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Thomas Gray to Thomas Ashton, 25 August 1739

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Mr Ashton at Mrs Lewes's
in Hanover Square London
Franc a Paris.
pour l'Angleterre
franc jusqu'a Paris.

My dear Ashton,

I am not so ignorant of Pain myself as to be able to hear of anothers Sufferings, without any Sensibility to them, especially when they are those of One, I ought more particularly to feel for; tho' indeed the goodness of my own Constitution, is in some Sense a Misfortune to me, for as the health of everybody I love seems much more precarious than my own, it is but a melancholy prospect to consider myself as one, that may possibly in some years be left in the World, destitute of the advice or good Wishes of those few friends, that usd to care for me, and without a likelihood or even a desire of gaining any new ones. this letter will, I hope, find you perfectly recoverd, & your own painful experience will, for the future, teach you not to give so much in to a sedentary Life, that has [I] fear been the Cause of your illness. Give my duty to your Mind, & tell her she has taken more care of herself, than of my tother poor friend, your Body, & bid her hereafter remember how nearly her Welfare is connected with his: tell her too, that she may pride herself in her great family, & despise him for being a poor Mortal, as much as she pleases, but that he is her wedded husband, & if he suffers, she must smart for it. my inferences you will say, don't follow very naturally, nor have any great relation to what has been said, but they are as follows.

Messrs Selwin and Montague have been here these 3 weeks, are by this time pretty heartily tired of Rheims, & return in about a week. The day they set out for England, we are to do the same for Burgundy, in our way only as it is said to Provence, but People better informd conceive that Dijon will be the end of our expedition. for me, I make everything that does not depend on me, so indifferent to me, that if it be to go to the Cape of good Hope I care not: if you are well enough, you will let me know a little of the history of West who does not remember there is such a Place as Champagne in the world.

Your's ever
T. G.
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Letter ID: letters.0076 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 22
Addressee: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Addressee's age: 24


Date of composition: 25 August 1739
Date (on letter): 25 Aug: N:S
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Reims, France
Address (on letter): Rheims
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To / Mr Ashton at Mrs Lewes's / in Hanover Square London / Franc a Paris. / pour l'Angleterre / franc jusqu'a Paris.


Language: English
Incipit: I am not so ignorant of Pain myself as to be able to hear of...
Mentioned: Rheims
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

College Library, Eton College , Windsor, UK <>
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. 148-150

Print Versions

  • Gray and his Friends: Letters and Relics, in great part hitherto unpublished. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1890, section I, letter no. 5, 47-48
  • 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. XXI, vol. i, 33-34
  • 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. 97, vol. i, 237-239
  • 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. 66, vol. i, 115-116