The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth - Volume 1 of 8
Edited by William Knight
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Extract from the Conclusion of a Poem, composed in Anticipation of leaving School Written in very Early Youth An Evening Walk Lines written while Sailing in a Boat at Evening Remembrance of Collins Descriptive Sketches taken during a Pedestrian Tour among the Alps Guilt and Sorrow; or, Incidents upon Salisbury Plain Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the lake of Esthwaite, on a desolate part of the shore, commanding a beautiful prospect The Borderers The Reverie of Poor Susan 1798 A Night Piece We are Seven Anecdote for Fathers "A whirl-blast from behind the hill" The Thorn Goody Blake and Harry Gill Her Eyes are Wild Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman Lines written in Early Spring To my Sister Expostulation and Reply The Tables Turned The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman The Last of the Flock The Idiot Boy The Old Cumberland Beggar Animal Tranquillity and Decay



During the decade between 1879 and 1889 I was engaged in a detailed study of Wordsworth; and, amongst other things, edited a library edition of his Poetical Works in eight volumes, including the "Prefaces" and "Appendices" to his Poems, and a few others of his Prose Works, such as his 'Description of the Scenery of the Lakes in the North of England'. This edition was published by Mr. Paterson, Edinburgh, at intervals between the years 1882 and 1886: and it was followed in 1889 by a 'Life of Wordsworth', in three volumes, which was a continuation of the previous eight.

The present edition is not a reproduction of those eleven volumes of 1882-9. It is true that to much of the editorial material included in the latter—as well as in my 'Memorials of Coleorton', and in 'The English Lake District as interpreted in the Poems of Wordsworth'—I can add little that is new; but the whole of what was included in these books has been revised, corrected, and readjusted in this one [1]. 'Errata' in the previous volumes are corrected: several thousand new notes have been added, many of the old ones are entirely recast: the changes of text, introduced by Wordsworth into the successive editions of his Poems, have all been revised; new readings—derived from many MS. sources—have been added: while the chronological order of the Poems has, in several instances, been changed, in the light of fresh evidence.

The distinctive features of my edition of 1882-6 were stated in the Preface to its first volume. So far as these features remain in the present edition, they may be repeated as follows:

FIRST, the Poems are arranged in chronological order of composition, not of publication. In all the collective editions issued by Wordsworth during his lifetime, the arrangement of his poems in artificial groups, based on their leading characteristics—a plan first adopted in 1815—was adhered to; although he not unfrequently transferred a poem from one group to another. Here they are printed, with one or two exceptions to be afterwards explained, in the order in which they were written.

SECOND, the changes of text made by Wordsworth in the successive editions of his Poems, are given in footnotes, with the dates of the changes.

THIRD, suggested changes, written by the Poet on a copy of the stereotyped edition of 1836-7—long kept at Rydal Mount, and bought, after Mrs. Wordsworth's death, at the sale of a portion of the Library at the Mount—are given in footnotes.

FOURTH, the Notes dictated by Wordsworth to Miss Isabella Fenwick—a dear friend of the Rydal Mount household, and a woman of remarkable character and faculty—which tell the story of his Poems, and the circumstances under which each was written, are printed in full.

FIFTH, Topographical Notes—explanatory of allusions made by Wordsworth to localities in the Lake District of England, to places in Scotland, Somersetshire, Yorkshire, the Isle of Man, and others on the Continent of Europe—are given, either at the close of the Poem in which the allusions occur, or as footnotes to the passages they illustrate.

SIXTH, several complete Poems, and other fragments of verse, not included in any edition of his Works published during Wordsworth's lifetime, or since, are printed as an appendix to Volume VIII.

SEVENTH, a new Bibliography of the Poems and Prose Works, and of the several editions issued in England and America, from 1793 to 1850, is added.

EIGHTH, a new Life of the Poet is given.

These features of the edition of 1882-6 are preserved in that of 1896, and the following are added:

FIRST, The volumes are published, not in library 8vo size, but—as the works of every poet should be issued—in one more convenient to handle, and to carry. Eight volumes are devoted to the Poetical Works, and among them are included those fragments by his sister Dorothy, and others, which Wordsworth published in his lifetime among his own Poems. They are printed in the chronological order of composition, so far as that is known.

SECOND, In the case of each Poem, any Note written by Wordsworth himself, as explanatory of it, comes first, and has the initials W. W., with the date of its first insertion placed after it. Next follows the Fenwick Note, within square brackets, thus [ ], and signed I. F.; and, afterwards, any editorial note required. When, however, Wordsworth's own notes were placed at the end of the Poems, or at the foot of the page, his plan is adopted, and the date appended. I should have been glad, had it been possible—the editors of the twentieth century may note this—to print Wordsworth's own notes, the Fenwick notes, and the Editor's in different type, and in type of a decreasing size; but the idea occurred to me too late, i. e. after the first volume had been passed for press.

THIRD, All the Prose Works of Wordsworth are given in full, and follow the Poems, in two volumes. The Prose Works were collected by Dr. Grosart, and published in 1876. Extracts from them have since been edited by myself and others: but they will now be issued, like the Poems, in chronological order, under their own titles, and with such notes as seem desirable.

FOURTH, All the Journals written by Dorothy Wordsworth at Alfoxden, Dove Cottage, and elsewhere, as well as her record of Tours with her brother in Scotland, on the Continent, etc., are published—some of them in full, others only in part. An explanation of why any Journal is curtailed will be found in the editorial note preceding it. Much new material will be found in these Journals.

FIFTH, The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth—with a few from Mary and Dora Wordsworth—are arranged chronologically, and published by themselves. Hitherto, these letters have been scattered in many quarters—in the late Bishop of Lincoln's 'Memoirs' of his uncle, in 'The Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson', in the 'Memorials of Coleorton' and my own 'Life' of the Poet, in the 'Prose Works', in the 'Transactions of the Wordsworth Society', in the 'Letters of Charles Lamb', in the 'Memorials of Thomas De Quincey', and other volumes; but many more, both of Wordsworth's and his sister's, have never before seen the light. More than a hundred and fifty letters from Dorothy Wordsworth to Mrs. Clarkson, the wife of the great "slave-liberator," were sent to me some time ago by Mrs. Arthur Tennyson, a relative of Mrs. Clarkson; and I have recently seen and been allowed to copy, Wordsworth's letters to his early friend Francis Wrangham, through the kindness of their late owner, Mr. Mackay of The Grange, Trowbridge. Many other letters of great interest have recently reached me.

SIXTH, In addition to a new Bibliography, and a Chronological Table of the Poems, and the Prose Works, a Bibliography of Wordsworth Criticism is appended. It includes most of the articles on the Poet, and notices of his Works, which have appeared in Great Britain, America, and the Continent of Europe. Under this head I have specially to thank Mrs. Henry A. St. John of Ithaca, N.Y., a devoted Transatlantic Wordsworthian, who has perhaps done more than any one—since Henry Reed—to promote the study of her favourite poet in America. Mrs. St. John's Wordsworth collection is unique, and her knowledge and enthusiasm are as great as her industry has been. Professor E. Legouis of the University of Lyons—who wrote an interesting book on Wordsworth's friend, 'Le General Michel Beaupuy' (1891)—has sent me material from France, which will be found in its proper place. Frau Professor Gothein of Bonn, who has translated many of Wordsworth's poems into German, and written his life, 'William Wordsworth: sein Leben, seine Werke, seine Zeitgenossen', (1893), has similarly helped me in reference to German criticism.

SEVENTH, As the Poet's Letters, and his sister's Journals, will appear in earlier volumes, the new 'Life of Wordsworth' will be much shorter than that which was published in 1889, in three volumes 8vo. It will not exceed a single volume.

EIGHTH, In the edition of 1882-6, each volume contained an etching of a locality associated with Wordsworth. The drawings were made by John M'Whirter, R.A., in water-colour; and they were afterwards etched by Mr. C. O. Murray. One portrait by Haydon was prefixed to the first volume of the 'Life'. In each volume of this edition—Poems, Prose Works, Journals, Letters, and Life—there will be a new portrait, either of the poet, or his wife, or sister, or daughter; and also a small vignette of a place associated with, or memorialised by Wordsworth in some way. The following will be the arrangement.



I. W. Wordsworth, by W. Shuter. Cockermouth.

II. " " by Robert Hancock. Dame Tyson's Cottage, Hawkshead.

III. " " by Edward Nash. Room in St. John's College, Cambridge.

IV. " " by Richard Carruthers. Racedown, Dorsetshire.

V. " " by William Boxall. Alfoxden, Somersetshire.

VI. " " by Henry William Pickersgill. Goslar.

VII. " " by Margaret Gillies. Dove Cottage.

VIII. " " by Benjamin R. Haydon. The Rock of Names, Thirlmere.


IX. " " by Henry Inman. Gallow Hill, Yorkshire.

X. " " by Margaret Gillies. Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire.


XI. Dorothy Wordsworth, (Artist unknown). Allan Bank, Grasmere.

XII. Mary Wordsworth, by Margaret Gillies. Rydal Mount.


XIII. Dora Wordsworth, by Margaret Gillies. Bolton Abbey.

XIV. W. Wordsworth, by Edward C. Wyon. Blea Tarn.

XV. " " by Thomas Woolner. Peele Castle.


XVI. " " by Frederick Thrupp. Grasmere Church and Churchyard.

" " by Samuel Laurence.

" " by Benjamin R. Haydon.

All the etchings will be prepared by H. Manesse. The portraits, with many others, will be described in detail in a subsequent volume.

In all editorial notes the titles given by Wordsworth to his Poems are invariably printed in italics, not with inverted commas before and after, as Wordsworth himself so often printed them: and when he gave no title to a poem, its first line will be invariably placed within inverted commas. This plan of using Italics, and not Roman letters, applies also to the title of any book referred to by Wordsworth, or by his sister in her Journals. Whether they put the title in italics, or within commas, it is always italicised in this edition.

