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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 13 February 1753

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Sure You are not out of your Wits! this I know, if you suffer my Head to be printed, you infallibly will put me out of mine. I conjure you immediately to put a stop to any such design. who is at the Expence of engraving it, I know not; but if it be Dodsley, I will make up the Loss to him. the thing, as it was, I know will make me ridiculous enough; but to appear in proper Person at the head of my works, consisting of half a dozen Ballads in 30 Pages, would be worse than the Pillory. I do assure you, if I had received such a Book with such a frontispice without any warning, I believe, it would have given me a Palsy. therefore I rejoice to have received this Notice; & shall not be easy, till you tell me all thoughts of it are laid aside. I am extremely in earnest, & can't bear even the Idea!

I had wrote to Dodsley to tell him, how little I liked the Title he had prefix'd, but your letter has put all that out of my Head. if you think it necessary to print these Explanations for the use of People that have no eyes, I could be glad, they were a little alter'd. I am to my shame in your debt for a long letter, but I can not think of anything else, till you have set me at ease.

Adieu, I am
Yours ever,
T: G:
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Letter ID: letters.0200 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 36
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 35


Date of composition: 13 February 1753
Date (on letter): Feb: 13. 1753
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Camb:ge


Language: English
Incipit: Sure You are not out of your Wits! this I know, if you suffer my Head...
Mentioned: Designs by Mr. R. Bentley (1753)
Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/57, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, section iv, 225-226
  • 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. 182, vol. ii, 127-128
  • 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. ii, 63-64
  • 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. 173, vol. i, 372