1794 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

Thomas James Mathias, in Pursuits of Literature (1794) 11-12 & n.



Still vain, still fruitless is the Poet's hope:
Hence; and the taste of sovereigns read in Pope:
Or nearer view, since clos'd his cloister'd day,
The self-supported melancholy GRAY:
What though he scann'd great Nature's ample shore,
And cull'd each flow'r that bloom'd on Tiber's shore,
Unfoster'd pass'd his life's long wayward spring;
No genial warmth, no ray from Britain's King:
Each pamper'd abbot cast a side-long glance,
And Levite gownsman hugg'd their ignorance.
With his high spirit strove the master-bard,
And was his own exceeding great reward;
Saw year o'er year in hopeless study pass,
'Till, some few grains yet ling'ring in his glass,
He rose late-heeded by patrician care,
Though private friendship help'd him to the chair.

This character of Mr. GRAY is drawn from the consideration of his Memoirs and Letters, published by Mr. MASON.... He was appointed Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge, late in life, by the Duke of GRAFTON the Chancellor, at the particular recommendation (as was strongly believed) of Mr. STONEHEWER.