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Thomas Gray to James Beattie, 31 October 1768

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To Mr Professor Beattie, of the Marischal College Aberdeen

Dear Sr

It is some time, since I received from Mr Foulis two copies of my poems, one by the hands of Mr T: Pitt, the other by Mr Merrill, a Bookseller of this Town. it is indeed a most beautiful edition, & must certainly do credit both to him, & to me: but I fear, it will be of no other advantage to him; as Dodsley has contrived to glut the Town already with two editions beforehand, one of 1500, & the other of 750, both indeed far inferior to that of Glasgow, but sold at half the price. I must repeat my thanks, Sr, for the trouble you have been pleased to give yourself on my account, & thro' you I must desire leave to convey my acknowledgements to Mr Foulis, for the pains & expence he has been at in this publication.

We live at so great a distance, that perhaps you may not yet have learn'd, what I flatter myself you will not be displeased to hear: the middle of last summer his Majesty was pleased to appoint me Regius Professor of Modern History in this University: it is the best thing the Crown has to bestow (on a Layman) here: the salary is 400£ per ann: but what enhances the value of it to me is, that it was bestowed without being ask'd. the Person, who held it before me, died on the Sunday, & on Tuesday following the Duke of Grafton wrote me a letter to say, that the King offer'd me this Office, with many additional expressions of kindness on his Grace's part, to whom I am but barely known, & whom I have not seen either before or since he did me this favor. instances of a benefit so nobly confer'd, I believe, are rare, & therefore I tell you of it as a thing that does honor, not only to me, but to the Minister.

As I lived here before from choice, I shall now continue to do so from obligation. if business or curiosity should call you southwards, you will find few Friends, that will see you with more cordial satisfaction, than Sr

Your obliged & very obed:t Servant
Letter ID: letters.0544 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 51
Addressee: Beattie, James, 1735-1803
Addressee's age: 33


Date of composition: 31 October 1768
Date (on letter): 31 Oct: 1768
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge
Place of addressee: [Aberdeen, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To Mr Professor Beattie, of the Marischal College Aberdeen (postmark: CAMBRIDGE)


Language: English
Incipit: It is some time, since I received from Mr Foulis two copies of my poems,...
Mentioned: Poems by Mr. Gray (1768)
Dodsley, James, 1724-1797
Grafton, Augustus Henry Fitzroy, Duke of, 1735-1811

Holding Institution

AU MS 30/24/6/6, AU MS 30, Papers of James Beattie (1735-1803), Historic Collections, Special Libraries and Archives, King's College, University of Aberdeen Library , Aberdeen, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a photostat is in MS. Toynbee d.32, Bodleian Library, Oxford

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, letter lx, section iv, 333-334
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter LX, vol. i, 432-433
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CXLI, vol. ii, 506-507
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXL, vol. ii, 128-129
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CLVI, vol. iv, 126-127
  • 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. CCCXXXVII, vol. iii, 211
  • 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. 487, vol. iii, 1048-1049