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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 8 January 1768

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Dear Mason

I did not write to you–that's to be sure: but then consider, I had the gout great part of the time, that I pass'd in Town; & eversince I came hither I have been confined to my room; & besides, you know, you were at Aston, & did not much care. as to Mons:r de la Harpe he is not to be had at any of the shops, & (they say) never was in England. what I saw & liked of his, must have been in some Bibliotheque or Journal, that I had borrow'd.

Here are, or have been, or will be all your old & new Friends in constant expectation of you at Cambridge, yet Christmas is past, & no Scroddles appears!

Prim Hurd attends your call, & Palgrave proud,
Stonhewer the lewd, & Delaval the loud.
For thee does Powel squeeze, & Marriot sputter,
And Glyn cut phizzes, & Tom Nevile stutter.
Brown sees thee sitting on his nose's tip,
The Widow feels thee in her aching hip,
For thee fat Nanny sighs, & handy Nelly,
And Balguy with a Bishop in his belly!

it is true, of the two Archdeacons, the latter is now here, but goes on Monday: the former comes to take his degree in February. the Rector writes to ask, whether you are come, that he may do the same. as to Johnny, here he is, divided between the thoughts of fornication & marriage. Delaval only waits for a little intreaty. the Masters, the Doctor, the Poet, & the President, are very pressing & warm; but none so warm as the Coffee-house and I. come then away: this is no season for planting, & Ld R:d will grow as well without your cultivation as with it. at least let us know, what we are to hope for, & when: if it be only for the satisfaction of the Methodist Singing-Man, your Landlord.

You will finish your Opus magnum here so clever, & your Series of historical Tragedies with your books (that no body reads) all round you; & your Critick at hand, who never cares a farthing (that I must say for him) whether you follow his opinion or not; & your Hypercriticks, that nobody (not even themselves) understands, tho' you think, you do. I am sorry to tell you, St John's garden is quite at a stand: perhaps you in person may set it going: if not, here is Mr Brown's little garden cries aloud to be laid out (it is in a wretched state to be sure, & without any taste) you shall have unlimited authority over it, & I will take upon me the whole expence. won't you come? I know, you will.

Adieu! I am ever
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0517 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 51
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 43


Date of composition: 8 January 1768
Date (on letter): 8 Jan: 1768
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pemb: Coll:


Language: English
Incipit: I did not write to you - that's to be sure: but then consider, I had...
Mentioned: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Harpe, Jean François de la
Hurd, Dr. Richard
Hurd, Richard, 1720-1808
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
[Invitation to Mason]

Holding Institution

Henry W. And Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, New York Public Library , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Correspondence of Thomas Gray and William Mason, with Letters to the Rev. James Brown, D.D. Ed. by the Rev. John Mitford. London: Richard Bentley, 1853, letter CXIX, 411-414
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, including the correspondence of Gray and Mason, 3 vols. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. London: George Bell and Sons, 1900-12, letter no. CCCXVII, vol. iii, 170-172
  • Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 461, vol. iii, 992-995