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continued his journey, in a manner suitable to his small fortune, with only an occasional laquais de voyage, through Padua, Verona, Milan, Turin, and Lyons, going out of his way to make a second visit to the Grande Chartreuse in Dauphiny, where he enriched the Album of the Fathers with an Alcaic Ode worthy of the Augustan age, and marked with all the finest touches of his melancholy muse.
He reached London, September 1, 1741.
On his arrival he found his father's constitution almost 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 disorder was fatal to him. He died the 6th of November following, at the age of 68.
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 ; and his obstinacy, to build a country-house
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 expence, which might almost be called so much money thrown away; for, after his death, it was found necessary to sell the house 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 becoming burdensome to his mother and aunt. These two sisters had for many years carried on a trade separate from that of Mrs Gray's husbandt; 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 a widow. 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. He, however, 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; he therefore changed, or pretended to change, the
* It was purchased by Mr. Alderman Bull.
+ They kept a kind of India Warehouse on Cornhill, under the joint names of Gray and Antrobus,
line of that study; and, accordingly, the latter end of the subsequent year he went to Cambridge to take his Bachelor's degree in Civil Law.
The narrowness of his circumstances, however, 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 a study 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. Yet this was not all : His other friend, Mr. West, he found, on his return, oppressed by sickness and a load of family misfortunes. These the sympa. thizing 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; he, therefore, left town in March 1742, and, for the benefit of the air, went to David Mitchell's, Esq. at Pope's, near Hatfield, Hertford shire; at whose house he died the 1st of June following.
In this year Mr. Gray seems to have applied himself seriously to Poetry; for he produced his Ode to Spring, his Prospect of Eton College, and his Ode to Adversity. He began likewise a Latin Poem De Principiis Cogitandi, and a tragedy on the subject of Nero and Agrippina.
It may be collected from the narrative of Mr. Ma. son, that Gray's prime ambition was to have excelled in Latin poetry ; and Dr. Johnson expresses a wish that he had prosecuted that design.
He now lived only at Peterhouse, where he cultiva. ted his mind, and enlarged his views, without any other purpose than of improving and amusing himself, when Mr. Mason, being elected a Fellow of Pembroke Hall, brought him a companion, who was afterwards to be his editor.
Of Mr. Mason's acquaintance with Mr. Gray the former gentleman gives us an account, from which we extract the following passage:
" It was not till « about the year 1747 that I had the happiness of be66 ing introduced to the acquaintance of Mr. Gray. 6 Some very juvenile imitations of Milton's juvenile
poems, which I had written a year or two before “(and of which the Monody on Mr. Pope's death was “ the principal*), he'then, at the request of one of my friends, was so obliging as to revise.
The same year, on account of a dispute which had happened “ between the masters and fellows of Pembroke Hall, “ I had the honour of being nominated by the Fellows “ to fill one of the vacant Fellowshipst. I was at this “ time scholar of St. John's College, and Batchelor of
Arts, personally unknown to the gentlemen who fa« voured me so highly; therefore, that they gave me « this mark of distinction and preference was greatly “ owing to Mr. Gray, who was well acquainted with « several of that society, and to Dr. Heberden.”.
66 *The other two were in imitation of l’Allegro « & il Penseroso,' and intitled “Il Bellicoso & il Pa. “ cifico.' The latter of these I was persuaded to re“ vise and publish in the Cambridge Collection of “ Verses on the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748. The “ former has since got into a Miscellany printed by “ G. Pearch, from the indiscretion, I suppose, of some
acquaintance who had a copy of it.”
+Though nominated in 1747, I was not elected « Fellow till February, 1749. The Master refused “ his assent, claiming a negative; the affair was there“fore not compromised till after an ineffectual litiga«« tion of two years.”