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William Mason to Thomas Gray, 23 September 1753

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Thomas Gray Esquire
at Dr Whartons in

Dear Mr. Gray,

You have been rightly informd that I have lost a most affectionate Father. I have felt for him, all that a heart not naturally hard, & at the time already softend by preceeding anxiety could feel. But my Greiss rest not on him alone, only last tuesday my most intimate friend Dr Pricket followd him, a Man who I assure you had more good Qualities of the Heart, than the brightest of the Head could outballance either in mine or your estimation, we were brought up together from infancy & ever livd in the sincerest affection; in my long illness at London he attended me with a Care and assiduity almost unparralelld. I endeavord to repay that Care in my turn but alas his Fate did not give me time to discharge half the debt, yet what I could, I did.

O Mr Gray how dreadful is it to sit besides a Dying Friend! to see as I did, reason withdraw herself gradually, often return by starts, to a Memory evry Minute less capable of furnishing her with Ideas, and a tongue less able to give them utterance. I talk nonsence I beleive, but let me do it, it gives me some relief, what makes his Loss to me more deplorable is, that I am afraid either the Physician who constantly attended him mistook his Case, or that the other who was calld in afterwards hastend his End, for a sudden change ensued the alteration of his medicines. But I will check myself till I see you and then you must bear with me, if I am even a Child or a Woman in my complainings. I must add however that in a Will he made five year ago his Friendship bequeathd to me two hundred pounds wch when my Debt is dischargd to his executor will be reducd to one, yet the sum will come at present as oportunly as any thing of the kind possibly could, as My Father by the Strangest disposition of his affairs that can be conceivd has left all my paternal estate to my Mother in Law for her life and entaild it so on my little sister, that I can take up no Money upon it, so that without this Legacy I should not have had a Shilling at present. I beleive I shall be obligd to take a journey to Mr. Huttons near Richmond and may perhaps be at York next sunday, but this is so exceedingly uncertain that I only just name it but would not have you alter your schemes upon it for the sake of a meeting. Because my Mother is at present in a fever with three blisters but I hope on the recovery, yet I cannot leave her till there appears a greater certainty. Tom has been also in a feavor and got out only to day, therefore I dont know whether he'll be in a condition to travel, and I cant easily relinquish the pomp of travelling with a Servt all on a sudden; and my Father's Servt, a Lad of the same age, died the week after his Master of a Fever also. from all this you may guess what a time I have gone thro lately. yet I am well myself at present except that my hands tremble, and my spiritts often, very often sink. yet have they supported me hitherto supprizingly. Pray tell Mr Brown when you see him that I fear I cannot be up at College by the tenth of October, yet I shall get there as soon as ever I can make any end of my perplext [affairs] here. I wish you had told me how long you would stay in Buckinghamshire I hope it will be short, and that we may meet again at Cambridge soon. adieu. My best complmts to Dr Wharton.

I am Dr Sir
yours with sincerity and affection

Do write to me again very soon.

Letter ID: letters.0210 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Writer's age: 29
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 36


Date of composition: 23 September 1753
Date (on letter): Sept. 23d - 53
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Kingston-Upon-Hull, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Hull
Place of addressee: Durham, United Kingdom

Physical description

Addressed: To / Thomas Gray Esquire / at Dr Whartons in / Durham


Language: English
Incipit: You have been rightly informd that I have lost a most affectionate Father....
Mentioned: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794

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 V, 18-21
  • 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. CVIII, vol. i, 237-239
  • 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. 181, vol. i, 381-383