Skip main navigation

Thomas Gray/Horace Walpole to Thomas Ashton, [July 1739]

Back to Letters page

Mr Ashton at Mrs Lewes's
Hanover Square London.
Franc à Paris.
pour l'Angleterre

My dear Ashton,

The exceeding Slowness and Sterility of me, & this Place & the vast abundance & volubility of Mr Walpole & his Pen will sufficiently excuse to you the shortness of this little matter. He insists that it is not him, but his Pen that is so volubility, & so I have borrowd it of him; but I find it is both of 'em that is so volubility, for tho I am writing as fast, as I can drive, yet he is still chattering in vast abundance. I have desired me to hold his tongue, pho, I mean him, & his, but his Pen is so used to write in the first Person, that I have screwd my finger & thumb off, with forcing it, into the third. After all this confusion of Persons, & a little stroke of Satyr upon me the Pen returns calmly back again into the old I, & me, as if nothing had happend to tell you how much I am tired, & how cross I am, that this cursed Scheme of Messrs. Selwyn & Montague should have come across all our Measures, & broke in upon the whole year, which, what with the Month we have to wait for them, & the Month they are to stay here, will be entirely slipt away, at least, the agreable Part of it, and if we journey at all, it will be thro' dirty roads, & falling leaves.

The Man, whose arguments you have so learnedly stated, & whom you did not think fit to honour with a Confutation, we from thence conceive to be one, who does us honour, in thinking us fools, & so you see, I lay my Claim to a share of the glory; we are not vastly curious about his Name, first because it don't signify, 2dly because we know it already: it is either Sr T: G: himself, or your friend Mr Fenton, if it's them we don't care, & if it is not, we don't care neither, but if you care to convince the Man, whoever he be, that we are in some points not altogether fools, you might let him know that we are most sincerely

H W.   TG
[Use arrow keys to navigate]
Letter ID: letters.0075 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writers: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771 and
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Writers's age: 22 and 21
Addressee: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Addressee's age: 24


Date of composition: [July 1739]
Date (on letter): July
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Addressed: To / Mr Ashton at Mrs Lewes's / Hanover Square London. / Franc à Paris. / pour l'Angleterre


Language: English
Incipit: The exceeding Slowness and Sterility of me, & this Place...
Mentioned: Rheims

Holding Institution

Private collection
Availability: The original letter is extant, but there is no further information about its availability; Sotheby's, 21 July 1981, Lot 501, owned by Lawrence G. Blackmon; a photocopy is at the British Library, RP 3096; a MS transcript is at the British Library, Add. MSS 32562, ff. 151-152

Print Versions

  • Gray and his Friends: Letters and Relics, in great part hitherto unpublished. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1890, section I, letter no. 4, 45-47
  • 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. XX, vol. i, 32-33
  • 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. 96, vol. i, 236-237
  • 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, 176-177
  • 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. 65, vol. i, 114-115