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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [27 January 1735]

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[Th]e Honrble Horace Walpole [E]sq
at the house of the [r]ight Honble Sr Robert Walpole [i]n
St James's Square London

[           ]

Don't believe, that I would refuse to do anything for your sake, since at this present I am starving for you, & losing my dinner, that I may have the better opportunity of writing: you could not have given me a fairer occasion for shewing my obedience to your commands, than you have done in bidding me stay, where I am; for tho' before I was quite set upon coming to town, you give me so many reasons against it, that I am perfectly easy, & shall expect your coming with great resignation, that is, if you don't make it too long first: I read yesterday in the news, that Sr R: W:s youngest Son, a young Gentleman of great hopes, was coming to Trinity-Colledge, Cambridge; pray, let me know, whither you are acquainted with him, & what hopes we may entertain of him; there are few here, but what give a good character of him, especially a long ungainly Mortal of Kings Col: & a little, waddling Fresh-man of Pet: House, who pretend to be intimate with him: I can't see, how it should be; but however every body begins to envy the[m already; they are p]eople of very bad Repute; one of 'em is neither a Whig, nor a Tory, & the other passes for a Conjurer:– there is nothing to be seen in the Streets, at present, but new-made Batchelors, who walk to & fro, to shew their new Gowns; their examination is now over, during which time, they are obliged to set in the theatre for three days, from 8 in the morning till 5 at night without any fire; the first two days, they are liable to all the impertinent Questions wch any Master of arts is pleased to ask them; they must answer every thing in Philosophy, which is proposed to them, & all this in Latin: the 3d day the first Moderator takes 'em out, half a dozen at a time into a Gallery atop of the theatre, in sight of every body, but out of hearing; he examines them again, as long as he will, & in what Sciences he pleases: the Junior-Moderator does the same thing in the afternoon; & then both the Proctors, if they have a mind; but they seldom do: the next day the Vice-chancellour & two Proctors tell them, whither they shall have their degrees, or not; & put on their Batchelours Gown & Cap: then they go all into the Schools, & one fellow belonging to each of the Colledges, gets into the Rostrum, & asks each of his Batchelours some strange Question: this was one, whch was asked t'other day–Mi Filî, Domine, Domine N: quid est Matrimonium? The Answer was, Est conjunctio nunc copulativa, nunc disjunctiva. so then every body must laugh & the ceremony is ended. I tell you this, because it will be mine own Case some time or other, so I hope you will excuse me for tiring you with the account. and now, my dearest Hamlet, heaven send me safe from Wittemberg, or thee [...]

P:S: my letter last time was too late for the Post, so I hope you'll forgive it–

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Letter ID: letters.0012 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 18
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 17


Date of composition: [27 January 1735]
Date (on letter): Jan: 27:
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To / [Th]e Honrble Horace Walpole [E]sq / at the house of the [r]ight Honble Sr Robert Walpole [i]n / St James's Square London


Language: English
Incipit: Don't believe, that I would refuse to do anything for your sake...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/11, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Correspondence of Gray, Walpole, West and Ashton (1734-1771), 2 vols. Chronologically arranged and edited with introduction, notes, and index by Paget Toynbee. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915, letter no. 11, vol. i, 27-29
  • The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence. Ed. by W. S. Lewis. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP; London: Oxford UP, 1937-83, vols. 13/14: Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray, Richard West and Thomas Ashton i, 1734-42, Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray ii, 1745-71, ed. by W. S. Lewis, George L. Lam and Charles H. Bennett, 1948, vol. i, 77-79
  • 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. 12, vol. i, 21-23