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The great improvement that has taken place, within a few years, in the art of Engraving on Wood, as well as its general adoption, in some measure superseding the use of Copper and Steel, led to the present attempt to apply this mode of embellishment to a Poem of such general and deserved celebrity, and which appeared to afford the greatest scope for the talents of the artist.
The Elegy itself has long been universally acknowledged as one of the most elegant compositions which the English language ever produced.
The following testimony to its great merit is not, perhaps, generally known, and will not here be inappropriately introduced.
General Wolfe received a copy on the eve of the assault on Quebec ; he was so struck with its beauty, that he is said to have exclaimed, that he would have preferred being its author, to that of being the victor in the projected attack in which he so gloriously lost his life.
The favour with which this edition may be received, will be entirely owing to the talents of the eminent artists who have so kindly seconded the Editor, if he may apply such a word, in his wish to produce a specimen of beautiful and appropriate illustration in this branch of the Fine Arts; and to them he begs to return his sincerest thanks.
J. CONSTABLE, R.A.
W. H. Powis.
S. A. HART, A. R. A.
W. WESTALL, A.R.A A.W. CALLCOTT, R.A. .. J. H. Nixon
The vignette on the title-page, engraved by W. H. Powis, is a view of Stoke-Poges church, Buckinghamshire, the church -yard of which is the scene of this celebrated poem, and near which is a monument erected to the memory of Gray by the late John Penn, Esq. of Stoke Park. The drawing by John Constable, Esq. R.A. has been kindly offered to the editor since the publication of the former edition, and is in the possession of Samuel Rogers, Esq.
The tomb of the poet is at the south-east corner of the chancel, near that of his aunt, Mrs. Mary Antrobus.