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Thomas Gray to James Brown, 8 November 1760

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Dear Sr

You will excuse me, if I write you a little news in this busy time, tho' I have nothing else to write. the Ladies are rejoiced to hear, they may probably have a marriage before the Coronation, wch will restore to that pomp all the beauties it would otherwise have lost. I hear (but this is sub sigillo) no very extraordinary account of the P:ss of Saxe-Gotha, either as to her person, or temper. I never saw a face of less sorrow than on the late occasion. I do not blame the inhabitants of a certain great House for not putting on that appearance: it would look like affectation. but even the old Servants, & Friends appear insensible, & he is already, as if he never had been. one Person however has behaved with firmness & yet great decency. he walks (at his own desire) Chief Mourner at the solemnity on Tuesday, & supposing even the spectacle itself did not touch him, yet it must do so on reflection, that he may himself be probably the next that enters that gloomy place, which is far from unlikely. M:n walks in the same procession, & as you possibly may see him the next day, he will give you the best account of it. you have heard (I suppose) that there are two Wills (not duplicates). he had given to the D: all his jewels, but at the last going to H:r had taken with him all the best of them, & made them Crown-Jewels, so that they come to the Successor. he had also given the D: three Millions of Rix-Dollars in money, but in the last will (made since the affair at Closter-Seven) after an apology to him, as the best Son, that ever lived, & one, that has never offended him, declares, that the expences of the war have consumed all this money. he gives him (& had before done so by a deed of gift) all his mortgages in Germany valued at 170,000£, but the French are in possession of part of these lands, & the rest are devoured by the war. he gives to Pss Emily, & Mary, about 37000£ between them, the Survivor to take the whole (I have heard, that the D: was to have a third of this, but has given up his share to his Sisters). to Lady Y: a Box, wch is said to have in it 10,000£ in notes. the K: is residuary Legatee; what that amounts to, no one will know; & consequently it must remain a doubt, whether he died rich or poor: I incline to believe rather the latter, I mean, in comparison of what was expected.

The Archbishop is the most assiduous of Courtiers, standing for ever upright in the midst of a thousand Ladies. the other day he trod on the toes of the D:, who turned to him (for he made no sort of excuse) & said aloud, If your G: is so eager to make your court, that is the way (pointing towards the King) & then to the Count de Fuentes, You see, Priests are the same in this country as in yours.

Mr E: Finch (your Representative) has got the place that Sr H: E: (my Friend) had, Surveyor (I think) of the Roads, wch is about 600£ a-year. what then (you will ask) is become of my Friend? oh, he is a vast Favourite, is restored to his Regiment, & made Groom of the Bed-Chamber. I have not been to see him yet, & am half-afraid, for I hear, he has a Levee. pray, don't tell.

Ld J: C: is fix'd to come at his time in spite of the World. I hear within the year, you may expect a visit from his Majesty in person. the worst I can tell you is that Squit will be a B:p

When the D: of Dev: introduced my Ld Mayor, he desired his Grace would be so kind to tell him, wch was my Ld Boot? this must not be told at all; nor any thing else as from me.

Letter ID: letters.0375 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 43
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 51[?]


Date of composition: 8 November 1760
Date (on letter): Nov: 8. 1760
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.; 3 pages


Language: English
Incipit: You will excuse me, if I write you a little news in this busy time,...
Mentioned: Hanover
Mason, William, 1724-1797

Holding Institution

College Library, Eton College , Windsor, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; bound into a copy of Mathias's Works of Thomas Gray (London, 1814), vol. II, part 2

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 LIX, 227-230
  • 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. CCXII, vol. ii, 173-177
  • 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. 325, vol. ii, 710-712