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Thomas Gray to John Chute/Horace Mann, [July 1742]

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Jews-Harp. ask Mr Whithed, whither when he goes to Heaven, he does not expect to see all his favourite Hens, all his dear little Pouts, untimely Victims of the Pot & the Spit, come pipping & gobbling in a melodious Voice about him. I know, he does, there's nothing so natural. Poor Conti! is he going to be a Cherub? I remember here (but he was not ripe then) he had a very promiseing Squeak with him, & that his Mouth, when open, made an exact Square. I have never been at Ranelagh Gardens since they were open'd (for what does it signify to me?) but they do not succeed. People see it once or twice & so they go to Vaux-Hall. well, but is not it a very great Design, very new, finely lighted? well, yes, aye, very fine truly; & so they yawn, & go to Vaux-Hall. & then it's too hot, & then it's too cold, & here's a Wind, & there's a Damp; & so the Women go to Bed, & the Men to a Bawdy-House. you are to take Notice, that in our Country Delicacy & Indelicacy amount to much the same thing, the first will not be pleased with any Thing, & the other cannot: however to do us Justice, I think, we are a reasonable, but by no means a pleasurable People, & to mend us we must have a Dash of the French, & Italian. yet I don't know how, Travelling does not produce its right Effect – I find, I am talking; but You are to attribute it to my haveing at last found a Pen, that writes.

You are so good, 'tis a shame to scold at you, but you never till now certified me, that you were at Casa Ambrosio. I did not know in what Light to consider you. I had an Idea, but did not know where to put it, for an Idea must have a Place per campeggiar bene. You were an Intaglia unset, a Picture without a Frame. but now all is well; tho' I am not very sure yet, whither you are above Stairs, or on the Ground-floor; but by your mentioning the Terrazzino, it must be the latter. do the Frogs of Arno sing as sweetly, as they did in my Days? do you sup al fresco? Have you a Mugherino Tree & a Nanny? I fear, I don't spell this last Word right: pray, ask Mr M:; oh dear! I fear I am a Blunderer about Hyacynths, for to be sure, they can't be taken out of the Ground till they have done blooming, & they are perhaps just now in Flower. that you may know my Place, I am just going into the Country for one easy fortnight, & then in earnest intend to go to Cambridge to Trinity Hall. my sole Reason (as you know) is to look, as if – and when I feel it go against my Stomach, I remember it was Your Prescription, and so it goes down: look upon me then, my Dear Sr, in my proper Light, & consider how necessary it is to me to hear from You, as often as you can bestow an Hour upon me; I flatter myself, your Kindness will try to get the better of your Indolence, when you reflect how cruelly alone I must be in the midst of that Crowd!

The Remainder of this Page I hope you will pardon me, if I dedicate to my good Mr Mann.


I had the pleasure of receiveing Your good dear Letter, & only defer'd thanking You till now, that I might be able to execute your little Commission first, the Contents of which I send to your Brother along with this Letter. but first let me enquire, how you do. alas! Sr, you may call 'em, Benevoli, or whatever soft Names you please, but I much fear they don't understand their business like our people with a thousand Consonants. I perfectly believe Dr Cocchi's good Intentions, but he is not the Executioner himself, & here it is not sufficient to wish well; if it were I'm sure my Wishes are fervent enough to be felt even at Florence in spight of all the Lakes, & Seas, & Enemies, that lie betwixt us. they are daily employ'd for your Happiness, & will, I hope, be of more Use to You, than they have been to myself. the Books, I send you, are the Etat de la France, 3 Vol: Fol:° upon my Word an excellent book. he is a sensible, knowing, Englishman, only had the Misfortune to be born in France. Life of Mahomet, by the same Author, it is famous: you are desired to make no reflections, nor draw Consequences, when you read it. Ld Burleigh's Papers – seem very curious, & well enough chose. by the way, they have lately publish'd Thurlow's Papers here in 7 Vol: folio, out of which it would be hard to collect a Pocket-Volume worth haveing. Dr Middleton's Cicero, 3 Vol: & a Letter on the Catholick Religion worth your reading. Philip de Comines, 5 Vol: the Louvre Edition is much more splendid, but wants the Supplement, & Notes, wch are here. W:n on the M:s a very impudent fellow: his Dedications will make you laugh. Ludlow's Memoirs, 3 Vol: as unorthodox in Politics, as the other in Religion. 2 lyttel Bookys tocheing Kyng James, the fyrst: very rare . . Le Sopha, de Crebillon – Collect: of Plays, 10 Vol: there are none of Shakespear, because you had better have all his Works together. – they come to about £7 18s. 6d. the whole Cargo. you will find among them 3 Parts of Marianne, for Mr Chute. if he has them already, how can I help it? why would he make no mention of Mad:lle de Thevire to me?

And now let me congratulate you, as no longer a Min: but, far del Mondo! veramente un Ministrone, & King of the Mediterranean. pray your Majesty, give Orders to your Men of War, if they touch at Naples, to take care of the Parma Collection, & be sure, don't let them bombard Genoa. if you can bully the Pope out of the Apollo Belvedere, well & good: I'm not against it. I'm enchanted with your good Sister, the Queen of Hungary; as old as I am, I could almost fight for her myself. see what it is to be happy; every body will fight for those, that have no occasion for them. pray, take care to continue so; but whither you do, or not, I am truly

T G:

The Parliament's up, & all the World are made Lords, & Secretaries, & Commissioners.

Letter ID: letters.0130 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 25
Addressees: Chute, John, 1701-1776 and
Mann, Horace, Sir, 1706-1786
Addressees's age: 40 and 35


Date of composition: [July 1742]
Date (on letter): July
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: London, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): London


Language: English
Incipit: Jews-Harp. ask Mr Whithed, whither when he goes to Heaven,...
Mentioned: Birch, Thomas
Boulainvilliers, Henri de
Burleigh, Lord
Commynes, Philip de
Crébillon fils
Ludlow, Edmund
Middleton, Conyers
Sanderson, Sir William
Thurloe, John
Vauxhall Gardens
Weldon, Sir Anthony
Woolston, Thomas

Holding Institution

Chute of The Vyne, Sherborne St John, The Vyne , Sherborne St John, UK <>
[See this record from the Hampshire Record Office]
Availability: The original letter is extant, but there is no further information about its availability

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter IV, vol. ii, 176-180
  • 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. LVIII, vol. i, 112-116
  • 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. 112, vol. i, 214-218