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any such gentlewoman?" or has somebody put on the style of a scribbling woman's panegyric to deceive and laugh at Colley?) He seems to me full as pert and as dull as usual. There are whole pages of common-place stuff, that for stupidity might have been wrote by Dr. Waterland, or any other grave divine, did not the flirting saucy phrase give them at a distance an air of youth and gaiety: it is very true, he is often in the right with regard to Tully's weaknesses; but was there any one that did not see them? Those, I imagine, that would find a man after God's own heart, are no more likely to trust the Doctor's recommendation than the Player's ; and as to Reason and Truth, would they know their own faces do you think, if they looked in the glass, and saw themselves so bedizened in tattered fringe and tarnished lace, in French jewels, and dirty furbelows, the frippery of a stroller's wardrobe 7 Literature, to take it in its most comprehensive sense, and include everything that requires invention or judgment, or barely application and industry, seems indeed drawing apace to its dissolution, and remarkably since the beginning of the war. I remember to have read Mr. Spence's pretty book; though (as he then had not been at Rome for the last time) it must have increased greatly since that in bulk. If you ask me what I read, I protest I do not recollect one syllable; but only in general, that they were the best bred sort of men in the world, just the kind of frinds one would wish to meet in a fine summer's evening, if one wished to meet any at all. The heads and tails of the dialogues, published separate in 16mo. would make the sweetest reading in natiur for young gentlemen of family and fortune, that are learning to dance.f I rejoice to hear there is such a crowd of dramatical performances coming upon the stage. Agrippina can stay very well, she thanks you, and be damned at leisure : I hope in God you have not mentioned, or shewed to any body that scene (for trusting in its badness, I forgot to caution you concerning it); but I heard the other day, that I was writing a play, and was told the name of it, which nobody here could know, I am sure. The employment you propose to me much better suits my inclination; but I much fear our joint-stock would hardly compose a small volume; what I have is less considerable than you would imagine, and of that little we should not be willing to publish all * * *f. This is all I can any where find. You, I imagine, may have a good deal more. I should not care how unwise the ordinary run of readers might think my affection for him, provided those few, that ever loved any body, or judged of anything rightly, might, from such little remains, be moved to consider what he would have been; and to wish that heaven had granted him a longer life and a mind more at ease. I send you a few lines, though Latin, which you do not like, for the sake of the subject; it makes part of a large design, and is the beginning of the fourth book, which was intended to treat of the passions. Excuse the three first verses; you know vanity, with the Romans, is a poetical licence. writers) the last who practised it. As it has now been laid aside some years, we may hope, for the sake of true taste, that this frippery mode of composition will never come into fashion again; especially since Dr. Hurd has pointed out, by example as well as precept, wherein the true beauty of dialogue-writing consists. f What is here omitted was a short catalogue of Mr. West's poetry then in Mr. Gray's hands; the reader has seen as much of it in the three foregoing sections as I am persuaded his friend would have published, had he prosecuted the task which TMr. Walpole recommended to him, that of printing his own and Mr. West's poems in the same volume; and which we also perceive from this letter, he was not averse from doing. This therefore seems to vindicate the Editor's plan in arranging these papers; as he is enabled by it not only to shew what Mr. West would have been, but what Mr. Gray was, I mean not as a poet, for that the world knew before, but as a universal scholar, and (what is still of more consequence) as an V. M. R. GRAY TO M R. W.A LPOLE. Cambridge, 1747. I HAv E abundance of thanks to return you for the entertainment Mr. Spence's book has given me, which I have almost run over already; and I much fear (see what it is to make a figure) the breadth of the margin, and the neatness of the prints, which are better done than one could expect, have prevailed upon me to like it far better than I did in manuscript; for I think it is not the very genteel deportment of Polymetis, nor the lively wit of Mysagetes, that have at all corrupted me. There is one fundamental fault, from whence most of the little faults throughout the whole arise. He professes to neglect the Greek writers, who could have given more instruction on the very heads he professes to treat, than all the others put together; who does not know, that