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قراءة كتاب Graham's Magazine Vol. XXXII No. 2. February 1848

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‏اللغة: English
Graham's Magazine Vol. XXXII No. 2.  February 1848

Graham's Magazine Vol. XXXII No. 2. February 1848

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

class="smcap">all must soon sleep, without feeling true devotion, and forming resolves for future and amended conduct.

Slowly quitting the church-yard, and approaching the elevated monument, now become almost sublime as the shades of evening rendered dim its classic outline, it was impossible to avoid lingering some time longer beside it, recalling various passages of the Elegy appropriate to the occasion; the landscape was indeed "glimmering on the sight," and there was a "solemn stillness in the air," well befitting the occasion; more particularly appropriate was that fine stanza, which, although written by Gray, is omitted in all editions of the Elegy except the one hereafter noticed, in where it was re-incorporated by the editor, [the present writer,] in consequence of a suggestion kindly offered in a letter from Granville Penn, Esq., then residing with his brother at Stoke Park.

Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around
Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;
In still small accents whispering from the ground,
A grateful earnest of eternal peace.

The Elegy is undoubtedly the most popular poem in the English language; it was translated into that of every country in Europe, besides Latin and Greek. It has been more frequently, elaborately and expensively illustrated with pictorial embellishments. The autograph copy of it, in the poet's small, neat hand, written on two small half sheets of paper, was sold last year for no less than one hundred pounds sterling; and the spirited purchaser was most appropriately the proprietor of Stoke Park, Granville John Penn, Esq., who at the same sale gave forty-five pounds for the autograph copy of The Long Story, and one hundred and five pounds for the Odes; whilst another gentleman gave forty pounds for two short poems and a letter from the illustrious poet on the death of his father.

The truthfulness of the pictures presented to the imagination in the Elegy could not be denied, for there, on the very spot where, beyond all question, it was composed, and after a lapse of nearly one hundred years, the images which impressed the mind of the inspired poet came fresh at every turn. It is true the curfew did not toll, but the "lowing herd" were as distinctly audible as the beetle wheeling his droning flight. The yew tree's shade—that identical tree, to which, to a moral certainty, the poet had reference—is represented in the cut, in the corner of the inclosure, as distinctly as the smallness of the scale admitted, underneath its shade the "turf lies in many a mouldering heap," and the "rugged elms" are outside the inclosure, but their outstretched arms overspread many a "narrow cell and frail memorial," where the "rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep," and where also "their name and years are spelt by th' unlettered muse." A singular error in spelling the name of one of those humble persons, was however committed by the poet himself in his "Long Story," very pardonable in him, however, as the party was then alive; but that the error should have been perpetuated in all editions save one, down to that entitled "The Eton," being printed there, and edited by a reverend clergyman resident in the college, is somewhat singular; moreover the second edition of the Eton Gray appeared this very year, and the error remains, although the name is correctly given on the grave-stone. The excepted edition, in which alone it is correctly given, was published in 1821, and edited by the present writer for his friend Mr. John Sharpe. The circumstance will be noticed presently.

The Elegy of Gray was evidently written under the influence of strong feeling, and vivid impressions of the beautiful in the scenery around him, and when his sensitive mind was overspread with melancholy, in consequence of the death of his young, amiable and accomplished friend West, to whom, in June, 1742, he addressed his lovely Ode to Spring, which was written at Stoke; but before it reached his friend he was numbered with the dead! So true was the friendship subsisting between them, that the poet of Stoke was overpowered with a melancholy which, although subdued, lasted during a great part of his life.

The scenes amid which the Elegy was composed were well adapted to soothe and cherish that contemplative sadness which, when the wounds of grief are healing, it is a luxury to indulge, and that the poet did indulge them is self-evident in many a line.

In returning to Stoke Green to spend the night, some of the rustic peasantry were wending their way down the lane to the same place, but none of these simple people, although questioned, could tell aught of him whose fame and works had induced the pilgrimage to Stoke; neither did better success attend any succeeding inquiry at the village. So universally true is that scriptural saying, like all the sayings of Him who uttered it, that a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house.

Retiring to rest early, with a full determination to do that which had often been resolved but never accomplished, that is, to rise with the dawn; the resolution had nearly defeated the purpose, inasmuch as the mind being surcharged with the past and the expected, there was little inclination to sleep until after midnight. But a full and fixed determination of the will overcomes greater difficulties, and the first streak of light at break of day found me up and dressed, and of a truth