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N after the publication of a former edition of Mr. Gray's poems, the Rev. Mr. Mason, 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 satisfaction was not made for this offence.
To this strange charge, the publisher could hardly give credit. The practice of taking moderate extracts from publications of all kinds is common to every bookseller, and every author, over the kingdom; and no person takes greater liberties in this way than Mr. Dodsley, the bookseller employed by Mr. Mafon.Nay, Mr. Mason himself had behaved in the manner complained of, and adapted without scruple to
* Mr. Mason claimed, besides, Ode for Mufic, irregular; which, however, he failed to establish.
his quarto edition of Mr. Gray's poems, a large extract which he took from another work. It was true also, 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 became stronger. But suspecting that a gentleman of Mr. Mason's found sense and good character must have juster grounds to proceed upon 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 the same 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 mision in too ludicrous a view, is unknown, but it is certain he refused to comply with this civil requisition,
The publisher, however, desirous to come to an explanation concerning this matter, procured Mr. Mason's address through another channel, and waited