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Richard West to Thomas Gray, [28 September 1739]

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If wishes could turn to realities, I would fling down my law books, and sup with you to-night. But, alas, here am I doomed to fix, while you are fluttering from city to city, and enjoying all the pleasures which a gay climate can afford. It is out of the power of my heart to envy your good fortune, yet I cannot help indulging a few natural desires; as for example, to take a walk with you on the banks of the Rhône, and to be climbing up mount Fourviere;

Jam mens prætrepidans avet vagari:
Jam læti studio pedes vigescunt.

However, so long as I am not deprived of your correspondence, so long shall I always find some pleasure in being at home. And, setting all vain curiosity aside, when the fit is over, and my reason begins to come to herself, I have several other powerful motives which might easily cure me of my restless inclinations: Amongst these, my Mother's ill state of health is not the least; which was the reason of our going to Tunbridge, so that you cannot expect much description or amusement from thence. Nor indeed is there much room for either; for all diversions there may be reduced to two articles, gaming and going to church. They were pleased to publish certain Tunbrigiana this season; but such ana! I believe there were never so many vile little verses put together before. So much for Tunbridge: London affords me as little to say. What! so huge a town as London? Yes, consider only how I live in that town. I never go into the gay or high world, and consequently receive nothing from thence to brighten my imagination. The busy world I leave to the busy; and am resolved never to talk politics till I can act at the same time. To tell old stories, or prate of old books, seems a little musty; and toujours Chapon bouilli, won't do. However, for want of better fare, take another little mouthful of my poetry.

O meæ jucunda comes quietis!
Quæ ferè ægrotum solita es levare
Pectus, et sensim ah! nimis ingruentes
Fallere curas:

Quid canes? quanto Lyra dic furore
Gesties, quando hâc reducem sodalem
Glauciam gaudere simul videbis
Meque sub umbrâ?

Letter ID: letters.0080 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: West, Richard, 1716-1742
Writer's age: 23[?]
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 22


Date of composition: [28 September 1739]
Date (on letter): [Sep. 28. 1739]
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]
Address (on letter): [Temple]


Languages: English, Latin
Incipit: If wishes could turn to realities, I would fling down my law books,...
Mentioned: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

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 vii, section ii, 56-58
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section II, letter VII, vol. i, 183-184
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section II, letter VII, vol. ii, 50-51
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter XXV, vol. i, 51-52
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section II, letter VII, vol. ii, 58-59
  • 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. 25, 132-133
  • 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. 102, vol. i, 248-250
  • 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. 70, vol. i, 120-121