A subsidiary matter such as this becomes important when one finds that many editors of parts of the Works of Wordsworth, or of Selections from them, have invented titles of their own; and have sent their volumes to press without the slightest indication to their readers that the titles were not Wordsworth's; mixing up their own notion of what best described the contents of the Poem, or the Letter, with those of the writer. Some have suppressed Wordsworth's, and put their own title in its place! Others have contented themselves (more modestly) with inventing a title when Wordsworth gave none. I do not object to these titles in themselves. Several, such as those by Archbishop Trench, are suggestive and valuable. What I object to is that any editor—no matter who—should mingle his own titles with those of the Poet, and give no indication to the reader as to which is which. Dr. Grosart has been so devoted a student of Wordsworth, and we owe him so much, that one regrets to find in "The Prose Works of Wordsworth" (1876) the following title given to his letter to the Bishop of Llandaff, 'Apology for the French Revolution'. It is interesting to know that Dr. Grosart thought this a useful description of the letter: but a clear indication should have been given that it was not Wordsworth's. It is true that, in the general preface to his volumes, Dr. Grosart takes upon himself the responsibility for this title; but it should not have been printed as the title in chief, or as the headline to the text. Similarly, with the titles of the second and third of the three 'Essays on Epitaphs'.

As students of Wordsworth know, he issued a volume in 1838 containing all his sonnets then written; and, at the close of that edition, he added, "The six Sonnets annexed were composed as this Volume was going through the Press, but too late for insertion in the class of miscellaneous ones to which they belong." In 1884, Archbishop Trench edited the sonnets, with an admirable introductory "Essay on the History of the English Sonnet"; but, while Wordsworth gave no title to the 3rd and the 4th of the six, "composed as the Volume was going through the Press,"—either in his edition of 1838, 'or in any subsequent issue' of his Poems—his editor did so. He gave what are really excellent titles, but he does not tell us that they are his own! He calls them respectively 'The Thrush at Twilight', and 'The Thrush at Dawn'. Possibly Wordsworth would have approved of both of those titles: but, that they are not his, should have been indicated.

I do not think it wise, from an editorial point of view, even to print in a "Chronological Table"—as Professor Dowden has done, in his admirable Aldine edition—titles which were not Wordsworth's, without some indication to that effect. But, in the case of Selections from Wordsworth—such as those of Mr. Hawes Turner, and Mr. A. J. Symington,—every one must feel that the editor should have informed his readers 'when' the title was Wordsworth's, and 'when' it was his own coinage. In the case of a much greater man—and one of Wordsworth's most illustrious successors in the great hierarchy of English poesy, Matthew Arnold—it may be asked why should he have put 'Margaret, or the Ruined Cottage', as the title of a poem written in 1795-7, when Wordsworth never once published it under that name? It was an extract from the first book of 'The Excursion'—written, it is true, in these early years,—but only issued as part of the latter poem, first published in 1814.

The question of the number, the character, and the length of the Notes, which a wise editor should append to the works of a great poet, (or to any classic), is perhaps still 'sub judice'. My own opinion is that, in all editorial work, the notes should be illustrative rather than critical; and that they should only bring out those points, which the ordinary reader of the text would not readily understand, if the poems were not annotated. For this reason, topographical, historical, and antiquarian notes are almost essential. The Notes which Wordsworth himself wrote to his Poems, are of unequal length and merit. It was perhaps necessary for him to write—at all events it is easy to understand, and to sympathise with, his writing—the long note on the revered parson of the Duddon Valley, the Rev. Robert Walker, who will be remembered for many generations as the "Wonderful Walker." The Poet's editors have also been occasionally led to add digressive notes, to clear up points which had been left by himself either dubious, or obscure. I must plead guilty to the charge of doing so: e.g. the identification of "The Muccawiss" (see 'The Excursion', book iii. l. 953) with the Whip-poor-Will involved a great deal of laborious correspondence years ago. It was a question of real difficulty; and, although the result reached could now be put into two or three lines, I have thought it desirable that the opinions of those who wrote about it, and helped toward the solution, should be recorded. What I print is only a small part of the correspondence that took place.

On the other hand, it would be quite out of place, in a note to the famous passage in the 4th book of 'The Excursion', beginning

... I have seen A curious child applying to his ear

to enter on a discussion as to the extent of Wordsworth's debt—if any—to the author of 'Gebir'. It is quite sufficient to print the relative passage from Landor's poem at the foot of the page.

All the Notes written by Wordsworth himself in his numerous editions will be found in this one, with the date of their first appearance added. Slight textual changes, however, or casual 'addenda', are not indicated, unless they are sufficiently important. Changes in the text of notes have not the same importance to posterity, as changes in the text of poems. In the preface to the Prose Works, reference will be made to Wordsworth's alterations of his text. At present I refer only to his own notes to his Poems. When they were written as footnotes to the page, they remain footnotes still. When they were placed by him as prefaces to his Poems, they retain that place in this edition; but when they were appendix notes—as e.g. in the early editions of "Lyrical Ballads"—they are now made footnotes to the Poems they illustrate. In such a case, however, as the elaborate note to 'The Excursion', containing a reprint of the 'Essay upon Epitaphs'—originally contributed to "The Friend"—it is transferred to the Prose Works, to which it belongs by priority of date; and, as it would be inexpedient to print it twice over, it is omitted from the notes to 'The Excursion'.

As to the place which Notes to a poet's works should occupy, there is no doubt that numerous and lengthy ones—however valuable, or even necessary, by way of illustration,—disfigure the printed page; and some prefer that they should be thrown all together at the end of each volume, or at the close of a series; such as—in Wordsworth's case—"The River Duddon," "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," 'The Prelude', 'The White Doe of Rylstone', etc. I do not think, however, that many care to turn repeatedly to the close of a series of poems, or the end of a volume, to find an explanatory note, helped only by an index number, and when perhaps even that does not meet his eye at the foot of the page. I do not find that even ardent Wordsworth students like to search for notes in "appendices"; and perhaps the more ardent they are the less desirable is it for them thus "to hunt the waterfalls."

I have the greatest admiration for the work which Professor Dowden has done in his edition of Wordsworth; but the 'plan' which he has followed, in his Aldine edition, of giving not only the Fenwick Notes, but all the changes of text introduced by Wordsworth into his successive editions, in additional editorial notes at the end of each volume—to understand which the reader must turn the pages repeatedly, from text to note and note to text, forwards and backwards, at times distractingly—is for practical purposes almost unworkable. The reader who examines Notes 'critically' is ever "one among a thousand," even if they are printed at the foot of the page, and meet the eye readily. If they are consigned to the realm of 'addenda' they will be read by very few, and studied by fewer.

To those who object to Notes being "thrust into view" (as it must be admitted that they are in this edition)—because it disturbs the pleasure of the reader who cares for the poetry of Wordsworth, and for the poetry alone—I may ask how many persons have read the Fenwick Notes, given together in a series, and mixed up heterogeneously with Wordsworth's own Notes to his poems, in comparison with those who have read and enjoyed them in the editions of 1857 and 1863? Professor Dowden justifies his plan of relegating the Fenwick and other notes to the end of each volume of his edition, on the ground that students of the Poet 'must' take the trouble of hunting to and fro for such things. I greatly doubt if many who have read and profited—for they could not but profit—by a perusal of Professor Dowden's work, 'have' taken that trouble, or that future readers of the Aldine edition will take it.

To refer, somewhat more in detail, to the features of this edition.

FIRST. As to the 'Chronological Order' of the Poems.

The chief advantage of a chronological arrangement of the Works of any author—and especially of a poet who himself adopted a different plan—is that it shows us, as nothing else can do, the growth of his own mind, the progressive development of his genius and imaginative power. By such a redistribution of what he wrote we can trace the rise, the culmination, and also—it may be—the decline and fall of his genius. Wordsworth's own arrangement—first adopted in the edition of 1815—was designed by him, with the view of bringing together, in separate classes, those Poems which referred to the same (or similar) subjects, or which were supposed to be the product of the same (or a similar) faculty, irrespective of the date of composition. Thus one group was entitled "Poems of the Fancy," another "Poems of the Imagination," a third "Poems proceeding from Sentiment and Reflection," a fourth "Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces," again "Poems on the Naming of Places," "Memorials of Tours," "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," "Miscellaneous Sonnets," etc. The principle which guided him in this was obvious enough. It was, in some respects, a most natural arrangement; and, in now adopting a chronological order, the groups, which he constructed with so much care, are broken up. Probably every author would attach more importance to a classification of his Works, which brought them together under appropriate headings, irrespective of date, than to a method of arrangement which exhibited the growth of his own mind; and it may be taken for granted that posterity would not think highly of any author who attached special value to this latter element. None the less posterity may wish to trace the gradual development of genius, in the imaginative writers of the past, by the help of such a subsequent rearrangement of their Works.

There are difficulties, however, in the way of such a rearrangement, some of which, in Wordsworth's case, cannot be entirely surmounted. In the case of itinerary Sonnets, referring to the same subject, the dismemberment of a series—carefully arranged by their author—seems to be specially unnatural. But Wordsworth himself sanctioned the principle. If there was a fitness in collecting all his sonnets in one volume in the year 1838, out of deference to the wishes of his friends, in order that these poems might be "brought under the eye at once"—thus removing them from their original places, in his collected works—it seems equally fitting now to rearrange them chronologically, as far as it is possible to do so. It will be seen that it is not always possible.

Then, there is the case of two Poems following each other, in Wordsworth's own arrangement, by natural affinity; such as the 'Epistle to Sir George Beaumont', written in 1811, which in almost all existing editions is followed by the Poem written in 1841, and entitled, 'Upon perusing the foregoing Epistle thirty years after its composition'; or, the dedication to 'The White Doe of Rylstone', written in April 1815, while the Poem itself was written in 1807. To separate these Poems seems unnatural; and, as it would be inadmissible to print the second of the two twice over—once as a sequel to the first poem, and again in its chronological place—adherence to the latter plan has its obvious disadvantage in the case of these poems.

