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Thomas Gray to William Palgrave, [24 July 1759]

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I am now settled in my new territories commanding Bedford gardens, and all the fields as far as Highgate and Hampstead, with such a concourse of moving pictures as would astonish you; so rus-in-urbe-ish, that I believe I shall stay here, except little excursions and vagaries, for a year to come. What tho' I am separated from the fashionable world by broad St. Giles's, and many a dirty court and alley, yet here is air, and sunshine, and quiet, however, to comfort you: I shall confess that I am basking with heat all the summer, and I suppose shall be blowed down all the winter, besides being robbed every night; I trust, however, that the Musæum, with all its manuscripts and rarities by the cart-load, will make ample amends for all the aforesaid inconveniences.

[I this day past through the jaws of the great leviathan into the den of Dr. Templeman, superintendant of the reading-room, who congratulated himself on the sight of so much good company. We were, first, a man that writes for Lord Royston; 2dly, a man that writes for Dr. Burton, of York; 3dly, a man that writes for the Emperor of Germany, or Dr. Pocock, for he speaks the worst English I ever heard; 4thly, Dr. Stukely, who writes for himself, the very worst person he could write for; and, lastly, I, who only read to know if there be any thing worth writing, and that not without some difficulty. I find that they printed 1000 copies of the Harleian Catalogue, and have sold only fourscore; that they have 900£ a year income, and spend 1300, and are building apartments for the under-keepers; so I expect in winter to see the collection advertised and set to auction.

Have you read Lord Clarendon's Continuation of his History? Do you remember Mr. [ ]'s account of it before it came out? How well he recollected all the faults, and how utterly he forgot all the beauties: Surely the grossest taste is better than such a sort of delicacy.]

Letter ID: letters.0343 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 42
Addressee: Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Addressee's age: 24[?]


Date of composition: [24 July 1759]
Date (on letter): [July 24, 1759]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]
Address (on letter): [London]


Language: English
Incipit: I am now settled in my new territories commanding Bedford gardens,...
Mentioned: Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of
Pococke, Dr. Richard
Stukeley, Dr. William

Holding Institution

Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives

Print Versions

  • The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, letter xxxv, section iv, 274-275
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XXXV, vol. i, 379-380
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LXXXIII, vol. ii, 333-334
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CVI, vol. ii, 44-45
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XCI, vol. iii, 219-220
  • 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. CLXXXIX, vol. ii, 93-94
  • 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. 298, vol. ii, 631-632