« ForrigeFortsett »
hartshorn, nor spirit of amber, nor all that furnishes the closet of an apothecary’s widow, should persuade me to part with them: but, while I write to you, I hear the bad news of Lady Walpole's death on Saturday night last. Forgive me if the thought of what my poor Horace must feel, on that account, obliges me to have done in reminding you that I am,
I was hindered in my last, and so could not give you all the trouble I would have done. The description of a road, which your coach wheels have so often honoured, it would be needless to give you ; suffice it that I arrived safe” at my uncle's, who is a great hunter in imagination; his dogs take up every chair in the house, so I am forced to stand at this present writing: and, though the gout forbids him galloping after them in the field, yet he continues still to regale his ears and nose with their comfortable noise and stink. He holds me mighty cheap, I perceive, for walking when I should ride, and reading when I should hunt. My comfort amidst all this is, that I have, at the distance of half a mile, through a green lane, a forest (the vulgar call it a common) all my own, at least as good as so, for I spy no human thing in it but myself. It is a little chaos of mountains and precipices; mountains, it is true, that do not ascend much above the clouds, nor are the declivities quite so amazing as Dover cliff; but just such hills as people, who love their necks as well as I do, may venture to climb, and craggs that give the eye as much pleasure as if they were more dangerous: both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like most other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old stories to the winds, And as they bow their hoary tops relate, In murm'ring sounds, the dark decrees of Fate; While visions, as poetic eyes avow, Cling to each leaf, and swarm on every bough. At the foot of one of these squats me I (Il penseroso), and there grow to the trunk for a whole morning. The timorous hare and sportive squirrel gambol around me like Adam in Paradise, before he had an Eve; but I think he did not use to read Virgil, as I commonly do there. In this situation I often converse with my Horace, aloud too; that is, talk to you, but I do not remember that I ever heard you answer me. I beg pardon for taking all the conversation to myself, but it is entirely your own fault. We have old Mr. Southern at a gentleman's house a little way off, who often comes to see us; he is now seventy-seven years old,” and has almost wholly lost his memory; but is as agreeable as an old man can be, at least I persuade myself so when I look at him, and think of Isabella and Oroonoko. I shall be in town in about three weeks. Adieu. September, 1737.
* At Burnham in Buckinghamshire.
I sympathize with you in the sufferings which you foresee are coming upon you. We are both at present, I imagine, in no very agreeable situation; for my part I am under the misfortune of having nothing to do, but it is a misfortune which, thank my stars, I can pretty well bear. You are in a confusion of wine, and roaring, and hunting, and tobacco, and, Heaven be praised, you too can pretty well bear it; while our evils are no more, I believe we shall not much repine. I imagine, however, you will rather choose to converse with the living dead, that adorn the walls of your apartments, than with the dead living, that deck the middles of them; and prefer a picture of still life to the realities of a noisy one, and, as I guess, will imitate what you prefer, and for an hour or two at noon will stick yourself up as formal as if you had been fixed in your frame for these hundred years, with a pink or rose in one hand, and a great seal ring on the other. Your name, I assure you, has been propagated in these countries by a convert of yours, one **, who has brought over his whole family to you ; they were before pretty good Whigs, but now they are absolute Walpolians. We have hardly any body in the parish but knows exactly the dimensions of the hall and saloon at Houghton, and begin to believe that the lanthorn" is not so great a consumer of the fat of the land as disaffected persons have said: for your reputation, we keep to ourselves your not hunting nor drinking hogan, either of which here would be sufficient to lay your honour in the dust. To-morrow sennight I hope to be in town, and not long after at Cambridge. I am, &c.
* He lived nine years longer, and died at the great age of eighty-six. Mr. Gray always thought highly of his pathetic powers, at the same time that he blamed his ill taste for mixing them so injudiciously with farce, in order to produce that monstrous species of composition called Tragi-comedy.
t At this time with his father at Houghton. Mr. Gray writes from the same place he did before, from his uncle's house in Buckinghamshire.
Burnham, Sept. 1737.
XI. M. R. WEST TO MR. GRAY.
REceiv1NG no answer to my last letter, which I writ above a month ago, I must own I am a little uneasy. The slight shadow of you which I had in town, has only served to endear you to me the more. The moments I passed with you made a strong impression upon me. I singled you out for a friend, and I would have you
* A favourite object of Tory satire at the time.
know me to be yours, if you deem me worthy.—Alas, Gray, you cannot imagine how miserably my time passes away. My health and nerves and spirits are, thank my stars, the very worst, I think, in Oxford. Four-andtwenty hours of pure unalloyed health together, are as unknown to me as the 400,000 characters in the Chinese vocabulary. One of my complaints has of late been so over-civil as to visit me regularly once a month—jam certus conviva. This is a painful nervous headache, which perhaps you have sometimes heard me speak of before. Give me leave to say, I find no physic comparable to your letters. If, as it is said in Ecclesiasticus, “Friendship be the physic of the mind,” prescribe to me, dear Gray, as often and as much as you think proper, I shall be a most obedient patient.
I venture here to write you down a Greek epigram,” which I lately turned into Latin, and hope you will ex
Adieu ! I am going to my tutor's lectures on one Puffendorff, a very jurisprudent author as you shall read on a summer's day.
Believe me yours, &c. Christ Church, Dec. 2, 1738.
* Of Posidippus. Wide Anthologia, H. Stephan. p. 220. Mr. Gray in his MS. notes to this edition of the Anthologia (of which I shall give an account in a subsequent section) inserts this translation, and adds, “Descriptio pulcherrima et quae tenuem illum Graecorum spiritum mirifice sapit;” and in conclusion, “Posidippus inter principes Anthologiae poetas emicat, Ptolemaei Philadelphi seculo vixit.”
LITERAs mi Favoni !” abs te demum, nudiustertius credo, accepi planè mellitas, nisi fortè qua de aegritudine quâdam tuà dictum: atolue hoc sane mihi habitum est non paulo acerbius, quod te capitis morbo implicitum esse intellexi; oh morbum mihi quam odiosum ! qui de industria id agit, ut ego in singulos menses, dii boni, quantis jucunditatibus orbarer' quam ex animo mihi dolendum est, quod Medio de fonte leporum Surgit amari aliquid. Salutem mehercule, nolo, tam parvipendas, atq; amicis tam improbě consulas: quanquam tute fortassis aestuas angusto limite mundi, viamd; (ut dicitur) affectas Olympo, nos tamen non esse tam sublimes, utpote qui hisce in sordibus et faece diutius paululum versari volumus, reminiscendum est: illae tua Musae, site ament modo, derelinqui paulisper non nimis aegrè patientur: indulge, amabo te, plusquam soles, corporis exercitationibus: magiste campus habeat, aprico magiste dedas otio, ut neid ingenium quod tam cultum curas, diligenter nimis dum foves, officiosarum matrum ritu, interimas. Wide quaeso, quam tarpucioc tecum agimus, n?’āmrūhaw báppax', 3 xey Traùonal oxalyázy 38wāoy.
side his pharmacis non satis liquet; sunt festivitates merge, sunt facetiae et risus; quos ego equidem si adhibere nequeo, tamen ad praecipiendum (ut medicorum fere mos est) certé satis sim; id, quod poeticë sub finem epistolae lusisti, mihi gratissimum quidem accidit; admodum Latinë goctum et conditum tetrasticon, Graecam tamen illam doeNeiav mirificê sapit: tu quod restat, vide, sodes, hujusce hominis ignorantiam ; cum, unde hoc
* Mr. Gray in all his Latin compositions, addressed to this gentleman, calls him Favonius, in allusion to the name of West.