Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 18 June 1758
Dr Wharton, M:D:, in South-
ampton-Row, Bloomsbury, London
I am much concern'd to hear the account you give of yourself, & particularly for that dejection of spirits, wch inclines you to see every thing in the worst light possible, and throw a sort of voluntary gloom not only over your present, but future days, as if even your situation now were not preferable to that of thousands round you, & as if your prospect hereafter might not open as much of happiness to you, as to any Person you know. the condition of our life perpetually instructs us to be rather slow to hope, as well as to despair, & (I know, you will forgive me, if I tell you) you are often a little too hasty in both, perhaps from constitution. it is sure, we have great power over our own minds, when we chuse to exert it; & tho it be difficult to resist the mechanic impulse & biass of our own temper, it is yet possible; & still more so, to delay those resolutions it inclines us to take, wch we almost always have cause to repent.
You tell me nothing of Mrs Wharton's, or your own state of health. I will not talk to you more on this subject, till I hear you are both well, for that is the grand point, & without it we may as well not think at all. You flatter me in thinking, that any thing, I can do, could at all alleviate the just concern your late loss has given you: but I can not flatter myself so far, & know how little qualified I am at present to give any satisfaction to myself on this head, & in this way, much less to you. I by no means pretend to inspiration, but yet I affirm, that the faculty in question is by no means voluntary. it is the result (I suppose) of a certain disposition of mind, wch does not depend on oneself, & wch I have not felt this long time. you that are a witness, how seldom this spirit has moved me in my life, may easily give credit to what I say. –
I am in hopes of seeing you very soon again in my way to Stoke. Mrs Rogers has been very ill this spring, & my other Aunt writes me word, that she herself has had something, (wch she takes for a paralytic stroke) wch came as she walk'd in the garden, & is afraid, she shall lose the use of one leg: so that it looks to me, as if I should have perhaps some years to pass in a house with two poor bed-ridden Women, a melancholy object, & one that in common humanity I can not avoid. I shall be glad to know, whether I can be in Gloucester-street for a week ten or twelve days hence.
I had wrote to you sooner, but that I have been on a little expedition lately to see Ely, Peterborough, Crowland-Abbey, Thorney, Fotheringhey, & many other old places, wch has amused me a little.
Poor Mason is all alone at Aston (for his Curate is gone to be Tutor to somebody) with an inflammation in his eyes, & could scarce see to write me a few lines.
Mason, William, 1724-1797
[Epitaph on a Child]
Egerton MS 2400, ff. 110-111, 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, 270-271
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LXXIII, vol. ii, 308-310
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LXXXI, vol. iii, 191-193
- 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. CLXVII, vol. ii, 30-32
- 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. 271, vol. ii, 570-572