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Thomas Gray to Norton Nicholls, 8 November 1768

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To The Revd Mr Nicholls at Blundeston near Leostoff Suffolk By Yarmouth

Not a single word, since we parted at Norwich, & for ought I know, you may be ignorant, how I fell into the jaws of the King of Denmark at Newmarket, & might have stay'd there till this time, had I not met with Mr Vicechancellor and Mr Orator with their Diplomas & speeches, who on their return to Cambridge sent me a chaise from thence, & deliver'd me out of that den of thieves. however, I pass'd a night there; & in the next room, divided from me by a thin partition, was a drunken Parson & his party of pleasure singing & swearing & breaking all the ten commandments. all that I saw on my way else was the Abbey-Church at Wyndham, to learned eyes a beautiful remnant of antiquity, part of it in the style of Henry the 1st & part in that of Henry the 6th; the wooden fretwork of the north-ile you may copy, when you build the best room of your new Gothick parsonage. it will cost but a trifle.

So now I am going to Town about my business, wch (if I dispatch to my mind) will leave me at rest, & with a tolerably easy temper for one while. I return hither as soon as I can, & give you notice, what a sweet humor I am in. Mrs Nicholls & you take advantage of it, come & take possession of the Lodge at Trinity-Hall (by the way I am commission'd to offer it to you by Dr Marriott for that purpose, & you have nothing to do but to thank him for his civilities, & say, at what time you intend to make use of them). and so we live in clover, & partake the benefits of a University education together, as of old. Palgrave is return'd from Scotland, & will perhaps be here. Mason too, if he is not married (for such a report there is) may come, & Dr Hallifax is always at your service. Ld Richard Cavendish is come: he is a sensible Boy, aukward & bashful beyond all imagination, & eats a buttock of beef at a meal. I have made him my visit, & we did tolerably well considering. Watson is his publick Tutor, & one Winstanley his private: do you know him?

Marriott has begun a subscription for a Musical Amphitheatre, has appropriated 500£ (Mr. Titley's legacy to the University) to that purpose, & gives 20 Guineas himself. he has drawn a design for the building & has printed an Argument about the Poors-rates, wch he intended to have deliver'd from the Bench, but one of the Parties drop'd the cause. he has spoke at the Quarter-Sessions two hours together, & moved the Towns-People to tears, & the University to laughter. at laying down his office too he spoke Latin, & said, Invidiam, & opinionum de me commenta delebit dies. he enlarged (wch is never done) on the qualifications of Hinchliffe his Successor, qui Mores hominum multorum vidit & urbes qui cum Magnis vixit & placuit. next day Hinchliffe made his speech, & said not one word (tho' it is usual) of his Predecessor. I tell you Cambridge News for want of better. they say, Rigby is to move for the expulsion of Wilkes from the House. my respects to Mamma.

I am
T G:

Tell me about my Uncle & Aunt. direct to Roberts's, Jermyn-Str:

Letter ID: letters.0545 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 51
Addressee: Nicholls, Norton, c. 1742-1809
Addressee's age: 26[?]


Date of composition: 8 November 1768
Date (on letter): Nov: 8. 1768
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pemb: Coll:
Place of addressee: Blundeston, United Kingdom

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages
Addressed: To The Revd Mr Nicholls at Blundeston near Leostoff Suffolk By Yarmouth (postmark: GREAT YARMOUTH)


Language: English
Incipit: Not a single word, since we parted at Norwich, & for ought I know,...
Mentioned: Cambridge
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Wymondham Church

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; a photocopy is at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, OSB MSS c 467, box 1, folder 75

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, letter XIV, vol. v, 81-83
  • 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. CCCXXXVIII, vol. iii, 212-214
  • 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. 488, vol. iii, 1049-1051