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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [17 November 1734]

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With care
Carridge pade

To mie Nuss att London


Honner'd Nurse

This comes to let you know, that I am in good health; but that I should not have been so, if it had not been for your kind promise of coming to tend me yourself, & see the effect of your own Prescription: and I should desire of you, so please you, as how that, you would be so good as to be so kind, as to do me the favour of bringing down with you a quantity of it, prepared as your Grandmothers Aunt, poor Mrs Hawthorn (God rest her soul, for she was as well a natured, a good Gentlewoman, as ever broke bread, or trod upon Shoe-leather; though I say it, that should not say it; for you know, she was related to me, & marry! not a jot the worse, I trow) used to make it: now I would not put you to this trouble, if I could provide myself of the Ingredients here; but truly, when I went to the Poticaries for a drachm of Spirit of Ridicule; the saucy Jackanapes of a Prentice-Boy fleered at me, I warrant ye, as who should say, you don't know your Errand: so by my troth, away ambles me I (like a fool as I came) home again, & when I came to look of your Receipt; to be sure, there was Spt of RIDICULE in great Letters, as plain as the nose in one's face: & so, back hurries I in a making-Water-while, as one may say, & when I came there, says I; you stripling, up-start, worsted-stocking, white-liver'd, lath-backed, impudent Princox, says I; abuse me! that am your betters every day in the week, says I; you ill-begotten, pocky, rascally, damned Son of a Bitch, says I–for you know, when he put me in such a perilous Passion, how could one help telling him his own–why, 'twould have provoked any Christian in the world, tho' twere a Dog–to speak; & so if you'll be so kind, I'll take care you shall be satisfied for your trouble: so, this is all at present from

your ever-dutifull & most
obedient & most affectionate,
loving God-daughter
A Discourse

Πάντα κόνις και πάντα πιὸζ,
και πάντα τόβακκο

If I should undertake to prove to you, that everything is Tobacco, it might be looked upon as an Absurdity after the revrd & learnd Dn Swift has made it so manifest, that every thing is a Pudding: but I conceive it will not be so difficult to shew, that Tobacco is every thing (at least here) for there is not a soul in our Colledge (a body I should say) who does not smoke or chew: there's nothing but Whiffing from Fellow to Sizer; nay, even the very Chimnies, that they may'nt be thought partic'lar, must needs smoke, like the rest: whilst unfashionable I labour thro' clouds of it, with as much pains, as Milton's poor Devil took, when he travel'd through Chaos:–but, as to the Guzzling affair, you mistook in thinking it was the Old fellows, that were with me; no 'twas a thousand times worse; they were all young ones–do but imagine me pent up in a room hired for the purpose, & none of the largest, from 7 a-clock at night, till 4 in the morning! 'midst hogsheads of Liquor & quantities of Tobacco, surrounded by 30 of these creatures, infinitely below the meanest People you could even form an Idea off; toasting bawdy healths & deafned with their unmeaning Roar; Jesus! but I must tell you of a fat Mortal, who stuck close to me, & was as drunk (as Miss Edwards–which story I'm afraid by the by, was too well-fancied, to be real) well! he was so maudlin & so loving & told me long Stories, interrupted by the sourest Interjections, with moral Discourses upon God knows what! that I was almost drunk too: oh–I must just beg lea[ve to men]tion one more, who, they tell me, has no fault, but that, he's a little too foppish & talks like a London-Rake; this fine Gentleman is quite master of the Spectator & retails it for ever; among the rest, he gave his humble Opinion of the present state of the Play-house; that Stevens had a very graceful Motion, spoke well, &c, but that he must needs give his Voice for Mr Quin; Mrs Thurmond too was in great favour with him: as for the Opera's he could not understand them, but had heard Margaretta & Nicolini highly commended by those, that were judges: by God, says another, those Opera's are the ruin of the nation; no honest people can go to 'em, & those, that do, are ashamed of themselves; else why should they go in Masques & Disguises thither–no body in the company found out his blunder, so no body laugh'd but I, which was taken for applause. you'll think it a strange compliment, when I tell you how often I thought of you, all the while: but will forgive me, when you recollect, that 'twas a great piece of Philosophy in me, to be able, in ye midst of Noise & Disturbance, to call to mind the most agreeable thing in nature: when you could give me so much Pleasure, absent; what must you do, when with me? tho' perhaps its policy in you to stay away so long, that you may increase my Desire of seeing you: in your next send me word, how soon you design, to come to the relief

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Letter ID: letters.0003 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 17
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 17


Date of composition: [17 November 1734]
Date (on letter): 23d Sundy after Trin:
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]


Languages: English, Greek
Incipit: This comes to let you know, that I am in good health...
Mentioned: Spectator

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/3, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • 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. 3, vol. i, 7-12
  • 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, 61-64
  • 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. 3, vol. i, 5-8