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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 18 September 1759

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Dear Doctr.

I can not say any thing to you about Mason, whose motions I am entirely a stranger to, & have not once heard from him since he left London; till (the 3d of this month) a letter came, in wch he tells me, that Gaskarth is at Aston with him, & that the latter end of the month, or beginning of the next, he shall be in Town as he goes into waiting the last fortnight in October. Ld H: has sent him no less than four Expresses (literally so) with publick News good & bad, wch has made him of infinite importance in the eyes of that neighbourhood. I can not pretend therefore to guess, whether he will be able to come to you. I am sorry to tell you that I try in vain to execute your commission about tapestry. what is so bad, as wry-mouthed histories? and yet for this they ask me at least double the price you talk of. I have seen nothing neither, that would please me at any price: yet I allow tapestry (if at all tolerable) to be a very proper furniture for your sort of house; but doubt, if any bargain of that kind is to be met with, except at some old mansion-sale in the country, where People will disdain tapestry, because they hear, that Paper is all the fashion. Stonhewer has been in Northamptonshire till now: as you told me the subject of your letter, I did not send it thither to him, besides that he was every day expected in Town. at last he is come, & has it; but I have not yet seen him: he is gone today (I believe) to Portsmouth to receive a Morocco Embassador, but returns very shortly. there is one advantage in getting into your Abbey at Christmas-time: that it will be at its worst, & if you can bear it then, you need not fear for the rest of the year. Mr W: has lately made a new Bed-chamber, wch as it is in the best tast of any thing he has yet done, & in your own Gothic way, I must describe a little. you enter by a peaked door at one corner of the room (out of a narrow winding passage, you may be sure) into an Alcove, in wch the bed is to stand, formed by a screen of pierced work opening by one large arch in the middle to the rest of the chamber, wch is lighted at the other end by a bow-window of three days, whose tops are of rich painted glass in mosaïc. the cieling is coved & fretted in star & quatrefoil compartments with roses at the intersections, all in papier-maché. the chimney on your left is the high-altar in the Cathedral of Rouen (from whence the Screen also is taken) consisting of a low surbased Arch between two octagon Towers, whose pinnacles almost reach the Cieling, all of Nich-work. the chairs & dressing-table are real carved Ebony, pick'd up at auctions. the hangings uniform purple paper, hung all over with the Court of Henry, ye 8th, copied after the Holbein's in the Queen's Closet at Kensington, in black & gold frames. the bed is to be either from Burleigh (for Ld Exeter is new-furnishing it, & means to sell some of his original houshold-stuff) of the rich old tarnish'd embroidery; or if that is not to be had, & it must be new, it is to be a cut velvet with a dark purple pattern on a stone-colour sattin-ground, & deep mixt fringes, & tassels. there's for you, but I want you to see it. in the mean time I live in the Musæum, & write volumes of antiquity. I have got (out of the original Ledger-book of the Signet) K: Richard 3d's Oath to Elizabeth, late calling herself Queen of England; to prevail upon her to come out of Sanctuary with her 5 Daughters. his Grant to Lady Hastings & her Son, dated 6 weeks after he had cut off her Husband's head. a Letter to his Mother; another to his Chancellor, to persuade his Sollicitor General not to marry Jane Shore then in Ludgate by his command. Sr Tho: Wyat's Defence at his Tryal, when accused by Bp Bonner of high-treason; Lady Purbeck & her Son's remarkable Case, & several more odd things unknown to our Historians. when I come home, I have a great heap of ye Conway-papers (wch is a secret) to read, & make out. in short I am up to the ears.

The Fish you mention is so accurately described that I know it at sight. it is the Ink-fish, or Loligo of the Romans. in Greek Τευθὸς, in Italian, Calamaio. in French, Calmar. you will find it ranged by Linnæus in the Class of Vermes, the Order of Mollusca, the Genus of Sepia, No 4. pag: 659. the smaller ones are eaten as a delicacy fried, with their own ink for sauce, by the Italians & others. you may see it in Aldrovandus.

