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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 11 September 1746

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Thomas Wharton Esq, Fellow of
Pembroke Hall
13 SE

My Dear Wharton

What can one say to these Things? if it had been in the Power of Lawyers to interpret into Common-Sense Statutes made by old Monks, or Monk-directed old Women, we might have hoped for a more favourable Answer to our Queries? as it is, I fear they may have done more Hurt than Good: all I know, is this, that I should rejoyce poor [T:] had some Place to rest the Sole of his Foot in; & I flatter myself You will never omitt anything in your Power to support his little Interest among a People, with whom You first raised it. I would gladly know the Time of your Audit, for I would be at Cambridge by that Time, if I could. Mr. W: has taken a House in Windsor & I see him usually once a Week; but I think, that will hardly detain me beyond the Time I proposed to myself. he is at present gone to Town to perform the disagreeable Task of presenting & introduceing about a young Florentine, the Marquis Rinuccini, who comes recommended to him. the D: is here at his Lodge with three Whores & three Aid-de Camps; & the Country swarms with People. he goes to Races, & they make a Ring about him, as at a Bear-baiting; and no Wonder, for they do the same at Vaux-hall and Ranelagh. at this last, somebody was telling me they heard a Man lamenting to some Women of his Acquaintance, & saying, how he had been up close to him, & he never repented of anything so much in his Life, as that he did not touch him.

I am not altogether of your Opinion, as to your Historical Consolation in time of Trouble. a calm Melancholy it may produce, a stiller Sort of Despair (& that only in some Circumstances & on some Constitutions) but I doubt no real Content or Comfort can ever arise in the human Mind, but from Hope. Old Balmerino when he had read his Paper to the People, pull'd off his Spectacles, spit upon his Handkerchief, & wiped them clean for the Use of his Posterity; & that is the last Page of his History. have you seen Hogarth's Print of Ld Lovat? it is admirable.

I can not help thinking if I had been near you, I should have represented the Horror of the Thing in such a Light, as that you should never have become a Prey to Mr Davie. I know, that he'll get you up in a Corner some Day, & pick your bones & John will find nothing of you, but such a little Heap, as a Cat that is a good Mouser leaves, the Head & the Tail piled together. my Concern for you produced a Vision, not such a one as you read in the Spectators, but actually a Dream. I thought I was in t'other World and confined in a little Apartment much like a Cellar, enlighten'd by one Rush-Candle that burn'd blue. on each Side of me sate (for my Sins) Mr Davie & my friend Mr A:; they bow'd continually & smiled in my Face, and while one fill'd me out very bitter Tea, the other sweetened it with a vast deal of brown Sugar: alltogether it much resembled Syrup of Buckthorn. in the corner sat [Tuthill] very melancholy, in Expectation of the Tea-Leaves.

I take it very ill you should have been in the twentieth Year of the War, & yet say nothing of the Retreat from before Syracuse: is it, or is it not the finest Thing you ever read in your Life? and how does Xenophon, or Plutarch agree with you? for my Part I read Aristotle; his Poeticks, Politicks, and Morals, tho' I don't well know, wch is which. in the first Place he is the hardest Author by far I ever meddled with. then he has a dry Conciseness, that makes one imagine one is perusing a Table of Contents rather than a Book: it tasts for all the World like chop'd Hay, or rather like chop'd Logick; for he has a violent Affection to that Art, being in some Sort his own Invention; so that he often loses himself in little trifleing Distinctions & verbal Niceties, & what is worse leaves you to extricate yourself as you can. thirdly he has suffer'd vastly by the Transcribblers, as all Authors of great Brevity necessarily must. fourthly and lastly he has abundance of fine uncommon Things, wch make him well worth the Pains he gives one. you see what you have to expect. this & a few autumnal Verses are my Entertainments dureing the Fall of the Leaf. notwithstanding wch my Time lies heavy on my Hands, & I want to be at home again.

I have just received a Visit from A:, he tells me we have certainly [a Peace] with Spain very far advanced, wch 'tis likely will produce a general one & that the King, when he has finish'd it, is determined to pass the rest of his Days at Windsor. wch to me is strange, however it comes from the Pelhamites. I send you here a Page of Books: enough I imagine to chuse out of, considering the State of your Coll: Finances. the best Editions of ancient Authors should be the first Things, I reckon, in a Library: but if you think otherwise, I will send a Page of a different Kind. pray write soon, & think me very faithfully

Yours T G:

... Say many good Things to Mr Brown from me.


