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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [15 December 1746]

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This comes du fond de ma cellule to salute Mr. H. W. not so much him that visits and votes, and goes to White's and to court; as the H. W. in his rural capacity, snug in his tub on Windsor-hill, and brooding over folios of his own creation: him that can slip away, like a pregnant beauty (but a little oftener), into the country, be brought to bed perhaps of twins, and whisk to town again the week after with a face as if nothing had happened. Among the little folks, my godsons and daughters, I can not choose but enquire more particularly after the health of one; I mean (without a figure) the Memoires: Do they grow? Do they unite, and hold up their heads, and dress themselves? Do they begin to think of making their appearance in the world, that is to say, fifty years hence, to make posterity stare, and all good people cross themselves? Has Asheton (who will then be lord bishop of Killaloe, and is to publish them) thought of an aviso al lettore to prefix to them yet, importing, that if the words church, king, religion, ministry, &c. be found often repeated in this book, they are not to be taken literally, but poetically, and as may be most strictly reconcileable to the faith then established;–that he knew the author well when he was a young man; and can testify upon the honour of his function, that he said his prayers regularly and devoutly, had a profound reverence for the clergy, and firmly believed everything that was the fashion in those days?

When you have done impeaching my lord Lovat, I hope to hear de vos nouvelles, and moreover, whether you have got colonel Conway yet? Whether sir C. Williams is to go to Berlin? What sort of a prince Mitridate may be?–and whatever other tidings you choose to refresh an anchoret with. Frattanto I send you a scene in a tragedy: if it don't make you cry, it will make you laugh; and so it moves some passion, that I take to be enough.

Adieu, dear sir! I am
Sincerely yours,
Letter ID: letters.0146 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 30
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 29


Date of composition: [15 December 1746]
Date (on letter): Dec. Monday
Calendar: Julian


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


Language: English
Incipit: This comes du fond de ma cellule to salute Mr. H. W. not so much...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Conway, Henry Seymour, 1721-1795
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives

Print Versions

  • The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford, 5 vols. London: G. G. and J. Robinson and J. Edwards, 1798, vol. v, 389-390
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, appendix, letter VII, vol. i, 547-548
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XXXII, vol. ii, 226-227
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXXX, vol. i, 167-168
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XXXIX, vol. iii, 97-98
  • 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. LXXXII, vol. i, 179-181
  • 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. 158, vol. ii, 59-61
  • 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, 9-11
  • 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. 128, vol. i, 257-258