1802
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

More of the Sequel of the Long Story. Discovered in the Year 1801.

Verses on Several Subjects, written in the Vicinity of Stoke Park, in the Summer and Autumn of 1801. By Henry James Pye.

Henry James Pye


22 quatrains, continued from John Penn's Part of the Sequel of A Long Story. Discovered in the Year 1783. Henry James Pye wrote the verses during a visit to Stoke Park, sight of the house at Stoke Pogis where Gray had set A Long Story. Penn's sequel seems to have been written in some anxiety about pulling down the ancient house, which Pye sets to rights by entering into the gothic fiction as developed in the two earlier installments.

Pye introduces a new ghost to the series, Sir George Fermor, who gently rebukes Sir Edward Coke for his distaste for poetry: "Bards can to fable truth impart, | Embellish'd by poetic diction; | You, lawyers, have the happier art, | To make ev'n truth appear a fiction" p. 50. He describes how the ancient house will fall to rise again, and how the clipped hedges that adorned the grounds in Gray's time would give way to a landscape park in a more natural taste, where a troubled spirit might wander, "unobserv'd by vulgar eyes, | Seen only by the man of song" p. 52. The poem concludes with a description of the monumental statue that Penn would raise to Coke in honor of the laws of temperate freedom.

Author's note: "This courteous ghost is supposed to be that of Sir George Fermor, an ancestor of the present proprietor of Stoke Park; he was a particular friend of Sir Philip Sydney, with whom he served in the Netherlands. He entertained James I. and his Queen the first time they met in England, at the seat of his family at Easton Neston, in Northamptonshire. (See Collins's Peerage, under the title of 'Earl of Pomfret').... The grounds at Stoke Park were modernised about thirty years ago, by Richmond, on a plan not much dissimilar from one of Brown's, who was gardener to Lady Pomfret at the time our poet was brought before her Ladyship, as suggested in the Long Story" 49n., 54n.

British Critic: "The poetical presents of the Laureate to the public have been very numerous, and all of them acceptible" 20 (July 1802) 69.

Christopher Lake Moody: "Mr. Penn, in the last edition of his poems, published a sequel to Gray's Long Story; and Mr. Pye has here subjoined a sequel to that sequel, for the purpose of farther complimenting the taste and genius of his friend. If future bards, resident at or visiting Stoke, should deem themselves equal to the task of being continuators of Gray, the five hundred stanzas, playfully supposed to have been deficient, will resume their station, with interest for time lost; and then it will be indeed what Gray never intended it should be, A Long Story, and a very tedious one in the bargain" Monthly Review NS 41 (August 1803) 363.

Poetical Register for 1802: "A very considerable portion of this little volume is occupied by Gray's Long Story, and a continuation of it by Mr. Penn, which are inserted to introduce a further continuation by Mr. Pye. This mode of making a volume is, perhaps, not quite fair. There is, however, much merit in Mr. Pye's additional stanzas. The other poems are generally pleasing and elegant" (1803) 431.

William Howitt: "The whole scene is well worthy of a summer day's stroll, especially for such as, pent in the metropolis, know how to enjoy the quiet freshness of the country, and the associations of poetry and the past. The Great Western Railway now will set such down in about one hour at Slough, a pleasant walk from Stoke. The late Mr. Penn, a gentleman of refined taste, and a great reverencer of the memory of Gray, possessed his autographs, which have been sold at great prices. It is to be regretted that his house, too, is now gone, but the church and the tomb will remain to future ages" "Gray, at Stoke-Pogis" Homes and Haunts of the Most Eminent British Poets (1847) 1:285.



Here, sudden from the shadowy band,
A spruce and gallant spirit started;
Trim were his whiskers, white his hand,
Adonis-form'd, and lion-hearted.

Victor of ladies and of foes,
The tilt-yard trembled at his lance;
Soft madrigals he could compose,
Could strike the lute and lead the dance.

In courts, or camps, where'er he mov'd,
Respect and fame his steps attend;
Honour'd by kings, by beauties lov'd,
Eliza's subject, Sydney's friend.

Thus, in the middle of his prosing,
He cuts the Lord Chief Justice short:
"Friend Coke, you set the audience dozing;
'Tis time, Sir, to adjourn the court.

"Bards can to fable truth impart,
Embellish'd by poetic diction;
You, lawyers, have the happier art,
To make ev'n truth appear a fiction.

"Though, gentle Bard! no votive lay
Shall mark where rests thy hallow'd dust;
Though solemn fabrics far away
Receive thy consecrated bust:

"Yet know a patron shall arise,
Sprung from high chiefs of Albion's band;
From sages sprung, who humanize
With arts of peace a savage land.

"He, 'mid these scenes whose shades among
The warbling Muses caught thine ear,
Worthy the poet and the song,
A monumental shrine shall rear.

"Near, are the village fathers laid,
Recorded in thy plaintive shade,
Near, Eton's academic shade,
And lofty Windsor's proud domain.

"Here, when the moon's wan lustre pours
A trembling radiance o'er the grove,
Or in pale twilight's glimmering hours,
Thy gentle spirit oft shall rove.

"Not like the goblins grim that scare
The maidens as they come from milking,
And render useless Jefford's care,
Her hopes of cream and custard bilking:

"Mild as the Sylphs that gently rise,
That glide in airy form along;
And, unobserv'd by vulgar eyes,
Seen only by the man of song.

"The massy roofs, the embattled wall,
That seem the assaults of Time to scorn,
Shall fall — but glorious in their fall,
With ruin'd state the scene to adorn.

"While on yon upland's breezy height,
Design'd by classic Wyatt's taste,
A polish'd dome shall charm the sight,
With Graecia's purest orders grac'd:

"And in the placid wave below,
That seems through shadowy dells to glide,
With mild refulgence shall it glow,
Reflected in the silver tide.

"The walls excluding every view,
The walks by line and compass laid,
Clipt to unsightly shape the yew,
And cabinets of tonsile shade,

"Shall vanish all — for 'mid these seats
Lo! a magician waves the wand;
And starch formality retreats
From Albion's cultivated land.

"Thro' fragrant shrubs, thro' plants unknown,
From climes yet undiscover'd brought,
Smooth winds the undulating zone,
As nature had its progress taught.

"Nor shall, my Lord Chief Justice, you
The change with envious eye discerning,
Your legal worth neglected view—
For, (friend of universal learning,

"Patron of worth in every form,
Revering happy Albion's laws,
With patriot ardour nobly warm,
Zealous in temperate Freedom's cause;)

"The princely owner's liberal hand
Shall to thy name a column raise,
And all who tread this fairy land,
As on its former lord they gaze,

"Shall, while of taste this lov'd abode,
With never-wearied step they trace,
Bless the true votary of that code
Which guards what every Muse has grac'd."

[pp. 48-55]