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like Mr. Baron Altham, and Mr. Justice Williams. His refusal to assist Villiers, one of the Royal favourites, with some pecuniary accommodation was another crime against the King, this, however, Coke attempted to atone for by marrying his youngest daughter to the elder brother of Villiers, giving with her a large fortune; the result was his restoration to favour, and his re-appointment to the Privy Council, where he once again disgraced himself by his active participation in the prosecutions for public malversation, and other crimes real and supposed, instituted for the purpose of replenishing an exhausted treasury by the imposition of fines upon those who were able or supposed to be able to bear them. Notwithstanding his criminal compliance in this matter, he sunported the privileges of the Commons with great obstinacy and determination ; for which, in the usual high strain of his Royal Master, he was committed to the Tower, and deprived of his seat at the Board of the Privy Council.
His talents as a popular member of parliament being found, by experience, dangerous, he was nominated sheriff of Buckinghamshire, on the accession of Charles the First, for the express purpose of keeping him out of the house ; but having been soon after elected, he made himself exceedingly obnoxious to the crown, putting himself forward as the advocate of popular rights against the strained prerogative attempted to be usurped by the king; he greatly distinguished himself by his speeches for the redress of public grievances ; vindicated the rights of the Commons to proceed against any public officer, however exalted; and finally ended the patriotic portion of his public life by framing and proposing the Petition of Rights, the most explicit declaration of the interests, rights, and privileges of Englishmen, that had till then been promulgated.
The dissolution of parliament, which soon followed, sent him to his retirement here, where he spent the remainder of his life in tranquillity, and died in the eighty-seventh year of his age.
The study of the law, according to the way in which it is cultivated, has a tendency either to give large and liberal views, or to narrow and contract the mind of the student to a mere registry-office of points, cases, and technicalities.
A more liberalising study, if we may use such a term, than the study of great principles of law, or one more calculated to bring the mind into robust and athletic condition, is not within the circle of the sciences; it is
dignified by its constant application to the great business of life, and is, or ought to be, as much the study of the monarch and the statesman as of the lawyer. But application to the petty details, technicalities, the quirks, quillets, and parchment clippings of the law, has a decidedly opposite tendency; narrowing the mind, and hardening the heart, you may look in vain from lawyers of this illiberal class for anything above or beyond their trade; they are as far below the truly great lawyer as the apothecary is below the physiologist : the one sees in every case that comes under his notice merely something that requires doctoring or remedying; the other beholds a corollary from some or other of the great principles of law or of life, with which the synthetic faculty of his mind has enabled him to become familiar.
Coke was a lawyer, not of the synthetic but of the analytic class ; it was not his to build up a fair and stately edifice of great principles, a task reserved for such an architect as Blackstone—his was the task to pull down heaps of old rubbish, and, labourer like, painfully to detach brick from brick, stone from stone, and lay them in decently-ordered heaps where those who wanted them might know where to find them.
The chief interest of this place, however, would seem to have concentrated itself upon the associations connected with Gray and his poetry; and as all that relates to such a man, whether of his life or works, is worthy our reverential admiration, we now proceed to recall such particulars of the former and the latter as may serve to instruct and amuse us while loitering in this the favourite haunt of that exquisite poet.
Thomas Gray was the fifth child of Mr. Philip Gray, a money scrivener in London. Of his ancestry little was known, except that it is said that he had a right acknowledged by the Lord Gray to bear the arms of that noble house; whether or no this supposed right implied any consanguinity, or whether it was only one of the many attempts made by vain persons in humble condition to connect themselves anyhow with the great, cannot now be known, and is of no consequence to know. Gray was a man who had no need of the escutcheon of another to blazon his good name; and as for his father, he appears to have been a person who, by no
imaginations of heraldry, nor force of arms, could be other than he was— a low ignorant wretch, cruel to his wife, and neglectful of his child.
The wife of Philip Gray was one Dorothy Antrobus, in every respect a woman favourably contrasted in character with her husband. She was the mother of twelve children, but of these, only the subject of our memoir survived the period of infancy.
He was born in Cornhill, on the 26th of December, 1716, and at a very early age was narrowly rescued from the fatal disorder which had carried off his brothers and sisters : this was suffocation arising from fullness of blood, to which our future bard would certainly have fallen a victim, had not his mother, forgetting the natural weakness of her sex, boldly opened a vein with her own hand, and relieved him from the paroxysm. This instance of inaternal tenderness and devotion bound the son with more than filial tenderness to his admirable mother--not only his parent but protectress—one who not merely gave him life, but preserved the life she gave.
In a curious paper, rescued from obscurity by a friend of the late Sir Egerton Brydges, and quoted in Mitford's Life of Gray, we find an account of the difficulties with which the mother of Gray had to contend in her exertions to give her only son a gentlemanly education.
