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Thomas Gray to Thomas Ashton, [17 June 1742]

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My dear Ashton,

This melancholy day is the first that I have had any notice of my Loss in poor West, and that only by so unexpected a Means as some Verses publishd in a Newspaper (they are fine & true & I believe may be your own). I had indeed some reason to suspect it some days since from receiving a letter of my own to him sent back unopen'd. The stupid People had put it no Cover, nor thought it worth while to write one Line to inform me of the reason, tho' by knowing how to direct, they must imagine I was his friend. I am a fool indeed to be surprizd at meeting with Brutishness or want of Thought among Mankind; what I would desire is, that you would have the goodness to tell me, what you know of his death, more particularly as soon as you have any Leisure; my own Sorrow does not make me insensible to your new Happiness, which I heartily congratulate you upon, as the means of Quiet, and Independence, & the Power of expressing your benevolence to those you love. neither my Misfortune, nor my joy shall detain you longer at a time, when doubtless you are a good deal employd; only believe me sincerely yours


P.S. Pray do not forget my impatience, – especially if you do not happen to be in London. I have no one to enquire of but yourself. 'tis now three weeks, that I have been in the Country, but shall return to Town in 2 days.

Letter ID: letters.0129 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 25
Addressee: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Addressee's age: 27


Date of composition: [17 June 1742]
Date (on letter): June 17- 1742
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Stoke


Language: English
Incipit: This melancholy day is the first that I have had any notice of my Loss...
Mentioned: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
West, Richard, 1716-1742

Holding Institution

Maine Historical Society , Portland, ME, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a MS transcript is at the British Library, Add. MSS 32562, ff. 142-143

Print Versions

  • Gray and his Friends: Letters and Relics, in great part hitherto unpublished. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1890, section II, letter no. 42, 170-171
  • 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. LVII, vol. i, 111
  • The Correspondence of Gray, Walpole, West and Ashton (1734-1771), 2 vols. Chronologically arranged and edited with introduction, notes, and index by Paget Toynbee. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915, letter no. 153, vol. ii, 48-49
  • 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. 111, vol. i, 213-214