Thomas Gray to William Mason, 21 December 1762
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 Amicitiâ) 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?
Hurd, Dr. Richard
Hurd, Richard, 1720-1808
Mason, William, 1724-1797
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 <https://www.nypl.org/about/divisions/berg-collection-english-and-american-literature>
- 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