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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [July 1737]

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The Honble Horace Walpole, Esq,
at Houghton Hall

My dear Horace

I was just going to write to you in opposition to a couple of very weighty reasons; one, that you did not bid me, & t'other, that I had nothing to say; but, alas! what are reasons against one's inclinations, for you know in such a case a feather at any time will weigh down Lead; but you by instinct knowing my situation, were so good as to supply me with the cause, tho' not with materials: if you never were to tell me any fresher piece of News, than that with which you end your little Modicum, I should be well enough content, for tho' I heard it every day I should wonder as much as ever, & it would never be the less agreable for repetition; I rely wholly upon you, my correspondent, for the truth of it, as the only person, who can tell, what passes in that little country, where my concerns lie. my Motions at present (which you ask after the particulars of) are much like those of a Pendulum, or (Dr Longically speaking) oscillatory, I swing from Chapell or Hall home, & from home to chapell or hall; all the strange incidents that happen in my journeys & returns I shall be sure to acquaint you with; the most wonderful that I have been able to pick up, as yet, is, that it rains exceedingly; this has refresh'd the prospect very agreeably, as the way for the most part lies between green fields on either hand, terminated with buildings at some distance; Seats, I presume; & they seem of great antiquity: the roads are very good, being, as I suspect, the work of Julius C├Žsar's army, for they still preserve in many places the appearances of a pavement in pretty good repair, & if they were not so near home, might perhaps be as much admired as the Via Appia, that we hear so much cried up: there are at present several rivulets to be crossed, & which serve to enliven the view all round; the country is exceeding fruitful in Ravens, & such black Cattle. but not to tire you with my travels, You must know Mr Turner is come down, his list is vastly near being full, notwishstanding which, & the great cares & duties attending his office, he says, he thinks to go to Paris every Year. I think too to go to town the week after next, & am

yours eternally

P.S: I have forgot my English, & can't spell

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Letter ID: letters.0042 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 20
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 19


Date of composition: [July 1737]
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]
Place of addressee: [Houghton, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To / The Honble Horace Walpole, Esq, / at Houghton Hall / Norfolk (postmark: CAMBRIDGE)


Language: English
Incipit: I was just going to write to you in opposition to a couple of...
Mentioned: Cambridge
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/29, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

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 xvi, section i, 34-35
  • 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. 61, vol. i, 150-152
  • 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, 136-137
  • 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. 39, vol. i, 64-66