Thomas Gray to Norton Nicholls, 4 April 1770
To The Revd Mr Nicholls at Blundeston near Leostoff Suffolk By Yarmouth
At length, my dear Sr, we have lost our poor de B:n I pack'd him up with my own hands in the Dover-machine at 4 o'clock in the morning on Friday, 23 March, the next day at 7 he sail'd & reach'd Calais by noon, & Boulogne at night. the next night he reach'd Abbeville, where he had letters to Mad: Vanrobais, to whom belongs the famous manufacture of cloth there. from thence he wrote to me, & here am I again to pass my solitary evenings, wch hung much lighter on my hands, before I knew him. this is your fault! pray let the next you send me, be halt & blind, dull, unapprehensive & wrong-headed. for this (as Lady Constance says) Was never such a gracious Creature born! & yet–but no matter! burn my letter that I wrote you, for I am very much out of humour with myself & will not believe a word of it. you will think, I have caught madness from him (for he is certainly mad) & perhaps you will be right. oh! what things are Fathers & Mothers! I thought they were to be found only in England, but you see.
Where is Capt: Clarke's Translation? where is your journal? do you still haggle for me to save sixpence, you Niggard? why now I have been in Town & brought no franks with me yet. the translation of Gruner can not be had this month or six weeks, so I am destitute of all things. this place never appear'd so horrible to me, as it does now. could not you come for a week or fortnight? it would be sunshine to me in a dark night! even Dr Hallifax wishes, you would come. at least write to me out of hand, for I am truly & faithfully
'Vous ne voyez plus que de la misere & de la gayeté. les villages sont plus rares, plus petits: le silence dans ces deserts annonce par tout un Maitre. il me sembloit, que je devois demander a ces hommes en guenilles, qui leur avoit pris leurs habits, leurs maisons; quelle peste avoit ravagé la nation. mais ils ont le bonheur de ne penser point, & de jouer jusqu'au moment qu'on les egorge.
'Mais gardons notre indignation pour çeux qui sont si stupides, qu'ils prennent de pareilles mœurs pour modeles.'
Bonstetten, Charles Victor de, 1745-1832
Gruner, Gottlieb Sigmund
College Library, Eton College , Windsor, UK <http://www.etoncollege.com/collegelibrary.aspx>
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, letter XXVI, vol. v, 104-106
- 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. CCCLVIII, vol. iii, 269-270
- 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. 514, vol. iii, 1115-1116