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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 4 August 1756

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Dear Sr

I see & feel the very natural unwillingness you must have to apply to those Persons for any thing, that may imply a sort of obligation; & I more strongly see & feel the obligation I have to you for being so ready to conquer that reluctance on my account. I could not at this distance do otherwise than refer you to Mr M: (who, I hope, has seen you) for particulars, wch he is better inform'd of than I am. I have heard since, that Dr L: is alive, & thought to be out of danger; but he is a very old Man, & tho' I am glad to see we may probably spare you this trouble for the present, I can only look upon it as defer'd for a time. Mr Bn so little knew of my intention, that the good Man has wrote to acquaint me of Dr L:s illness, & (if I will qualify myself by taking orders, & I know not what) offers me his utmost endeavours to serve me in the same way, & make me his Master. you will know before now from Mn, whether the Man be dead, or dying, or alive & well at last. my zeal (indeed gratitude) to Mr B: only could have forced me to put you upon a disagreeable task, & I shall be glad to hear, there is no farther occasion for doing any thing. if you find there is not, you will be so good to mention nothing of what has past, for I am aware too, that my desire to serve him may chance to do hurt; yet was unwilling to omitt any thing, that might possibly do good.

I put the thing in the strongest light to you (being obliged to be concise) & I don't wonder it appear'd somewhat desperate to your foresight. but in reality Mr B: has a pretty-strong natural interest among his own society, & might possibly be chose without any brigue at all, & spite of opposition. only I would wish to bring it to a certainty. no body calls him Jac:te; I only mean, in case of disputes he might be call'd that, or something as absurd, for want of other abuse.

I will go to Town on Friday to see poor Mr Ch: & at your return hope to thank you at Strawby for your kindness. if I made you no excuse before, it was because I thought you might have forgot the occasion of it.

I am ever
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Letter ID: letters.0252 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 39
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 38


Date of composition: 4 August 1756
Date (on letter): Wednesday. Aug: 4. 1756
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Stoke


Language: English
Incipit: I see & feel the very natural unwillingness you must have to apply...
Mentioned: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Chute, John, 1701-1776
Mason, William, 1724-1797

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/70, 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. 197, vol. ii, 161-162
  • 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, 91-92
  • 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. 221, vol. ii, 473-474