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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, [10 August 1746]

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[Th]omas Wharton Esq,
Fellow of [Pem]broke Hall
13 AV

My Dear Wharton

I am just returned hither from Town, where I have past better than a Fortnight, (including an Excursion that I made to Hampton Court, Richmond, Greenwich & other Places) & am happily met by a letter from You, [one from Tuthill], & another from Trollope. as I only run over Dr Andrew's Answers hastily in a Coffee House, all I could judge was that they seem'd very unfavourable on the whole to our Cause, & threw every thing into the Hands of a Visitour, for wch Reason I thought they might have been conceal'd, till the Attorney-General's Opinion arrived, wch will perhaps raise the Spirits of such, as the other may have damp'd a little; or leave Room at least to doubt whether the Matter be so clear on the Master's Side as Andrew would have it. You can't suppose, that I was in the least uneasy about Mr Brown's Fortitude, who wants nothing, but a Foot in height & his own Hair, to make him a little old Roman: with two dozen such I should not hesitate to face an Army of Heads, tho' they were all as tall as Dr Adams. I only wish every body may continue in as good a Disposition as they were; & imagine, if possible, Roger will be Fool enough to keep them so. I saw Trollope for about an Hour in London; & imagineing he could not be left in the dark as to your Consultations, I mention'd, that I had cast an Eye over Andrew's Paper, & that it was not so favourable as we hoped. he spoke however with Horrour of going to Law; with great Passion of the Master; & with Pleasure of himself for quitting a Place, where he had not found a Minute's Ease in I know not how long: yet I perceive his Thoughts run on nothing else, & he trembled while he spoke. he writes to me here on the same Subject; & after abusing Roger, he adds, Whartoni rubro hæc subscribe libello.

My Evenings have been chiefly spent at Ranelagh & Vaux-Hall, several of my Mornings, or rather Noons, in Arlington-Street, & the rest at the Tryal of the Lords. the first Day I was not there, & only saw the Ld High-Steward's Parade in going: the second & third [... Peers were all in their Robes ... by their wearing Bag-Wigs & Hats instead of Coronets. My Lord H: Steward was the least part] of the Shew, as he wore only his Baron's Robe, & was always asking the Heralds what he should do next, & bowing or smileing about to his Acquaintance. as to his Speech you see it; People hold it very cheap, tho' several Incorrectnesses have been alter'd in the printed Copy. Kilmarnoch spoke in Mitigation of his Crime near half an Hour with a decent Courage, & in a strong, but pathetic, Voice. his Figure would prejudice people in his Favour being tall & genteel: he is upwards of 40, but to the Eye not above 35 Years of Age. what he said appears to less Advantage, when read. Cromartie (who is about the same Age a Man of lower Stature, but much like a Gentleman) was sinking into the Earth with Grief & Dejection. with Eyes cast down & a Voice so low, that no one heard a Syllable, that did not sit close to the Bar, he made a short Speech to raise Compassion. it is now, I see, printed; & is reckon'd extremely fine. I believe, you will think it touching & well-expressed: if there be any Meanness in it, it is lost in that Sorrow he gives us for so numerous & helpless a Family. Lady-Cromartie (who is said to have drawn her Husband into these Circumstances) was at Leicester-House on Wednesday with four of her Children; the Princess saw her, & made no other answer than by bringing in her own Children & placeing them by her; wch (if true) is one of the prettiest Things I ever heard. she was also at the Duke's, who refused to admit her: but she waited till he came to his Coach & threw herself at his Knees, while her Children hung upon him, till he promised her all his Interest could do; & before on several Occasions he has been heard to speak very mildly of Cromartie, & very severely of Kilmarnoch. so if any be spared, it will probably be the former, tho' he had a pension of 600£ a-Year from the Government, & the Order for giveing Quarter to no Englishman was found in his Pocket. as to Balmerino he never had any Hopes from the Beginning: he is an old soldier-like Man of a vulgar Manner & Aspect, speaks the broadest Scotch, & shews an Intrepidity, that some ascribe to real Courage, & some to Brandy.

