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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 27 January 1767

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Dear Mason

Dr Swift says, one never should write to one's Friends but in high health & spirits. by the way it is the last thing people in those circumstances usually think of doing: but it is sure, if I were to wait for them, I never should write at all. at present I have had for these six weeks a something growing in my throat, wch nothing does any service to, & wch will, I suppose, in due time stop up the passage. I go however about, & the pain is very little. you will say perhaps, the malady is as little, & the stoppage is in the imagination. no matter for that! if it is not sufficient to prove want of health (for indeed this is all I ail) it is so much the stronger proof of the want of spirits. so take it as you please, I carry my point, & shew you, that it is very obliging in me to write at all. indeed perhaps on your account, I should not have done it: but after three such weeks of Lapland-weather I can not but enquire after Mrs Mason's health. if she has withstood such a winter & her cough never the worse: she may defy the Doctors & all their works. pray, tell me how she is, for I interest myself for her not merely on your account, but on her own. these three last mornings have been very vernal & mild: has she tasted the air of the new year at least in Hyde-Park?

Mr Brown will wait on her next week, & touch her. he has been confined to lie on a couch, & under the Surgeon's hands eversince the first of January with a broken shin ill-doctor'd. he is just now got abroad, & obliged to come to Town about Monday on particular business.

Stonhewer was so kind as to tell me the mystery now accomplish'd, before I received your letter. I rejoice in all his accessions: I wish, you would persuade him to take unto him a Wife: but don't let her be a fine Lady. Adieu. present my respects & good wishes to Argentile.

I am truly
Letter ID: letters.0489 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 50
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 42


Date of composition: 27 January 1767
Date (on letter): Jan: 27. 1767
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pemb: Hall


Language: English
Incipit: Dr Swift says, one never should write to one's Friends but in high...
Mentioned: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Swift, Jonathan

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 CII, 369-370
  • 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. CCXCIII, vol. iii, 132-133
  • 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. 433, vol. iii, 949