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ing the moon's limb. All this is well. The perspective is rather striking: and the picture not ill defined. But the poet was not content. He felt a desire to enlarge : and, in executing his purpose, produced accumulation without improvement. The idea of the owl's complaining is an artificial one; and the view on which it proceeds absurd. Gray should have seen, that it but ill befitted the bird of wisdom to complain to the moon of an intrusion, which the moon could no more help than herself.

I suspect this idea, of the owl complaining to the moon, to have been a borrowed one, though I do not certainly know from whom. Addison, whose piety deterred him from doubting that religion was capable of poetic embellishment, has made the moon tell a story, and the stars and planets sing a devotional catch."

Spectator, No 465.

But of fancies approaching to Gray's, I find no one that approaches so closely, as that contained in the children's book, where the little dog is drawn barking at ; the moon. It is expostulation in the one case, and scolding in the other. Gray has chosen the most respectful. But enough of this. Criticism is content to check a curiosity that wants an adequate object, and would spare Poetry the mortification of finding herself tracked to the lanes and blind allies where her trappings were picked up.

Though the complaint of the owl is unreasonable, her distress is characteris-. tical, and prettily expressed; yet“ bower" is rather a gay term for an owl's eyry; and of the application of “ reign,” where there are none to reign over, the propriety admits of doubt.

A few words more on the expression, in these three stanzas. 66 Leaves the world to darkness and to me,” is quaint,


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and puts us in mind of “great Anna," who


Does sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea :

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but quaintness is what every reader comes prepared to meet with in Gray. It is one of the most marked features in his poetical character, and sometimes extends to his

prose.* “ I am come,” (says he, in one of his letters to his friend) “ to town, and better hopes of seeing you.“ How little are the Great," was the closing line of a stanza in that ode,' in which it is said, that “ they that creep and they that fly, shall end where they began :and so he suffered it for some time to stand, in

application, no doubt, of his own idea of a closing thought, which ought, as he expresses himself,* “ to have a flower stuck

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in it,” or “to be twirled off into an apophthegm.” The flower, however, in time, ceased to please him : yet, with so faultering a hand did he pluck it out, and so awkwardly did he re-adjust the parts that remained, that, as his Editor observes, the change was for the worse, and the thought lost its original poignancy.

When I am told that " all the air a solemn stillness holds," I hesitate; and in vain, by the help of the Grammar, or Collocation, endeavour to discover which of the two is the holder, and which is the held. If it is the air that holds the stillness, too great liberty is taken with the verb; and if it is the stillness that holds the air, the action is too violent for so quiet a personage: but the sound was necessary, to assist the bell-wedders to complete the lulling of the “ folds."

* Mason

Having cleared the way in the preceding stanzas, he now enters upon his ground, and lays out his Church-yard in form. Here Criticism is posed, unable to answer the question, « What is the most proper church-yard ?” Whether there be a taste in church-yards ; and a selection of capabilities required in this, as well as in other modifications of ter: rene surface, I am uncertain, Nor do I know that Kent, or the other English architects, ever laid out a church-yard ; though it appears that the Scotch, who are eager to make the most of every thing, have taken even that into their general plan of pleasure ground.' Gray's Church-yard has been designed : But the fancy of Cipriani, wedded to the softness of Bartolozzi, has not been able to produce from it any thing that makes

1 Called by them Policy.


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