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London: J. Dodsley, 1768. 12mo, (4), 119, (3) pp. with original diary leaf mounted and inserted before half title. Crushed brown morocco by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, covers panelled in gilt and blind tooling, backstrip lettered in gilt, gilt top, uncut. Binding lightly rubbed, mounted leaf in fine condition, stain on half title, a very pleasant copy in a collector’s binding with manuscript fragment well-conserved. First collected edition, complete with half title and final blank. Inserted is a leaf from the diary kept by the poet for 1763. The leaf is printed with sections for accounting, appointments, and memoranda and with a securities growth calculation table. On the recto Gray has recorded reference points on the Fahrenheit scale; on the verso he notes daily temperature readings with a few notes on weather, and, for Monday, January 3, “First Narcs. Polyanth. in water blows (white with pale yellow cup).” The leaf dates from a time when Gray’s interests were shifting from English history to the natural world. “The acquisition of a copy of the tenth edition of Linnaeus's Systema naturae in 1759 signalled the rekindling of his youthful interest in natural history. He began to collect specimens of insects and plants, and to record observations on weather, the progress of the seasons, and anything which might differentiate English flora and fauna from the Swedish on which Linnaeus had based his work” (DNB). Dodsley was the first to propose a collected works; a Dublin and a Glasgow edition appeared later in the same year. ESTC T136298. Rothschild 1071. (Item Id: 110456)

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