The document in question is a case, submitted by Dorothy Gray to the opinion of an eminent civilian in 1735, in which the poor woman, after reciting "that at the time of her marriage she was partner with her sister Mary Antrobus, and that her intended husband entered into articles of agreement, securing to her the stock in trade and profits, notwithstanding her marriage,” goes on to state the following melancholy facts :
“That in pursuance of the said articles, the said Mary, with the assistance of the said Dorothy her sister, hath carried on the said trade for near thirty years, with tolerable success for the said Dorothy. That she hath been no charge to the said Philip, and during all the said time hath not only found herself in all manner of apparel, but also for all her children, to the number of twelve, and most of the furniture of his house, and paying forty pounds a year for his shop, almost providing everything for her son whilst at Eton School, and now he is at Peter House, at Cambridge. Notwithstanding which, almost ever since he hath been married, he hath used her in the most inhuman manner, by beating, kicking, punching, and with the most vile and abusive language; that she hath been in the utmost fear and danger of her life, and hath been obliged this last year to quit his bed and lie with her sister. This she was resolved if possible to bear ; not to leave her shop of trade for the sake of her son, to be able to assist in the maintenance of him at the University, since his father won't.
“There is no cause for this usage, unless it be an unhappy jealousy of all mankind in general, her own brother not excepted; but no woman deserves or hath maintained a more virtuous character: or it is presumed if he can make her sister leave off trade, he thinks he can then come into his wife's money, but the articles are too secure for his vile
purposes. “He daily threatens he will pursue her with all the vengeance possible, and will ruin himself to undo her and her only son, in order to which he hath given warning to her sister to quit his shop, where they have carried on their trade so successfully, which will be almost their ruin: but he insists she shall go at Midsummer next : and the said Dorothy, his wife, in necessity must be forced to go along with her, to some other house and shop, to be assisting to her said sister in the said trade, for her own and son's support.”
So much for the respectable scrivener, as Mason calls him, who thought himself entitled to the armorial ensigns of the Lord Gray !
There is nothing, perhaps, in which the loveliness of the character of a mother is more lovely than in the desire that her son should make a creditable figure in life; it is a pride which we cannot help regarding with indulgence at least, if not with pleasure; it is a vanity akin to virtue. But when insult, unkindness, personal violence, and every sort of outrage, proceeding from the father of that child, are heaped upon the head of that mother, how much must we not admire the patient endurance, the long-suffering vitality of that smouldering spark of motherly vanity, which more and more enkindled with the object at once of her affection and ambition.
In her praiseworthy struggles to educate her son, Mrs. Gray found some assistance from her brother, who was at that time assistant master at Eton, and Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, where our poet was admitted a pensioner in his nineteenth year.
The friendship which he had commenced with Horace Walpole, Richard West, and others, he endeavoured to preserve while at the University : like most men imbued with the poetic temperament, he loved to lean his spirit against the spirit of a friend : few have ever so exquisitely lamented such a loss, and few ever felt more acutely the loss he so feelingly deplored. Richard West, the friend to whom we allude, was the son of a Lord High Chancellor of Ireland, uncle of the poet Glover, and the presumptive author of a tragedy called “Hecuba.” A portrait of this gentleman adorns the Hall of the Inner Temple. “In him Gray met with one who, from the goodness of his heart, the sincerity of his friendship, and the excellent cultivation of his mind, was worthy of his warmest attachment. The purity of taste indeed, as well as the proficiency in literature, which the letters of West display, were remarkable at his age ; and his studies and pensive habits of mind, his uncertain health, and his early and untimely death, have all contributed to throw a melancholy grace over the short and interesting narrative of his life. With him, for a period of eight years, Gray enjoyed what the moralist calls the most virtuous as well as the happiest of all attachments—the wise security of friendship. Latterly when West's health was declining, and his prospects in life seemed clouded and uncertain, Gray's friendship was affectionate and anxious, and only terminated by the early death of his friend, in his twenty-sixth year.”
During the four years he resided at Cambridge, Mr. Gray composed some Latin verses on the Marriage of the Prince of Wales, and at the request of his college, wrote the lines entitled “Luna Habitabilis.” He also employed himself upon a translation of Statius, a Latin version of the Pastor Fido, and an English translation of part of the fourteenth canto of Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, and some trivial pieces.
After quitting the University Gray resided for some time at his father's house, and would appear, about this time, to have turned his attention to the profession of the law. From this design he was for the present diverted, by an invitation from Mr. Horace Walpole to accompany him in his travels on the Continent, to which he acceded, and the friends took their departure together.
His delightful letters to his family, and to his friend West, give sufficient evidence that he travelled with a right spirit, a judicious taste, liberal sentiments, and an educated mind.
In our 'notice of the life of Mr. Walpole we took occasion to mention his version of the circumstance that induced his separation from Gray, but there is another account of the quarrel extant, given on the authority of Mr. Isaac Reed; in whose handwriting, in Wakefield's Life of Gray, is the following note: