Thomas Gray to Edward Bedingfield, 10 August 1757
I have order'd Dodsley long since to send you piping hot from the Press four copies of the Bard & his Companion, three of wch I take the liberty to offer to Lady Swinburne, Mrs Bedingfield, & Yourself, and the fourth is intended for Miss Hepburn at Monkridge near Haddington, if there be any such Person, wch I a little doubt. if you remember, you promised to take upon you the trouble of conveying it to her. before this time (I hope) they are come safe to your hands. you are desired to give me your honest opinion about the latter part of the Bard, wch you had not seen before, for I know it is weakly in several parts; but it is a mercy, that it ever came to an end at all. there are also six new lines at the end of the 2d Antistrophe Fair laughs the Morn &c: wch my Friends approve & (to say the truth) so do I. you will do me a favour, if you will inform me what the North says either in good or in bad. as to the South, it is too busy & too fastidious to trouble its head about any thing, that has no wit in it. I know, I shall never be admired but in Scotland. by the way I am greatly struck with the Tragedy of Douglas, tho' it has infinite faults. the Author seems to me to have retrieved the true language of the Stage, wch had been lost for these hundred years; & there is one Scene (between Matilda & the old Peasant) so masterly, that it strikes me blind to all the defects in the world.
I will not make you any excuses for my sulkyness of late, for in reality I have been ill eversince I left Cambridge. I will not deprecate you with regard to our Quarrel, for if any thing escaped me (as you pretend) that seemed strong, that is, that hurt you a little, I am not conscious of any such meaning, & you would not have me apologize for mere words, or an ill-contrived expression.
I am highly obliged to you for the two miniatures wch are exceedingly pretty. I shall preserve them with great care, & beg you would kiss (in my name) the fair hand, yt employs itself so well, & that honour'd me with them. one of the two seems to be from nature: I desire to know whose house it is, & what river runs by it.
Your Friend & humble Servant
I am at Mrs Rogers's of Stoke near Windsor Bucks.
HM 21915, Huntington Manuscripts, Department of Manuscripts, The Huntington , San Marino, CA, USA <https://www.huntington.org/library-collections>