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WHEN the fourth of these volumes was passing through the press, I was enabled, by the courtesy of Mr. John Morris, of 13 Park Street, Grosvenor Square, to examine the very curious and valuable collection of Graiana now in his possession. Of this collection, which has never been described, I will here give a brief account. It consists of five folio volumes, based upon a copy of Mathias's quarto edition of the Works, printed in 1814.
This copy was presented by Mathias to Dawson Turner, who divided, enlarged, and rebound it. It was further again enlarged by Mr. John Dillon, from whom it passed, in its present condition, into the hands of Mr. J. Morris.
It is not necessary to describe all the portraits, illustrations, letters from persons interested in Gray, or other curious additions which have swelled this remarkable collection to its present bulk. I will here mention only what is of original interest. In the first place, certain memoranda of Gray's family, mostly in his own handwriting, including the draft, in pencil, which is almost obliteratedof the epitaph of his mother, which runs thus :
in the same pious confidence beside her sister and faithful friend
sleep the remains of
It may be observed that this reading differs in several respects from that hitherto repeated.
Horace Walpole's copy of the Six Poems of 1753 has been let into the volumes. It contains notes in his handwriting, but none of any importance.
There are thirty-four autograph letters of Gray, but all of these have been published already, and are found in their proper places in the present edition. They consist mainly of the letters to Norton Nicholls. I have collated them all, and find no variations worthy of record.
The original of the Essay to Walpole on his Lives of the Painters appears here in Gray's handwriting. It is correctly printed in this edition (vol. i. pp. 303-321) in all but the most inconsiderable particulars.
The sheets yet unprinted are copious, but rather dry and impersonal notes of the journey in France in 1739, up to the point where the journal printed here (vol. i. pp. 235-246) begins. Of more general interest is an account, in Gray's handwriting, of his stay at Naples with Walpole in 1740, and of the excursions they took in various directions. Had this reached me before the completion of my work, I should have thought it my duty to print these notes, although they have little personal importance. As a specimen of their character I transcribe the following passage :
“We made a little journey also on the other side of the Bay of Naples to Portici, where the King has a Villa about 4 Miles out of town, the way thither is thro' a number of small towns, and seats of the nobility close by the Sea, for Mount Vesuvius has not ever been able to deter people from inhabiting this lovely coast, and as soon as ever an eruption is well over, tho' perhaps it has damaged or destroy'd the whole country for leagues round
it, in some months every thing resumes its former face, and goes on in the old channel. That mountain lies a little distance from Portici towards the left, divided into 2 Summits, that farthest from the Sea is rather the largest, & highest, called Monte di Somma. This has hitherto been very innocent; the lesser one, which is properly Vesuvius, is that so terrible for it's fires ; it is better than 3 Miles to ascend, and those extremely laborious. 'Twas extremely quiet at the time I saw it ; some days one could not perceive it smoke at all, others one saw it riseing like a white Column from it, but in no great quantity. About a mile beyond Portici we saw the Stream of combustible Matter, which run from it in the last eruption ; within } of a mile, or less, from the Sea is a small church of Our Lady, belonging to a certain Zoccolanti, into this church it enter'd throʻ one of the side-doors without otherwise damageing the fabrick, run cross it, and was stop'd, I suppose, by the opposite Wall. The Fryars have dugg away that part of it, and left it whole riseing in a great rough mass at the door where it enter'd, as if the miraculous power of Our Lady had forbid it to advance further : this is well-contrived, and carries some appearance with it. That part of the Stream which comes along thro’ the fields at a distance resembles plough'd Land, but rougher, and in huge Clods ; they are hard and heavy, like the dross of some metals ; the people pile the pieces up, and make an enclosure to their fields with them.
This place is call’d Torre del Greco ; it is about 4 Years since the Eruption happen'd. I imagine the river of fire, or Lava, as they call it, may be 20 Yards, or more, in breadth. It is not above a year since they discover'd under a part of the town of Portici a little way from the Shore an ancient and terrible example of what this mountain is capable of ;
as they were digging to lay the foundations of a house for the Prince d'Elbeuf, they found a statue or two with some other ancient remains which comeing to the King's knowledge he order'd them to work on at his expence,
and continuing to do so they came to what one may whole city under ground ; it is supposed, and with great probability to be the Greek settlement call’d Herculaneum, which in that furious Eruption, that happen'd under Titus (the same in which the elder Pliny perish’d) was utterly overwhelmed, and lost with several other on the same coast. Statius, who wrote as it were on the spot, and soon after the accident had happen'd, makes a very poetical explanation on the subject, which this discovery sets in its full light :
Haec ego Chalcidicis ad te, Marcelle, sonabam,' etc. The work is unhappily under the direction of Spaniards, people of no taste or erudition, so that the workmen dig, as chance directs them, wherever they find the ground easiest to work without any certain view.”
From the biographical point of view the most interesting addition to our knowledge of Gray, presented by Mr. John Morris's collections, is a short paper of notes on a journey in Scotland, of which no previous biographer or editor of Gray has given any account. It has not hitherto been known how the poet occupied his leisure between his recovery from the severe surgical operation of July 1764, and what he called his “ Lilliputian Travels” in the south of England in October of the same year. It now appears, from Mr. Morris's MS., that in August 1764 he went to Netherby, on the Scotch border, to visit the Rev. Mr. Graham, the horticulturist, and from his house set out in a tour in Scotland. His route took him by
Annan and Dumfries to the Falls of Clyde and Lanark. At Glasgow he called on Foulis, the publisher, from whom he afterwards received many courtesies. He admired Foulis' academy of painting and sculpture, and lamented that the Cathedral of Glasgow was so miserably out of repair. He passed on to Loch Lomond, sailed on the loch, and returned to Glasgow by Dumbarton. At Stirling he enjoyed the view from the castle, and went on by Falkirk and the coast to Edinburgh. He took excursions to Hawthornden and Roslin, and then to Melrose. He was next at Kelso, Tweedmouth, and Norham Castle. He made an excursion at low tide to Holy Island, and the itinerary closes at Bamborough Castle, from which place he went, no doubt, to his customary haunt, Dr. Wharton's house at Old Park, in the county of Durham. This was Gray's first visit to Scotland.
Mr. John Morris also possesses the original MS. of Norton Nicholls's Recollections of Gray, and many other papers
of a minor interest. For his kindness in placing the whole of this bea :tiful and valuable collection in my hands I owe him my most sincere thanks. There is now but a very small portion of Gray's writings remaining of which I have not been able to examine the original manuscript.-—[ED]