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judiciously selected from the numerous writers on the subject ? What can it then be more than an abridgement added to the innumerable ones with which our libraries are already crowded ? I know of no difficult propositions which this study contains, to the proof of which the pupil must be led step after step by the slow hand of demonstration; or that require to be elucidated by the conviction of a mechanical experiment. On this subject .carefully to read, is completely to understand; it is the exercise of memory, not of reason. But a public lecturer, reading to an audience well instructed in these facts, has a wider and nobler field. It is his province to trace every important event to its political spring; to develope the cause, and thence deduce the consequence. In the course of such disquisitions, the rational faculties of his auditors are employed in weighing the force of his arguments, and their judgments finally convinced by the decisive strength of them. What would be an idle display of either logic or rhetoric, where youths are only to be initiated into the knowledge of facts, becomes before this circle of mature hearers, a necessary exertion of erudition and genius. From such lectures afterwards collected into a volume, not only the university, but the nation itself, nay all other nations might reap their advantage ; and receive from this, the benefit they have received from other similar institutions : for though Mr. Gray, in one of the plans lately mentioned, observes, that “ Lectures read in public are generally things of more ostentation than use: yet, (he adds) if
indeed they should gradually swell into a book, and the Author should find reason to hope they might deserve the attention of the public, it is possible they might become of general service : of this we have already some instances, as Judge Blackstone's Lectures on the Common-Law, and the Bishop of Oxford's on Hebrew Poetry.
But these reflections lead me beyond my purpose, which was only to remove from my deceased friend any imputation which, on this account, might rest on his memory. Certain it is, that notwithstanding his ill health, he constantly intended to read lectures; and I remember the last time he visited me at Aston, in the summer of the year 1770, he expressed much chagrin on this subject, and even declared it to be his stedfast resolution to resign his professorship, if he found himself unable to do real service in it. What I said to dissuade him from this, though I urged, as may be supposed, every argument I could think of, had, I found, so little weight with him, that I am almost persuaded he would very soon have put this intention into execution. But death prevented the trial; the particulars of which it is now my melancholy office to relate.
The gout, which he always believed hereditary in his constitution, (for both his parents died of that distemper) had for several years attacked him in a weakly and unfixed manner; and the great temperance which he observed, particularly in regard to his drinking, served, perhaps, to prevent any severe paroxysm, but by no means eradicated the constitutional malady. In the latter end of May, 1771, just about the time he wrote the last letter, he removed to London, where he became feverish, and his dejection of spirits increased: the weather being then very sultry, our common friend, Dr. Gisborne, * advised him, for an opener and freer air, to remove from his lodgings in Jermyn-street to Kensington, where he frequently attended him, and where Mr. Gray so far got the better of his disorder, as to be able to return to Cambridge; meaning from thence to set out very soon for Old Park, in hopes that travelling, from which he usually received so much benefit, would complete his cure: but, on the 24th of July, while at dinner in the College Hall, he felt a sudden nausea, which obliged hiin to rise from table and retire to his chamber. This continued to increase, and nothing staying on his stomach, he sent for his friend Dr. Glynn, who, finding it to be the gout in that part, thought his case dangerous, and called in Dr. Plumptree, the physical professor: they prescribed to him the usual cordials given in that distemper, but without any good effect; for on the 29th he was seized with a strong convulsion fit, which, on the 30th, returned with increased violence, and on the next evening he expired. He was sensible at times almost to the last, and from the first aware of his extreme danger; but expressed no visible concern at the thoughts of his approaching dissolution.
This account I draw up from the letters which Dr. Brown, then on the spot, wrote to me during
Physician to his Majesty's household.
his short illness; and as I felt strongly at the time what Tacitus has so well expressed on a similar occasion, I may, with propriety, use his words: “ Mihi, præter acerbitatem amici erepti, auget mæstitiam, quod adsidere valetudini, fovere deficientem, satiari vultu, complexu, non contigit."* I was then on the eastern side of Yorkshire, at a distance from the direct post, and therefore did not receive the melancholy intelligence soon enough to be able to reach Cambridge before his corpse had been carried to the place he had, by will, appointed for its interment. To see the last rites duly performed, therefore fell to the lot of Dr. Brown; I had only to join him, on his return from the funeral, in executing the other trusts which his friendship had authorized us jointly to perform.
The method in which I have arranged the foregoing pages, has, I trust, one degree of meritthat it makes the reader so well acquainted with the man himself, as to render it totally unnecessary to conclude the whole with his character. If I am mistaken in this point, I have been a compiler to little purpose; and I chose to be this rather than a biographer, that I might do the more justice to the virtues and genius of my friend. I might have written his life in the common form, perhaps with more reputation to myself; but, surely, not with equal information to the reader: for whose sake I have never related a single circumstance of Mr. Gray's life in my own words,
* Vita Agricolæ, cap. xlv.
when I could employ his for the purpose. Fortunately I had more materials for this use, than commonly fall to the lot of an Editor; and I certainly have not been sparing in the use of them : whether I have been too lavish, must be left to the decision of the public.
With respect to the Latin Poems, which I have printed in the three first Sections of these Memoirs, I must beg leave to add one word here, though a little out of place. A learned and ingenious person, to whom I communicated them, after they were printed off, was of opinion, that they contain some few expressions not warranted by any good authority; and that there are one or two false quantities to be found in them. I once had an intention to cancel the pages, and correct the passages objected to, according to my friend's criticisms; but, on second thoughts, I deemed it best to let them stand exactly as I found them in the manuscripts. The accurate classical reader will perhaps be best pleased with finding out the faulty passages himself; and his candour will easily make the proper allowances for any little mistakes in verses which he will consider never had the Author's last hand.
I might here lay down my pen, yet if any reader should still want his character, I will give him one which was published very soon after Mr. Gray's decease. *
It appears to be well written; and as it comes from an anonymous pen, I choose
It appeared in the London Magazine a month or two after his decease, and was prefaced with an eulogy on his poetical merit, which I did not think necessary to reprint in a work where that merit so very fully speaks for itself.