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by a conyert of yours, one * *, who has brought over his whole family to you; they were before pretty good Whigs, but now they are absolute Walpolians. We have hardly any body in the parish but knows exactly the dimensions of the hall and saloon at Houghton, and begin to believe that the lanthorn* is not so great a consumer of the fat of the land as disaffected persons have said: for your reputation, we keep to ourselves your not hunting nor drinking hogan, either of which here would be sufficient to lay your honour in the dust. Tomorrow se'nnight I hope to be in town, and not long after at Cambridge. .
I am, &c.
MR. WEST TO MR. GRAY.
RECEIVING no answer to my last letter, which I writ above a month ago, I must own I am a little uneasy. The slight shadow of you which I had in town, has only served to endear you to me the more. The moments I passed with you made a strong impression upon me. I singled you out for a friend, and I would have you know me to be yours, if you deem me worthy.—Alas, Gray, you cannot imagine how miserably my time passes away. My health and nerves and spirits are, thank my stars, the very worst, I think, in Oxford. Four-and-twenty hours of pure unalloyed
* A favourite object of Tory satire at the time.
health together, are as unknown to me as the 400,000 characters in the Chinese vocabulary. One of my complaints has of late been so overcivil as to visit me regularly once a month-jam certus conviva. This is a painful nervous headach, which perhaps you have sometimes heard me speak of before. Give me leave to say, I find no physic comparable to your letters. If, as it is said in Ecclesiasticus, “ Friendship be the physic of the mind,” prescribe to me, dear Gray, as often and as much as you think proper, I shall be a most obedient patient.
Non ego Fidis irascar medicis, offendar amicis. I venture here to write you down a Greek epigram,* which I lately turned into Latin, and hope you will excuse it.
Perspicui puerum ludentem in margine rivi
Immersit vitreæ limpidus error aquæ :
Credula, et amplexu funus inane fovet:
Languidus, æternùm lumina composuit. Adieu! I am going to my tutor's lectures on one Puffendorff, a very jurisprudent author as you shall read on a summer's day.
Believe me yours, &c. Christ Church, Dec. 2, 1738.
• Of Posidippus. Vide Anthologia, H. Steplian. p. 220. Mr. Gray in his MS. notes to this edition of the Anthologia (of which I shall give an account in a subsequent section) inserts this translation, and adds, “ Descriptio pulcherrima et quæ tenuem illum Græcorum spiritum mirificè sapit ;" and in conclusion, “ Posidippus inter principes Anthologiæ poetas emnicat, Ptolemæi Philadelphi seculo vixit."
MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.
LITERAS mi Favonî !* abs te demum, nudiustertiùs credo, accepi planè mellitas, nisi fortè quà de ægritudine quâdam tuâ dictum: atque hoc sane mihi habitum est non paulò acerbius, quod te capitis morbo implicitum esse intellexi; oh morbum mihi quam odiosum! qui de industria id agit, ut ego in singulos menses, dii boni, quantis jucunditatibus orbarer! quàm ex animo mihi dolendum est, quod
Medio de fonte leporum
Salutem mehercule, nolo, tam parvipendas, atq; amicis tam improbè consulas: quanquam tute fortassis æstuas angusto limite mundi, viamq; (ut dicitur) affectas Olympo, nos tamen non esse tam sublimes, utpote qui hisce in sordibus et fæce diutius paululum versari volumus, reminiscendum est: illæ tuæ Musæ, si te ament modo, derelinqui paulisper non nimis ægrè patientur: indulge, amabo te, plusquam soles, corporis exercitationibus: magis te campus habeat, aprico magis te dedas otio, ut ne id ingenium quod tam cultum curas, diligenter nimis dum foves, officiosarum matrum ritu, interimas. Vide quæso, quam iatpurūs tecum agimus,
* Mr. Gray in all his Latin compositions, addressed to this gentleman, calls bim Favonius, in allusion to the name of West.
ηδ' επιθήσω Φάρμαχ', ά κιν πάυσησι μελαινάων οδυνάων. si de his pharmacis non satis liquet; sunt festivitates meræ, sunt facetiæ et risus; quos ego equidem si adhibere nequeo, tamen ad præcipiendum (ut medicorum fere mos est) certè satis sim; id, quod poeticè sub finem epistolæ lusisti, mihi gratissimum quidem accidit; admodum Latinè coctum et conditum tetrasticon, Græcam tamen illam apedelav mirificè sapit : tu quod restat, vide, sodes, hujusce hominis ignorantiam; cum, unde hoc tibi sit depromptum, (ut fatear) prorsus nescio: sanè ego equidem nihil in capsis reperio quo tibi minimæ partis solutio fiat. Vale, et me ut soles, ama.
A. D. 11 Kalend. Februar.
I ought to answer you in Latin, but I feel I dare not enter the lists with you — cupidum, pater optime, vires deficiunt. Seriously, you write in that language with a grace and an Augustan urbanity that amazes me : your Greek too is perfect in its kind. And here let me wonder that a man, longè Græcorum doctissimus, should be at a loss for the verse and chapter whence my epigram is taken. I am sorry I have not my Aldus with
* This was written in French, but as I doubted whether it would stand the test of polite criticism so well as the preceding would of learned, I chose to translate so much of it as I thought necessary, in order to preserve the chain of correspondence.
me, that I might satisfy your curiosity; but he, with all my other literary folks, are left at Oxford, and therefore you must still rest in suspense. I thank you again and again for your medical prescription. I know very well that those “risus, festivitates, et facetiæ” would contribute greatly to my cure, but then you must be my apothecary as well as physician, and make up the dose as well as direct it: send me, therefore, an electuary of these drugs, made up secundùm artem, “et eris mihi magnus Apollo,” in both his capacities as a god of poets and god of physicians. Wish me joy of leaving my college, and leave yours as fast as you can. I shall be settled at the Temple very soon.
Dartmouth-street, Feb. 21, 1737-8.
MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.
*BARBARAS ædes aditure mecum,
Dulcius quanto, patulis sub ulmi
Fallere Musa !
• I choose to call this delicate Sapphic Ode the first original production of Mr. Gray's muse; for verses imposed either by schoolmasters or tutors ought not, I think, to be taken into the consideration. There is seldom a verse that flows well from the pen of a real poet if it does not flow voluntarily.