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By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
60 What though no sacred earth allow thee room, Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb? Yet shall thy grave with rising flow’rs be drest, And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast: There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow, 65 There the first roses of the year shall blow;
Ver. 59. What tho' no weeping Lodes, &c.] This beautiful little Elegy had gained the unanimous admiration of all men of taste. When a Critic comes—But hold ; to give his observation fair play, let us first analyze the Poem. The Ghost of the injured person appears, to excite the Poet to revenge her wrongs. He describes her character-execrates the author of her misfortunesexpatiates on the severity of her fate—the rites of sepulture denied her in a foreign land: Then follows,
“ What tho' no weeping Loves thy ashes
“ Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be drest,” &c. Can any thing be more naturally pathetic ? Yet the Critic tells us, he can give no quarter to this part of the poem, which is eminently, he says, discordant with the subject, and not the language of the heart. But when he tells us, that it is to be ascribed to imitation, copying indiscreetly what has been said by others, [Elements of Crit. vol. ii. p. 182.] his Criticism begins to smell furiously of old John Dennis. Well might our Poet's last wish be,“ to commit his writings to the candour of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every short-sighted and malevolent critic.”
While Angels with their silver wings o'ershade
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
Poets themselves must fall like those they sung, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays ; Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, 80 Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The Muse forgot, and thou belov'd no more !
Ver. 82. The Muse forgot,] Of the powerful effect which this poem is calculated to produce, an instance is given in a letter from David Hume to Mr. Spence: “I repeated to him (Mr. Blacklock the poet, who was blind) Mr. Pope's Elegy to the Memory of an unfortunate Lady, which I happened to have by heart. And although I be a very bad reciter, I saw it affected him extremely. His eyes, indeed, the great index of the mind, could express no passion, but his whole body was thrown into agitation. That poem was equally qualified to touch the delicacy of his taste, and the tenderness of his feelings." —Spence's Anec. 448. Singer's Ed.