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Thomas Gray to William Mason, 6 October 1759

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Dear Mason

If you have been happy, where you are, or merely better in health for any of your employments, or idlenesses, you need no apologies with me: my end is answer'd, & I am satisfied. one goes to school to the World some time, before one learns precisely how long a Visit ought to last. at this day I do not pretend to know it exactly, & very often find out (when it is too late) that I have stay'd half an hour too long. I shall not wonder therefore, if your Friend should make a mistake of half a year, if your occasions did not call you to Town sooner. when you come, I should hope, you would stay the winter, but can advise nothing in a point, where my own interest is so much concerned. pray, let me know of your arrival immediately, that I may cut short my visitation here, or at least (if you are taken up always at Sion, or Kensington) may meet you at Hounslow, or at Billy Robinson's, or somewhere. my only employment & amusement in Town (where I have continued all the summer (till Michaelmas) has been the Mus├Žum: but I have been rather historically than poetically given. with a little of your encouragement perhaps I may return to my old Lydgate & Occleve, whose works are there in abundance. I can write you no news from hence; yet I have lately heard ill-news, wch I shall not write.

Adieu, Dear Mason & believe me most faithfully

At the Lady Viscountess Cobham's at Stoke-House near Windsor, Bucks.

Your Friend, Dr Plumptree, has lately sate for his picture to Wilson. the Motto in large letters (the measure of wch he himself prescribed) is, Non magna loquimur, sed vivimus; i:e: We don't say much, but we hold good livings.

Letter ID: letters.0350 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: 6 October 1759
Date (on letter): Oct: 6. 1759
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): At the Lady Viscountess Cobham's at Stoke-House near Windsor, Bucks.


Language: English
Incipit: If you have been happy, where you are, or merely better in health...
Mentioned: London
Lydgate, John
Occleve, Thomas
Robinson, William, Rev., c. 1726-1803
Stoke Manor House

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 XLVIII, 192-195
  • 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. CXCIII, vol. ii, 108-109
  • 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. 304, vol. ii, 645-646