Mr. Aubrey de Vere is very desirous that I should arrange all the "Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty" together in series, as Wordsworth left them, "on the principle that, though the order of publication should as a rule be the order of composition in poetry, all rules require, as well as admit of, exceptions." As I have the greatest respect for the judgment of such an authority as Mr. de Vere, I may explain that I only venture to differ from him because there are seventy-four Poems—including the sonnets and odes—in this series, and because they cover a period ranging from 1802 to 1815. I am glad, however, that many of these sonnets can be printed together, especially the earlier ones of 1802.

After carefully weighing every consideration, it has seemed to me desirable to adopt the chronological arrangement in this particular edition; in which an attempt is made to trace the growth of Wordsworth's genius, as it is unfolded in his successive works. His own arrangement of his Poems will always possess a special interest and value; and it is not likely ever to be entirely superseded in subsequent issues of his Works. The editors and publishers of the future may possibly prefer it to the plan now adopted, and it will commend itself to many readers from the mere fact that 'it was Wordsworth's own'; but in an edition such as the present—which is meant to supply material for the study of the Poet to those who may not possess, or have access to, the earlier and rarer editions—no method of arrangement can be so good as the chronological one. Its importance will be obvious after several volumes are published, when the point referred to above—viz. the evolution of the poet's genius—will be shown by the very sequence of the subjects chosen, and their method of treatment from year to year.

The date of the composition of Wordsworth's Poems cannot always be ascertained with accuracy: and to get at the chronological order, it is not sufficient to take up his earlier volumes, and thereafter to note the additions made in subsequent ones. We now know (approximately) when each poem was first published; although, in some instances, they appeared in newspapers and magazines, and in many cases publication was long after the date of composition. For example, 'Guilt and Sorrow; or, Incidents upon Salisbury Plain'—written in the years 1791-94—was not published 'in extenso' till 1842. The tragedy of 'The Borderers', composed in 1795-96, was also first published in 1842. 'The Prelude'—"commenced in the beginning of the year 1799, and completed in the summer of 1805"—was published posthumously in 1850: and some unpublished poems—both "of early and late years"—were first issued in 1886. A poem was frequently kept back, from some doubt as to its worth, or from a wish to alter and amend it. Of the five or six hundred sonnets that he wrote, Wordsworth said "Most of them were frequently re-touched; and, not a few, laboriously." Some poems were almost entirely recast; and occasionally fugitive verses were withheld from publication for a time, because it was hoped that they would subsequently form part of a larger whole.

In the case of many of the poems, we are left to conjecture the date of composition, although we are seldom without some clue to it. The Fenwick Notes are a great assistance in determining the chronology. These notes—which will be afterwards more fully referred to—were dictated by Wordsworth to Miss Fenwick in the year 1843; but, at that time, his memory could not be absolutely trusted as to dates; and in some instances we know it to have been at fault. For example, he said of 'The Old Cumberland Beggar' that it was "written at Racedown and Alfoxden in my twenty-third year." Now, he went to Racedown in the autumn of 1795, when he was twenty-five years old; and to Alfoxden, in the autumn of 1797, when twenty-seven. Again, the poem 'Rural Architecture' is put down in the Fenwick note as "written at Townend in 1801"; but it had been published in 1800, in the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads." Similarly Wordsworth gave the dates "1801 or 1802" for 'The Reverie of Poor Susan', which had also appeared in "Lyrical Ballads," 1800.

Wordsworth's memory was not always to be trusted even when he was speaking of a group of his own Poems. For example, in the edition of 1807, there is a short series described thus, "Poems, composed during a tour, chiefly on foot." They are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Now, one would naturally suppose that all the poems, in this set of five, were composed during the same pedestrian tour, and that they all referred to the same time. But the series contains 'Alice Fell' (1802), 'Beggars' (1802), 'To a Sky-Lark' (1805), and 'Resolution and Independence' (1802).

Much more valuable than the Fenwick notes—for a certain portion of Wordsworth's life—is his sister Dorothy's Journal. The mistakes in the former can frequently be corrected from the minutely kept diary of those early years, when the brother and sister lived together at Grasmere. The whole of that Journal, so far as it is desirable to print it for posterity, will be given in a subsequent volume.

Long before the publication of the Fenwick notes, Wordsworth himself supplied some data for a chronological arrangement of his Works. In the table of contents, prefixed to the first collected edition of 1815, in two volumes,—and also to the second collected edition of 1820, in four volumes,—there are two parallel columns: one giving the date of composition, and the other that of publication. There are numerous blanks in the former column, which was the only important one; as the year of publication could be ascertained from the editions themselves. Sometimes the date is given vaguely; as in the case of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty," where the note runs, "from the year 1807 to 1813." At other times, the entry of the year of publication is inaccurate; for example, the 'Inscription for the spot where the Hermitage stood on St. Herbert's Island, Derwentwater', is put down as belonging to the year 1807; but this poem does not occur in the volumes of 1807, but in the second volume of "Lyrical Ballads" (1800). It will thus be seen that it is only by comparing Wordsworth's own lists of the years to which his Poems belong, with the contents of the several editions of his Works, with the Fenwick Notes, and with his sister's Journal, that we can approximately reconstruct the true chronology. To these sources of information must be added the internal evidence of the Poems themselves, incidental references in letters to friends, and stray hints gathered from various quarters.

Many new sources of information as to the date of the composition of the Poems became known to me during the publication of my previous edition, and after its issue; the most important being the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. These discoveries showed that my chronological table of 1882—although then, relatively, "up to date"—was incomplete. The tables constructed by Mr. Tutin and by Professor Dowden are both more accurate than it was. It is impossible to attain to finality in such a matter; and several facts, afterwards discovered, and mentioned in the later volumes of my previous edition, have been used against the conclusions come to in the earlier ones. I have thus supplied the feathers for a few subsequent critical arrows. The shots have not been unkindly ones; and I am glad of the result, viz. that our knowledge of the dates—both as to the composition and first publication of the poems —is now much more exact than before. When a conjectural one is given in this edition, the fact is always mentioned.

This chronological method of arrangement, however, has its limits. It is not possible always to adopt it: nor is it invariably 'necessary', even in order to obtain a true view of the growth of Wordsworth's mind. In this—as in so many other things—wisdom lies in the avoidance of extremes; the extreme of rigid fidelity to the order of time on the one hand, and the extreme of an irrational departure from it on the other. While an effort has been made to discover the exact order of the composition of the poems—and this is shown, not only in the Chronological Table, but at the beginning of each separate poem—it has been considered expedient to depart from that order in printing some of the poems. In certain cases a poem was begun and laid aside, and again resumed at intervals; and it is difficult to know to what year the larger part of it should be assigned. When we know the date at which a poem was commenced, and that it was finished "long afterwards," but have no clue as to the year, it is assigned to the year in which it was begun. For example, the 'Address to Kilchurn Castle' was begun in 1803, but only the first three lines were written then. Wordsworth tells us that "the rest was added many years after," but when we know not; and the poem was not published till 1827. In such a case, it is placed in this edition as if it belonged chronologically to 1803, and retains its place in the series of Poems which memorialise the Tour in Scotland of that year. On a similar principle, 'The Highland Girl' is placed in the same series; although Dorothy Wordsworth tells us, in her Journal of the Tour, that it was composed "not long after our return from Scotland"; and 'Glen Almain'—although written afterwards at Rydal—retains its published place in the memorial group. Again the 'Departure from the Vale of Grasmere, August 1803', is prefixed to the same series; although it was not written till 1811, and first published in 1827. To give symmetry to such a Series, it is necessary to depart from the exact chronological order—the departure being duly indicated.

On the same principle I have followed the 'Address to the Scholars of the Village School of——', by its natural sequel—'By the Side of the Grave some Years after', the date of the composition of which is unknown: and the 'Epistle to Sir George Beaumont' (1811) is followed by the later Lines, to which Wordsworth gave the most prosaic title—he was often infelicitous in his titles—'Upon perusing the foregoing Epistle thirty years after its composition'. A like remark applies to the poem 'Beggars', which is followed by its own 'Sequel', although the order of date is disturbed; while all the "Epitaphs," translated from Chiabrera, are printed together.

It is manifestly appropriate that the poems belonging to a series—such as the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," or those referring to the "Duddon"—should be brought together, as Wordsworth finally arranged them; even although we may be aware that some of them were written subsequently, and placed in the middle of the series. The sonnets referring to "Aspects of Christianity in America"—inserted in the 1845 and 1849-50 editions of the collected Works—are found in no previous edition or version of the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets." These, along with some others on the Offices of the English Liturgy, were suggested to Wordsworth by an American prelate, Bishop Doane, and by Professor Henry Reed; [2] but we do not know in what year they were written. The "Ecclesiastical Sonnets"—first called "Ecclesiastical Sketches"—were written in the years 1820-22. The above additions to them appeared twenty-five years afterwards; but they ought manifestly to retain their place, as arranged by Wordsworth in the edition of 1845. The case is much the same with regard to the "Duddon Sonnets." They were first published in 1820: but No. xiv. beginning:

O mountain Stream! the Shepherd and his Cot,

was written in the year 1806, and appears in the edition of 1807. This sonnet will be printed in the series to which it belongs, and not in its chronological place. I think it would be equally unjust to remove it from the group—in which it helps to form a unity—and to print it twice over. [3] On the other hand, the series of "Poems composed during a Tour in Scotland, and on the English Border, in the Autumn of 1831"—and first published in the year 1835, in the volume entitled "Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems"—contains two, which Wordsworth himself tells us were composed earlier; and there is no reason why these poems should not be restored to their chronological place. The series of itinerary sonnets, published along with them in the Yarrow volume of 1835, is the record of another Scottish tour, taken in the year 1833; and Wordsworth says of them that they were "composed 'or suggested' during a tour in the summer of 1833." We cannot now discover which of them were written during the tour, and which at Rydal Mount after his return; but it is obvious that they should be printed in the order in which they were left by him, in 1835. It may be noted that almost all the "Evening Voluntaries" belong to these years—1832 to 1835—when the author was from sixty-two to sixty-five years of age.

