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William Taylor How to Thomas Gray, 8 November 1763

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As in the Letter, with which you honoured me of late, you expressed a sollicitude about the imputation, laid upon us by Count Algarotti, of a borrowed taste in our method of laying out Grounds, this, I think, may well warrant, and perhaps even demand of me the Communication of a Passage in his last letter relative to that point.

'Mi spiace solamente, che quella critica concernente i Giardini Inglesi, non la abbia fatta a me medesimo; quasi egli dovesse credermi più amico della mia opinione che della Verità. Ecco, come ho cangiato quel luogo. Dopo le parole nel tesser la favola di un poema.

'Simili ai giardini della Cina sono quelli, che piantano gl'Inglesi dietro al medesimo modello della Natura. Quanto ella ha di vago, e di vario, boschetti, collinette, acque vive, praterie con dei tempietti, degli obelischi, ed anche di belle rovine che spuntano qua e là, si trova quivi riunito dal gusto dei Kent, e dei Chambers, che hanno di tanto sorpassato il le Nautre, tenuto già il maestro dell'Architettura, dirò così, de' Giardini. Dalle ville d'Inghilterra ne è sbandita la simmetria Francese, i più bei siti pajono naturali, il culto è misto col negletto, e il disordine, che vi regna, è l'effetto dell'arte la meglio ordinata.'

May I take the Liberty of remarking here, Sir, that every Author of a reputation so established will not quite so easily, so readily, and so explicitly give up his own opinion in deference to that of another, or even to conviction itself? nor perhaps would he so soon have kissed the rod from any vulgar Hand; but he is thoroughly informed to whose correction he submits. – I find you had enclosed a letter from Mr Mason to Count Algarotti, in which he (Mr Mason) complains that he had not then received the three little treatises destined for him: if it were not too much trouble, I could wish you would be kind enough to enquire of Mr Mason, whether he has not yet received them; for, if He has not, I will take care that he either shall have them, or others in their stead. Let me further petition you, Sir, to present my best Compliments to Mr Brown, and tell him, that I begin to keep a sharp look out every time the letter-carrier passes by my Windows in hopes of having news from Pembroke Hall, and the more so, to confess the truth, because I am rather anxious to hear something from You, Sir, upon the principal Subject of my last Letter. Perhaps Mr Brown may have been apprehensive, that a simple direction to me at Brussels may not have been sufficient to secure his Letter from miscarriage; but besides, that I generally take especial pains to get into the good graces of the People of the Post-Office, there is only one general Office for the Letters from all Parts. Upon looking over Count Algarotti's Letter once more, I find another paragraph, that I think, will give you pleasure. 'La mia salute è presentemente assai rimessa; di maniera che io vado a Pisa più per piacere, che per bisogno. Soltanto che io sia riserbato nel mangiare (cosa per me un poco difficile) io credo che starò assai bene; e il migliore uso che potrò fare della mia salute, sarà il fare il viaggio d'Inghilterra.'

I am ever, Sir, with the greatest Respect
Your most faithful humble Servant
Letter ID: letters.0434 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: How, William Taylor, d. 1777
Writer's age: [u
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 46


Date of composition: 8 November 1763
Date (on letter): Novr. 1763
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Brussels, Belgium
Address (on letter): Brussels

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 3 pages, 227 mm x 189 mm


Language: English
Incipit: As in the Letter, with which you honoured me of late, you expressed a...
Mentioned: Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Mason, William, 1724-1797

Holding Institution

Add. MSS 26889, ff. 54-55, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, 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 v, 388
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, extract of a letter, vol. ii, 424-425
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXI, vol. iv, 22-24
  • 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. 381, vol. ii, 825-826