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to all the biography I ever saw. The style is excellent, simple, unaffected; the method admirable, artful, and judicious. He [Mason] has framed the fragments (as a person said) so well, that they are fine drawings, if not finished pictures. For my part, I am so interested in it, that I shall certainly read it over and over. I do not find that is likely to be the case with many. Yet, never was a book which people pretended to expect so much with impatience, less devoured; at least in London, where quartos are not of quick digestion. Faults are found, I hear, at Eton, with the Latin Poems, for false quantities:-no matter!-they are equal to the English; and can one say more? In answer to yourself, my good sir, I shall not subscribe to your censure of Mr. Mason, whom I love and admire, and who has shewn the greatest taste possible in the execution of this work. Surely he has said enough in gratitude, and done far beyond what gratitude could demand. seems delicacy in not expatiating on the legacy: particularising more gratitude, would have lessened the evidence of friendship, and made the justice due to Gray's character look more like a debt. He speaks of him in slender circumstances, not as depressed and so he was, till after the death of his parents and aunts; and, even then, surely not rich. I think he does somewhere say, that he meant to be buried with his mother; and not specifying any other place, confirms it. Pray tell me, what you hear is said of Gray's Life' at Cambridge?
EXTRACT OF MR. COLE'S ANSWER.
I FIND the University people divided about it. seniors think his reflections on their method of education, unnecessary sarcasm on poor Dr. Waterland, and general disgust
at a place he made choice of for his constant residence, might as well have been omitted; but all concur in admiring his poetry, descriptions, letters, sentiments, &c. I am surprised at what you mention relating to the slow sale in London. In Cambridge, above a fortnight ago, Mr. Woodyer had sold forty copies, and Merill as many; had they more could have disposed of them; and I am told that a new impression is already in the press. This looks as if the first was all sold off. Pray are you satisfied with the print? It gives him a sharpness, a snappishness, a fierceness, that was not his common feature, though it might occasionally be so. The print of him, by Mr. Mason, and since copied by Henshaw, conveys a much stronger idea of him to me.
EXTRACT OF MR. WALPOLE'S ANSWER.
YOU are too candid in submitting at once to my defence of Mr. Mason. It is true, I am more charmed with his book than I almost ever was with any one. I find more people like the grave letters than those of humour; and some think the latter a little affected, which is as wrong a judgment as they could make, for Gray never wrote any thing easily but things of humour: humour was his natural and original turn; and though from his childhood he was grave and reserved, his genius led him to see things ludicrously and satirically; and though his health and dissatisfaction gave him low spirits, his melancholy turn was much more affected than his pleasantry in writing. You knew him enough to know that I am in the right but the world in general always wants to be told how to think, as well as what to think. The print, I agree with you, though like, is a very disagreeable likeness, and the worst
likeness of him. It gives the fierceness he had when under constraint; and there is a blackness in the countenance which was like him only the last time I ever saw him, when I was much struck with it; and though I did not apprehend him in danger, it left an impression on me that was very uneasy, and almost prophetic of what I heard but too soon after leaving him. Wilson drew the picture under much such an impression, and I could not bear it in my room. Mr. Mason altered it a little; but still it is not well, nor gives any idea of the determined virtues of his heart. It just serves to help the reader to an image of the person whose genius and integrity they must admire, if they are so happy as have a taste for either.
H. BRYER, PRINTER, BRIDGE STREET, BLACKFRIARS, LONDON.
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