Wordsworth's habit of revision may perhaps explain the mistakes into which he occasionally fell as to the dates of his Poems, and the difficulty of reconciling what he says, as to the year of composition, with the date assigned by his sister in her Journal. When he says "written in 1801, or 1802," he may be referring to the last revision which he gave to his work. Certain it is, however, that he sometimes gave a date for the composition, which was subsequent to the publication of the poem in question.

In the case of those poems to which no date was attached, I have tried to find a clue by which to fix an approximate one. Obviously, it would not do to place all the undated poems in a class by themselves. Such an arrangement would be thoroughly artificial; and, while we are in many instances left to conjecture, we can always say that such and such a poem was composed not later than a particular year. When the precise date is undiscoverable, I have thought it best to place the poem in or immediately before the year in which it was first published.

Poems which were several years in process of composition, having been laid aside, and taken up repeatedly; 'e.g. The Prelude', which was composed between the years 1799 and 1805—are placed in the year in which they were finished. Disputable questions as to the date of any poem are dealt with in the editorial note prefixed or appended to it.

There is one Poem which I have intentionally placed out of its chronological place, viz. the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood'. It was written at intervals from 1803 to 1806, and was first published in the edition of 1807, where it stood at the end of the second volume. In every subsequent edition of the collected Works—1815 to 1850—it closed the groups of poems; 'The Excursion' only following it, in a volume of its own. This was an arrangement made by Wordsworth, of set purpose, and steadily adhered to—the 'Ode' forming as it were the High Altar of his poetic Cathedral. As he wished it to retain that place in subsequent editions of his Works, it retains it in this one.

Mr. Arnold's arrangement of the Poems, in his volume of Selections [4], is extremely interesting and valuable; but, as to the method of grouping adopted, I am not sure that it is better than Wordsworth's own. As a descriptive title, "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection" is quite as good as "Poems akin to the Antique," and "Poems of the Fancy" quite as appropriate as "Poems of Ballad Form."

Wordsworth's arrangement of his Poems in groups was psychologically very interesting; but it is open to many objections. Unfortunately Wordsworth was not himself consistent—in the various editions issued by himself—either in the class into which he relegated each poem, or the order in which he placed it there. There is tantalising topsy-turvyism in this, so that an editor who adopts it is almost compelled to select Wordsworth's latest grouping, which was not always his best.

Sir William Rowan Hamilton wrote to Mr. Aubrey de Vere in 1835 that Dora Wordsworth told him that her father "was sometimes at a loss whether to refer her to the 'Poems of the Imagination,' or the 'Poems of the Fancy,' for some particular passage." Aubrey de Vere himself considered Wordsworth's arrangement as "a parade of system," and wrote of it, "I cannot help thinking that in it, he mistakes classification for method." [5] I confess that it is often difficult to see why some of the poems were assigned by their author to the realm of the "Fancy," the "Imagination," and "Sentiment and Reflection" respectively. In a note to 'The Horn of Egremont Castle' (edition 1815) Wordsworth speaks of it as "referring to the imagination," rather than as being "produced by it"; and says that he would not have placed it amongst his "Poems of the Imagination," "but to avoid a needless multiplication of classes"; and in the editions of 1827 and 1832 he actually included the great 'Ode' on Immortality among his "Epitaphs and Elegiac Poems"! As late as 27th September 1845, he wrote to Professor Henry Reed,

"Following your example" (i. e. the example set in Reed's American edition of the Poems), "I have greatly extended the class entitled 'Poems of the Imagination,' thinking as you must have done that, if Imagination were predominant in the class, it was not indispensable that it should pervade every poem which it contained. Limiting the class as I had done before, seemed to imply, and to the uncandid or observing did so, that the faculty, which is the 'primum mobile' in poetry, had little to do, in the estimation of the author, with pieces not arranged under that head. I therefore feel much obliged to you for suggesting by your practice the plan which I have adopted."

Could anything show more explicitly than this that Wordsworth was not perfectly satisfied with his own artificial groups? Professor Reed, in his American edition of 1837, however, acted on Wordsworth's expressed intention of distributing the contents of "Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems" amongst the classes. He tells us that he "interspersed the contents of this volume among the Poems already arranged" by Wordsworth. [6]

It may also be mentioned that not only members of his own household, but many of Wordsworth's friends—notably Charles Lamb—expressed a preference for a different arrangement of his Poems from that which he had adopted.

SECOND The various Readings, or variations of text, made by Wordsworth during his lifetime, or written by him on copies of his Poems, or discovered in MS. letters, from himself, or his sister, or his wife, are given in footnotes in this edition. Few English poets changed their text more frequently, or with more fastidiousness, than Wordsworth did. He did not always alter it for the better. Every alteration however, which has been discovered by me, whether for the better or for the worse, is here printed in full. We have thus a record of the fluctuations of his own mind as to the form in which he wished his Poems to appear; and this record casts considerable light on the development of his genius. [7]

A knowledge of these changes of text can only be obtained in one or other of two ways. Either the reader must have access to all the thirty-two editions of Poems, the publication of which Wordsworth personally supervised; or, he must have all the changes in the successive editions, exhibited in the form of footnotes, and appended to the particular text that is selected and printed in the body of the work. It is extremely difficult—in some cases quite impossible—to obtain the early editions. The great public libraries of the country do not possess them all.[8] It is therefore necessary to fall back upon the latter plan, which seems the only one by which a knowledge of the changes of the text can be made accessible, either to the general reader, or to the special student of English Poetry.

The text which—after much consideration—I have resolved to place throughout, in the body of the work, is Wordsworth's own final 'textus receptus', i.e. the text of 1849-50, reproduced in the posthumous edition of 1857; [9] and since opinion will doubtless differ as to the wisdom of this selection, it may be desirable to state at some length the reasons which have led me to adopt it.

There are only three possible courses open to an editor, who wishes to give—along with the text selected—all the various readings chronologically arranged as footnotes. Either, 1st, the earliest text may be taken, or 2nd, the latest may be chosen, or 3rd, the text may be selected from different editions, so as to present each poem in its best state (according to the judgment of the editor), in whatever edition it is found. A composite text, made up from two or more editions, would be inadmissible.

Now, most persons who have studied the subject know that Wordsworth's best text is to be found, in one poem in its earliest edition, in another in its latest, and in a third in some intermediate edition. I cannot agree either with the statement that he always altered for the worse, or that he always altered for the better. His critical judgment was not nearly so unerring in this respect as Coleridge's was, or as Tennyson's has been. It may be difficult, therefore, to assign an altogether satisfactory reason for adopting either the earliest or the latest text; and at first sight, the remaining alternative plan may seem the wisest of the three. There are indeed difficulties in the way of the adoption of any one of the methods suggested; and as I adopt the latest text—not because it is always intrinsically the best, but on other grounds to be immediately stated—it may clear the way, if reference be made in the first instance to the others, and to the reasons for abandoning them.

As to a selection of the text from various editions, this would doubtless be the best plan, were it a practicable one; and perhaps it may be attainable some day. But Wordsworth is as yet too near us for such an editorial treatment of his Works to be successful. The fundamental objection to it is that scarcely two minds—even among the most competent of contemporary judges—will agree as to what the best text is. An edition arranged on this principle could not possibly be acceptable to more than a few persons. Of course no arrangement of any kind can escape adverse criticism: it would be most unfortunate if it did. But this particular edition would fail in its main purpose, if questions of individual taste were made primary, and not secondary; and an arrangement, which gave scope for the arbitrary selection of particular texts,—according to the wisdom, or the want of wisdom, of the editor,—would deservedly meet with severe criticism in many quarters. Besides, such a method of arrangement would not indicate the growth of the Poet's mind, and the development of his genius. If an editor wished to indicate his own opinion of the best text for each poem—under the idea that his judgment might be of some use to other people—it would be wiser to do so by means of some mark or marginal note, than by printing his selected text in the main body of the work. He could thus at once preserve the chronological order of the readings, indicate his own preference, and leave it to others to select what they preferred. Besides, the compiler of such an edition would often find himself in doubt as to what the best text really was, the merit of the different readings being sometimes almost equal, or very nearly balanced; and, were he to endeavour to get out of the difficulty by obtaining the judgments of literary men, or even of contemporary poets, he would find that their opinions would in most cases be dissimilar, if they did not openly conflict. Those who cannot come to a final decision as to their own text would not be likely to agree as to the merits of particular readings in the poems of their predecessors. Unanimity of opinion on this point is indeed quite unattainable.

Nevertheless, it would be easy for an editor to show the unfortunate result of keeping rigorously either to the latest or to the earliest text of Wordsworth. If, on the one hand, the latest were taken, it could be shown that many of the changes introduced into it were for the worse, and some of them very decidedly so. For example, in the poem 'To a Skylark'—composed in 1825—the second verse, retained in the editions of 1827, 1832, 1836, and 1843, was unaccountably dropped out in the editions of 1845 and 1849. The following is the complete poem of 1825, as published in 1827.

Ethereal Minstrel! Pilgrim of the sky! Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound? Or, while the wings aspire, are heart and eye Both with thy nest upon the dewy ground? Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will, Those quivering wings composed, that music still!

To the last point of vision, and beyond, Mount, daring Warbler! that love-prompted strain, ('Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond) Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain: Yet might'st thou seem, proud privilege! to sing All independent of the leafy spring.

