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3 When he had been at Cambridge about five years, Mr. Horace
Walpole, whose friendship he had gained at Eton, invited him to travel with him as his companion'. They wandered through France into Italy, and Gray's letters contain a very pleasing account of many parts of their journey. But unequal friendships are easily dissolved : at Florence they quarrelled and parted”, and Mr. Walpole is now content to have it told that it was by his fault 3. If we look, however, without prejudice on the world we shall find that men, whose consciousness of their own merit sets them above the compliances of servility, are apt enough in their association with superiors to watch their own dignity with troublesome and punctilious jealousy, and in the fervour of independance to exact that attention which they refuse to pay". Part they did, whatever was the quarrel, and the rest of their travels was doubtless more unpleasant to them both. Gray continued his journey in a manner suitable to his own little fortune, with only an occa
sional servant 5. 4 He returned to England in September, 1741, and in about two
months afterwards buried his father, who had, by an injudicious waste of money upon a new house?, so much lessened his fortune that Gray thought himself too poor to study the law. He therefore retired to Cambridge, where he soon after became Bachelor
Walpole wrote of him on his ciliating. Walpole's Letters, v. 441. death, as 'one with whom I lived in See also ib. p. 481, vi. 16. See also friendship from thirteen years old.' Walpoliana, vol. i. p. 95, art. cx. The Walpole's Letters, v. 322. To Mason passage is given in N. & l. 6 S. he wrote:- I can add nothing to your account of Gray's going abroad with Ante, SWIFT, 52, 134. Boswell me. It was my own thought and offer, recorded at Lord Errol's house :-'I and cheerfully accepted.' Mitford, observed that Dr. Johnson, though iv. 219. They started on March 10, he showed that respect to his lordship 1739. Walpole's Letters, Preface, which, from principle, he always does p. 62. 'We rode over the Alps in to high rank, yet, when they came to the same chaise,' wrote Walpole, “but argument, maintained that manliness Pegasus drew on his side, and a cart- which becomes the force and vigour of horse on mine.' 16. vi. 290.
his understanding. Boswell's Johna It was at Reggio they parted, son, v. 103. where they were in May, 1741. Ib. s'He returned by Venice, Turin, i. 67; Milford, i. Preface, p. 9. and Lyons. 'He travelled with only
In a note to Mason's Gray, i. 178, a “laquais de voyage.”' He arrived 'he charged himself with the chief in London about Sept. 1, 1741. blame in their quarrel.' He wrote to Mason, i. 274, 277. Mason on March 2, 1773:-I treated 6 He died on Nov. 6, 1741. Ib. him insolently; he loved me, and I did not think he did. ... Forgive me
1' At Wanstead. 16. i. 277. if I say that his temper was not con
of Civil Law', and where, without liking the place or its inhabitants, or professing’ to like them, he passed, except a short residence at London, the rest of his life 3.
About this time he was deprived of Mr. West, the son of a 5 chancellor of Ireland 4, a friend on whom he appears to have set a high value, and who deserved his esteem by the powers which he shews in his letters, and in the Ode to May, which Mr. Mason has preserved", as well as by the sincerity with which, when Gray sent him part of Agrippina', a tragedy that he had just begun, he gave an opinion? which probably intercepted the progress of the work ®, and which the judgement of every reader will confirm. It was certainly no loss to the English stage that Agrippina was never finished.
In this year (1742) Gray seems first to have applied himself 6 seriously to poetry, for in this year were produced the Ode to Spring, his Prospect of Eton, and his Ode to Adversity. He began likewise a Latin Poem, De Principiis Cogitandi 10.
* In 1744. Gray's Letters, ed. 1847, ii. 68, 78. Tovey, i. 113 n., 121. In 1768 he Mason, i. 312; Mitford, ii. 161. wrote:-'I am so totally uninformed, For his poems see ib. i. Preface, p. 16. indeed so helpless in matters of law, 6 16. i. 128. that there is no one perhaps in the
" Ib. ii. 148, 155. kingdom you could apply to for advice Gray wrote of it in 1747:—Poor with less effect than to me.' Mitford, West put a stop to that tragic torrent iv. 116.
he saw breaking in upon him. Ib. • In the first edition, 'pretending. iii. 30.
3 'He spent his summer vacations 9 The Ode to Spring (post, GRAY, at Stoke, near Windsor, during the 28) was composed in 1742. Written,' lives of his mother and aunts,' whither wrote Gray, at Stoke, the beginning they had removed soon after his of June, 1742, and sent to Mr. West, father's death in 1741. Mason, i. 278, not knowing he was then dead.'
