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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 10 April 1759

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Dear Mason

This is the third return of the Gout in the space of three months, & worse than either of the former. it is now in a manner over, & I am so much the nearer being a Cripple, but not at all the richer. this is my excuse for long silence, & if you had felt the pain, you would think it an excuse for a greater fault. I have been all the time of the fit here in Town, & doubtless ought to have paid my court to you & to Caractacus, but a Critick with the Gout is a Devil incarnate, & you have had a happy escape. I can not repent (if I have really been any hindrance) that you did not publish this spring: I would have it mellow a little longer; & do not think, it will lose any thing of its flavour. to comfort you for your loss, know, that I have lost above 200£ by selling stock.

I half envy your situation & your improvements (tho' I do not know Mr Wood) yet am of your opinion as to prudence. the more so because Mr Bonfoy tells me, he saw a letter from you to Lady H:, & that she express'd a sort of kindness; to wch My Lord added, that he should write a rattling epistle to you that was to fetch you out of the country. whether he has or not, don't much signify: I would come & see them.

I shall be here this month at least, against my will, unless you come. Stonhewer is here with all his Sisters, the youngest of wch has got a Husband. two matches more (but in a superior class) are going to be soon. Ld Weymouth to the D: of Portland's homely Daughter, Lady Betty, with 35,000£; & Lord Waldgrave to Miss Maria Walpole with 10,000£. it is impossible for two handsome People ever to meet. all the cruelties of Portugal are certainly owing to an amour of the King's (of long standing) with the younger Marquiss of Tavora's Wife: the Jesuits made their advantage of the resentments of that Family. the disturbances at Lisbon are all false. this is my whole little stock of News.

Here is a very pretty Opera, the Cyrus; & here is the Musæum, wch is indeed a treasure: the Trustees lay out 1400£ a-year, & have but 900£ to spend. if you would see it, you must send a fortnight beforehand, it is so crowded. then here are Murden's Papers, & Hume's History of ye Tudors, & Robertson's History of Mary Stuart & her Son; and what not?

Adieu! Dear Mason,
I am most faithfully Yours
Letter ID: letters.0337 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 42
Addressee: Mason, William, 1724-1797
Addressee's age: 35


Date of composition: 10 April 1759
Date (on letter): April 10. 1759
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: This is the third return of the Gout in the space of three months,...
Mentioned: Hume, David
Murdin, William
Robertson, Dr. William
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809

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 XLIV, 179-182
  • 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. CLXXXVI, vol. ii, 81-84
  • 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. 292, vol. ii, 618-620