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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 19 December 1756

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To The Revd Mr Mason

Dear Skroddles

I vow, I am ashamed to speak it. the nasty Man's Name is – and to a Clergyman too! I am all confusion – it is Joannes – Georgius Frickius. Commentatio de Druidis. accedunt Opuscula quædam rariora, historiam & antiquitates Druidarum illusstrantia, item qb Scriptorum de iisdem Catalogus. it was publish'd at Ulm. 1744. 4to. & in the Nova Acta Eruditorum (printed at Leipsick, for 1745.) there is some account of it. the rare little works, wch make the second part of it, are Peter L'Escalopier's Theologia Vett: Gallorum. Cæsar Bulæus, his Historia vett: Academiarum Druidicarum, & two or three more old Flams. I do not know what satisfaction you will find in all this, having never seen the Book itself. I find a French Book commended & cited; by Jaques Martin upon the Religion of the ancient Gauls. over leaf you will find a Specimen of my Ld Duke of Norfolk's Housekeeping. I desire you would enquire of Mr Noble or somebody, what the same provisions would cost now a-days. I send you a modern curiosity enclosed, a Specimen of sturdy begging, wch cost me half a Guinea. if he writes so to Strangers, what must he do to particular Friends, like you? pray, learn a Style & manner against you publish your Proposals. Odikle is not a bit grown, tho' it is fine mild open weather. Bell Selby has dream'd that you are a Dean or a Prebendary: I write you word of it, because they say a Whore's dreams are lucky, especially with regard to Church-Preferment. you forget Mr Senhouse's Acoustic Warming-Pan: we are in a hurry, for I can not speak to him, till it comes. God bless you come & bring it with you, for we are as merry, as the day is short. the Squire is gone. he gave us a Goose, & a Turkey, & two puddings of a moderate size.

Adieu, Dove, I am ever

Gaskyn, & the Viper, &c: desire their civilities.

What Prevys, Marlings, & Ox-birds are, I can not tell, no more than I can how to make Stoke-Fritters. Leche is Blanc-Mange. Wardyns are baking Pears. Doyse are Does. do not think they lived thus every day; if you would know, how they eat on Meager-days, & in ordinary, I will send you word. I shall only add, that Ld Surry loved butter'd Lyng, & Targets of Mutton for Breakfast; & my Lady's Grace used to piddle with a Chine of Beef upon Brewess.

You will wonder what I mean by the half Guinea I talk'd of above. it was a Card from Mr Francklin, wch I meant to enclose, but can not find it high or low.

Crystmas-Day  d  
{ Item. 35 Malards, 2d1/2 a pece  3 1/2  
{ Item. 55 Wegyns, 2d a pece  10  2  
Empt:  { Item. 38 Teles, 1d1/2 a pece  9  
{ Item. 2 Corlewys  0  
{ Item. 2 Prevys–2d a pece  4  
{ Item. 2 Plovers–2d a pece  4  
{ Item. 8 Woodcoks–3d a pece  0  
{ Item. 42 Marlyngs– 1/2 a pece  9  
{ Item. 42 Rede Shanks– 1/2 a pece  9  
{ Item. 17 Doz: & 1/2 Oxbyrdys,   
{ 3d a doz:  4  
{ Item. 40 grete Byrdys, 1/2, a pece  8  
{ Item. 40 smale Byrdys, 4d a   
{ doz:  10  
{ Item. 11 Pyggs  8  
{ Item. 200 Eggs, 8 1d   8   
{ Item. 31 Cople Conyse, fett at   
{ bery  10  4  

Presents .. 10 Cople, Teles. 3 Cople, Wegyns. 4 Cople, Se-Pyse. 8 Malards. 3 Doz: Snytts. 5 Doz: Oxbyrdys. 6 Se-Mewys. 2 Swanys. 2 Pecoks. 14 Partridges. 4 Woodcoks. 15 Doyse. 4 Gallons Creme. 6 Gall: Cord. a hundred 1/2 of Wardyns. a Bushell Appels.

Brekefast, to my Ladyse Grace. Braune, & a Capon stuyd. To my Lords Grace a Crystmas Day, Dyn: First Course. (the Duke, Duchess, & 24 Persons to the same) The Borys' Hede. Brawne, Pottage, a stuyd Capon. a bake-Mett with twelve byrdys. Rostyd Vele. a Swane. two Rostyd Capons. a Custerde. Stoke-Fretter. Leeche ... (Second Course.) Gely. three Conyse. five Teles. a Pekoke. twelve Rede-Shanks. 12 smale Byrdys. 2 Pastyse Venison. a Tarte. Gynger-brede.... (To the Bordys-end). Brawne. a stuyd Capon. a bakyd Cony. rostyd Vele. half a Swane. Custerde. Leche ....

(Rewarde). Gely. two Conyse. 4 Teles. 12 smale Byrdys. a Pasty Venison. a Tarte.

There was also a Table for the Gentlewomen, & 12 Persons to the same. and the Servant's Table, or Tables, at wch sate 28 Gentlemen, 60 Yeomen, 44 Gromes, & Gentlemen's Servants. the Meats were much the same with the former. one day this Christmas I see there were 347 People dined at the lower Tables. the whole expence of the Week (exclusive of Wine, Spices, Salt, & Sauce &c:) amounted to £31 - 9 - 6 1/2.

Letter ID: letters.0261 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 40
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 32


Date of composition: 19 December 1756
Date (on letter): Dec: 19. 1756
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To The Revd Mr Mason


Language: English
Incipit: I vow, I am ashamed to speak it. the nasty Man's Name is ---...
Mentioned: Boulay, Cæsar du
Frickius, J. G.
Lescalopier, Pierre
Martin, Jacques

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 XVI, 57-65
  • 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. CXXXVI, vol. i, 311-327
  • 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. 230, vol. ii, 487-490