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William Mason to Thomas Gray, 8 January 1761

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Dear Mr Gray

I thank you much for your Criticisms But at present shall not take notice of them. They will stand me in good stead whenever I put the Elegy in my just volume and till then let them pass.

I thank you also very much for Your Georgiana. if they be genuine I thank you as an Englishman; and prefer them before evry thing that ever ended in Ana; but you are mistaken in your Preacher, it was Dr Thomas Wilson of Westminster, who they say is a Rogue, the other is only a Coxcomb, but a sort of Coxcomb that I hate almost as much as a Rogue.

If the nouvelle Eloise be Rousseaus, pity me because I live at Aston, & have not seen it, & be sure send me some account of it and that with speed. I find there is a new report that Ld H is to go to Ireland this has inducd poor Fred: Hervey (glad of such an opportunity of renewing our Correspondence) to write to me, & to tell me that His Friends have hopes of making him first Chaplain, but that he begs first to know whether it will interfere with me & whether it might not be made compatible with my interest, all this was so Jellied over with Friendship that he thought I fancy I should scarce know the Dish he presented me with. The letter I shall tye up in a Bundle with one of Archbishop Huttons & some others wch I keep as Curiositys in their way, I have however in pity to his Wife & family of small Children sent him an answer not so tart as he deservd, & given him full liberty of useing all his interest in this matter. However Keep this a Secret because I promisd to do it & because also I should not have broke my promise could I have thought of any thing better to write at present.

I am glad at Heart to find this annihilation of Toryism, wch you give me an acct of. Fobus, besides Lying, had only one other ministerial Art in his possession wch too was a Species of Lying, And this he exerted in making evry Man who was not a friend to the Ministry a Tory. Was he askd to explain this? he had not skill enough in English History & the constitution of his country to do it; & therefore he explaind himself by saying a Tory was a Jacobite, & a Jacobite a Tory. Thus you may remember one of his tools who could not cleverly make you either Tory or Jacobite said you was worse you was a Republican. May God send this measure a happy ending, & may the next Generation be only distinguishd by the style & title of Friends to their Country.

You have by this time heard Elisi pray give me an account of him or it as soon as possible & send me also your Recipe for Chevichi, in plain terms.

Have you made up your mind about Gothic Architecture & consequently given over Your Genealogical Studies wch it seems are so intimately connected with that Science. for my part I am metamorphosing some good Old Homilies into new-fashiond Sermons & consequently spoiling every period of them. But what better can I do, living as I here do in almost absolute solitude, & in that state of Life wch My old Friend Jeremy Taylor so well describes in his Sermon aptly entituled the Marriage ring. 'Celibate Life (sayth he) like the Flie in the heart of an Apple dwells in a perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, & is confind, and dies in singularity, but Marriage like the useful Bee builds a house gathers sweetness from evry flowr labors and unites into Societys & republics &c.' If I survive You, & come to publish your Works, I shall quote this passage, from whence you so evidently (without ever seeing it) took that thought Poor Moralist, and what art thou, &c. But the Plagiarism had been too glaring had you taken the heart of the Apple In wch however the great beauty of the thought consists. After all why will you not read Jeremy Taylor? take my word once more for it he is the Shakespeare of Divines.

Adieu and beleive me to be ever most entirely yours.
Letter ID: letters.0379 (Source: TEI/XML)

Correspondents

Writer: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Writer's age: 36
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 44

Dates

Date of composition: 8 January 1761
Date (on letter): Jan: 8th 1761
Calendar: Gregorian

Places

Place of composition: [Aston, United Kingdom]

Content

Language: English
Incipit: I thank you much for your Criticisms But at present shall not take...
Mentioned: Aston
Mason, William
Rousseau, Jean Jacques
Taylor, Jeremy

Holding Institution

Location:
(confirmed)
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 <https://www.nypl.org/about/divisions/berg-collection-english-and-american-literature>
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 LXII, 240-244
  • 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. CCXVI, vol. ii, 188-191
  • 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. 329, vol. ii, 717-720