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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 25 March 1756

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Dr Thomas Wharton M:D:
in Kings-Arms Yard
Coleman Street

Dear Doctor

Tho' I had no reasonable excuse for myself before I received your last letter, yet since that time I have had a pretty good one, having been taken up in quarrelling with Peter-house, & in removing myself from thence to Pembroke. this may be look'd upon as a sort of Æra in a life so barren of events as mine, yet I shall treat it in Voltaire's manner, & only tell you, that I left my lodgings, because the rooms were noisy, & the People of the house dirty. this is all I would chuse to have said about it; but if you in private should be curious enough to enter into a particular detail of facts & minute circumstances, Stonhewer who was witness to them will probably satisfy you. all, I shall say more, is, that I am for the present extremely well lodged here, & as quiet as in the Grande Chartreuse; & that every body (even the Dr Longs & Dr Mays) are as civil, as they could be to Mary de Valence in person. with regard to any advice I can give as to the Hospital, I freely own it ought to give way to Dr. H:s counsels, who is a much better judge, & (I should think) disinterested. I love refusals no more than you do; but as to your Effluvia, I maintain, that one sick rich has more of pestilence & putrefaction about him, than a whole ward of sick Poor.

You should have received Mason's present as last Saturday. I desire you to tell me your critical opinion of the new Ode: & also whether you have found out two lines, wch he has inserted in another of them, that are superlative. we do not expect, that the world, wch is just going to be invaded, will bestow much attention on them. if you hear any thing, you will tell us.

The similitude between the Italian Republicks & those of ancient Greece has often struck me, as it does you. I do not wonder, that Sully's Memoirs have highly entertain'd you. but can not agree with you in thinking him or his Master two of the best Men in the world. the King was indeed one of the best-natured Men, that ever lived. but it is owing only to chance, that his intended Marriage with Mad: d'Estrées, or with the Marq:se de Verneuil, did not involve him & the kingdom in the most inextricable confusion; & his design upon the Princess of Condé (in his old age) was worse still. as to the Minister, his base application to Concini after the murther of Henry has quite ruin'd him in my esteem, & destroy'd all the merit of that honest surly Pride, for wch I honour'd him before. yet I own, that as Kings & Ministers go, they were both extraordinary Men. pray look at the end of Birch's State Papers of Sr T: Edmonde's, for the Character of the French Court at that time, written by Sr George Carew.

Pray don't suspect me of any such suspicions, as you mention. I would hardly believe you were tired of me, tho' you told me so yourself, sensible as I am nevertheless, that you might have reason enough to be so. to prove what I say, I have thoughts of coming to you for three days in April. there is to be a Concerto Spirituale, in wch the Mingotti (who has just lain in) & Ricciarelli will sing the Stabat Mater of Pergolesi. You & Mason & I are to be at it together, so pray make no excuses, nor put-offs. saving to you however the liberty of saying whether you have a bed to spare (I mean for me, not for him) in your house.

Adieu, Dear Sr, I am ever faithfully
T G:

My best compliments to Mrs. Wharton. I give you joy of the Divine Ashton. it is indeed a Conquest you have made.

Letter ID: letters.0245 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 39
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 39[?]


Date of composition: 25 March 1756
Date (on letter): March 25. 1756
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Pemb: Hall
Place of addressee: [London, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 2 pages, 225 mm x 183 mm
Addressed: To / Dr Thomas Wharton M:D: / in Kings-Arms Yard / Coleman Street / London (postmark: 26 MA SAFFRON WALDEN)


Language: English
Incipit: Tho' I had no reasonable excuse for myself before I received your last letter,...
Mentioned: Ashton, Thomas, 1715-1775
Birch, Thomas
Chartreuse, La Grande
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Stonhewer, Richard, 1728-1809
Sully, Duc de

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 81-82, 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 xxii, section iv, 241-243
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section IV, letter XXII, vol. i, 350-352
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section IV, letter LII, vol. ii, 270-273
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter XC, vol. ii, 8-10
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section IV, letter LX, vol. iii, 148-151
  • 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. CXXIX, vol. i, 292-298
  • 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, 183-184
  • 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. 214, vol. ii, 458-461