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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

VI. Gray

§ 15. The Installation Ode

In 1768, Brockett, Cambridge professor of modern history, met with a fatal accident on returning from Hinchingbrooke. Stonehewer, who had been one of Gray’s closest friends at Peterhouse and who acted as the duke of Grafton’s secretary, pleaded Gray’s claims to the professorship of history, and with success. The office was a sinecure; he had some intention of delivering lectures, but the form of his projected inaugural lecture is in Latin, and whatever his design was it fell through. In his new capacity, it was his task to write the installation ode when Grafton was made chancellor of the University. The work proved the one exception to the fact that he never wrote well unless spontaneously. He lingered long before he began. At last, he startled Nicholls by throwing open his door to his visitor and shouting, “Hence, avaunt! ’t is holy ground,” and the new ode was completed. A sort of heraldic splendour characterises this, his last great effort; in places, it seems to step out of a page of Froissart, and, notwithstanding the bile of Junius, the pomp and circumstance of the closing personal panegyric do not convey any impression of inappropriateness.