Mason, ii. 7. It was first published The Chancellor was author of in Jan. 1747-8 in Dodsley's Coll. ii. Hecuba, a tragedy damned the first 265. The Prospect of Eton (post, night.' Prior's Malone, p. 451. His GRAY, 30) was published separately portrait is in the Parliament Chamber by Dodsley in June, 1747, price 6d. of the Inner Temple. N. & l. Gent. Mag. 1747, p. 300. 'Little 5 S. iv. 315,
The son's name notice was taken of it, writes Warton. was Richard. His mother was Bishop Essay on Pope, ii. 292. The Hymn Burnet's daughter. He died to Adversity appeared in 1755 in Hatfield on June 1, 1742. Mitford, Dodsley's Coll. iv. 7. Mason changed i. Preface, p. 16. Gray, who was at the title to Ode to Adversity. Mason, Stoke, first learnt of his loss on i. 12. Gray, writing to Walpole about June 17' by some verses in a news- his 'six Odes,' continues :'for so paper.' Mason, ii. 7; Gray's Letters, you are pleased to call everything I i. ill. Gray wrote on him a sonnet write, though it be but a receipt to (Mitford, i. 90), beautiful in spite of make apple-dumplings.' Gray's Letimperfect rhymes, and of other faults
ters, i. 219. pointed out by Wordsworth and 10 He wrote of it to West from Coleridge. Coleridge's Biog. Lit. Florence on April 21, 1741:—'I send
7 It may be collected from the narrative of Mr. Mason', that
his first ambition was to have excelled in Latin poetry": perhaps it were reasonable to wish that he had prosecuted his design; for though there is at present some embarrassment in his phrase, and some harshness in his Lyrick numbers, his copiousness of language is such as very few possess, and his lines, even when imperfect, discover a writer whom practice would quickly have
made skilful 3. 8 He now lived on at Peterhouse, very little solicitous what
others did or thought, and cultivated his mind and enlarged his views without any other purpose than of improving and amusing himself*; when Mr. Mason, being elected fellow of Pembrokehalls, brought him a companion who was afterwards to be his editor, and whose fondness and fidelity has kindled in him a zeal of admiration, which cannot be reasonably expected from the
neutrality of a stranger and the coldness of a critick 6. 9 In this retirement he wrote (1747) an ode on The Death of
Mr. Walpole's Cat?, and the year afterwards attempted a poem of more importance, on Government and Education, of which the fragments which remain have many excellent lines 8.
you the beginning, not of an Epic bread and cheese.' Gray's Letters, Poem, but of a Metaphysic one. i. 162. Poems and Metaphysics (say you, 5 In 1747 Mason, 'greatly owing to with your spectacles on) are incon- Gray,' was nominated to the Fellowsistent things. A metaphysical poem ship. Through the opposition of the is a contradiction in terms. It is Master he was not elected till 1749. true; but I will go on. It is Latin Mason, ii. 26. too, to increase the absurdity: Gray's • See Appendix U. Letters, i. 88. He sent the
Post, GRAY, 29. First printed in three lines. Mason, i. 273. See also Dodsley's Coll. 1748, ii. 267. See ib. ii. 10.
also Gray's Letters, i. 156. 1 In the first edition :-' It seems 8 'I mean to show,' wrote Gray, to be the opinion of Mr. Mason.' that Education and Government · Mason, i. 136, ii. 9.
"I have must necessarily concur to produce many scraps and letters of his that great and useful men.' Ib. i. 192. show how very early his genius was 'When I asked him,' writes Nicholls, ripe.' WALPOLE, Letters, v. 336. 'why he had not continued that • Both Gray and West had abilities beautiful fragment, he said because marvellously premature.' 16. vi. 15. he could not. Mitford, v. 35.
Walpole wrote in 1775:-'Faults Gibbon, quoting 11. 52-7, conare found, I hear, at Eton with the tinues :-'Instead of compiling tables Latin poems for false quantities-no of chronology and natural history, matter--they are equal to the English why did not Mr. Gray apply the -and can one say more?' 16. vi. powers of his genius to finish the 199.
philosophic poem of which he has left Mason, ii. 25. He wrote in 1747:- such an exquisite specimen?' The 'I am now in Pindar and Lysias; for Decline and Fall, iii. 332. (In I. 56 I take verse and prose together like Gibbon changes 'breathing' into
His next production (1750) was his far-famed Elegy in the 10 Church-yard", which, finding its way into a Magazine, first, I believe, made him known to the publick.
An invitation from lady Cobham' about this time gave 11 occasion to an odd composition called A Long Story, which adds little to Gray's character 3.
Several of his pieces were published (1753), with designs, by 12 Mr. Bentley, and, that they might in some form or other make a book, only one side of each leaf was printed". I believe the poems and the plates recommended each other so well, that the whole impression was soon bought. This year he lost his mother 5.
Some time afterwards (1756) some young men of the college, 18 whose chambers were near his, diverted themselves with disturbing him by frequent and troublesome noises, and, as is said, by pranks yet more offensive and contemptuous 6. This insolence, having endured it a while, he represented to the governors of the society, among whom perhaps he had no friends, and, finding his complaint little regarded, removed himself to Pembrokehall 7.
opening.). He again quotes it (ll. 100-end), ib. v. 457, and, referring to a description of the Nile by a French consul at Cairo, continues:- From a college at Cambridge the poetic eye of Gray had seen the same objects with a keener glance.'
