"And here may be the best place to note after Dr Phelps that the 'whole atmosphere of Collins's Ode is similar to that of the Elegy. Cf. especially stanza 10,
''And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires,Dr Phelps notes also that Joseph Warton's verses contain some of Gray's pictures, and something of the same train of thought: e.g.:
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.'' '
''Hail, meek-eyed maiden, clad in sober grey,add:
Whose soft approach the weary woodman loves,
As homeward bent to kiss his prattling babes
Jocund he whistles through the twilight groves.''
''Now every Passion sleeps; desponding Love,The latter stanza might well be the form in embryo of the four rejected stanzas quoted infra, n. on . Dr Phelps remarks that ''the scenery as well as the meditations of the Elegy were by no means original: they simply established more firmly literary fashions which were already becoming familiar.''
And pining Envy, ever-restless Pride;
A holy calm creeps o'er my peaceful soul,
Anger and mad Ambition's storms subside.''
And certainly if the opening stanzas of the Elegy as we now have them were written as early as 1742, their composition was in no way affected by the poems of Warton and Collins; the same must be said even if the 'autumnal verses' of the letter of Sept. 11, 1746, were the Elegy. The spirit of gentle melancholy was in the air; and in 1746 and 1747 found in three young poets, Collins, Joseph Warton and Thomas Warton, that voice to the world at large which is found again in Gray in 1750. For in 1747 Thomas Warton published anonymously these lines, which he had written in his 17th year (1745):
''Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown pilewhere resemblance to the Elegy is closest of all.
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve
Where thro' some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell'd rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around,
Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bow'r
Amid the mould'ring caverns dark and damp,
Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves
Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some wasted tow'r:''
Between these three poets communication of ideas was probable; but at this date even Thomas Warton, with whom he afterwards corresponded, was an absolute stranger to Gray. And Gray is so far from feeling that in any of these there were 'kindred spirits' who might 'enquire his fate' that he writes, Dec. 27, 1746:
'Have you seen the Works of two young Authors, a Mr Warton and a Mr Collins, both Writers of Odes? it is odd enough, but each is the half of a considerable Man, and one the counterpart of the other. The first has but little invention, very poetical choice of Expression, and a good Ear, the second a fine fancy, model'd upon the Antique, a bad Ear, great variety of Words, and Images with no choice at all. They both deserve to last some Years, but will not.'
So little are men conscious of that 'stream of tendency' on which they themselves are borne."
"In August 1746 Gray writes to Wharton from Stoke, ''The Muse, I doubt, is gone, and has left me in far worse company; if she returns, you will hear of her.'' And from the same place to the same correspondent, on the following Sept. 11 (after the account of Aristotle quoted by Matthew Arnold in his Essay on Gray): ''This and a few autumnal Verses are my Entertainments dureing the Fall of the Leaf.'' I know of no poem but the Elegy to which these fitful efforts of the 'Muse' are likely to belong.
Once more from Stoke, on June 12, 1750, Gray writes to Walpole, ''I have been here a few days (where I shall continue a good part of the summer) and having put an end to a thing, whose beginning you have seen long ago, I immediately send it to you. You will I hope look upon it in the light of a thing with an end to it; a merit which most of my writings have wanted, and are likely to want.''
That this 'thing' was the Elegy there can be no doubt. Walpole could not have seen the 'beginning' of it at an earlier date than Nov. 1745, - the date, as I have shown (, p. 7), of his reconciliation with Gray, - except we adopt the extremely bold hypothesis that the Elegy was begun before the quarrel, that is to say before, as far as can be ascertained, Gray had written a line of original English verse."
a poem in an essay Should I paraphrase or ..
", Selected Poems of Gray and Collins (1967) p. 44, cites Swift's Thoughts on Various Subjects (Works (1735) vol i): 'There is in most people a reluctance and unwillingness to be forgotten. We observe even among the vulgar, how fond they are to have an inscription over their grave. It requires but little philosophy to discover and observe that there is no intrinsic value in all this; however, if it be founded in our nature, as an incitement to virtue, it ought not to be ridiculed.'"