Norton Nicholls to Thomas Gray, [29 April 1771]
It is six weeks since I received De Bonstetten's letter, in consequence of which I wrote to you; I have long waited for your determination, to enable me to answer it; my own was already made when I wrote to you, only I cannot fix a time till I know yours. I need not say whether it would be agreeable to me to have your company in such a voyage; without it, I shall lose half the pleasure and advantage I flattered myself with the hope of, but I shall go at all events. I should think the first or second week in June, at furthest, is quite late enough to begin the journey; if so, it is high time, I think, to give notice to De Bonstetten. I have provided both money and a curate, the former, the sum I mentioned to you, two hundred pounds, and the latter, from the beginning of June, to the end of October, or a few Sundays longer, if I want him. I wrote to Wheeler (not about Berne) many months ago, but by a very uncertain direction, I have not heard a word since and know nothing about him, nor where to direct, so he is quite out of the question, and if you don't go with me, I shall go alone.
As for Temple's matter, I see it is troublesome to you, and am very sorry I ever mentioned it; I did not understand, nor did he mean, I think, that you was to have the trouble of forming a complete list of authors, but only of pointing out a few of the best and most necessary in each period sufficient to make the links of the chain, and continue it down unbroken and uninterrupted. Your sympathy with his distress drew this trouble on you and encouraged my zeal to become impertinent.
I congratulate the ministry and the University on the honour they have both acquired by the promotion of Mr. Scott; may there never be wanting such lights of the church! and such ornaments of that famous seminary of virtue and good learning.
I have found many insects, chiefly carabi and staphyli, great variety of the latter; this unseasonable season has put the months quite out of order, all of the vegetable tribe that should have looked gay and flourished early in March, just begin to peep up half starved with cold, and wishing themselves back again.
My mother desires me to make her compliments.
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, letter XXXVIII, vol. v, 134-135
- 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. 549, vol. iii, 1183-1184