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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 3 March 1751

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Elfrida (for that is the fair one's name) and her author are now in town together. He has promised me, that he will send a part of it to you some morning while he is there; and (if you shall think it worth while to descend to particulars) I should be glad you would tell me very freely your opinion about it; for he shall know nothing of the matter, that is not fit for the ears of a tender parent–though, by the way, he has ingenuity and merit enough (whatever his drama may have) to bear hearing his faults very patiently. I must only beg you not to show it, much less let it be copied; for it will be published, though not as yet.

I do not expect any more editions, as I have appeared in more magazines than one. The chief errata were sacred bower for secret; hidden for kindred (in spite of dukes and classicks); and frowning as in scorn for smiling. I humbly propose, for the benefit of Mr. Dodsley and his matrons, that take awake for a verb, that they should read asleep, and all will be right. Gil Blas is the Lying Valet in five acts. The Fine Lady has half-a-dozen good lines dispersed in it. Pompey is the hasty production of a Mr. Coventry (cousin to him you knew), a young clergyman: I found it out by three characters, which once made part of a comedy that he showed me of his own writing. Has that miracle of tenderness and sensibility (as she calls it) lady Vane given you any amusement? Peregrine, whom she uses as a vehicle, is very poor indeed with a few exceptions. In the last volume is a character of Mr. Lyttelton, under the name of Gosling Scrag, and a parody of part of his Monody, under the notion of a pastoral on the death of his grandmother.

I am ever yours,
Letter ID: letters.0180 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 34
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 33


Date of composition: 3 March 1751
Date (on letter): March 3, 1751
Calendar: Julian


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


Language: English
Incipit: Elfrida (for that is the fair one's name) and her author are now in town...
Mentioned: Gil Blas
Coventry, Francis
Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Jenyns, Soame
Lyttelton, George Lyttelton, 1st Lord
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Smollett, Tobias
Vane, Lady

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, 387-388
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, appendix, letter V, vol. i, 544-545
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XXVII, vol. ii, 213-214
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXXVIII, vol. i, 164-165
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XXXIV, vol. iii, 82-83
  • 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. XCIV, vol. i, 210-212
  • Essays and Criticisms by Thomas Gray. Ed. with Introduction and Notes by Clark Sutherland Northup. Boston and London: D. C. Heath & Co., 1911, letter excerpt, 165
  • 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. 173, vol. ii, 107-109
  • 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, 47-48
  • 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. 159, vol. i, 343-345