« AnteriorContinuar »
them for accompanying the text which refers to them, that method certainly becomes expedient. It has here, however, been found possible to insert the notes at the feet of the pages to which they respectively belong, without encumbering the text in any unsightly manner. If a reader have either not time or not inclination to refer to these notes as he proceeds, he can easily pass them over: but if he read with deliberation, and do not think it time mis-spent to assist his understanding by a reference to local or critical explications, these are certainly referred to at the foot of the page with more pleasure, because with less trouble, than by turning on everv trivial occasion to the end of the book.
To this Second Edition I have been enabled to give the advantage of more accurate arrangement; as well as of some useful corrections, additions, and illustrations; in accomplishing which, I have been greatly assisted by the kind suggestions of Isaac Reed, Esq. whose liberality, I am proud to own, has on several other literary occasions made me his debtor.
By another respected friend (JOHN Nichols, Esq.) I was favoured with the Sketch from which the PORTRAIT of Mr. Erough has been engraven. This had long been a desideratum in the Republic of Letters, having hitherto been confined to the cabinets of the curious.
To conclude: It may with great truth be said, that the present Collection comprises more poems of Mr. Gray, and miscellanies concerning him, than any heretofore published ; and if the manner in which the whole has been arranged and digested be found deserving of public encouragement, the Editor will be well content to share the merits of the Volume with a correct and elegant Printer.
THE LIFE AND WRITINGS
MR. THOMAS GRAY.
OF a life so sedentary and retired as that passed by the gentleman whose works are here presented to the Reader, the incidents can scarcely be expected to comprise any thing uncommon or remarkable: yet a Reader, who is pleased with the productions of the Poet, very naturally desires to know something of the man.
The parents of our Author were respectable citizens of London. His grandfather had been a merchant of some eminence; his father, Mr. Philip Gray, exercised the trade of a money-scrivener; but, being of a shy and indolent temper, rather diminished than increased his paternal fortune. He had many children, of whom THOMAS, the subject of this narrative, was the fifth born. All, except himself, died in their infancy; and it has been said, that he narrowly escaped suffocation (owing to too great a fullness of blood, which destroyed the rest), and would certainly have been cut off as early, had not his mother, with a courage remarkable for one of her sex, and especially for so very tender a parent, ventured to open a vein with her own hand, which instantly removed the paroxysm.
According to Mr. Mason, our Poet was born in Cornhill, December* 26, 1716, and educated at Eton school, under the care of Mr. Antrobus, his maternal uncle, who was at that time assistant to Dr. George, and also a fellow of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, to which place Mr. Gray removed, and was there admitted a pensioner in the year 1734.
* Dr. Johnson, I know not on what authority, gives as the date of Mr. Gray's birth, November 26, 1716.