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Thomas Gray to James Brown, [15 August 1765]

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Dear Sr

It is true, I have been lately a very indifferent Correspondent, but Poverty knows no law, & must be my excuse. since the fortnight I pass'd with Mason at York (who was then very bad with that troublesome defluxion in his eyes, and is since cured & now stands on the brink of marriage), I have been always resident at Old Park, excursions excepted of a day or two at a time, and one lately of three weeks to Hartlepool. the rocks, the sea, & the weather there, more than made up to me the want of bread & the want of water, two capital defects, but of wch I learn'd from the inhabitants not to be sensible. they live on the refuse of their own fish-market, with a few potatoes, & a reasonable quantity of Geneva, six days in the week, & I have nowhere seen a taller, more robust, or healthy race. every house full of ruddy broad-faced children. nobody dies but of drowning or old age. nobody poor but from drunkenness, or mere laziness. I had long wish'd for a storm, and was treated before I came away with such a one as July could produce: but the waves did not rise above twelve foot high, & there was no hurt done. on Monday (I believe) I go to Scotland with my Lord, and Tom, & the Major. No Ladies are of the party: they remain at Hetton: yet I do not expect to see anything, for we go post, till I come to Glamis.

I hear of P:s safe arrival in England: Pray congratulate him from me, & beg, he would not give away all his pictures and gems, till I come. I hope to see him in October. is it true that young Tyrrell does not goe into orders? Dr. Hallifax (who was here with Dr. Lowth) tells me, that Ridlington is on his way to Nice. The last letter you sent me was from Mr. Ramsay, a Tenant of mine in Cornhill, who wants to see me anent particular business. as I know not what it is I go with a little uneasiness on my mind farther North: but what can one do? I have told him my situation.

The Doctor & Mrs. Wharton wish for you often, tho' in vain. such is your perverseness! Adieu; I will write again from Scotland more at large.

I am, ever sincerely
T G:

Are you not glad for Stonhewer? I have heard twice from him, but it is sub sigillo.

Letter ID: letters.0463 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 48
Addressee: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Addressee's age: 56[?]


Date of composition: [15 August 1765]
Date (on letter): Thursday. Aug:
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Durham, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Old Park


Language: English
Incipit: It is true, I have been lately a very indifferent Correspondent,...
Mentioned: Glamis
Lowth, Robert
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Old Park
Palgrave, William, 1735-1799
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794

Holding Institution

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

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 XCII, 344-346
  • 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. CCLXXV, vol. iii, 80-81
  • 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. 409, vol. ii, 883-884