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Thomas Gray to Norton Nicholls, [13 October 1766]

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To Norton-Nicholls Esq at Hollin-close near Rippon Yorkshire
14 OC

My Dear Sr

I have received a second instance of your kindness & confidence in me. and surely you hazard nothing in trusting me with the whole of your situation. it appears not to me so new, as it does to you. you well know, the tenour of my conversation (urged perhaps at times a little farther than you liked) has been intended to prepare you for this event, to familiarize your mind with this spectre, that you call by its worst name: but remember, that Honesta res est læta paupertas. I see it with respect, & so will every one, whose poverty is not seated in their mind. there is but one real evil in it (take my word, who know it well) & that is, that you have less the power of assisting others, who have not the same resources to support them. it is this consideration, that makes me remind you, that Ansel is lately dead, a Lay-fellow of your college. that if Dr M: (whose follies let us pardon, because he has some feeling & means us well) be of little use, & if Dr H: (another simple Friend of ours, perhaps with less sensibility) can not serve us in this: yet Dr R: is not immortal, you have always said to succeed him was not impracticable. I know it would be creditable, I know it would be profitable, I know it would in lieu of a little drudgery bring you freedom. that drudgery would with a little use grow easy. in the mean time, if any better prospect present itself, there you are ready to take advantage of the opportunity. in short this was always my favourite project, & now more than ever for reasons, that will occur to yourself. in waiting for the accomplishment of it, you will take orders, & if your Uncles are slow in their motions, you will accept a Curacy (for a title will be requisite) not under every body, that offers, but under some gentlemanlike friendly Man, & in a christian country. a profession you must have: why not then accommodate yourself chearfully to its beginnings. you have youth, you have many kind well-intention'd people belonging to you, many acquaintance of your own, or familie's, that will wish to serve you. consider, how many have had the same, or greater cause for dejection with none of these resources before their eyes.

I am in Town for a month or more, & wish to hear from you soon. Mr. W: has indeed been dangerously ill with the gout in his stomach, but nothing paralytick, as was said. he is much recover'd, & gone to Bath.

Adieu, Dear Sr, I am faithfully Yours,
T G.

I will write again soon.

Letter ID: letters.0485 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 49
Addressee: Nicholls, Norton, c. 1742-1809
Addressee's age: 24[?]


Date of composition: [13 October 1766]
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages
Addressed: To Norton-Nicholls Esq at Hollin-close near Rippon Yorkshire (postmark: 14 OC)


Language: English
Incipit: I have received a second instance of your kindness & confidence in me....
Mentioned: Seneca
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

College Library, Eton College , Windsor, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; bound into a copy of Mathias's Works of Thomas Gray (London, 1814), vol. II, part 2; a photocopy is at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, OSB MSS c 467, box 1, folder 55

Print Versions

  • The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, section v, 344-345
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, letter IV, vol. v, 65-66
  • 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. CCLXXXIX, vol. iii, 123-125
  • 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. 429, vol. iii, 940-942