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"son Histoire du Diocese de Paris.” His Panegyrist also informs us, that he was solicited by his friend, M. Joly de Fleury, to reduce into a body of science the discoveries which he had made, that his ill health prevented him; but that the work is now in the hands of a person very capable of perfecting his idea. Yet I question whether a work of this kind, from a French writer, will be of any great importance, since I am informed by a very competent judge, that the resemblance between Gothic Architecture in England and in France is surprisingly slight, except in the cathedral at Amiens, and a few other churches, supposed to be built by the English while in possession of French provinces. The public has much more to hope from Mr. T. Warton's late promise to it, as he, of all other living writers, is best qualified to give complete satisfaction to the curious on this subject: in the meanwhile, it may not be amiss to inform the reader, that Mr. Bentham's Remarks on Saxon Churches, which make a part of an elaborate Introduction to his History of Ely Cathedral, lately published, will convey to him many sentiments of Mr. Gray; as, amongst other Antiquaries, he contributed his assistance to that Gentleman; who, in his preface, has accordingly mentioned the obligation.
But the favourite study of Mr. Gray, for the last ten years of his life, was Natural History, which he then
rather resumed than began; as, by the instructions of his uncle Antrobus, he was a considerable botanist at fifteen. He followed it closely, and often said that he thought it a singular felicity to have engaged in it; as, besides the constant amusement it gave him in his chamber, it led him more frequently out into the fields; and, by making his life less sedentary, improved the general course of his health and spirits.
Habituated, as he had long been, to apply only to first-rate Authors, as to the fountain-head of that knowledge, which he was at the time solicitous to acquire, it is obvious that, when he resolved to make himself master of Natural History, he would immediately become the disciple of the great Linnæus. His first business was to understand accurately his “ termini “ artis,” which he called justly the learning a new original language. He then went regularly through the vegetable, animal, and fossile kingdoms. The marginal notes which he has left, not only on Linnæus, but the many
other authors which he read on these subjects, are very numerous: but the most considerable are on Hudson's Flora Anglica, and the tenth edition of the Systema Naturæ; which latter he interleaved, and filled almost entirely. While employed on Zoology, he also read Aristotle's treatise on that subject with great care, and explained many difficult passages
I was not born so far from the sun, as to be ignorant of Count Algarotti's name and reputation; nor am I so far advanced in years, or in philosophy, as not to feel the warmth of his approbation. The Odes in question, as their motto shews, were meant to be vocal to the intelligent alone. How few they were in my own country, Mr. Howe can testify; and yet my ambition was terminated by that small circle. I have good reason to be proud, if my voice has reached the car and apprehension of a stranger, distinguished as one of the best judges in Europe.
I am equally pleased with the just applause he bestows on Mr. Mason; and particularly on his Caractacus, which is the work of a Man: whereas Elfrida is only that of a Boy, a promising boy indeed, and of no common genius: yet this is the popular performance, and the other little known in comparison.
Neither Count Algarotti nor Mr. Howe (I believe) have heard of Ossian, the Son of Fingal. If Mr. Howe were not upon the wing, and on his way homewards, I would send it to him in Italy. He would there see that Imagination dwelt many hundred years ago, in all her pomp, on the cold and barren mountains of Scotland. The truth (I believe) is, that, without any respect of climates, she reigns in all nascent societies of
of hands, so in Music he gained supreme skill in the more refined powers of expression; especially when we consider that art as an'adjunct to poetry": for vocal music, and that only, (excepting perhaps the lessons of the younger Scarlatti) was what he chiefly regarded. His instrument was the Harpsichord; on which, though he had little execution, yet, when he sung to it, he so modulated the small powers of his voice*, as to be able to convey to the intelligent hearer no common degree of satisfaction. This, however, he could seldom be prevailed upon to do, even by his most intimate acquaintance.
To conclude this slight sketch of his literary Character, I believe I may with great truth assert, that excepting pure Mathematics, and the studies dependent on that science, there was hardly any part of human Learning, in which he had not acquired a competent skill: in most of them a consummate mastery.
I proceed now, as I did in the former sections, to select, for the reader's perusal, the last series of his
* He was much admired for his singing in his youth; yet he was so shy in exercising this talent, that Mr. Walpole tells me he niever could but once prevail on him to give a proof of it; and then it was with so much pain to himself, that it gave him no manner of pleasure.
Letters. They are few in number; yet contain all the incidents that occurred in that very short space of time, during which Providence was pleased further to continue him a blessing to his friends, and an ornament to his country
MR. GRAY TO MR. NICHOLLS.
I Was absent from College, and did not receive your melancholy letter till my return hither yesterday; so you must not attribute this delay to me but to accident: to sympathize with you iņ such a loss * is an easy task for me, but to comfort you not so easy; can I wish to see you unaffected with the sad scene now before your eyes, or with the loss of a person that, thro' a great part of your life, has proved himself so kind a friend to you? He who best knows our nature (for he made us what we are) by such afllictions recalls us from our wandering thoughts and idle merriment; from the insolence of youth and prosperity, to serious reflection, to our duty, and to himself; nor need we hasten
* The death of his uncle Governor Floyer.