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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 7 October 1757

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Dr Thomas Wharton, M:D:
in [...]ngs-Arms Yard, Coleman Street
8 OC

Dear Doctr

I heartily rejoice with you, that your little family are out of danger, & all apprehensions of that kind over with them for life. yet I have heard, you were ill yourself, & kept your bed: as this was (I imagine) only by way of regimen, & not from necessity; I hope soon to be told, you have no farther occasion for it. yet take care of yourself, for there is a bad fever now very frequent. it is among the boys at Eton, & (I am told), is much spread about London too. my notion is, that your violent quick pulse, & soapy diet would not suit well with feverish disorders. tho' our party at Slough turn'd out so ill, I could not help being sorry, that you were not with us.

Have you read Mr. Hurd's (printed) Letter to Mason on the Marks of Imitation? you do not tell me your opinion of it. you bid me send you criticisms on myself, & even compliments. did I tell you, what the Speaker says? the 2d Ode, he says, is a good pretty tale, but nothing to the Churchyard. Mr. Bedingfield in a golden shower of panegyrick writes me word, that at Yorkraces he overheard three People, whom by their dress & manner he takes for Lords, say, that I was impenetrable & inexplicable, and they wish'd, I had told them in prose, what I meant in verse, & then they bought me (wch was what most displeased him) & put me in their pocket. Dr Warburton is come to Town, & likes them extremely. he says the World never pass'd so just an opinion upon any thing as upon them: for that in other things they have affected to like or dislike, whereas here they own, they do not understand, wch he looks upon to be very true; but yet thinks, they understand them as well as they do Milton or Shakespear, whom they are obliged by fashion to admire. Mr G:k's compliment you have seen; I am told it was printed in the Chronicle of last Saturday. the Review I have read, & admire it, particularly that observation, that the Bard is taken from Pastor, cum traheret, & the advice to be more an original, & in order to be so, the way is (he says) to cultivate the native flowers of the soil, & not introduce the exoticks of another climate.

I am greatly pleased with M:n s Caractacus in its present state. the contrivance & arrangement of events, the manners of the country, the characters & passions, strike me wonderfully. the difficult part is now got over, nothing remains but to polish, & retouch a little: yet only the beginning of the first Chorus is done of the lyric part. have you seen it?

Adieu! dear Sr, & believe me ever

I shall be in Town probably sooner than you come to stay there.

Letter ID: letters.0286 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 40
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 40[?]


Date of composition: 7 October 1757
Date (on letter): Oct: 7. 1757
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Stoke Poges, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 201 mm x 158 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Thomas Wharton, M:D: / in [...]ngs-Arms Yard, Coleman Street / London (postmark: 8 OC)


Language: English
Incipit: I heartily rejoice with you, that your little family are out of danger,...
Mentioned: Odes by Mr. Gray (1757)
London Chronicle
Monthly Review
Bedingfield, Edward, b. 1730
Hurd, Dr. Richard
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Warburton, William

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 96-97, 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, 250, note
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LXVI, vol. ii, 296-297
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LXXIV, vol. iii, 177-179
  • 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. CLI, vol. i, 365-368
  • 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, 196
  • 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. 251, vol. ii, 531-533