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sister, at Stoke, near Windsor; and Gray, thinking his fortune not sufficient to enable him to prosecute the study of the law, and yet unwilling to hurt the feelings of bis mother, by appearing entirely to forsake his profession, pretended to change the line of study, and went to Cambridge to take his degree in civil law, but had certainly no thoughts of that as a profession. He went accordingly to Cambridge, in the winter 1742, where he took his degree of bachelor of civil law, and employed himself in a perusal of the Greek authors with such assiduity, that in the space of about six years there were hardly any writers of vote in that language, whom he had not only read but digested ; remarking, by the mode of common-place, their contents, their difficult and corrupt passages, and all this with the accuracy of, a critic, added to the diligence of a student. In his first year also he translated some parts of Propertius, and selected for his Italian studies the poetry of Petrarch. He wrote a heroic epistle in Latin, in imitation of the manner of Ovid ; and a Greek epigram which he communicated to West; to whom, also, in the summer, when he retired to his family at Stoke, he sent his “ (de to Spring,” which was written there, but which did not arrive in Hertfordshire till after the death of his beloved friend, who expired June 1, 1742, aged twenty-six. In the autumn of this same year, Gray composed the ode on “A distant prospect of Eton College," and the “ Hymn to Adversity,” and began the “ Elegy in a Country Church Yard.” An affectionate sonnet in English, and an apo. strophe which opens the fourth brink of his poem “ De principiis cogitandi” (his last composition in Latin verse) bear strong marks of the sorrow left on his mind from the death of West; and of the real affection with which he honoured the memory of his worth and of his talents.
In 1744 the difference between Walpole and Gray was adjusted by the interference of a lady who wished well to both parties. The lapse of years bad probably softened their mutual resentment in a sufficient degree to admit again of correspondence on amicable terms. About this time Gray became acquainted with Mr. Mason, then a scholar of St. John's college, whose poetical talents he had noticed, and some of whose poems he revised at the request of a friend. His bequests to Mr. Mason show that this intimacy was improved into the strictest friendship and confidence. He maintained also a correspondence with another friend, Dr. Wharton of Durham, and seems to have been on familiar terins with the celebrated Dr. Middleton, whose loss he afterwards laments. “I find a friend,” he says, “ so uncommon a thing, that I cannot help regretting even an old acquaintance, which is an indifferent likeness of it."
In 1747, Gray appeared first as an author, by the publication of the “ Ode to Eton College," folio, of which, according to Dr. Warton, little notice was taken. Walpole now wished him to print his own poems with those of his deceased friend West, but this he declined, thinking the materials not sufficient; but he complied with another wish of Walpole, in commemorating in an ode the death of his favourite cat. Soon after this be sent to Dr. Wharton a part of his poem “ On the alliance of education and government,” which he never pursued much further. It was indeed Gray's misfortune seldom to execute his plans. In 1749 he finished his “ Elegy," which we have seen he began seven years before, and which being now handed about in manuscript, was read with great applause, and when printed, was, as it continues to be, the most popular of all his works. Mason justly attributes this to the affecting and pensive cast of the subject. That it has not ceased to be admired even by scholars appears from the many translations which it has undergone, into Latin, by Messieurs Anstey, Roberts, and Lloyd, and into Greek by Dr. Cooke, Dr. Norbury, Dr Coote, and Messieurs Tew and Weston. This elegy was soon after added to a well-known edition of his pueins printed in 4t0, with designs by Mr. Bentley. In March 1753 he lost his mother, whoin he had so long and so affectionately loved, and placed over her remains an inscription which strongly marks his filial piety and sorrow. .
In 1754 and 1755 he appears to hare written “ An ode to Vicissitude,” that “On the progress of Poetry,” the 6 Bard,” and probably some of those fragments with which he seems to have amused himself without much design of completion. About this period he complains of listlessness and depression of spirits, which prevented his application to poetry; and from this time we may trace the course of that hereditary disease in bis constitution which ens bitterell in a considerable degree the remainder of his days; and whose fatal strength not even the temperance and regularity of a whole life could subdue. In 1756 he left Peter-house, where he had resided above twenty years, on account of some incivilities which he met with, which Mason thus mentions. Two or three young men of fortune, who lived on the same staircase, had for some time intentionally disturbed him with their riots, and carried their ill-behaviour so far as frequently to awaken him at midnight. After having borne with their insults longer than might reasonably have been expected even from a man of less warmth of temper, Gray complained to the governing part of the society, and not thinking that his remonstrance was sufficiently attended to, quitted the col. lege. He now removed to Pembroke-hall, which he describes 6 as an æra in a life so barren of events as his."
