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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 27 June 1760

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Dear Old Soul

I can not figure to myself what you should mean by my old papers. I sent none. all I can make out is this. when I sent the Mus├Žus and the Satyr home to Mr Fraser, my Boy carried back the Conway-Papers to a house in your street. as I remember, they were divided into three parcels, on the least of wch I had wrote the word Nothing or Of no consequence. it did not consist of above 20 letters at most, & if you find any thing about Mr Bourne's affairs, or Steward's & Servants letters & bills, it is certainly so. this was carried to Mr Fraser by mistake, & sent to Aston; and if this is the case, they may as well be burnt. but if there is a good number, & about affairs of state (wch you may smell out) then it is one of the other parcels, & I am distress'd, & must find some method of getting it up again. I think I had inscribed the two packets, that signified any thing, one Papers of Q: Elizabeth, or earlier, the other (wch was a great bundle) Papers of K: James & Charles 1st. pray heaven, it is neither of these: therefore don't be precipitate in burning.

I do not like your improvements at Aston, it looks so like settling: if I come, I will set fire to it. your policy & your gratitude I approve, & your determination never to quarrel, & ever to pray: but I, that believe it want of power, am certainly civiller to a certain Person, than you, that call it want of exertion. I will never believe the [ ] ns are dead, tho' I smelt them; that sort of People always [live] to a good old-age. I dare swear, they are only gone to Ireland, & we shall soon hear they are Bishops.

The bells are ringing, the Squibs bouncing. the Siege of Quebec is raised. Swanton got up the river, when they were bombarding the Town. Murray made a sally, routed them & took all their baggage. this is sum & substance in the vulgar tongue, for I cannot get the Gazette till midnight. perhaps you have had an Estafette. since I find, their cannon are all taken, & that two days after a French Fleet going to their assistance was intercepted, & sunk or burnt.

Tomorrow I go into Oxfordshire, & a fortnight hence, when old Fobus's Owls-nest is a little aired, I go into it.

Adieu, I am ever & ever
T G.
Letter ID: letters.0362 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: 27 June 1760
Date (on letter): June 27. 1760
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: I can not figure to myself what you should mean by my old papers. ...
Mentioned: Conway Papers
Mason, William, 1724-1797

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, section iv, 284
  • 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 LIII, 209-211
  • 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. CCIII, vol. ii, 149-151
  • 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. 314, vol. ii, 682-684