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SINCE the Chronological Table of the Poems was compiled, I have had access-through the kindness of the Poet's son-to the Grasmere Journals, written by Miss Wordsworth in the years 1800, 1801, and 1802. These journals have enabled me to fix with more minute accuracy the date of the composition of several of the Poems. The Chronological Table, however, having been printed beforehand could not be altered, -although the Poems themselves have been placed in their proper order, and I therefore make one or two corrections of the Table in this Prefatory Note, along with a few addenda.
1801. The specimens of Chaucer modernized (The Prioress' Tale, Troilus and Cressida, and The Cuckoo and the Nightingale), which were not published till 1820 and 1842 respectively, and which were therefore assigned to these years in the Chronological Table, in the absence of any more authentic information as to date—were written in the year 1801. The Prioress' Tale being finished on Dec. 5th, and The Cuckoo and the Nightingale on Dec. 8th of that year.
1802. The exact date of The Rainbow is March 26. The Redbreast chasing the Butterfly was written not in 1806, but on the 18tl of April 1802. To a Butterfly, "I've watched you many an hour," &c., was written April 20, 1802.
1803. To the Sons of Burns. Aug. 18, 1803, was the day on which Wordsworth visited the grave of Burns; but this address to his Sons was written "long afterwards.”
1804. For Cookoo, read Cuckoo.
1816. The Translation of part of the First Book of the Eneid was first published in 1832, in the Cambridge "Philological Museum." 1832. Sonnet on the Gravestone in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral, read " Miserrimus, and neither name nor date."
1838. Sonnet, Protest against the Ballot, "Forth rushed from Envy Sprung, and Self-Conceit."
Sonnet, a Plea for Authors, May 1838, "Failing impartial measure to dispense."
1842. The Eagle, and the Dove.
Within the last few days I have discovered the earliest fragment which Wordsworth wrote, but which he published anonymously, and never reproduced. In a MS. note to a copy of the first quarto edition of The Evening Walk, 1793, Wordsworth says: "This is the first of my published Poems, with the exception of a Sonnet written when I was a school-boy, and published in the 'European Magazine,' in June or July 1786, and signed Axiologus." Through the kindness of Mr Richard. Garnett, of the British Museum, I have obtained a copy of this Sonnet. It would be impossible, however, to attribute it to Wordsworth, on any less authority than his own. His own wish was that it should perish; and it would be a mistake to reproduce it in this, or in any other edition of his works. It was published in 1787.
UNIVERSITY, ST ANDREWS, May, 1882.
THE place which Wordsworth occupies in English literature, and in the literature of the world, cannot be discussed in the course of a prefatory note to a new edition of his works. An essay on the characteristics of his genius will be published in the last volume of this series, in which a Life of the poet will also be included. Some explanation, however, of the principle on which this edition is based, and of its distinctive features, may be desirable at the outset. The published prospectus of the work mentions what these are, and as a similar principle may be followed with advantage in corresponding editions of other English poets, it may be as well to refer seriatim to each of the points alluded to in that prospectus. They are as follows:
First. The Poems will be arranged in chronological order of composition, not of publication. [In all collective editions published during Wordsworth's lifetime, the arrangement-first adopted by him in 1815, and based upon the distinctive character of the poems themselves-was more or less adhered to. They will now, for the first time, be published in the order in which they were composed.]
Second. All the changes of text, adopted by the poet in the successive editions of his Works, will be given in footnotes, with the precise dates of these changes.
Third. Several new Readings or suggested changes of text, which exist in MS., and were written by Wordsworth on the margin of a copy of the edition of 1836-37, kept at Rydal Mount, and now in the possession of Lord Coleridge, will be added.
Fourth. The Notes dictated by Wordsworth to Miss Fenwick (and known as the I. F. MS.), which give the Author's own account of the circumstances under which his poems were composed, will be printed in full, and inserted in each case as a preface to the particular poem thus explained.
Fifth. Topographical Notes, explanatory of the allusions made to localities in the English Lake District and elsewhere, will be given at the end of the poems thus illustrated.
Sixth. Several Poems and Fragments, hitherto unpublished, will be printed.
Seventh. A Bibliography of the Works and the successive Editions, issued in England and America from 1793 to 1850, will be added, together with a Bibliography of Criticism, or literary estimates of Wordsworth.
Eighth. A Life of the Poet, a Critical Essay, and a General Index will conclude the last volume.
Ninth. Etchings of localities associated with the poet, after drawings by John M'Whirter, A.R.A., etched by C. O. Murray, will be frontispieces to the volumes, and a Portrait of Wordsworth will be given in the last volume.
The chief advantage of a chronological arrangement of the works of any author-and especially of a poet-is that it shows us, as nothing else can do, the growth of his mind, the progressive development of his imaginative power. By such a redistribution of the poems we can trace the rise, the culmination, and also it may be the decline of his genius. Wordsworth's own arrangement-first adopted by him in 1815 was designed to bring together, in separate groups, those poems which referred to the same or similar subjects, or which were supposed by him to be the product of the same or a similar faculty, irrespective of the date of composition. Thus we had one group entitled "Poems of the Fancy;" another, "Poems of the Imagination;" a third, "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection;" a fourth, "Elegiac Poems;" again, "Poems on the Naming of Places," "Memorials of Tours," "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," &c., &c. The principle