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After June, 1750, it was circulated in manuscript among his firends, and only an accident hastened its publication.

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One of these belonged to Wharton, and is now among the Egerton MSS. London: George Bell and sons, 1903 [1st edition 1891], 211-214. Though I am aware that, as it stands at present, the conclusion is of a later date; how that was originally, I have shown in my notes on the poem.'' (The four stanzas which, according to Mason, originally ended the poem will be found the conclusion as we now read the poem [Footnote: ''Mason says, 'In the first manuscript copy of this exquisite poem I find the conclusion different from that which he afterwards composed.' He has only inferred that the four stanzas were the original and endeavours thus to force this inference upon his readers.''].

in the British Museum, and this copy is therefore referred to as the ''Egerton MS.'' The two other copies were among the ''books, manuscripts, coins, music printed or written, and papers of all kinds,'' which Gray bequeathed in his will to Mason, ''to preserve or destroy at his own discretion.'' These Mason bequeathed to Stonehewer (Fellow of St. Granville John Penn, of Stoke Park, for £100; in 1854 the MS. Gosse refers to it as the ''Mason MS.''; but it may not always belong to the Fraser family; and ''Mason MS.'' is not sufficiently distinctive, as the ''Pembroke MS.'' was also Mason's. seems to have been the rough draft, and contains a greater number of original readings and alterations, the other two apparently being made from it by Gray when he had almost ceased correcting the ''Elegy,'' I shall refer to it in the Notes and Various Readings as the ''Original MS.''" Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. Gray added his after-thoughts without effacing the lines for which he meant to substitute them: this is characteristic of him, for he had a great aversion to erasure.

But this is all the genuine evidence I have been able to discover. xi, we find: ''It is highly probable that the Elegy in a Country Church-yard was begun also about this time'' (August, 1742).

Later editors state positively that it was begun in 1742 (Mitford, Gosse, Bradshaw, Rolfe, etc.).

Mason seems to have had evidence for the 1742 date sufficient to satisfy Walpole, though what that evidence was we do not know. The 'Churchyard' was, I am persuaded, posterior to West's death [1742] at least three or four years, as you will see by my note.

Writing to Mason, 1 December 1773 ( of Gray: ''There are ... At least I am sure that I had the twelve or more first lines from himself above three years after that period, and it was long before he finished it.'' Mason evidently made some satisfactory reply, for two weeks later, 14 December 1773 (, VI, 31), Walpole writes: ''Your account of the 'Elegy' puts an end to my other criticism.'' Then Mason in 1775 made the statement just quoted above.

Walpole did not at first accept the account of the date of the poem, submitted to him by Mason before the Memoirs of Gray went to press. 1, 1773:''The 'Churchyard' was, I am persuaded, posterior to West's death [1742] at least three or four years.

At least I am sure that I had the twelve or more first lines from himself above three years after that period, and it was long before he finished it.''And yet Mason appears to have satisfied Walpole that the opinion expressed in the Memoirs was correct, for Walpole writes to him Dec.

At any rate, 1742 is the traditional date; we know that it was finished at Stoke Poges, in June, 1750 (see p. It is not probable that Gray was steadily working at it all these years, even if he did begin it in 1742.

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