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fill up my paper with a loose sort of version of that scene in Pastor Fido that begins, Care selve beati.*
XVIII. MR. WEST TO MR. GRAY. I THANK you again and again for your two. last most agreeable letters. They could not have come more a-propos ; I was without any books to divert me, and they supplied the want of every thing : I made them my classics in the country; they were my Horace and Tibullus—Non ita loquor assentandi causâ, ut probè nosti si me noris, verum quia sic mea est sententia. I am but just come to town, and, to shew you my esteem of your favours, I venture to send you by the penny post, to your father's, what you will find on the next page; I hope it will reach you soon after your arrival, your boxes out of the waggon, yourself out of the coach, and tutors out of your memory.
Adieu ! we shall see one another, I hope, to-morrow.
This Latin version is extremely elegiac, but, as it is only a version, I do not insert it. Mr. Gray did not begin to learn Italian till about a year and a half before he translated this scene; and I find amongst bis papers an English translation of part of the fourth Canto of Tasso's Gierusalemma Liberata, done previously to this, which has great merit. In a letter to Mr. West, dated March, 1737, he
says, “I learn Italian like any dragon, and in two months am got through the sixteenth book of Tasso, whom I hold in great admiration : I want you to learn too, that I may know your opinion of him; nothing can be easier than that language to any one who knows Latin and French already, and there are few so copious and expressive.” In the same letter he tells him," that his college has set him a versifying on a public occasion, (viz. those verses which are called Tripos) on the theme of Luna est habitabilis.” The poem, I believe, is to be found in the Musæ Eton
I would further observe, on this occasion, that though Mr. Gray had lately read and translated Statius, yet when he attempted composition, his judgment immediately directed him to the best model of versification ; accordingly his
hexameters are, as far as modern ones can be, after the manner of Virgil : they move in the succession of his pauses and close with his elisions.
Sicubi lympha fugit liquido pede, sive virentem
Magna, decus nemoris, quercus opacat humum :
Et, noto ut jacui gramine, nota cano.
Ah, si desit amor, nil mihi rura placent.
Regnat et in Cælis, regnat et Oceano;
Seminis ; ille feros, ultus Adonin, apros :
Concentu tremulo plurima gaudet avis.
Dura etiam et fertur saxa animasse Venus.
Sincero siquis pectore amare vetat:
Non illi arcanum cor aperire velim ;
Ah! si nulla Venus, nil mihi rura placent.
Externâ positum ducere fata dies ;
Plorarem magnos voce querente Deos.
Nil cuperem præter posse placere meæ ;
Illa intrà optarem brachia cara mori.
Mr. Gray, on his return to town, continued at his father's house in Cornhill till the March following, in which interval Mr. Walpole being disinclined to enter so early into the business of Parliament, prevailed on Sir Robert Walpole to permit him to go abroad, and on Mr. Gray (as was said before) to be the companion of his travels. Mr West spent the greatest part of the winter with his mother and sister at Epsom, during which time a letter or two more passed between the two friends. But these I think it unnecessary to insert, as I have already given sufficient specimens of the blossoms of their genius. The reader of taste and candour will, I trust, consider them only as such ; yet will be led to
think that, as the one produced afterward“ fruits worthy of paradise,” the other would also have produced them, had he lived to a more mature age.
SECT. II. As I allot this section entirely to that part of Mr. Gray's life, which he spent in travelling through France and Italy, my province will be chiefly that of an Editor; and my only care to select, from a large collection of letters written to his parents and to his friend Mr. West, those parts which, I imagine, will be most likely either to inform or amuse the reader. The multiplicity of accounts, published both before and after the time when these letters were written, of those very places which Mr. Gray describes, will necessarily take from them much of their novelty ; yet the elegant ease of his epistolary style has a charm in it for all readers of true taste, that will make every apology of this sort needless. They will perceive, that as these letters were written without even the most distant view of publication, they are essentially different in their manner of description from any other that have either preceded or followed them; add to this, that they are interspersed occasionally with some exquisitely finished pieces of Latin poetry, which he composed on the spot for the entertainment of his friend. But, not to anticipate any part of the reader's pleasure, I shall only further say, to forewarn him of a disappointment, that this correspondence is defective towards the end, and includes no description either of Venice or its territory; the last places which Mr. Gray visited. This defect was occasioned by an unfortunate disagreement between him and Mr. Walpole, arising from the difference of their tempers. The former being, from his earliest years, curious, pensive, and philosophical;
the latter gay, lively, and consequently inconsiderate : / this therefore occasioned their separation at Reggio.* Mr. Gray went before him to Venice; and staying there only till he could find means of returning to England, he made the best of his way home, repassing the Alps, and following almost the same route through France by which he had before gone to Italy.
Amiens, April 1, N. S. 1739. As we made but a very short journey to-day, and came to our inn early, I sit down to give you some account of our expedition. On the 29th, (according to the style here) we left Dover at twelve at noon, and with a pretty brisk gale, which pleased every body mighty well, except myself, who was extremely sick the whole time: we reached Calais by five : The weather changed, and it began to snow hard the minute we came into the harbour, where we took the boat, and soon landed. Calais, is an exceeding old, , but very pretty town, and we hardly saw any thing there that was not so new and so different from England, that it surprised us agreeably. We went the next morning to the great church, and were at high mass (it being Easter Monday). We saw also the convent of the Capuchins, and the nuns of St Dominic ; with these last we held much conversation, especially with an English nun, a Mrs. Davis, of whose work I sent you, by the return of the packet, a letter-case to remember her by. In the afternoon we took a post-chaise (it still snowing very hard) for Boulogne, which was only eighteen miles
* In justice to the memory of so respectable a friend, Mr. Walpole enjoins me to charge himself with the chief blame in their quarrel; confessing that more attention and complaisance, more deference to a warm friendship, superior judgment and prudence, might have prevented a rupture that gave much uneasiness to them both, and a lasting concern to the survivor ; though, in the year 1744, a reconciliation was effected between them, by a lady who wished well to both parties.
further. This chaise is a strange sort of conveyance, of much greater use than beauty, resembling an illshaped chariot, only with the door opening before instead of the side ; three horses draw it, one between the shafts, and the other two on each side, on one of which the postillion rides, and drives too :* This vehicle will, upon occasion, go fourscore miles a-day; bụt Mr. Walpole, being in no hurry, chooses to make easy journeys of it, and they are easy ones indeed ; for the motion is much like that of a sedan; we go about six miles an hour, and commonly change horses at the end of it: It is true they are no very graceful steeds, but they go well, and through roads which they say are bad for France, but to me they seem gravel walks and bowling-greens ; in short, it would be the finest travelling in the world, were it not for the inns, which are mostly terrible places indeed. But to describe our progress somewhat more regularly, we came into Boulogne when it was almost dark, and went out pretty early on Tuesday morning, so that all I can say about it is, that it is a large, old, fortified town, with more English in it than French. On Tuesday we were to go to Abbéville, seventeen leagues, or fifty-one short English miles; but by the way we dined a Montreuil, much to our hearts' content, on stinking mutton cutlets, addled eggs,
and ditch water. Madame, the hostess, made her appearance in long lappets of bone lace and a sack of linsey-woolsey. We supped and lodged pretty well at Abbéville, and had time to see a little of it before we came out this morning. There are seventeen convents in it, out of which we saw the chapels of the Minims and the Carmelite nuns. We are now come further thirty miles to Amiens, the chief city of the province of Picardy. We have seen the cathedral,
* This was before the introduction of post.chaises here, else it would not have appeared a circumstance worthy notice.