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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 28 December 1767

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Dear Doctor

Many & various maladies have I labour'd under, since I left the north, but none of them (thanks to my summer expedition) jusqu' a mourir. the gout came regularly, while I was in town, first in one, then in the other foot, but so tame you might have stroked it. since I got hither, another of my troublesome companions for life has confined me to my room, but abstinence has (I believe) got the better of that too, & to-morrow I go abroad again. I sent to your brother, before I left London, the maps you wanted, the Decouvertes des Russes, Voyage de Gmelin en Siberie, Mr. Clerke of Chichester on the Saxon coins, Lee's Linnæan Dictionary, Verrall's Cookery, & something else that I have forgot. as to Hudson's Flora Anglica it is not to be had, being out of print: a new & more correct edition is soon expected. Willughby's book of fishes was never publish'd in English, so would not answer your end. that of Birds is indeed in English, but not to be had in the shops & sells at auctions from 30 to 40 shillings, so I did not buy it without farther orders. I hope this cargo is safe arrived; & another little one, that I sent to Miss Wharton & Miss Peggy, directed to the former, to be left at Mr Tho: Wilkinson's in Durham: this went by the Newcastle Waggon about 6th of Dec:, & contain'd twelve Flower-roots, viz: 3 Soleil d'or Narcissus, 2 White Italian d°: (N:B: of the Double white & yellow Italian there are none to be had this year) 2 Pileus Cardinalis, red; 1 Kroon-vogel, 1 Degeraad, double White; 1 Belle Grisdelin. 1 Hermaphrodite, & 1 Incomparable, double blew; Hyacinths. for these you must get glasses from Newcastle. in the same box was a pocket Lens, wch Miss Wh: (if she pleased) was to give to Aunt Middleton, who wanted such a thing.

I desire to know, what you thought of Mason's plan for your ground (wch makes so pretty a figure on paper); & whether Summers came to Old-Park to advise about planting. he is a very intelligent modest young Man, & might be of great use there. has Miss Wh: served her time yet as a Bride-maid? I hope it may prove a good omen to her! does Miss Peggy rival Claude Lorraine yet, & when does she go to York? do Debo & Betty tend their Chrysalises, & their samplers? is Kee's mouth as pretty as ever? does Robin read like a Doctor, dance like a Fairy, & bow like a Courtier? does Dicky kick up his heels, & study Geography? please to answer me as to all these particulars. my Thermometer presents her compliments to her country-sister, & proposes now to open a correspondence with her. she lives against a pale in the garden with her back to the East at 9 o'clock in the morning precisely: at any other hour she is not visible, unless upon some great occasion. I was in London from 3 Nov: to 14 Dec:, during wch time the weather was commonly open, damp, & mild, with the wind in the West, veering either to N: or S:. on the last mention'd day I found some Brambles & Feverfew yet flowering in the hedges, & in gardens the double Chrysanthemum, double Chamomile, Borage, Stocks, & single Wall-flowers. these were all cut off on the 24th by an E: wind & hard frost, Therm: at 31. next day & today it was at 30. on the 26th a little snow fell, wch still lies & freezes.

Our Ministry has taken in some odd Coadjutors not much to its credit or strength. it appear'd from the first day the Parliament met, that the Opposition were all to pieces among themselves, & soon after the Duke of Bedf:d civilly declared to Mr Grenville, that he had the highest opinion of his abilities: but as it was contrary to his principles to keep up a constant opposition to the K:s measures, he must not wonder, if his Friends should drop the plan they had for sometime been pursuing. accordingly he made his terms, four or five of them were directly to be provided for: the rest were to wait till there was room. Ld Shelburne (the Sec:y), & Mr Cook (Joint-Paymaster) were to have gone out, but Ld Chatham insisted on their staying in (it is said) & prevail'd. Mr Conway retires, & is to have the army, when Ld Ligonier dies: this is voluntary, I imagine. Ld Northington goes off with his pension. Ld Weymouth, & Earl Gower supply their places, Mr Thynne is Master of ye Houshold. Ld Sandwich, Joint-Postmaster (Ld Hillsborough being created Secretary of State for America) Rigby is the other, that must come in (to what place I know not) & conduct, I suppose, the House of Commons. how much better & nobler would it have been to have left all these Beggars in the lurch? indeed what could be said against it, as all that could oppose the Ministry were already broke into three parts, & one of them had declared publickly against the other two? I conclude the Rockingham-party will at last prevail, as they have some character & credit with the People still left.

Adieu, my dear Sr. you have had, I hope, no returns of your asthma, since you lay in your own bed. my best respects to Mrs Wharton, & love to all the family.

I am ever
T G:

Shall I write out, & send you, what Leland says of your neighbourhood? it is nothing but short notes taken in his journey: but that journey was towards the end of Henry 8th's reign just after the dissolution of Monasteries, wch makes it valuable.


From St Andre's Akeland to Raby Castel 5 miles, part by arable, but more by pastures, & morisch hilly ground, baren of wood. Raby is the largest Castel of Logginges in al the Northcuntery, & is of a strong building: but not set ether on hil, or very strong ground. as I enterid by a causey into it there was a litle stagne on the right hond, and in the first area were but two toures, one at eche end, as Entres, & no other buildid. yn the 2d area, as an Entring, was a great Gate of iren with a Tour, & 2 or 3 mo on the right hond. then were al the chief Toures of the 3d Court, as in the hart of the castel. The Haul, & al the Houses of Offices be large & stately; & in the haul I saw an incredible great beame of an Hart. the great Chaumber was exceding large, but now it is false-rofid, and devidid into 2 or 3 Partes. I saw ther a litle chaumber, wherein was in windows of colorid glass al the petigre of ye Nevilles, &c:

Letter ID: letters.0515 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 51
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 50[?]


Date of composition: 28 December 1767
Date (on letter): Dec: 28. 1767
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 4 pages, 228 mm x 185 mm


Language: English
Incipit: Many & various maladies have I labour'd under, since I left the north,...
Mentioned: Voyages et découvertes faites par les Russes
Clarke, William
Conway, Henry Seymour, 1721-1795
Gmelin, Johann Georg
Hudson, William
Lee, James
Leland, John
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Old Park
Verrall, William
Willughby, Francis

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 178-179, 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 CXXXII, vol. ii, 483-487
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter CXLIII, vol. iv, 93-97
  • 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. CCCXV, vol. iii, 163-168
  • 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. 459, vol. iii, 986-990