In July 1757 he took his “ Odes” to London for publication, but they were first printed at the Strawberry-hill press. It seems agreed tbat they did not succeed with the public, although they have since deservedly entitled him to rank among the greatest of our lyric poets. In the same year, on the death of Cibber, the office of poetJaureat was offered to him by the duke of Devonshire, then Jord chamberlain, which he politely declined. In 1758 he composed for his own ainusement the little book which he calls “ A Catalogue of the Antiquities, Houses, &c. in England and Wales,” which after his death was printed for private distribution by Mr. Mason, and in 1787 for sale. About this time the study of architecture seems to have employed much of his time, and some very acute observations by him on this subject appeared afterwards in Bentliam's “ History of Ely," a work which was in a great measure the fruit of " voluntary contributions." In January 1759, the British Museum was opened to the publick; and Gray went to London to read and transcribe the manuscripts of the Harleian and Cottonian collections. A folio volume of his transcripts was in Mr. Mason's hands, out of which one paper alone, the speech of sir Thomas Wyat, was published in the second number of lord Orford's “ Miscellaneous Antiquities.” In 1762 the professorship of modern history at Cambridge, a place worth 4001, a year, became vacant, and Gray, by the advice of his friends, applied to lord Bute for it, which was however given to Mr. Brocket, the tutor of sir James Lowther.
In the summer of 1765 he took a journey into Scotland, to improve bis health, which was then weak and uncertain, and to gratify his curiosity with the natural beauties
and antiquities of that wild and romantic country. He went through Edinburgh and Perth to Glames-castle, the seat of lord Strathmore, where he resided some time, and afterwards went to the north, where he formed an acquaintance with Dr. Beattie, “whom,” says Dr. Johnson, “ he found a poet, a philosopher, and a good man,” but at that time little knowo beyond the circle of his friends at Aberdeen. Gray's account of this journey, says Dr. Johnson, “ so far as it extends, is curious and elegant; for as his comprehension was ample, his curiosity extended to all the works of art, all the appearances of nature, and all the monuments of past events.” Part of the summer of 1766 and 1767 he passed in journies in England, and had intended a second tour to Scotland, but returned to London without accomplishing his design. At Dr. Beattie's desire, a new edition of his poems was printed by the Foulis's of Glasgow, then the most elegant printers in the island; and at the same time Dodsley was also printing them in London. In both these editions, the “ Long Story” was omitted, as the plates from Bentley's designs which illustrated it were worn out, but some pieces of Welch and Norwegian poetry, written in a bold and original manner, were inserted in its place; of which the “6 Descent of Odin" is undoubtedly the most valuable, though in many places it is obscure. This his late biographer attributes to his having translated only that part of it which he found in the Latin version of Bartholinus.
In 1768, the professorship of modern history again became vacant by the accidental death of Mr. Brocket, and the duke of Grafton, then in power, bestowed it upon Mr. Gray without the smallest solicitation, although the contrary was at that time reported; and in the following year, when his noble patron was installed as chancellor of the university, Gray wrote the Ode that was set to music on that occasion. When this ceremony was past, he went on a tour to the lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland, of which he has given an account in his correspondence. “ He that reads his epistolary warrative,” says Dr. Johnson, “ wishes, that to travel, and to tell his travels, had been more of his employment: but it is by staying at home that we must obtain the ability of travelling with intelligence and improvement.” In April 1770, he complaing much of a depression of spirits, talks of an intended tour into Wales in the summer, and of meeting his friend Dr.
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Wharton at Mr. Mason's. In July, however, he was still at Cambridge, and wrote to Dr. Beattie, complaining of illness and pain in his head ; and in this letter, he sent him some criticisms on the first book of the “Minstrel," which have since been published. His tour took place in the autumn, but he does not appear to have written any journal of it. In May 1771 he wrote to Dr. Wharton, just sketching the outlines of his tour in Wales and some of the adjacent counties. This is the last letter that remains in Mr. Mason's collection. He there complains of ån incurable cough, of spirits habitually low, and of the uneasiness which the thought of the duties of his professorship gave him, which, Mr. Mason says, he had now a determined resolution to resign. He had held this office nearly three years, and had not begun to execute the duties of it, which consist of two parts, one, the teaching of modern languages; the other, the reading of lectures on Modern History. The former he was allowed to execute by deputies, but the latter he was to commence in person, by reading a public lecture in the schools, once at least in every terın. He was at liberty to chuse his language, and chose the Latin, which Mr. Mason thought somewhat injudicious; and although we do not find that he proceeded farther than to draw up a part of his introductory lecture, he projected a plan of very great extent, of much greater indeed than from his inactivity, whether the effect of illness or indolence, he would probably have been able to execute. His death, however, prevented the trial. A few days after writing the letter just mentioned, he removed to London, where his health more and more declined. His physician, Dr. Gisborne, advised freer air, and he went to Kensington. There he in some degree revived, and returned to Cambridge, intending to go from that place to Old Park, near Durham, the residence of his friend Dr. Wharton. On the 24th of July, however, while at dinner in the collegehall, he was seized with an attack of the gout in his sto.. niach, of which he died in the evening of the 30th, 1771, in the fifty-fifth year of his agè, sensible almost to the lást; aware of his danger, and expressing no visible concern at the thought of his approaching death. He was interred by the side of his mother, in the church-yard of Stuke.
In his private character many virtues were united; benevolence, temperance, integrity, and economy, patience