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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 7 June 1760

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Dear Mason

First & foremost pray take notice of the Paper, on wch I am writing to you: it is the first, that ever was made of silk-rags, upon the encouragement given by your Society of Arts; & (if this were all the fruits) I think you need not regret your two Guineas a-year. the colour & texture you see; & besides I am told, it will not burn (at least will not flame) like ordinary paper, so that it may be of great use for hanging rooms. it is uncommonly tough, & tho' very thin, you observe, is not transparent. here is another sort of it intended for the uses of Drawing.

You have lately had a visit, where you are, that I am sure bodes no good, especially just at the time that the D: of C:y, & Mr Blacowe died. we attribute it to a Miff about the Garter, & some other humps & grumps, that he has received. alas! I fear, it will never do. the Conde de Fuentes was much at a loss, & had like to have made a quarrel of it, that he had no body but the D: of N: to introduce him: but Miss Chudleigh has appeased him with a Ball.

I have sent Mus├Žus to Mr Fraser, scratched here & there; & with it I desired him to inclose a bloody Satyr, written against no less Persons than you & me by name. I concluded at first it was Mr Pottinger, because he is your Friend & my humble Servant; but then I thought he knew the World too well to call us the favorite Minions of Taste, & of Fashion, especially as to Odes, for to them his abuse is confined. so it is not Secretary Pottinger, but Mr Coleman, nephew to my Lady Bath, Author of the Connoisseur, a Member of some of the Inns of Court, & a particular Acquaintance of Mr Garrick. what have you done to him? for I never heard his name before. he makes very tolerable fun with me, where I understand him (wch is not every where) but seems more angry with you. least People should not understand the humour of the thing (wch indeed to do, they must have our Lyricisms at their finger's ends) he writes letters in Lloyd's Evening Post to tell them, who & what it was, that he meant; & says, that it is like to produce a great combustion in the Literary World: so if you have any mind to combustle about it, well & good! for me I am neither so literary, nor so combustible.

I am going into Oxfordshire for a fortnight to a place near Henley, & then to Cambridge, if that Owl Phobus does not hinder me, who talks of going to fizzle there at the Commencement.

What do you say to Ld Lyttelton (your old Patron), & Mrs Montagu, with their second-hand Dialogues of the Dead? & then there is your Friend, the little black Man. he has wrote one supplemental Dialogue, but I did not read it.

Do tell me of your health, your doings, your designs, & your golden dreams, and try to love me a little better in Yorkshire than you did in Middlesex, for I am ever

T G:
Letter ID: letters.0360 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 43
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 36


Date of composition: 7 June 1760
Date (on letter): June 7. 1760
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: First & foremost pray take notice of the Paper, on wch I am writing...
Mentioned: Odes by Mr. Gray (1757)
Colman, George
Lloyd, Robert
Lyttelton, George Lyttelton, 1st Lord
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Montagu, Mrs. Elizabeth

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 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 xxxix, section iv, 283-284
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CX, vol. ii, 53-56
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XCIX, vol. iii, 254-259
  • 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 LII, 204-209
  • 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. CCI, vol. ii, 139-143
  • 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, 231-232
  • 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. 312, vol. ii, 672-676