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Happy, that mirth, and reason I can blend,
These extracts are, I should hope, not uninteresting features of the painter himself, in his own colours; and I have to thank Mr. Wollaston of Chiselhurst for 'imparting them to me in the most obliging, and friendly manner.
I should rather date them in 1738 than later, for two reasons; first, because there is no allusion to Lord Hardwicke, then Mr. Philip Yorke, who arrived at Cambridge in 1737, and would in all probability have not been omitted in such a poem ; secondly, because Lord King died on his voyage to Lisbon for the recovery of his health in Feb. 1739-40 (and there is in this poem no hint of his indisposition, but he is represented as entertaining his country neighbours). I should even carry it farther back than 1738, were it not for the Comptroller's barge and repairs. This Comptroller was Mr. Dixon his friend, and the piers were those of Westminster Bridge, begun in 1738.
* This which has a line drawn under it, alludes perhaps to something unexplained, but well understood between them. Either he . had no such avarice then, or he had no conviction of it in his own, mind; and could not then have been ridiculed for it, as he was not long afterwards by some of his dearest friends, and by none more than Mr. Hardinge, who loved, admired, and revered him,
+ This is one of the many parodies upon Denham's admired portrait of the Thames in his Cooper's Hill.
In a little time after the memorable acquaintance and friendship took place between Mr. Yorke and Mr. WRAY; the former, and his brother Charles then at the age of 20, his own being that of 23, wrote a very ingenious, and most classical work, called the “ Athenian Letters*;" to which their friends contributedt.
This work I possess in two very interesting shapes; first, as a gift conferred upon me by the Earl of Hardwicke in the most princely manner, and in the handsomest quarto edition ; secondly, as a loan to me, in the octavo edition, by Mr. Salter, who received it from Dr. Salter his father, the gift of the Authors' to him, and in which Dr. Salter has pointed out what share in it was borne by Mr. Wray, who was twenty years older than Mr. Philip Yorke, yet joined in this work as if he had been his youthful coadjutor. This confers honour upon both of the parties : young men seldom are humble enough to call their seniors into confederacies like
* First printed for the private use of a limited number of friends, in 4 vols. 8vo. 1741 and 1743. In 1781 they were again printed in 4to. (100 copies only) but not published. An Edition having been afterwards surreptitiously printed in Ireland, this Lord Hardwicke, in 1810, published them in two handsome quarto volumes for general circulation. † The several Writers were thus designated :
P. Hon. Philip Yorke, afterwards Earl of Hardwicke.
S. Rev. Dr. Salter, late Master of the Charter-house. The engravings, in the last Quarto Edition, consist of Portraits of Philip second Earl of Hardwicke, and the Hon. Charles Yorke,, as Frontispieces; and Busts of Alcibiades, Pericles, Herodotus, Thucydides, Socrates, Aristophanes, Democritus, Aspasia, Hippocrates, Nicias, and Euripides, which are admirably executed. VOL. I.
these, and the seniors are in general too solemn to co-operate in such youthful adventures.
But it was not so with Mr. WRAY. We have already noticed how fond he was of young people. Here we have a marked instance of it. He was a deep and celebrated scholar, at this period, and 40 years of age. The Yorkes were children, to him. He might have been their father in the difference of age; yet he was their brother in this work.
Here we can a little discern at close quarters the ingenuity, the learning, and the taste, of Mr. Philip Yorke. These Letters are, in general, so clever, that it is a measuring cast between the rival contributors; but, if there is a difference, which it would be almost invidious to assume, it would elevate him above all the rest except those of his brother, Mr. Charles Yorke*. Of course I shall here only select the works of Mr. WRAY, or such of them as I think will interest the Reader.
To this collection Mr. WRAY contributed six Letters, written by himself alone, and a seventh, in which he was Mr. Philip Yorke's coadjutor. In one of the other six he has paid the most graceful compliments to his patron, just married. It is a Letter from a Persian to his Athenian friend. Lord Chesterfield could not have surpassed the ingenuity of the turn which he gives to this match.
