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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 grandfon 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 effeminäte


conceited being, with a great deal of learning, and wery

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 firpericr

merit in poetry. His Elegy in a Country Church

yard gained him more reputation than ever was gained

by a poem of that fize. It has indeed a solemnity of


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reflection, a pathetic sensibility of feeling, and a correct

elegance of expression. But it is not the intention of

chis sketch to undertake a critical examination of his

poems, which will ever be read with pleasure and adı

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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


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 Profesor of Mo

dern History in the University of Cambridge, an office

of about L. 400 per annuit.

This was doubly accept

able to a man of Mi. 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:

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He had a great knowledge in Gothic Architekture, 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, Re&or of

Mamhead in Devonshire, to James Bofwell, Esq;

which appeared in the London Magazine for March


-sv Perhaps he was the most learned man in Europe. “ He was equally acquainted with the elegant and

* profound parts of science, and that not fuperficially

** but thoroughly. He knew every branch of history, “ both natural and civil ; had read all the originai " historians of England, France, and Italy; and was

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“ a great antiquarian. Criticism, metaphysics, mo

“ rals, politics, made a principal part of his plan of

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study; voyages and travels of all sorts were his

16 favourite amusement; and he had a fine taste in

“painting, prints, architecture, and gardening. With “ fuch: a fund of knowledge, his conversation must

as 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


or ratlier effeminacy, and a visible fasidiouliess,

or contempt and didain of his inferiors in science.

« He also had, in some degree, that weakness which

“ difguted 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

66 not bear to be: considered himself merely as a man

of letters, and though without birth, or fortune, cr

or ftation,

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