Skip main navigation

Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, [27 December 1746]

Back to Letters page

My Dear Wharton.

I have received your Bill, & am in Confusion to hear, you have got in Debt yourself in Order to bring me out of it: I did not think to be obliged to you so much, nor on such Terms: but imagined you would be here, & might easily spare it. the Money shall be repaid as soon as ever it is wanted, & sooner if the Stocks rise a little higher. my Note you will find at the End of my Letter, wch you ought to have, ἐάν τι κατὰ τὸ ἀνθρώπινον συμβαίνῃ: the rest of my Acknowledgements are upon Record, where they ought to be, with the rest of your Kindnesses. the Bill was paid me here; I suppose there is no Likelihood of its being stop'd in Town.

It surprises me to hear you talk of so much Business, & the Uncertainty of your Return; & what not? sure you will find Time to give me an Account of your Transactions, & your Intentions. for your Ears, don't let 'em think of marrying you! for I know if you marry at all, you will be married. I mean, passively. & then (besides repenting of what you were not guilty of) you will never go abroad, never read any thing more, but Farriery-Books, and Justice-Books, & so either die of a Consumption; or live on, & grow fat, wch is worse. for me & my Retirement (for you are in the Right to despise my Dissipation de quinze Jours) we are in the midst of Diog: Laertius & his Philosophers, as a Proœmium to the Series of their Works, & those of all the Poets & Orators, that lived before Philip of Macedon's Death: & we have made a great Chronological Table with our own Hands, the Wonder & Amazement of Mr Brown; not so much for Publick Events, tho' these too have a Column assign'd them, but rather in a literary Way, to compare the Times of all great Men, their Writeings & Transactions. it begins at the 30th Olympiad, & is already brought down to the 113th; that is, 332 Years. our only Modern Assistants, are Marsham, Dodwell, & Bentley. [Tuthill] continues quiet in his Læta Paupertas, & by this Time (were not his Friends of it) would have forgot there was any such Place as Pembroke in the World. All Things there are just in Statu quo; only the Fellows, as I told you, are grown pretty rudish to their Sovereign in general, for Francis is now departed. poor dear Mr Delaval indeed has had a little Misfortune. Intelligence was brought, that he had with him a certain Gentlewoman properly call'd Nell Burnet, (but whose Nom de Guerre was Capt:n Hargraves) in an Officer's Habit, whom he had carried all about to see Chappels & Libraries, & make Visits in the Face of Day. the Master raised his Posse-Comitatus in Order to search his Chambers, & after long Feeling & Snuffleing about the Bed, he declared they had certainly been there. wch was very true, & the Captain was then locked up in a Cupboard there, while his Lover stood below in Order to convey him out at Window, when all was over. however they took Care not to discover her, tho' the Master affirm'd; had he but caught her, he would soon have known, whether it was a Man, or a Woman. upon this Mr Del: was desired to cut out his Name, & did so: next Day Dr L: repented, & wrote a Paper to testify he never knew any Hurt of him, wch he brought to Dr Whaley, who would have directly admitted him here, if Stuart had not absolutely refused. he was offer'd about at several Colleges, but in vain. then Dr L: call[ed] two Meetings to get him re-admitted there, but every one was inexorable & so he has lost his Pupil, who is gone, I suppose, to lie with his Aunt Price. Trollope continues in Dev'reux-Court: all our Hopes are now in the Commencement.

Have you seen the Works of two young Authors, a Mr Warton & a Mr Collins, both Writers of Odes? it is odd enough, but each is the half of a considerable Man, & one the Counter-Part of the other. the first has but little Invention, very poetical choice of Expression, & a good Ear. the second, a fine Fancy, model'd upon the Antique, a bad Ear, great Variety of Words, & Images with no Choice at all. they both deserve to last some Years, but will not.

Adieu! dear Sr I am very sincerely Yours
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0147 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 30
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 29[?]


Date of composition: [27 December 1746]
Date (on letter): Dec: 27
Calendar: Julian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 228 mm x 185 mm


Language: English
Incipit: I have received your Bill, & am in Confusion to hear,...
Mentioned: Bentley, Richard
Collins, William
Diogenes Laertius
Hénault, President
Marsham, Sir John
Warton, Joseph
Whalley, John, 1698 or 9-1748

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 17-18, 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, section iv, 205
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter IX, vol. ii, 167-169
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XIV, vol. iii, 26-29
  • 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. LXXII, vol. i, 151-154
  • 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, 144
  • 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. 129, vol. i, 259-261