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"[Sketch of his Own Character]"

"[Sketch of his Own Character]"


1 Too poor for a bribe and too proud to importune,
2 He had not the method of making a fortune:
3 Could love and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd;
4 No very great wit, he believed in a God.
5 A post or a pension he did not desire,
6 But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire.

Expanding the poem lines (+) shows the results of a computationally facilitated analysis of the text. These results should be considered as a basis for deeper interpretative enquiry such as can be found in the notes and queries.

0 "[Sketch of his Own Character]"

Metrical notation:  -+|--+|--+|---+/ -+|--+|--+|--+-/ -+|--+|--+|--+/ -+|--+|--+|--+/ -+|--+|--+|--+/ -+|--+|--+|--+/
Metrical foot type:  anapaestic (--+)
Metrical foot number:  tetrameter (4 feet) (catalectic) (hypercatalectic)
Rhyme scheme:  aabbcc
Rhyme (stanza position):  pair (aabb)
Syllable pattern:  12.12.11.11.11.11
Stanza:  sestet (6 lines)

Notation symbols: | (foot boundary), || (caesura), / (metrical line boundary), + (metrically prominent), - (metrically non-prominent)


1 Too poor for a bribe and too proud to importune,    
Rhyme:  aabbcc   |   Rhyme word:  importune   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɔːtjuːn/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  -+|--+|--+|---+/   |   Syllables:  12
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): poor/proud /p/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): Too/too/to /uː/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): for/importune /ɔː/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): Too/too/importune /t/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): poor/proud/importune /p/
Figure:  diacope (morphological): Too/too

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2 He had not the method of making a fortune:    
Rhyme:  aabbcc   |   Rhyme word:  fortune   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɔːtʃən/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  -+|--+|--+|--+-/   |   Syllables:  12
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): He/had /h/
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): method/making /m/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): not/of /ɒ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): He/had /h/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): method/making /m/

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3 Could love and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd;    
Rhyme:  aabbcc   |   Rhyme word:  odd   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɒd/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  -+|--+|--+|--+/   |   Syllables:  11
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): Could/could /k/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): Could/could /ʊ/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): love/somewhat /ʌ/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): was/somewhat/odd /ɒ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): Could/could /k/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): Could/could/odd /d/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): hate/thought/somewhat /t/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): so/somewhat /s/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): was/somewhat /w/
Figure:  diacope (morphological): Could/could

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4 No very great wit, he believed in a God.    
Rhyme:  aabbcc   |   Rhyme word:  God   |   Rhyme sound:  /ɒd/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  -+|--+|--+|--+/   |   Syllables:  11
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): great/God /g/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): wit/in /ɪ/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): he/believed /iː/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): No/in /n/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): very/believed /v/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): great/God /g/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): great/wit /t/

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5 A post or a pension he did not desire,    
Rhyme:  aabbcc   |   Rhyme word:  desire   |   Rhyme sound:  /aɪə/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  -+|--+|--+|--+/   |   Syllables:  11
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): post/pension /p/
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): did/desire /d/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): did/desire /ɪ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): post/pension /p/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): pension/not /n/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): did/desire /d/

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6 But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire.    
Rhyme:  aabbcc   |   Rhyme word:  Squire   |   Rhyme sound:  /aɪə/   |   Rhyme (line position):  end
Metre:  -+|--+|--+|--+/   |   Syllables:  11
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): church/Charles /tʃ/
Figure:  alliteration (phonological): state/Squire /s/
Figure:  assonance (phonological): and/and /æ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): But/state/Townshend /t/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): left/Charles /l/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): church/Charles /tʃ/
Figure:  consonance (phonological): state/Squire /s/

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Expanding the poem lines (+) shows notes and queries taken from various critical editions of Gray's works, as well as those contributed by users of the Archive. There are 0 textual and 6 explanatory notes/queries.

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0 "[Sketch of his Own Character]" 1 Explanatory

Title/Paratext] "Some editors suppose that Goldsmith [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Some editors suppose that Goldsmith took these lines as the model of his character of Burke in "Retaliation"; but the latter was published in April, 1774, and Gray's lines did not appear till printed in Mason's edition in 1775 (as a footnote to a letter dated August, 1758)."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 258.

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1 Too poor for a bribe and too proud to importune, 2 Explanatory

1.1-10 Too ... importune,] ""This is similar to a [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

""This is similar to a passage in one of Swift's letters to Gay, speaking of poets: 'I have been considering why poets have such ill success in making their court. They are too libertine to haunt ante-chambers, too poor to bribe porters, and too proud to cringe to second-hand favourites in a great family.' See Pope's 'Works,' xi. 36, ed. Wharton."—Mitford."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 257.

1.10 importune,] "importune must here be pronounced [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"importune must here be pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, for the sake of the rhyme."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 257.

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2 He had not the method of making a fortune:
3 Could love and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd;
4 No very great wit, he believed in a God. 1 Explanatory

4.1-9 No ... God.] "This means—"I am not like [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This means—"I am not like some of the wits of the day who profess not to believe in God.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 257.

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5 A post or a pension he did not desire,
6 But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire. 2 Explanatory

6.7-8 Charles Townshend] "Charles Townshend was Chancellor of [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Charles Townshend was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Chatham's last ministry (1767). Horace Walpole regarded him as scarcely inferior to Charles James Fox in wit and forensic ability; and Macaulay calls him the most brilliant and versatile of mankind, adding that he "belonged to every party and cared for none.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 257.

6.10 Squire.] "Dr. Samuel Squire, at that [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Dr. Samuel Squire, at that time Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and afterwards Bishop of St. David's. He died in 1766."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 258.

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Works cited

  • The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891.

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Spelling has been modernized throughout, except in case of conscious archaisms. Contractions, italics and initial capitalization have been largely eliminated, except where of real import. Obvious errors have been silently corrected, punctuation has been supplied. The editor would like to express his gratitude to the library staff of the Göttingen State and University Library (SUB Göttingen) for their invaluable assistance.