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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.

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: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

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“ 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

6. Aation,

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