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Thomas Gray to James Brown, 23 October 1760

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Dear Sr

I am obliged to you for your Letter, & the Bills enclosed, wch I shall take the first opportunity I have to satisfy.

I imagine by this time Ld J: is, or has been, with you to settle matters. Mr Onley (from whom I have twice heard) consents, tho' with great diffidence of himself, to undertake this task: but can not well be there himself, till about the 13th of Nov:r. I would gladly hear, what your first impressions are of the young Man, for (I must tell you plainly) our M:n, who had seen him at Chatsworth, was not greatly edified, but he hopes the best. tomorrow Dr Gisborne & I go to dine with that reverend Gentleman at Kensington during his waiting. he makes many kind enquiries after you, but I see very little of him, he is so taken up with the Beaux-Arts. he has lately etch'd my head with his own hand; & his friend Mr Sandby, the Landscape-Painter, is doing a great picture with a view of M: Snowdon, the Bard, Edward the first, &c: now all this I take for a Bribe, a sort of Hush-money to me, who caught him last year sitting for his own picture; & know, that at this time, there is another Painter doing one of the scenes in Elfrida.

In my way to Town I met with the first news of the expedition from Sr Wm Williams, who makes a part of it, & perhaps may lay his fine Vandyke-Head in the dust. they talk some of Rochefort, some of Brest, & others of Calais. it is sure the preparations are great, but the wind blows violently.

You hear a great deal of a murther said to be committed at a Bagnio in Long Acre, tho' the party was carried to die at a house in Mary-bone. two of the Persons named as of the company that night are Sir William Fowler, a young Officer, & one Mr Sutton, a Merchant's Son in the City. God knows, what truth there is in it or what was the meaning of it. [ ] is said to be he, [ ] was hanged up by [ ] in a silken-rope, & so left hanging, but the W(a)iter cut him down; & that all this happened the same night.

Here is a 2d Edition of the Fragments with a new & fine one added to them. you will perhaps soon see a very serious elegy (but this is a secret) on the death of my Lady Coventry. watch for it.

If I had been aware, Mr Mapletoft was in Town, I should have return'd him the two Guineas I have of his. neither Osborne, nor Bathurst know, when the Book will come out; I will therefore pay it to any one he pleases.

Adieu, Dear Sr, I am ever
T G:

I did not mean to carry away your paper of the two pictures at Ware-Park: but I find I have got it here.

Letter ID: letters.0371 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 43
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 51[?]


Date of composition: 23 October 1760
Date (on letter): Oct: 23. 1760
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: London, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): South:n. Row


Language: English
Incipit: I am obliged to you for your Letter, & the Bills enclosed, wch I shall...
Mentioned: Belleisle
Macpherson, James, 1736-1796
Macpherson, James, 1736-1796
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stuart, James
Ware Park

Holding Institution

Library, Historical Society of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia, PA, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a photostat is in MS. Toynbee d.32, Bodleian Library, Oxford

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 LVII, 223-226
  • 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. CCX, vol. ii, 170-172
  • 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. 322, vol. ii, 706-707