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QUARTERLY REVIEW

Art. 1.–1. The Works of Thomas Gral. Editer. It the Rer.

John Mitford. 5 vots. smal tivo. Imdon. **;*48. 2. Gray's Poetical Works. iliustrated : riti Introduct: Stanzas

by the Rer. John Moultrie : an (rigina Life Gror by the Rer. John Mitford, and a Lecture on the Writings of Graz bi! the Right Hon. tiu Earl o Carlisle. Fourt. Lartion. Eton,

1853. 3. The Correspondence of Thomas Gray and a Tiam Masons to

which are added some Letters addressed in Groy ti thu Ber. James Brown, D.D., Master of Pemiro Collection Camiridou. With Notes and Illustrations by the Rer. John Viitord. Ticar

of Benhall. London, 1553. MAS ASON, in his - Memoirs of the Life and Writings of

Gray,' has told is less of his friend than might have been expected from the closeness of their intimacy, but it is generally admitted that his scanty comments upon the letters which form the bulk of his work display, as far as ther go, an elegant taste and a sound judgment. As these were the qualities requisite for determining what parts of the correspondence were proper to be published, nobody could have suspected that Mason had proceeded on a plan which, if be bad avowed it, would have destroyed all confidence in his work, and which, as he studiously concealed it, was an imposition on the public. When Mr. Mitford obtained, many years since, the originals of the corre spondence with Dr. Wharton for a new edition of the works of Gray, he found that Mason had taken portions of letters of different dates and blended them into one, that he had constantly changed the order of the sentences, interpolated fragments of his own, altered phrases, and elaborated the style in 1843 Mr. Mitford published a supplementary volume, containing the correspondence of Gray with Mr. Nicholls, which Mason had not only used with the same unwarrantable freedom, but had sent back with a note that deserves a conspicuous place among the curiosities of literature.

Curzon-strert, Jan. 31, 1776. Mr. Mason returns many thanks to Mr. Nicholls for the use he has permitted him to make of these letters. He will find that muck TV VOL. XCIV, NO. CLX

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has been taken in transposing parts of them, &c., for the press, and will see the reason for it; it were, however, to be wished that the originals might be so disposed of as not to impeach the editor's fidelity, but this he leaves to Mr. Nicholis's discretion, for people of common sense will think the liberty he has used very venial."

Mason would have cared nothing for the censure of people who were devoid of common sense if he had really believed that those possessed of it would approve his conduct; nor if his profession had been sincere could it have given honesty to his wish to persuade the world that the letters were faithful transcripts, or to his endeavour to procure the destruction of the evidence which might one day prove that they were not. Dr. Wharton, far from thinking the liberties venial, was extremely indignant; and if Mr. Nicholls shared his sentiments he took the most effectual revenge when, instead of destroying the letters of Gray, he added the note of Mason to the heap.

The correspondence of Gray with his father and mother was among the papers he bequeathed to Mason. Not a trace of these documents now remains, and there can be no doubt that the biographer, after corrupting what he published, committed the whole of the originals to the flames. He preserved, however, many of the letters addressed to himself, from a reluctance, we suppose, in his own case to obliterate the memorials of an intercourse which must have kept a hold on his affections as well as flattered his vanity; but the series is by no means complete, and numerous passages are cut out, or erased from the portion which is left. He subjected the collection of Dr. Wharton and Dr. Brown to similar treatment, and the suppressed parts were probably those which bore most closely upon the history of the poet. Mason arranged the correspondence with himself in a volume which he willed at his death to his friend Mr. Stonehewer, whose relatives sold it, in 1845, to Mr. Penn, of Stoke Park. The purchaser consigned it to the editorial care of Mr. Mitford, who, in publishing it, has furnished an additional proof of wbat he formerly asserted, that there is scarcely a genuine letter of Gray in the whole of Mason's work.'

A few specimens will be sufficient to show the nature of the alterations. When Dr. Wharton lost his son he received two letters of consolation from Gray. These Mason has fused together, and, in order to connect them, adds from himself, Let me then beseech you to try, by every method of avocation and amusement, whether you cannot by degrees get the better of that dejection of spirits. In addition to the deception of departing from the original there is really something ludicrous in Mason's forging counsel in the name of a person who was dead, and

referring

THE

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

Art. I.-1. The Works of Thomas Gray. Edited by the Rev.

