Page images

fifty feet in length, has large, square, heavy-framed windows, and is partly wainscoted with oak, which is covered with the carved names of many generations of Harrovians. The plastered walls above the wainscot were formerly filled with names and dates, but they have been obliterated with whitewash. Boards have since been put up on which the names are neatly carved, in regular order and of uniform size.

Among these inscriptions are the names of Parr; Sheridan, (only the initials R. B. S.); W. Jones, (Sir William); Bennett, (Bishop of Cloyne); Ryder, (Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry); Murray, (Bishop of Rochester); Dymock, (the Champion); Ryder, (Lord Harrowby); Temple, (Lord Palmerston); Lord Byron; and Peel, (Sir Robert); between the two last letters of the latter name is the name of Perceval, as cut by the lamented statesman.

Above the school room is the Monitors' Library. Here is a portrait of Dr. Parr; a portrait and bust of Lord Byron, and a sword worn by him when in Greece; and a superb fancy archery dress, worn on the day of shooting for the silver arrow, about the year 1766. Here, also, is a quarto volume of “Speech Bills." Near the School is the Speech Room, built by old Harrovians: the windows are filled with painted glass, and here is a painting of Cicero pleading against Catiline, painted by Gavin Hamilton. There is a Chapel for the accommodation of the scholars only; to which was added, in 1856, a “Memorial Chapel," in honor of those officers who fell in the Crimean war, who had been educated at Harrow School.* The head-master's house is in the street of Harrow, and with the school buildings and chapel, is in the Elizabethan style. The device of the school is a lion, rampant, the armorial bearings of the founder, and a rebus of his name (motto, Stet Fortuna Domus,) to which have been added two crossed arrows, denoting the ancient practice of archery enjoined by Lyon; and on the Anniversary, six or twelve boys shot for a silver arrow, the competitors wearing fancy dresses of spangled satin. The last arrow was contended for in 1771: the butts were set up on a picturesque spot, “worthy of a Roman amphitheatre,” at the entrance to the village.

Beyond the court-yard are courts for racket, a favorite game at Harrow. There is likewise a cricket-ground, and a bathing-place, formerly known as “the Duck Puddle."

The scholars, chiefly the sons of noblemen and gentlemen, number about 400.

Among the eminent Harrovians are William Baxter, the antiquary and philologist; John Dennis, the poet and critic; Bruce, the traveller in Abyssinia; Sir William Jones, the Oriental scholar; the Rev. Dr. Parr; the heroic Lord Rodney; Richard Brinsley Sheridan; Viscount Palmerston; the Marquis Wellesley; Mr. Malthus, the political economist; Spencer Perceval; Earl Spencer, who col. lected the magnificent library at Althorp; the Earl of Aberdeen; W. B. Proctor, (Barry Cornwall,) the poet; Lord Elgin, who collected the “Marbles” from the Parthenon; Lord Chancellor Cottenham; the Earl of Shaftesbury; and Lord Byron and Sir Robert Peel, both born in the same year, 1788. Over the tomb is a marble monument erected by Old Harrovians in 1813; the Latin inscription written by Dr. Parr; above, the sculptor, Flaxman, has represented a master and three pupils, said to be Dr. Butler, the then head-master, and the three Percevals, the sons of the Minister.

* In the Chapel, the Church, and the School, there is no distinction of seats for the sons of noblemen. It was for this reason that Rufus King, the American Ambassador, sent his sons to Harrow, as the only school where no distinction was shown to rank.-Smith's Handbook.

[ocr errors]





Thomas Gray, of all English poets the most fiuished artist, was born in London, in 1716, and was the only one of twelve children who survived the period of infancy. His father was a money-scrivener, and of harsh and violent disposition, whose wife was forced to separate from him; and to the exertions of this excellent woman, as partner with her sister in a millinery business, the poet owed the advantages of a learned education, toward which his father had refused all assistance. He was sent to be educated at Eton, where a maternal uncle, named Antrobus, was one of the assistant-masters. He remained here six years, and made himself a good classic; he was an intimate associate of the accomplished Richard West, this being one of the most interesting school-friendships on record. West went to Oxford, whence he thus wrote to Gray :

"You use me very cruelly: you have sent me but one letter since I have been at Oxford, and that too agreeable not to make me sensible how great my loss is in not having more. Next to seeing you is the pleasure of seeing your handwriting ; next to hearing you is the pleasure of hearing from you. Really and sincerely, I wonder at you, that you thought it not worth while to answer my last letter. I hope this will have better success in behalf of your quondam school-fellow; in behalf of one who has walked hand in band with you, like the two children in the wood,

Thro' many a flow'ry path and shelly grot,

Where learning lull’ed her in her private maze. The very thought, you see, tips my pen with poetry, and brings Eton to my view."

