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Richard West to Thomas Gray, [c. 2 December 1737]

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Receiving no Answer to my last letter, which I writ above a month ago, I must own I am a little uneasy. The slight shadow of you which I had in town, has only served to endear you to me the more. The moments I past with you made a strong impression upon me. I singled you out for a friend, and I would have you know me to be yours, if you deem me worthy. –Alas, Gray, you cannot imagine how miserably my time passes away. My health and nerves and spirits are, thank my stars, the very worst, I think, in Oxford. Four-and-twenty hours of pure unalloy'd health together, are as unknown to me as the 400,000 characters in the Chinese vocabulary. One of my complaints has of late been so over-civil as to visit me regularly once a month–jam certus conviva. This is a painful nervous headach, which perhaps you have sometimes heard me speak of before. Give me leave to say, I find no physic comparable to your letters. If, as it is said in Ecclesiasticus 'Friendship be the physic of the mind', prescribe to me, dear Gray, as often and as much as you think proper, I shall be a most obedient patient.

Non ego
Fidis irascar medicis, offendar amicis.

I venture here to write you down a Greek epigram, which I lately turned into Latin, and hope you will excuse it.

Perspicui puerum ludentem in margine rivi
Immersit vitreæ limpidus error aquæ:
At gelido ut mater moribundum e flumine traxit
Credula, & amplexu funus inane fovet:
Paullatim puer in dilecto pectore, somno
Languidus, aeternúm lumina composuit.

Adieu! I am going to my tutor's lectures on one Puffendorff, a very jurisprudent author as you shall read on a summer's day.

Believe me yours, &c.
Letter ID: letters.0047 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: West, Richard, 1716-1742
Writer's age: 21[?]
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 21


Date of composition: [c. 2 December 1737]
Date (on letter): [Dec. 2]
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [Oxford, United Kingdom]
Address (on letter): [Christ Church]


Language: [unknown]
Incipit: Receiving no Answer to my last letter, which I writ above a month ago...

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Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives

Print Versions

  • The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, letter xi, section i, 26-28
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section I, letter XI, vol. i, 156-157
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section I, letter XI, vol. ii, 21-22
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter XI, vol. i, 23-24
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section I, letter XI, vol. ii, 24-25
  • 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. 17, 103-105
  • 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. 69, vol. i, 164-165
  • 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. 43, vol. i, 70-71