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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  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.
Gray has entered the following note in the margin of the Pembroke MS: - ''Publish'd in Febry.14, 1773, that his account of the could have been concluded, in any sense, in 1742.What evidence could Mason have adduced that it was even begun in this year?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.