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Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 18 October 1769

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Thomas Wharton Esq of
Old-Park near Darlington

Journal. 30 Sept: 1769.

Wd at N:W. clouds & sunshine. a mile & ½ from Brough on a hill lay a great army encamp'd. to the left open'd a fine valley with green meadows & hedge-rows, a Gentleman's house peeping forth from a grove of old trees. on a nearer approach appear'd myriads of horses & cattle in the road itself & in all the fields round me, a brisk stream hurrying cross the way, thousands of clean healthy People in their best party-color'd apparel, Farmers & their families, Esquires & their daughters, hastening up from the dales & down the fells on every side, glittering in the sun & pressing forward to join the throng: while the dark hills, on many of whose tops the mists were yet hanging, served as a contrast to this gay & moving scene, wch continued for near two miles more along the road, and the crowd (coming towards it) reach'd on as far as Appleby.

On the ascent of the hill above Appleby the thick hanging wood & the long reaches of the Eden (rapid, clear, & full as ever) winding below with views of the Castle & Town gave much employment to the mirror: but the sun was wanting & the sky overcast. oats & barley cut every where, but not carried in. passed Kirby-thore, Sr W: Dalston's house at Acorn bank, Whinfield-park, Harthorn-oaks, Countess-pillar, Brougham-Castle, Mr Brown (one of ye six Clerks) his large new house, cross'd the Eden & the Eimot (pronounce Eeman) with its green vale, & at 3 o'clock dined with Mrs Buchanan, at Penrith on trout & partridge. in the afternoon walk'd up the Beacon-hill a mile to the top, saw Whinfield and Lowther-parks, & thro' an opening in the bosom of that cluster of mountains, wch the Doctor well remembers, the Lake of Ulz-water, with the craggy tops of a hundred nameless hills. these to W: & S:, to the N: a great extent of black & dreary plains, to E: Cross-fell just visible thro' mists & vapours hovering round it.

Oct: 1. Wd at S:W: a grey autumnal day, air perfectly calm & gentle. went to see Ulz-water 5 miles distant. soon left the Keswick-road & turn'd to the left thro' shady lanes along the Vale of Eeman, wch runs rapidly on near the way, ripling over the stones. to the right is Delmaine, a large fabrick of pale red stone with 9 windows in front & 7 on the side built by Mr Hassel, behind it a fine lawn surrounded by woods & a long rocky eminence rising over them. a clear & brisk rivulet runs by the house to join the Eeman, whose course is in sight & at a small distance.

Farther on appears Hatton St John, a castle-like old mansion of Mr Huddleston. approach'd Dunmallert, a fine pointed hill, cover'd with wood planted by old Mr Hassle beforemention'd, who lives always at home & delights in planting. walk'd over a spungy meadow or two & began to mount this hill thro' a broad & strait green alley among the trees, & with some toil gain'd the summit. from hence saw the Lake opening directly at my feet majestic in its calmness, clear & smooth as a blew mirror with winding shores & low points of land cover'd with green inclosures, white farm-houses looking out among the trees, & cattle feeding. the water is almost every where border'd with cultivated lands gently sloping upwards till they reach the feet of the mountains, wch rise very rude & aweful with their broken tops on either hand. directly in front at better than 3 mile's distance, Place-Fell, one of the bravest among them, pushes its bold broad breast into the midst of the Lake & forces it to alter it's course, forming first a large bay to the left & then bending to the right.

I descended Dunmallert again by a side avenue, that was only not perpendicular, & came to Barton-bridge over the Eeman, then walking thro' a path in the wood round the bottom of the hill came forth, where the Eeman issues out of the lake, & continued my way along it's western shore close to the water, & generally on a level with it. Saw a cormorant flying over it & fishing.... (to be continued)

Dear Dr

I hope you got safe and well home after that troublesome night: I long to hear you say so. for me I have continued well, been so favour'd by the weather, that my walks have never once been hinder'd till yesterday, (that is during a fortnight & 3 or 4 days, & a journey of 300 miles, & more) & am now at Aston for two days. tomorrow I go towards Cambridge: Mason is not here, but Mr Alderson receives me. my best respects to the family!

Adieu! I am ever
Yours (pray, tell me about Stonhewer).
Letter ID: letters.0564 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 52
Addressee: Wharton, Thomas, 1717-1794
Addressee's age: 52[?]


Date of composition: 18 October 1769
Date (on letter): 18 Oct: 1769
Calendar: Gregorian


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

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.; 3 pages, 228 mm x 182 mm
Addressed: To / Thomas Wharton Esq of / Old-Park near Darlington / Durham (postmark: SHEFFIELD)


Language: English
Incipit: Wd at N:W. clouds & sunshine. a mile & 1/2 from Brough on a hill...
Mentioned: Alderson, Christopher, Rev., 1738-1814
Brougham Castle
Cross Fell
Eamont, River
Eden, River
Hutton St. John

Holding Institution

Egerton MS 2400, ff. 191-192, 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 iv, section v, 350-354
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by Thomas James Mathias. London: William Bulmer, 1814, section V, letter IV, vol. i, 447-471
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: J. Mawman, 1816, section V, journal 1, letter VI, vol. ii, 519-522
  • The Letters of Thomas Gray, 2 vols. in one. London: J. Sharpe, 1819, letter CXLIV, vol. ii, 135-165
  • The Works of Thomas Gray, 5 vols. Ed. by John Mitford. London: W. Pickering, 1835-1843, section V, letter VII, vol. iv, 143-148
  • 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, journal 1, vol. iii, 232-234
  • 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. 505, vol. iii, 1074-1078