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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [23 December 1734]

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After having been very piously at St Mary's church yesterday; as I was coming home; somebody told me, that you was come, & that your Servant had been to enquire for me: whereupon throwing off all the Pruderie & Reserve of a Cambridge Student, in a great extasie, I run in a vast hurry to set the Bells a-ringing, & kindle a thousand Bonfires–when amidst these Convulsions of Joy, I was stopt by one of our Colledge, who inform'd me, that a fine Gentleman in a laced hat & scarlet Stockings wanted me: so, you may conclude, as soon as I set eyes on him, I was ready to eat him for having your Livery on; but he soon checked me by acquainting me 'twas not You, that was come; but–Your Service: now undoubtedly after being so terribly bauked; one could not have lived, but by the help of Hartshorn, Hungary-Water, & your Journal, which gives one a greater Flow of Spirits, than ei[ther of them.] [but, dear Celadon], nothing gave me half so much pleasure, as to find; that after the toil of the day was over, you could be so good as to throw away a moment in thinking of me, & had Spirits enough left, to make all the hideosities you underwent agreable by describing them: – by all that's frightful, I was in agonies for you, when I saw you planted at the upper end of a Table so elegantly set out; like the King of Monsters in the Fairy-tales: never was any one's curiosity half so much raised by a blot, as mine is by that in your Diary: 'tis so judicious a Scratch, so genteel a Blurr, that I shall never be easy, till I know what it conceals; no more than I shall be, till I receive the things that are to come by word of mouth, wch (if 'twere possible) would make me wish to see you more than ever: sure West is as much improved as he says Plato is; since you could have the conscience to persuade him to come to Cambridge[...]

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Letter ID: letters.0006 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 18
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 17


Date of composition: [23 December 1734]
Date (on letter): Dec: 24
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Peter-house


Language: English
Incipit: After having been very piously at St Mary's church yesterday...
Mentioned: Cole, William, 1714-1782

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/16, 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. 22, vol. i, 53-54
  • 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, 67-68
  • 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. 6, vol. i, 12-14