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language and literature, but having hitherto fallen more among fashionable people than people of taste. He was very enthusiastic, romantic, and good-looking, very sweet and winning in manner, full of wit and spirit, and, when he chose to exert himself, quite irresistible. He had brought an introduction to Pitt, but, after receiving some courtesies, had slipped away into the country, and Nicholls found him turning the heads of all the young ladies at Bath. Bonstetten attached himself very warmly to Nicholls, and was persuaded by the latter to go to Cambridge to attend lectures. That Nicholls thoroughly admired him, is certain from the very earnest letter of introduction which he sent with him to Gray on the 27th of November, 1769.
The ebullient young Swiss conquered the shy and solitary poet at sight. “My gaiety, my love for English poetry, appeared to have subdued him," the word Bonstetten uses is “subjugué,"-"and the difference in age between us seemed to disappear at once." Gray found him a lodging close to Pembroke Hall, at a coffee-house, and at once set himself to plan out for Bonstetten a course of studies. On the 6th of January, 1770, Bonstetten wrote to Norton Nicholls :—“I am in a hurry from morning till night. At eight o'clock I am roused by a young square-cap, with whom I follow Satan through chaos and night. . . We finish our travels in a copious breakfast of muffins and tea. Then appear Shakespeare and old Linnæus, struggling together as two ghosts would do for a damned soul. Sometimes the one gets the better, sometimes the other. Mr. Gray, whose acquaintance is my greatest debt to you, is so good as to show me Macbeth, and all witches, beldames, ghosts and spirits, whose language I never could have understood without his
interpretation. I am now endeavouring to dress all these people in a French dress, which is a very hard labour." In enclosing this letter to Nicholls, Gray adds as a postscript:
I never saw such a boy; our breed is not made on this model. He is busy from morning to night, has no other amusement than that of changing one study for another, likes nobody that he sees here, and yet wishes to stay longer, though he has passed a whole fortnight with us already. His letter bas had no correction whatever, and is prettier by half than English.
For more than ten weeks after the date of this letter, Bonstetten remained in his lodgings at Cambridge, in daily and unbroken intercourse with Gray. The remini. • scences of the young Swiss gentleman are extremely interesting, though doubtless they require to be accepted with a certain reservation. There is however the stamp of truth about his statement that the poetical genius of Gray was by this time so completely extinguished that the very mention of his poems was distasteful to him. He would not permit Bonstetten to talk to him about them, and when the young man quoted some of his lines, Gray preserved an obstinate silence like a sullen child. Sometimes Bonstetten said, “Will you not answer me?” But no word would proceed from the shut lips. Yet this was during the time when, on all subjects but himself, Gray was conversing with Bonstetten on terms of the most affectionate intimacy. For three months the young Swiss,
. despising all other society to be found at Cambridge, spent every evening with Gray, arriving at five o'clock, and lingering till midnight. They read together Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden and the other great English classics, until their study would slip into sympathetic conversation, in
which the last word was never spoken. Bonstetten poured out his confidences to the old poet, - all his life, all his hopes, all the aspirations and enthusiasms of his youth, and Gray received it all with profound interest and sympathy, but never with the least reciprocity. To the last his own life's history was a closed book to Bonstetten. Never once did he speak of himself. Between the present and past there seemed to be a great gulf fixed, and when the warm-hearted young man approached the subject, he was always baffled. He remarks that there was a complete discord between Gray's humorous intellect and ardent imagination on the one side and what he calls a “misère de cour" on the other.
Bonstetten thought that this was • owing to a suppressed sensibility, to the fact that Gray
anywhere in the sun or rain Had loved or been beloved again,
and that he felt his heart to be frozen at last under what Bonstetten calls the Arctic Pole of Cambridge.
This final friendship of his life troubled the poet strangely. He could not get over the wonder of Bonstetten's ardour and vitality : our breed is not made on this model." His letters to Norton Nicholls are like the letters of an anxious parent. “He gives me,” he says on the 20th of March, 1770,"too much pleasure, and at least an equal share of inquietude. You do not understand him as well as I do, but I leave my meaning imperfect, till we meet. I have never met with so extraordinary a person. God bless him! I am unable to talk to you about anything else, I think.” Late in the month of March, Bonstetten tore himself away from Cambridge; his father had long been insisting that he must return to Nyon. Gray went up to London with him, showed him some of the sights, among others Dr. Samuel Johnson, who came puffing down the Strand, unconscious of the two strangers who paused on their way to observe him. “Look, look, Bonstetten !” said Gray, “the great Bear! There goes
Ursa Major !” On the 23rd of March Gray lent him 201. and packed his friend into the Dover machine at four o'clock in the morning, returning very sadly to Cambridge, whence he wrote to Nicholls :-“Here am I again to pass my solitary evenings, which hung much lighter on my hands before I knew him. This is your fault! Pray let the next you send me be halt and blind, dull, unapprehensive and wrong-headed. For this—as Lady Constance says-was ever such a gracious creature born! and yet—but no matter!.... This place never appeared so horrible to me as it does now. Could you not come for a week or a fortnight? It would be sunshine to me in a dark night.”
Bonstetten had departed with every vow and circumstance of friendship, and had obliged Gray to promise that he would visit him the next summer in Switzerland. He wrote to Gray from Abbeville, and then there fell upon his correspondence one of those silences so easy to the volatile and youthful. Gray in the meanwhile was possessed by a weak restlessness of mind that made him almost ill, and early in April, since Nicholls could not come to Cambridge, he himself hastened to Blundeston, spending a few days with Palgrave (“Old Pa") on the way. He made one excuse after another for avoiding Cambridge, to which he did not return, except for a week or two, until the end of the year. He agreed with Norton Nicholls that they should go together to Switzerland in the summer of 1771, but entreated him not to vex him by referring to this in any way till the time came for starting. By and by letters
came from Bonstetten, with “bad excuses for not writing oftener,” and in May Gray was happier, travelling to Aston to be with Mason, driving along the roads with trees blooming and nightingales singing all around him.
His only literary exercise during this year 1770 seems to have been filling an interleaved copy of the works of Linnæus with notes. For the last eight or nine years
natural history had been his favourite study; he said that it was a singular felicity to him to be engaged in this pursuit, and it often took him out into the fields when nothing else would. He interleaved a copy of Hudson's Flora Anglica, and filled it with notes : and was on a level with all that had been done up to his time in zoology and botany. Some of his notes and observations were afterwards made use of by Pennant, with warm acknowledgment. He returned from Aston towards the end of June, and prepared at once to start with Norton Nicholls for a summer tour. He directed Nicholls to meet him at the sign of the Wheat Sheaf, five miles beyond Huntingdon, about the 3rd of July. Unfortunately there exists no journal to commemorate this, the last of Gray's tours, which seems to have occupied more than two months. The friends drove across the midland counties into Worcestershire, descended the Severn to Gloucester, and then made their way to Malvern Wells, where they stayed a week, because Nicholls found some of his acquaintance there. Gray must have been particularly well, for he ascended the Herefordshire Beacon, and enjoyed the unrivalled view from its summit. He was much vexed, however, with the fashionable society at the long table of the inn, and maintained silence at dinner. When Nicholls gently rallied him on this, he said that long retirement in the university had destroyed