Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 4 December 1762
Dr Wharton M:D: at
I feel very ungrateful every day, that I continue silent, & yet I do not write to you: but now the pen is in my hand, and I am in for it. when I left you, in spite of the rain I went out of my way to Richmond, & made a shift to see the Castle, & look down upon the valley, thro' wch the Swale winds: that was all the weather would permitt. at Rippon I visited the Church, which we had neglected before, with some pleasure, & saw the Ure full to its brink & very inclinable to overflow. some faint gleams of sunshine gave me an opportunity of walking over Studley, & descending into the ruins of Fountain's Abbey, wch I examined with attention. I pass'd over the ugly moor of Harrowgate, made a bow to the Queen's-Head, & got late at night to Leedes: here the rain was so perverse I could scarce see the Town, much less go to Kirkstall-Abbey, wch was my intention; so I proceeded to Wakefield, & Wentworth Castle. here the Sun again indulged me, & open'd as beautiful a scene of rich & cultivated country, as (I am told) Yorkshire affords. the water is all artificial, but with an air of nature; much wood; a very good house in the Q: Anne style, wch is now new-fronting in a far better taste by the present Earl; many pictures not worth a farthing, & a castle built only for a play-thing on the top of the hill as a point of view, & to command a noble prospect. I went on to Sheffield, liked the situation in a valley by a pretty river's side, surrounded with charming hills: saw the handsome parish-church with the chappel & monuments of the Talbots. then I enter'd the Peak, a countrey beyond comparison uglier than any other I have seen in England, black, tedious, barren, & not mountainous enough to please one with its horrors. this is mitigated, since you were there, by a road like a bowling-green, wch soon brought me to Chatsworth. the house has the air of a Palace, the hills rising on three of its sides shut out the view of its dreary neighbourhood, & are cover'd with wood to their tops: the front opens to the Derwent winding thro' the valley, wch by the art of Mr Brown is now always visible & full to its brim. for heretofore it could not well be seen (but in rainy seasons) from the windows. a handsome bridge is lately thrown over it, & the stables taken away, wch stood full in view between the house & the river. the prospect opens here to a wider tract of country terminated by more distant hills: this scene is yet in its infancy, the objects are thinly scatter'd, & the clumps and plantations lately made: but it promises well in time. within doors the furniture corresponds to the stateliness of the appartments, fine tapestry, marble doorcases with fruit, flowers, & foliage, excellently done by Old Cibber's Father, windows of plate-glass in gilded frames, & such a profusion of Gibbons' best carving in wood, viz. Dead-Game, fish, shells, flowers, &c: as I never saw anywhere. the cielings & staircases all painted by Verrio or Laguerre, in their usual sprawling way, & no other pictures, but in one room 8 or 10 portraits, some of them very good, of James & Charles the first's time. the gardens are small, & in the French style with water-works, particularly a grand Cascade of steps & a Temple d'eaux at the head of it. from thence I went to Hardwick. one would think Mary, Queen of Scots, was but just walk'd down into the Park with her Guard for half-an-hour. her Gallery, her room of audience, her antichamber, with the very canopies, chair of state, footstool, Lit-de-repos, Oratory, carpets, & hangings, just as she left them. a little tatter'd indeed, but the more venerable; & all preserved with religious care, & paper'd up in winter. the park & country are just like Hertfordshire. I went by Chesterfield & Mansfield to revisit my old friend the Trent at Nottingham, where I passed 2 or 3 days, & from thence took stage-coach to London.
When I arrived there, I found Professor Turner had been dead above a fortnight, & being cocker'd and spirited up by some Friends (tho' it was rather of the latest) I got my name suggested to Ld B:. you may easily imagine, who undertook it; & indeed he did it with zeal. I received my answer very soon, wch was what you may easily imagine, but join'd with great professions of his desire to serve me on any future occasion, & many more fine words, that I pass over, not out of modesty, but for another reason. so you see I have made my fortune, like Sr Fr: Wronghead. this nothing is a profound secret, and no one here suspects it even now: today I hear, that Delaval has got it, but we are not yet certain: next to myself I wish'd for him.
You see we have made a peace. I shall be silent about it, because if I say anything antiministerial, you will tell me, you know the reason; & if I approve it, you will tell me, I have expectations still. all I know is, that the D: of Newcastle & Ld Hardwick both say, it is an excellent Peace; & only Mr Pitt calls it inglorious & insidious.
I had a little Gout twice, while I was in Town, wch confined me some time: yet I bespoke your chairs. they are what is call'd Rout-Chairs, but as they are to be a little better in shape & materials than ordinary, will come to about 6s 9d a chair. I desired your Brother to judge, how he perform'd, & the first, that was made, was to be sent him to see.
My best respects attend Mrs Wharton, who I suppose, receives them in bed. how does she doe? My compliments to Miss.
Mason is in Yorkshire now, but I miss'd of him.
Vanbrugh, Sir John
Egerton MS 2400, ff. 156-157, 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 xliii, section iv, 292-293
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XLIII, vol. i, 395-396
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CIV, vol. ii, 399-402
- The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXV, vol. ii, 63-65
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXIV, vol. iii, 297-302
- 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. CCXLV, vol. ii, 263-269
- 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. 363, vol. ii, 784-788