Leave to the Nightingale her shady wood; A privacy of glorious light is thine; Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood Of harmony, with rapture more divine; Type of the wise who soar, but never roam; True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!

There is no doubt that the first and third stanzas are the finest, and some may respect the judgment that cut down the Poem by the removal of its second verse: but others will say, if it was right that such a verse should be removed, why were many others of questionable merit allowed to remain? Why was such a poem as 'The Glowworm', of the edition of 1807, never republished; while 'The Waterfall and the Eglantine', and 'To the Spade of a Friend', were retained? To give one other illustration, where a score are possible. In the sonnet, belonging to the year 1807, beginning:

"Beloved Vale!" I said, "when I shall con,"

we find, in the latest text, the lines—first adopted in 1827:

I stood, of simple shame the blushing Thrall; So narrow seemed the brooks, the fields so small,

while the early edition of 1807 contains the far happier lines:

To see the Trees, which I had thought so tall, Mere dwarfs; the Brooks so narrow, Fields so small.

On the other hand, if the earliest text be invariably retained, some of the best poems will be spoiled (or the improvements lost), since Wordsworth did usually alter for the better. For example, few persons will doubt that the form in which the second stanza of the poem 'To the Cuckoo' (written in 1802) appeared in 1845, is an improvement on all its predecessors. I give the readings of 1807, 1815, 1820, 1827, and 1845.

While I am lying on the grass, I hear thy restless shout: From hill to hill it seems to pass, About, and all about! 1807.

While I am lying on the grass, Thy loud note smites my ear!— From hill to hill it seems to pass, At once far off and near! 1815.

While I am lying on the grass, Thy loud note smites my ear! It seems to fill the whole air's space, At once far off and near. 1820.

While I am lying on the grass Thy twofold shout I hear, That seems to fill the whole air's space, As loud far off as near. 1827.

While I am lying on the grass Thy twofold shout I hear, From hill to hill it seems to pass, At once far off, and near. 1845.

Similarly, in each of the three poems 'To the Daisy', composed in 1802, and in the 'Afterthought, to the Duddon', the alterations introduced into the latest editions were all improvements upon the early version.

It might be urged that these considerations would warrant the interference of an editor, and justify him in selecting the text which he thought the best upon the whole; but this must be left to posterity. When editors can escape the bias of contemporary thought and feeling, when their judgments are refined by distance and mellowed by the new literary standards of the intervening years,—when in fact Wordsworth is as far away from his critics as Shakespeare now is—it may be possible to adjust a final text. But the task is beyond the power of the present generation.

It may farther be urged that if this reasoning be valid,—and if, for the present, one text must be retained uniformly throughout,—the natural plan is to take the earliest, and not the latest; and this has some recommendations. It seems more simple, more natural, and certainly the easiest. We have a natural sequence, if we begin with the earliest and go on to the latest readings. Then, all the readers of Wordsworth, who care to possess or to consult the present edition, will doubtless possess one or other of the complete copies of his works, which contain his final text; while probably not one in twenty have ever seen the first edition of any of his poems, with the exception of 'The Prelude'. It is true that if the reader turns to a footnote to compare the versions of different years, while he is reading for the sake of the poetry, he will be so distracted that the effect of the poem as a whole will be entirely lost; because the critical spirit, which judges of the text, works apart from the spirit of sympathetic appreciation, in which all poetry should be read. But it is not necessary to turn to the footnotes, and to mark what may be called the literary growth of a poem, while it is being read for its own sake: and these notes are printed in smaller type, so as not to obtrude themselves on the eye of the reader.

Against the adoption of the earlier text, there is this fatal objection, that if it is to be done at all, it must be done throughout; and, in the earliest poems Wordsworth wrote—viz. 'An Evening Walk' and 'Descriptive Sketches',—the subsequent alterations almost amounted to a cancelling of the earlier version. His changes were all, or almost all, unmistakably for the better. Indeed, there was little in these works—in the form in which they first appeared—to lead to the belief that an original poet had arisen in England. It is true that Coleridge saw in them the signs of the dawn of a new era, and wrote thus of 'Descriptive Sketches', before he knew its author, "Seldom, if ever, was the emergence of a great and original poetic genius above the literary horizon more evidently announced." Nevertheless the earliest text of these 'Sketches' is, in many places, so artificial, prosaic, and dull, that its reproduction (except as an appendix, or in the form of footnotes) would be an injustice to Wordsworth. [10] On the other hand, the passages subsequently cancelled are so numerous, and so long, that if placed in footnotes the latter would in some instances be more extensive than the text. The quarto of 1793 will therefore be reprinted in full as an Appendix to the first volume of this edition. The 'School Exercise written at Hawkshead' in the poet's fourteenth year, will be found in vol. viii. Passing over these juvenile efforts, there are poems—such as 'Guilt and Sorrow', 'Peter Bell', and many others—in which the earlier text is an inferior one, which was either corrected or abandoned by Wordsworth in his maturer years. It would be a conspicuous blunder to print—in the place of honour,—the crude original which was afterwards repudiated by its author.

It may be remembered, in connection with Wordsworth's text, that he himself said, "I am for the most part uncertain about my success in altering poems; but, in this case" (he is speaking of an insertion) "I am sure I have produced a great improvement." ('Memoirs of Wordsworth', vol. i. p. 174.) [11] Again, in writing to Mr. Dyce in 1830, "You know what importance I attach to following strictly the last copy of the text of an author."

It is also worthy of note that the study of their chronology casts some light on the changes which the poems underwent. The second edition of "Lyrical Ballads" appeared in 1800. In that edition the text of 1798 is scarcely altered: but, in the year in which it was published, Wordsworth was engrossed with his settlement at Grasmere; and, in the springtime of creative work, he probably never thought of revising his earlier pieces. In the year 1800, he composed at least twenty-five new poems. The third edition of "Lyrical Ballads" appeared in 1802; and during that year he wrote forty-three new poems, many of them amongst the most perfect of his Lyrics. His critical instinct had become much more delicate since 1800: and it is not surprising to find—as we do find—that between the text of the "Lyrical Ballads" of 1800, and that of 1802, there are many important variations. This is seen, for example, in the way in which he dealt with 'The Female Vagrant', which is altered throughout. Its early redundance is pruned away; and, in many instances, the final text, sanctioned in 1845, had been adopted in 1803. Without going into further detail, it is sufficient to remark that in the year 1803 Wordsworth's critical faculty, the faculty of censorship, had developed almost step for step with the creative originality of his genius. In that prolific year, when week by week, almost day by day, fresh poems were thrown off with marvellous facility—as we see from his sister's Journal—he had become a severe, if not a fastidious, critic of his own earlier work. A further explanation of the absence of critical revision, in the edition of 1800, may be found in the fact that during that year Wordsworth was engaged in writing the "Preface" to his Poems; which dealt, in so remarkable a manner, with the nature of Poetry in general, and with his own theory of it in particular.

A further reference to the 'Evening Walk' will illustrate Wordsworth's way of dealing with his earlier text in his later editions. This Poem showed from the first a minute observation of Nature—not only in her external form and colour, but also in her suggestiveness—though not in her symbolism; and we also find the same transition from Nature to Man, the same interest in rural life, and the same lingering over its incidents that we see in his maturer poems. Nevertheless, there is much that is conventional in the first edition of 'An Evening Walk', published in 1793. I need only mention, as a sample, the use of the phrase "silent tides" to describe the waters of a lake. When this poem was revised, in the year 1815—with a view to its insertion in the first edition of the collected works—Wordsworth merely omitted large portions of it, and some of its best passages were struck out. He scarcely amended the text at all. In 1820, however, he pruned and improved it throughout; so that between this poem, as recast in 1820 (and reproduced almost 'verbatim' in the next two editions of 1827 and 1832), and his happiest descriptions of Nature in his most inspired moods, there is no great difference. But, in 1836, he altered it still further in detail; and in that state practically left it, apparently not caring to revise it further. In the edition of 1845, however, there are several changes. So far as I can judge, there is one alteration for the worse, and one only. The reading, in the edition of 1793,

In these lone vales, if aught of faith may claim, Thin silver hairs, and ancient hamlet fame; When up the hills, as now, retreats the light, Strange apparitions mock the village sight,

is better than that finally adopted,

In these secluded vales, if village fame, Confirmed by hoary hairs, belief may claim; When up the hills, as now, retired the light, Strange apparitions mocked the shepherd's sight.

It will be seen, however, from the changes made in the text of this poem, how Wordsworth's observation of Nature developed, how thoroughly dissatisfied he soon became with everything conventional, and discarded every image not drawn directly or at first hand from Nature.

The text adopted in the present edition is, for the reasons stated, that which was finally sanctioned by Wordsworth himself, in the last edition of his Poems (1849-50). The earlier readings, occurring in previous editions, are given in footnotes; and it may be desirable to explain the way in which these are arranged. It will be seen that whenever the text has been changed a date is given in the footnote, 'before' the other readings are added. This date, which accompanies the reference number of the footnote, indicates the year in which the reading finally retained was first adopted by Wordsworth. The earlier readings then follow, in chronological order, with the year to which they belong; [12] and it is in every case to be assumed that the last of the changes indicated was continued in all subsequent editions of the works. No direct information is given as to how long a particular reading was retained, or through how many editions it ran. It is to be assumed, however, that it was retained in all intermediate editions till the next change of text is stated. It would encumber the notes with too many figures if, in every instance in which a change was made, the corresponding state of the text in all the other editions was indicated. But if no new reading follows the text quoted, it is to be taken for granted that the reading in question was continued in every subsequent edition, until the date which accompanies the reference figure.

Two illustrations will make this clear. The first is a case in which the text was only altered once, the second an instance in which it was altered six times. In the 'Evening Walk' the following lines occur—

The dog, loud barking, 'mid the glittering rocks, Hunts, where his master points, the intercepted flocks.

