Thomas Gray to Norton Nicholls, 3 February 1768
To The Revd Mr Nicholls at Augustus Floyer's Esq in Thrift-Street, Soho London
CAMBRIDGE 4 FE
I intend to return you the letters by tomorrow's Fly, if nothing hinders. I am never the wiser, nor the more able to account for T:s letter to Lady L: (wch gave occasion to all the rest) it still looks like the suggestion of his Wife working upon his own natural irritability, & the sort of request made in it for the Berwick-living (at so improper a time) is not any other way to be accounted for. the sensible & manly answer to it (I must own) I can not easily digest, especially the end of it: it is plain, as he wrote on, he work'd his temper into a ferment, till at last it absolutely turn'd sower. I can not help his temper, but his heart may (for all that) be right. in the second letter he is conscious, he had gone too far in his expressions, & tries to give them a sense they will not bear: but I allow he is throughout too angry & too contemptuous. your last letter to him (tho' I never saw it) I conclude has done no hurt, perhaps has softened him a little. every thing depends upon the manner of their meeting in Devonshire, wch by this time you probably know. I do not yet see, why all this passion, why all this trouble of justifying himself to a Man, for whom he never had any kindness or regard, & who can be of little use to him in point of interest. Temp: is too precipitate, too rough too in his expressions, too much the aggressor, if he thinks Ld L: really his Friend; and if he does not, how in the midst of his resentment can he bring himself to shew a desire of accepting farther favours from him? I yet have some little hope, that all may come right again, at least right enough for our purpose; for I am more convinced of T:s contempt & want of esteem for L:, than I am of L:s aversion, or neglect of T:.
Mason is here with us, & will stay (I should hope) some time: he is even going to hire a small house opposite to Peter-house, wch he can not inhabit till next winter. Mr. Hutton being dead, he has now a landed estate, the income of which in a few years will be considerable.
old Smith of Trinity is dead, & Dr Hinchliffe will probably succeed him, tho' Dr Ross & Brocket are also Competitors for it. are your India-paper, your Axminster-carpets, your Sofas & Pechés-mortels, in great forwardness? have you read Mr. Anstey, & the Historical doubts?
College Library, Eton College , Windsor, UK <http://www.etoncollege.com/collegelibrary.aspx>
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, letter IX, vol. v, 73-74
- 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. CCCXXII, vol. iii, 179-180
- 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. 467, vol. iii, 1005-1006