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In the foregoing Edition the text of all those pieces, which the Author published in his life-time, is given exactly as he left it in the London and Glasgow editions; and the few added pieces are printed verbatim from his corrected manuscripts. I have also inserted all his explanatory notes at the bottom of their respective pages; but those which only pointed out imitative expressions have been reserved for these concluding pages, because many of them appeared to me not very material, and therefore would have crowded the text as unnecessarily as my own annotations. — W. M.
The original manuscript title, which Mr. Gray gave to this Ode, was NoonTIDE; probably he then meant to write two more, descriptive of Morning and Evening. His unfinished Ode (vide p. 232 of the Memoirs) opens with a fine description of the former; and his Elegy was as beautiful a picture of the latter, which perhaps he might, at that time, have meditated upon for the exordium of an ode; but this is only conjecture. It may, however, be remarked, that these three capital descriptions abound with ideas which affect the ear more than the eye; and therefore go beyond the powers of picturesque imitation.
1. O'er-canopies the glade. Stanza ii. 1. 4.
Shakes. Mids. Night's Dream.
2. How low, how little are the proud, How indigent the great.
Stanza ii. 1. 9, 10.
How little are the great. Thus it stood in Dodsley's Miscellany, where it was first published. The Author corrected it on account of the point of little and great. It certainly had too much the appearance of a concetto, though it expressed his meaning better than the present reading.
3. And float amid the liquid noon.
Stanza ii. 1. 7.
Nare per æstatem liquidam. Virgil. Georg. lib. iv.
4. Quick-glancing to the sun.
Stanza iii. l. 10.,
sporting with quick glance, Shew to the sun their wav'd coats dropt with gold.
Milton's Par. Lost, b. vi. G. 5. To Contemplation's sober eye. Stanza iv. I. 1.
M. GREEN in the Grotto.
ODE II. 1. This little piece, in which comic humour is so happily blended with lyrical fancy, was written in point of time some years later than the first, third, and fourth Odes. See Memoirs, p. 187 ; but as the Author had printed it here in his own edition, I have not changed it. Mr. Walpole, since the death of Mr. Gray, has placed the China vase in question on a pedestal at Strawberry-bill, with the first four lines of the Ode for its inscription.
'Twas on this vase's lofty side, &c.
2. Two angel forms were seen to glide. Stanza iii. l. 2.
Two beauteous forms. First edition in Dodsley's Misc.
ODE III. 1. This was the first English production of Mr. Gray which appeared in print It was published in folio by Dodsley in 1747; about the same time, at Mr. Wal. pole's request, Mr. Gray sat for his picture to Echart, in which, on a paper which he held in his hand, Mr. Walpole wrote the title of this Ode, and to intimate his own high and just opinion of it, as a first production, added this line of Lucan by way of motto
Nec licuit populis parvum te, Nile, videre.—Phars. lib. x. I. 296. 2. And, redolent of joy and youth. Stanza ii. 1. 9.
Dryden's Fable on the Pythag. System.
3. And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye. Stanza viii. I. 6. The elision here is ungraceful and hurts this otherwise beautiful line: one of the same kind in the second line of the first Ode makes the same blemish; but I think they are the only two to be found in this correct writer; and I mention them here that succeeding poets may not look upon them as authorities. The judicious reader will not suppose that I would condemn all elisions of the genitive case, by this stricture on those which are terminated by rough consonants. Many there are which the ear readily admits, and which use has made familiar to it. 4. And moody Madness laughing wild. Stanza viii. 1. 9.
Dryden's Palamon and Arcite. G.
ODE IV. 1. This Ode was first published, with the three foregoing, in Dodsley's Miscellany, under the title of an Hymn to Adversity, which title is here dropped for the sake of uniformity in the page. It is unquestionably as truly lyrical as any of his other odes.
2. Exact my own defects to scan. Stanza vi. l. 7. The
many hard consonants, which occur in this line, hurt the ear; Mr. Gray perceived it himself, but did not alter it, as the words themselves were those which best conveyed his idea, and therefore he did not choose to sacrifice sense to sound.
Had Mr. Gray completed the fine lyrical fragment, which I have inserted in the fourth section of the Memoirs, I should have introduced it into the text of his Poems, as the fifth and last of bis monostrophic odes. In order to fulfil the promise which I made to my reader, (see p. 231) I shall now reprint the piece with my own additions to it. I have already made my apology for the attempt; and therefore shall only add, that although (as is usually done on such occasions) I print my supplemental lines in the italic character, yet I am well aware that their inferiority would but too easily distinguish them without any typographical assistance.
ON THE PLEASURE ARISING FROM VICISSITUDE.
Now the golden Morn aloft