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due time took his bachelor's degree in civil | dren, one of whom alone had the misfortune law. Nearly all his life was spent there to survive her.” How touching is this brief because of the cheapness of the place, and tribute of grateful love! Volumes of eulogy the facilities afforded by its libraries. Two could not increase our admiration of the genyears before his death he was chosen Profes- tle being to whom it was paid; her patient sor of Modern Languages, but never entered devotion, her meek endurance. Wherever upon the duties of his post. He was also the name and genius of Gray are known, appointed Poet Laureate, but declined an there shall also his mother's virtues be told office which had been so often disgraced. for a memorial of her. He never married, and after his return from We know nothing of our poet's boyhood the Continent, a few weeks' tour in Scotland until his residence at Eton, where he was was the most important incident which in- under the care of his maternal uncle, Mr. terrupted the monotony of his life. He died Antrobus, to whom he seems to have been at the age of fifty-five, of hereditary gout. much indebted for the direction of his early
Thus briefly may be summed up all those education. Here commenced his friendship outward facts and circumstances which met with Horace Walpole and Richard West, the world's eye, and seemed to make up his each of whom was destined to influence his life. The outline is meagre and unpromising future character. Here, also, was laid the enough, but let us return and see if it does broad foundation of that classical scholarshipnot contain something of interest and value. which afterwards became the chief solace of
The well-known observation that men of his life, and shed such rich and mellow light genius are commonly the sons of remarkable upon his poetry. mothers, is verified in the case of Gray. On leaving Eton, West entered Christ Unusual were his obligations to her, and Church College at Oxford, and Gray, Peter with unusual filial love and reverence were House at Cambridge. From the date of they repaid. He only of her twelve chil- this separation, begin those interesting letters dren survived the age of infancy. The rest between them, which exhibit the character all died from suffocation induced by fulness of each to great advantage, and are the of blood, and his life was only saved by his records of one of the most beautiful friendmother's courage in opening one of his veins ships in all literary history. They were both with her own hands, when the paroxysm at- young men of ardent sensibilities, imaginatacked him. At Eton and at Cambridge he tive and poetic temperaments, and fine classidepended upon her for his support. We cal genius, but averse to the severer studies learn by a written statement, submitted by of logic and the mathematics, and shrinking Mrs. Gray to an eminent lawyer, in 1735, instinctively from the anticipation of the pracwhen she rainly sought relief from her cruel tical pursuits and rude collisions of active life. situation, that she almost provided every Their correspondence was continued until thing for her son whilst at Eton College, and the early death of West in 1742, and is a now
he is at Peter House in Cambridge, and free and unreserved expression of their opinthat her husband hath used her in the most ions, tastes, and feelings. The University of inhuman manner by beating, kicking, punch- Cambridge has always been, and even now ing, and with the most vile and abusive lan- is, more partial to the natural and moral guage,” &c. “This she was resolved, if pos- sciences than to classical literature, and sible, to bear, and not to leave her shop of Gray seems to have found there a state of trade for the sake of her son, to be able to things very little to his mind. His darling assist in the maintenance of him, since his studies were comparatively neglected, and he father won't.” Such devoted maternal affec- was himself forced to turn from them, more tion could hardly fail to call forth marked than he liked, to other branches. Many of filial piety in return. During her life his his letters express the disappointment, and attentions to her were most assiduous, and even disgust, with which this affected him. after her death he cherished her memory In one of the earliest to West, he writes, with sacred sorrow. Mr. Mason informs us after mentioning “ the contempt into which that Gray seldom mentioned his mother his old friends and classical companions are without a sigh. The inscription which he fallen” there, as follows: “I think I love placed over her remains speaks of her as them the better for it, and, indeed, what can the careful, tender mother of many chil- \ I do else! Must I plunge into metaphysics ? Alas, I cannot see in the dark; na- | history of which is to be found in his letture has not furnished me with the optics ters to West and his other friends. France, of a cat. Must I pore upon mathematics ? Switzerland, Italy and Sicily were succesAlas, I cannot see in too much light; I am sively visited, and few objects of interest no eagle,” &c. “If these are the profits of were left unnoticed. We can say little of life, give me the amusements of it.” West, this tour; for it was over the common ground on his part, complains of Oxford even “as a of travellers, and embraced nothing novel land flowing with syllogisms and ale, where or unusual. A charm has been thrown over Horace and Virgil are equally unknown.” it by the graphic descriptions of Gray, and These are, doubtless, exaggerated pictures, the classical spirit with which he viewed but they sufficiently indicate the mental every object. But this charm is insepara state of both the friends. Their letters treat ble from his own writings, and can no more chiefly of their poetry and studies in polite be transferred than the rich colors of the literature; some of them inclose copies of painting