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Thomas Gray to William Mason, [8 June 1756]

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Dear Skroddles

If all the Greek you transcribed for me were Poetry already I would bestir myself to oblige you & Mr Rivett, but as it is no more than measured Prose, & as unfortunately (in English verse) a Tripod with two ears, or more, has no more dignity than a Chamber-pot with one, I do not see, why you would have me Dress it up with any florid additions, wch it must have, if it would appear in rhyme; nor why it will not prove its point as well in a plain prose translation, as in the best numbers of Dryden. if you think otherwise, why don't you do it yourself, & consult me, if you think fit. I rejoice to hear the Prints succeed so well, & am impatient for the work, but do not approve the fine Lady part of it. what business have such people with Athens? I applaud your scheme for Gaskarth, & wish it could have succeeded. he bears his disappointment like a Philosopher, but his health is very bad. I have had the honour myself of some little grumblings of the Gout for this fortnight, & yesterday it would not let me put on a shoe to hear the Frasi in, so you may imagine I am in a sweet amiable humour. nevertheless I think of being in Town (perhaps I may not be able to stir) the middle of next week with Montagu. you are so cross-grain'd as to go to Tunbridge just before I come, but I will give you the trouble to enquire about my old quarters at Roberts's, if I can probably have a lodging at that time. if not there; may be I can be in the Oven, wch will do well enough for a Sinner. be so good to give me notice, & the sooner the better. I shall not stay above a week, & then go to Stoke. I rejoice to know, that the genial influences of the Spring, wch produce nothing but the Gout in me, have hatched high & unimaginable fantasies in you. I see methinks (as I sit on Snowden) some Glimpse of Mona, & her haunted shades & hopes we shall be very good Neighbours. any Druidical Anecdotes that I can meet with, I will be sure to send you. I am of your opinion, that the Ghosts will spoil the Picture, unless they are thrown at a huge distance, & extremely kept down.

The British Flag (I fear) has behaved itself like a Train'd-band Pair of Colours in Bunhill-fields. I think every day of going to Switzerland. will you be of the party, or stay & sing Mass at Aston?

Adieu, I am stupid, & in some pain, but ever
Very sincerely Yours
Letter ID: letters.0247 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 39
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 32


Date of composition: [8 June 1756]
Date (on letter): Tuesday 1756
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: If all the Greek you transcribed for me were Poetry already I would bestir myself...
Mentioned: Aston
Dryden, John
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stoke Poges
Stuart, James

Holding Institution

Henry W. And Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, New York Public Library , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Correspondence of Thomas Gray and William Mason, with Letters to the Rev. James Brown, D.D. Ed. by the Rev. John Mitford. London: Richard Bentley, 1853, letter XIII, 46-48
  • 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. CXXX, vol. i, 298-300
  • 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. 216, vol. ii, 463-465