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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. 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. John of Ithaca, N. John's Wordsworth collection is unique, and her knowledge and enthusiasm are as great as her industry has been.
Professor E. 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 , , has similarly helped me in reference to German criticism. 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 , in three volumes 8vo. It will not exceed a single volume. In the edition of , each volume contained an etching of a locality associated with Wordsworth.
- Wordsworth's Poetical Works, vol. 1;
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The drawings were made by John M'Whirter, R. 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. Wordsworth by Frederick Thrupp W. Wordsworth by Samuel Laurence W. Wordsworth by Benjamin R. 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 —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.
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 , 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 , which in almost all existing editions is followed by the Poem written in , and entitled, Upon perusing the foregoing Epistle thirty years after its composition ; or, the dedication to The White Doe of Rylstone , written in April , while the Poem itself was written in 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.
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. I am glad, however, that many of these sonnets can be printed together, especially the earlier ones of 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 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 —was not published in extenso till The tragedy of The Borderers , composed in , was also first published in The Prelude —"commenced in the beginning of the year , and completed in the summer of "—was published posthumously in and some unpublished poems—both "of early and late years"—were first issued in 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. 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 ; 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. Again, the poem Rural Architecture is put down in the Fenwick note as "written at Townend in "; but it had been published in , in the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads. 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 , there is a short series described thus, "Poems, composed during a tour, chiefly on foot. 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.
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 , in two volumes,—and also to the second collected edition of , 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 to Herbert's Island, Derwentwater , is put down as belonging to the year ; but this poem does not occur in the volumes of , but in the second volume of "Lyrical Ballads" 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 —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. 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 , 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 In such a case, it is placed in this edition as if it belonged chronologically to , 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 , is prefixed to the same series; although it was not written till , and first published in 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 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 and editions of the collected Works—are found in no previous edition or version of the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets.
The "Ecclesiastical Sonnets"—first called "Ecclesiastical Sketches"—were written in the years 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 The case is much the same with regard to the "Duddon Sonnets. 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 "—and first published in the year , 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 , is the record of another Scottish tour, taken in the year ; and Wordsworth says of them that they were "composed or suggested during a tour in the summer of It may be noted that almost all the "Evening Voluntaries" belong to these years— to —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 , or ," 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. The Prelude , which was composed between the years and —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. It was written at intervals from to , and was first published in the edition of , where it stood at the end of the second volume. In every subsequent edition of the collected Works— to —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. 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. 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 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. In a note to The Horn of Egremont Castle edition 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 and he actually included the great Ode on Immortality among his "Epitaphs and Elegiac Poems"!
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. Professor Reed, in his American edition of , 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. 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. 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. 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, the earliest text may be taken, or the latest may be chosen, or 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.
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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 —the second verse, retained in the editions of , , , and , was unaccountably dropped out in the editions of and The following is the complete poem of , as published in 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! 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 , 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 , beginning: "Beloved Vale!
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 appeared in , is an improvement on all its predecessors. I give the readings of , , , , and While I am lying on the grass, I hear thy restless shout: From hill to hill it seems to pass, About, and all about! 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.
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. 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. That, barking busy 'mid the glittering rocks, Hunts, where he points, the intercepted flocks;. But what avails the land to them, Which they can till no longer? But what avails it now, the land Which he can till no longer?
The time, alas! The time is also come when he Can till the land no longer. In the present edition several suggested changes of text , which were written by Wordsworth on the margin of a copy of his edition of , which he kept beside him at Rydal Mount, are published. These MS. Some of these were afterwards introduced into the editions of , , and ; 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 They came into my possession in this way.
You have Successfully Subscribed!
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 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. 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.
I re-examined it in , 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 , many other MS. 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 , 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 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 —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.
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 , issued by Mr. Moxon, under the direction of Mr. Carter; and in the centenary edition. Grosart; and in my edition of I am uncertain whether it was the original MS.
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Grosart had access. The text of these Notes, as printed in the edition of , is certainly in very many cases widely different from what is given in The Prose Works of I have made many corrections—from the MS. What appears in this volume is printed from a MS. The proper place for these Fenwick Notes is doubtless that which was assigned to them by the editor of , viz. 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 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! 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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 —and also, by itself, in —"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.
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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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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. Andrew Jones ,—also suppressed after appearing in "Lyrical Ballads" of , , and ,—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 , will appear in their chronological place in vol. 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 —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. 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?
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?
Today, this entryway is bustling with people; a few carry ice skates, several are walking dogs, some walk in groups, others stroll alone. The scene brings a smile to my face. A decade ago, very few envisioned a river would be rushing through this area. As I worked my way to the water, the path slowly transitioned from large, precisely cut granite steps to a trail of irregularly shaped flat boulders bordered by plants and shrubs.
But it was not always this way. The Mill River had not flowed freely since Colonial times. A century ago, when the dam was re-built, its banks were encased in concrete walls. In response, the Collaborative enlisted Olin Partnership, a renowned landscape architectural firm, to reconfigure the dammed river and to develop a design for an urban riverfront park. It called for the removal of the dam, which required the technical expertise of the U. Army Corps of Engineers. This was essential for a project whose goal was to provide park visitors with water access.
If so, what tools or structures can we use? From an architectural perspective, the process of asking these types of questions is the bedrock of good design. Without this type of thinking, architectural structures and spaces feel incomplete, ill-conceived or downright offensive. The technical success of the project was put to the test during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.