And the footnote is as follows:

1836. That, barking busy 'mid the glittering rocks, Hunts, where he points, the intercepted flocks; 1793.

In the light of what has been said above, and by reference to the Bibliography, it will be seen from these two dates that the original text of 1793—given in the footnote—was continued in the editions of 1820, 1827, and 1832 (it was omitted from the "extract" of 1815); that it was changed in the year 1836; and that this reading was retained in the editions of 1843, 1845, and 1849.

Again, in 'Simon Lee', the lines occur:

But what to them avails the land Which he can till no longer?

And the following are the footnotes:

1845. But what avails the land to them, Which they can till no longer? 1798.

"But what," saith he, "avails the land, Which I can till no longer? 1827.

But what avails it now, the land Which he can till no longer? 1832.

'Tis his, but what avails the land Which he can till no longer? 1837.

The time, alas! is come when he Can till the land no longer. 1840.

The time is also come when he Can till the land no longer. C.

From this it will be seen that the text adopted in the first edition of "Lyrical Ballads" in 1798 was retained in the editions of 1800, 1802, 1805, 1815, and 1820; that it was altered in each of the editions of 1827, 1832, 1837, 1840, as also in the MS. readings in Lord Coleridge's copy of the works, and in the edition of 1845; and that the version of 1845 was retained in the edition of 1849-50. It should be added that when a verse, or stanza, or line—occurring in one or other of the earlier editions—was omitted from that of 1849, the footnote simply contains the extract along with the date of the year or years in which it occurs; and that, in such cases, the date does not follow the reference number of the footnote, but is placed for obvious reasons at the end of the extract.

The same thing is true of 'Descriptive Sketches'. In the year 1827, there were scarcely any alterations made on the text of the poem, as printed in 1820; still fewer were added in 1832; but for the edition of 1836 the whole was virtually rewritten, and in that state it was finally left, although a few significant changes were made in 1845.

Slight changes of spelling which occur in the successive editions, are not mentioned. When, however, the change is one of transposition, although the text remains unaltered,—as is largely the case in 'Simon Lee', for example—it is always indicated.

It will be further observed that, at the beginning of every poem, two dates are given; the first, on the left-hand side, is the date of composition; the second, on the right-hand side, is the date of the first publication. In what class the poem first appeared, and the changes (if any) which subsequently occurred in its title, are mentioned in the note appended.

THIRD. In the present edition several suggested changes of text, which were written by Wordsworth on the margin of a copy of his edition of 1836-7, which he kept beside him at Rydal Mount, are published. These MS. notes seem to have been written by himself, or dictated to others, at intervals between the years 1836 and 1850, and they are thus a record of passing thoughts, or "moods of his own mind," during these years. Some of these were afterwards introduced into the editions of 1842, 1846, and 1849; others were not made use of. The latter have now a value of their own, as indicating certain new phases of thought and feeling, in Wordsworth's later years. I owe my knowledge of them, and the permission to use them, to the kindness of the late Chief Justice of England, Lord Coleridge. The following is an extract from a letter from him:

"FOX GHYLL, AMBLESIDE, '4th October 1881'.

"I have been long intending to write you as to the manuscript notes and alterations in Wordsworth's poems, which you have had the opportunity of seeing, and, so far as you thought fit, of using for your edition. They came into my possession in this way. I saw them advertised in a catalogue which was sent me, and at my request the book was very courteously forwarded to me for my inspection. It appeared to me of sufficient interest and value to induce me to buy it; and I accordingly became the purchaser.

"It is a copy of the edition in six volumes, the publication of which began in the year 1836; and of the volume containing the collected sonnets, which was afterwards printed uniformly with that edition. It appears to have been the copy which Wordsworth himself used for correcting, altering, and adding to the poems contained in it. As you have seen, in some of the poems the Alterations are very large, amounting sometimes to a complete rewriting of considerable passages. Many of these alterations have been printed in subsequent editions; some have not; two or three small poems, as far as I know, have not been hitherto published. Much of the writing is Wordsworth's own; but perhaps the larger portion is the hand-writing of others, one or more, not familiar to me as Wordsworth's is.

"How the volumes came to be sold I do not know.... Such as they are, and whatever be their interest or value, you are, as far as I am concerned, heartily welcome to them; and I shall be glad indeed if they add in the least degree to make your edition more worthy of the great man for whom my admiration grows every day I live, and my deep gratitude to whom will cease only with my life, and my reason."

This precious copy of the edition of 1836-7 is now the property of Lady Coleridge. I re-examined it in 1894, and added several readings, which I had omitted to note twelve years ago, when Lord Coleridge first showed it to me. I should add that, since the issue of the volumes of 1882-6, many other MS. copies of individual Poems have come under my notice; and that every important variation of text in them is incorporated in this edition.

As it is impossible to discover the precise year in which the suggested alterations of text were written by Wordsworth, on the margin of the edition of 1836, they will be indicated, wherever they occur, by the initial letter C. Comparatively few changes occur in the poems of early years.

A copy of the 1814 (quarto) edition of 'The Excursion', now in the possession of a grandson of the poet, the Rev. John Wordsworth, Gosforth Rectory, Cumberland—which was the copy Wordsworth kept at Rydal Mount for annotation and correction, much in the same way as he kept the edition of 1836-7—has also been kindly sent to me by its present owner, for examination and use in this edition; and, in it, I have found some additional readings.

FOURTH. In the present edition all the Notes and Memoranda, explanatory of the Poems, which Wordsworth dictated to Miss Fenwick, are given in full. Miss Fenwick lived much at Rydal Mount, during the later years of the Poet's life; and it is to their friendship, and to her inducing Wordsworth to dictate these Notes, that we owe most of the information we possess, as to the occasions and circumstances under which his poems were composed. These notes were first made use of—although only in a fragmentary manner—by the late Bishop of Lincoln, in the 'Memoirs' of his uncle. They were afterwards incorporated in full in the edition of 1857, issued by Mr. Moxon, under the direction of Mr. Carter; and in the centenary edition. They were subsequently printed in 'The Prose Works of Wordsworth', edited by Dr. Grosart; and in my edition of 1882-6. I am uncertain whether it was the original MS., written by Miss Fenwick, or the copy of it afterwards taken for Miss Quillinan, to which Dr. Grosart had access. The text of these Notes, as printed in the edition of 1857, is certainly (in very many cases) widely different from what is given in 'The Prose Works' of 1876. I have made many corrections—from the MS. which I have examined with care—of errors which exist in all previously printed copies of these Notes, including my own.

What appears in this volume is printed from a MS., which Miss Quillinan gave me to examine and copy, and which she assured me was the original one. The proper place for these Fenwick Notes is doubtless that which was assigned to them by the editor of 1857, viz. before the poems which they respectively illustrate.

FIFTH. Topographical Notes, explanatory of the allusions made by Wordsworth to the localities in the English Lake District, and elsewhere, are added throughout the volumes. This has already been attempted to some extent by several writers, but a good deal more remains to be done; and I may repeat what I wrote on this subject, in 1878.

Many of Wordsworth's allusions to Place are obscure, and the exact localities difficult to identify. It is doubtful if he cared whether they could be afterwards traced out or not; and in reference to one particular rock, referred to in the "Poems on the Naming of Places," when asked by a friend to localise it, he declined; replying to the question, "Yes, that—or any other that will suit!" There is no doubt that, in many instances, his allusions to place are intentionally vague; and, in some of his most realistic passages, he avowedly weaves together a description of localities remote from each other.

It is true that "Poems of Places" are not meant to be photographs; and were they simply to reproduce the features of a particular district, and be an exact transcript of reality, they would be literary photographs, and not poems. Poetry cannot, in the nature of things, be a mere register of phenomena appealing to the eye or the ear. No imaginative writer, however, in the whole range of English Literature, is so peculiarly identified with locality as Wordsworth is; and there is not one on the roll of poets, the appreciation of whose writings is more aided by an intimate knowledge of the district in which he lived. The wish to be able to identify his allusions to those places, which he so specially interpreted, is natural to every one who has ever felt the spell of his genius; and it is indispensable to all who would know the special charm of a region, which he described as "a national property," and of which he, beyond all other men, may be said to have effected the literary "conveyance" to posterity.

But it has been asked—and will doubtless be asked again—what is the use of a minute identification of all these places? Is not the general fact that Wordsworth described this district of mountain, vale, and mere, sufficient, without any further attempt at localisation? The question is more important, and has wider bearings, than appears upon the surface.

It must be admitted, on the one hand, that the discovery of the precise point in every local allusion is not necessary to an understanding or appreciation of the Poems. But, it must be remembered, on the other hand, that Wordsworth was never contented with simply copying what he saw in Nature. Of the 'Evening Walk'—written in his eighteenth year—he says that the plan of the poem

"has not been confined to a particular walk or an individual place; a proof (of which I was unconscious at the time) of my unwillingness to submit the poetic spirit to the chains of fact and real circumstance. The country is idealised rather than described in any one of its local aspects."[13]

Again, he says of the 'Lines written while Sailing in a Boat at Evening':

"It was during a solitary walk on the banks of the Cam that I was first struck with this appearance, and applied it to my own feelings in the manner here expressed, changing the scene to the Thames, near Windsor"; [14]

and of 'Guilt and Sorrow', he said,

"To obviate some distraction in the minds of those who are well acquainted with Salisbury Plain, it may be proper to say, that of the features described as belonging to it, one or two are taken from other desolate parts of England." [15]

In 'The Excursion' he passes from Langdale to Grasmere, over to Patterdale, back to Grasmere, and again to Hawes Water, without warning; and even in the case of the "Duddon Sonnets" he introduces a description taken direct from Rydal. Mr. Aubrey de Vere tells of a conversation he had with Wordsworth, in which he vehemently condemned the ultra-realistic poet, who goes to Nature with

"pencil and note-book, and jots down whatever strikes him most," adding, "Nature does not permit an inventory to be made of her charms! He should have left his pencil and note-book at home; fixed his eye as he walked with a reverent attention on all that surrounded him, and taken all into a heart that could understand and enjoy. Afterwards he would have discovered that while much of what he had admired was preserved to him, much was also most wisely obliterated. That which remained, the picture surviving in his mind, would have presented the ideal and essential truth of the scene, and done so in large part by discarding much which, though in itself striking, was not characteristic. In every scene, many of the most brilliant details are but accidental."

