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Mox iræ assumsit cultus, faciemque minantem,
Inque odium versus, versus et in lacrymas:
Idem est dissimili semper in ore Deus.
Mr. Walpole and Mr. Gray set out from Florence at the time specified in the foregoing Letter. When Mr. Gray left Venice, which he did the middle of July following, he returned home through Padua, Verona, Milan, Turin, and Lyons. From all which places he writ either to his father or mother with great punctuality : but merely to inform them of his health and safety; about which (as might be expected) they were now very anxious, as he travelled with only a laquais de voyage. These letters do not even mention that he went out of his way to make a second visit to the Grande
* Some part of a tragedy under that title, which Mr. West had begun ; but I do not find amongst Mr. Gray's papers either the sketch itself, or Mr. Gray's free critique upon it, which he here mentions.
+ The beginning of the first book of a didactic poem,“ De Principiis Cogitandi.” The fragment which he now sent contained the first fifty-three lines. The reader will find a further account of his design, and all that he finished of the Poem, in a subsequent Section.
Chartreuse,* and there wrote in the Album of the Fathers the following Alcaic Odet with which I conclude this section.
Numen habet, veteresque sylvas;
Inter aquas, nemorumque noctem;
Da placidam juveni quietem.
In medios violenta fluctus :
Surripias, hominumque curis.
WHEN Mr. Gray returned from abroad, he found his father's constitution almost entirely worn out by the very severe attacks of the gout, to which he had been for many years subject; and indeed the next return of that distemper was fatal to him. This happened about two months after his son reached London.
* He was at Turin the 15th of August, and began to cross the Alps the next day. On the 25th he reached Lyons; therefore it must have been between these two dates that he made this visit.
+ We saw in the eighth and eleventh Letters how much Mr. Gray was struck with the awful scenery which surrounds the Chartreuse, at a time his mind must have been in a far more tranquil state than when he wrote this excellent Ode. It is marked, I think, with all the finest touches of his melancholy Muse, and flows with such an originality of expression, that one can hardly lament he did not honour his own language by making it the vehicle of this noble imagery and pathetic sentiment.
He came to town about the 1st of September, 1741. His father died the 6th of November following, at the age of sixty-tive.
It has been before observed, that Mr. Philip Gray was of a reserved and indolent temper; he was also morose, unsocial, and obstinate; defects which, if not inherent in his disposition, might probably arise from his bodily complaints. His indolence had led him to neglect the business of his profession;* his obstinacy, to build a country-house at Wanstead, without acquainting either his wife or son with the design, to which he knew they would be very averse, till it was executed. This building, which he undertook late in life, was attended with very considerable expense; which might also be called so much money thrown away: since, after his death, the house was obliged to be sold for two thousand pounds less than its original cost. Mr. Gray, therefore, at this time found his patrimony so small, that it would by no means enable him to prosecute the study of the law, without his becoming burthensome to his mother and aunt. These two sisters had for many years carried on a tradef separate from that of Mrs. Gray's husband; by which having acquired what would support them decently for the rest of their lives, they left off business soon after his death, and retired to Stoke, near Windsor, to the house of their other sister, Mrs. Rogers, lately become the widow of a gentleman of that name. I Both of them wished Mr. Gray to follow the profession for which he had been originally intended, and would undoubtedly have contributed all in their power to enable him to do it with ease and conveniency.
* His business was that which at the time was called a money-scrivener; and it may not be amiss to mention, for the singularity of the thing, that Milton's father was of the same profession : but he also bad “music in his soul," and was esteemed a considerable master in that science. Some of his compositions are extant in Old Wilby's Set of Airs, and in Ravenscroft's Psalms. The great Poet alludes finely both to the musical genius, and the trade of his father in those beautiful hexameters, Ad Patrem,” which are inserted amongst his Latin Poems
+ They kept a kind of India warehouse on Cornhill under the joint names of Gray and Antrobus.
# Mr. Rogers had in the earlier part of his life followed the profession of the law, but retired from business many years before his death. I suppose he was the uncle mentioned in Letter ix. Sect. I.
He on his part, though he had taken his resolution of declining it, was too delicate to hurt two persons for whom he had so tender an affection, by peremptorily declaring his real intentions; and therefore changed, or pretended to change, the line of that study; and accordingly, the latter end of the subsequent year went to Cambridge to take his bachelor's degree in civil law.
But the narrowness of his circumstances was not the only thing that distressed him at this period. He had, as we have seen, lost the friendship of Mr. Walpole abroad. He had also lost much time in his travels; a loss which application could not easily retrieve, when so severe and laborious as tudy as that of the common law was to be the object of it; and he well knew that, whatever improvement he might have made in this interval, either in taste or science, such improvement would stand him in little stead with regard to his present situation and exigencies. This was not all; his other friend, Mr. West, he found, on his return, oppressed by sickness, and a load of family misfortunes; which, were I fully acquainted with them, it would not be my inclination ,here to dwell upon. These the sympathizing heart of Mr. Gray made his own.
He did all in his power (for he was now with him in London) to soothe the sorrows of his friend, and to try to alleviate them by every office of the purest and most perfect affection: but his cares were vain.
The distresses' of Mr. West's mind had already too far affected a body, from the first, weak and delicate. His health declined daily, and, therefore, he left town in March 1742, and, for the benefit of the air, went to David Mitchell's, Esq. at Popes, near Hatfield, Hertfordshire; at whose house he died the 1st of June following:
It is from this place, and from the former date, that this third series of letters commences.
I WRITE to make you write, for I have not much to tell you.
I have recovered no spirits as yet; but, as I am not displeased with my company, I sit purring by the fire-side in my arm-chair with no small satisfaction. I read too sometimes, and have begun Tacitus, but have not yet read enough to judge of him; only his Pannonian sedition in the first book of his annals, which is just as far as I have got, seemed to me a little tedious. I have no more to say, but to desire you will write letters of a handsome length, and always answer me withi a reasonable space of time, which I leave to your discretion.
Popes, March 28, 1742.
I trust to the country, and that easy indolence you say you enjoy there, to restore you your health and spirits; and doubt not but, when the sun grows warm enough to tempt you from your fire-side, you will (like all other things) be the better for his influence. He is my old friend, and an excellent nurse, I assure you. Had it not been for him, life had often been to me intolerable. Pray do not imagine that Tacitus, of all authors in the world, can be tedious. An annalist, you know, is by no means master of his subject; and I think I may venture to say, that if those Pannonian affairs are tedious in his hands, in another's they would have been insupportable. However, fear not, they will soon be over, and he will make ample amends. A man, who could join the bril
* This letter is inserted as introductory only to the answer which follows.