1757 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Delap

Thomas Gray to William Mason, 23 April 1757; Correspondence of Thomas Gray and William Mason, ed. John Mitford (1853) 75-79.



23 April, 1757.

DEAR MASON,

I too am set down here with something greater hopes of quiet than I could entertain when I saw you last; at least nothing new has happened to give me any disturbance, and the assurances you gave me in your letter from hence are pretty well confirmed by my experience. I am too set down here with something greater hopes of quiet than I could entertain when I saw you last; at least nothing new has happened to give me any disturbance, and the assurances you gave me in your letter from hence are pretty well confirmed by experience. I shall be very ready to take as much of Mr. Delap's dulness as he chooses to part with at any price he pleases, even with his want of sleep and weak bowels into the bargain; and I will be your curate, and he shall live here with all my wit and power of learning. Dr. Brown's book [Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times] (I hear) is much admired in town, which I do not understand. I expected it would be admired here; but they affect not to like it, though I know they ought. What would you have me do? There is one thing in it I applaud, which is the dissertation against trade, for I have always said it was the ruin of the nation. I have read the little wicked book about Evil [Soame Jenyns, The Origin of Evil], that settled Mr. Dodsley's conscience in that point, and find nothing in it but absurdity: we call it Soame Jenyns's, but I have a notion you mentioned some other name to me, though I have forgotten it. Stonehewer has done me the honour to send me your friend Lord Nuneham hither, with a fine recommendatory letter written by his own desire, in Newmarket-week. Do not think he was going to Newmarket; no, he came in a solitaire, great sleeves, jessamine-powder, and a large bouquet of jonquils, within twelve miles of that place, on purpose not to go thither. We had three days' intercourse, talked about the beaux arts, and Rome, and Hanover, and Mason, — whose praises we celebrate, "a qui mieux mieux," — vowed eternal friendship, embraced and parted. I promised to write you a thousand compliments in his name. I saw also Lord Villiers and Mr. Spencer, who carried him back with them; en passant, they did not like me at all. Here has been too the best of all the Johns (I hardly except the Evangelist and the Divine), who is not, to be sure, a bit like my Lord Nuneham, but full as well, in my mind. The Duke of Bedford has brought his son, aye, and Mr. Rigby too; they were at church on Sunday morning, and Mr. Sturgeon preached to them and the heads, for nobody else was present. Mr. F—n is not his tutor. Those are the most remarkable events at Cambridge.

Mr. Bonfoy has been here; he had not done what you recommended to him before he came out of town, and he is returned thither only the beginning of this week, when he assured me certainly he would do it. Alas! what may this delay occasion; it is best not to think. Oh happy Mr. Delap! Adieu, my best Mason; I am pleased to think how much I am obliged to you, and that, while I live, I must be ever yours.