The two last sentences of this extract give admirable expression to one feature of Wordsworth's interpretation of Nature. In the deepest poetry, as in the loftiest music,—in Wordsworth's lyrics as in Beethoven's sonatas—it is by what they unerringly suggest and not by what they exhaustively express that their truth and power are known. "In what he leaves unsaid," wrote Schiller, "I discover the master of style." It depends, no doubt, upon the vision of the "inward eye," and the reproductive power of the idealising mind, whether the result is a travesty of Nature, or the embodiment of a truth higher than Nature yields. On the other hand, it is equally certain that the identification of localities casts a sudden light in many instances upon obscure passages in a poem, and is by far the best commentary that can be given. It is much to be able to compare the actual scene, with the ideal creation suggested by it; as the latter was both Wordsworth's reading of the text of Nature, and his interpretation of it. In his seventy-third year, he said, looking back on his 'Evening Walk', that there was not an image in the poem which he had not observed, and that he "recollected the time and place where most of them were noted." In the Fenwick notes, we constantly find him saying, "the fact occurred strictly as recorded," "the fact was as mentioned in the poem"; and the fact very often involved the accessories of place.

Any one who has tried to trace out the allusions in the "Poems on the Naming of Places," or to discover the site of "Michael's Sheepfold," to identify "Ghimmer Crag," or "Thurston-Mere,"—not to speak of the individual "rocks" and "recesses" near Blea Tarn at the head of Little Langdale so minutely described in 'The Excursion',—will admit that local commentary is an important aid to the understanding of Wordsworth. If to read the 'Yew Trees' in Borrowdale itself,

in mute repose To lie, and listen to the mountain flood Murmuring from Glaramara's inmost caves,

to read 'The Brothers' in Ennerdale, or "The Daffodils" by the shore of Ullswater, gives a new significance to these "poems of the imagination," a discovery of the obscurer allusions to place or scene will deepen our appreciation of those passages in which his idealism is most pronounced. Every one knows Kirkstone Pass, Aira Force, Dungeon Ghyll, the Wishing Gate, and Helm Crag: many persons know the Glowworm Rock, and used to know the Rock of Names; but where is "Emma's Dell"? or "the meeting point of two highways," so characteristically described in the twelfth book of 'The Prelude'? and who will fix the site of the pool in Rydal Upper Park, immortalised in the poem 'To M. H.'? or identify "Joanna's Rock"? Many of the places in the English Lake District are undergoing change, and every year the local allusions will be more difficult to trace. Perhaps the most interesting memorial of the poet which existed, viz. the "Rock of Names," on the shore of Thirlmere, is now sunk under the waters of a Manchester reservoir. Other memorials are perishing by the wear and tear of time, the decay of old buildings, the alteration of roads, the cutting down of trees, and the modernising, or "improving," of the district generally. All this is inevitable. But it is well that many of the natural objects, over and around which the light of Wordsworth's genius lingers, are out of the reach of "improvements," and are indestructible even by machinery.

If it be objected that several of the places which we try to identify—and which some would prefer to leave for ever undisturbed in the realm of imagination—were purposely left obscure, it may be replied that Death and Time have probably now removed all reasons for reticence, especially in the case of those poems referring to domestic life and friendly ties. While an author is alive, or while those are alive to whom he has made reference in the course of his allusions to place, it may even be right that works designed for posterity should not be dealt with after the fashion of the modern "interviewer." But greatness has its penalties; and a "fierce light" "beats around the throne" of Genius, as well as round that of Empire. Moreover, all experience shows that posterity takes a great and a growing interest in exact topographical illustrations of the works of great authors. The labour recently bestowed upon the places connected with Shakespeare, Scott, and Burns sufficiently attests this.

The localities in Westmoreland, which are most permanently associated with Wordsworth, are these: Grasmere, where he lived during the years of his "poetic prime," and where he is buried; Lower Easdale, where he passed so many days with his sister by the side of the brook, and on the terraces at Lancrigg, and where 'The Prelude' was dictated; Rydal Mount, where he spent the latter half of his life, and where he found one of the most perfect retreats in England; Great Langdale, and Blea Tarn at the head of Little Langdale, immortalised in 'The Excursion'; the upper end of Ullswater, and Kirkstone Pass; and all the mountain tracks and paths round Grasmere and Rydal, especially the old upper road between them, under Nab Scar, his favourite walk during his later years, where he "composed hundreds of verses." There is scarcely a rock or mountain summit, a stream or tarn, or even a well, a grove, or forest-side in all that neighbourhood, which is not imperishably identified with this poet, who at once interpreted them as they had never been interpreted before, and added

the gleam, The light that never was, on sea or land, The consecration, and the Poet's dream.

It may be worthy of note that Wordsworth himself sanctioned the principle of tracing out local allusions both by dictating the Fenwick notes, and by republishing his Essay on the topography of the Lakes, along with the Duddon Sonnets, in 1820—and also, by itself, in 1822—"from a belief that it would tend materially to illustrate" his poems.

In this edition the topographical Notes usually follow the Poems to which they refer. But in the case of the longer Poems, such as 'The Prelude', 'The Excursion', and others, it seems more convenient to print them at the foot of the page, than to oblige the reader to turn to the end of the volume.

From the accident of my having tried long ago—at Principal Shairp's request—to do what he told me he wished to do, but had failed to carry out, I have been supposed, quite erroneously, to be an 'authority' on the subject of "The English Lake District, as interpreted in the Poems of Wordsworth." The latter, it is true, is the title of one of the books which I have written about Wordsworth: but, although I visited the Lakes in 1860,—"as a pilgrim resolute"—and have re-visited the district nearly every year for more than a quarter of a century, I may say that I have only a partial knowledge of it. Others, such as Canon Rawnsley, Mr. Harry Goodwin, and Mr. Rix, for example, know many parts of it much better than I do; but, as I have often had to compare my own judgment with that of such experts as the late Dr. Cradock, Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford, and others, I may add that, when I differ from them, it has been only after a re-examination of their evidence, at the localities themselves.

SIXTH. Several Poems, and fragments of poems, hitherto unpublished—or published in stray quarters, and in desultory fashion—will find a place in this edition; but I reserve these fragments, and place them all together, in an Appendix to the last volume of the "Poetical Works." If it is desirable to print these poems, in such an edition as this, it is equally desirable to separate them from those which Wordsworth himself sanctioned in his final edition of 1849-50.

Every great author in the Literature of the World—whether he lives to old age (when his judgment may possibly be less critical) or dies young (when it may be relatively more accurate)—should himself determine what portions of his work ought, and what ought not to survive. At the same time,—while I do not presume to judge in the case of writers whom I know less fully than I happen to know Wordsworth and his contemporaries,—it seems clear that the very greatest men have occasionally erred as to what parts of their writings might, with most advantage, survive; and that they have even more frequently erred as to what MS. letters, etc.,—casting light on their contemporaries—should, or should not, be preserved. I am convinced, for example, that if the Wordsworth household had not destroyed all the letters which Coleridge sent to them, in the first decade of this century, the world would now possess much important knowledge which is for ever lost. It may have been wise, for reasons now unknown, to burn those letters, written by Coleridge: but the students of the literature of the period would gladly have them now.

Passing from the question of the preservation of Letters, it is evident that Wordsworth was very careful in distinguishing between the Verses which he sent to Newspapers and Magazines, and those Poems which he included in his published volumes. His anxiety on this point may be inferred from the way in which he more than once emphasised the fact of republication, e.g. in 'Peter Bell' (1819) he put the following prefatory note to four sonnets, which had previously appeared in 'Blackwood's Magazine', and which afterwards (1828) appeared in the 'Poetical Album' of Alaric Watts, "The following Sonnets having lately appeared in Periodical Publications are here reprinted."

Some of the poems (or fragments of poems), included in the 'addenda' to Volume viii. of this edition, I would willingly have left out (especially the sonnet addressed to Miss Maria Williams); but, since they have appeared elsewhere, I feel justified in now reprinting even that trivial youthful effusion, signed "Axiologus." I rejoice, however, that there is no likelihood that the "Somersetshire Tragedy" will ever see the light. When I told Wordsworth's successor in the Laureateship that I had burned a copy of that poem, sent to me by one to whom it had been confided, his delight was great. It is the chronicle of a revolting crime, with nothing in the verse to warrant its publication. The only curious thing about it is that Wordsworth wrote it. With this exception, there is no reason why the fragments which he did not himself republish, and others which he published but afterwards suppressed, should not now be printed. The suppression of some of these by the poet himself is as unaccountable, as is his omission of certain stanzas in the earlier poems from their later versions. Even the Cambridge 'Installation Ode', which is so feeble, will be reprinted. [16] 'The Glowworm', which only appeared in the edition of 1807, will be republished in full. 'Andrew Jones',—also suppressed after appearing in "Lyrical Ballads" of 1800, 1802, and 1805,—will be replaced, in like manner. The youthful 'School Exercise' written at Hawkshead, the translation from the 'Georgics' of Virgil, the poem addressed 'To the Queen' in 1846, will appear in their chronological place in vol. viii. There are also a translation of some French stanzas by Francis Wrangham on 'The Birth of Love'-a poem entitled 'The Eagle and the Dove', which was privately printed in a volume, consisting chiefly of French fragments, and called 'La petite Chouannerie, ou Historie d'un College Breton sous l'Empire'—a sonnet on the rebuilding of a church at Cardiff—an Election Squib written during the Lowther and Brougham contest for the representation of the county of Cumberland in 1818—some stanzas written in the Visitors' Book at the Ferry, Windermere, and other fragments. Then, since Wordsworth published some verses by his sister Dorothy in his own volumes, other unpublished fragments by Miss Wordsworth may find a place in this edition. I do not attach much importance, however, to the recovery of these unpublished poems. The truth is, as Sir Henry Taylor—himself a poet and critic of no mean order—remarked [17],

"In these days, when a great man's path to posterity is likely to be more and more crowded, there is a tendency to create an obstruction, in the desire to give an impulse. To gather about a man's work all the details that can be found out about it is, in my opinion, to put a drag upon it; and, as of the Works, so of the Life."