You have heard perhaps, that the first Day (while the Peers were adjourned to consider of his Plea, & he left alone for an Hour & half in the Bar) he diverted himself with the Ax, that stood by him, played with its Tassels & tryed the Edge with his Finger: & some Lord, as he passed by him, saying he was surprised to hear him alledge anything so frivolous, & that could not possibly do him the least Service: he answer'd, that as there were so many Ladies present, he thought it would be uncivil to give them no Amusement. the D: of Argyle telling him how sorry & how astonish'd he was to see him engaged in such a Cause. My Lord (says he) for the two Kings & their Rights I cared not a Farthing, wch prevailed: but I was starveing; & by God if Mahomet had set up his Standard in the Highlands, I had been a good Musselman for Bread, & stuck close to the Party, for I must eat. the Sollicitor-General came up to speak to him too; & he turns about to old Williamson. Who is that Lawyer, that talks to me? My Ld, it is Mr Murray. Ha! Mr Murray, my good Friend (says he, & shook him by the Hand) & how does your good Mother? oh, she was of admirable Service to us; we should have done nothing without her in Perthshire. he recommends (he says) his Peggy ('tis uncertain ... the Favour of the Government, for she has ...

[I have been diverted with an Account of old Lovat in his Confinement at] Edinburgh. there was a Captain Maggett, that is obliged to lie in the Room every Night with him. when first he was introduced to him, he made him come to his Bedside where he lay in a hundred flannel Wastcoats and a furr'd Night-gown, took him in his Arms, & gave him a long Embrace, that absolutely suffocated him. he will speak nothing but French; insists upon it, that Maggett is a Frenchman & calls him, Mon cher Capitaine Magot (You know Magot is a Monkey) at his Head lie two Highland Women & at his feet two Highland Men. by his Bedside is a Close-Stool to wch he rises two or three times in a Night, & always says, Ah, mon cher Capitaine Magot! vous m'excuserez, mais la Nature demande que je chie! he is to be impeached by the House of Commons, because not being actually in Arms, it would otherwise be necessary, that the Jury of Inverness should find a Bill of Indictment against him, wch it is very sure they would not do. when the Duke return'd to Edinburgh they refused to admit Kingston's light Horse & talked of their Privileges. but they came in Sword in Hand, & replied, that when the Pretender was at their Gates, they had said nothing of their Privileges. the Duke rested some Hours there, but refused to see the Magistracy.

I believe you may think it full Time, that I close my Budget of Stories: Mr. W: I have seen a good deal, & shall do a good deal more, I suppose, for he is looking for a House somewhere about Windsor dureing the Summer. all is mighty free, & even friendly. more than one could expect. you remember a Paper in the Museum on Message-Cards wch he told me was Fielding's, & asked my Opinion about: it was his own, & so was the Advertisement on Good-Breeding, that made us laugh so. Mr. A: I have had several Conversations with, & do really believe he shews himself to me such as he really is: I don't tell you, I like him ever the better for it; but that may be my Fault, not his. the Pelhams lie very hard at his Stomach: he is not 40 yet, but he is 31, he says, & thinks it his Duty to be married. one Thing of that Kind is just broke off; she had 12000[£ in] her own Hands. this a profound Secret, but I not conceiving that he told it m[e as] such, happen'd to tell it to Stonhewer, who told it Lyne, who told it Asht: again, all i[n the] Space of three Hours. whereby I incurr'd a Scolding; so pray don't let me fall under [a] second, & lose all my Hopes of riseing in the Church. he is still, as I said, resolute to m[arry] out of Hand; only two things he is terrified at, lest she should not breed, & lest she should love him: I comforted him by saying, there was no Danger of either.

the Muse, I doubt, is gone, & has left me in far worse Company: if she returns, you will hear of her. You see I have left no Room for a Catalogue, wch is a Sort of Policy, for its hardly possible my Memory should supply one: I will try by next Time, wch will be soon, if I hear from you. if your Curiosity require any more Circumstances of these Tryals ... will see ... find some gr ... my best Compliments to the Little Man of the World.

Adieu, my dear Wharton; believe me very truly Yours
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Letter ID: letters.0138 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: [10 August 1746]
Date (on letter): Sunday
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, 239 mm x 181 mm
Addressed: [To] / [Th]omas Wharton Esq, / Fellow of [Pem]broke Hall / Cambridge (postmark: 13 AV)


Language: English
Incipit: I am just returned hither from Town, where I have past better...
Mentioned: Brown, James, 1709-1784
Hampton Court
Richmond (Surrey)
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Vauxhall Gardens
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 11-12, 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 VI, vol. ii, 151-156
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter IX, vol. iii, 1-8
  • 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. LXVI, vol. i, 129-136
  • 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. 120, vol. i, 232-239