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their origin from casual impressions, made organs
sense. The sight of the Welch harper, Parry,' and the rapture he felt at his execution, animated him to the finishing his “ Bard,” after it had lain by, for two years, hopeless : and the “ loose beard” and “ hoary hair streaming to the wind,” with which he has invested his tuneful Cambrian, were derived from a representation, by Raphael, of the Supreme Being, in the vision of Ezekiel.
The beech seems literally to have been Gray's “ favourite tree;" and, in the contemplation of it, in all its varieties, he seems to have passed many poetical hours. In the year 1737, he met with beeches, in grounds belonging to his uncle, of so singular a character, that I am willing to indulge the reader with
the description of them, in the poet's own words.
And, as they bow their hoary tops, relate,
On such beeches it was his fortune again to stumble in Italy, after an interval of three years; and them also he has celebrated, though in the ancient language of their country."
Hærent sub omni nam folio nigri
3 Of visions in fieri, latent on the leaves of trees, till poetic eyes shall look them into form, the conception, unless borrowed from the Norse, may be new : though it was the opinion of Dr Blake, that the Fancy of Gray was secretly led, in the formation of it, by the obscure recollection of the Legend of Sir John Mandeville, according to which, in certain very cold latitudes, articulate sounds were arrested by the frost, at the moment of their emission from the mouth of the speaker, and continued in that torpid
The thorn in Glastonbury Church-yard is known to have suggested to Gray, in the Elegy, the idea of that thorn, under which he fancies himself as buried. What particular beech he had in his eye, there is now no means of knowing. Chronology forbids us to suppose it to have been the beech which he found in the Highlands of Scotland, and which, to the astonishment of less fortunate travellers, he reports, upon his own mensuration, to have been upwards of sixteen feet in the girth, and no less than eighty feet high.'
Why the pensive man should lie rather under the shade of a beech, than under any other shady tree, save Gray's predilection for the beech, no reason can be assigned. In a situation nearly simi
state, until they were again thawed into vocality, by the return of the warm season !
lar, Thomson stretches himself under an qaķ. The general idea is the same.
Let me haste into the mid-wood shade,
XXX. XXXI. XXXII.
Of the Epitaph much more need not be said. The head of him who is immersed in the earth, can with little propriety be said to “ rest on her lap.” The transference of the word lap, is not happy. It is “ velvet green” over again. The ground of the objection is the same. A metaphor drawn from nature ennobles art. A metaphor drawn from art degrades nature. As Gray is known to have been learned, that “ Science frowned not on his birth," may be said with truth, according to the usual acceptation of the words. But phrases, such as “ Fortune smiled on his birth," 6 Science frown'd not on his birth," are become flat by usage. They were poetical; are now rhetorical; and will soon be prosaic.
He“ who gives to misery all he has," when that all is a tear, may be free from the charge of hard-heartedness ; but will be affectedly denominated bountiful ; as his giving this kind of all, will be, with quaintness, called giving largely. Recompence” is used improperly. For loss or suffering we make recompence, but for bounty we offer return : and we are not properly said to “ disclose” that, which by investigation we discover. “Merits and frailties reposing on the bosom of his Father, and his God,"