Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 31 August 1758
I ought to have informed you sooner, that I had received the Ticket you were so good to buy for me, but I have been obliged to go every day almost to Stoke-house, where the Garricks have been all the last week. they are now gone, & I am not sorry for it, for I grow so old, that, I own, People in high spirits & gayety overpower me, & entirely take away mine. I can yet be diverted with their sallies, but if they appear to take notice of my dullness, it sinks me to nothing. I do not know, whether you will blame me, but I found so good an opportunity given me of entering into the quarrel between M: and him, that I could not help seizing it, & trying to shew him the folly of hearkening to half-witted friends & tale-bearers; and the greater folly of attempting to hurt, or merely to pique, so worthy & so estimable a Man. if I did nothing else, I at least convinced him, that I spoke entirely from myself; & that I had the most entire good opinion & most unalterable respect as well as kindness for M:n.
I congratulate you on our successes, & condole with you on our misfortunes: but do you think we draw the nearer to any happy conclusion of the war, or that we can bear so great a burthen much longer. the K: of Prussia's situation embarrasses me, surrounded as he is, & reduced to the defence of his own little Marquisate.
Your Encyclopedie is the object of my envy. I am reduced to French plays & novels, Willis's mitred Abbies, & the History of Norfolk in 3 volumes Folio. these latter Authors have, I think, the most wit, tho' the others know rather more of the World.
I wish the air of Hampstead were not so necessary to you all, but am glad you always know where to find health, & that she lives so near you. I continue better than has been usual for me in the summer, tho' I neither walk, nor take any thing: 'tis in mind only, that I am weary & disagreeable. Mrs R: is declining every day, her stomach gone, very weak, sometimes giddy, & subject to disorders in her bowels: yet I do not apprehend any immediate danger, but believe she will be reduced to keep her bed entirely.
My best compliments to Mrs Wharton. pray let me hear from you as often as you are in a humour for writing, tho' from hence I can requite your kindness with so little to amuse you.
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stoke Manor House
Egerton MS 2400, ff. 114-115, Manuscripts collection, British Library , London, UK <http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/manuscr/>
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LXXVI, vol. ii, 318-320
- The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LXXXIV, vol. iii, 202-204
- 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. CLXXII, vol. ii, 46-49
- 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. 277, vol. ii, 584-586