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Henrietta Jane Speed to Thomas Gray, 25 August 1759

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My dear Sir,

I wonder whether you think me capable of all the gratitude I really feel for the late marks you have given me of your friendship, I will venture to say if you knew my heart you wou'd be content with it, but knowing my exterior so well as you do You can easily conceive me Vain of the Partiallity you show me; in return for puting me in good humour with myself I will give you pleasure by assuring you Lady Cobham is surprizingly well & most extremely oblig'd to you for the Anxiety you express'd on her account.–we now take the Air ev'ry day and are returnd to our old way of living and hope we shall go on in the same way many Years.

we are both scandaliz'd at your being in Town at this time of year, not because (as you may think) that it is unfashionable, but because we think it very unwholsome from the heat of the Season – now I know you are insensible to heat or cold, not but that your Body suffers by either extreme, but you have not attention enough to your self to seek a remedy, we beg now to point out one against the Excessive heat of London, by desiring you wou'd come down to Stoke where you will find Ev'ry thing cool but the reception we shall give you–there is always a Bed Air'd for you & one for your Servt; indeed I can make use of the Strongest argument to tempt you which is that at this time it will be a deed of Charity as we are absolutely alone. Mrs Clavering and Mr Crane the Apothecary left us Yesterday, I dont know whether you are acquainted with the latter but I have such a partiallity from his attendance on Lady Cobham that I almost wish for a Slight fit of illness that I may have something to do with him – if you are at present an invalide let that prompt you to come, for from the affected creature you knew me, I am nothing now but a comfortable nurse –

You sent me dreadfull News in regard to the K. of P. I now begin to fear for him, it was vastly good of you to Give us a detail of what passes in the World for few People will be at that trouble, indeed a certain Countess with whom I correspond does not Spare pains, but such news as she sends is not always to be depended on – I have kept her last Letter for your Entertainment;

I am au desespoire about my friend L. G. S. and am sorry from different hands to hear that his narative is about as much in his favor as you seem to think his Letter to Co:l Fitzroy – I hope to talk all these matters over with you soon therefore shall add no more at present but that I am with great truth

Dear Mr Greys
faithfull Servt

never make Excuses about franks for I never shall grudge the Expence you put me to by your Letters.

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Letter ID: letters.0347 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Speed, Henrietta Jane, 1728-1783
Writer's age: 31
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 42


Date of composition: 25 August 1759
Date (on letter): 25th August 59
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Stoke Poges, United Kingdom]

Physical description

Form/Extent: A.L.S.; 3 pages


Language: English
Incipit: I wonder whether you think me capable of all the gratitude I really feel...
Contents: "Thanking him for his friendship, giving news of Lady Cobham, urging him to go to the country rather than withstanding the heat of London, and commenting on news of the "K. of P." and others. [With notes (a list) on the verso, perhaps in Gray's hand.]"
In: Nelson, Christine, "extra-illustrated copy of Gray's Odes". E-mail to the editor, 14 November 2006
Mentioned: Stoke Manor House

Holding Institution

PML 16518 (extra-illustrated copy of Gray's Odes), 16, Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts (LHMS), Morgan Library & Museum , New York, NY, USA <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes; a photostat each is in MS. Toynbee d.32 and c.2, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Print Versions

  • Gray and his Friends: Letters and Relics, in great part hitherto unpublished. Ed. by Duncan C. Tovey. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1890, section V, 198-200
  • 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. 300, vol. ii, 636-638