See Appendix X. ? For her father, Edmund Halsey, the brewer, see ante, POPE, 272 n. He had bought the Mansion House at Stoke Pogis. Mason, ii. 74 ; Gray's Letters, i. 218.
3 In the first edition, which, though perhaps it adds little to Gray's character, I am not pleased to find wanting in this Collection. It will therefore be added to this Preface.' To it was added also the Ode for Musick. Both poems are included in Eng. Poets, 1790.
Of A Long Story Gray wrote: 'It was never meant for the public.' Mitford, iv. 91. On Dec. 18, 1751 he wrote :-The verses being shew'd about in Town are not liked there at all.' Gray's Letters, i. 220.
* See Appendix Y.
s (Gray's epitaph on her tombstone in Stoke Pogis churchyard thus ends, - The careful tender mother of many children, one of whom alone had the misfortune to survive her.' Mathias's Gray, i. 339.)
She died on March II, 1753. Mason, ii. 97. On Sept. 21 Gray wrote to Mason, who had lost his father:-'I know what it is to lose a person that one's eyes and heart have long been used to, and I never desire to part with the remembrance of that loss, nor would wish you should.' Gray's Letters, i. 236.
6 In the first edition the sentence ends at 'noises.'
Johnson's authority is Mason, ii. 113. Gray wrote on March 25, 1756:--I have been taken up in quarrelling with Peter-house, and in removing myself from thence to Pembroke. Letters, i. 292. For the quarrel see ib. n. 3, and p. 291. An incredible account is given in R. Polwhele's Traditions, p. 212.
'Pembroke Hall was Ridley's “own dear College," ...; by Elizabeth
In 1757 he published The Progress of Poetry and The Bard', two compositions at which the readers of poetry were at first content to gaze in mute amazement?. Some that tried them confessed their inability to understand them, though Warburton said that they were understood as well as the works of Milton and Shakespeare, which it is the fashion to admire ?. Garrick wrote a few lines in their praise". Some hardy champions undertook to rescue them from neglect, and in a short time many were content to be shewn beauties which they could
not see 5. 15 Gray's reputation was now so high that, after the death of
Cibber, he had the honour of refusing the laurel, which was then
bestowed on Mr. Whitehead 16 His curiosity not long after drew him away from Cambridge
to a lodging near the Museum, where he resided near three
apostrophized as “ domus antiqua et they are sublime ! consequently, I religiosa.” Spenser and Pitt were fear, a little obscure. ... I could not there.? Macleane's Pembroke College, persuade him to add more notes; he Oxford, p. 211.
says whatever wants to be explained * Post, GRAY, 32. Walpole re- don't deserve to be.' Walpole's Letcorded :-—'Aug. 8, 1757. I published ters, iii. 94. two Odes by Mr. Gray, the first pro- 'I would not have put another duction of my press.' Walpole's note,' Gray writes, 'to save the souls Letters, Preface, p. 68. On July 12 of all the owls in London. Letters, he wrote:- I snatched them out of
i. 348 Dodsley's hands. Ib. iii. 89. The 16. i. 366. title-page is 'Odes by Mr. Gray. Gray wrote on Aug. 25:-'I have Printed at Strawberry-Hill. For Ř. heard of nobody but a player and a & J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall. 1757. doctor of divinity that profess their On June 29, 1757, Gray received esteem for them. Ib. p. 346. For forty guineas for his two Odes.' Mit- Garrick's lines in The London ford, iii. 169. Of 2,000 copies printed Chronicle, Oct. I, 1757, see ib. p. 12 or 1300 were gone,' Gray wrote
366n. that same year. Gray's Letters, i. Post, GRAY, 32. 'JOHNSON. 350. There is no mention of them The obscurity in which Gray has in Gent. Mag. At the Fraser Library involved himself will not persuade us Sale 'the Odes with MS. notes by that he is sublime.' Boswell's Johnthe poet, extra illustrations, &c., sold
son, i. 402. for £370, The Athenaeum, May 4, Goldsmith wrote in 1770 of 'the 1901, p. 567.
misguided innovators' in poetryAug. 17, 1757. I hear we are not Gray and his school : They have at all popular; the great objection is adopted a language of their own, and obscurity.
call upon mankind for admiration. •
Aug. 25. All people of condition All those who do not understand are agreed not to admire, nor even them are silent, and those who make to understand.' GRAY, Letters, i. out their meaning are willing to 345-6.
praise to show they understand.' Walpole, on Aug. 4, described them Works, iv. 141. as 'two amazing Odes of Mr. Gray ; See Appendix Z. they are Greek, they are Pindaric,