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Thomas Gray to William Cole, 7 July 1764

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Pot pourri or perfumed Jar or Pot.

Get some coarse brown Bay Salt: this is the sine quâ non, & (by the way) is not to be had at Cambridge, where under the name of Bay Salt they sell a whitish Kind of Salt, that will never do for our Purpose, & will spoil all: at London the true Sort is common in every Shop, & a Pennyworth of it is enough to make a Bushel of Perfumes. Take a Peck of Damask Roses, pick'd from the Cups, Orange Flowers all you can get, Cloves (the Spice) a Quarter of an Ounce, cut small: scatter them in your Jar mixt in Layers about 2 Inches thick, & thinly sprinkle the Salt over them: repeat this, 'till the Vessel is three Quarters, or more, full: cover it close down, let it stand 2 Days, & then stir it up well with a wooden Ladle or Skimmer: repeat this often, & it is made. If it is always moist to the Touch, it is right: if over-wet, you have only to put in more Flowers, & no more Salt. You may use, if you please, Tops of Lavender, Myrtle-Leaves bruised, Rose-Geranium, Angelica, Shavings of Orrice-Root, or (where Orange Flowers are scarce) young green Oranges sliced, or even the yellow Rind of Seville-Oranges: but of these Things a very little will do, least they overpower the Rest. I can not be particular as to Quantities, because I observed none myself.

Adieu Dear Sir, I am faithfully yours
Letter ID: letters.0644 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 47
Addressee: Cole, William, 1714-1782
Addressee's age: 49


Date of composition: 7 July 1764
Date (on letter): July 7. 1764
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Cambr


Language: English
Incipit: Get some coarse brown Bay Salt: this is the sine quâ non, & (by the way)...

Holding Institution

Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives; a copy of the letter in the hand of William Cole, annotated in his hand "This I had by Letter from my Friend Mr. Gray of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, to whom I sent for the Receit, having seen & smelt the odoriferous Jar in his Chambers the year before.", is at Add. MSS 5825, ff. 283b, 284b, Manuscripts collection, British Library, London, UK

Print Versions

  • 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. 388**, vol. iii, 1322-1323