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If Dodsley do not do this immediately, he may as well let it alone.''Walpole lost no time, and on the 16th of February the poem was published in a quarto pamphlet, the following being the content of the title-page: - ''An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard. - The poem was at once reproduced in the magazines; it appeared in the ''Magazine of Magazines'' on the 28th of February, in the ''London Magazine'' and in the ''Scots' Magazine,'' on the 31st of March, and in the ''Grand Magazine of Magazines'' on the 30th of April.
An editor of the , a cheap periodical, sent word to Gray that he was about to print it, and naturally the author did not care to have a poem of this nature make its entrance into the world by so obscure a by-path.
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.
Accordingly, so soon as the 16th of February, there appeared anonymously ''. 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 ; translated into Latin by Chr. at the British Museum, and that which belonged to Mason, and now belongs to Sir William Fraser, Bart., who printed a transcript of it in 100 copies in January 1884.
The variations between the text here given and those of the first edition of 1751, and of the Pembroke MS., are not noted because both the latter are given verbatim in appendices. 157, we find: ''I am inclined to believe that the Elegy in a Country Church-yard was begun, if not concluded, at this time also'' (August, 1742).