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Thomas Gray to Norton Nicholls, 25 November 1770

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To The Revd Mr Nicholls at Blundeston near Leostoff Suffolk by Norwich

I do not see, why you should suppose that you only are to have the privilege of being ill. for me, from the time you left me (till within these three days) I have been only one day out of the walls of this college. that day was employ'd in going to the Hills by way of airing after the gout, & in catching such a cold & cough as has given me no rest night or day, & has only now taken its leave of me. I sent away your letter to B: directly: I saw no reason against it. he was then at Aubonne near Geneva with his Brother, & is now at Berne. the picture is not arrived, nor (I suppose) ever will; tho' he says, he has sent it, but by what conveyance, or by what hand he does not say.

You do me wrong: I have thought very frequently of you, & especially since Sr A: Allen's death. I am rather glad his family were about him, tho' I know not well why, for he perhaps was insensible to it. these sort of deaths are alarming to the Spectator; but perhaps the best for the Sufferer. I have now every day before my eyes a Woman of ninety, my Aunt, who has for many years been gradually turning into chalk-stones: they are making their way out of the joints of both feet, & the Surgeon twice a day comes to increase the torture. she is just as sensible & as impatient of pain, & as intractable as she was 60 years ago. she thinks not at all of death, & if a mortification does not come to release her, may lie in this agony for months (at least) helpless & bed-rid. this is what you call a natural death!

It is well, you live in a dry country, but do not your lakes overflow? can any thing get from Norwich to Blundeston? 200,000 acres are drown'd in the Fens here & cattle innumerable. our Friends at Worcester, Gloucester, &c: are sailing thro' the streets from house to house. Adieu! the Post is impatient. my respects to Mrs N:,

I am
Faithfully Yours
T G:
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Letter ID: letters.0615 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 53
Addressee: Nicholls, Norton, c. 1742-1809
Addressee's age: 28[?]


Date of composition: 25 November 1770
Date (on letter): 25 Nov: 1770
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 3 pages
Addressed: To The Revd Mr Nicholls at Blundeston near Leostoff Suffolk by Norwich (postmark: CAMBRIDGE)


Language: English
Incipit: I do not see, why you should suppose that you only are to have...
Mentioned: Blundeston
Bonstetten, Charles Victor de, 1745-1832
Fens, The
Norwich Cathedral

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 103

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, letter XXXII, vol. v, 114-115
  • 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. CCCLXXIV, vol. iii, 296-298
  • 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. 536, vol. iii, 1150-1151