can be to the rude crayon sketch verse, mostly in Latin, and several of the made from it. In his careful notice of manletters themselves are in that language. ners and customs, and the felicity with The extent and variety of classical learning, which he made modern and ancient times and the cultivated taste which they display, mutually illustrate each other, he has been cannot fail to astonish and call forth the said most nearly to resemble Addison. It admiration of every reader. Those of Gray is during this time that those humorous manifest a tendency to the depression of talents which his friends deemed so great, spirits which weighed upon him nearly all chiefly display themselves. Except for his his life, and was probably a malady inherited letters, then, we should hardly understand with the gout. West was all the time the possibility of what one of his friends despondent and in wretched health; the said, that “Gray never wrote any thing disease which ultimately destroyed him had easily but things of humor.” The cloud of already begun to waste his vitals, and the dejection and sorrow under which most of tender solicitude of his friend betrays itself his after life was spent, obscured this power, throughout the whole correspondence. and it is only in occasional flashes that we
During his entire course at the Univer- discern it. sity, Gray seems to have kept himself much His travels were abruptly ended by aloof from society; to have sought no col- quarrel with his patron, which has been va lege honors, and taken little interest in the riously represented. Walpole afterwards affairs of the community of which he was a took upon himself the entire blame of the member. The effeminacy of his manners, rupture, and, we are inclined to think, dewe are told, caused him to be nicknamed servedly. The most authentic version would “Miss Gray;" and we can readily under seem to be that Gray was disposed to faultstand that his spirit, delicate and sensitive to finding, and Walpole, suspecting himself to a fault, must have revolted at the “ Jacobin- have been spoken ill of in letters to Engism and its concomitant hard drinking," land, clandestinely opened and resealed a which Mr. Mason acknowledges then infect- private package, an indignity which Gray ed the University. The two friends walked very properly resented. Several years after, hand in hand, in the words of West, a reconciliation took place between them, and
they were again on familiar terms; but on "Through many a flowery, grove and shelly grot, the side of Gray, entire cordiality seems Where learning lured us in its private maze. never to have been restored.* The immedi
The limits of a sketch like this, of course, 4* The following from the new letters of Walpreclude us from making extracts from their
pole to the Rev. William Mason, published since letters, to which we would commend all this article was written, throws more light upon who would trace the growth of the poet's this question and exhibits both the parties favoramind, and learn the aliment which nurtured bly. It will be read with interest.—ED. his cultivated taste and beautiful imagina
“I am conscious that in the beginning of the tion.
differences between Gray and me, the fault was The next period of his life was that spent mine. I was too young, too fond of my own diupon his travels with Horace Walpole, the version, nay, I do not doubt, too much intoxicated
ate consequence of the difficulty was Gray's to have been next in his regards. To the return to England. He reached there in latter we are indebted for his biography and September, 1741, two months before his a collection of his letters. father's death.
During the next three years we know In the following spring he lost his friend nothing of Gray's life except that it was deWest, an affliction which preyed deeply upon yoted entirly to classical studies
, and that his spirits. West, on leaving Oxford, had he made for himself a very elaborate table taken chambers in the Temple, and pursued of Greek Chronology. In 1747 the Ode for some time the study of the law. But on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, his health failed rapidly, domestic trials after lying in manuscript several years, was crowded thickly upon him, and at length he i published by Dodsley, and was the first of went home to die. His letters to Gray dur- his poems that appeared in print. It was ing his last winter are indescribably touch- followed in 1750 by the " Elegy written in ing. Indeed a melancholy grace invests a Country Churchyard,” which immediately every thing connected with this young man; received the full measure of admiration we dwell with fondness on the few remains it has ever since retained. Gray himself of his genius, and lament that it was quench- by no means put upon
poem ed so soon. Whether the promise of his relative estimation as did the public, and he youth would have been realized in mature once told Dr. Gregory," with a good deal years we cannot certainly tell, but its indi- of acrimony," " that it owed its popularity cations were so bright that we may well re- entirely to the subject, and would have gret their disappointment. Mr. Mason in- been received as well if it had been written forms us that at Eton his genius was deemed in prose.” In 1753 he lost his mother, of superior to Gray's. Among Gray's most whose character we have already spoken. beautiful productions the fragment of a In 1756 he left Peter House, where he had Latin poem, " De Principiis Cogitandi," an resided for twenty years, on account of affectionate sonnet in English, the Ode on some incivilities offered to him by drunken the Prospect of Eton College, the Hymn neighbors, and removed to Pembroke Hall, to Adversity, and the commencement of the another college in the same University. Elegy, were written within a year after West's This he speaks of “ as an era in a life so death, and bear strong marks of his affection barren of events” and sorrow.