“ Educated, under a father whose virtues bave
placed him at the head of the supreme tribunal, " and whose eloquence prevails in the council of “ the great King, as thou tellest us that of Pericles “ did in the Athenian assembly, Orsames kept his
eye steadily, not on the dazzling honours which “are to descend to him, but on the glorious methods “ by which they were acquired ; and, whilst he “ attended only to the improvement of his mind by
* Who may be considered as the original Editor, having written the Preface to the edition of 1741. Mr. Heaton wrote the later Preface to that of 1781.
« the conversation of the wise, was not conscious " that he was observed, and admired by the great. “ But as soon as ever this alliance was known, the “ publick had but one voice; and the universal
approbation of it is a testimony to virtue and good sense, worthy of a less degenerate age.
“The mighty Artaxerxes, indeed, has led the way, " by departing from that frugality in bestowing ho“ nours which, thou knowest, he has wisely observed, “and continuing the dignities of Sesamnes to his “ son-in-law. Let us not imagine, my dear Cleander, “ that a young man who comes into the world so “ disposed, comes into it before his time. It might “be a fatal experiment in other great families; yet "how few at his age have lived and thought like him! " We should rather esteem it a peculiar felicity that "he is over this dangerous term of life, in which there “are so many of our noble youth who lose all the “ rich fruits of their education, and receive a taint “ which affects the whole tenor of their future “ conduct. It is unaccountable, that a course of
luxury and riot should be held a necessary prepa" ration to a life intended for virtue, and ho“ nour; and the instructions of sages and philoso
phers be considered as impediments to a know&
ledge of the world. But Orsames will shew the "absurdity of these maxims. Nor need his learned " friends apprehend, that the man of letters will be “ lost in the man of the world. Instead of abandoning “ the arts he loved, he will shew how much they " adorn the higher stations ; nor will his increasing “ acquaintance amongst the great, drive the compa“nions of his youthful studies from his heart. He “ will not be less their Friend, because he is in a “ situation to be their Patron."
It is upon this Letter that, in his pleasant männer, he thus writes to his friend, Oct. 23, 1740: ." As to this Persian of mine, I gave Coventry a “ succinct critique upon it-that it was so long, he
“ would not read it, and so technical, he would not “understand it; and I had not then added the notæ “ variorum, which, you know, generally obscure a “ book, as well as lengthen it. But you must not “ speak of it in so free a manner-you are obliged “ to puff it; that is,
" Deposituni laudare ob amici jussa pudorem. “ You set me to the work-you induced me to aim “ at being ingenious, and elegant at the age of a “ Senior Fellow,
“ Cujus octavum trepidavit atas
" Claudere lustrum." It must have been of peculiar advantage to Mr. Philip Yorke, that he should meet with a person of such endowments, and so cultivated, as those of Mr. WRAY; who, in addition to University learning, had made a foreign tour, and had a taste for the arts, enlivened by wit, good humour, and spirits light as air.
It is an amusing incident, that of the joint work to which I have alluded, the subject is a lively description of thirty virgin beauties purchased from different countries for the King of Persia, and a picture of the happy life that awaits them under his roof!
But one of these Letters being upon Vertú, and connected with his taste for it, acquired in his travels, I cannot forbear to copy it. It will give us a favourable specimen of his genius, and style.
" Cleander to Megalbyzus, from Athens. “ Thy 5000 daricks, noble Satrap, are so far from creating a disagreeable employment, that they give “ me occasion to improve, as well as to indulge my “ taste for those curiosities, which thou desirest me to “ obtain ; and are at the same time of service to me “ in my other, and ministerial capacity, as intro“ ducing me to the acquaintance of many conside“ rable persons, and as advancing me to a character, “ which the greatest men here pursue, that of a “ lover, and judge of those elegancies.