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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 21 February 1764

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Dear Doctor

If the ill-news be true, wch your last letter to Mr Brown makes very probable, I am heartily sorry for the loss you have had of poor Mr R: Wharton, as I am sure you can not but feel it very sensibly in many respects.

I have indeed been very remiss in writing to you, nor can alledge any other excuse for it but the lowness of spirits, wch takes from me the power of doing every thing I ought: this is not altogether without cause, for eversince I went last to Town, in the beginning of November I have suffer'd a good deal from a complaint, wch I have often mention'd to you, & which is now grown almost constant. I have left off wine, eat less than common, have made use of the common applications in such cases, & am now taking soap: yet find no essential amendment in myself, so that I have but an uncomfortable prospect before me, even if things remain as they are: but (I own) what I apprehend, is still worse.

Mason has pass'd three weeks here with me in his way to Town. the general report was, that he was going to be married out of hand: but I find it was only a faint sort of tendency that way, that may or may not come to something of maturity just as the season of the year shall incline him. the best I can tell you of her is, that she is no fine Lady, & the worst, that her fortune is not large. now you know it might have been a fine Lady with no money at all. he still talks of visiting Old-Park before he is tied down to his Summer-Residence.

This silly dirty Place has had all its thoughts taken up with chusing a new High-Steward, & had not Ld Hardwick surprisingly & to the shame of the Faculty recover'd by a Quackmedicine, I believe in my conscience the noble Earl of Sandwich had been chosen, tho' (let me do them the justice to say) not without a considerable opposition. his principal Agents are Dr Brook of St. Johns, Mr Brocket, & Dr Long, whose old Tory notions, that had long lain by neglected & forgotten, are brought out again & furbish'd for present use, tho' rusty & out of joint, like his own Spheres & Orreries. their crests are much fallen, & countenances lengthen'd by the transactions of last week, for the Ministry on Tuesday last (after sitting till near eight in the morning) carried a small point by a majority of only 40, & on another previous division by one of 10 only; & on Friday last (at five in the morning) there were 220 to 234, & by this the Court only obtain'd to adjourn the debate for four months, & not to get any declaration in favour of their measures. if they hold their ground many weeks after this, I shall wonder: but the new reign has already produced many wonders. the other House I hear will soon take in hand a book lately publish'd by some scoundrel Lawyer on the Prerogative, in wch is scraped together all the flattery & blasphemy of our old Lawbooks in honour of Kings. I presume, it is understood, that the Court will support the cause of this impudent Scribler. there is another impudent Fellow of the same profession, but somewhat more conspicuous by his place (a Friend of yours, with whom I sup'd at your house ten or eleven years ago) that has gain'd to himself the most general & universal detestation of any Man perhaps in this age. I congratulate you on your acquaintance with him.

Mr Brown is preparing your grafts, wch are to be sent about a week hence, for that is the proper time: but as your parcels used to be carried to your Brother's, we are afraid they may be neglected there in the present confusion. if you think so, you will direct him forthwith to whom he may address them.

Pray tell me (when you are at leisure) all the transactions & improvements of Old-Park, that I may rectify & model my Ideas accordingly. what has become of you in these inundations, that have drown'd us all, & in this hot & unseasonable winter? present my respects to Mrs Wharton, & my compliments to Miss. how do the little family do?

I am ever sincerely yours.
Letter ID: letters.0438 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 47
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 47[?]


Date of composition: 21 February 1764
Date (on letter): Feb: 21. 1764
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.; 3 pages, 207 mm x 162 mm


Language: English
Incipit: If the ill-news be true, wch your last letter to Mr Brown makes very...
Mentioned: Droit le Roi
Brockett, Lawrence, 1724-1768
Brown, James, 1709-1784
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Old Park

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 158-159, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CXIII, vol. ii, 429-431
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXXIV, vol. iv, 28-31
  • 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. CCLVIII, vol. iii, 31-34
  • 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. 385, vol. ii, 831-833