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THOMAS GRAY.

THOMAS Gray, a distinguished poet, was the son of a money-scrivener in London, where he was born in 1716. He received his education at Etonschool, whence he was sent to the university of Cambridge, and entered as a pensioner at St. Peter's College. He left Cambridge in 1738, and occupied a set of chambers in the Inner Temple, for the purpose of studying the law. From this intention he was diverted by an invitation to accompany Mr. Horáce Walpole, son of the celebrated statesman, with whom he had made a connection at Eton, in a tour through Europe. Some disagreement, of which Mr. Walpole generously took the blame, caused them to separate in Italy ; and Gray returned to England in September, 1741, two months before his father's death. Gray, who now depended chiefly upon his mother and aunt, left the law, and returned to his retirement at Cambridge. In the next year he had the misfortune to lose his dear friend West, also an Eton scholar, and son to the Chancellor of Ireland, which left a vacancy in his affections, that seems never to have been supplied.

From this time his residence was chiefly at Carabridge, to which he was probably attached by an insatiable love of books, which he was unable to gratify from his own stores. Some years passed in this favourite indulgence, in which his exquisite learning and poetic talents were only known to a few friends; and it was not till 1747, that his “ Ode on a distant Prospect of Eton College” made its appearance before the public. It was in 1751 that his celebrated “Elegy written in a Country Church-yard," chiefly composed some years before, and even now sent into the world without the author's name, made its way to the press. Few poems were ever so popular : it soon ran through eleven editions; was translated into Latin verse, and has ever since borne the marks of being one of the most favourite productions of the British Muse.

In the manners of Gray there was a degree of effeminacy and fastidiousness which exposed him to the character of a fribble; and a few riotous young men of fortune in his college thought proper to · make him a subject for their boisterous tricks. He made remonstrances to the heads of the society upon this usage, which being treated, as he thought, without due attention, he removed in 1756 to Pembroke-hall. In the next year, the office of poetlaureat, vacant by the death of Cibber, was offered to Gray, but declined by him. In the same year he published two odes, “ On the Progress of Poesy," and “ The Bard,” which were not so popular as his Elegy had been, chiefly, perhaps, because they were less understood. The uniform life passed by this

eminent person admits of few details, but the transaction respecting the professorship of modern history at Cambridge, a place worth four hundred pounds a year, is worthy of some notice. When the situation became vacant in Lord Bute's administration, it was modestly asked for by Gray, but had already been bespoken by another. On a second vacancy in 1768, the Duke of Grafton being now in power, it was, “ unsolicited and unsuspected,” conferred upon him; in return for which he wrote his “ Ode for Music," for the installation of that nobleman as chancellor of the university. This professorship, though founded in 1724, had hitherto remained a perfect sinecure; but Gray prepared himself to execute the duties of his office. Such, however, were the baneful effects of habitual indolence, that, with a mind replete with ancient and modern knowledge, he found himself unable to proceed farther than to draw a plan for his inauguration speech. But his health was now declining; an irregular hereditary gout made more frequent attacks than formerly; and at length, while he was dining in the College-hall, he was seized with a complaint in the stomach, which carried him off on July 30. 1771, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. His remains were deposited, with those of his mother and auat, in the church-yard of Stoke-Pogis, Buckinghamshire.

It is exclusively as a poet that we record the name of Gray; and it will, perhaps, be thought that we borrow too large a share from a single small volume; yet this should be considered as indicative of the high rank which he has attained, compared

with the number of his compositions. With respect to his character as a man of learning, since his acquisitions were entirely for his own use, and produced no fruits for the public, it has no claim to particular notice. For though he has been called by one of his admirers “ perhaps the most learned man in Europe," never was learning more thrown away. A few pieces of Latin poetry are all that he has to produce.

HYMN TO ADVERSITY.

......Zñuee
Τον φρονείν βροχές οδώ-
σανία, τα πάθει μαθών
Θένα κυρίως έχειν.

Æschylus, in Agamemnonie.
Daughter of Jove, relentless power,
· Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge, and torturing hour,

The bad affright, afflict the best !
Bound in thy adamantine chain
The proud are taught to taste of pain,
And purple tyrants vainly groan
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied, and alone.
When first thy sire to send on Earth

Virtue, his darling child, design'd,
To thee he gave the heavenly birth,

And bade to form her infant mind.

Stern rugged nurse; thy rigid lore
With patience many a year she bore :
What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know,
And from her own she learn'd to melt at others' woe.

Scar'd at thy frown terrific, fly

Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood,
Wild Laughter, Noise, and thoughtless Joy,

And leave us leisure to be good.
Light they disperse, and with them go
The summer friend, the flattering foe;
By vain Prosperity receiv'd,
To her they vow their truth, and are again believ'd.

Wisdom, in sable garb array'd,

Immers’d in rapturous thought profound,
And Melancholy, silent maid,

With leaden eye, that loves the ground,
Still on thy solemn steps attend :
Warm Charity, the general friend,
With Justice, to herself severe,
And Pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.

Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head,

Dread goddess, lay thy chastening hand!
Not in thy gorgon terrours clad,

Nor circled with the vengeful band,
(As by the impious thou art seen,)
With thundering voice, and threatening mien,
With screaming Horrour's funeral cry,
Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty.

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