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1751, by Dodsley, & went thro' four editions, in two months; and afterwards a fifth, 6th, 7th, & 8th, 9th, 10th, & 11th; printed also in 1753 with Mr. there is a 2d edition; & again by Dodsley in his 'Miscellany,' vol. Roberts, & published in 1762, & again in the same year by Rob. A.''It first appeared with Gray's name in the ''Six Poems'' of 1753.4th, & in a Scotch Collection call'd the 'Union'; translated into Latin by Chr. Mason says that Gray ''originally gave it only the simple title of 'Stanzas written in a Country Church-yard,' '' but that he ''persuaded him first to call it an Elegy, because the subject authorized him so to do, and the alternate measure seemed particularly fit for that species of composition; also so capital a poem written in this measure, would as it were appropriate it in the future to writings of this sort.''The title of the eighth edition, 1753, is ''Elegy, originally written in a Country Churchyard.''Three copies of the ''Elegy'' in Gray's handwriting still exist.Peter's College, Cambridge, and a friend of Gray's), who, at his death in 1809, left the greater portion to Pembroke College, and the remainder to his friend Mr. was sold for £131; and in 1875 it was bought by Sir William Fraser for £230, who had 100 copies of it printed in 1884. That he could not have intended the of these stanzas to remain is clear, because they are remodelled in ll. 93-96; but the four stanzas, however beautiful, are abrupt, considered as the last lines of the poem.Bright, - each set containing a copy of the ''Elegy.'' The copy in the possession of the College is usually described as the ''Pembroke MS.,'' and of it there is a facsimile in Mathias' edition of Gray's Works, published in 1814. When Gray sent the poem to Walpole in 1750, he could congratulate himself that the 'thing' had really an .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.
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.).[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.
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In the winter of 1749, after the death of his aunt, Mary Antrobus, Gray resumed it at Cambridge, and finished it at Stoke early in June, 1750; and on the 12th of that month he sent a copy of it in MS.