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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 21 August 1755

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Dr Thomas Wharton M:D:
in Kings-Arms Yard Coleman
22 AV

Dear Doctor

Instead of going to Twickenham I was obliged to send my excuses, & the same day Mr. W: sent a messenger to say he was confined in Town with a Fever & a Rash. he has since wrote me word, that he is well again; but for me I continue much as I was, & have been but once out of the house to walk, since I return'd from Hampshire. being much inclined to bleeding myself, I yet was fearful to venture, least it should bring on a regular fit of the Gout, so I sent for advice at last, & expected Dr Hayes should tell me presently, whether it were Gout or Rheumatism. in his talk he treated it rather as the former, but his prescription appears to me to be meant for the latter. you will judge. he took away 10 or 11 Oz of blood, & order'd these draughts night & morning:–Sal: Absinth. Succ: Limon. finitâ effervescentiâ add: Aqu: Alexit. Simpl:, Menth: Piperit, Magnes. alb., Tinct: G. Guiac. Spirituos. the quantities I can't read; only I think there is a Dram of the Tincture, & ½ a Dram of Magnesia in each draught. the Blood had no sign of inflammation, but of a bright red: the Serum of a dark yellow with little transparency, not viscid to the touch. the draughts (wch I took over night only) made me sweat almost immediately, & open'd a little in the morning. the consequence is, that I have still many slight complaints. broken & unrefreshing sleeps, as before. less feverish than I was, in a morning: instead of it a sensation of weariness and soreness in both feet, wch goes off in the day. a frequent dizziness & lightness of head. easily fatigued with motion. sometimes a little pain in my breast, as I had in the winter. these symptoms are all too slight to make an illness; but they do not make perfect health. that is sure.

Tho' I allow abundance for your kindness & partiality to me, I am yet much pleased with the good opinion you seem to have of the Bard. you may alter that Robed in the Sable, &c, almost in your own words, thus

With fury pale, & pale with woe,
Secure of fate, the Poet stood &c:

Tho' haggard, wch conveys to you the Idea of a Witch, is indeed only a metaphor taken from an unreclaim'd Hawk, wch is call'd a Haggard, & looks wild & farouche & jealous of its liberty. I have sent now Stonher a bit more of the prophecy, & desire him to shew it you immediately: it is very rough & unpolish'd at present.

Adieu, dear Sr, I am ever
Truly Yours
T G.
Letter ID: letters.0236 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: 21 August 1755
Date (on letter): Aug: 21. 1755
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Stoke Poges, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Stoke
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 204 mm x 163 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Thomas Wharton M:D: / in Kings-Arms Yard Coleman / Street / London (postmark: 22 AV)


Language: English
Incipit: Instead of going to Twickenham I was obliged to send my excuses, & the same...
Mentioned: Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
The Bard. A Pindaric Ode
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 73-74, 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 xxiii, section iv, 244
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XLVIII, vol. ii, 258-263
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter XCI, vol. ii, 10-11
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LVI, vol. iii, 134-139
  • 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. CXXIII, vol. i, 271-275
  • 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, 179-183
  • 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. 205, vol. i, 433-434