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THE following is a brief supplement to the Preface in the first volume of this edition of " The Prose Works" of Wordsworth.
In both volumes I have included several Letters written by Wordsworth, and published as such) during his lifetime : in Vol. I. his Letter to the Bishop of Landaff, another to John Wilson (Christopher North), a third which he sent to the editor of The Friend, and a fourth inscribed to Captain Pasley ; in Vol. II. one addressed to “A Friend of Robert Burns,” and a second
“The Catholic Relief Bill.”
These “ Letters are included in his “Prose Works,” because they were all published by himself ; and, in the earlier periods of this century, authors were accustomed to give the title of “ Letter” to an elaborate “Essay."
Many of Wordsworth's best " Letters,” however, were not published by himself, and cannot be included amongst his “ Prose Works,” though some of them are longer than the epistles published in his lifetime.
Notably, when writing to Lady Beaumont -- about the winter-garden at Coleorton, which he planned for her and Sir George—he dictated a remarkable “ Letter” much longer than most of the “Essays" which have been offered to the world.
I may say, in anticipation, that many of those Letters — which are more numerous than would have been expected from the poet's constitutional dislike to correspondence, and his habit of getting most of his writing done by proxy-contain some of his best dicta, and the daintiest of his critical opinions on men and things. Meanwhile, they are all reserved.
In the Preface to The Excursion, and to the Poems of 1815, as well as in the Essay Supplementary to the Preface of 1815, the text occasionally differs from that of the edition of 1836- in which the revision was thorough—and also from that of subsequent editions. These changes are worthy of note, as most of the quasiegoistic passages—where personal pronouns came inare struck out.
In the very few cases in which Wordsworth’s notes to his “Prose Works” vary slightly in different years, I have not considered it necessary to indicate the variations.
As the two volumes of these “Prose Works' consecutive, I number the first item in volume II. as number ix. in the series.
In the Description of the Scenery of the Lakes, as elsewhere, the archaic spellings and capital letters, which
modern use and wont has discarded, are retained.
It is necessary that these should be uniform, and Wordsworth was not at all particular on this point. If such words as Vale, Fell, Sands, Stream, etc., are to have capital letters, they ought to have them throughout and invariably. Similarly, the spelling of such words as Wastdale, Ullswater, Haweswater, etc., which Wordsworth gave in his table of contents, is retained in this edition.