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Poems; and where they are so extremely numerous and extensive as to unfit them for accompanying the text which refers to them, that method certainly becomes necessary. It has here, however, been found possible to insert the notes at the feet of the pages to which they respectively belong, without encumbering the text in any unsightly manner, If a reader has either not time or not inclination to refer to these notes as he proceeds, he can as easily pass them over as if they were not there; but if he reads with deliberation, and does not think it time misspent to assist his understanding by a reference to local or critical explications, these are certainly referred to with more pleasure, because with less trouble, than by turning on every trivial occasion to the end of the book.
To conclude: It may with great truth be said, that the present collection comprises more poems of Mr. Gray, and miscellanies concerning him, than any Edition before published; and if the manner in which the whole is arranged and digested be found deserving of public encouragement, the Editor will be well content to share the merits of the Volume with a correct and elegant Printer.
THE LIFE AND WRITINGS
MR. THOMAS GRAY.
OF a life so sedentary and retired as that passed by the gentleman whose works are here presented to the Reader, the incidents can scarcely be expected to comprise any thing uncommon or remarkable: yet a. Reader who is pleased with the productions of the Poet, very naturally desires to know something of the Man.
The parents of our Author were respectable citizens of London. His grandfather had been a merchant of some eminence; his father, Mr. Philip Gray, exercised the trade of a money-scrivener; but, being of a shy and indolent temper, rather diminished than increased his paternal fortune. He had many children, of whom THOMAS, the subject of this narrative, was the fifth born. All, except himself, died in their infancy; and it has been said, that he narrowly escaped suffocation (owing to too great a fullness of blood, which destroyed the rest), and would certainly have been cut off as early, had not his mother, with a courage remarkable for one of her sex, and especially for so very tender a parent, ventured to open a vein with her own hand, which instantly removed the paroxysm.
According to Mr. Mason, our Poet was born in Cornhill, December * 26, 1716, and educated at Eton school, under the care of Mr. Antrobus, his maternal uncle, who was at that time assistant to Dr. George, and also a fellow of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, to which place Mr. Gray removed, and was there admitted a pensioner in the
* Dr. Johnson, I know not on what authority, gives as the date of Mr. Gray's birth, November 26, 1716+
While at school he had contracted an intimacy with Mr. Horace Walpole *, and Mr. Richard
The latter of these gentlemen removed from Eton to Christ Church, Oxford, about the same time that Mr. Gray left that place for Cambridge ; and from this time an epistolary correspondence was carried on between them.
• Mr. Gray's first attempt in English verse, as Mr. Mason tells us, was a Translation from Statius I, in May 1736, which is much in the spirited manner of Dryden.
* The late Earl of Orford.
+ Son of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. His maternal grandfather was the famous Dr. Burnet.
See p. 103.