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roso of Milton, it is to be found as an epithet applied to windows, of which the panes are of painted glass. It is also used by Pope. “ Flattery, soothing the ear of death,” is characteristical. What is said of “ Honour's voice” is not said happily. There is a want of appropriation. “ Silent dust,” is one of these expressions, which Voltaire used to denominate des Suisses ; always ready at a call, and willing to engage in any service.
XII. XII. In the two following quatrains, is well described the depression of genius under ignorance and poverty. But, here too, allowance must be made for a little of the old leaven. Hands are, metaphorically, said to “sway the rod of empire,” and literally to bring forth sounds from the lyre. “ Living lyre” is from Cowley; and, of his obligation to the royal poet of Judah, for the application of the idea “ awake” to the eliciting of sounds from the harp or lyre, he has thought the acknowledgment deserving commemoration. In the whole of the Elegy, criticism has not been able to find two more happy lines than the following:
Chill penury repress’d their noble rage,
Here are really two ideas. Penury, in the character of frost, deprives the current of its heat, and checks its onward motion. I am unwilling to suppose the metaphor to be an incoherent one; and that Gray jumbled into one, the images of horsemanship, and watery motion, as Addison has done in the following couplet :
I bridle in my struggling muse with pain,
. XIV.. . Of the melancholy truth, that great parts are often kept from expansion, by the influence of poverty and ignorance, the fourteenth stanza seems to promise the illustration, by reference made to analogous depressions of excellence in the material and vegetable kingdoms. But more is promised than performed. The examples are made up of shewy images ; but they are not examples in point. Non erat his locus.
The proposition to be illustrated was, “ That latent possibilities of perfection, “ which favourable situations an cir
Letter from Italy
“ cumstances might have brought out, “ are, sometimes, by circumstances of an “ untowardly kind, prevented from be“ing duly unfolded.” Of this position illustrations might easily have been found, had not Gray confounded it with another, equally true, yet altogether distinct. That other position is, “ That, of per“ fections already unfolded, there may “ occur extrinsic causes to prevent the “ beneficial display.”
It is of this latter position, that Gray. has given the illustration, in the images of “ the gem, whose brightness is hid by “ its depth in the sea ;” and of “ the " flower, whose beauty and fragrance are “ lost, on account of the solitude of the “ desert in which it grows." It is nothing to the illustration of the former position, that the flower blushes unseen; or that the gem may grow where no hand can reach it. Had the bright
ness of the gem remained folded up'in the crust; or the flower been frostnipt in the bud, the images had been in point.
Of the images themselves I have already allowed the merit. They are both, however, to be found in Thomson, from whom Gray seems to have borrowed more than he thought fit to acknowledge. Speaking of the influence of the sun, and the universal operation of light; he says,' in the way of address to the great operator,
The unfruitful rock itself, impregn’d by thee,
And, describing the retirement of a rural beauty,
As, in the hollow breast of Apennine, Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,