upon the Latin, the Sabine, and Hetruscan mythology (which probably might themselves at a remoter period of time, owe their origin to Greece too) the Romans ingrafted almost the whole religion of Greece to make what is called their own : It would be hard to find any one circumstance that is properly of their invention. In the ruder days of the republic, the picturesque part of their religion (which is the province he has chose, and would be thought to confine himself to) was probably borrowed entirely from the Tuscans, who, as a wealthy and trading people, may be well supposed, and indeed are known, to have had the arts flourishing in a considerable degree among them. What could inform him here, but Dio. Halicarnassus (who expressly treats of those times with great curiosity and industry) and the remains of the first Roman writers? The former he has neglected as a Greek; and the latter, he says, were but little acquainted with the arts, and consequently are but of small authority. In the better ages, when every temple and public building in Rome was peopled with imported deities and heroes, and when all the artists of reputation they made use of were Greeks, what wonder, if their eyes grew familiarized to Grecian forms and habits (especially in a matter of this kind, where so much depends upon the imagination); and if those figures introduced with them a belief of such fables, as first gave them being, and dressed them out in their various attributes, it was natural then, and (I should think) necessary, to go to the source itself, the Greek accounts of their own religion; but to say the truth, I suspect he was little conversant in those books and that language; for he rarely quotes any but Lucian, an author that falls in every body's way, and who lived at the very extremity of that period he has set to his inquiries, later than any of the poets he has meddled with, and for that reason ought to have been regarded as but an indifferent authority; especially being a Syrian too. His book (as he says himself) is, I think, rather a beginning than a perfect work; but a beginning at the wrong end; for if any body should finish it by inquiring into the Greek mythology, as he proposes, it will be necessary to read it backward. There are several little neglects, that one might have told him of, which I noted in reading it hastily; as page 311, a discourse about orange-trees, occasioned by Virgil's “inter odoratum lauri nemus,” where he fancies the Roman laurus to be our laurel; though undoubtedly the bay-tree, which is odoratum, and (I believe) still called lauro, or alloro, at Rome; and that the “malum medicum” in the Georgic is the orange; though Theophrastus, whence Virgil borrowed it, or even Pliny whom he himself quotes, might convince him it is the cedratro which he has often tasted at Florence. . Page 144, is an account of Domenichino's cardinal virtues, and a fling at the Jesuits, neither of which belong to them: the painting is in a church of the Barnabiti, dedicated to St. Carlo Borromeo, whose motto is HUMILITAs. Page 151, in a note, he says, the old Romans did not regard Fortune as a deity; though Servius Tullius (whom she was said to be in love with ; nay, there was actually an affair between them) founded her temple in Foro Boario. By the way, her worship was Greek, and this king was educated in the family of Tarquinius Priscus, whose father was a Corinthian; so it is easy to conceive how early the religion of Rome might be mixed with that of Greece, &c. &c. Dr. Middleton has sent me to-day, a book on the Roman Senate, the substance of a dispute between Lord Hervey and him, though it never interrupted their friendship, he says, and I dare say not.
* This lady made herself more known some time after the date of this letter.
* This ridicule on the Platonic way of dialogue (as it was aimed to be, though nothing less resembles it) is, in my opinion, admirable. Lord Shaftsbury was the first who brought it into vogue, and Mr. Spence (if we except a few Scotch excellent moral man. # The admirable apostrophe to Mr. West, see page 141.
VI. M. R. GRAY TO M. R. W. A LPOLE. Cambridge, March 1, 1747. As one ought to be particularly careful to avoid blunders in a compliment of condolence, it would be a sensible satisfaction to me (before I testify my sorrow, and the sincere part I take in your misfortune) to know for certain, who it is I lament. I knew Zara and Selima (Selima, was it? or Fatima), or rather I knew them both together; for I cannot justly say which was which. Then as to your handsome cat, the name you distinguish her by, I am no less at a loss, as well knowing one's handsome cat is always the cat one likes best ; or, if one be alive and the other dead, it is usually the latter that is the handsomest. Besides, if the point were never so clear, I hope you do not think me so ill-bred or so imprudent as to forfeit all my interest in the survivor: Oh no I would rather seem to mistake, and imagine to be sure it must be the tabby one that had met with