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Thomas Gray to James Brown, [28 May 1759]

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To The Revd Mr Brown, President of Pembroke-Hall Cambridge
29 MA

Dear Sr

You will receive tomorrow Caractacus piping hot, I hope before any body else has it. observe, it is I, that send it, for M: makes no presents to any one whatever, & moreover you are desired to lend it to nobody, that we may sell the more of them; for money, not fame, is the declared purpose of all we do. I believe, you will think it (as I do) greatly improved: the last Chorus, & the lines that introduce it, are to me one of the best things I ever read, & surely superior to any thing he ever wrote. he has had infinite fits of affectation, as the hour approach'd; & is now gone into the country for a week, like a new-married Couple.

I am glad to find, you are so lapt in Musick at Cambridge, & that Mingotti is to crown the whole. I heard her within this fortnight, & think her voice (wch always had a roughness) is considerably harsher, than it was, but yet she is a noble Singer. I shall not partake of these delights, nor I fear be able to see Cambridge for some time yet: but in a week I shall know better. Dr Wharton (who desires his love to you) will (I believe) set out for Durham in about three weeks to settle at Old-Park: at present his least Girl is ill of the Small-Pox join'd with a scarlet Fever, but likely to get over it. yesterday I, & M: dined with Mr Bonfoy: he told me, that the old Lady was eloped from Rippon just at a time, when he seem'd to want her there, & was (I thought) a little ruffled at it. but I (in my heart) commended her, & think her very well revenged upon him. pray, make her my best Compliments. Old Turner is very declining, & I was sounded by Dr G: of Lincoln about my designs (or so I understood it). I assured him, I should not ask for it, not chusing to be refused. he told me two People had applied already. N:B: (all this is a secret.)

Adieu, Dear Sr, believe me ever
Sincerely Yours

P:S: The Parcel will come by one of the Flys. there is a Copy for old Pa:, who is outrageous about it. I rejoice in Jack's good fortune.

Ld Strathmore is much out of order, but goes abroad.

Letter ID: letters.0339 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 42
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 50[?]


Date of composition: [28 May 1759]
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Addressed: To The Revd Mr Brown, President of Pembroke-Hall Cambridge (postmark: 29 MA)


Language: English
Incipit: You will receive tomorrow Caractacus piping hot, I hope before...
Mentioned: Cambridge
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Old Park
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794

Holding Institution

Fitzwilliam Museum , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a photograph is at Pembroke College, Cambridge, GBR/1058/GRA/5/4; a photostat is in MS. Toynbee d.32, Bodleian Library, Oxford

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 XLIX, 195-197
  • 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. CXCV, vol. ii, 113-114
  • 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. 294, vol. ii, 622-623