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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 3 February 1746

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Dear Sr

You are so good to enquire after my usual Time of comeing to Town; it is at a Season, when even You, the perpetual Friend of London, will I fear hardly be in it, the Middle of June: and I commonly return hither in September, a Month, when I may more probably find you at home. I do not imagine that any Thing farther can be done with Mr Turner, but You only, who saw the Manner of his promiseing, can judge of that. what he calls the College, is the Master& his Party of Fellows, among wch he himself has been reckon'd latterly: but, I know, it must be from some other Influence, than that of the Master merely, if he vote with them; wch if Mr Brudenel could stand, might very likely be made Use of (as he is nearly related to several People of Condition) but he is disqualified at present in every Sense. 'tis likely indeed he is intended for next Year, & Mr Turner has had some Application made already, by his knowing anything about him; but he mistakes the Time.

Our Defeat to be sure is a rueful Affair for the Honour of the Troops, but the Duke is gone, it seems, with the Rapidity of a Cannon-Bullet to undefeat us again. the Common-People in Town at least know how to be afraid: but We are such uncommon People here as to have no more Sense of Danger, then if the Battle had been fought when & where the Battle of Cannæ was. the Perception of these Calamities and of their Consequences, that we are supposed to get from Books, is so faintly impress'd, that we talk of War, Famine, & Pestilence with no more Apprehension, than of a broken Head, or of a Coach overturn'd between York & Edinburgh. I heard three People, sensible middle-aged Men (when the Scotch were said to be at Stamford, & actually were at Derby) talking of hireing a Chaise to go to Caxton, (a Place in the high Road) to see the Pretender & the Highlanders, as they passed.

I can say no more for Mr Pope, (for what You keep in Reserve may be worse than all the Rest) it is natural to wish the finest Writer, one of them, we ever had should be an honest Man. it is for the Interest even of that Virtue, whose Friend he profess'd himself, & whose Beauties he sung, that he should not be found a dirty Animal. but however this is Mr Warburton's Business, not mine, who may scribble his Pen to the Stumps & all in vain, if these Facts are so. it is not from what he told me about himself that I thought well of him, but from a Humanity & Goodness of Heart, ay, & Greatness of Mind, that runs thro his private Correspondence, not less apparent than are a thousand little Vanities & Weaknesses mixed with those good Qualities, for no body ever took him for a Philosopher.

If you know anything of Mr Mann's State of Health & Happiness, or the Motions of Mr Chute homewards, it will be a particular Favour to inform me of them, as I have not heard this half year from them.

I am sincerely Yours
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Letter ID: letters.0135 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 29
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 28


Date of composition: 3 February 1746
Date (on letter): Febr: 3- 1746
Calendar: Julian


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


Language: English
Incipit: You are so good to enquire after my usual Time of comeing to Town;...
Mentioned: Caxton
Chute, John, 1701-1776
Mann, Horace, Sir, 1706-1786
Pope, Alexander
Warburton, William
Whalley, John, 1698 or 9-1748

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/39, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford, 5 vols. London: G. G. and J. Robinson and J. Edwards, 1798, vol. v, 383-384
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, appendix, letter I, vol. i, 539-540
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter IV, vol. ii, 146-148
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXI, vol. i, 134-136
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter V, vol. ii, 180-182
  • 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. LXIV, vol. i, 126-128
  • 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. 154, vol. ii, 50-53
  • 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. ii, 1-3
  • 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. 117, vol. i, 228-230