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In the winter of 1749 Gray took it in hand again, at Cambridge, after the death of his aunt, Mary Antrobus. The poem was circulated in MS., and on the 10th of February 1751 Gray received a letter from the editor of the , asking leave to publish it. The text here given is that of the Edition of 1768, which appears to be authoritative and final.The poet refused, and wrote next day to Horace Walpole, directing him to bring it out in pamphlet form. Gray has appended the following bibliographical note to the Pembroke MS.: - ''Published in Febry. Roberts, & published in 1762, & again in the same year by Rob. A.'' Besides these legitimate editions, the poem was largely pirated; the of 1753. referred to in the notes are that which belonged to Wharton, and is now among the Egerton MSS.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.
If you behold the 'Magazine of Magazines' in the light that I do, you will not refuse to give yourself this trouble on my account, which you have taken of your own accord before now. It is this Approbation which makes it unnecessary for me to make any Apology but to the Author: As he cannot but feel some Satisfaction in having pleas'd so many Readers already, I flatter myself he will forgive my communicating that Pleasure to many more.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.).[For I see in my thoughts, my sweet fire, One cold tongue, and two beautiful closed eyes Will remain full of sparks after our death.] Expanding the poem lines () shows the results of a computationally facilitated analysis of the text.These results should be considered as a basis for deeper interpretative enquiry such as can be found in the notes and queries.