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Thomas Gray to William Mason, [July 1763]

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Dear Mason

As I have no more received my little thingumterries, than you have yours, tho they were sent by the Beverly, Captain Allen, I have return'd no answer yet; but I must soon, & that in plain English, and so should you too. in the mean time I borrow'd & read them. that on the Opera is a good clever dissertation, dedicated to Guglielmo Pitt. the other (Il Congresso di Citera) in poetical prose describes the negotiation of three Embassadresses sent by England, France, & Italy to the Court of Cupid to lay before him the state of his empire in the three nations, & is not contemptible neither in its kind: so pray be civil to the Count, & Signor Howe.

I think it may be time enough to send poor Smart the money you have been so kind to collect for him, when he has drop'd his law-suit, wch I don't doubt must go against him, if he pursues it. Gordon (who lives here) knows, & interests himself about him: from him I shall probably know, if he can be persuaded to drop his design. there is a Mr Anguish in Town (with whom, I fancy, you were once acquainted) he probably can best inform you of his condition & motions, for I hear, he continues to be very friendly to him.

When you speak of Mr Bed:ld you have always a dash of gall, that shews your unforgiving temper, only because it was to my great chair, that he made the first visit. for this cause you refused the snuff-box (wch to punish you I shall accept myself) & for this cause you obstinately adhere to the Church of England.

I like your Sonnet better than most dedications. it is simple & natural: the best line in it is ‘So to deceive my solitary days &c: ’ there are an expression or two, that break the repose of it by looking common & over-worn. sequester'd shade, woodbine sprays, selected lays: I dare not mention letter'd ease. Life's vain vision does not pronounce well. bating these, it looks in earnest, & as if you could live at Aston, which is not true; but that is not my affair.

I have got a Mass of Pergolesi, wch is all divinity: but it was lent me, or you should have it. by all means send for six Lessons (for the Piano-Forte Harpsichord) of Carlo Bach, not the Opera-Bach, but his Brother. to my fancy they are charming, & in the best Italian style: Mr Nevile & the old Musicianers here do not like them, but to me they speak not only musick, but passion. I can not play them, tho' they are not hard: yet I make a smattering, that serves – to deceive my solitary days. & I figure to myself, that I hear you touch them triumphantly. Adieu! I should like to hear from you.

The Petit Bon sends his love to you. all the rest (but Dr May & the Master) are dead, or married.

Letter ID: letters.0425 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: [July 1763]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: As I have no more received my little thingumterries, than you have yours,...
Mentioned: Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Algarotti, Francesco, Conte, 1712-1764
Bedingfield, Edward, b. 1730
Brown, James, 1709-1784
How, William Taylor, d. 1777
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Smart, Christopher

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 LXXXIII, 311-315
  • 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. CCLII, vol. iii, 13-15
  • 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, 266-268
  • 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. 372, vol. ii, 803-804