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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, [c. August 1752]

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Your pen was too rapid to mind the common form of a direction, and so, by omitting the words near Windsor, your letter has been diverting itself at another Stoke, near Ailesbury, and came not to my hands till to-day. The true original chairs were all sold, when the Huntingdons broke; there are nothing now but Halsey-chairs, not adapted to the squareness of a Gothic dowager's rump. And by the way I do not see how the uneasiness and uncomfortableness of a coronation-chair can be any objection with you: every chair that is easy is modern, and unknown to our ancestors. As I remember, there were certain low chairs, that looked like ebony, at Esher, and were old and pretty. Why should not Mr. Bentley improve upon them?– I do not wonder at Dodsley. You have talked to him of six odes, for so you are pleased to call every thing I write, though it be but a receipt to make apple-dumplings. He has reason to gulp when he finds one of them only a long story. I don't know but I may send him very soon (by your hands) an ode to his own tooth, a high Pindarick upon stilts, which one must be a better scholar than he is to understand a line of, and the very best scholars will understand but a little matter here and there. It wants but seventeen lines of having an end, I don't say of being finished. As it is so unfortunate to come too late for Mr. Bentley, it may appear in the fourth volume of the Miscellanies, provided you don't think it execrable, and suppress it. Pray, when the fine book is to be printed, let me revise the press, for you know you can't; and there are a few trifles I could wish altered.

I know not what you mean by hours of love, and cherries, and pine-apples. I neither see nor hear anything here, and am of opinion that is the best way. My compliments to Mr. Bentley, if he be with you.

I am yours ever,

I desire you would not show that epigram I repeated to you, as mine. I have heard of it twice already as coming from you.

Letter ID: letters.0191 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 35
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 34


Date of composition: [c. August 1752]
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [Stoke Poges, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: Your pen was too rapid to mind the common form of a direction,...
Mentioned: Designs by Mr. R. Bentley (1753)
A Long Story
Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764
Speed, Henrietta Jane, 1728-1783
Stoke Poges
The Progress of Poesy. A Pindaric Ode

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, 392-393
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, appendix, letter VIII, vol. i, 548-549
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XXIX, vol. ii, 217-218
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXXXII, vol. i, 171-172
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XXXVI, vol. iii, 87-88
  • 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. XCVII, vol. i, 218-220
  • 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. 180, vol. ii, 123-125
  • 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, 60-61
  • 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. 169, vol. i, 363-365