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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

§ 7. Gray again in residence at Peterhouse

From his letters, we see that, for the first two years after his return to Cambridge, now as a fellow-commoner of his college, Gray was idle, so far as he could be for one still in statu pupillari. He must have had arrears of lectures and disputations to make up, in order to qualify for the degree of LL. B., an easy task for him, though he writes ironically to Wharton,

  • by my own indefatigable Application for these ten years past and by the Care and Vigilance of that worthy magistrate The Man-in-Blew, (who I’ll assure you has not spared his Labour, nor could have done more for his own Son) I am got half-way to the Top of Jurisprudence.
  • But he had previously spoken of his allegiance to “our sovereign Lady and Mistress the President of Presidents, and Head of Heads (if I may be permitted to pronounce her name, that ineffable Octogrammaton) the power of Laziness.” Nevertheless, though the poetic impulse of 1742 had spent its force, his interest in current literature is as keen as ever. He criticises Akenside’s Pleasures of Imagination and at once put his finger on that young poet’s chief blemish; it is infected, he says, with the jargon of Hutcheson, the disciple of Shaftesbury. It is the fault which he noted later in certain verses of Mason; there was a craze for Shaftesbury among the young men of his time, and beauty and morality were as identical for them as truth and beauty were to Keats as a later date.