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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 23 April 1757

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Dear Mason

I too am set down here with something greater hopes of quiet, than I could entertain, when I saw you last. at least nothing new has happen'd to give me any disturbance, & the assurances, you gave me in your letter from hence, are pretty-well confirm'd by experience. I shall be very ready to take as much of Mr D:p's dullness, as he chuses to part with, at any price he pleases, even with his want of sleep & weak Bowels into the bargain. and I will be your Curate, & he shall live here with all my wit, & a power of learning. Dr Brown's book (I hear) is much admired in Town, wch I do not understand. I expected it should be admired here; but they affect not to like it, tho' I know they ought. what would you have me do? there is one thing in it I applaud, wch is the dissertation against Trade, for I have always said, it was the ruin of the Nation. I have read the little wicked book about Evil, that settled Mr Dodsley's conscience in that point, & find nothing in it, but absurdity. we call it Soame Jennyns's, but I have a notion you mention'd some other name to me, tho' I have forgot it. St: has done me the honour to send me your friend Ld Newnham hither with a fine recommendatory letter (written by his own desire) in Newmarket-week. do not think he was going to New-Market. no! he came in a Solitaire, great Sleeves, jessamine-powder, & a large Bouquet of Jonquils within twelve miles of that place on purpose not to go thither. we had three days intercourse, talk'd about the Beaux-Arts, & Rome, & Hanover & Mason, whose praises we celebrated a qui mieux mieux, vowed eternal friendship, embraced, & parted. I promised to write you a thousand compliments in his name. I saw also Ld Villiers & Mr Spencer, who carried him back with them, en passant. they did not like me at all. here has been too the best of all Johns (I hardly except the Evangelist, & the Divine) who is not to be sure a bit like my Ld N:, but full as well in my mind. the D: of Bedford has brought his Son, ay, & Mr Rigby too. they were at Church on Sunday morning, and Mr Sturgeon preach'd to them & the Heads, for no body else was present. Mr Franklyn is not his Tutor. these are the most remarkable events at Cambridge.

Mr B:y has been here. he had not done what you recommended to him, before he came out of Town, & he is return'd thither only the beginning of this week, when he assured me he certainly would do it. alas, what may this delay occasion? it is best not to think. oh happy Mr D:p!

Adieu, my best Mason, I am pleased to think how much I am obliged to you, & that, while I live, I must be ever
Letter ID: letters.0269 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 40
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 33


Date of composition: 23 April 1757
Date (on letter): April 23. 1757
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: I too am set down here with something greater hopes of quiet, than I could...
Mentioned: Brown, John
Delap, John
Jenyns, Soame
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809

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 Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXVI, vol. iv, 5-6
  • 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 XVII, 75-79
  • 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. CXXXIX, vol. i, 329-331
  • 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, 185
  • 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. 237, vol. ii, 498-500