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He was educated at Eton school, where he contract
ed a friendship with Mr. Horace Walpole, and Mr. Richard West, fon to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland,
and grandson by the mother's side to Bishop Burnet.
Mr. Gray intended to apply to the study of law;
but, being invited to go abroad with Mr. Walpole,
this intention was laid aside, and never after resumed.
While he was abroad, a difference unhappily took
place between him and Mr. Walpole, which how.
ever was afterwards made up. But, having hastened
home, he found himself in circumstances which he
thought narrow, and with a mind unfit for the profe
cution of a laborious and active employment. He
therefore resided much at Cambridge, and was looked
upon by many of his cotemporaries, as an effeminate
conceited being, with a great deal of learning, and very
fine talents. By some, he was reprefented as a very
exalted foul. By the world in general he was thought.
a reserved, melancholy, proud man, of very fupericr
merit in poetry. His Elegy in a Country Churchyard gained him more reputation than ever was gained
By a poem of that fize. It has indeed a folemnity of
reflection, a pathetic fenfibility of feeling, and a correct
clegance of expression. But it is not the intention of
this sketch to undertake a critical examination of his
poems, which will ever be read with pleasure and ad.
miration.' Mr. Mason has very ingeniously defended some of his odes against the charge of obfcurity, by
observing, that we have a double pleasure in overcom
ing a difficulty, and in contemplating excellence when
understood. We find that Mr. Gray began a tragedy
on the story of Agrippina, which was never finished.
:In 1768, Mr. Gray was most agreeably surprised,
by receiving a letter from the Duke of Grafton, ac
quainting him of his being appointed Profeffor of Mo
dern History in the University of Cambridge, an office
of about L.400 per annunt.
This was doubly accept.
able to a man of Mr. Gray's independent fpirit, being
conferred without the smallest solicitation, or
Mr. Gray seems to have passed his life in ftudy, in composition, and in the exercise of friendly and chari-.
table offices. He died at Cambridge of the gout in his:
Itomach, on the 31st of July 1771..
He had a great knowledge in Gothic Architeéture, but his most favourite study, for the last ten
years of his life, was Natural History, in the know.
ledge of which he was excelled by few.
We fhall conclude this account with a character of
Mr. Gray, fent by the Rev. Mr. Temple, Rector of
Mamhead in Devonshire, to James Bofwell, Esq;
which appeared in the London Magazine for March
-65 Perhaps he was the most learned man in Europe. " He was equally acquainted with the elegant and * profound parts of science, and that not superficially ** but thoroughly. He knew every branch of history, , s both natural and civil ; had read all the originai « historians of England, France, and Italy; and was
“ a great antiquarian. Criticism, metaphysics, mo
“ rals, politics, made a principal part of his plan of
“ ftudy; voyages and travels of all sorts were his
“ favourite amusement; and he had a fine taste in
“ painting, prints, architecture, and gardening. With s.fuch a fund of knowledge, his conversation must " have been equally instructing and entertaining; but “ he was also a good man, a well, bred man, a man
" of virtue and humanity. There is no character
" without some fpeck, fome imperfection; and I think
** the greatest defect in his was an affectation in delica
cy, or ratlier effeminacy, and a visible fasidiousuless,
or contempt and di dain of his inferiors in science.
« He also had, in some degree, that weakness which
“ disgusted Voltaire so much in Mr. Congreve; though
* he seemed to value o: hers, chiefly according to the
progress they had made in krowledge, yet he conld
" pot bear to be: considered himself mercly as a man
of letters, and though withcut birth, or fortune, or