Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 6 August 1755
Dr Thomas Wharton, M:D:
in Kings-Arms Yard, Coleman
I was just returned from my Hampshire expedition, & going to enquire after your little family, & how they had got over the measles, when I found a Letter from Stonhewer, in wch he says nothing on that head; whence I conclude they are out of danger, & you free from anxiety about them. but he tells me, you expect me in town, for wch I am at a loss to account, having said nothing to that purpose, at least I am sure, nothing with that meaning. I said, I was to go to Twickenham, & am now expecting a letter from Mr. W: to inform me, when he shall be there. my stay will be at farthest a week with him, & at my return I shall let you know, & if the season be better than it now is, enquire, if you continue inclined to visit Windsor & its Environs. I wished for you often on the Southern Coast, where I have been, & made much the same Tour, that Stonhewer did before me. take notice, that the Oaks grow quite down to the Beach, & that the Sea forms a number of Bays little & great, that appear glittering in the midst of thick Groves of them. add to this the Fleet (for I was at Portsmouth two days before it sail'd) & the number of Vessels always passing along, or sailing up Southampton-River (wch is the largest of these Bays I mention) and enters about 10 mile into the Land, & you will have a faint Idea of the South. from Fareham to Southampton, where you are upon a level with the coast, you have a thousand such Peeps & delightful Openings, but would you see the whole at once, you must get upon Ports-Down 5 Mile on this side Portsmouth. it is the top of a ridge, that forms a natural Terrass 3 Mile long, literally not three times broader than Windsor-Terrass with a gradual fall on both sides & cover'd with a turf like New-Market. to the North opens Hampshire & Berkshire cover'd with woods, & interspersed with numerous Gentlemen's Houses & Villages. to the South, Portsmouth, Gosport, &c: just at your foot in appearance, the Fleet, the Sea winding, & breaking in bays into the land, the deep shade of tall Oaks in the enclosures, wch become blue, as they go off to distance, Portchester-Castle, Carshot-Castle, & all the Isle of Wight, in wch you plainly distinguish the fields, hedge-rows, & woods next the shore, & a back-ground of hills behind them. I have not seen a more magnificent or more varied Prospect. I have been also at Tichfield, at Netly-Abbey, (a most beautiful Ruin in as beautiful a situation) at Southampton, at Bevis-Mount, at Winchester, &c: my Gout is gone, but I am not absolutely well yet. I hear Mason was expected on Monday last, but was not to speak of it, therefore you will say nothing till you see him. I do not understand this, nor what he means by coming. It seems wrong to me. what did you think of the Morceau I sent you, pray, speak your mind.
My best Compliments to Mrs. Wharton.
Isle of Wight
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
The Bard. A Pindaric Ode
Egerton MS 2400, ff. 71-72, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/manuscr/>
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XLVII, vol. ii, 256-258
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LIV, vol. iii, 131-133
- 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. CXX, vol. i, 267-268
- 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. 199, vol. i, 427-428