John Mitford. 5 vols. small 8vo. London, 1837-1843. 2. Gray's Poetical Works, illustrated : with Introductory Stanzas

by the Rev. John Moultrie; an Original Life of Gray by the Rev. John Mitford, and a Lecture on the Writings of Gray by the Right Hon. the Earl of Carlisle. Fourth Edition. Eton,

1853. 3. The Correspondence of Thomas Gray and William Mason : to

which are added some Letters addressed by Gray to the Rev. James Brown, D.D., Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge. With Notes and Illustrations by the Rev. John Mitford, Vicar

of Benhall. London, 1853. MASON, in his - Memoirs of the Life and Writings of

Gray,' has told us less of his friend than might have been expected from the closeness of their intimacy, but it is generally admitted that his scanty comments upon the letters which form the bulk of his work display, as far as they go, an elegant taste and a sound judgment. As these were the qualities requisite for determining what parts of the correspondence were proper to be published, nobody could have suspected that Mason had proceeded on a plan which, if he had avowed it, would have destroyed all confidence in his work, and which, as he studiously concealed it, was an imposition on the public. When Mr. Mitford obtained, many years since, the originals of the correspondence with Dr. Wharton for a new edition of the works of Gray, he found that Mason had taken portions of letters of different dates and blended them into one, that he had constantly changed the order of the sentences, interpolated fragments of his own, altered phrases, and elaborated the style. In 1843 Mr. Mitford published a supplementary volume, containing the correspondence of Gray with Mr. Nicholls, which Mason had not only used with the same unwarrantable freedom, but had sent back with a note that deserves a conspicuous place among the curiosities of literature.

Curzon-street, Jan. 31, 1775. “Mr. Mason returns many thanks to Mr. Nicholls for the use he has permitted him to make of these letters. He will find that much liberty YOL. XCIV. NO. CLXXXVII,

has

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has been taken in transposing parts of them, &c., for the press, and will see the reason for it; it were, however, to be wished that the originals might be so disposed of as not to impeach the editor's fidelity, but this he leaves to Mr. Nicholls's discretion, for people of common sense will think the liberty he has used very venial.'

Mason would have cared nothing for the censure of people who were devoid of common sense if he had really believed that those possessed of it would approve his conduct; nor if his profession had been sincere could it have given honesty to his wish to persuade the world that the letters were faithful transcripts, or to his endeavour to procure the destruction of the evidence which might one day prove that they were not. Dr. Wharton, far from thinking the liberties venial, was extremely indignant ; and if Mr. Nicholls shared his sentiments he took the most effectual revenge when, instead of destroying the letters of Gray, he added the note of Mason to the heap.

The correspondence of Gray with his father and mother was among the papers he bequeathed to Mason. Not a trace of these documents now remains, and there can be no doubt that the biographer, after corrupting what he published, committed the whole of the originals to the flames. He preserved, however, many of the letters addressed to himself, from a reluctance, we suppose, in his own case to obliterate the memorials of an intercourse which must have kept a hold on his affections as well as flattered his vanity; but the series is by no means complete, and numerous passages are cut out, or erased from the portion which is left. He subjected the collection of Dr. Wharton and Dr. Brown to similar treatment, and the suppressed parts were probably those which bore most closely upon the history of the poet. Mason arranged the correspondence with himself in a volume which he willed at his death to his friend Mr. Stonehewer, whose relatives sold it, in 1845, to Mr. Penn, of Stoke Park. The purchaser consigned it to the editorial care of Mr. Mitford, who, in publishing it, has furnished an additional proof of what he formerly asserted, that there is scarcely a genuine letter of Gray in the whole of Mason's work.

A few specimens will be sufficient to show the nature of the alterations. When Dr. Wharton lost his son he received two letters of consolation from Gray. These Mason has fused together, and, in order to connect them, adds from himself, Let me then beseech you to try, by every method of avocation and amusement, whether you cannot by degrees get the better of that dejection of spirits. In addition to the deception of departing from the original there is really something ludicrous in Mason's forging counsel in the name of a person who was dead, and

referring

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