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Grecian." When you have tant chevauché, as to get to
* See more of his opinion of this author, Sect. IV. Letter XXXVI.
to I suppose his correspondent had made some strictures on the character of Henry IV. of France. See Sect. IV. Letter XXII.
# This short sentence contains a complete definition of natural eloquence; when it becomes an art it requires one more prolix, and our Author seems to have begun to sketch it on a detached paper. “Its province (says he) is to reign over minds of slow perception and little imagination, to set things in lights they never saw them in ; to engage their attention by details and circumstances gradually unfolded, to adorn and heighten them with images and colours unknown to them, and to raise and engage their rude passions to the point to which the speaker wishes to bring them.”
X II. M. R. GRAY TO DR. W H A RTON.
My last summer's tour was through Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire, five of the most beautiful counties in the kingdom. The very principal light and capital feature of my journey was the river Wye, which I descended in a boat for near forty miles from Ross to Chepstow. Its banks are a succession of nameless beauties; one out of many you may see not ill described by Mr. Whately, in his Observations on Gardening, under the name of the New Weir; he has also touched upon two others, Tinterne Abbey and Persfield, both of them famous scenes, and both on the Wye. Monmouth, a town I never heard mentioned, lies on the same river, in a vale that is the delight of my eyes, and the very seat of pleasure. The vale of Abergavenny, Ragland, and Chepstow castles; Ludlow, Malvern-hills, Hampton Court, near Lemster; the Leasows, Hagley, the three cities and their cathedrals; and lastly, Oxford (where I passed two days on my return with great satisfaction), were the rest of my acquisitions, and no bad harvest in my opinion ; but I made no journal myself, else you should have had it: I have indeed a short one written by the companion of my travels,” that serves to recal and fix the fleeting images of these things.
I have had a cough upon me these three months, which is incurable. The approaching summer I have sometimes had thoughts of spending on the Continent; but I have now dropped that intention, and believe my expeditions will terminate in Old Park: but I make no promise, and can answer for nothing; my own employment so sticks in my stomach, and troubles my conscience: and yet travel I must, or cease to exist. Till this year I hardly knew what (mechanical) low spirits were, but now I even tremble at an east wind.
* Mr. Nicholls.
This is the last letter which I have selected for this Section; and I insert it chiefly for the occasion which it affords me of commenting on the latter part of it, where he speaks of his own employment as Professor of Modern History; an office which he had now held nearly three years, and had not begun to execute the duties of it. His health, which was all the time gradually on the decline, and his spirits only supported by the frequent summer excursions, during this period, might, to the candid reader, be a sufficient apology for this omission, or rather procrastination: but there is more to be said in his excuse; and I should ill execute the office I have undertaken of arranging these papers, with a view of doing honour to his memory, if I did not endeavour to remove every exception that might, with a shew of reason, be taken to his conduct in this instance.
His business, as professor, consisted of two parts; one, the teaching of modern languages; the other, the reading of lectures on modern history. The patent, which created the office, authorized him to execute the former of these by deputies; the latter, the same patent prescribed to him, to commence by reading a public lecture in the schools, and to continue to do so, once at least in every term. As this patent did not ascertain the language in which the lecture was to be read, he was at liberty to do it either in Latin or English; he chose the former, and I thinkrather injudiciously: because, though no man, in the earlier part of his life, was more ready in Latin composition, he had now lost the habit, and might therefore well have excused himself, by the nature of his subject, from any superadded difficulty of language. However, immediately on his appointment, he sketched out an admirable plan for his inauguration speech ; in which, after enumerating the preparatory and auxiliary studies requisite, such as Ancient History, Geography, Chronology, &c.*he descended to the authentic sources of the science, such as public treaties—state records— private correspondence of ambassadors, &c. He also wrote the exordium of this thesis; not indeed in a manner correct enough be here given by way of fragment: but so spirited, in point of sentiment, as leaves it much to be lamented, that he did not proceed to its completion. At the same time he drew up, and laid before the Duke of Grafton, just then chosen chancellor of the University, three different schemes for regulating the method of choosing pupils privately to be instructed by him: one of these was so much approved as to be sent to Oxford, in order to be observed by the new professor then appointed in that place: and the same plan, or something very similar to it, regulates the private lectures which Mr. Gray's
successor now reads at Cambridge; but the public ones,
I believe, are still omitted in both universities: and yet I conceive, that on these (had Mr. Gray been appointed earlier in life to the office) he would have chosen chiefly to exert his uncommon abilities. Indeed, if we consider the nature of the study itself, modern history, so far as it is a detail of facts (and so far only, a boy just come from school can be supposed to be taught it), may be as completely learned from private reading as from the mouth of any lecturer whatever. What can his lecture consist of, if it aims to teach what it ought, but a chain
of well-authenticated events, judiciously selected from the
numerous writers on the subject? What can it then be more than an abridgementadded to the innumerable ones with which our libraries are already crowded ! I know of no difficult propositions which this study contains, to the proof of which the pupil must be led step after step by the slow hand of demonstration; or that require to be elucidated by the conviction of a mechanical experiment. On this subject carefully to read, is completely to understand; it is the exercise of memory, not of reason. But a public lecturer, reading to an audience well instructed in these facts, has a wider and nobler field. It is his province to trace every important event to its political spring; to develope the cause, and thence deduce the consequence. In the course of such disquisitions, the rational faculties of his auditors are employed in weighing the force of his arguments, and their judgments finally convinced by the decisive strength of them. What would be an idle display of either logic or rhetoric, where youths are only to be initiated into the knowledge of facts, becomes before this circle of mature hearers, a necessary exertion of erudition and genius. From such lectures afterward collected into a volume, not only the university, but the nation itself, nay all other nations might reap their advantage; and receive from this, the benefit they have received from other, similar institutions: for though Mr. Gray, in one of the plans lately mentioned, observes, that “Lectures read in public are generally things of more ostentation that use: yet (he adds), if indeed they should gradually swell into a book, and the Author should find reason to hope they might deserve the attention of the public, it is possible they might become of general service: of this we have already some instances,as Judge Blackstone's Lectures on the Common-Law, and the Bishop of Oxford's on Hebrew Poetry.”
* Amongst these auxiliaries, he has set down Memoria Technica; an artin which he had much exercised himself when young. I find many memorial verses among his scattered papers; and I suspect he found good account in the practice; for few men were more ready and more accurate in their dates and events than our Author.