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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 ear 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 men, where the necessities of life force every one to think and act much for himself.*
* One is led to think from this paragraph that the scepticism, which Mr. Gray had expressed before, concerning these works of Ossian, was now entirely removed. (See p. 228.) I know no way of accounting for this (as he had certainly received no stronger evidence of their authenticity) but from the turn of his studies at the time. He had of late much busied himself in antiquities, and consequently had imbibed too much of the spirit of a professed antiquarian: now we know, from a thousand instances, that no set of men are more willingly duped than these, especially by any thing that comes to them under the fascinating form of a new discovery.
COUNT ALGAROTTI TO MR. GRAY.
Pisa, 24 Aprile, 1763. Sono stato lungo tempo in dubbio se un dilettante quale io sono, dovea mandare alcune sue coserelle a un professore quale è V. S. Illusmo, a un arbitro di ogni poetica eleganza. Nè ci volea meno che l'autorità del valorissimo Sig". How per persuadermi a ciò fare. V. S. Illmo accolga queste mie coserelle con quella medesima bontà con cui ha voluto accogliere quella lettera che dice pur poco delle tante cose, che fanno sentire alle anime armoniche di ammirabili suoi versi. Io saro per quanto io porrô, Præco laudum tuarum, e quella mia lettera si stamperà in un nuove Giornale, che si fa in Venezia, intitolato la Minerva, perche sappia la Italia che la Inghilterra, ricca di un *Omero, di uno Archimede, di un # Demostene, non manca del suo Pindaro. Al Sig'. How le non saprei dire quanti obblighi io abbia, ma si maggiore è certamente quello di avermi presentato alla sua Musa, e di avermi procurato la occasione di poterla assicurare della perfetta ed altissima stima, con cui io ho l'honore di sottescrivermi,
De V. S. Illusmo.
MR. GRAY TO DR. WHARTON.
Pembroke-hall, Aug. 5, 1763. You may well wonder at my long taciturnity. I wonder too, and know not what cause to assign; for it is certain I think of you daily. I believe it is owing to the nothingness of my history; for except six weeks that I passed in town towards the end of the spring, and a little jaunt to Epsom and Box-hill, I have been here time out
# Mr. Pitt.
of mind, in a place where no events grow, though serve those of former days, by way of Hortus siccus in our libraries.
I doubt you have not read Rousseau's Emile. Every body that has children should read it more than once: for though it abounds with his usual glorious absurdity, though his general scheme of education be an impracticable chimera, yet there are a thousand lights struck out, a thousand important truths better expressed than ever they were before, that may be of service to the wisest men. Particularly I think he has observed children with more attention, and knows their meaning and the working of their little passions better than any other writer. As to his religious discussions, which have alarmed the world, and engaged their thoughts more than any other part
of the book, I set them all at nought, and wish they had been omitted.*
MR. GRAY TO MR. PALGRAVE.*
March, 1765. My instructions, of which you are so desirous, are twofold : the first part relates to what is past, and that will be rather diffuse: the second, to what is to come; and that we shall treat more succinctly, and with all due brevity.
* That I may put together the rest of Mr. Gray's sentiments concerning this singular writer, I insert here an extract from a letter of later date, written to myself.." 1 have not read the Philosophic Dictionary. I can now stay with great patience for any thing that comes from Voltaire. They tell me it is frippery, and blasphemy, and wit. I could have forgiven myself if I had not read Rousseau's Lettres de la Montagne. Always excepting the Contract Social, it is the dullest performance he ever published. It is a weak attempt to separate the miracles from the morality of the gospel. The latter (he would have you think) he believes was sent from God; and the former he very explicitly takes for an imposture: this is in order to prove the cruelty and injustice of the state of Geneva in burning his Emile. The latter part of his book is to shew the abuses that have crept into the constitution of his country, which point (if you are concerned about it) he makes out very well; and his intention in this is plainly to raise a tumulo in the city, and to be revenged on the Petit Conseil, who condemned his writings to the flames.
+ Mr. Gray’s correspondent was now making the tour of France and Italy.
