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Thomas Gray to James Brown, [c. 20 April 1769]

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Dear Sir

I am sorry to think you are coming to town at a time when I am ready to leave it; but so it must be, for here is a son born unto us, and he must die a heathen without your assistance; Old Pa. is in waiting ready to receive you at your landing. Mason set out for Yorkshire this morning. Delaval is by no means well, and looks sadly, yet he goes about and talks as loud as ever; he fell upon me tooth and nail (but in a very friendly manner) only on the credit of the newspaper, for he knows nothing further; told me of the obloquy that waits for me; and said everything to deter me from doing a thing that is already done. Mason sat by and heard it all with a world of complacency.

You see the determination of a majority of fifty-four, only two members for counties among them. It is true that Luttrell was insulted, and even struck with a flambeau, at the door of the House of Commons on Friday night; but he made no disturbance, and got away. How he will appear in public I do not conceive. Great disturbances are expected, and I think with more reason than ever. Petitions to Parliament, well-attended, will (I suppose) be the first step, and next, to the King to dissolve the present Parliament. I own I apprehend the event whether the mob or the army are to get the better.

You will wish to know what was the real state of things on the hearse-day: the driver, I hear, was one Stevenson, a man who lets out carriages to Wilkes's party, and is worth money. Lord Talbot was not rolled in the dirt, nor struck, nor his staff broken, but made the people a speech, and said he would down on his knees to them if they would but disperse and be quiet. They asked him whether he would stand on his head for them, and begun to shoulder him, but he retired among the soldiers. Sir Ar. Gilmour received a blow, and seized the man who struck him, but the fellow fell down and was hustled away among the legs of the mob. At Bath House a page came in to his mistress, and said, he was afraid Lord Bath did not know what a disturbance there was below; she asked him if 'the house was on fire?' he said 'No; but the mob were forcing into the court:' she said 'Is that all; well I will go and look at them:' and actually did so from some obscure window. When she was satisfied, she said, 'When they are tired of bawling I suppose they will go home.'

Mr. Ross, a merchant, was very near murdered, as the advertisement sets forth, by a man with a hammer, who is not yet discovered, in spite of the £600 reward. I stay a week longer.

Adieu: I am ever yours,
T. G.
Letter ID: letters.0553 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 52
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 60[?]


Date of composition: [c. 20 April 1769]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: I am sorry to think you are coming to town at a time when I am ready to leave it;...
Mentioned: London
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799

Holding Institution

Misc. MSS, Manuscript Collections, The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University Library , New Haven, CT (Beinecke)/Farmington, CT (Lewis Walpole), 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 CXXXV, 454-456
  • 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. CCCXLIV, vol. iii, 221-223
  • 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. 494, vol. iii, 1058-1060