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the more just remarks of Mr. Gilbert Wakefield, who says of Mr. Gray's Pindaric Odes, that « They “ have a much greater resemblance to the Odes of “ the Theban bard than any thing of the kind in our “own, and probably in any other language. Wild“ness of thought and irregularity of verse, had usu“ ally been esteemed the only way to resemble Pin“ dar. The characteristic excellencies of Pindar's “poetry, are, sublimity of conception, boldness of “ metaphor, dignity of style, rapidity of composition, " and magnificence of phraseology. If a fair judg« ment can be formed upon those few specimens « which the desolations of time have spared, in gran“ deur of imagery and regularity of thought, he is “ surpassed by Mr. Gray.-These sublime and ela“ borate productions of genius chastised by learning, « and of learning invigorated by genius, are from “ their nature by no means calculated to please the “ generality of readers, especially upon a slight ac" quaintance.—That , spirit of lyrical inspiration “ which they breathe ; that divine glow of pathos, “ which at the same time melts and inflames the readser, cannot operate with their full effect, but on a “ congenial soul, attuned to the bold vibrations of en“thusiastic poesy. He who can continue amidst the “ blaze of splendeur that bursts around him, amidst “the torrent of sublimity that pours along, sedately “ speculating upon petty blemishes, is certainly a “ stranger to those sensations which animated Pindar “ and Mr. Gray."
A vacancy in the office of Poet Laureate was in 1757 occasioned by the death of Colley Cibber. The Duke of Devonshire, being at that time Chamberlain, made a polite offer of it to Mr. Gray, through the medium of Lord John Cavendish, his brother; but, whether on account of the disgrace that had been brought upon that office by the profligacy and inability of some who had filled it, or for what other reason we cannot now discover, Mr. Gray declined it, and it was conferred on Mr. Whitehead.
Our poet's life was now chiefly devoted to literary pursuits, and the cultivation of friendship. It is obvious, from the testimony of his letters, that he was indefatigable in the former, and that he was always ready to perform kind offices in the latter. Sir William Williams, an accomplished and gallant young officer, having been killed at Belleisle, his friend Mr. Frederic Montagu proposed to erect a monument over him, and with this view requested Mr. Gray to furnish the epitaph. His slight acquaintance with Sir William would have been a sufficient reason for. declining the task ; but the friendliness of Mr. Mon
tagu's disposition, and the sincerity of affliction with which he was affected, wrought so powerfully upon Mr. Gray, that he could not refuse him, though he was by no means able to satisfy himself with the verses he wrote.
The professorship of modern languages and history, in the University of Cambridge, becoming vacant in 1762, through the death of Mr. Turner, Mr. Gray was spirited up by some of his friends to ask of Lord Bute the succession. His application however failed, the office having been promised to Lady Lowther for the tutor of Sir James.
In 1765, Mr. Gray, ever attached to the beauties of nature as well as to the love of antiquities, undertook a journey to Scotland for the purpose of gratifying his curiosity and taste. During his stay in that country Dr, Beattie found the means of engaging his notice and friendship. Through the intervention of this gentleman the Marischal College of Aberdeen had requested to know if the degree of Doctor of Laws would be acceptable to Gray; but this mark of their attention he civilly declined.
In December 1767, Dr. Beattie, still desirous that liis country should afford some testimony of its regard ; to the merit of our poet, solicited his permission to
print at the University press of Glasgow an elegant
edition of his works; Dodsley had before asked the like favour, and Mr. Gray, unwilling to refuse, gratified both with a copy containing a few notes and the imitations of the old Norwegian poetry, intended to supplant the Long Story, which was printed at first only to illustrate Mr. Bentley's designs,
The death of Mr. Brocket, in the July following, left another opening to the professorship which he had before unsuccessfully sought. Lord Bute however was not in office, and the Duke of Grafton, to preclude a request, within two days of the vacancy appointed Mr. Gray.
Cambridge before had been his residence from choice; it now became so from obligation, and the greater part of his time there was 'filled up by his old engagements or diverted to new ones. It has been suggested, that he once embraced the project of republishing Strabo; and there are reasons to believe that he meant it, as the many geographical disquisitions he left behind him appear to have been too minute for the gratification of general inquiry. The like observation may be transferred to Plato and the Greek Anthologia, as he had taken uncommon pains with both, and left a MS of the latter fit for the press, His design of favouring the public with the history of English poetry may be spoken of with more certain. ty, as in this he had not only engaged with Mr. Mason as a colleague, but actually paraphrased the Norse and Welch poems inserted in his works for specimens of the wild spirit which animated the bards of ancient days. The extensive compass, however, of the subject, and the knowledge that it was also in the hands of Mr. Warton, induced him to relinquish what he had thus successfully begun.
Nor did his love for the antiquities of his country confine his researches to its poetry alone: the structures of our ancestors and their various improvements, particularly engaged his attention. Of heraldry, its correlative science, he possessed the entire knowledge. But of the various pursuits which employed his studies for the last ten years of his life, mone were so acceptable as those which explained the economy of Nature. For botany he acquired a taste of his uncle when young: and the exercise which, for the sake of improvement in this branch of the science, he induced himself to take, contributed not a little to the preservation of his health. How considerable his improvements in it were, those only can tell who have seen his additions to Hudson, and his notes on Linnæus. While confined to zoology, he successfully applied his discoveries to illustrate Aristotle and others of the Ancients.