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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [c. 12 November 1737]

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We were all here in mighty consternation this morning in imagination that the Queen was dead, not out of a joke, as she died you know a while ago, but seriously gone to the Stygian ferry; however now they say she is only very bad, & in a fair way; as we have been twice bauk'd, she will have much ado to persuade us, that she's dead in earnest & perhaps she will survive her funeral no small time in the breasts of her good subjects: I shall take care to be as sorry, as one of my diminutiveness ought to be, not for myself, but in charity to my superiours; I saw her a little while ago at the Opera in a green Velvet Sac embroider'd κατὰ the facings & sleeves with Silver, a little French Cap, a long black hood, & her hair in Curls round her face; but you see, Crown'd heads, & heads Moutonnées, scald heads, & lousy heads, Quack heads & Cane heads must all come together to the Grave, as the famous Abou-saïd has elegantly hinted, in his Persian Madrigals: for my part I shall wear her image long imprinted in my mind, tho' I hope for all this to refresh it frequently, & retouch it from the living Original: I don't know whether I should not debase the dignity of my Subject [after this by] telling you anything of Sigr Cafarelli, so leaving him, as all the World has done, to screech by himself; we shall descend more gradually, & talk of West, who is just gone to Oxford again: as soon as Ashton told me he was in town, I went to Mr Periam's in Hatton-Garden; but Mr Periam had left his house (& consequently Mrs West, as a Lodger) & was removed to Thavies Inn; at Thavies Inn instead of Mr Periam, I could find nothing but a Note in the key-hole, directing me to Mr Greenaways; but Mr Greenaways key-hole sent me to Mr Herriot; & there I found one of the blood of the Periams, who was so good as to inform me, he knew nothing of the matter; ibi omnis effusus labor: but in a few days more he came to me himself; then I went to supper with him, where he entertain'd me with all the product of his brain, Verses upon Stow, Translations of Catullus, & Homer, Epick Epigrams, & Odes upon the New-Year, Wild Ducks, & Petits Pâtés: we are to write to each other every post, if not oftener: he corresponds with Tozhy Cole, & Quid Prinsep: the transactions of Mr Fleetwood & Rich I defer to my next, or to word of mouth, for I shall be at Cambridge on Tuesday night, tho' I fear my not meeting with you there;

I am, Sr,
yours most sincerely,
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Letter ID: letters.0046 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: [c. 12 November 1737]
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: We were all here in mighty consternation this morning in imagination...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Cole, William, 1714-1782
Swift, Jonathan
West, Richard, 1716-1742

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/31, 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. 66, vol. i, 158-160
  • 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, 141-144
  • 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. 42, vol. i, 68-69