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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, [27 December 1743]

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Thomas Wharton, Esq, at Alderman
Wharton's on the Market-Place in
the City of Durham

My dear Wharton

It is a long Time, since I ought to have return'd you my Thanks for the Pleasure of your Letter; I should say, the Prodigy of your Letter, for such a Thing has not happen'd above twice within this last Age to mortal Man, & no one here can conceive what it may portend. Mr Trollope, I suppose, has told you, how I was employed a part of the Time; how by my own indefatigable Application for these ten Years past, & by the Care & Vigilance of that worthy Magistrate, the Man-in-Blew (who, I'll assure you, has not spared his Labour, nor could have done more for his own Son) I am got half way to the Top of Jurisprudence, & bid as fair as another Body to open a case of Impotency with all Decency & Circumspection. you see my Ambition: I do not doubt, but some 30 Years hence I shall convince the World & You, that I am a very pretty young Fellow, & may come to shine in a Profession perhaps the noblest in the World, next to Man-Midwifery. as for yours: if your Distemper & You can but agree about going to London, I may reasonably expect in a much shorter Time to see you in your three-corner'd Villa, doing the honours of a well-furnish'd Table with as much Dignity, as rich a Mien, & as capacious a Belly as Dr Mead. methinks I see Dr Askew at the lower End of it, lost in Admiration of your goodly Person & Parts, cramming down his Envy (for it will rise) with the Wing of a Pheasant, & drowning it in neat Burgundy. but not to tempt your Asthma too much with such a Prospect, I should think you might be almost as happy, & as great as this, even in the Country. but you know best; & I should be sorry to say anything, that might stop you in the Career of Glory. far be it from me to hamper the Wheels of your gilded Chariot. go on, Sr Thomas; & when you die (for even Physicians must die) may the Faculty in Warwick Lane erect your statue in Sr John Cutler's own Niche.

As to Cambridge it is, as it was, for all the World; & the People are, as they were; & Mr Trollope is as he was, that is, half ill, half well. I wish with all my Heart they were all better, but what can one do? there is no News, only I think I heard a Whisper, as if the Vice-Chancellour should be with Child: (but I beg you not to mention this, for I may come into trouble about it) there is some Suspicion, that the Professor of Mathematicks had a Hand in the thing. Dr Dickens says the University will be obliged to keep it, as it was got, in Magistratu.

I was going to tell you, how sorry I am for your Illness. but, I hope, it is too late to be sorry now: I can only say, that I really was very sorry. may you live a hundred Christmases, & eat as many Collars of Brawn stuck with Rosemary. Adieu, I am sincerely Yours

T G:

Won't You come to the Jubilee? Dr Long is to dance a Saraband & Hornpipe of his own Invention without lifting either Foot once from the Ground.

Letter ID: letters.0132 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 27
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 26[?]


Date of composition: [27 December 1743]
Date (on letter): Dec: 27
Calendar: Julian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 220 mm x 186 mm
Addressed: To / Thomas Wharton, Esq, at Alderman / Wharton's on the Market-Place in / the City of Durham (postmark: CAM)


Language: English
Incipit: It is a long Time, since I ought to have return'd you my Thanks...
Mentioned: Cambridge

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 3-4, 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 i, section iv, 173-175
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter I, vol. i, 289-290
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter I, vol. ii, 141-143
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LIX, vol. i, 130-131
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter I, vol. ii, 169-172
  • 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. LXII, vol. i, 121-123
  • 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. 114, vol. i, 219-222