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Thomas Gray to James Brown, 7 September 1758

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To The Revd Mr Brown, M:A:, President of Pembroke Hall Cambridge
8 SE

Dear Sr

It is always time to write, (whether Louisbourg be taken, or not) & I am always alike glad to hear from you. I am glad however to repay you with the King of Prussia: there is a Man for you at a dead lift, that has beat & baffled his three most powerful enemies, who had swallow'd him up in Idea! not that I look upon this last exploit, however seasonable, as his most heroick exploit; I suppose it was only butchering a great flock of slaves & savages, a conquest, that, but for the necessity of it, he would have disdain'd. what use our little supply is like to be of in Germany I can not say; I only know, that my Ld Granby with his horse had a bridge, wch broke under them, & that he (the Marquiss) was sore bruised, & laid up: but I think the Electorate may be saved for all this.

Old Pa: wrote to me from Scarborough three weeks ago. he had seen more in his journey than ever he saw before in his life, & was to see twice as much more in his way to Glamis. he is become acquainted with rocks & precipices, & despises the tameness and insipidity of all we call fine in the South. Mr. Pitt, & he, did not propose being at Glamis till the end of August: My Ld (I think) set out from Rainton on the 27th.

If I had been at the great gambling dinner, I should have desired, somebody would help me to a collop of the other great Turtle, tho' I believe, 'tis vile meat. you tell me nothing about the good family at Ripton, that were to come together from all quarters & be so happy this summer: has any ill chance hinder'd their meeting, or have you not paid them a visit this vacation? it is an infinite while, since I heard from M:n, I know no more of him than you do, but I hope Caractacus will profit of our losses. if pleasure or application take up his thoughts I am half content.

My health I can not complain of, but as to my spirits they are always many degrees below changeable, & I seem to myself to inspire every thing around me with ennuy & dejection; but some time or other all these things must come to a conclusion, till which day I shall remain very sincerely


commend me to any, that enquire after me, particularly Mr Talbot.

Letter ID: letters.0322 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 41
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 49[?]


Date of composition: 7 September 1758
Date (on letter): Sept: 7. 1758
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Stoke Poges, United Kingdom]
Place of addressee: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 1s. (2p.)
Addressed: To The Revd Mr Brown, M:A:, President of Pembroke Hall Cambridge (postmark: 8 SE)


Language: English
Incipit: It is always time to write, (whether Louisbourg be taken, or not) & I am...
Mentioned: Glamis
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Talbot, William, d. 1811

Holding Institution

Lowell autograph, Houghton Library, Harvard University , Cambridge, MA, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a photostat is in MS. Toynbee d.32, Bodleian Library, Oxford

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 XXXVII, 157-161
  • 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. CLXXIV, vol. ii, 52-54
  • 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. 279, vol. ii, 587-589