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You are very good to me in taking this trouble upon you: all I can say is, that I shall be happy to return it in kind, whenever you will give me the opportunity.
MR. GRAY TO THE DUKE OF GRAFTON,
Cambridge, July, 1768. Your Grace has dealt nobly with me; and the same delicacy of mind that induced you to confer this favour on me, unsolicited and unexpected, may perhaps make you averse to receive my sincerest thanks and grateful acknowledgments. Yet your Grace must excuse me, they will have their way: they are indeed but words; yet I know and feel they come from my heart, and therefore are not wholly unworthy of your
Grace's acceptI even flatter myself (such is my pride) that you have some little satisfaction in your own'work. If I did not deceive myself in this, it would complete the happiness of,
And devoted servant.
[The following letter of Mr. Gray, to Mary Antrobus, is found in a curious collection of autographs, made by Dr. E. D. Clarke in the latter part of his life. It was written on the day of his presentation to George III., upon his appointment to the Professorship of Modern History at Cambridge, and contains some traits highly characteristic of the poet. DEAR MARY,
29th July, 1768. I Thank you for all your intelligence (and the first news I had of poor Brocket's death was from you), and to reward you in part for it, I now shall tell
that this day, hot as it is, I kissed the King's hand; that my warrant was signed by him last night; that on Wednesday I received a very honourable letter from the Duke of Grafton, acquainting me, that his Majesty had ordered him to offer me this Professorship
* The three following letters explain the occasion of th honourable to his Grace, and are withal so authentic a + gratitude, that they leave me nothing to add on the subje i
more, which does me too much credit by half, for me to mention it: the Duke adds, that from private as well as public considerations, he takes the warmest part, in approving this measure of the king. These are his own words. You see there are princes (or ministers,) left in the world, that know how to do things handsomely; for I profess I never asked for it, nor have I seen his Grace, before or after this event.
Dr. R. (not forgetting a certain lady of his), is so good to you and to me, that you may (if you please) shew him my letter : he will not be critical as to the style, and I wish you would send it also to Mr. Brown, for I have not time to write to him, by this post: they need not mention this circumstance to others—they may learn it as they can. Adieu.
I receive your letter of July 28 (while I am writing). Consult your friends over the way; they are as good as I, and better. All I can say is, the Board have been so often used to the name of Antrobus lately, that I fear they may take your petition not in good part: if you are sure of the kindness or interest of Mr. A., the opportunity should not be lost; but I always a little distrust new friends and new lawyers.
I have found a man, who has brought Mr. Eyres (I think) up to my price in a hurry; however, he defers his final answer till Wednesday next.
He shall not have it a shilling lower, I promise ; and if he hesitates, I will rise upon him like fury. Good night. I am ever
How could you dream that St-, or Hinchlwould ask this for themselves? The only people that asked it were Lort, Marriet, Delavel, Tibb, and Peckat least I have heard of no more. Delavel always communicated his thoughts to me, knowing I would make no ill use of that knowledge. Lort is a worthy man, and I wish he could have it, or something as good : the rest are nothing. ]
MR. GRAY TO MR. NICHOLLS.*
Jermyn-street, Aug. 3, 1768, That Mr. Brocket has broken his neck, by a fall from his horse, you will have seen in the newspapers; and also that I, your humble servant, have kissed the King's hand for his succession: they are both true, but the manner how you know not: only I can assure you that I had no hand at all in his fall, and almost as little in the second event. He died on the Sunday; on Wednesday following his Grace the Duke of Grafton wrote me a very polite letter to say, that his Majesty had commanded him to offer me the vacant professorship, not only as a reward of, &c. but as a credit to, &c. with much more too high for me to transcribe: so on Thursday the King signed the warrant, and next day, at his levee, I kissed his hand; he made me several gracious speeches, which I shall not repeat, because every body that goes to court does so: besides, the day was so hot, and the ceremony so embarrassing to me, that I hardly knew what he said.
Adieu! I am to perish here with heat this fortnight yet, and then to Cambridge; to be sure my dignity is a little the worse for wear, but, mended and washed, it will do for me.
Pembroke-hall, Oct. 31, 1768. It is some time since I received from Mr. Foulis two copies of my Poems, one by the hands of Mr. T. Pitt, the other by Mr. Merrill, a bookseller of this town: it is indeed a most beautiful edition, and must certainly
* Rector of Lounde and Bradwell, in Suffolk. His acquaintance with Mr. Gray commenced a few years before the date of this, when he was a student of Trinityhall, Cambridge.
do credit both to him and to me: but I fear it will be of no other advantage to him, as Dodsley has contrived to glut the town already with two editions beforehand, one of fifteen hundred, and the other of seven hundred and fifty, both indeed far inferior to that of Glasgow, but sold at half the price. I must repeat my thanks, Sir, for the trouble you have been pleased to give yourself on my account; and through you I must desire leave to convey my acknowledgments to Mr. Foulis, for the pains and expense he has been at in this publication.
We live at so great a distance, that, perhaps, you may not yet have learned, what, I flatter myself, you will not be displeased to hear: the middle of last summer his Majesty was pleased to appoint me Regius Professor of Modern History in this University; it is the best thing the Crown has to bestow, on a layman, here; the salary is four hundred pounds per ann. but what enhances the value of it to me is, that it was bestowed without being asked. The person, who held it before me, died on the Sunday; and on Wednesday following the Duke of Grafton wrote me a letter to say, that the King offered me this office, with many additional expressions of kindness on his Grace's part, to whom I am but little known, and whom I have not seen either before or since he did me this favour. Instances of a benefit so nobly conferred, I believe are rare; and therefore I tell you of it as a thing that does honour, not only to me, but to the Minister.
As I lived here before from choice, I shall now continue to do so from obligation; if business or curiosity should call you southwards, you will find few friends that will see you with more cordial satisfaction, than, dear Sir, &c.
SECT. V. The reader will have gathered, from the preceding series of letters, that the greatest part of Mr. Gray's life was spent in that kind of learned leisure, which has only self-improvement and self-gratification for its object: he will probably be surprised that, with so very strait an income, he should never have read with a view of making his researches lucrative to himself, or useful to the public. The truth was, Mr. Gray had ever expunged the word lucrative from his own vocabulary. He may be said to have been one of those very few personages in the annals of literature, especially in the poetical class, who are devoid of self-interest, and at the same time attentive to economy; and also, among mankind in general, one of those very few economists who possess that talent, untinctured with the slightest stain of avarice. Were it my purpose in this place to expatiate on his moral excellences, I should here add, that when his circumstances were at the lowest, he gave away such'sums in private charity as would have done credit to an ampler purse: but it is rather my less-pleasing province at present to acknowledge one of his foibles; and that was a certain degree of pride, which led him, of all other things, to despise the idea of being thought an author professed. I have been told, indeed, that early in life he had an intention of publishing an edition of Strabo; and I find amongst his papers a great number of geographical disquisitions, particularly with respect to that part of Asia which comprehends Persia and India; concerning the ancient and modern names and divisions of which extensive countries, his notes are very copious. The indefatigable pains which he also took with the writings of Plato, and the quantity of critical, as well as explanatory, observations, which he has left upon almost