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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [11 June 1736]

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The Honrable Mr Horace Walpole
at Kings-College Cambridge
12 IV

Dr Sr

It was hardly worth while to trouble you with a letter, till I had seen somewhat in Town; not that I have seen anything now, but what you have heard of before, that is, Atalanta; there are only four Men, & two women in it; the first is a common Scene of a wood, & does not change at all, till the end of the last Act, when there appears the temple of Hymen, with illuminations; there is a row of blue fires burning in order along the ascent to the temple; a fountain of fire spouts up out of the ground to the ceiling, & two more cross each other obliquely from the sides of the stage; on the top is a wheel, that whirls always about, & throws out a shower of gold-colour, silver, & blue fiery rain: Conti I like excessively in every thing, but his mouth; which is thus,       ; but this is hardly minded, when Strada stands by him: Opera's & Plays, and all things else at present are beat off the Stage, & are forced to yield to Spring-garden, where last night were above fifteen-hundred people; I won't say more of it, till I have seen it myself; but as the beauty of the place, when lighted up, and a little musick are the only diversions of it, I don't suppose, it will be an[y] long time in vogue: I beg your excuse; that I have not yet [execu]ted my commission at Chenevix, but sometime the next week, I will take care to do my duty; I have also a commission for your Man, (with your leave) that is, to call at Crow's for me, & bid him send me Atalanta with all the speed he possibly can, which I must owe him for, till I come down again, wch won't (I believe) be a vast while: pray, bid Ashton write, & I hope you'll write yourself; Adieu!

Yours ever,
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Letter ID: letters.0027 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: [11 June 1736]
Date (on letter): June, 11
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: London, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): London
Place of addressee: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To / The Honrable Mr Horace Walpole / at Kings-College Cambridge (postmark: 12 IV)


Language: English
Incipit: It was hardly worth while to trouble you with a letter...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Vauxhall Gardens

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/21, 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. 35, vol. i, 85-88
  • 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, 101-103
  • 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. 24, vol. i, 44-45