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William Mason to Thomas Gray, 28 June 1763

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Dear Mr Gray

Stonehewer tells me that you are returnd to Cambridge therefore I trust you are at leisure to read & to answer my letter & to tell me what is to be done about the Count & his Coserelles. One can't thank him for them I think till one has recd them, and for my part I can only thank him in plain English whenever I do it. Pray write me your mind as to this matter.

You can't think what a favrite I am of Mr Bedingfeilds. I might have had an agate & gold snuff-box from him the other day, & why think you? only because I gave him an Etching of Mr Gray: Lord Sr, says I, would you repay me with a thing of this value for a thing not worth three halfpence. What (says he) a portrait of Mr Gray done by Mr Mason of no value! &c &c In short he presst me to accept it, till there was hardly any such thing as refusing, however, I refusd to the last, wch you will own to be miraculous when you consider my Avarice, my fondness for trinketts, & when I tell you the Box was wonderful handsome & withall had a french hinge. This said Gentleman is shortly going to leave York entirely without having resolvd in what other place to reside. to say the truth I am not displeas'd at this. for of all the Admirers I have had in my time, I think he would tire me the most was I to have much of him. He goes from hence to Norfolk first with his family & that some time this next month, & intends you a visit in his way. Get your Arm chair new stufft – No, the old stuffing will have more inspiration in it. I send you on the other page a Sonnet intended to be prefixt to my just volume (Gray Willing) It has I assure you cost me much pains, & yet it is not yet what it should be, however I will do no more at it, till you have seen it, & send me your opinion of it.

I have got about 10 Subscribers to Smart & dont know how to transmit him the money. Stonehewer advises me to keep it, as he hears he is in somebodys hands who may cheat him. I have seen his Song to David & from thence conclude him as mad as ever But this I mention only that one should endeavor to assist him as affectually as possible wch one cannot do without the mediation of a third person. If you know any body now in London (for Stonehewer has left it) whom I can write to on this subject pray tell me. Tis said in the papers he is prosecuting the people who confined him. if so, assisting him at present is only throwing ones money to the Lawyers. Give my Love to Mr Brown & service to the College.

Yours most sincerely


D'Arcy, to thee, whate'er of happier vein
Smit with the love of Song my youth essayd,
This verse devotes from that sequesterd shade
Where letterd Ease, thy gift, endears the scene.
Here, as the light-wing'd moments glide serene,
I arch the bower, or, thro the tufted glade,
In careless flow the simple pathway lead,
And strew with many a rose the shaven green.
So, to deceive my solitary days,
Pleas'd may I toil till Lifes vain vision end,
Nor own a wish beyond yon woodbine sprays;
Inglorious, not obscure, if D'Arcy lend
His wonted smile to these selected Lays;
The Muses patron, but the Poets friend.

W. M.
Letter ID: letters.0424 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Writer's age: 39
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 46


Date of composition: 28 June 1763
Date (on letter): June 28th 1763
Calendar: Gregorian


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


Language: English
Incipit: Stonehewer tells me that you are returned to Cambridge therefore I trust...
Mentioned: Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Bedingfield, Edward, b. 1730
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Smart, Christopher
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809

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 LXXXII, 308-311
  • 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. CCLI, vol. iii, 10-12
  • 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. 371, vol. ii, 801-802