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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 23 June 1761

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Dear Doctor

When I received your letter I was still detain'd in Town: but am now at last got to Cambridge. I applied immediately to Dr Ashton (who was nearest at hand) for information as to the expences of Eton without naming any one's name. he returned me the civilest of answers, & that if the boy was to be on the foundation, I had no more to do but send him to him, & the business should be done. as to the charges, he was going to Eton, & would send me an account from thence; wch he did accordingly on Sunday last, & here it is inclosed with his second letter. you will easily conceive, that there must be additional expences, that can be reduced to no rules, as pocket-money, cloths, books, &c: & wch are left to a Father's own discretion.

My notion is, that your Nephew being an only Son, & rather of a delicate constitution, ought not to be exposed to the hardships of the College. I know, that the expence in that way is much lessen'd; but your Brother has but one Son, & can afford to breed him an Oppidant. I know, that a Colleger is sooner form'd to scuffle in the world, that is, by drubbing & tyranny is made more hardy or more cunning, but these in my eyes are no such desirable acquisitions: I know too, that a certain (or very probable) provision for life is a thing to be wish'd: but you must remember, what a thing a fellow of King's is. in short you will judge for yourselves. if you accept my good Friend's offer, I will proceed accordingly: if not, we will thank him, & willingly let him recommend to us a cheap boarding-house, not disdaining his protection & encouragement, if it can be of any little use to your Nephew. he has married one of Amyand's Sisters with 12,000£: (I suppose, you know her; she is an enchanting object!), & he is settled in the Preachership of Lincolns Inn.

Sure Mr Jon:. or some one has told you, how your good Friend, Mr. L: has been horsewhip'd, trampled, bruised, & piss'd upon, by a Mrs Mackenzie, a sturdy Scotch Woman. it was done in an Inn-yard at Hampstead in the face of day, & he has put her in the Crown-Office. it is very true. I will not delay this letter to tell you any more stories.

Adieu! I am ever
T G:

Mr. Brown, (the petit bon-homme) joins his compliments to mine, & presents them to you and Mrs. Wharton.

I have been dreadfully disappointed in Rousseau's Heloïse: but Mason admires it.

Letter ID: letters.0387 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 44
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 44[?]


Date of composition: 23 June 1761
Date (on letter): June 23. 1761
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pembroke-Hall

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 205 mm x 185 mm


Language: English
Incipit: When I received your letter I was still detain'd in Town: but am now...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Brown, James, 1709-1784
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Rousseau, Jean Jacques

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 144-145, 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 XCVII, vol. ii, 387-388
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CV, vol. iii, 283-284
  • 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. CCXXII, vol. ii, 215-218
  • 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. 336, vol. ii, 740-742