With many others he was on In 1757 were published his two odes, intimate and familiar terms, but no after The Bard and the Progress of Poetry. They friendship filled the place thus made vacant. were for a long time ill-received and ludiDr. Wharton and Mr. Mason, the poet, seem crously misunderstood, though, in the words
of Mason, “the one must be plain enough by indulgence, vanity, and the insolence of my to every one who has read Pindar, and the situation, as a prime minister's son, not to have other, to all not grossly ignorant of English been inattentive and insensible to the feelings of History.” When these odes were printed in one I thought below me; of one, I blush to say it, a second edition, the author added to them that I knew was obliged to me; of one whom presumption and folly perhaps made me deem not a few notes, “just to tell the gentle reader," my superior then in parts, though I bave since felt he says, “ that Edward the First was not my infinite inferiority to him. I treated him inso- Oliver Cromwell
, nor Queen Elizabeth the lently: he loved me, and I did not think he did. witch of Endor.” At the same time he preI reproached him with the difference between
us fixed to them a motto from Pindar, suffiwhen he acted from conviction of knowing he was my superior; I often disregarded his wishes of ciently expressive of his feelings : “I wrote seeing places, which I would not quit other amuse for the intelligent; but the multitude need ments to visit
, though I offered to send him to interpreters.” them without me, Forgive me, if I say
that his temper was not conciliating.
This same year he declined the place of
At the same time that I will confess to you that he acted a more
Poet Laurate; his reasons for doing which friendly part had I had the sense to take advan- are thus given in a letter to Mr. Mason : tage of it; he freely told me of my faults. I de “The office has always humbled the posclared I did not desire to hear them, nor would sessor hitherto: if he were a poor writer, correct them. You will not wonder that, with the dignity of his spirit, and the obstinate careless by making him more conspicuous ; if he ness of mine, the breach must have grown wider were a good one, by setting him at war with till we became incompatible.”
the little fry of his own profession, for there VOL. VIII,
are poets little enough to envy even a Poet| The intellectual character of Gray is apLaureate." In 1758 he seems to have been parent both from what he did and what he much engaged in the study of architecture. did not. The small number of his works, In 1762 he was an unsuccessful applicant and the many conceptions left unexecuted, for the Professorship of Modern Languages, but shadowing forth forms of beauty which which had been previously promised to might have been, sufficiently indicate the another candidate. In 1705 he made a irresolution and fastidiousness which were short journey into Scotland, to recruit his its prominent defects; while every sentence health, which had now become very feeble. or verse which he did write is polished by At this time he declined the degree of the cultivated taste of the scholar, or sparkles Doctor of Laws which was offered to him with the splendid imagination of the poet. by the University of Aberdeen, “ lest it We shall attempt no eulogy of his genius, should seem a slight upon Cambridge.” or refutation of its detractors. For however The next year was published the last edi- the opinions of individuals may differ upon tion of his poems that appeared during his minor points, the day of harsh and illiberal life. In 1768 the Professorshp of Modern criticism against him has passed, and the Languages again became vacant, and he judgment of all assigns him a lofty place received it unsolicited from the Duke of among English poets. Grafton, who was shortly after chosen Chan- Of his peculiar religious views, we have cellor of the University. The beautiful ode little knowledge. A passage in the Walperformed at his installation was written by poliana speaks of them as skeptical; but its Gray, who "thought it better that gratitude authority would, under any circumstances, should sing than expectation.” It is to be have little weight, and it is entirely counterfound in all the posthumous collections of his balanced by the whole tenor
of his life and works.
