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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 30 December 1764

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To The Honble Horace Walpole in Arlington Street London

I have received the C: of O:, & return you my thanks for it. it engages our attention here, makes some of us cry a little, & all in general afraid to go to bed o' nights. we take it for a translation, & should believe it to be a true story, if it were not for St Nicholas.

When your pen was in your hand, you might have been a little more communicative: for, tho' disposed enough to believe the Opposition rather consumptive, I am entirely ignorant of all the symptoms. even what the Yorks have been doing for themselves, or attempting to do, is to me a secret. your canonical book I have been reading with great satisfaction. he speaketh as one having authority. if Englishmen have any feeling left, methinks they must feel now; & if the Ministry have any feeling (whom no body will suspect of insensibility) they must cut off the Author's ears, for it is in all the forms a most wicked libel. is the old Man, & the Lawyer put on, or is it real? or has some real Lawyer furnish'd a good part of the materials, & another Person employ'd them? this I guess, for there is an uncouthness of diction in the beginning, wch is not supported throughout, though it now & then occurs again, as if the Writer was weary of supporting the character he had assumed, when the subject had warmed him beyond dissimulation.

Rousseau's letters I am reading heavily, heavily! he justifies himself, till he convinces me, that he deserved to be burnt, at least that his book did. I am not got thro' him, & you never will. Voltaire I detest, & have not seen his book: I shall in good time. You surprise me, when you talk of going in February: pray, does all the Minority go too? I hope, you have a reason. desperare de republicâ is a deadly sin in politicks.

Adieu! I will not take my leave of you, for (you perceive) this letter means to beg another, when you can spare a little.
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Letter ID: letters.0450 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 48
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 47


Date of composition: 30 December 1764
Date (on letter): Sunday Dec: 30. 1764
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Addressed: To The Honble Horace Walpole in Arlington Street London (postmark: CAMBRIDGE 31 DE)


Language: English
Incipit: I have received the C: of O:, & return you my thanks for it....
Mentioned: Dunning, John
Rousseau, Jean Jacques
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/97, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford, 5 vols. London: G. G. and J. Robinson and J. Edwards, 1798, vol. v, 403-404
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, appendix, letter XV, vol. i, 560-561
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CXVI, vol. ii, 438-440
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXXI, vol. ii, 79-81
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXVII, vol. iv, 40-41
  • 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. CCLXV, vol. iii, 55-58
  • Essays and Criticisms by Thomas Gray. Ed. with Introduction and Notes by Clark Sutherland Northup. Boston and London: D. C. Heath & Co., 1911, letter excerpt, 271-272
  • 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. 231, vol. ii, 233-235
  • 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, 136-138
  • 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. 398, vol. ii, 855-857