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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 22 October 1761

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Dear Doctor

Do not think me very dilatory, for I have been sending away all my things from this house (where nevertheless I shall continue while I stay in Town) & have besides been confined with a severe cold to my room. on rummageing Mr Bromwich's & several other shops I am forced to tell you, that there are absolutely no papers at all, that deserve the name of Gothick, or that you would bear the sight of. they are all what they call fancy, & indeed resemble nothing that ever was in use in any age or country. I am going to advise, what perhaps you may be deter'd from by the addition of expence, but what, in your case I should certainly do. any body that can draw the least in the world is capable of sketching in Indian ink a compartment or two of diaper-work, or a nich or tabernacle with its fretwork: take such a Man with you to Durham-Cathedral, & let him copy one division of any ornament you think will have any effect, from the high-altar suppose or the nine altars, or what you please. if nothing there suits you, chuse in Dart's Canterbury or Dugdale's Warwickshire, &c: & send the design hither. they will execute it here, & make a new stamp on purpose, provided you will take 20 pieces of it, & it will come to 1/2 or a penny a yard the more (according to the work, that is in it). this I really think worth your while. I mention your doing it there, because it will be then under your own eye, & at your own choice, & you can proportion the whole better to the dimensions of your room, for if the design be of arcade work, or any thing on a pretty large scale, & the arches or niches are to rise one above the other, there must be some contrivance, that they may fill the entire space & not be cut in sunder and incompleat .. this indeed, where the work is in small compartments, is not to be minded. say therefore, if you come into this; or shall I take a Man here to Westminster, & let him copy some of those fretworks? tho' I think, in the books I have named you may find better things. I much doubt of the effect colours (any other than the tints of stucco) would have in a gothic design on paper, & here they have nothing to judge from. those I spoke of at Ely were green & pale blue with the raised work white, if you care to hazard it. I saw an all-silver paper quite plain, & it look'd like block-tin. in short there is nothing I would venture to send you. One of 3D a yard in small compartments thus, might perhaps do for the stairs, but very likely it is common, & besides it is not pure gothick, therefore I would not send it alone. Adieu & tell me soon what I shall do.

I go to Camb: in 3 weeks or less.

Letter ID: letters.0399 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: 22 October 1761
Date (on letter): Oct: 22. 1761
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: London, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): South:n Row

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.; 3 pages, 212 mm x 164 mm


Language: English
Incipit: Do not think me very dilatory, for I have been sending away all my things...
Mentioned: Dart, John
Dugdale, Sir William
Durham Cathedral

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 150-151, 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 CI, vol. ii, 393-395
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CIX, vol. iii, 289-291
  • 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. CCXXXI, vol. ii, 238-240
  • 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. 348, vol. ii, 761-762