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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, [8 August 1749]

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My Dear Wharton

I promised Dr Keene long since to give you an Account of our Magnificences here, but the News-Papers & he himself in Person have got the Start of my Indolence, so that by this Time you are well acquainted with all the Events, that adorned that Week of Wonders. thus much I may venture to tell you, because it is probable no body else has done it, that our Friend Chappy's Zeal & Eloquence surpassed all Power of Description. Vesuvio in an Eruption was not more violent than his Utterance, nor (since I am at my Mountains) Pelion with all its Pine-trees in a Storm of Wind more impetuous than his Action. and yet the Senate-house still stands, & (I thank God) we are all safe and well at your Service. I was ready to sink for him, & scarce dared to look about me, when I was sure it was all over: but soon found I might have spared my Confusion, for all People join'd to applaud him: every thing was quite right; & I dare swear, not three People here but think him a Model of Oratory. for all the Duke's little Court came with a Resolution to be pleased; & when the Tone was once given the University, who ever wait for the Judgement of their Betters, struck into it with an admirable Harmony. for the rest of the Performances they were (as usual) very ordinary. every one, while it lasted, was very gay, & very busy in the Morning, & very owlish & very tipsy at Night. I make no Exceptions from the Chancellour to Blew-Coat. Mason's Ode was the only Entertainment, that had any tolerable Elegance; & for my own Part I think it (with some little abatements) uncommonly well on such an Occasion. pray let me know your Sentiments, for doubtless you have seen it. the Author of it grows apace into my good Graces, as I know him more: he is very ingenious with great Good-Nature & Simplicity. a little vain, but in so harmless & so comical a Way, that it does not offend one at all; a little ambitious, but withall so ignorant in the World & its Ways, that this does not hurt him in one's Opinion. so sincere & so undisguised, that no Mind with a Spark of Generosity would ever think of hurting him, he lies so open to Injury. but so indolent, that if he can not overcome this Habit, all his good Qualities will signify nothing at all. after all I like him so well, I could wish you knew him.

[Tuthill], who was here at the Installation & in high Spirits, will come to settle in Cambridge at Michaelmas. and I have hopes, that these two with Brown's assistance may bring Pembroke into some Esteem: but then there is no making Bricks without Straw. they have no Boys at all, & unless you can send us a Hamper or two out of the North to begin with, they will be like a few Rats straggling about an old deserted Mansion-House.

I should be glad (as you will see Keene often ) if you could throw in a Word, as of your own head merely, about a Fellowship for Stonhewer. he has several times mention'd it himself, as a Thing he would try to bring about either at Queen's or Christ's, where he has interest: but I know not how, it has gone off again, & we have heard no more lately about it. I know it is not practicable here at Peter-house, because of his County; & tho' at Pembroke we might possibly get a Majority, yet Roger is an animal, that might play over again all his old Game, & with a better appearance than before. you would therefore oblige me, if you would sound him upon this subject, for it is Stonhewer's Wish, & (I think) would be an Advantage to him, if he had a Reason for continuing here some time longer. if you can get Keene to be explicit about it (but it must seem to be a Thought entirely of your own) I will desire you to let me know the Result. my best Wishes, Dear Sr, ever attend on you, & Mrs Wharton. I am most sincerely & unalterably

T G:
Letter ID: letters.0170 (Source: TEI/XML)


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


Date of composition: [8 August 1749]
Date (on letter): Aug: 8
Calendar: Julian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 234 mm x 185 mm


Language: English
Incipit: I promised Dr Keene long since to give you an Account of our Magnificences...
Mentioned: Cambridge
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 37-38, 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 xi, section iv, 206-207
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XI, vol. i, 318-319
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter XX, vol. ii, 200-202
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter LXXI, vol. i, 154-155
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter XXVII, vol. iii, 66-69
  • 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. LXXXVIII, vol. i, 201-203
  • 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, 160
  • 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. 150, vol. i, 322-324