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EDMUND W. GOSSE
The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved
As a biographical study, this little volume differs in one important respect from its predecessors in this series. Expansion, instead of compression, has had to be my method in treating the existing lives of Gray. Of these, none have hitherto been published except in connexion with some part of his works, and none has attempted to go at all into detail. Mitford's, which is the fullest, would occupy, in its purely biographical section, not more than thirty of these pages.
The materials I have used are chiefly taken from the following sources :
I. The Life and Letters of Gray, edited by Mason in 1774. This work consists of a very meagre thread of biography connecting a collection of letters, which would be more valuable, if Mason had not tampered with them, altering, omitting, and re-dating at his own free will.
II. Mitford's Life of Thomas Gray, prefixed to the 1814 edition of the Poems. This is very valuable so far as it goes. The Rev. John Mitford was a young clergyman who was born ten years after the death of Gray, and who made it the business of his life to collect from such survivors as remembered Gray all the documents and anecdotes that he could secure. This is the life which was altered and enlarged, to be prefixed to the Eton Gray, in 1845.