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reach the period of Gray's career to which it belongs in its completed form ; but as the question is often asked, and vaguely answered, where was the Elegy written, it may at once be said that it was begun at Stoke in October or November 1742, continued at Stoke immediately after the funeral of Gray's aunt, Miss Mary Antrobus, in November 1749, and finished at Cambridge in June 1750. And it may here be remarked as a very singular fact that the death of a valued friend seems to have been the stimulus of greatest efficacy in rousing Gray to the composition of poetry, and did in fact excite him to the completion of most of his important poems. He was a man who had a very slender hold on life himself, who walked habitually in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and whose periods of greatest vitality were those in which bereavement proved to him, that, melancholy as he was, even he had something to lose and to regret.

It is therefore perhaps more than a strong impression that makes me conjecture the beginning of the Elegy wrote in Country Church-Yard to date from the funeral of Gray's uncle, Jonathan Rogers, who died at StokePogis on the 21st of October, 1742, and who was buried with the Antrobus family in the church of the neighbouring parish of Burnham. An ingenious Latin inscription to him, in a marble tablet in the church of that name, has always been ascribed to Gray himself. Rogers died at the age of sixty-five, having spent thirty-two years in undisturbed felicity with his wife, born Anna Antrobus, who survived him till near the end of her celebrated nephew's life. The death of Mr. Rogers completely altered Gray's prospects. Mrs. Rogers appears to have been left with a very small fortune, just enough to support her and her sisters Mrs. Gray and Miss Antrobus, in genteel comfort, if they shared a house together, and had no extraneous expenses. The ladies from Cornhill accordingly came down to West End House at Stoke, and there the three sisters lived until their respective deaths. But Gray's dream of a life of lettered ease was at an end; he saw that what would support these ladies would leave but little margin for him. His temperament and his mode of study shut him out from every energetic profession. He was twenty-five years of age, and hitherto had not so much as begun any serious study of the law, for which his mother still imagined him to be preparing. Only one course was open to him, namely, to return to Cambridge, where living was very cheap, and to reside in college, spending his vacations quietly at Stoke Pogis. As Mason puts it, “he was too delicate to hurt two persons for whom he had so tender an affection, by peremptorily declaring his real intentions, and therefore changed, or pretended to change, the line of his study." Henceforward, until 1759, his whole life was a regular oscillation between Stoke and Cambridge, varied only by occasional visits to London. The first part of his life

At twenty-five Gray becomes a middleaged man, and loses, among the libraries of the University, his last pretensions to physical elasticity. From this time forward we find that his ailments, his melancholy,

and his habit of drowning consciousness in perpetual study, have taken firm hold upon him, and he begins to plunge into an excess of reading, treating the acquisition of knowledge as a narcotic. In the winter of 1742 he proceeded to Peterhouse, and taking his bachelor's degree in Civil Law, was forth with installed as a resident of that college.

was now over.

his reserve,



GRAY took up his abode at Peterhouse, in the room nearest the road on the second floor on the north side, a room which still exists and which commands a fine view of Pembroke College further east, on the opposite side of Trumpington Street. It would seem, indeed, that Gray's eyes and thoughts were for ever away from home, and paying a visit to the society across the road. His letters are full of minute discussions of what is going on at Pembroke, but never a word of Peterhouse ; indeed so naturally and commonly does he discuss the politics of the former college, often without naming it, that all his biographers, except of course Mason, seem to have taken for granted that he was describing Peterhouse. Oddly enough, Mason, who might have explained this circumstance in half a dozen words, does not appear to have noticed the fact, so natural did it seem to him to read about events which went on in his own college of Pembroke. Nor is it explained why Gray never became a fellow of Peterhouse. In all the correspondence of Gray I have only noted one solitary instance in which he has mentioned a Petrusian; on this one occasion he does name the Master, J. Whalley, afterwards Bishop of Chester, in connexion with an anecdote which does more honour to him as a kind old



soul than as a disciplinarian. But all Gray's friends, and enemies, and interests, were centered in Pembroke, and he shows such an intimate knowledge of all the cabals and ridiculous little intrigues which thrilled the commonroom of that college, as requires an explanation that now can never be given. These first years of his residence are the most obscure in his whole career. It must be remembered that of his three most intimate correspondents one, West, was dead, another, Walpole, estranged, and the third, Wharton, a resident in Cambridge like himself, and therefore too near at hand to be written to. On the 27th of December, 1742, a few days after his arrival at the university, he wrote a letter to Dr. Wharton, which has been preserved, and his Hymn to Ignorance, Mason tells us, dates from the same time. But after this he entirely disappears from us for a couple of years, a few legends of the direction taken by his studies and his schemes of literary work being the only glimpses we get of him.

But although Gray tells us nothing about his own college, it is still possible to form a tolerably distinct idea of the society with whom he moved at Pembroke. The Master, Dr. Roger Long, was a man of parts, but full of eccentricities, and gifted with a very disagreeable temper. He was a species of poetaster, oddly associated in verse, at different extremes of his long life, with Laurence Eusden, the poet laureate, and the great Erasmus Darwin. When Gray settled in the University, Roger Long was sixty-two years

had been Master of Pembroke nine years, and, after being appointed Lowndes' Professor of astronomy in 1750, was to survive until 1770, dying in his ninety-first year. He was fond of exercising his invention on lumbering constructions, which provoked the ridi


of age,

cule of young wits like Gray ; such as a sort of orrery which he built in the north-eastern corner of the inner court of Pembroke ; and a still more remarkable watervelocipede, upon which Dr. Long was wont to splash about in Pembroke basin, “ like a wild goose at play," heedless of mocking undergraduates. This eccentric personage was the object of much observation on the part of Gray, who frequently mentioned him in his letters, and was delighted when any new absurdity gave him an opportunity of writing to his correspondents about “the high and mighty Prince Roger surnamed the Long, Lord of the great Zodiac, the glass Uranium, and the Chariot that goes without horses.” As the astronomer grew older, he more and more lost his authority with the fellows, and Gray describes scenes of absolute rebellion which

are, I believe, recorded by no other historian Gray was, undoubtedly in possession of information denied to the rest of the world. Part of this information came, we cannot doubt, from Dr. Wharton, and part from another intimate friend of Gray's, William Trollope, who had taken his degree in 1730, and who was one of the senior fellows of Pembroke. Another excellent friend of Gray's, also a leading man at Pembroke, was the gentle and refined Dr. James Brown, who eventually succeeded Long in the mastership, and in whose arms Gray died. Outside this little Pembroke circle Gray had few associates. He knew Conyers Middleton very well, and seems to have gained, a little later, while haunting the rich library of Emmanuel College, the acquaintance of a man whose influence on him was distinctly hurtful, the satellite of Warburton, Richard Hurd, long afterwards Bishop of Worcester. But his association with Conyers Middleton, certainly one of the most remarkable men then moving in the University, amounted almost

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