1. Aristophanes, Kusteri. Amst: Fol: 1710.
2. Aristotelis Opera, ed: Du-Val. 4v. Fol: Paris, 1654. Gr: Lat: (Fabricius likewise recommends the Ed:n of Sylburgius, all Greek, 1587. 5 V: 4to. apud Wechelios).
3. Arrian. Jac: Gronovii. Lugd: Bat: 1704.
4. Apollonius Rhodius. Hoelzlinii. Elzev: 1641. 8vo.
5. Arati, atq Eratosthenis Fragmenta. Oxon: 8vo. 1672.
6. Aristidis Opera, ed: S: Jebb. 2 V: 4to. Oxon: 1722-30.
7. M: Aurelius, Gatakeri. Ultraject: Fol: 1698.
8. Ammianus Marcellinus, H: Valesii. Par: 1681. Fol:
9. Ausonius, Tollii. Amst: Blaeu. 1671. 8vo.
10. Antonini Itinerarium. Varior: Wesselingii. 4to. 1735.
11. Bertii Theatr:m Geographicum. Fol: Amst: 1618. Elzev: (it contains the best Edition of Ptolemy, by M: Servetus).
12. Boethius. Varior: Basil: 1650. Fol:
13. Corpus Oratorum Græc:, H: Stephani. Fol: 1575.
14. Q: Curtius, Snakenburgi. 1724. 4to.
15. Cassiodori Opera. Garretti. Rothomagi, 1679. 2 V: Fol:
16. Diodorus Siculus. the last new Ed:n in 2 V: Fol:o
17. Dionysius Halicarn:, Hudsoni. 2 V: Fol: Oxon: 1704.
18. Dio Prusæensis. Morelli. Paris. 1604. Fol:o
19. Dicæarchi Fragmenta. H: Steph: Genevæ. 1589. 8vo.
20. Dio Cassius. Hanoviæ. 1606. Fol:
21. Epistolæ Græc: antiquæ ... a Caldorina Societate. Fol: Aurel. Allobrogum. 1606.
22. Ennii Fragmenta. Hesselii. 4to. 1707. Amst:
23. Festus, de Verborum Significatione, Dacerii, in Us: Delphini. 4to. Par: 1618.
24. Florus. Varior: 1692. 8vo.
25. Geoponica, Cassiani Bassi. ed: P: Needham. Cantab: 1704. 8vo.
26. Aulus Gellius, Oiselii &c: 1706. 4to.
27. Gemistius Pletho. Fol: 1540. Basil:
28. Himerius & Polemo. H: Stephani. 4to. 1567.
29. Hesiodus. Grævii. Amst: 8vo–1667.
30. Historiæ Augustæ Scriptores. Varior: ap: Hackios. 2 V: 8vo. 1670-1.
31. Hierocles. Mer: Casauboni. 8vo. Lond: 1665.
32. Hist: Byzantinæ Scriptores. Par: & Romæ. from 1645 to 1702. (I think, including Banduri's Antiquities, there are 30 vol: Fol:o)
33. Harpocration, Jac: Gronovii. 1696. Lug: Bat: 4to.
34. Isocrates. H: Wolfii. ap: H: Steph: 1693. Fol:o
35. Josephus, Hudsoni. 2 V: 1726. Amst: Fol:
36. Libanius. Morelli. 2 V: Fol: Paris. 1606-27.
37. Libanii Epistolæ. Fol: 1738. Amst:
38. Lycophron, Potteri. Oxon: Fol: 1697.
39. Livius, Creverii. 6 V: 4to. Par:
40. Lucanus, Oudendorpii. 2 V: 4to. 1728.
41. Macrobius. J: F: Gronovii. 1670. 8vo. Lug: Bat: (unfinish'd)
42. Nicander. G: Morelli. Par: 4to. 1557.
43. Oppian, Riterhusii. Lug: Bat: 1597.
44. Pausanias, Kuhnii. Lipsiæ. 1696. Fol:
45. Pomponius Mela, Jac. Gronovii. 8vo. 1722.
46. Plinii Hist: Naturalis, Harduini. Par: 5 V: 4to. 1685 & republish'd. ib: 3 V: Fol: 1723.
47. Polybius. Varior: 3 V: 8vo. 1670. Amst:
48. Philostratorum Opera, Olearii. Lips: Fol:o 1709.
49. Philo Judæus, ed: Mangey. 2 V: Fol: 1742. Lond:
50. Pollucis Onomasticon. Varior: Fol: 2 V: 1706.
51. Prudentius. N: Heinsii. Amst: Elz: 1667. 12mo.
52. Palladius, de Brachmanibus. Ed: Bisse. 4to. 1665. Lond.
53. Plautus. 2 V: Gronovii &c: 8vo. 1684. Amst:
54. Panegyrici Veteres. in Us: Delphini. 4to. 1677. Par:
55. Poetæ Minores, ed: P. Burmanni. 2 V: 4to. 1731. Lug: Bat:
56. Plinii Epistolæ, Cortii & Var: 1734. 4to. Amst:
57. Excerpta ex Polybio &c: H: Valesii. 4to. 1634. Par:
58. Rutilii Itinerarium, Grævii. 1687: 8vo. Amst:
59. Sophocles, P: Stephani. 4to. 1603.
60. Suetonius, Grævii. 1691. 4to. & 1703. Pitisci. 2 V: 4to. Leov:diae 1714. (I don't know, wch is the best Edition.)
61. Stephanus Byzantinus, Ab: Berkelii. 1688. Fol: L: Bat:– Lucæ Holstenii Notæ. Amst: Fol:
62. Sidonius, Sirmondi. 1652. Par: 4to & cum Oper:bus Sirmondi.
63. Synesius, Petavii. Par: 1640. Fol:
64. Symmachus. J: Parei. Neap: Nemetum. 1617. 8vo.
65. Silius Italicus, Drakenburgi. Ultraj: 1717. 4to.
66. Senecæ Tragediæ, Schroderi. 4to. Delf: 1728.
67. Themistius, Harduini. Par: Fol: 1684.
68. Theocritus. Varior: 1604. 4to. ap: Commelin:
69. Thucydides, Dukeri. Fol:
70. Valerius Flaccus Burmanni. L: Bat: 1724. 4to.
71. Aurelius Victor, Arntzenii. 1733. 4to.
72. Valerius Maximus. Torrentii. 4to. L: Bat: 1726.
73. Xenophon, Leunclavii. Fol: 1625. Par: & the three Vol: that Hutchinson has publish'd. 4to Oxon:


