Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 9 April 1758
Dr Thomas Wharton, M:D: in
Southampton-Row near Bedford-House
I am equally sensible of your affliction, & of your kindness, that made you think of me at such a moment. would to God, I could lessen the one, or requite the other with that consolation, wch I have often received from you, when I most wanted it! but your grief is too just, & the cause of it too fresh, to admit of any such endeavour. what indeed is all human consolation, can it efface every little amiable word or action of an object we loved, from our memory? can it convince us, that all the hopes we had entertain'd, the plans of future satisfaction we had form'd, were ill-grounded & vain, only because we have lost them? the only comfort (I am afraid) that belongs to our condition is to reflect (when time has given us leisure for reflection) that others have suffer'd worse, or that we ourselves might have suffer'd the same misfortune at times & in circumstances, that would probably have aggravated our sorrow. you might have seen this poor Child arrive at an age to fulfill all your hopes, to attach you more strongly to him by long habit, by esteem, as well as natural affection, & that towards the decline of your life, when we most stand in need of support, & when he might chance to have been your only support; & then by some unforeseen & deplorable accident, or some painful ling'ring distemper you might have lost him. such has been the fate of many an unhappy Father! I know, there is a sort of tenderness, wch Infancy & Innocence alone produce, but I think, you must own the other to be a stronger & more overwhelming Sorrow.
I am glad Mrs Wharton has fortitude enough not to suffer this misfortune to prevail over her, & add to the natural weakness of her present condition. Mr Brown sincerely sympathizes with you, & begs to be kindly remember'd to you both. I have been [ ] Town by this time, had I not heard Mason was coming hither soon, and I was unwilling to miss him.
Most sincerely Yours
Egerton MS 2400, ff. 108-109, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/manuscr/>
- 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, letter xxxii, section iv, 269-270
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XXXII, vol. i, 374-376
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LXXII, vol. ii, 307-308
- The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CIII, vol. ii, 38-40
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LXXX, vol. iii, 189-190
- 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. CLXVI, vol. ii, 29-30
- 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. 270, vol. ii, 569-570