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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 4 December 1762

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Dr Wharton M:D: at
Old-Park near

Dear Doctor

I feel very ungrateful every day, that I continue silent, & yet I do not write to you: but now the pen is in my hand, and I am in for it. when I left you, in spite of the rain I went out of my way to Richmond, & made a shift to see the Castle, & look down upon the valley, thro' wch the Swale winds: that was all the weather would permitt. at Rippon I visited the Church, which we had neglected before, with some pleasure, & saw the Ure full to its brink & very inclinable to overflow. some faint gleams of sunshine gave me an opportunity of walking over Studley, & descending into the ruins of Fountain's Abbey, wch I examined with attention. I pass'd over the ugly moor of Harrowgate, made a bow to the Queen's-Head, & got late at night to Leedes: here the rain was so perverse I could scarce see the Town, much less go to Kirkstall-Abbey, wch was my intention; so I proceeded to Wakefield, & Wentworth Castle. here the Sun again indulged me, & open'd as beautiful a scene of rich & cultivated country, as (I am told) Yorkshire affords. the water is all artificial, but with an air of nature; much wood; a very good house in the Q: Anne style, wch is now new-fronting in a far better taste by the present Earl; many pictures not worth a farthing, & a castle built only for a play-thing on the top of the hill as a point of view, & to command a noble prospect. I went on to Sheffield, liked the situation in a valley by a pretty river's side, surrounded with charming hills: saw the handsome parish-church with the chappel & monuments of the Talbots. then I enter'd the Peak, a countrey beyond comparison uglier than any other I have seen in England, black, tedious, barren, & not mountainous enough to please one with its horrors. this is mitigated, since you were there, by a road like a bowling-green, wch soon brought me to Chatsworth. the house has the air of a Palace, the hills rising on three of its sides shut out the view of its dreary neighbourhood, & are cover'd with wood to their tops: the front opens to the Derwent winding thro' the valley, wch by the art of Mr Brown is now always visible & full to its brim. for heretofore it could not well be seen (but in rainy seasons) from the windows. a handsome bridge is lately thrown over it, & the stables taken away, wch stood full in view between the house & the river. the prospect opens here to a wider tract of country terminated by more distant hills: this scene is yet in its infancy, the objects are thinly scatter'd, & the clumps and plantations lately made: but it promises well in time. within doors the furniture corresponds to the stateliness of the appartments, fine tapestry, marble doorcases with fruit, flowers, & foliage, excellently done by Old Cibber's Father, windows of plate-glass in gilded frames, & such a profusion of Gibbons' best carving in wood, viz. Dead-Game, fish, shells, flowers, &c: as I never saw anywhere. the cielings & staircases all painted by Verrio or Laguerre, in their usual sprawling way, & no other pictures, but in one room 8 or 10 portraits, some of them very good, of James & Charles the first's time. the gardens are small, & in the French style with water-works, particularly a grand Cascade of steps & a Temple d'eaux at the head of it. from thence I went to Hardwick. one would think Mary, Queen of Scots, was but just walk'd down into the Park with her Guard for half-an-hour. her Gallery, her room of audience, her antichamber, with the very canopies, chair of state, footstool, Lit-de-repos, Oratory, carpets, & hangings, just as she left them. a little tatter'd indeed, but the more venerable; & all preserved with religious care, & paper'd up in winter. the park & country are just like Hertfordshire. I went by Chesterfield & Mansfield to revisit my old friend the Trent at Nottingham, where I passed 2 or 3 days, & from thence took stage-coach to London.

When I arrived there, I found Professor Turner had been dead above a fortnight, & being cocker'd and spirited up by some Friends (tho' it was rather of the latest) I got my name suggested to Ld B:. you may easily imagine, who undertook it; & indeed he did it with zeal. I received my answer very soon, wch was what you may easily imagine, but join'd with great professions of his desire to serve me on any future occasion, & many more fine words, that I pass over, not out of modesty, but for another reason. so you see I have made my fortune, like Sr Fr: Wronghead. this nothing is a profound secret, and no one here suspects it even now: today I hear, that Delaval has got it, but we are not yet certain: next to myself I wish'd for him.

You see we have made a peace. I shall be silent about it, because if I say anything antiministerial, you will tell me, you know the reason; & if I approve it, you will tell me, I have expectations still. all I know is, that the D: of Newcastle & Ld Hardwick both say, it is an excellent Peace; & only Mr Pitt calls it inglorious & insidious.

I had a little Gout twice, while I was in Town, wch confined me some time: yet I bespoke your chairs. they are what is call'd Rout-Chairs, but as they are to be a little better in shape & materials than ordinary, will come to about 6s 9d a chair. I desired your Brother to judge, how he perform'd, & the first, that was made, was to be sent him to see.

My best respects attend Mrs Wharton, who I suppose, receives them in bed. how does she doe? My compliments to Miss.

I am ever truly

Mason is in Yorkshire now, but I miss'd of him.

Letter ID: letters.0416 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 46
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 45[?]


Date of composition: 4 December 1762
Date (on letter): Dec: 4. 1762
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.; 4 pages, 200 mm x 162 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Wharton M:D: at / Old-Park near / Durham (postmark: YORK)


Language: English
Incipit: I feel very ungrateful every day, that I continue silent, & yet I do not...
Mentioned: Chatsworth
Derwent, River
Fountains Abbey
Hardwicke Hall
Kirkstall Abbey
Peak, The
Richmond (Yorks.)
Swale River
Trent, River
Ure, River
Vanbrugh, Sir John
Wentworth Castle

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 156-157, 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 xliii, section iv, 292-293
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XLIII, vol. i, 395-396
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter CIV, vol. ii, 399-402
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXV, vol. ii, 63-65
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXIV, vol. iii, 297-302
  • 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. CCXLV, vol. ii, 263-269
  • 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. 363, vol. ii, 784-788