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do not like them in Elegy. But after all, I admire your translation so extremely, that I cannot help repeating I long to shew you some little errors you are fallen into by following Broukhusius. * * * Were I with you now, and Propertius with your verses lay upon the table between us, I could discuss this point in a moment; but there is nothing so tiresome as spinning out a criticism in a letter; doubts arise, and explanations follow, till there swells out at least a volume of undigested observations: and all because you are not with him whom you want to convince. Read only the letters between Pope and Cromwell in proof of this; they dispute without end. 'Are you aware now that I have an interest all this while in banishing criticism from our correspondence ? Indeed I have; for I am going to write down a little Ode (if it deserves the name) for your perusal, which I am afraid will hardly stand that test. Nevertheless I leave you at your full liberty; so here it follows.
Dear Gray, that always in my heart
Come, fairest Nymph, resume thy reign!
I have omitted here a paragraph or two, in which different lines of the Elegy were quoted, because I had previously omitted the translation of it.
With balmy breath, and flowery tread,
Awake, in all thy glories drest,
See! all her works demand thy aid;
Come then, with Pleasure at thy side,
MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.
London, May 8, 1742. I REJOICE to see you putting up your prayers to the May: she cannot choose but come at such a call. It is as light and genteel as herself. You bid me find fault; I am afraid I cannot; however I will try. The first stanza (if what you say to me in it did not make me think it the best)
I should call the worst of the five (except the fourth line.) The two next are very picturesque, Miltonic, and musical; her bed is so soft and so snug that I long to lie with her. But those two lines, “Great Nature,” are my favourites. The exclamation of the flowers is a little step too far. The last stanza is full as good as the second and third; the last line bold, but I think not too bold. Now, as to myself and my translation, pray do not call names. I never saw Broukhusius in my life. It is Scaliger who attempted to range Propertius in order; who was, and still is, in sad condition t ***. You see, by what I sent you, that I converse, as usual, with none but the dead; they are my old friends, and almost make me long to be with them. You will not wonder therefore, that I, who live only in times past, am able to tell you no news of the present. I have finished the Peloponnesian War much to my honour, and a tight conflict it was, I promise you. I have drank and sung with Anacreon for the last fortnight, and am now feeding sheep with Theocritus. Besides, to quit, my figure, (because it is foolish) I have run over Pliny's Epistles and Martial ék mapépyov; not to mention Petrarch, who, by the way, is sometimes very tender and natural. I must needs tell you three lines in Anacreon, where the expression seems to me inimitable. He is describing hair as he would have it painted.
"Έλικας δ ελευθέρους μου
Πλοκάμων άτακτα συνθείς "Apec wc Oflovol kełobai.
+ Here some criticism on the Elegy is omitted for a former reason.
Guess, too, where this is about a dimple.
Sigilla in mento impressa Amoris digitulo
MR. WEST TO MR. GRAY.
Popes, May 11, 1742. Your fragment is in Aulus Gellius; and both it and your Greek delicious. But why are you thus melancholy? I am so sorry for it, that you see I cannot forbear writing again the very first opportunity; though I have little to say except to expostulate with you about it. I find you converse much with the dead, and I do not blame you for that; I converse with them too, though not indeed with the Greek. But I must condemn you for your longing to be with them. What, are there no joys among the living? I could almost cry out with Catullus, “ Alphene immemor, atque unanimis false sodalibus !" But to turn an accusation thus upon another, is ungenerous; so I will take my leave of you for the present with a “ Vale et vive paulisper cum vivis.”
MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.
London, May 27, 1742. Mine, you are to know, is a white melancholy, or rather leucocholy for the most part; which though it seldom laughs or dances, nor ever amounts to what one calls joy or pleasure, yet is a good easy sort of a state, and ça ne laisse que de s'amuser. The only fault of it is insipidity; which is apt now and then to give a sort of ennui, which makes one form certain little wishes that signify nothing. But there is another sort, black indeed, which I have now and then felt, that has somewhat in it like Tertullian's rule of faith, Credo quia impossibile est ; for it believes, nay, is sure of every thing that is unlikely, so it be but frightful; and, on the other hand, excludes and shuts its eyes to the most possible hopes, and every thing that is pleasurable; from this the Lord deliver us! for none but he and sunshiny weather can do it. In hopes of enjoying this kind of weather, I am going into the country for a few weeks, but shall be never the nearer any society; so, if you have any charity, you will continue to write. My life is like Harry the Fourth's supper of hens. “Poulets a la broche, poulets en ragôut, poulets en hâchis, poulets en fricasées." Reading here, reading there; nothing but books with different sauces. Do not let me lose my dessert then; for though that be reading too, yet it has a very different flavour. The May seems to be come since your invitation; and I pro