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Thomas Gray to William Mason, [c. 8 July 1765]

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William Shakespeare
To Mrs Anne, Regular Servant
to the Revd Mr Precentor
of York.

A MOMENT'S patience, gentle Mistris Anne!
(But stint your clack for sweet St Charitie)
'Tis Willy begs, once a right proper Man,
Tho' now a Book, and interleav'd, you see.

Much have I born from canker'd Critick's spite,
From fumbling Baronets, and Poets small,
Pert Barristers, & Parsons nothing bright:
But, what awaits me now, is worst of all!

'Tis true, our Master's temper natural
Was fashion'd fair in meek & dovelike guise:
But may not honey's self be turn'd to gall
By residence, by marriage, & sore eyes?

If then he wreak on me his wicked will:
Steal to his closet at the hour of prayer,
And (when thou hear'st the organ piping shrill)
Grease his best pen, & all he scribbles, tear.

Better to bottom tarts & cheesecakes nice,
Better the roast-meat from the fire to save,
Better be twisted into caps for spice,
Than thus be patch'd, & cobbled in one's grave!

So York shall taste, what Clou√ęt never knew;
So from our works sublimer fumes shall rise:
While Nancy earns the praise to Shakespear due
For glorious puddings, & immortal pies.

Tell me, if you don't like this, & I will send you a worse. I rejoice to hear, your eyes are better as much, as if they were my own: but the cure will never be lasting without a little sea. I have been for two days at Hartlepool to tast the water, & do assure you, nothing can be salter, & bitterer, & nastier, & better for you. they have a most antiscorbutic flavour. I am delighted with the place: there are the finest walks & rocks & caverns, & dried fishes, & all manner of small inconveniences a Man can wish. I am going again this week to wait your commands.

Dr Wharton would be quite happy to see you at Old-Park. if you should have kindness & resignation enough to come, you must get to Darlington, then turn off the great road to Merrington, then enquire the way to Spenny-more House, where they will direct you hither.

Adieu! I am ever
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0461 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 48
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 41


Date of composition: [c. 8 July 1765]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Durham, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: Tell me, if you don't like this, & I will send you a worse....
Mentioned: Darlington
Edwards, Thomas
Old Park
Rhymer, Thomas
Rowe, Nicholas
Shakespeare, William
Spennymoor House
Upton, John
Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
William Shakespeare to Mrs Anne, Regular Servant to the Revd Mr Precentor of York

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 XC, 339-341
  • 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. CCLXXIII, vol. iii, 76-78
  • 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. 407, vol. ii, 879-881