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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 2 February 1771

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Thomas Wharton Esq
of Old-Park near

It never rains, but it pours, my dear Doctor. you will be glad to hear, that Mr Br: has added to his Mastership (wch is better than 150£ a-year) a Living hard by Cambridge, Stretham in the isle of Ely, worth, as it was lett above 40 years ago, at least 240£ more. it was in the gift of the Crown during the vacancy of the See of Ely, & that its value is really more than I have said, you will hardly doubt, when you hear, it was carried against an Earl, a Baron, & a Bishop, the latter of the three so strenuous a Suitor, that he still persisted above a week after I had seen the Presentation sign'd to Mr B: by the King's own hand, nay, he still persisted a day, after the K: had publickly declared in the Drawing-room, that he had given it Mr B: by name. and who was this bishop? no other than your Friend, who wanted it for a Nephew of his, a poor unfortunate Nephew, that had been so imprudent many a year ago to marry a Farmer's daughter, where he boarded, when Curate; & continued ever since under a cloud, because his uncle would give him nothing. as to us, we had a Duke, an Earl, a Viscount, & a Bishop on our side, & carried it so swimmingly you would stare again. there was a prologue & an exegesis & a peripeteia, & all the parts of a regular drama; & the Heroe is gone to London, was instituted yesterday, & today is gone to Lambeth, for the Archbishop too spoke a good word for us & at a very critical time. the old Lodge has got rid of all its harpsichords & begins to brighten up: its inhabitant is lost like a Mouse in an old cheese. he has received your generous offer of a benefaction to the common good, but it is too much to tax yourself: however we all intend to bring in our mites, & shew the way to the high & mighty: when a fund is once on foot, they will bestirr themselves.

I am sincerely concern'd to find Miss Wharton is still an Invalide. I believe, you must send her into the milder regions of the South, where the sun dispells all maladies. we ourselves have had an untoward season enough: vast quantities of rain instead of winter, the Thermom:r never below 40 deg:, often above 50, before Christmas; unusual high winds (wch still continue) particularly the 19th of Dec: at night it blew a dreadful storm. the first grain of snow was seen on Xmas Day, of wch we have had a good deal since, but never deep or lasting. the 2d week in Jan: was really severe cold at London, & the Thames frozen over. one morning that week the glass stood here (at 8 in the morning) at 16 degrees, wch is the lowest I ever knew it at Cambridge. at London it never has been observed lower than 13 (understand me right: I mean, 13 above Zero of Farenheit) & that was 5 Jan, 1739. now it is very mild again, but with very high winds at N:W:.

I give you joy of our awkward peace with Spain. Mason is in Town taking his swing, like a Boy in breaking-up-time. remember me kindly to Mrs Wharton, & all the good family. did I tell you of my breaking up in summer in the midland counties, & so as far as Abergavenny one way, & Ludlow the other? I have another journal for you, in several volumes. I have had a cough for above 3 months upon me, wch is incurable.

I am ever
T G:
Letter ID: letters.0622 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 54
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 54[?]


Date of composition: 2 February 1771
Date (on letter): 2 Feb: 1771
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.; 3 pages, 225 mm x 185 mm
Addressed: To / Thomas Wharton Esq / of Old-Park near / Darlington / Durham (postmark: CAMBRIDGE)


Language: English
Incipit: It never rains, but it pours, my dear Doctor. you will be glad to hear,...
Mentioned: Abergavenny
Brown, James, 1709-1784
Froissart, John
Grafton, Augustus Henry Fitzroy, Duke of, 1735-1811
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Ode for Music

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 216-217, 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 V, letter XVII, vol. ii, 564-566
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section V, letter XVIII, vol. iv, 196-199
  • 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. CCCLXXVII, vol. iii, 301-302
  • 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. 542, vol. iii, 1164-1166