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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, [25 April 1749]

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Dr Thomas Wharton at
By Caxton.

My dear Wharton

I perceive, that Second Parts are as bad to write, as they can be to read; for this, wch you ought to have had a Week after the first, has been a full Month in coming forth. the Spirit of Lazyness (the Spirit of the Place), begins to possess even me, that have so long declaimed against it: yet has it not so prevail'd, but that I feel that Discontent with myself, that Ennuy, that ever accompanies it in its Beginnings. Time will settle my Conscience, Time will reconcile me to this languid Companion: we shall smoke, we shall tipple, we shall doze together. we shall have our little Jokes, like other People, and our long Stories; Brandy will finish what Port begun; & a Month after the Time you will see in some Corner of a London Even:ng Post, Yesterday, died the Revnd Mr John Grey, Senior-Fellow of Clare-Hall, a facetious Companion, & well-respected by all that knew him. his death is supposed to have been occasion'd by a Fit of an Apoplexy, being found fall'n out of Bed with his Head in the Chamber-Pot.

I am half ashamed to write University News to you, but as perhaps you retain some little Leven of Pembroke Hall, your nursing Mother, I am in hopes you will not be more than half-ashamed to read it. Pembroke then is all harmonious & delightful since the Pacification: but I wish you would send them up some Boys, for they are grown extremely thin from their late long Indisposition. Keene's Implications have ended queerly, for contrary to all Common-Sense Peter Nourse & two others have joined Rogers, & brought in a shameful low Creature by a Majority. the Master appeals to the Visitor against their Choice, as of a Person not qualified. he has received the Appeal, & (I suppose) will put in Brocket (Dr Keene's Man) by main Force. Chapman is at present in Town in waiting; he has just married a Miss Barnwell, Niece to one Dr Barnwell, who was Minister of Trompington, with 2000£, a plain Woman, & about his own Age. I hear, that when he sent to Leicester-House to know, when the Prince would be waited upon with the Book of Verses on the Peace the Prince appointed no Day at all; but order'd the Verses to be sent, & left there. the Design of receiving the University at New-Castle House is said to be alter'd; the Duke intending to come hither, (I imagine) after the Parliament is risen. Rosse's Epistles of Tully ad Familiares will come out in about a Week. it is in two handsome 8vo Volumes with an Introd:tion & Notes in English, but no Translation, dedicated to Ld Gower. now I am come to Books, there is a new Edition of Montesquieu's Work (wch I mention'd to you before) publishing in 2V 8vo.

have you seen old Crebillon's Catilina, a Tragedy, wch has had a prodigious Run at Paris? historical Truth is too much perverted in it, wch is ridiculous in a Story so generally known: but if you can get over this, the Sentiments & Versification are fine, & most of the Characters (particularly the principal one) painted with great Spirit. observe, if you chuse to send for it, not to have Brindley's Edition, wch is all false Prints, but Vaillant's. there is a Work publishing in Denmark by Subscription (4 Guineas) Travels in Egypt by Capt: Norden. he was once in England (as Tutor to a young Count Daniskiold, hereditary Admiral of Denmark) & known to many Persons for a Man of Sense, & that understood Drawing extremely well: accordingly it is the Plates, that raise it to such a price, & are said to be excellent. the Author himself is dead, & his papers are publish'd by the Academy at Copenhagen. Mr Birch, the indefatigable, has just put out a thick 8vo of original Papers of Q: Elizabeth's Time. there are many curious Things in it, particularly Letters from Sr Rob: Cecil (Salisbury) about his Negotiations with Henry the 4th of France; the Earl of Monmouth's odd Account of Q: Elizabeth's Death, several Peculiarities of James 1st & Pr: Henry, &c: and above all an excellent Account of the State of France with Characters of the King, his Court, & Ministry, by Sr G: Carew, Ambassador there. this, I think, is all new worth mentioning, that I have seen or heard of, except a natural History of Peru in Spanish, printed at London, by Don — something, a Man of Learning, sent thither by the Court on Purpose.

I shall venture to accept of a Part of that kind Offer you once made me (for my Finances are much disorder'd this Year) by desiring you to lend me twenty Guineas. the sooner you can do this, the more convenient it will be to me, & if you can find a Method to pay it here; still more so. but if any thing should happen, that may defer it, or make this Method troublesome: then I will desire you to make it payable in Town after the first Week in June, when I shall be obliged to go thither.

I want to hear from you, to know of your Health & that of your Family. my best Compliments to Mrs Wharton, Mr Brown comes & throws in his little comps too, & we are both very truly

T G: i: b:
Letter ID: letters.0169 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 32
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 32[?]


Date of composition: [25 April 1749]
Date (on letter): April 25
Calendar: Julian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 235 mm x 185 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Thomas Wharton at / Durham / By Caxton. (postmark: CAMBRIDGE)


Language: English
Incipit: I perceive, that Second Parts are as bad to write, as they can be to read;...
Mentioned: Birch, Thomas
Brockett, Lawrence, 1724-1768
Crébillon père
George, Juan
Norden, Frederic Louis

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 35-36, 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 x, section iv, 204-205
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter X, vol. i, 316-318
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XIX, vol. ii, 196-199
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXX, vol. i, 152-154
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XXVI, vol. iii, 62-66
  • 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. LXXXVII, vol. i, 196-200
  • Essays and Criticisms by Thomas Gray. Ed. with Introduction and Notes by Clark Sutherland Northup. Boston and London: D. C. Heath & Co., 1911, letter excerpt, 158-159
  • 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. 149, vol. i, 317-321