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Thomas Gray to William Robinson, 10 October 1763

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Dear (Reverend) Billy –

Having been upon the ramble, I have neglected all my duties, in hopes of finding pleasures in their room; which, after all (as you know well), one never finds. My conscience reproaches me with your obliging letter; and would (I really think) carry me into Somersetshire, did not poverty and winter stare me in the face, and bid me sit still. I well remember Dr. Ross's kind invitation, and in better days still hope to accept it. Doubt not but my inclinations will be quickened by the hopes I entertain of seeing you in so many new lights; the travelled Mr. Robinson, with a thousand important airs and graces, so much virtù, so much scavoir-vivre! the husband, the father, the rich clergyman, warm, snug, and contented as a bishop. My mouth waters: but sure – the family will be in town this winter, and I shall see you there in November. Is this the fine autumn you promised me? Oh! I hear you (not curse: you must not, but) ... this untoward climate. I doubt not but you write to Mason, though he does not tell me so. There is he, repining at his four-and-twenty weeks residence at York, unable to visit his bowers, the work of his own hands, at Aston, except in the depth of winter; and longing for the fleshpots and coffee-houses of Cambridge. There is nobody contented but you and I – oh yes, and Dr. Ross; who (I shrewdly suspect) is the happiest of the three.

Adieu, dear Sir, and believe me sincerely
Your friend and humble servant,

Present my compliments to Mrs. Robinson. Some time or other I hope to have the honour of being better known to her. Mr. Brown is well, and much obliged to you for your kind remembrance of him.

Letter ID: letters.0433 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 46
Addressee: Robinson, William, Rev., c. 1726-1803
Addressee's age: 37[?]


Date of composition: 10 October 1763
Date (on letter): Oct. 10, 1763
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pembroke Hall


Language: English
Incipit: Having been upon the ramble, I have neglected all my duties, in hopes of...
Mentioned: Aston

Holding Institution

Modern (Unbound) Manuscripts and Correspondence, series III, box 7a, folder 16, Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature (RTC01), Princeton University Library , Princeton, NJ, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a photocopy is at the British Library, RP 2570 (ii)

Print Versions

  • Gentleman's Magazine, Dec. 1803, 1107
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CXI, vol. ii, 425-426
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXII, vol. iv, 24-25
  • 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. CCLVI, vol. iii, 28
  • 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. 380, vol. ii, 824-825