writings. The doctrines of Hume, Voltaire, His new office, the income of which he Shaftesbury, and Bolingbroke are indiggreatly needed, was very acceptable, but he nantly rebuked in his correspondence. And never entered
upon its duties. He was pre- the excellence of his private character, tovented partly, perhaps, by indolence and gether with the moral and religious consodiffidence, but chiefly by ill-health. Much lations which he invoked in his own deof his time after his appointment was spent spondency and affiction, and to which he in short journeys. - Travel I must," he beautifully directed his friends, give us reasays, “ or cease to exist.” On one of these son to hope that, whatever may have been trips to Westmoreland and the Lakes, he his intellectual belief, the sentiments of genwas to have been accompanied by Dr. uine piety were alive in his heart. Wharton; but the latter was forced to re- His memoirs were published by Mason, turn home by a sudden illness, and, for his who also edited a complete edition of his amusement, Gray wrote an epistolary de- poems. Many years after Mr. Mitford wrote scription of the tour. The elegance and pic- his biography, which, together with all his turesque merit of this journal called forth literary remains, was published in a large the admiration even of Dr. Johnson. quarto volume. Mr. Mason's book appeared
During all this time his health was too soon after Gray's death, to be in all steadily failing, and his attacks of gout were respects complete. That of Mitford contains becoming more frequent and alarming. But all the materials from which an excellent his death at the last was sudden, and took biography might be compiled, but thrown place after an illness of only five days, July together in an ill-considered and undigested 30, 1771. Of his last hours we have hardly work. Some of the notes with which he ang account, for none of his friends were has illustrated the poems are curious and with him. By his will, Mr. Mason and Dr. valuable. Browne were appointed his executors, and There is no good edition of Gray's life to the former were intrusted all his MSS., and all his works accessible to the public, to be preserved or destroyed at his discre- a deficiency which some of our publishers tion. He was buried, according to his direc- should supply. The object of the preceding tions, by the side of his mother in the church- imperfect sketch will be accomplished if it yard at Stoke.
induce some more able writer to undertake the task,
“Podagricus fit pugil."-HORACE.
The resemblance between Junius and the to the guidance furnished by the character Earl of Chatham has led a few writers to and design of the letter-writer and other attribute the celebrated Letters to his Lord circumstances of the time. ship. Among these writers the most re- Before we come to them, we have to spectable has been Dr. Benjamin Water- speak of Chatham's mosaic ministry. Scarcehouse, of Cambridge, Mass., who published ly was it put together, when his unrelenting a book on Junius in 1831. This, though ailment, the gout, obliged him to go to rather garrulous and rambling, has its com- Bath and drink the waters, leaving matters pensation in the justness of its views, and at sixes and sevens. His brain at that time what we believe to be the truth of its con- seemed to be as much tormented as his clusions. The Doctor's meaning is better legs. At the close of 1766, Lord Chesterthan his mode. He is too much like the field, writing from Bath, says : “Mr. Pitt advocates of other Juniuses, who argue less keeps his bed here with a very real gout, for truth than for the honor of their own and not a political one, as is very hypotheses, and try to conceal or quietly pected.” About a year afterwards, Decemoverlook every thing which does not make ber 1st, 1787, he writes again from the for their object or which they cannot explain. same place: “Lord Chatham's physician Doubtless the untenable nature of the claims had very ignorantly checked a coming fit they put forward obliges them to a great of the gout and scattered it over his body, deal of this; but the fact is palpable. Dr. and it fell particularly on his nerves, so that Waterhouse has laid himself open to the he is sometimes exceedingly, vaporish. He charge of special pleading in his essay. He would neither see nor speak to any body covers but half the ground; for he omits while he was here. This time twelve months all consideration of the Miscellaneous Letters, he was here in good health and spirits, but which we know to be those of Junius, not for these last eight months he has been abless by their intrinsic evidence than his own solutely invisible to his most intimate friends. admission to Woodfall. The Doctor's book, He would receive no friends, nor so much from this omission, is more calculated to in- as open any packet about business." His jure the hypothesis than to serve it. But own business at that period had begun to his truth is too strong for his weakness to flow into a new channel. In the beginning impair; and in spite of his imperfect way of of this year, 1767, Lord Charlemont writes going over the course, we feel that the old from London: “Lord Chatham is still gentleman has been maundering away upon Minister; but how long he may continue the right track after all. The first of these so is a problem that would pose the deepest Miscellaneous Letters of Junius (under va- politician. The opposition grows more and rious signatures) is undoubtedly à rock on more violent, and seems to gain ground: which all the pretensions urged for Lord his ill-health as yet prevents his doing any Chatham seem to split at the very outset. business. The ministry is divided into as And the second and third and others, as the many parties as there are men in it; all reader proceeds, appear to put the Pittites complain of his want of participation." completely hors du combat. The letters, In another letter of the same month, however, cannot be ignored. They must be Charlemont says: “No member of the ormet, scrutinized, and interpreted, according position speaks without directly abusing