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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 24 August 1770

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Thomas Wharton Esq of
Old-Park near

My dear Doctor

It happen'd, that I was in London at the time, when St: received your letter relating to Mr. L:s request. as my name was mention'd in it, I ought to make my excuses to you as well as he, wch it is indeed easy to do, as I could by no means ask any thing but thro' him, & (tho' this had been in my power) it would have been a very bad plea to say, my Ld, you have done me a very unexpected favour not long since; & therefore I must beg you to do another at my desire for a Friend of mine. but the truth is, at this time our application could not have had any success, as our Principal would certainly never apply to three different Persons, with whom he has no connection; nor care to be refused, or even obliged by them. the inside of things can not be well explain'd by letters; but if you saw it, you would immediately see in its full light the impracticability of the thing.

I am lately return'd from a six weeks ramble thro' Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthsh:re Herefordsh:re & Shropshire, five of the most beautiful counties in the kingdom. the very light, & principal feature in my journey was the river Wye, wch I descended in a boat for near 40 miles from Ross to Chepstow: its banks are a succession of nameless wonders: one out of many you may see not ill described by Mr. Whateley in his Observations on Gardening under the name of the New-Weir: he has also touch'd upon two others, Tinterne-Abbey, and Persfield (Mr Morris's). both of them famous scenes; & both on the Wye. Monmouth, a town I never heard mention'd, lies on the same river in a vale, that is the delight of my eyes, & the very seat of pleasure. the vale of Abergavenny, Ragland & Chepstow-Castles, Ludlow, Malvern-hills, Hampton Court near Lemster, the Leasowes, Hagley, the three Cities & their Cathedrals, & lastly Oxford (where I past two days in my return with great satisfaction), are the rest of my acquisitions, & no bad harvest to my thinking. I have a journal written by the companion of my travels, that serves to recall & fix the fading images of these things.

I desire to hear of your health, & that of your family. are Miss Wh:n & Miss Peggy quite recover'd? my respects to Mrs. Wharton & them.

I am ever
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0609 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 53
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 53[?]


Date of composition: 24 August 1770
Date (on letter): Aug: 24. 1770
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pemb: Coll:
Place of addressee: Durham, United Kingdom

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 227 mm x 185 mm
Addressed: To / Thomas Wharton Esq of / Old-Park near / Darlington / Durham (postmark: CAMBRIDG[E])


Language: English
Incipit: It happen'd, that I was in London at the time, when St: received...
Mentioned: Abergavenny
Hampton Court (Leominster)
Hereford Cathedral
Malvern Hills
New Weir
Nicholls, Norton, c. 1742-1809
Ragian Castle
Shenstone, William
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Tintern Abbey
Whateley, Thomas
Wye, River

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 214-215, 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 xii, section v, 394-395
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section V, letter XV, vol. ii, 560-561
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section V, letter XV, vol. iv, 191-193
  • 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. CCCLXX, vol. iii, 290-291
  • 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. 530, vol. iii, 1141-1143