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Large was his bounty and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send, He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a Friend!
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode; There Tuey alike in trembling hope repose,
The bosom of his father and his God!
The Rev. William Mason, himself a poet and also a very respectable clergyman, was Mr. Gray's intimate friend; he published, in two volumes, the Works of Tuomas Gray, with Memoirs of his Life and Writings, whence the preceding particulars have been extracted. The biography is interspersed with a series of Epistles, which render it a most interesting publication. This mode of writing has been since adopted by Hayley, in' his Life' of Cowper, and by Sir William Forbes, in his Life of Beattie, two of the most entertaining productions in the English language,
As to the Works of Mr. GRAY, he wrote little (a circumstance already mentioned), but that little possesses extraordinary merit; confessed by all those who are blessed with taste and discernment. Not to multiply the eulogies that have been bestowed upon the genius of GRAY, I shall only introduce the most recent encomium that has come to my knowledge. In conjunction with Milton and Shakespeare and
Collins, the merits of our bard are happily described :
How holy Milton felt, ah! who can tell ?
To grace the scenery Tuby lov'd to paint !* Mr. Gray's Elegy in a Country Church-yard has ever been the subject of unequivocal admiration. Even Johnson acknowledged, that “had Gray written often thus, it had been vain to blame and useless to
* See an ingenious Poem, entitled La Bagatelle, or Home SCENERY. By William Fox. Its copious Appendix contains some good remarks illustrative of the genius of English Poetry,
praise him.” As to his illiberal censures of all the other effusions of his pen, it will be sufficient to transcribe a paragraph from the celebrated Anna Seward's Letters :-" GRAY was indolent and wrote but little, yet that little proves him the first genius of the period in which he lived. I have been assured that he had more learning than Johnson, and he certainly was a very superior poet. Johnson felt the superiority and hated him. It was that consciousness, I verily believe, which impelled him to speak with such audacious contempt of the first lyric compositions the world has seen, and of loftier subjects than Pindar’s. Grander in point of imagery and language no odes can be than the Odes of GRAY
" A radiant course did Johnson's glory run,
But large the spots that darken'd on its sun!”
The opinion of Miss Seward is sanctioned by the inscription upon Mr. Gray's monument, in Westminster Abbey
No more the Grecian Muse unrivall’d reigns,
To Britain let the nations homage pay;
A Pindar's rapture in the lyre of Gray! Finally, the character of Mr. GRAY, though naturally reserved, and somewhat fastidious, may be appreciated from the Prayer which closes his Address to ADVERSITY
ADDRESS TO ADVERSITY.
0! gently on thy suppliant's head,
Thy form benign, 0! Goddess, wear,
These stanzas are at once indicative of virtuous feel. ing, and hold up just views of the mixed condition of mortality.*
* Mr. GRAY, in his Letters, has various remarks in favour of revealed religion. One epistle in particular, and of some length, is taken up with observations illustrative of the moral perfections of the Deity, by way of reply to Lord Bolingbroke, who, in his Posthumous Works, advocates, with no small virulence, the cause of Infidelity. These attacks of the evemy are fiery trials out of which the religion of the New Testament emerges with superior lustre and purity! Nor will TAE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION cease to be assailed and vilified till it hath accomplished those transcendantly sublime purposes which Infinite Wisdom hath ordained, respecting the present amelioration and future destination of mankind.
We now retraced our steps to the Windmill, at Salt Hill, where we dined, got to WINDSOR tó tea, and had no reason to be displeased with our pilgrimage to the Tomb of GRAY, the ornament of Literature, the favourite of the Muses and the friend of Humanity.
Having accomplished the purposes of our ExCURSION, we were about to bid adieu to the stately heights of Windsor, which both nature and art conspire to render delightful. One lesson was more deeply engraven on my mind by the near conterplation of the person of our venerable Monarch and his family. Even amidst the accumulated splendours of royalty-health, resulting from exercise, combined with temperance,
peace emanating from the pure source of domestic affection, are seen to constitute the prime ingredients of human felicity! And this bliss is accessible to the meanest subject in the realm. Thus HAPPINESS appears more equably diffused than has been generally imagined, and the moral government of the King of kings in the seemingly capricious bestowment of the gifts of Fortune, is amply vindicated :
He, unconscious whence the bliss,
Feels and owns, in carols rude, That all the circling joys are His
0f-DEAR VICISSITUDE! From toil he wins his spirits light,
From busy Day the peaceful Night, Rich, from the very want of wealth,
In Heaven's best treasures-Peace and Health!