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many parts of their journey. But unequal friendships are easily diffolved: at Florence they quarrelled, and parted; and Mr. Walpole is now content to have it told that it was by his fault. If we look however without prejudice on the world, we fhall find that men, whose consciousness of their own merit fets them above the compliances. of fervility, are apt enough in their affociation with fuperiors to watch their own dignity with troublesome and punctilious jealousy, and in the fervour of independance to exact that attention which they refufe 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 fuitable to his own little fortune, with only an occafional fervant
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 houfe, fo much leffened his fortune, that Gray thought himself too poor to study the law, He therefore retired to Cambridge, where he foon after became Bachelor of Civil Law; and where, without liking the place or its inhabitants, or profeffing to like them, he paffed, except a fhort refidence at London, the rest of his life.
About this time he was deprived of Mr. Weft, the fon of a chancellor of Ireland, a friend on whom he appears to have fet a high value, and who deferved his esteem by the powers which he fhews in his Letters, and in the Ode to May, which Mr. Mafon has preferved, as well as by the fincerity with which, when Gray fent him part of Agrippina, a tragedy that he had just begun, he gave an opinion which probably U 4
intercepted the progrefs of the work, and which the judgement of every reader will confirm. It was certainly no lofs to the English ftage that Agrippina was never finished.
In this year (1742) Gray feems firft to have applied himself seriously to poetry; for in this year were produced the Ode to Spring, his Profpect of Eton, and his Ode to Adverfity. He began likewise a Latin poem, de Principiis cogitandi.
It may be collected from the narrative of Mr. Mafon, that his first ambition was to have excelled in Latin poetry: perhaps it were reafonable to wish that he had profecuted his defign; for though there is at prefent fome embarraffment in his phrafe, and fome harshness in his Lyrick numbers, his copioufnefs of language is fuch as very few poffefs; and his lines, even when imperfect, difcover a writer whom practice would quickly have made skilful.
He now lived on at Peterhouse, very little folicitous what others did or thought, and cultivated his mind and enlarged his views without any other purpose than of improving and amufing himself; when Mr. Mason, being elected fellow of Pembroke-hall, brought him a companion who was afterwards to be his editor, and whofe 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.
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.
His next production (1750) was his far-famed Elegy in the 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 occafion to an odd compofition called a Long Story, which adds little to Gray's character,
Several of his pieces were published (1753), with defigns by Mr. Bentley, and, that they might in fome form or other make a book, only one fide of each leaf was printed. I believe the poems and the plates recommended each other fo well, that the whole impreffion was foon bought, This year he loft his mother.
Some time afterwards (1756) fome young men of the college, whofe chambers were near his, diverted themselves with disturbing him by frequent and troublefome noises, and, as is faid, by pranks yet more offenfive and contemptuous. This infolence, having endured it a while, he reprefented to the governors of the fociety, among whom perhaps he had no friends ; and, finding his complaint little regarded, removed himself to Pembroke-hall.
In 1757 he published The Progress of Poetry and The Bard, two compofitions at which the readers of poetry were at first content to gaze in mute amazement. Some that tried them confeffed their inability to understand them, though Warburton faid that they were understood as well as the works of Milton and Shakfpeare, 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 fhort time many were content to be fhewn beauties which they could not fee.
Gray's reputation was now fo high, that, after the death of Cibber, he had the honour of refufing the laurel, which was then beftowed on Mr. Whitehead.
His curiofity, not long after, drew him away from Cambridge to a lodging near the Museum, where he refided near three years, reading and tranfcribing; and, fo far as can be discovered, very little affected by two odes on Oblivion and Obfcurity, in which his Lyrick performances were ridiculed with much contempt and much ingenuity.
When the Profetfor of Modern Hiftory at Cambridge died, he was, as he fays, cockered and spirited up, till he afked it of lord Bute, who fent him a civil refufal; and the place was given to Mr. Brocket, the tutor of Sir James Lowther.
His conftitution was weak, and believing that his health was promoted by exercife and change of place, he undertook (1765) a journey into Scotland, of which his account, fo far as it extends, is very cutions and elegant: for as his comprehenfion was ample, his curiofity extended to all the works of art, all the appearances of nature, and all the monuments of past events. He naturally contracted a friendship with Dr. Beattie, whom he found a poet, a philofopher, and a good man. The Marefchal College at Aber deen offered him the degree of Doctor of Laws, which, having omitted to take it at Cambridge, he thought
it decent to refuse.
What he had formerly folicited in vain, was at laft given him without folicitation. The Profefforship of Hiftory became again vacant, and he received (1768)
an offer of it from the duke of Grafton. He accepted, and retained it to his death; always defigning lectures, but never reading them; uneafy at his neglect of duty, and appeafing his uneafinefs with designs of reformation, and with a refolution which he believed himself to have made of refigning the office, if he found himself unable to discharge it."
Ill health made another journey neceffary, and he vifited (1769) Westmoreland and Cumberland. He that reads his epiftolary narration wishes, that to travel, and to tell his travels, had beep more of his employment; but it is by studying at home that we muft obtain the ability of travelling with intelligence and improvement.
His travels and his ftudies were now near their end. The gout, of which he had fuftained many weak, at2 tacks, fell upon his ftomach, and, yielding to no me dicines, produced strong convulfions, which (July 30, 1771) terminated in death.
His character I am willing to adopt, as Mr. Mafon has done, from a Letter written to my friend Mr. Bofwell, by the Rev. Mr. Temple, rector of St. Gluvias in Cornwall; and am as willing as his warmeft wellwither to believe it true.
"Perhaps he was the most learned man in Europe. "He was equally acquainted with the elegant and "profound parts of science, and that not fuperfi"cially but thoroughly. He knew every branch of "hiftory, both natural and civil; had read all the "original historians of England, France, and Italy; "and was a great antiquarian. Criticism, metaphy"fics, morals, politics, made a principal part of his "Atudy; voyages and travels of all forts were his fa"vourite