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Thomas Gray to James Brown, [29 October 1764]

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Dear Sir

I was not able to answer your letter on Saturday, but Delly will certainly be with you on Wednesday, good man.

The Duke of Devonshire for the last fortnight of his life was in a state of infancy. On opening his head there were found two fleshy substances that pressed upon the brain – the source of his malady. He leaves Devonshire House, with the pictures, furniture, &c., to Lord Richard, his second son, which the present duke may redeem by paying down £20,000; in short, to Lord Richard and Lord George (for there are two) he gives about £4000 a-year apiece; the rest I think I told you before. The majority do not exult upon this death; they are modest and humble, being all together by the ears; so, indeed are the minority too. I hear nothing about the Cambridge affair, and you do not tell me whether my last news was true; I conclude not, for I am told the Yorkes are very fully and explicitly against the present measures – even their chief himself.

The present talk runs on Lady Harriet Wentworth (that is her name since she married her Irish footman). Your friend the Marquis of Rockingham's sister is a sensible, well-educated woman; twenty-seven years old, indeed, and homely enough. O'Brien and his lady (big with child) are embarked for America, to cultivate their 40,000 acres of woodland. Before they went, her uncle made him enter himself at Lincoln's Inn; I suppose to give him the idea of returning home again.

I hope not to stay here above a fortnight, but in the meantime should be glad if you would inform me what is the sum total of my bill.

Adieu. – I am ever yours

As I have room, I shall tell you that, on the news of the Duke of Cumberland's illness at Newmarket, Lord S. coming out of the closet met a great butcherly lord with a white staff, and, with a countenance very decent and composed to sorrow, told him they had extreme bad news; that his Royal Highness the Duke was so ill it was doubtful whether he could live till next day. The other replied, 'Bad news, do you call it? By God, I am very glad of it, and shall be to hear the same of all that do not love the King.'

My service to Mr. T. I am glad to hear he is well.

Letter ID: letters.0448 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 47
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 55[?]


Date of composition: [29 October 1764]
Date (on letter): Monday, Oct., 29, 1764
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: I was not able to answer your letter on Saturday, but Delly will certainly...
Mentioned: London
Talbot, William, d. 1811

Holding Institution

Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives

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 LXXXVIII, 334-337
  • 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. CCLXIII, vol. iii, 49-51
  • 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. 395, vol. ii, 849-851