Thomas Gray project

. . . I have looked into Speed and Leslie.1 It appears very odd, that Speed in the speech he makes for P. Warbeck, addreſsed to James IV. of Scotland, should three times cite the manuscript proclamation of Perkin, then in the hands of Sir Robert Cotton;2 and yet when he gives us the proclamation afterwards (on occasion of the insurrection in Cornwall) he does not cite any such manuscript. In Casley's Catalogue of the Cotton Library3 you may see whether this manuscript proclamation still exists or not: if it does, it may be found at the Musæum. . . . 

— Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 4th earl of Orford, 25 February 1768;
EE letter ID: graythOU0031017a1c

In this excerpt from a letter to Horace Walpole, 4th earl of Orford (1717–1797), Thomas Gray (1716–1771) demonstrates the significance of manuscript sources to the establishment of fact — more importantly, of the need to identify and therefore consult specific manuscripts within the relevant holding archive. In light of this example, it seems odd that Toynbee should have omitted such aids for discovery, consultation and confirmation of fact in his still standard, 1935 edition of Gray's correspondence.

The Thomas Gray Archive has also identified a small number of Gray letters discovered since the Toynbee edition. EE will be further collaborating with the Archive to add these documents in the coming months.

Robert V. McNamee
Director, Electronic Enlightenment
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford


1 John Leslie (1527–1596), Bishop of Ross, author of a History of Scotland in Latin (De Origine, Moribus, et Rebus Gestis Scotorum libri decem), published at Rome in 1578.

2 Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (1571–1631), collector of the famous Cottonian Library, which came into the possession of the nation in 1702, and after being severely damaged by fire (in 1731) was deposited in the British Museum in 1753.

3 The catalogue was published in 1734.

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