Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [8 December 1734]
The Honble Horatio Walpole Esq
at the house of the right honble Sr Robert Walpole
in St James's Square London
CAMBRIDGE 9 DE
I (tho' I say it) had too much modesty to venture answering your dear, diverting Letter, in the Poetical Strain myself: but, when I was last at the DEVIL, meeting by chance with the deceased Mr Dennis there, he offer'd his Service, &, being tip'd with a Tester, wrought, what follows–
From purling Streams & the Elysian Scene,
From Groves, that smile with never-fading Green
I reascend; in Atropos' despight
Restored to Celadon, & upper light:
Ye gods, that sway the Regions under ground,
Reveal to mortal View your realms profound;
At his command admit the eye of Day;
When Celadon commands, what God can disobey?
Nor seeks he your Tartarean fires to know,
The house of Torture, & th' Abyss of Woe;
But happy fields & Mansions free from Pain,
Gay Meads, & springing flowers best please ye gentle Swain:
That little, naked, melancholy thing
My Soul, when first she tryed her flight to wing;
Began with speed new Regions to explore,
And blunder'd thro' a narrow Postern door;
First most devoutly having said its Prayers,
It tumbled down a thousand pair of [Stairs],
Thro' Entries long, thro' Cellars vast & deep,
Where ghostly Rats their habitations keep,
Where Spiders spread their Webs, & owlish Goblins sleep.
After so many Chances had befell,
It came into a mead of Asphodel:
Betwixt the Confines of ye light & dark
It lies, of 'Lyzium ye St James's park:
Here Spirit-Beaux flutter along the Mall,
And shadows in disguise scate o'er ye Iced Canal:
Here groves embower'd, & more sequester'd Shades,
Frequented by ye Ghosts of Ancient Maids,
Are seen to rise: the melancholy Scene
With gloomy haunts, & twilight walks between
Conceals the wayward band: here spend their time
Greensickness Girls, that died in youthful prime,
Virgins forlorn, all drest in Willow-green-i
With Queen Elizabeth and Nicolini.
More to reveal, or many words to use
Would tire alike your patience & my muse.
Believe, that never was so faithful found
Queen Proserpine to Pluto under ground,
Or Cleopatra to her Marc-Antony
As Orozmades to his Celadony.
Lucrece for half a crown will shew you fun,
But Mrs Oldfield is become a Nun.
Nobles & Cits, Prince Pluto & his Spouse
Flock to the Ghost of Covent-Garden house:
Plays, which were hiss'd above, below revive;
When dead applauded, that were damn'd alive:
The People, as in life, still keep their Passions,
But differ something from the world in Fashions.
Queen Artemisia breakfasts on Bohea.
And Alexander wears a Ramilie.
GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/4, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <http://www.pem.cam.ac.uk/>
- The Correspondence of Gray, Walpole, West and Ashton (1734-1771), 2 vols. Chronologically arranged and edited with introduction, notes, and index by Paget Toynbee. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915, letter no. 4, vol. i, 12-15
- The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence. Ed. by W. S. Lewis. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP; London: Oxford UP, 1937-83, vols. 13/14: Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray, Richard West and Thomas Ashton i, 1734-42, Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray ii, 1745-71, ed. by W. S. Lewis, George L. Lam and Charles H. Bennett, 1948, vol. i, 65-67
- 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. 4, vol. i, 9-11