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PR 5462

Po 1866 MAIN

LONDON

PRINTED BY SPOTTISWOODE AND CO.

NEW-STRERT SQUARE

PREFACES

TO

THE COLLECTED EDITION OF TEN VOLUMES,

PUBLISHED IN 1837, 1838.

TO

PREFACE

long after it was written; inasmuch as it must be impossible to recall the precise train of

thought in which any passage was conceived, THE FIRST VOLUME.

and the considerations upon which not the

single verse alone but the whole sentence, or At the age of sixty-three I have undertaken paragraph, had been constructed: but with to collect and edite my Poetical Works, with regard to more important changes, there could the last corrections that I can expect to bestow be no danger of introducing any discrepance in upon them. They have obtained a reputation style. With juvenile pieces the case is diffeequal to my wishes; and I have this ground rent. From these the faults of diction have for hoping it may not be deemed hereafter been weeded wherever it could be done withmore than commensurate with their deserts, out more trouble than the composition origithat it has been gained without ever accommoda- nally cost, and than the piece itself was worth. ting myself to the taste or fashion of the times. But inherent faults of conception and structure Thus to collect and revise them is a duty which are incurable; and it would have been mere I owe to that part of the Public by whom they waste of time to recompose what it was imposhave been auspiciously received, and to those sibie otherwise to amend. who will take a lively concern in my good name If these poems had been now for the first when I shall have departed.

time to be made public, there are some among The arrangement was the first thing to be them which, instead of being committed to the considered. In this the order wherein the re- press, would have been consigned to the flames; spective poems were written has been observed, not for any disgrace which could be reflected so far as was compatible with a convenient upon me by the crude compositions of my classification. Such order is useful to those youth, nor for any harm which they could who read critically, and desire to trace the possibly do the reader, but merely that they progress of an author's mind in his writings; might not cumber the collection. But “nescit and by affixing dates to the minor pieces, vox missa rererti.Pirated editions would under whatever head they are disposed, the hold out as a recommendation, that they conobject is sufficiently attained.

tained what I had chosen to suppress, and thus Next came the question of correction. There it becomes prudlent, and therefore proper, that was no difficulty with those poems which were such pieces should be retained. composed after the author had acquired his art It has ever been a rule with me when I have (so far as he has acquired it), and after his imitated a passage, or borrowed an expression, opinions were matured. It was only necessary to acknowledge the specific obligation. Upon to bear in mind the risk there must ever be of the present occasion it behoves me to state injuring a poem by verbal alterations made the more general and therefore more important

121

obligations which I am conscious of owing My obligation to Dr. Sayers is of a different either to my predecessors, or my contemporaries. kind. Every one who has an ear for metre

My first attempts in verse were much too and a heart for poetry, must have felt how early to be imitative, but I was fortunate perfectly the metre of Collins's “ Ode to Eveenough to find my way, when very young, into ning” is in accordance with the imagery the right path. I read the “Jerusalem Deli- and the feeling. None of the experiments vered" and the “ Orlando Furioso" again and which were made of other unrhymed stanzas again, in llogle's translations : it was for the proved successful. They were either in sake of their steries that I perused and re-per- strongly marked and well-known measures used these poems with ever new delight; and which unavoidably led the reader to expect by bringing them thus within my reach in boy- rhyme, and consequently baulked him when he hood, the translator rendered me a service looked for it; or they were in stanzas as cumwhich, when I look back upon my intellectual brous as they were ill constructed. Dr. Sayers life, I cannot estimate too highly. I owe him went upon a different principle, and succeeded much also for his notes, not only for the in- admirably. I read his “ Dramatic Sketches of formation concerning other Italian romances Northern Mythology” when they were first which they imparted, but also for introducing published, and convinced myself when I had me to Spenser ; – how early, an incident which acquired some skill in versification, that the I well remember may show. Going with a kind of verse in which his choruses were comrelation into Bull's circulating library at Bath posed was not less applicable to narration than (an excellent one for those days), and asking to lyrical poetry. Soon after I had begun the whether they had the “ Faery Queen," the per- Arabian romance, for which this measure seemson who managed the shop said “yes, they had ed the most appropriate vehicle, “ Gebir” fell it, but it was in obsolete language, and the into my hands, and my verse was greatly imyoung gentleman would not understand it.” proved by it, both in vividness and strength. But I, who had learned all I then knew of the Several years elapsed before I knew that history of England from Shakespear, and who Walter Landor was the author, and more had moreover read Beaumont and Fletcher, before I had the good fortune to meet the perfound no difficulty in Spenser’s English, and son to whom I felt myself thus beholden. The felt in the beauty of his versification a charm days which I have passed with him in the Vale in poetry of which I had never been fully of Ewias, at Como, and lastly in the neighboursensible before. From that time I took Spenser hood of Bristol, are some of those which have for my master. I drank also betimes of left with me a joy for memory." Chaucer's well. The taste which had been I have thus acknowledged all the specific acquired in that school was confirmed by obligations to my elders or contemporaries in Percy’s “Reliques” and Warton's “ History the art, of which I am distinctly conscious. The of English Poetry;" and a little later by advantages arising from intimate intercourse Homer and the Bible It was not likely to be with those who were engaged in similar purcorrupted afterwards.

suits cannot be in like manner specified, beMy school-boy verses savoured of Gray, cause in their nature they are imperceptible; Mason, and my predecessor Warton; and in but of such advantages no man has ever posthe best of my juvenile pieces it may be seen sessed more or greater, than at different times how much the writer's mind had been imbued it has been my lot to enjoy. Personal attachby Akenside. I am conscious also of having ment first, and family circumstances afterderived much benefit at one time from Cowper, wards, connected me long and closely with and more from Bowles ; for which, and for the Mr. Coleridge; and three-and-thirty years delight which his poems gave me at an age have ratified a friendship with Mr. Wordswhen we are most susceptible of such delight, worth, which we believe will not terminate my good friend at Bremhill, to whom I was with this life, and which it is a pleasure for us then and long afterwards personally unknown, to know will be continued and cherished as an will allow me to make this grateful and cordial heir-loom by those who are dearest to us both. acknowledgment.

When I add what has been the greatest of

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