Another of Gray's associates at Eton was Horace Walpole; they removed together to Cambridge; Gray resided at Peterhouse from 1735 to 1738, when he left without a degree. The spirit of Jacobitism and its concomitant hard-drinking, which then prevailed at Cambridge, ill-suited the taste of Gray; nor did the uncommon proficiency he had made at Eton hold first rank, for he complains of college impertinences, and the endurance of lectures, daily and hourly. “Must I pore into metaphysics ?” asks Gray. “Alas, I can not see in the dark; nature has not furnished me with the optics of a cat. Must I pore upon mathematics? Alas, I can not see in too much light; I am no eagle. It is very possible that two and two make four, but I would


[ocr errors]


away,” he


not give four farthings to demonstrate this ever so clearly; and if these be the profits of life, give me the amusements of it.” Yet Gray subsequently much regretted that he had never applied his mind to the study of inathematics; and once, rather late in life, had an intention to undertake it. His time at Cambridge was devoted to classics, modern languages, and poetry; and a few Latin poems and English translations were made by him at this period. In the agonies of learing college,” he complains of “the dust, the old boxes, the bedsteads, and tutors,” that were about his ears. "I am coming

says, "all so fast, and leaving behind me, without the least remorse, all the beauties of Stourbridge Fair. Its white bears may roar, its apes may wring their bands, and crocodiles cry their eyes out, all's one for that; I shall not once visit them, nor so much as take my leave."

In a letter to Mr. West, he says: “I learn Italian like any drago, and in two months am got through the 16th Book of Tasso, whom I hold in great admiration; I want you to learn too, that I may

know your opinion of him; nothing can be easier than that language to any one who knows Latin and French already, and there are few so copious and expressive."

In 1739, Gray accompanied Horace Walpole on a tour through France and Italy; but, as they could not agree, Gray being, as Walpole has it, “too serious a companion," the former returned to England in 1741. He next went to Cambridge, to take his degree in Civil Law. He now devoted himself to the classics, and at the same time cultivated his muse. At Cambridge he was considered an unduly fastidious man, and the practical jokes and “incivilities played off upon him by his fellow-inmates at Peterhouse-one of which was a false alarm of fire, through which he descended from his window to the ground by a rope-was the cause of his migrating to Pembroke Hall. He subsequently obtained the professorship of Modern History in the University. He usually passed the summer with his mother, at Stoke, near Eton, in which picturesque locality he composed his two most celebrated poems—the Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, and his Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.

Gray continued to reside at Cambridge, and prosecuted his studies in natural history, as well as in almost every department of learning, until 1771, when he died, and was buried, according to his desire, by the side of his mother, at Stoke.

There scattered oft, the carliest of the year,

By hands unseen, are showers of violets found.
The little red-bird builds and warbles there,
And fairy foot-steps lightly print the ground.


Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the wat’ry glade,
Where grateful science still adores

Her Henry's holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,

Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among

Wanders the hoary Thames along His silver winding way!

Ah happy hills ! ah pleasing shade !

Ah fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd

A stranger yet to pain !
I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing,

My weary soul they seem to sooth,

And, redolent of joy and youth, To breathe a second spring.

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green

The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?
The captive linnet which enthrall ?

What idle progeny succeed

To chase the rolling circle's speed, Or urge the flying ball ?

While some on earnest business bent

Their murmuring labors ply
'Gainst graver hours, thut bring constraint

To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare descry:

Still as they run they look behind,

They hear a voice in every wind, And snatch a fearful joy.

Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,

Less pleasing when possest; The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast: Theirs buxoin health of rosy hue, Wild wit, invention ever-new, And lively cheer of vigor born;

The thoughtless day, the easy night,

The spirits pure, the slumbers light, That fly th' approach of morn.

Alas! regardless of their doom,

The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,

Nor care beyond to-day:
Yet sec how all around 'em wait
The Ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train!

Ah, show them where in ambush stard

To seize their prey the murth'rous band ! Ah, tell them they are men !

These shall the fury Passions tear,

The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,

And Shame that sculks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
That inly knaws the secret heart,

And Envy wan, and faded Care,

Grim-visaged comfortless Despair, And Sorrow's piercing dart.

Ambition this shall tempt to rise,

Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,

And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood, those shall try,
And hard unkindness' alter'd eye,
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;

And keen Remorse with blood defiled,

And moody Madness laughing wild Amid severest woe.

Lo, in the vale of years beneath

A griesly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,

More hideous than their Queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every laboring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage :

Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,

That numbs the soul with icy hand, And slow-consuming Age.

To each his suff' rings: all are men,

Condemn'd alike to groan;
The tender for another's pain,

Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah ! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.

Theught would destroy their paradise.

No more; where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.

« PreviousContinue »