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Thomas Gray to Richard West, [June 1739]

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Letter ID: letters.0073

Correspondents

Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 22
Addressee: West, Richard, 1716-1742
Addressee's age: 23[?]

Dates

Date of composition: [June 1739]
Calendar: Gregorian

Places

Place of composition: [Reims, France]

Content

Language: [unknown]
Incipit: [not extant]
Contents: "[In a letter to Walpole of 28 June 1773, at the time when he was engaged on his Memoirs of Gray, Mason enclosed two letters of Gray to West, written in French, and asked Walpole's advice as to their being printed. Walpole was against it, on the ground that the French was 'neither correct nor elegant'. 'The first', he wrote on 5 July, 'I well remember: the second you may be sure I never saw before.... If you print them, I have no objection to your inserting the passage you have marked for reprobation, and which alludes to me. You see how easily [?misprint for 'early'] I had disgusted him; but my faults were very trifling, and I can bear their being known, and forgive his displeasure. I still think I was as much to blame as he was; and as the passage proves what I have told you, let it stand, if you publish the whole letter.' Mason eventually decided to print neither. 'I have followed your advice', he wrote on 16 July, 'with respect to the two French letters, and instead of printing either of them, have inserted one to his mother [namely, Letter 64 (letters.0074)], which will preserve the chain of correspondence.' The second letter consequently, which like the first (Letter 61* [letters.0069]) has not been traced, is conjecturally assigned to this place. It was probably the letter referred to by Walpole in his letter to West of 18 June from Rheims (Gray-Walpole Correspondence, No. 93) in which he says:
'How I am to fill up this letter is not easy to divine. I have consented that Gray shall give you an account of our situation and proceedings. ... I had prepared the ingredients for a description of a ball, and was just ready to serve it up to you, but he has plucked it from me.']"
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], vol. i, 111-112.
Mentioned: Walpole, Horace

Holding Institution

Availability: The original letter is not extant, no copy, transcription, or published version survives

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. 63**, vol. i, 111-112