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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 21 December 1762

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Dear Mason

As to my pardon, for which you supplicate, you know too well how easily it is obtain'd without any reason at all: but now I have a very good one, as I have read the third Book of the Ghost, where Churchill has so mumbled Mr Whitehead, to whom you owe all your principles (see the unpublish'd elegy de AmicitiĆ¢) that it would be base in me to demand any farther satisfaction. this only I shall add, that I would rather steal the Laureate's verses, than his sentiments.

I am sorry for the disagreeable event you mention, wch I learnt by mere accident from Mr Curtall in a Coffee-House: I do not doubt, it must have taken up a good deal of your thoughts & time, & should wish to know, whether there are any hopes of the poor Fellow's recovery.

We have received your poetical packet, & deliver'd them to the several parties. the sentiments we do not remark, as we can find nothing within ourselves congenial to them. for the expression, we hint (but in a low & timid voice) that there is a want of strength & spirit: in short they are nothing like the Choruses in Elfrida. only the lines that relate to Lady Cov:s beauty have made a deep impression upon us: we get them by heart, & apply them to our Sempstresses & Bedmakers. this is (I think) the sum & substance of our reflections here. only Mrs Rutherforth observes, that there is great delicacy & tenderness in the manner of treating so frail a character as that of L:y Cov:, & that you have found a way to reconcile contempt & compassion. these might not be her words, but this was the sense of them; & I don't believe, she had it from the Doctor.

I rejoice (in a weakly way, you may be sure, as I have not seen him some years, & am in so different a way of life) but I rejoice to hear of any accession to Mr Hurd's fortune, as I do not believe he will be any thing the worse for it. Forester (whom I perceive you can still remember) is removed from Easton to a better living by his Patron Ld Maynard on purpose to get rid of him, for Easton is his own parish, & he was sick to death of his company. he is now seated just by his Brother Pulter, & they are mortal foes.

Mr Brockett has got old Turner's Professorship, & Delaval has lost it. when we meet I have something to tell you on this subject. I hope to continue here till March: if not, I shall inform you. how does the Peace agree with you?

Adieu! I am ever
Letter ID: letters.0417 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 46
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 38


Date of composition: 21 December 1762
Date (on letter): Dec: 21. 1762
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: As to my pardon, for which you supplicate, you know too well how easily...
Mentioned: Brockett, Lawrence, 1724-1768
Churchill, Charles
Hurd, Dr. Richard
Hurd, Richard, 1720-1808
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Whitehead, William

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 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 LXXVIII, 292-296
  • 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. CCXLVI, vol. ii, 269-273
  • 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, 250-251
  • 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. 364, vol. ii, 789-790