Thomas Gray to William Mason, 15 February 1767
To The Revd Mr Mason at Mr Mennis's in Cleveland Row St James's London
SAFFRON WALDEN 16 FE
It grieves me to hear the bad account you give of our poor Patient's health. I will not trouble you to enquire into the opinions of her Physicians: as you are silent on that head, I doubt you are grown weary of the inutility of their applications. I (you will remember) am at a distance, & can not judge (but by conjecture) of the progress her disorder seems to make, & particularly of that increasing weakness, wch seems indeed an alarming symptom. I am told, that the sea-air is advised as likely to be beneficial, & that Ld H: offers you the use of Walmer-Castle, but that you wait till the spring is more advanced to put this in execution. I think, I should by no means delay at all. the air of the coast is at all seasons warmer, than that of the inland-country: the weather is now mild & open, & (unless the rains increase) fit for travelling. remember, how well she bore the journey to London; & it is certain, that sort of motion in her case instead of fatigue often brings an accession of strength. I have lately seen that coast, & been in Deal-Castle, wch is very similar in situation to Walmer & many other little neighbouring forts. no doubt, you may be very well lodged & accommodated there: the scene is delightful in fine weather, but in a stormy day & high wind (and we are but just got so far in the year as the middle of February) exposed to all the rage of the sea, & full force of the East: so that to a Person unused to the sea, it may be even dreadful. my idea therefore is, that you might go at present to Ramsgate, wch is shelter'd from the North, & opening only to S: & S:E:, with a very fine pier to walk on. it is a neat Town, seemingly with very clean houses to lodge in, & one end of it only running down to the shore. it is at no season much pester'd with company, & at present I suppose there is no body there. if you find Mrs Mason the better for this air & situation (wch God send) when May & fine settled weather come in, you will easily remove to Walmer, wch at that season will be delightful to her. if–forgive me for supposing the worst: your letter leaves me too much reason to do so, tho' I hope it was only the effect of a melancholy imagination. if it should be necessary to meet the spring in a milder climate than ours is: you are very near Dover, & perhaps this expedient (if she grow very visibly worse) may be preferable to all others, & ought not to be defer'd. it is usually too long delay'd.
There are a few words in your letter, that make me believe, you wish I were in Town. I know myself, how little one like me is form'd to support the spirits of another, or give him consolation: one that always sees things in their most gloomy aspect. however be assured, I should not have left London while you were in it, if I could well have afforded to stay there till the beginning of April, when I am usually there. this however shall be no hindrance, if you tell me, it would signify any thing to you, that I should come sooner.
P:S:–Remember, if you go into Kent, that W. Robinson lives at Denton (8 miles from Dover) perhaps he & his Wife might be of some little use to you. him you know; & for her she is a very good-humour'd, chearful Woman, that (I dare swear) would give any kind of assistance in her power. remember too to take whatever medecines you use with you from London: a countrey Apothecarie's shop is a terrible thing.
My respects to Dr Gisburne, & love to Stonhewer. when you have leisure & inclination, I should be very glad to hear from you. need I repeat my kindest good wishes to Mrs Mason!
Robinson, William, Rev., c. 1726-1803
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
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 <https://www.nypl.org/about/divisions/berg-collection-english-and-american-literature>
- 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 CIV, 373-377
- 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. CCXCV, vol. iii, 134-136
- 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. 435, vol. iii, 951-953