Bonanni, delle antiche Siracuse. 2 V: Palermo. 1717.
Boissard, Antiquitates Urb: Romanæ. 3 V: Fol: Francof:
Bergier, Hist: des Grands Chemins de l'Emp: Romaine. 2 V: 4to. Brux: 1728.
Bellori, Vet: Philosophorum &c: Imagines. 1685. Fol: Romæ.
Du Cange, Glossarium Latinitatis mediæ vel infimæ. 3 V: Fol:
——— Græcum, ejusd: ætatis. 3 V: Fol: 1678.
          Par: both republish'd in 1733.
Ang: Caninius de Hellenismo, ed: a T: Crenio. 1700. L: Bat: 8vo.
Dodwell, de vet: Græc: & Rom: Cyclo cum Annal: Thucydi[deis et] Xenophonteis. Oxon: 4to. 1701.
—— Annales Statiani, Velleiani, Quintilianei.
—— Prælectiones, in Schol: Camdenianâ. Ox: 1692. 8.
—— Exercitationes, de Ætate Phalaridis & Pythagoræ. 170[4]
Fabretti Inscriptiones. 1691. Rom: Fol:
Fabricii Bibl: Græca, V: 14.4to. 1708. (this I believe you have.)
—— ca Latina. 3 V: 8vo. 1721.
—— Antiquaria. 4to. 1713.
Fabretti, de Aquæductibus Rom: 4to. 1680. Romæ.
Fabretti, de Columnâ Trajani, &c: 1685. Fol: Romæ.
Gruteri Inscriptiones, ed: Grævii. 4 V: Fol: 1708.
Salengre, Thesaurus Antiq: Roman:arum. 3 V: 1716. Fol: Hagæ.
Muratori, Thesaurus Antiq: 2 V: Fol: 173....
Gyraldi (Lilii) Opera, ed: Jensii. Fol: 1696. L: Bat:
Goldasti Epistolæ Philologicæ. 8vo. Lipsiæ.
Heineccii Antiq:um Rom:æ Jurisprudentiæ Syntagma. 2 V: 8vo. 1724.
Hankius, de Byzantin: Scriptoribus. 1677. Lips: 4to.
Heindreich, de Carthagin: Republicâ. Francof: ad Oderum.
Loydii, Series Olympiadum &c: Fol: Oxon: 1700.
Martinii Lexicon Philologicum. ed: Grævii. 2 V: Fol: 1701. Amst:
Montfaucon, Palæographia Græca. 1708. Fol: Par:
Notitia Dignitatum utriusq Imperii, a P: Labbæo. 1651. Par: 8vo. (this may perhaps be in the Byzant: Collection.)
Palmerii Græcia Antiqua. 1678. 4to. L. Bat: (unfinish'd.)
Petavius, de Doctrina Temporum. 2 V: 1703. Fol:
Streinnius, de Rom. Familiarum Stemmatibus. Fol: 1659. Par:
Ursinus, Vet: Imagines & Elogia. 1570. Fol: Romæ.
—— de Familiis Romanis. 1577. ibid:
Vaillant, Ptolemæorum Hist:a 1701. Fol: Amst: Seleucidarum. 4to. Par: 1681. Arsacidarum–

Letter ID: letters.0139 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 29
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 29[?]


Date of composition: 11 September 1746
Date (on letter): Sept: 11. 1746
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Stoke
Place of addressee: Cambridge, United Kingdom

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 3 pages, 228 mm x 185 mm
Addressed: To / Thomas Wharton Esq, Fellow of / Pembroke Hall / Cambridge (postmark: 13 SE)


Language: English
Incipit: What can one say to these Things? if it had been in the Power...
Mentioned: Aristotle
Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Vauxhall Gardens
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 13-14, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • 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 iii, section iv, 181-182
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter VII, vol. ii, 156-164
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter X, vol. iii, 9-19
  • 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. LXVII, vol. i, 136-143
  • Essays and Criticisms by Thomas Gray. Ed. with Introduction and Notes by Clark Sutherland Northup. Boston and London: D. C. Heath & Co., 1911, letter excerpt, 143
  • 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. 121, vol. i, 239-245