To the Students
of Durham University




24 June 1907

by Rudyard Kipling
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Background
Kipling had gone to Durham to receive an honorary degree from the university. His train was met bv students dressed as characters from his stories, or in other sorts of costume, who pulled Kipling’s cab through the streets of Durham to the house of his host, the Reverend Henry Ellershaw. After Mr. and Mrs. Kipling had entered the house the students set up a cry of “speech, speech.” Kipling then appeared at an upstairs window and spoke these few words. His own vivid account of the experience is in Thomas Pinney (Ed.) Letters vol 3 p. 246. .
[T.P.]




GENTLEMEN, I am very sorry about that speech. I am not, like you, any good at unseen English prose (laughter and yells). When I am put up all of a sudden I break down. (A voice: We will chance that.) There are many reasons why it is impossible lor me to begin to express my appreciation. As you have so forcibly expressed your welcome so will you forgive me! (A voice: No.) 1 thank you for your exceeding kindness, and take the liberty of saying that your lungs and muscles seem to be in most magnificent order (cheers).

—Durham Chronicle, 28 June 1907.