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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 30 July 1756

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The Revd William Mason
at the Right Honble the Earl of Holderness's
in Arlington Street
31 IY

Dear Mason

I received your Letters both at once yesterday which was Thursday, such is the irregularity of our Post. the affair of Southwell at this time is exceedingly unlucky. if it is committed to you, by all means defer it. it is even worth while to stop Mrs Southwell, who will enter into the reason of it. another thing is, you have very honestly & generously renounced your own interest (I mention it not as a compliment, but pour la rareté du fait) to serve Mr B:; but what if you might serve him still better by seemingly making interest for yourself. Addison must certainly be a Competitor. he will have the old (new) Ld Walpole of Wolterton, his Patron, to back him, the Bp of Chester, the Heads, who know him for a staunch Man, & consequently the D: of N:. if you can divide or carry this interest, & by it gain the dirty part of the College, so as to throw it into Mr B:s scale at pleasure, perhaps it may produce an unanimous election. this struck me last night as a practicable thing. but I see some danger in it. for you may disoblige your own friends, & Ld H: must, I doubt, be acquainted with your true design, who very likely will not come into it. T: also & Mr B: himself should be acquainted with it immediately. consider therefore well, whether this or the plain open way (wch, I own, is commonly the best) be most likely to succeed. the former, if it be found impracticable for Mr B: at last, may make it sure for yourself, wch is to be wish'd in the next place. it is odd to talk thus to a Man about himself, but I think, I know to whom I am talking. I have puzzled my head about a list of the College, & can make out only these. pray, supply it for me.

  • – Brown May
  • – Bedford
  • – Tuthill
  • Forester
  • – Delaval
  • – Gaskarth
  • – Cardale
  • – Milbourne
  • – Spencer
  • Mapletoft
  • – Axton

I don't know, if Spencer's Fell:p be vacant or not. nor whether a majority only of the whole, or two thirds, be required to chuse a master.

I should hope 9 of these, & perhaps Mapletoft too, if Gaskarth pleases, might be got for Mr B:, but I can answer only for T: Bedford has always profess'd a friendship for Mr B:, but he is a queer man. his Patron is a Mr Buller of Cornwall a Tory. Delaval, Gask:th, Milbourne & Axton you may soon enquire into yourself. Spencer (if he is one) has promised Dr. Wharton.

I write to Mr. W: (your Neighbour over the way) to desire him to speak to Mr. F: or the D: of B:d, if it may be of use; & add, that if he will let you know, he is at home, you will come, & give him any information necessary. whether this will signify I can't say, but I do not see any hurt it can do.

I wish, like you, I were at Camb:; but to hurry down on this occasion would be worse, than useless, according to my conception. I am glad you think of going, if they approve it. Dr L:, if he is not dead, will recover. mind, if he don't.

I leave my answer to your first Letter to another opportunity, & am always
Letter ID: letters.0251 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 39
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 32


Date of composition: 30 July 1756
Date (on letter): July 30. Friday. 1756
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Stoke
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To / The Revd William Mason / at the Right Honble the Earl of Holderness's / in Arlington Street / London (postmark: 31 IY)


Language: English
Incipit: I received your Letters both at once yesterday which was Thursday,...
Mentioned: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

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 XV, 53-56
  • 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. CXXXII, vol. i, 303-305
  • 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. 220, vol. ii, 470-473