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Thomas Gray to Robert Dodsley, [12 February 1753]

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Mr Dodsley


I am not at all satisfied with the Title. to have it conceived, that I publish a Collection of Poems (half a dozen little Matters, four of wch too have already been printed again & again) thus pompously adorned would make me appear very justly ridiculous. I desire it may be understood (wch is the truth) that the Verses are only subordinate, & explanatory to the Drawings, & suffer'd by me to come out thus only for that reason. therefore if you yourself prefix'd this Title, I desire it may be alter'd; or if Mr W: order'd it so, that you would tell him, why I wish it were changed in the manner I mention'd to you at first, or to that purpose: for the more I consider it, the less I can bear it, as it now stands. I even think, there is an uncommon sort of Simplicity, that looks like affectation, in putting our plain Christian & Surnames without a Mr before them; but this (if it signifies any thing) I easily give up; the other I can not. you need not apprehend, that this Change in the Title will be any prejudice to the Sale of the book. a showy title-page may serve to sell a Pamphlet of a shilling or two; but this is not of a price for chance-customers, whose eye is caught in passing by a window; & could never sell but from the notion the Town may entertain of the Merit of the Drawings, wch they will be instructed in by some, that understand such things.

I thank you for the Offer you make me, but I shall be contented with three Copies, two of wch you will send me, & keep the third, till I acquaint you where to send it. if you will let me know the exact day they will come out a little time beforehand, I will give you a direction. you will remember to send two copies to Dr Thomas Wharton, M:D: at Durham. perhaps you may have burnt my Letter, so I will again put down the Title

Designs by Mr R: Bentley
for six Poems of
Mr T: Gray.

I am, Sr,
Your humble Servt
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0199 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 36
Addressee: Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764
Addressee's age: 50


Date of composition: [12 February 1753]
Date (on letter): Feb: 12
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Camb:ge
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 1 page
Addressed: To / Mr Dodsley


Language: English
Incipit: I am not at all satisfied with the Title. to have it conceived,...
Mentioned: Designs by Mr. R. Bentley (1753)
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Surrogates: Digital facsimile [JPEG] from a facsimile of the letter

Holding Institution

College Library, Eton College , Windsor, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; tipped into a copy of Bentley's Designs

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXLVII, vol. iv, 103-104
  • 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. CII, vol. i, 230-231
  • 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. 172, vol. i, 371