Thomas Gray to William Taylor How, 10 September 1763
William Taylor-How, Esq
I ought long since to have made you my acknowledgements for the obliging testimonies of your esteem that you have confer'd on me: but Count Algarotti's books did not come to my hands till the end of July, & since that time I have been prevented by illness from doing any of my duties. I have read them more than once with increasing satisfaction, & should wish Mankind had eyes to descry the genuine sources of their own pleasures, & judgement to know the extent, that Nature has prescribed to them: if this were the case, it would be their interest to appoint C: Algarotti their Arbiter Elegantiarum. he is highly civil to our Nation, but there is one little point, in wch he does not do us justice. I am the more sollicitous about it, because it relates to the only Taste we can call our own, the only proof of our original talent in matter of pleasure; I mean, our skill in gardening, & laying out grounds. that the Chinese have this beautiful Art in high perfection, seems very probable from the Jesuit's Letters, & more from Chambers's little discourse publish'd some few years ago. but it is very certain, we copied nothing from them, nor had any thing but nature for our model. it is not forty years, since the Art was born among us; and it is sure, that there was nothing in Europe like it, & as sure, we then had no information on this head from China at all.
I shall rejoice to see you in England, & talk over these and many other matters with you at leisure. do not despair of your health, because you have not found all the effects you had promised yourself from a finer climate. I have known People, who have experienced the same thing, & yet at their return have lost all their complaints as by miracle.
Your obliged humble Servant
I have answer'd C: Algarotti, whose letter I convey'd to Mr Mason, but whether he has received his books, I have not yet heard. Mr Brown charges me with his best Compliments.
Add. MSS 26889, ff. 40-41, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/manuscr/>
- The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, letter viii, section v, 386-387
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section V, letter VIII, vol. i, 477-480
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CX, vol. ii, 422-423
- The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXX, vol. ii, 77-79
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXI, vol. iv, 20-22
- 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. CCLV, vol. iii, 26-27
- 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, 264-266
- 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. 375, vol. ii, 813-815