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William Mason to Thomas Gray, 15 April 1771

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Dear Mr Gray–

Stonhewer has this post recd yours but you tifft at him so much in a former Letter that you are not to wonder he is so backward in answering it. however he means to write to you if he survives the next subscription Masquerade for the superb Garniture of wch the Adelphi are now exerting all their powers. Lovatini cant sing for them to morrow. & it is thought Mrs Cornelys will be happy if they allow her a third underground floor in Durham yard to hide her diminishd head in. Well! & so the great State secret is out, that I and the King knew so well two Months ago. But it may be well to inform you & such rusticated folks as you, that it is not my friend the Surveyor Jackson of Hornby Castle who is sub præceptor But a Jackson of Christ Church. My Unkle Powel may bless his stars that he is removd to Court. For he read such wonderfull Mathematical Lectures there; that if he had gone on a few years longer it is thought St Johns would have been eclipsd by the glories of Peckwater. that Peckwater wch, in the days of Roger Parne was fain to bow even to Trinity. Then what say you of Mr. Smelt –is it not a proof that patient Merit will buoy up at last? In a word did you ever see an arrangement formd upon a more liberal & unministerial ground. To say nothing of the Governor himself, what think you of the Præceptor? could any thing be more to yours & Lord Mansfields mind? Pray let me know if the New married Stephen chuses to be seller of mild & stale to his royal highness because I would put his name on the List of the Expectants I am to apply for, if agreable. I have a Baker a Locksmith a Drawing Master a Laundress an Archbishops cast-off groom of the Chamber already upon my hands. You must speak in time if you would have any thing. not that I beleive there will [be] a household these several years, even if we were rich enough to pay for one. Lord J blabbd to Jack Dixon that Dr Hurd refusd, & he blabbd it to Gould, who will blab it to all the University & we shall be quite shent. Tell Gould if he Says a Word That Oddyngton may again become vacant & I shall certainly serve him as I servd him before. Now I thought that Jack Dixon would have been at Petersburg before he could tell it to any body & I did not much mind whether the Czarina knew it or no. for I know shell get out all Jacks secrets in some of their amorous moments. But here am I writing nonsence when I should be thanking you seriously for Your £100 & sending you your security. Voila Donc! here it is. tear [it off and put it in your] strong box.

You say nothing of coming up, & Palgrave affects not to come up till the beginning of May I will press neither of you. I know you both too well. As to myself I mean to fly northward by the way of Northamptonshire & poor Hoyland

cum Zephyris & Hirundine prima

but as it snows at present you will think perhaps to find me here in June. & perhaps you may–well do your pleasure & beleive me

ever yrs
W M.

Congratulate me on the cessation of all my fears about Kitchen garden Walls, &c. tis an ill wind that blows no body profit.

Letter ID: letters.0631 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Writer's age: 47
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 54


Date of composition: 15 April 1771
Date (on letter): April 15th -71
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: Stonhewer has this post recd yours but you tifft at him so much...
Mentioned: Cambridge
Christ Church, Oxford
Hornby Castle
Hurd, Dr. Richard
Hurd, Richard, 1720-1808
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Scott, James
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809

Holding Institution

Henry W. And Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, New York Public Library , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

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 CXXXIV, 448-453
  • 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. CCCLXXXI, vol. iii, 313-316
  • 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. 548, vol. iii, 1179-1182