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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [3 January 1736]

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A thousand thanks for the thousand happy New-years you sent me, & which, I suppose, a thousand good-natured people have made you a present of, in the overflowings of their zeal:

– May each revolving year
With blessings crown'd, like this, returning smile
On [     ], the happiest of his Kind–

I need not wish anything further, since (as I wish, what you do) to be sure you know my wishes already: Wise folks say the wise mans happiness is in himself; pray, are you the wise man? they tell you too, that mortal happiness is not of long continuance; heaven send, yours may last, till you wish for a little misery; nay! and longer still: I can't tell whither our situations are much changed, since this time twelvemonth; certain I am however, that there is a great alteration: I don't succeed to your diversions in town, I believe, & yet am absent from Cambridge without regret, nay with pleasure, tho' not infinitely happier here: –I have very little to tell you, as to the place, call'd London:– Adriano expired a few days ago, & his auncient Predecessour Artaxerxes succeeds him for the present, wch I think to visit to night: the [Town (in submissio]n to your judgement) don't much admire Delane; Mrs Porter acts in ye Albion Queens, but I shall stay for another Play, before I see her; neither have I much inclination for old Cibber in Sr Courtly Nice, nor for young Mrs Cibber in Voltaire's Zara, in wch she performs the principal part for ye first time of her appearance in that way: I went to King Arthur last night, which is exceeding fine; they have a new man to [suppl]y Delane's place, one Johnson, with ye finest person & face in the world to all appearance; but as awkward, as a Button-maker; in short, if he knew how to manage his Beauties to advantage, I should not wonder, if all the Women run mad for him: the inchanted part of the play, is not Machinery, but actual magick: the second scene is a British temple enough to make one go back a thousand years, & really be in ancient Britain: the Songs are all Church-musick, & in every one of ye Chorus's Mrs Chambers sung ye chief part, accompanied with

Roarings, Squawlings & Squeakations dire

Mrs Giffard is by way of Emmeline, & should be blind, but, heaven knows! I would not wish to see better than she does, & seems to do; for when Philidel restores her to sight, her eyes are not at all better than before; she is led in at first, by a Creature, yt was more like a Devil by half, than Grimbald himself; she took herself for Madame la Confidente, but every body else took her to be in the Circumstances of Damnation: when Emmeline comes to her sight, she beholds this Mrs Matilda first, & cries out

Are Women all like thee? such glorious Creatures!

which set the people into such a laugh, as lasted the whole Act: the Frost Scene is excessive fine; the first Scene of it is only a Cascade, that seems frozen; with the Genius of Winter asleep & wrapt in furs, who upon the approach of Cupid, after much quivering, & shaking sings the finest song in the Play: just after, the Scene opens, & shows a view of arched rocks coverd with Ice & Snow to ye end of ye Stage; between the arches are upon pedestals of Snow eight Images of old men & women, that seem frozen into Statues, with Icicles hanging about them & almost hid in frost, & from ye end come Singers, viz: Mrs Chambers, &c: & Dancers all rubbing their hands & chattering with cold with fur gowns & worsted gloves in abundance; there are several more beautiful Scenes; but rather than describe 'em, I ought to beg pardon for interrupting your happiness so long, and conclude myself

your poor Servant ever
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Letter ID: letters.0021 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 19
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 18


Date of composition: [3 January 1736]
Date (on letter): Jan: 3-
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: London, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): London


Language: English
Incipit: A thousand thanks for the thousand happy New-years you sent me...
Mentioned: Banks, John
Cibber, Colley
Crowne, John
Hill, Aaron

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/17, 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. 23, vol. i, 55-59
  • 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, 95-98
  • 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. 20, vol. i, 35-38