Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 29 April 1765
I have lately heard, that you have been very ill, & that in the midst of your illness your poor Sister Ettrick was obliged to fly from her Persecutor, & put herself under your protection. pray inform me, as soon as you can, of the state of your health in the first place, & next, how you have been able to secure a poor frighted Woman from the brutality of such a husband, wch under our excellent constitution (I take it) is rather a more difficult thing, than it would be in Turkey.
For me, I passed the latter part of the last autumn at Southampton all alone (for I went to no rooms, nor saw any company, as they call it) in a most beautiful country, & very gentle climate. the air & the walks agreed with me wonderfully. the sea-water I scarce tried (as the winter approached) enough to say, whether it would suit me, or not. some time after I return'd hither, came the gout in both feet successively, very gentle as to pain, but it left a weakness & sense of lassitude behind it, that even yet is not wholly dissipated. I have a great propensity to Hartlepool this summer, it is in your neighbourhood, & that is to make up for climate & for trees. the sea, the turf, & the rocks, I remember, have merit enough of their own. Mr Brown is so invincibly attach'd to his duties of Treasurer & Tutor, & I know not what, that I give up all hopes of bringing him with me: nor do I (till I have been at London) speak determinately as to myself: perhaps I may find good reasons (against my inclination) to change my mind.
Your Mother, the University, has succeeded in her great cause against the Secretary of State. Ld Hardwick is declared duely elected by a Majority of one voice. all the Judges of the King's-bench took occasion to declare their opinion in set speeches on the question; I suppose, in order to gain a little popularity, for whatever seems against Ld S:, must be popular. Ld Mansfield was express on two points, that the Universities were not subject to any Royal Visitations, but might always apply to & receive redress from his Maj:s Courts of Justice; & that they were bound by no statutes, but such as they themselves had thought fit to receive. these things are doubtless of far more consequence to them than the cause in question, for wch I am the less concern'd, because I do believe the two Pretenders had (privately) agreed the matter beforehand, for the House of Yorke have undoubtedly been long making up to the Court. I should tell you, that Dr. Long's Affidavit was only begun to be read, & laid aside as of no consequence. I suppose you know by this time, that our Friend the B: of Ch: was the private Embassador of Ld S: to this place, & made proposals in his name. he also was present on the side of that worthy Nobleman at the remarkable interview with Mr Charles Yorke. it is certain he refused the Archb:k of Armagh; but why, I can not yet learn: some say, because they intended to quarter so many pensions upon it: others, because they would keep to themselves the disposal of all the preferments. but neither of these seem to be sufficient reasons. it is sure, he wrote circular letters to his friends to acquaint them of this refusal, & that he was snub'd for doing so. whereas Bp Newton, to whom it was first offer'd, made a great secret of it, as a good Courtier should do. now I am talking of Bishops, I must tell you, that not long ago B:P Warburton in a sermon at Court asserted, that all preferments were bestow'd on the most illiterate & worthless objects, & in speaking turn'd himself about & stared directly at the Bp. of London. he added, that if any one arose distinguish'd for merit & learning, there was a combination of dunces to keep him down. I need not tell you, that he expected the Bk of London himself, when Terrick got it. so ends my ecclesiastical history.
Our friend, the Precentor, who has so long been in a mariturient way, is not yet married, & I doubt, it is all gone off. I dare not ask about it, but if I goe northward, shall take him in my way, & see, whether he will tell me. present my best compliments to Mrs. Wharton, & Miss. I have no idea of the family at present, & expect to see a multitude of little new faces, that know not Joseph.
Most sincerely Yours
I hear, you are well again: but pray tell me, how well.
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Egerton MS 2400, ff. 164-165, 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 CXVIII, vol. ii, 445-447
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXIX, vol. iv, 47-50
- 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. CCLXIX, vol. iii, 69-72
- 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. 401, vol. ii, 870-872