathe also the various modulations of an intinsic and independent Melody.

For this singular dvantage, so little known or considered, we ' are certainly indoted to Rhyme; and, whatever opinion may 'be formed of its se in other kinds of Poetry, we may con'clude from hence tat it is a necessary support to the harmony ' of our Ode.'



1. I promised the reader, in the Memoirs, (see a note between the 20th and 21st Letter, Sect. 4.) to give him, in this place, the original argument of this capital Ode, as its author iad set it down on one of the pages of his common-place book It is as follows: The army of Edward I. as they march through a deep "valley, are suddenly stopped by the appearance of venerable "figure seated on the summit of an inaccessible rock who, with "a voice more than human, reproaches the [Kingwith all the "misery and desolation which he had brought on is country; "foretells the misfortunes of the Norman race, nd with pro"phetic spirit declares, that all his cruelty shall ner extinguish "the noble ardour of poetic genius in this islans and that men "shall never be wanting to celebrate true vijue and valour in "immortal strains, to expose vice and infampus pleasure, and "boldly censure tyranny and oppression. iis song ended, he "precipitates himself from the mountain, ad is swallowed up ४८ by the river that rolls at its foot." Fineas the conclusion of this Ode is at present, I think it would hav been still finer, if he could have executed it according to the plan; but unhappily for his purpose, instances of English Poets were wanting. Spenser had that enchanting flow of vese which was peculiarly calculated to celebrate Virtue and Valor; but he chose to celebrate them, not literally, but in allegry. Shakespeare, who had talents for every thing, was undobtedly capable of exposing Vice and infamous Pleasure; and th drama was a proper vehicle for his satire: but we do not everând that he professedly made this his object; nay, we know at, in one inimitable character, he has so contrived as to me vices of the worst kind, such as cowardice, drunkenness, dinonesty, and lewdness, not only laughable, but almost amiabe; for with all these sins on his head, who can help liking Falstaff? Milton, of all our great

Poets, was the only one who boldly censured Tyranny and Oppres sion: but he chose to deliver this censure, not in poetry, but in prose. Dryden was a mere court parasite to the most infamous of all courts. Pope, with all his laudable detestation of corruption and bribery, was a Tory; and Addison, though a Whig and a fine writer, was unluckily not enough of a Poet for his purpose. On these considerations Mr. Gray was necessitated to change his plan towards the conclusion: Hence we perceive, that in the last epode he praises Spenser only for his allegory, Shakespeare for his powers of moving the passions, and Milton for his epic excellence. I remember the Ode lay unfinished by him for a year or two on this very account; and I hardly believe that it would ever have had his last hand but for the circumstance of his hearing Parry play on the Welch Harp at a concert at Cambridge, (see Letter xxv. sect. iv.) which he often declared inspired him with the conclusion.

2. Mr. Smith, the Musical Composer and worthy pupil of Mr. Handel, had once an idea of setting this Ode, and of having it performed by way of serenata or oratorio. A common friend of his and Mr. Gray's interested himself much in this design, and drew out a clear analysis of the Ode, that Mr. Smith might more perfectly understand the Poet's meaning. He conversed also with Mr. Gray on the subject, who gave him an idea for the overture, and marked also some passages in the Ode in order to ascertain which should be recitative, which air, what kind of air, and how accompanied. The design was, however, not executed; and therefore I shall only (in order to give the reader a taste of Mr. Gray's musical feelings) insert in this place what his sentiments were concerning the overture. "It should be so "contrived as to be a proper introduction to the Ode; it might "consist of two movements, the first descriptive of the horror " and confusion of battle, the last a march grave and majestic, "but expressing the exultation and insolent security of con


quest. This movement should be composed entirely of wind "instruments, except the kettle-drum heard at intervals. The "da capo of it must be suddenly broke in upon, and put to “silence by the clang of the harp in a tumultuous rapid move

ment, joined with the voice, all at once, and not ushered in "by any symphony. The harmony may be strengthened by any other stringed instrument; but the harp should every ❝ where prevail, and form the continued running accompany"ment, submitting itself to nothing but the voice."


5. Ruin seize thee, ruthless King.

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Strophe 1. l. 1.

On this noble exordium, the anonymous Critic before-mentioned, thus eloquently expresses his admiration: "This abrupt execra"tion plunges the reader into that sudden fearful perplexity "which is designed to predominate through the whole. The ❝ irresistible violence of the prophet's passions bears him away, "who, as he is unprepared by a formal ushering in of the "6 Ispeaker, is unfortified against the impressions of his poetical " phrenzy, and overpowered by them, as sudden thunders strike "the deepest." All readers of taste, I fancy, have felt this effect from the passage; they will be well pleased, however, to see their own feelings so well expressed as they are in this note.

4. They mock the air with idle state.


Mocking the air with colours idly spread.


Strophe 1. l. 4.

5. Such were the sounds, that o'er the crested pride. Strophe 1. l. 9.

The crested adder's pride.

6. Loose his beard, &c.

Shakes. King John. G.

Dryden's Indian Queen. G.

Antist. i. l. 5.

The image was taken from a well-known picture of Raphael, representing the Supreme Being in the vision of Ezekiel: there are two of these paintings, both believed to be originals, one at Florence, the other in the Duke of Orleans's collection at Paris. G.

Mr. Gray never saw the large Cartoon, done by the same divine hand, in the possession of the Duke of Montagu, at his Seat at Boughton, in Northamptonshire, else I am persuaded he would have mentioned it in this note. The two finished pic tures abroad (which I believe are closet-pieces) can hardly have so much spirit in them as this wonderful drawing; it gave me the sublimest idea I ever received from painting. Moses breaking the tables of the law, by Parmegiano, was a figure which Mr. Gray used to say came still nearer to his meaning than the picture of Raphael.

7. Dear, as the light that visits these sad eyes,

Dear, as the ruddy drops that warm my heart.
Ep. i. l. 12 and 13.


As dear to me as are the ruddy drops,

That visit my sad heart.

8. No more I weep, &c.

Ep. i. l. 15.

Here, says the anonymous Critic, a vision of triumphant revenge is judiciously made to ensue, after the pathetic lamentation which precedes it. Breaks-double rhymes- -an appropriated cadence and an exalted ferocity of language forcibly picture to us the uncontroulable tumultuous workings of the prophet's stimulated bosom.

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Shakes. Julius Cæsar. G.

Strophe 2. l. 1.

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