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Thomas Gray to William Mason, [July 1763]

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Dear Mason

As I have no more received my little thingumterries, than you have yours, tho they were sent by the Beverly, Captain Allen, I have return'd no answer yet; but I must soon, & that in plain English, and so should you too. in the mean time I borrow'd & read them. that on the Opera is a good clever dissertation, dedicated to Guglielmo Pitt. the other (Il Congresso di Citera) in poetical prose describes the negotiation of three Embassadresses sent by England, France, & Italy to the Court of Cupid to lay before him the state of his empire in the three nations, & is not contemptible neither in its kind: so pray be civil to the Count, & Signor Howe.

I think it may be time enough to send poor Smart the money you have been so kind to collect for him, when he has drop'd his law-suit, wch I don't doubt must go against him, if he pursues it. Gordon (who lives here) knows, & interests himself about him: from him I shall probably know, if he can be persuaded to drop his design. there is a Mr Anguish in Town (with whom, I fancy, you were once acquainted) he probably can best inform you of his condition & motions, for I hear, he continues to be very friendly to him.

When you speak of Mr Bed:ld you have always a dash of gall, that shews your unforgiving temper, only because it was to my great chair, that he made the first visit. for this cause you refused the snuff-box (wch to punish you I shall accept myself) & for this cause you obstinately adhere to the Church of England.

I like your Sonnet better than most dedications. it is simple & natural: the best line in it is ‘So to deceive my solitary days &c: ’ there are an expression or two, that break the repose of it by looking common & over-worn. sequester'd shade, woodbine sprays, selected lays: I dare not mention letter'd ease. Life's vain vision does not pronounce well. bating these, it looks in earnest, & as if you could live at Aston, which is not true; but that is not my affair.

I have got a Mass of Pergolesi, wch is all divinity: but it was lent me, or you should have it. by all means send for six Lessons (for the Piano-Forte Harpsichord) of Carlo Bach, not the Opera-Bach, but his Brother. to my fancy they are charming, & in the best Italian style: Mr Nevile & the old Musicianers here do not like them, but to me they speak not only musick, but passion. I can not play them, tho' they are not hard: yet I make a smattering, that serves – to deceive my solitary days. & I figure to myself, that I hear you touch them triumphantly. Adieu! I should like to hear from you.

The Petit Bon sends his love to you. all the rest (but Dr May & the Master) are dead, or married.

Letter ID: letters.0425 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 46
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 39


Date of composition: [July 1763]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: As I have no more received my little thingumterries, than you have yours,...
Mentioned: Algarotti, Francesco
Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Bedingfield, Edward, b. 1730
Brown, James, 1709-1784
How, William Taylor, d. 1777
Mason, William
Smart, Christopher

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 LXXXIII, 311-315
  • 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. CCLII, vol. iii, 13-15
  • Essays and Criticisms by Thomas Gray. Ed. with Introduction and Notes by Clark Sutherland Northup. Boston and London: D. C. Heath & Co., 1911, letter excerpt, 266-268
  • 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. 372, vol. ii, 803-804