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Index, in which every Epigram is arranged under the name of its respective author *.
This manuscript, though written in that exact manner, as if intended for the press, I do not know that it was ever Mr. Gray's design to make public. The only work, which he meditated upon with this direct view from the beginning, was a History of English Poetry. · He has mentioned this himself in an advertisement prefixed to those three fine imitations of Norse and Welch Poetry, which he gave the world in the last edition of his Poems. But the slight manner, in which he there speaks of that design, may admit here of some additional explanation. Several years ago I was indebted to the friendship of
* It should seem that Mr. Gray's pains were, on this occasion, very ill employed; for the late Lord Chesterfield, writing to his son, says, “ I hope you are got out of the worst company in the “.world, the Greek Epigrams. Martial has wit, and is worth look
ing into sometimes; but I recommend the Greek Epigrams to your supreme contempt.” See Lord Chesterfield's Letters, Let. 73. However, if what Mr. Gray says be true, p. 142, supra, that
a dead Lord ranks only with Commoners,” there may come a time when Lord Chesterfield's dictum, in matters of taste, may not be held more infallible than that of his own and other dead Lords, in points of religion and morality: Nay, when his own plan of gentlemanly education may be thought less capable of furnishing his country with useful members of society, than the plain oldfashioned one which he wrote to explode. If this day does not quickly come, one may, without pretending to a gift of prophecy, pronounce that England will neither be, nor deserve to be, any thing better than a Province of France.
the present learned Bishop of Gloucester for * a curi. ous manuscript paper of Mr. Pope, which contains the first sketch of a plan for a work of this kind, and which I have still in my possession. Mr. Gray was greatly struck with the method which Mr. Pope had traced out in this little sketch; and on my proposal of engaging with him in compiling such a history, he examined the plan more accurately, enlarged it considerably, and formed an idea for an introduction to it. In this was to be ascertained the origin of Rhyme; and specimens not only of the Provençal Poetry, (to which alone Mr. Pope seemed to have adverted) but of the Scaldic, British, and Saxon, were to have been given;
from all these different sources united, English Poetry had its original: though it could hardly be called by that name till the time of Chaucer, with whose school (i. e. the Poets who wrote in his manner) the history itself was intended to commence. The materials which I collected for this purpose are too inconsiderable to be mentioned: but Mr. Gray, besides versifying those Odes that he published, made many elaborate disquisitions into the origin of Rhyme, and that variety of Metre, to be found in the writings of our ancient Poets. He also transcribed many parts of the
* A transcript of this paper is to be found printed in the Life of Mr. Pope, written by Mr. Ruffhead.
voluminous Lidgate, from Manuscripts which he found in the University Library and those of private Colleges; remarking, as he went along, the several beauties and defects of this immediate scholar of Chaucer. He however soon found that a work of this kind, pursued on so very extensive a plan, would become almost endless: and hearing at the same time that Mr. Thomas Warton, Fellow of Trinity-College, Oxford, (of whose abilities, from his observations on Spenser, we had each of us conceived the highest opinion) was engaged in a work of the same kind, we by mutual consent relinquished our undertaking; and soon after, on that Gentleman's desiring a sight of the plan, Mr. Gray readily sent him a
of it *.
At a time when I am enumerating the more considerable of Mr. Gray's antiquarian pursuits, I must not omit to mention his great knowledge of Gothic Architecture. He had seen, and accurately studied in his youth, while abroad, the Roman proportions on the spot, both in ancient ruins and in the works of Palladio. In his later years he applied himself to consider
* This Gentleman has just now politely acknowledged the favour in his preface to his first volume on this subject. A work, which, as he proceeds in it thro' more enlightened periods, will undoubtedly give the world as high an idea of his critical taste, as the present specimen docs of his indefatigable researches into antiquity.
those stupendous structures of more modern date, that adorn our own country; which, if they have not the same grace, have undoubtedly equal dignity. He endeavoured to trace this mode of building, from the time it commenced, through its various changes, till it arrived at its perfection in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and ended in that of Elizabeth. For this purpose he did not so much depend upon written accounts, as that internal evidence which the buildings themselves give of their respective antiquity; since they constantly furnish to the well-informed eye, arms, ornaments, and other indubitable marks, by which their several ages may be ascertained. On this account he applied himself to the study of Heraldry as a preparatory science, and has left behind him a number of genealogical papers, more than sufficient to prove him a complete master of it. By these means he arrived at so very extraordinary a pitch of sagacity, as to be enabled to pronounce, at first sight, on the precise time when every particular part of any of our cathedrals was erected. He invented also several terms of art, the better to explain his meaning on this subject. I frequently pressed him to digest these in a regular order; and offered, under his direction, to adapt a set of drawings to them, which might describe every ornament peculiarly in use in every different æra. But though he did not disapprove this hint, he neglected it; and
has left no papers that would lead to its prosecution. I therefore mention it in this place, only to induce certain of his friends, to whom I know he communicated more of his thoughts upon this subject than to me, to pursue the design, if they think it would be attended with utility to the public.
There is an Eloge on M. l'Abbé Le Beuf, published in tlie “ Histoire de l'Acad. des Inscriptions & Belles “ Lettres, vol. 29th,” by which it appears that Gentleman had precisely the same idea with Mr. Gray on this subject; and, by pursuing it, had arrived at the same degree of skill. “ Les Voyages & les Lectures de M. “ l'Abbé Le Beuf l'avoient tellement familiarisé avec “ les monumens, qu'il apercevoit les differences les plus “ delicates de l'ancienne Architecture : Il demêloit du “ premier coup-d’æil, les caracteres de chaque siecle; " à l'inspection d'un bâtiment il pouvoit dire, quelque“ fois à vingt années prés, dans quel temps il avoit été “ construit: les ceintres, les chapiteaux, les moulures
portoient à ses yeux la date de leur bâtisse: beaucoup “ de grands edifices ont été l'ouvrage de plusieurs si“ ecles; plus encore ont été reparés en des siecles diffe“ rens; il décomposoit un meme bâtiment avec une fa- . “cilitè singulière, il fixoit l'age des diverses parties, &
ses decisions etoient toujours fondées sur des preuves “indubitables; on en trouve une foule d'exemples dans