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Sir THOMAS MILLS.
SIR, WHEN I present the Public with an elegant edition of “ Poems by Mr. Gray” at a very moderate price, I perform an action which I am confident would have been highly grateful to the author had he been living, as every writer naturally wishes to have his works handsomely printed and universally read.
I flatter myself there is no impropriety in particularly inscribing these poems to a gentleman who has judgement to distinguish, and taste to relish fine verses, and who possesses a heart capable of many virtues.
E D I TI O N.
after the publication of a former edition of Mr. Gray's poems, in a similar form, the Rev. Mr. Mason the author of Elfrida, gave notice to the publisher by a particular messenger, that he had trespassed upon his property, by inserting fifty lines * in his volume which belonged to him, and threatened to seek legal redress in case fatisfaction was not made for this offence,
To this charge, so absurd in its nature, the pub. lisher could hardly give credit. The practice of taking extracts from publications of all kinds is
* Mr. Mafon claims, besides the above, Ode for Music, irregular; which were he to obtain the property of, would be a few more stanzas in his favour. But this Ode was given to the public without fee or reward, 'by the author, in his life-time. And therefore it is presumed neither law nor equity will carry it to Mr. Mason.
author, over the kingdom ; and no person is guilty of it in a superior degree to Mr. Dodsley, the bookseller employed by Mr. Mason.-Nay, Mr. Mason himself had behaved in the manner complained of, and adapted without scruple to his quarto edition of Mr. Gray's poems, a large extract which he took from another work. It was true alío, that the fifty lines had been printed indiscriminately by others who pretended to no exclusive property in them, that they were not written by Mr. Mason, nor bequeathed to him particularly by the author.
From every circumstance attending this matter, the ridicule of the claim set up became stronger. But suspecting that a gentleman of Mr. Mason's sense and good character must have juster grounds of complaint than what appeared upon the face of his message, the publisher requested to be favoured with his address, in order to have a personal conference with him upon the subject; and at samo time assured his agent, that he meant not designedly to invade or to injure Mr. Mason's property : Whether his messenger began to view the object of his mission in too ludicrous a view, is unknown, but it is certain he refused to comply with this civil requisition,