The industrious labour of some editors in disinterring the trivial works of great men is not a commendable industry. All great writers have occasionally written trifles—this is true even of Shakespeare—and if they wished them to perish, why should we seek to resuscitate them? Besides, this labour—whether due to the industry of admiring friends, or to the ambition of the literary resurrectionist—is futile; because the verdict of Time is sure, and posterity is certain to consign the recovered trivialities to kindly oblivion. The question which should invariably present itself to the editor of the fragments of a great writer is, "Can these bones live?" If they cannot, they had better never see the light. Indeed the only good reason for reprinting the fragments which have been lost (because the author himself attached no value to them), is that, in a complete collection of the works of a great man, some of them may have a biographic or psychological value. But have we any right to reproduce, from an antiquarian motive, what—in a literary sense—is either trivial, or feeble, or sterile?

We must, however, distinguish between what is suitable for an edition meant either to popularise an author, or to interpret him, and an edition intended to bring together all that is worthy of preservation for posterity. There is great truth in what Mr. Arnold has lately said of Byron:

"I question whether by reading everything which he gives us, we are so likely to acquire an admiring sense, even of his variety and abundance, as by reading what he gives us at his happier moments. Receive him absolutely without omission and compromise, follow his whole outpouring, stanza by stanza, and line by line, from the very commencement to the very end, and he is capable of being tiresome." [18]

This is quite true; nevertheless, English literature demands a complete edition of all the works of Byron: and it may be safely predicted that, for weightier reasons and with greater urgency, it will continue to call for the collected works of Wordsworth.

It should also be noted that the fact of Wordsworth's having dictated to Miss Fenwick (so late as 1843) a stanza from 'The Convict' in his note to 'The Lament of Mary Queen of Scots' (1817), justifies the inclusion of the whole of that (suppressed) poem in such an edition as this.

The fact that Wordsworth did not republish all his Poems, in his final edition of 1849-50, is not conclusive evidence that he thought them unworthy of preservation, and reproduction. It must be remembered that 'The Prelude' itself was a posthumous publication; and also that the fragmentary canto of 'The Recluse', entitled "Home at Grasmere"—as well as the other canto published in 1886, and entitled (most prosaically) "Composed when a probability existed of our being obliged to quit Rydal Mount as a residence"—were not published by the poet himself. I am of opinion that his omission of the stanzas beginning:

Among all lovely things my Love had been,

and of the sonnet on his 'Voyage down the Rhine', was due to sheer forgetfulness of their existence. Few poets remember all their past, fugitive, productions. At the same time, there are other fragments,—written when he was experimenting with his theme, and when the inspiration of genius had forsaken him,—which it is unfortunate that he did not himself destroy.

Among the Poems which Wordsworth suppressed, in his final edition, is the Latin translation of 'The Somnambulist' by his son. This will be republished, more especially as it was included by Wordsworth himself in the second edition of his "Yarrow Revisited."

It may be well to mention the 'repetitions' which are inevitable in this edition,

(1) As already explained, those fragments of 'The Recluse'—which were issued in all the earlier volumes, and afterwards incorporated in 'The Prelude'—are printed as they originally appeared.

(2) Short Notes are extracted from Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland' (1803), which illustrate the Poems composed during that Tour, while the whole text of that Tour will be printed in full in subsequent volumes.

(3) Other fragments, including the lines beginning,

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe,

will be printed both by themselves in their chronological place, and in the longer poem of which they form a part, according to the original plan of their author.

A detail, perhaps not too trivial to mention, is that, in this edition—at the suggestion of several friends—I have followed the example of Professor Dowden in his Aldine edition, and numbered the lines of almost all the poems—even the sonnets. When I have not done so, the reason will be obvious; viz. either the structure, or the brevity, of the poem. [19]

In giving the date of each poem, I have used the word "composed," rather than "written," very much because Wordsworth himself,—and his sister, in her Journals—almost invariably use the word "composed"; although he criticised the term as applied to the creation of a poem, as if it were a manufactured article. In his Chronological Table, Mr. Dowden adopts the word "composed"; but, in his edition of the Poems, he has made use of the term" written." [20]

No notice (or almost none) of misprints in Wordsworth's own text is taken, in the notes to this edition. Sometimes an error occurred, and was carried on through more than one edition, and corrected in the next: e.g., in 'The Childless Father', the editions of 1827, 1832, and 1836 have the line:

Fresh springs of green boxwood, not six months before.

In the 'errata' of the edition of 1836 this is corrected to "fresh sprigs." There are other 'errata', which remained in the edition of 1849-50, e.g., in 'Rob Roy's Grave', "Vools" for "Veols," and mistakes in quotations from other poets, such as "invention" for "instruction," in Wither's poem on the Daisy. These are corrected without mention.

I should perhaps add that, while I have included, amongst the illustrative notes, extracts from Henry Crabb Robinson's 'Diary', etc., many of them are now published for the first time. These voluminous MSS. of Robinson's have been re-examined with care; and the reader who compares the three volumes of the 'Diary', etc.—edited by Dr. Sadler—with the extracts now printed from the original MS., will see where sentences omitted by the original editor have been included.

As this edition proceeds, my debt to many—who have been so kind as to put their Wordsworth MSS. and memoranda at my disposal—will be apparent.

It is difficult to acknowledge duly my obligation to collectors of autograph Letters—Mr. Morrison, the late Mr. Locker Lampson, the late Mr. Mackay, of the Grange, Trowbridge, and a score of others—but, I may say in general, that the kindness of those who possess Wordsworth MSS. in allowing me to examine them, has been a very genuine evidence of their interest in the Poet, and his work.

My special thanks are due to Mr. Gordon Wordsworth, who has, in the kindest manner and for many years, placed everything at my disposal, which could further my labour on his grandfather's Works.

Finally, I wish to express the great debt I owe to the late Mr. J. Dykes Campbell, for many suggestions, and for his unwearied interest in this work,—which I think was second only to his interest in Coleridge—and also to Mr. W. B. Kinghorn for his valuable assistance in the revision of proof sheets.

If there are any desiderata, in reference to Wordsworth—in addition to a new Life, a critical Essay, and such a Bibliography of Criticism as will be adequate for posterity—a 'Concordance' to his works is one of them. A correspondent once offered to prepare this for me, if I found a publisher: and another has undertaken to compile a volume of 'parallel passages' from the earlier poets of England, and of the world. A Concordance might very well form part of a volume of 'Wordsworthiana', and be a real service to future students of the poet.

William Knight.

[Footnote 1: In addition to my own detection of errors in the text and notes to the editions 1882-9, I acknowledge special obligation to the late Vice-Chancellor of the Victoria University, Principal Greenwood, who went over every volume with laborious care, and sent me the result. To the late Mr. J. Dykes Campbell, to Mr. J. R. Tutin, to the Rev. Thomas Hutchinson of Kimbolton, and to many others, I am similarly indebted.]

[Footnote 2: See 'Memoirs of William Wordsworth', ii. pp. 113, 114.]

[Footnote 3: It is however different with the fragments which were published in all the editions issued in the poet's lifetime, and afterwards in 'The Prelude', such as the lines on "the immortal boy" of Windermere. These are printed in their chronological place, and also in the posthumous poem.]

[Footnote 4: 'Poems of Wordsworth selected and arranged by Matthew Arnold'. London: Macmillan and Co.]

[Footnote 5: See the 'Life of Sir W. Rowan Hamilton', vol. ii. pp, 132, 135.]

[Footnote 6: See the Preface to the American edition of 1837.]

[Footnote 7: It need hardly be explained that, in the case of a modern poet, these various readings are not like the conjectural guesses of critics and commentators as to what the original text was (as in the case of the Greek Poets, or of Dante, or even of Shakespeare). They are the actual alterations, introduced deliberately as improvements, by the hand of the poet himself.]

[Footnote 8: The collection in the British Museum, and those in all the University Libraries of the country, are incomplete.]

[Footnote 9: The publication of this edition was superintended by Mr. Carter, who acted as Wordsworth's secretary for thirty-seven years, and was appointed one of his literary executors.]

[Footnote 10: Let the indiscriminate admirer of "first editions" turn to this quarto, and perhaps even he may wonder why it has been rescued from oblivion. I am only aware of the existence of five copies of the edition of 1793; and although it has a certain autobiographic value, I do not think that many who read it once will return to it again, except as a literary curiosity. Here—and not in "Lyrical Ballads" or 'The Excursion'—was the quarry where Jeffrey or Gifford might have found abundant material for criticism.]

[Footnote 11: It is unfortunate that the 'Memoirs' do not tell us to what poem the remark applies, or to whom the letter containing it was addressed.]

[Footnote 12: It is important to note that the printed text in several of the editions is occasionally cancelled in the list of 'errata', at the beginning or the end of the volume: also that many copies of the early editions (notably those of 1800), were bound up without the full 'errata' list. In this edition there were two such lists, one of them very brief. But the cancelled words in these 'errata' lists, must be taken into account, in determining the text of each edition.]

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