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what others feel, and indulgence for their faults or weaknesses, a love of truth, and detestation of every thing else. Then you are to deduct a little impertinence, a little laughter, a great deal of pride, and some spirits. These are all the alterations I know of, you perhaps may find more. Think not that I have been obliged for this reformation of manners to reason or reflection, but to a severer school-mistress, Experience. One has little merit in learning her lessons, for one cannot well help it; but they are more useful than others, and imprint themselves in the very heart. I find I have been haranguing in the style of the son of Sirach, so shall finish here, and tell you that our route is settled as follows: first to Bologna for a few days, to hear the Viscontina sing; next to Reggio, where is a fair. Now, you must know, a fair here is not a place where one eats gingerbread or rides upon hobby-horses; here are no musical clocks, nor tall Leicestershire women; one has nothing but masquing, gaming, and singing. If you love operas, there will be the most splendid in Italy, four tip-top voices, a new theatre, the Duke and Dutchess in all their pomps and vanities. Does not this sound magnificent ? Yet is the city of Reggio but one step above Old Brentford. Well; next to Venice by the 11th of May, there to see the old Doge wed the Adriatic Whore. Then to Verona, so to Milan, so to Marseilles, so to Lyons, so to Paris, so to West, &c. in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Eleven months, at different times, have I passed at Florence; and yet (God help me) know not either people or language. Yet the place and the
charming prospects demand a poetical farewell, and here it is.
* * Oh Fæsulæ amæna
Mirabor, tectisque super pendentia tecta. • I will send you, too, a pretty little Sonnet of a Sig". Abbate Buondelmonte, with my imitation of it.
Spesso Amor sotto la forma
Lusit amicitiæ interdum velatus amictu,
Et benè compositâ veste fefellit Amor.
Inque odium versus, versus et in lacrymas:
Idem est dissimili semper in ore Deus.
Here comes a letter from you--I must defer giving my opinion of Pausanias* till I can see the whole, and only have said what I did in obedience to your commands. I have spoken with such free
* Some part of a tragedy under that title, which Mr. West had begun; but I do not find amongst Mr. Gray's papers either the sketch itself, or Mr. Gray's free critique upon it, which he here mentions.
dom on this head, that it seems but just you should have your revenge; and therefore I send you the beginning, not of an epic poem, but of a metaphysic* one. Poems and metaphysics (say you, with your spectacles on) are inconsistent things. A metaphysical poem is a contradiction in terms. It is true, but I will go on. It is Latin too to increase the absurdity. It will, I suppose, put you in mind of the man who wrote a Treatise of Canon Law in hexameters. Pray help me to the description of a mixed mode, and a little Episode about Space.
Mr. Walpole and Mr. Gray set out from Florence at the time specified in the foregoing Letter. When Mr. Gray left Venice, which he did the middle of July following, he returned home through Padua, Verona, Milan, Turin, and Lyons. From all which places he writ either to his father or mother with great punctuality: but merely to inform them of his health and safety; about which (as might be expected) they were now very anxious, as he travelled with only a laquais de voyage. These letters do not even mention that he went out of his way to make a second visit to the Grande Chartreuse,t and there wrote in the Album of the
* The beginning of the first book of a didactic poem, “ De Principiis Cogitandi.” The fragment which he now sent contained the first fifty-three lines. The reader will find a further account of his design, and all that he finished of the Poem, in a subsequent Section.
# He was at Turin the 15th of August, and began to cross the Alps the next day. On the 25th he reached Lyons; therefore it must have been between these two dates that he made this visit. ,
Fathers the following Alcaic Ode, * with which I conclude this Section.
Numen habet, veteresque sylvas;
Inter aquas, nemorumque noctem ;
Da placidam juveni quietem.
In medios violenta fluctus:
Surripias, hominumque curis.
* We saw in the eighth and eleventh Letters how much Mr. Gray was strack with the awful scenery which surrounds the Chartreuse, at a time his mind must have been in a far more tranquil state than when he wrote this excellent Ode. It is marked, I think, with all the finest touches of his melancholy Muse, and flows with such an originality of expression, that one can hardly lament he did not honour his own language by making it the vehicle of this noble imagery and pathetic sentiment.
When Mr. Gray returned from abroad, he found his father's constitution almost entirely 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 distemper was fatal to him. *This happened about two months after his son reached London.
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 this profession; his obstinacy, to build a countryhouse at 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 expense; which might almost be called so much money thrown away: since, after his death, the house was
• He came to town about the 1st of September, 1741. His father died the 6th of November following, at the age of sixty-five.
† His business was that which at the time was called a money-scrivener ; and it may not be amiss to mention, for the singularity of the thing, that Milton's father was of the same profession : but he also had “ music in his soul," and was esteemed a considerable master in that science. Some of his compositions are extant in Old Wilby's Set of Airs, and in Ravenscroft's Psalms. The great Poet alludes finely both to the musical genius, and the trade of his father in those beautiful hexameters, “ Ad Patrem,” which are inserted amongst his Latin