Skip main navigation

William Mason to Thomas Gray, 25 December 1755

Back to Letters page

Dear Sr

You desird me to write you news, but tho there are a great many promotions they seem to me as far as I can judge all such dirty ones, that you may spare me the trouble of naming them & pick them out of a news paper if you think it worth While. There is a Bon mot of Mr Pitts handed about out of the late debate about the treaties. some Body had compard the Russians to a Star rising out of the north &c. Pit replyd he was glad the place of the Star was thus fixd for he was certain it was not that Star wch once appeard in the East & wch the wise Men worshipt, tho it was like it in one particular for it made its Worshipers bring Gifts. Charles Townshend in the same debate calld Lord H an unthinking unparliamentary Minister, for wch he was severely mumbled by Mr Fox wch I am glad of because he is certainly a most unprincipled Patriot. But perhaps all this is old to you, Im tird of the subject and will drop it—

There is a sweet Song in Demofoonte called Ogni Amante sung by Riccarelli. Pray look at it. Tis almost Notatim/verbatim the Air in Ariadne, but I think better. I am told tis a very old one of Scarlattis wch if true Handel is almost a musical Lauder.

Voltaires Mock Poem calld La Pucelle is to be met with, tho not sold publickly, in town, I had a short sight of it the other day. If you have any curiosity to see it I can send it you with Frasers assistance in a couple of Covers.

I have been here ever since I left Cambridge except one Opera night. My Absence from my Piano forte almost makes me peevish enough to write a Bolinbrokian Essay upon exile. Why will you not send me my inscription? and with it be sure add a dissertation upon Sigmas, and tell me with all Dr Taylors accuracy whether a Σ or a C or a ∊ is the most classical. You can write dissertations upon the Pelasgi, & why not upon this when it is for the use of a learned friend? Allways twitting you (you say) with the Pelasgi. why, tis all I can twit you with.

I wish you good success at Brag as well as sweet Temper. May the Latter be ΠΟΛΥ ΠΑΚΤΙΔΟϹ ΑΔΥΜΕΛΕΣΤΕΡΑ and the former make your purse ΧΡΥΣΩ ΧΡΥΣΟΤΕΡΑ.

I see in the papers Dodsley has publishd An Ode on the Earthquake at Lisbon with some Thoughts on a Church yard. I suppose You are the Author and that you have taggd your Elegy to the tail of it. However if I dont suppose so I hope the world will, in order that people may lay out their sixpences on that, rather than on Duncombs flattery to Fobus, & the Old Horse.

What a scribbling Humor am I in! Ill releive you however by adding only my Love to Mr Brown Tuthill & all friends & assuring you that I am yours with the greatest sincerity


Shall I trouble you Dear Sr to wish Dr Long & Old Cardale a merry Xt.mas in my Name. Lady Rotchford assures me that Lady Coventry "has a mole on one of her Ladyship's Necks" Pray tell Dr Gascarth, that the Neck has descended some inches in the Human frame & deviding itself into two Hemispherical excrescences forms those parts wch Sally erroneously calls her Bubbies, & wch he feels for such.

Letter ID: letters.0243 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Writer's age: 31
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 39


Date of composition: 25 December 1755
Date (on letter): Dec. 25th-55
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: You desird me to write you news, but tho there are a great many promotions...
Mentioned: Poem on the Late Earthquake at Lisbon
Thoughts in a Churchyard
Bolingbroke, Henry St. John, 1st Viscount
Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764
Duncombe, John
Lauder, William

Holding Institution

Henry W. And Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, New York Public Library , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Correspondence of Thomas Gray and William Mason, with Letters to the Rev. James Brown, D.D. Ed. by the Rev. John Mitford. London: Richard Bentley, 1853, letter XII, 42-45
  • 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. CXXVII, vol. i, 284-288
  • 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. 212, vol. i, 450-453