I do not see much myself of the face of nature here, but I enquire. Wheat was cutting in Kent the 23d of July. the 25th at Enfield. the 27th Wheat, Barley, & Oats cutting all at once about Windsor: the forward Pease all got in, ground plough'd and turneps sow'd. 9th of August Harvest still continued in Buck:re. the 27th about Kennington it was just over, being delay'd for want of hands. in some places 50 mile from London it is but just over now for the same reason. the 3d of Aug: Catherine-pears, Muscle-Plums, & small black Cherries were sold in wheelbarrows. Filberds in plenty the 8th. Mulberries, & fine green-gage plums, the 19th. fine Nectarines & Peaches, the 27th. the 4th of Sept:r Melons & Perdrigon-plums. the 8th, Walnuts 20 a penny. this is all I know about fruit. my Weather is not very compleat.

July 20. 1759. London. Therm: 5 in the afternoon at 79
22 same hour 76
23 Wd N:N:E: same hour Grass burnt up 80
25 same hour 78
26 Wd N:N:W: brisk at noon 71
27 Wind laid at night
28 Wd N: fair, white flying clouds, 9 in morng 68
29 S:S:W: still & cloudy sunshine 9 in morng 69
30. gloomy & hot. Wd W:S:W: shower at night 9 in morng 70
31. 8 hours rain. Wd S:W: moonshiny night 9 in morng 70
Aug: 1. cloudy. W:S:W: brisk & chill, bright eveng 9 in morng 66
2. cloudy Sun. W:S:W: chill. a little rain. night clear 9 in morng 65
3. fine. Wd N:W: cool 9 in morng 64
4. gloomy. S:W: high. 7 hours heavy rain 9 in morng 64
5. cloudy. N:W: hard rain at night 9 in morng 66
Aug: 6. Clouds & sunshine. Wd N:W: brisk Therm: at 9 64
7. Wd S:W: fair Therm: at 9 66
8. W: clear & hot Therm: at 9 74
9. S:S:W: very hot Therm: at 9 76
10. S:S:W:. hot & foggy Therm: at 9 74
11. clear & extreme hot Therm: at 9 76
12. N:N:W: small rain. evening fine Therm: at 9 66
13. N:N:E: brisk. fine day Therm: at 9 66
14. cloudy Therm: at 9 64
15. N:N:W: clouds & sun Therm: at 9 68
16. very fine Therm: at 9 64
17. S:W: overcast. some rain Therm: at 9 68
18. very fine Therm: at 9 64
19. W:N:W: cloudy, but fair. at night hard rain Therm: at 9 64
20. W:S:W: overcast. at night much rain Therm: at 9 66

I go no farther than you do: but it is down in my book.

what do you say to all our victories? the night we rejoiced for Boscawen, in the midst of squibs & bonfires arrived Lord G: Sackville. he sees company; & today has put out a short adress to the Publick, saying, he expects a Court-Martial (for no one abroad had authority to try him) & desires people to suspend their judgement. I fear, it is a rueful case.

I believe, I shall go on Monday to Stoke for a time, where Lady Cobh:m has been dying. my best respects to Mrs Wharton.

believe me ever faithfully
Letter ID: letters.0349 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 42
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 42[?]


Date of composition: 18 September 1759
Date (on letter): Sept: 18. 1759
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: London, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Southampton-Row

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 4 pages, 205 mm x 160 mm


Language: English
Incipit: I can not say any thing to you about Mason, whose motions I am...
Mentioned: Conway Papers
Aldrovandi, Ulisse
Rouen Cathedral
Stoke Manor House
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 124-125, 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 LXXXIV, vol. ii, 335-339
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XCII, vol. iii, 220-226
  • 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. CXCII, vol. ii, 100-107
  • 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. 303, vol. ii, 640-645