« ForrigeFortsett »
To Mr. BEATTIe. On the same subject . - - - e . ib.
LETTERS TO MR. WALPO LE.
. Elegy written in a Country Church-yard first forwarded. Hints respect-
ing a work in the press against Mr. Middleton . - - - . 335
4. Observations upon a dramatic performance, entitled Elfrida, from the pen
of Mr. Mason . - - - - - - - - - . 336
5. Same subject continued - - - - - - - - . 337
6. Mr. Lyttleton's Elegy and Mr. Walpole's Epistle from Florence considered
—favourable views of the latter . - - - - - - . .338
7. Inquiries concerning a new work of his, containing a history of his own
time . - - - - - - - - - - - . 340
8. The Hymn to Adversity. Two publications of Dr. Middleton's noticed .341
9. Promises a new ode . - - - - - - - - . 343
10. Review of the writers who contributed to Mr. Dodsley's Collection of
Poems. A new ode . - - - - - - - - . 344
11. A visit intended - - - - - - - - - . 348
12. Acknowledges the receipt of two specimens of Erse Poetry: is anxious to
discover the author . - - - - o - - - . 349
13. Complains of bodily indisposition, and begs to be supplied with literary
amusement - - - - - - - - - - . 350
14. Thanks for a copy of Anecdotes of Painting: the Author's plan of an his-
15. Thanks for the Castle of Otranto. Remarks upon a pamphlet and Rous-
seau's Letters de la Montague . - - - . 354
16. Means recommended to secure his restoration to health. Inquiries relative
to an old picture - - - - - - - . . . .356
Additional Poems, not in Mr. Mason's Edition.
Impromptu, suggested by a View of the Seat and
man, at Kingsgate, Kent .
Ruins of a deceased Noble
MEM or Rs
LIFE AND W R IT IN GS
THE lives of men of letters seldom abound with incidents; and perhaps no life ever afforded fewer than that which I have undertaken to write. But I am far from mentioning this by way of previous apology, as is the trite custom of biographers. The respect which I owe to my deceased friend, to the public, and (let me add) to myself, prompts me to waive so impertinent a ceremonial. A reader of sense and taste never expects to find in the memoirs of a philosopher, or poet, the same species of entertainment, or information, which he would receive from those of a statesman or general : he expects, however, to be either informed or entertained; nor would he be disappointed, did the writer take care to dwell principally on such topics as characterize the man, and distinguish that peculiar part which he acted in the varied drama of society. But this rule, selfevidently right as it may seem, is seldom observed. It was said, with almost as much truth as wit, of one of these writers, that, when he composed the Life of Lord Verulam, he forgot that he was a philosopher; and, therefore, it was to be feared, should he finish that of the Duke of Marlborough, he would forget that he was a general. I shall avoid a like fault. I will promise my reader that he shall, in the following pages, seldom behold Mr. Gray in any other light than that of a scholar and a poet: and though I am more solicitous to shew that he was a virtuous, a friendly, and an amiable man, than either; yet this solicitude becomes unnecessary from the very papers which he has bequeathed me, and which I here arrange for the purpose: since in these the qualities of his head and heart so constantly appear together, and the fertility of his fancy so intimately unites with the sympathetic tenderness of his soul, that were it in my intention, I should find it impossible to disjoin them. His parents were reputable citizens of London. His grandfather a considerable merchant: but his father, Mr. Philip Gray, though he also followed business, was of an indolent and reserved temper; and therefore rather diminished than increased his paternal fortune. He had many children, of whom Thomas, the subject of these Memoirs, was the fifth born. All of them, except him, died in their infancy; and I have been told that he narrowly escaped suffocation (owing to too great a fulness of blood which destroyed the rest) and would certainly have been cut off as early, had not his mother, with a courage remarkable for one of her sex, and withal so very tender a parent, ventured to open a vein with her own hand, which instantly removed the paroxysm. He was born in Cornhill, December the 26th, 1716; was educated at Eton school, under the care of Mr. Antrobus, his mother's brother, who was at that time one of the assistant masters, and also a fellow of St. Peter's College, Cambridge; to which place Mr. Gray removed, and was there admitted a pensioner in the year 1734. While at school, he contracted a friendship with Mr. Horace Walpole and Mr. Richard West: the former of these appears, at present, with too much distinction in the literary as well as fashionable world,