First, when you come to Paris you will not fail to visit the cloister of the Chartreuse, where Le Sueur (in the history of St. Bruno) has almost equalled Raphael. Then your Gothic inclinations will naturally lead you to the Sainte Chapelle built by St. Louis : in the treasury is preserved one of the noblest gems of the Augus
When you take a trip into the country, there is a fine old chapel at Vincennes with admirable painted windows; and at Fontainbleau, the remains of Francis the First's magnificence might give you some pleasure. In
your way to Lyons you will take notice of the view over the Saone, from about Tournus and Macon. Fail not to walk a few miles along the banks of the Rhone, down the river. I would certainly make a little journey to the Grande Chartreuse, up the mountains: at your return out of Italy this will have little effect. At Turin you will visit the capuchin's convent just without the city, and the Superga at no great distance, for the sake of the views. At Genoa observe the Terreno of the palace Brignoli, as a model of an apartment elegantly disposed in a hot climate. At Parma you will adore the great Madonna and St. Jerom, once at St. Antonio Abbate, but now (I am told) in the ducal palace. In the Madonna della Steccata observe the Moses breaking the tables, a chiaroscuro figure of the Parmeggiano at too great a height, and ill lighted, but immense. At the Capuchins, the great Pietá of Annib. Caracci; in the Villa Ducale, the room painted by Carlo Cignani; and the last works of Agostino Caracci at Modena.* I know * When our Author was himself in Italy, be studied with much attention the
I find a paper written at the time in which he has set down several subjects proper for painting, which he had never seen executed, and has affixed the names of different masters to each piece, to shew which of their pencils he thought would have been most proper to treat it. not but this paper will be an acceptable present to the Reynolds's and West's of the age, I shall here insert it.
“ An altar-piece.-Guido. The top, a heaven; in the middle, at a distance, the Padre-Eterno indistinctly. seen, and lost, as it were, in glory. On either hand, angels of all degrees in atti
different manners of the old masters.
As I doubt
not what remains now, the flower of the collection is gone to Dresden. Bologna is too vast a subject for me to treat: the palaces and churches are open; you have nothing to do but to see them all. In coming down the Appennine you will see (if the sun shines) all Tuscany
. And so I have brought you to Florence, where to be sure there is nothing worth seeing. Secondly,
tudes of adoration and wonder. A little lower, and next the eye, supported on the wings of seraphs, Christ (the principal figure) with an air of calm and serene majesty, his hand extended, as commanding the elements to their several places; near him an angel of superior rank bearing the golden compasses (that Milton describes); beneath the Chaos, like a dark and turbulent ocean, only illumined by the Spirit, who is brooding over it.
A small picture.—Correggio. Eve newly created, admiring her own shadow in the lake. The famous Venus of this master, now in the possession of Sir William Hamilton, proves how judiciously Mr. Gray fired upon his pencil for the execution of this charming subject. M.
Another.-Domenichino. Medea in a pensive posture, with revenge and maternal affection striving in her visage ; her two children at play, sporting with one another before her. On one side a bust of Jason, to which they bear some resemblance.
A statue.-Michael Angelo. Agave in the moment she returns to her senses; the head of her son, fallen on the ground from her hand. Vide Ovid. Met. lib. iii. 1. 701, &c. M.
A picture.—Salvator Rosa. Æneas and the sybil sacrificing to Pluto by torch-light in the wood, the assistants in a fright. The day beginning to break, so as dimly to shew the mouth of the
Şigismonda with the heart of Guiscardo before her. I have seen a small print on this subject, where the expression is admirable, said to be graved from a picture of Correggio.
Afterwurd, when he had seen the original in the possession of the late Sir Luke Schaub, he always expressed the highest admiration of it; though we see, by his here giving it to Salvator Rosa, he thought the subject too horrid to be treated by Correggio; and indeed I believe it is agreed that the capital picture in question is not of his hand. M.
Another.-Albano, or the Parmeggiano. Iphigenia asleep by the fountain-side, her maids about her; Cymon gazing and laughing
This subject has been often treuted ; once indeed very curiously by Sir Peter Lely, in the way of portrait, when his sacred majesty Charles the Second represented Cymon, and the Duchess of Cleveland and Mrs. Eleanor Gwin (in as indecent attitudes as his royal taste could prescribe) were Iphigenia and her attendants. M.
Another.- Domenichino, or the Caracci. Electra with the urn, in which she imagined were her brother's ashes, lamenting over them; Orestes smothering his concern.
Another.—Correggio. Ithuriel and Zephon entering the bower of Adam and Eve; they sleeping. The light to proceed from the angels.