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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, [28 November 1759]

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Dear Doctor

I know not what to say to you after so long a silence, but that I have been down at Stoke to see poor Lady Cobham, & after about three weeks pass'd there, she being obliged to come for advice (as they call it) to Town, I return'd with her, & have been eversince, till about ten days ago, by her desire in the house with her in Hanover Square. she is dying (as it now plainly appears) of a Dropsy, & the contemplation of ling'ring death is not apt to raise the spirits of any Spectator [ ]

I have had an enquiry from Mr. Jonathan about painted glass, & have given him such information, as I could procure. the manufacture at York seems to be the thing for your purpose, but the name of the Person I can not learn. he at Worcester sells it for two Shillings a pound (for it is sold by weight). I approve very well of the canopy-work border on the sides of each light descending to the bottom, provided it do not darken the window too much, & take up so much of the 20 inches space, as to make the plain glass in the middle appear over-narrow. but I have been more used to see the whole top of colour'd glass (from where the Arch begins to turn) the gloom above contributing much to the beauty of the clear view below. I can not decide: the first is more Gothic & more uncommon. the latter more convenient, & more chearful. Green glass is not classical, nor ever seen in a real Church-window, but where there is History painted, & there the Green is remarkably bad. I propose, the rich amethyst-purple instead of it. the mosaic pattern can hardly come amiss, only do not let too much yellow & scarlet come together, if I could describe the Mosaïc at Mr. W:s it would be of no use to you, because it is not merely made of squares put together, but painted in a pattern by Price, & shaded. it is as if little Balaustines, or Pomegranate-flowers, were set four together, & formed a lozenge. these are of a golden yellow with a white Pearl at the junctions, & the spaces inclosed by them are scarlet, or blew. this repeated makes a Diaper-work, & fills the whole top of the window. I am sorry any of your designs depend upon Virginia; I fear it will fail you. St:r tells me, you have a neighbouring scene [superi]or to any banks of the Thames, where I am to live. [ ] lodge me? Mason has been in [ ] to Aston, where he [ ] tration are as [young] [ ] & flourishing state of his country. [ ] clever, and forced from him by a nonsensical speech of Beckford's. the second was a studied & puerilc declamation on funeral honours (on proposing a Monument for Wolf). in the course of it he wiped his eyes with one handkerchief, & Beckford (who seconded him) cried too, & wiped with two handkerchiefs at once, wch was very moving. the third was about Gen: Amhurst, & in commendation of the industry & ardour of our American Commanders, very spirited & eloquent. this is a very critical time, an action being hourly expected between the two great Fleets, but no news as yet.

I don't know where my Thermometer left off, but I do not find any observations till the 8th of Sept:r.

Sept.  8 at 68. close & gloomy. Walnuts 20 a penny.  
9 at 70. same:  
10 ... 72. very fine. Wd S:W: then N:W ... Bergamot Pears.  
11 ... 68. wet, evening fine. S:W: foggy night.  
12 ... 64. cloudy. S:S:W:  
13 ... 68. showry afternoon. S:W:  
14 ... 62. fair. W:N:W: cool.  
15 ... 62. a little rain. N:W: little frost at night.  
16 ... 61. fair. N:N:W:, evening N:E: bright & cool.  
17 59. N:W:  
18 58.  
19 ... 57. Wd N:  
20 . . . . . .  
21 60. fair. N:E: high.  
22 ... 60. fair & cool. N:E: at night a little frost.  
23 59. fair. aftern: cold & gloomy. set by a fire. (Went to Stoke.)  
24 ... ... fine. black & white Muscadine Grapes, black Figs (the white are over) Melons & Walnuts.  
25 Red and Blew double Asters, Musk & Monthly Roses, Marygolds, Sweet Peas, Carnations, Mignonette, & Double Stocks, in bloom.  
26 ... 59. Wd N:W: high.  
Elm, Oak, & Old Ash in full verdure. Horse Chesnut & Lime turn yellow. Young Beeches russet, Cherry trees red, & dropping their leaves.  
27 62. Clouds & Sun.  
28 – . . . . .  
29 ... 64. fine.  
30 ... 62.  
Oct: 1 Catherine-Peaches very ripe. black Frontignac Grapes.
(all the rest is lost.)  

The 20 of November some Snow fell in the night.

23d Therm: at 32 (freezing point) for the first time; since wch it has continued rising: weather wet.

today. the 28th, at 54. Wd W:N:W: high. warm & wet.

My best respects to Mrs Wharton. I am, Dear Sr, ever
Letter ID: letters.0353 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 42
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 42[?]


Date of composition: [28 November 1759]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.; 3 pages, 226 mm x 183 mm


Language: English
Incipit: I know not what to say to you after so long a silence, but that I have...
Mentioned: London
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Thames, River
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 126-127, 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 LXXXV, vol. ii, 339-342
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XCIII, vol. iii, 226-229
  • 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. CXCIV, vol. ii, 109-112
  • 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, 226-227
  • 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. 306, vol. ii, 649-653