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Thomas Gray to William Palgrave, [March 1765]

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My instructions, of which you are so desirous, are two-fold: the first part relates to what is past, and that will be rather diffuse: the second, to what is to come; and that we shall treat more succinctly, and with all due brevity.

First, when you come to Paris you will not fail to visit the cloister of the Chartreuse, where Le Sueur (in the history of St. Bruno) has almost equalled Raphael. Then your Gothic inclinations will naturally lead you to the Sainte Chapelle built by St. Louis: in the treasury is preserved one of the noblest gems of the Augustan age. When you take a trip into the country, there is a fine old chapel at Vincennes with admirable painted windows; and at Fontainbleau, the remains of Francis the First's magnificence might give you some pleasure. In your way to Lyons you will take notice of the view over the Saone, from about Tournus and Macon. Fail not to walk a few miles along the banks of the Rhone, down the river. I would certainly make a little journey to the Grande Chartreuse, up the mountains: at your return out of Italy this will have little effect. At Turin you will visit the Capuchins' convent just without the city, and the Superga at no great distance, for the sake of the views. At Genoa observe the Terreno of the Palace Brignoli, as a model of an apartment elegantly disposed in a hot climate. At Parma you will adore the great Madonna and St. Jerom, once at St. Antonio Abbate, but now (I am told) in the Ducal Palace. In the Madonna della Steccata observe the Moses breaking the tables, a chiaroscuro figure of the Parmeggiano at too great a height, and ill lighted, but immense. At the Capuchins, the great Pietá of Annib. Caracci; in the Villa Ducale, the room painted by Carlo Cignani; and the last works of Agostino Caracci at Modena. I know not what remains now, the flower of the collection is gone to Dresden. Bologna is too vast a subject for me to treat: the palaces and churches are open; you have nothing to do but to see them all. In coming down the Apennine you will see (if the sun shines) all Tuscany before you. And so I have brought you to Florence, where to be sure there is nothing worth seeing. Secondly,

  • 1. Vide, quodcunque videndum est.
  • 2. Quodcunque ego non vidi, id tu vide.
  • 3. Quodcunque videris, scribe & describe; memoriæ ne fide.
  • 4. Scribendo nil admirare; & cum pictor non sis, verbis omnia depinge.
  • 5. Tritum viatorum compitum calca, & cum poteris, desere.
  • 6. Eme, quodcunque emendum est; I do not mean pictures, medals, gems, drawings, &c., only; but clothes, stockings, shoes, handkerchiefs, little moveables; every thing you may want all your life long: but have a care of the custom house.

Pray present my most respectful compliments to Mr. Weddell. I conclude when the winter is over, and you have seen Rome and Naples, you will strike out of the beaten path of English travellers, and see a little of the country, throw yourselves into the bosom of the Appennine, survey the horrid lake of Amsanctus (look in Cluver's Italy), catch the breezes on the coast of Taranto and Salerno, expatiate to the very toe of the continent, perhaps strike over the Faro of Messina, and having measured the gigantic columns of Girgenti, and the tremendous caverns of Syracusa, refresh yourselves amidst the fragrant vale of Enna. Oh! che bel riposo!

Letter ID: letters.0453 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 48
Addressee: Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Addressee's age: 30[?]


Date of composition: [March 1765]
Date (on letter): [March, 1765]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]


Languages: English, Latin
Incipit: My instructions, of which you are so desirous, are two-fold:...
Mentioned: Agrigentum
Chartreuse, La Grande
Klüwer, Philipp
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

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Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives

Print Versions

  • The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, letter xlviii, section iv, 304-308
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XLVIII, vol. i, 406-409
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CXVII, vol. ii, 440-444
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXXII, vol. ii, 81-86
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXVIII, vol. iv, 41-46
  • 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. CCLXVII, vol. iii, 63-67
  • Essays and Criticisms by Thomas Gray. Ed. with Introduction and Notes by Clark Sutherland Northup. Boston and London: D. C. Heath & Co., 1911, letter excerpt, 272-275
  • 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. 400, vol. ii, 866-868