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Thomas Gray to William Mason, [c. 8 July 1765]

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William Shakespeare
To Mrs Anne, Regular Servant
to the Revd Mr Precentor
of York.

A MOMENT'S patience, gentle Mistris Anne!
(But stint your clack for sweet St Charitie)
'Tis Willy begs, once a right proper Man,
Tho' now a Book, and interleav'd, you see.

Much have I born from canker'd Critick's spite,
From fumbling Baronets, and Poets small,
Pert Barristers, & Parsons nothing bright:
But, what awaits me now, is worst of all!

'Tis true, our Master's temper natural
Was fashion'd fair in meek & dovelike guise:
But may not honey's self be turn'd to gall
By residence, by marriage, & sore eyes?

If then he wreak on me his wicked will:
Steal to his closet at the hour of prayer,
And (when thou hear'st the organ piping shrill)
Grease his best pen, & all he scribbles, tear.

Better to bottom tarts & cheesecakes nice,
Better the roast-meat from the fire to save,
Better be twisted into caps for spice,
Than thus be patch'd, & cobbled in one's grave!

So York shall taste, what Clou√ęt never knew;
So from our works sublimer fumes shall rise:
While Nancy earns the praise to Shakespear due
For glorious puddings, & immortal pies.

Tell me, if you don't like this, & I will send you a worse. I rejoice to hear, your eyes are better as much, as if they were my own: but the cure will never be lasting without a little sea. I have been for two days at Hartlepool to tast the water, & do assure you, nothing can be salter, & bitterer, & nastier, & better for you. they have a most antiscorbutic flavour. I am delighted with the place: there are the finest walks & rocks & caverns, & dried fishes, & all manner of small inconveniences a Man can wish. I am going again this week to wait your commands.

Dr Wharton would be quite happy to see you at Old-Park. if you should have kindness & resignation enough to come, you must get to Darlington, then turn off the great road to Merrington, then enquire the way to Spenny-more House, where they will direct you hither.

Adieu! I am ever
Yours
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0461 (Source: TEI/XML)

Correspondents

Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 48
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 41

Dates

Date of composition: [c. 8 July 1765]
Calendar: Gregorian

Places

Place of composition: [Durham, United Kingdom]

Content

Language: English
Incipit: Tell me, if you don't like this, & I will send you a worse....
Mentioned: Darlington
Edwards, Thomas
Hartlepool
Merrington
Old Park
Rhymer, Thomas
Rowe, Nicholas
Shakespeare, William
Spennymoor House
Upton, John
Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
William Shakespeare to Mrs Anne, Regular Servant to the Revd Mr Precentor of York

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 XC, 339-341
  • 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. CCLXXIII, vol. iii, 76-78
  • 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. 407, vol. ii, 879-881