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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 11 September 1767

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Dear Mason

I admire you as the pink of perversity. how did I know about York-Races? & how could I be more explicit about our journey. the truth is, I was only too explicit by half, for we did not set out in earnest till the 29th of August, being delay'd partly by the bad weather, & partly by your Cousin my Lord Perrot, & his assizes, whose train we were afraid to overtake, & still more afraid of being overtaken by it. at last then we went in the sun & dust broiling to Newcastle, & so by the military road to Hexham at night, where it begun to rain, & continued like fury (with very short intervals) all the rest of our way. so we got to Carlisle, pass'd a day there in raining & seeing delights. next day got to Penrith (more delights) the next dined & lay at Keswick, could not go a mile to see anything. Dr Wh: taken ill in the night with an asthma. went on however over stupendous hills to Cockermouth: here the Dr grew still worse in the night, so we came peppering (& raining) back thro Keswick to Penrith. next day lay at Brough, grew better (raining still) & so over Stanemoor home, Sept: 5, in a heavy thunder-shower. now you will think from this detail, wch is litterally true, that we had better have staid at home. no such thing! I am charm'd with my journey, & the Dr dreams of nothing but Skiddaw, & both of us vow to go again the first opportunity. I carried Mr Brown to Gibside the 11th of Aug: & took a receipt for him: they did not set out for Scotland till the 1st of September, & as yet I have not heard from him.

If you are not too much afflicted for the loss of Charles Townshend, now is your time to come & see us. in spite of your coquetry we still wish of all things to see you, & (bating that vice, & a few more little faults) have a good opinion of you, only we are afraid you have a bad heart. I have known purseproud People often complain of their poverty, wch is meant as an insult upon the real poor. how dare you practise this upon me? don't I know little Clough! here is a fuss indeed about poor threescore miles. don't I go galloping five hundred, whenever I please? have done with your tricks, & come to Old-Park, for the peaches & grapes send forth a good smell, & the voice of the Robin is heard in our land. my services to Mr. Alderston, for he is a good creature: But I forget: you are at York again.

Adieu! I am ever
T G:

The Doctor presents his compliments to you with great cordiality, & desires your assistance. one of his daughters has some turn for drawing, & he would wish her a little instructed in the practise. if you have any Professor of the art at York, that would think it worth his while to pass about six weeks here, he would be glad to receive him. his conditions he would learn from you. if he have any merit in his art, doubtless so much the better: but above all he must be elderly, & if ugly and ill-made, so much the more acceptable. the reasons we leave to your prudence.

Letter ID: letters.0509 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 50
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 43


Date of composition: 11 September 1767
Date (on letter): Sept: 11. 1767
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Durham, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Old-Park


Language: English
Incipit: I admire you as the pink of perversity. how did I know about York-Races?...
Mentioned: Alderson, Christopher, Rev., 1738-1814
Brown, James, 1709-1784
Old Park
Stainmoor Fell
Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
[Parody on an Epitaph]

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 CXVII, 406-409
  • 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. CCCXI, vol. iii, 157-160
  • 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. 453, vol. iii, 976-978