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widow. Both of them wished Mr. Gray to follow the profession for which he had been originally intended, and would undoubtedly have contributed all in their power to enable him to do it with ease and conveniency. He, however, though he had taken his resolution of declining it, was too delicate to hurt two persons for whom he had so tender an affection, by peremptorily declaring his real intentions; he therefore changed, or pretended to change, the line of that study; and, accordingly, the latter end of the subsequent year he went to Cambridge to take his Bachelor's Degree in Civil Law.
The narrowness of his circumstances, however, was not the only thing that distressed him at this period. He had, as we have seen, lost the friendship of Mr. Walpole abroad. He had also lost much time in his travels; a loss which application could not easily retrieve, when so severe and laborious a study as that of the Common Law was to be the object of it; and he well knew that, whatever improvement he might have made in
this interval, either in taste or science, such improvement would stand him in little stead with regard to his present situation and exigencies. Yet this was not all: His other friend, Mr. West, he found, on his return, oppressed by sickness and a load of family misfortunes. These the sympathizing heart of Mr. Gray made his own. He did all in his power (for he was now with him in London) to soothe the sorrows of his friend, and to try to alleviate them by every office of the purest and most perfect affection: But his cares were vain. The distresses of Mr. West's mind had already too far affected a body, from the first, weak and delicate. His health declined daily; he, therefore, left town in March 1742, and, for the benefit of the air, went to David Mitchell's, Esq. at Pope's, near Hatfield, Hertfordshire; at whose house he died the 1st of June following.
In this year Mr. Gray seems to have applied himself seriously to Poetry; for he produced his Ode to Spring *, his Prospect of Eton Colleget, and his Ode to Adversity*. He began likewise a Latin Poem De Principiis Cogitandit, and a tragedy on the subject of Nero and Agrippina.
* See p. 3.
+ See p. 10.
It may be collected from the narrative of Mr. Mason, that Gray's prime ambition was to have excelled in Latin Poetry; and Dr. Johnson expresses a wish that he had prosecuted that design.
He now lived only at Peterhouse, where he cultivated his mind, and enlarged his views, without any other purpose than of improving and amusing himself, when Mr. Mason, being elected a Fellow of Pembroke Hall, brought him a companion, who was afterwards to be his Editor.
Of Mr. Mason's acquaintance with Mr. Gray the former gentleman gives us an account, from which we extract the following passage: “It was “ not till about the year 1747 that I had the hap“ piness of being introduced to the acquaintance “of Mr. Gray. Some very juvenile imitations “ of Milton's juvenile poems, which I had written “ a year or two before (and of which the Monody “ on Mr. Pope's death was the principal *), he “ then, at the request of one of my friends, was “ so obliging as to revise. The same year, on “ account of a dispute which had happened be“ tween the masters and fellows of Pembroke “ Hall, I had the honour of being nominated by “ the Fellows to fill one of the vacant Fellow“ ships t. I was at this time scholar of St. John's “ College, and Batchelor of Arts, personally un“ known to the gentlemen who favoured me so “ highly; therefore, that they gave me this mark “ of distinction and preference was greatly owing “ to Mr. Gray, who was well acquainted with se“ veral of that society, and to Dr. Heberden.”
* See p. 17.
+ See p. 138.
See p. 150.
« * The other two were in imitation of " l'Allegro & il Penseroso,' 6 and intitled, "Il Pellicoso & il Pacifico.' The latter of these I was
persuaded to revise and publish in the Cambridge Collection of « Verses on the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748. The former has since “ got into a Miscellany printed by G. Pearch, from the indiscretion, I “ suppose, of some acquaintance who had a copy of it.”
" # Though nominated in 1747, I was not elected Fellow till fe« bruary, 1749. The Master refused his assent, claiming a negative; « the affair was therefore not compromised till after an ineffectual liti. “ gation of two years."
From the winter of 1742, to the day of his death, Mr. Gray's principal residence was at Cambridge. He indeed, during the lives of his mother and aunts, spent his summer vacation at Stoke; and, after they died, he made little tours on visits to his friends in different parts of the country: But he was seldom absent from college any considerable time, except between the years 1759 and 1762; when, on the opening of the British Museum, he took lodgings in Southampton-Row, in order to have recourse to the Harleian and other Manuscripts there deposited, from which he made several curious extracts *.
It may seem strange, that a person who had conceived an early dislike to Cambridge, and who was now returned to it with this prejudice rather
* These, amounting in all to a tolerably-sized folio, passed into Mr. Walpole's hands, who printed the Speech of Sir Thomas Wyatt from them in the second number of his Miscellaneous Antiquities.