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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 15 February 1767

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To The Revd Mr Mason at Mr Mennis's in Cleveland Row St James's London

Dear Mason

It grieves me to hear the bad account you give of our poor Patient's health. I will not trouble you to enquire into the opinions of her Physicians: as you are silent on that head, I doubt you are grown weary of the inutility of their applications. I (you will remember) am at a distance, & can not judge (but by conjecture) of the progress her disorder seems to make, & particularly of that increasing weakness, wch seems indeed an alarming symptom. I am told, that the sea-air is advised as likely to be beneficial, & that Ld H: offers you the use of Walmer-Castle, but that you wait till the spring is more advanced to put this in execution. I think, I should by no means delay at all. the air of the coast is at all seasons warmer, than that of the inland-country: the weather is now mild & open, & (unless the rains increase) fit for travelling. remember, how well she bore the journey to London; & it is certain, that sort of motion in her case instead of fatigue often brings an accession of strength. I have lately seen that coast, & been in Deal-Castle, wch is very similar in situation to Walmer & many other little neighbouring forts. no doubt, you may be very well lodged & accommodated there: the scene is delightful in fine weather, but in a stormy day & high wind (and we are but just got so far in the year as the middle of February) exposed to all the rage of the sea, & full force of the East: so that to a Person unused to the sea, it may be even dreadful. my idea therefore is, that you might go at present to Ramsgate, wch is shelter'd from the North, & opening only to S: & S:E:, with a very fine pier to walk on. it is a neat Town, seemingly with very clean houses to lodge in, & one end of it only running down to the shore. it is at no season much pester'd with company, & at present I suppose there is no body there. if you find Mrs Mason the better for this air & situation (wch God send) when May & fine settled weather come in, you will easily remove to Walmer, wch at that season will be delightful to her. if–forgive me for supposing the worst: your letter leaves me too much reason to do so, tho' I hope it was only the effect of a melancholy imagination. if it should be necessary to meet the spring in a milder climate than ours is: you are very near Dover, & perhaps this expedient (if she grow very visibly worse) may be preferable to all others, & ought not to be defer'd. it is usually too long delay'd.

There are a few words in your letter, that make me believe, you wish I were in Town. I know myself, how little one like me is form'd to support the spirits of another, or give him consolation: one that always sees things in their most gloomy aspect. however be assured, I should not have left London while you were in it, if I could well have afforded to stay there till the beginning of April, when I am usually there. this however shall be no hindrance, if you tell me, it would signify any thing to you, that I should come sooner.

Adieu! you (both of you) have my best & sincerest good wishes. I am ever
T G:

P:S:–Remember, if you go into Kent, that W. Robinson lives at Denton (8 miles from Dover) perhaps he & his Wife might be of some little use to you. him you know; & for her she is a very good-humour'd, chearful Woman, that (I dare swear) would give any kind of assistance in her power. remember too to take whatever medecines you use with you from London: a countrey Apothecarie's shop is a terrible thing.

My respects to Dr Gisburne, & love to Stonhewer. when you have leisure & inclination, I should be very glad to hear from you. need I repeat my kindest good wishes to Mrs Mason!

Letter ID: letters.0491 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 50
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 43


Date of composition: 15 February 1767
Date (on letter): Sunday. 15 Feb: 1767
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Addressed: To The Revd Mr Mason at Mr Mennis's in Cleveland Row St James's London (postmark: SAFFRON WALDEN 16 FE)


Language: English
Incipit: It grieves me to hear the bad account you give of our poor Patient's health....
Mentioned: Deal
Robinson, William, Rev., c. 1726-1803
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Walmer Castle

Holding Institution

Henry W. And Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, New York Public Library , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

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 CIV, 373-377
  • 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. CCXCV, vol. iii, 134-136
  • 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. 435, vol. iii, 951-953