Skip main navigation

Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 9 March 1755

Back to Letters page

My dear Doctor

According to my reckoning Mrs Wh: should have been brought to bed before this time; yet you say not a syllable of it. if you are so loth to publish your productions, you can not wonder at the repugnance I feel to spreading abroad mine. but in truth I am not so much against publishing, as against publishing this alone. I have two or three Ideas more in my head. what is to come of them? must they too come out in the shape of little six-penny flams, dropping one after another, till Mr Dodsley thinks fit to collect them with Mr this's Song, and Mr t'other's epigram, into a pretty Volume? I am sure Mason must be sensible of this, & therefore can never mean what he says. to be sure, Doctor, it must be own'd, that Physick, & indeed all Professions, have a bad effect upon the Mind. this it is my Duty, & Interest to maintain; but I shall still be very ready to write a Satyr upon the Clergy, & an Epode against Historiographers, whenever you are hard press'd; & (if you flatter me) may throw in a few lines with somewhat handsome upon Magnesia alba, & Alicant-Soap. as to Humanity you know my aversion to it; wch is barbarous & inhuman, but I can not help it. God forgive me.

I am not quite of your opinion with regard to Strophe & Antistrophe. setting aside the difficulties, methinks it has little or no effect upon the ear, wch scarce perceives the regular return of Metres at so great a distance from one another. to make it succeed, I am persuaded the Stanza's must not consist of above 9 lines each at the most. Pindar has several such Odes.

Ld S: is come, & makes a tall genteel figure in our eyes. his Tutors & He appear to like one another mighty well. when we know more of him than his outside, You & the Historian shall hear of it. I am going to ask a favour of you, wch I have no better pretence for doing, than that I have long been used to give you trouble. it is, that you would go to the London Insurance Office in Birchin-Lane for me, & pay two Insurances, one of my House at Wansted (Policy, No 9675.) the other of that in Cornhill (No 23470.) from Lady-Day next to Lady-Day, 1756. the first is 20 Shillings; the 2d, 12 Shillgs: & be pleased to inclose the two Receipts (stamp'd) in a Cover, and send them to me; the sooner the better, for I am always in a little apprehension during this season of Conflagrations. I know you will excuse me, & therefore will make no excuses. I can not think of coming to town, till sometime in April myself.

I know, you have wrote a very obliging Letter [to Tuthill] but as I have not seen it, & he is not in my way at present, I leave him to answer for himself.

Adieu, Dear Sr, & make my Compliments to your Family, I am ever
Letter ID: letters.0227 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 38
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 38[?]


Date of composition: 9 March 1755
Date (on letter): March, 9. 1755
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Camb:ge

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 204 mm x 162 mm


Language: English
Incipit: According to my reckoning Mrs Wh: should have been brought to bed...
Mentioned: Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764
Gray, Philip, 1676-1741
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Wanstead, Gray's house at

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 69-70, 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 xx, section iv, 232-233
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XX, vol. i, 342-343
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XLVI, vol. ii, 253-255
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXXXVIII, vol. ii, 5-6
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LIII, vol. iii, 128-130
  • 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. CXVIII, vol. i, 261-262
  • 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, 177-178
  • 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. 196, vol. i, 420-422