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C693 1912

Gift 2-17-69

754591-291

PREFACE

The aim and purport of this edition of the Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge is to provide the general reader with an authoritative list of the poems and dramas hitherto published, and at the same time to furnish the student with an exhaustive summary of various readings derived from published and unpublished sources, viz. (1) the successive editions issued by the author, (2) holograph MSS., or (3) contemporary transcriptions. Occasion has been taken to include in the Text and Appendices a considerable number of poems, fragments, metrical experiments and first drafts of poems now published for the first time from MSS. in the British Museum, from Coleridge's Notebooks, and from MSS. in the possession of private collectors.

The text of the poems and dramas follows that of the last edition of the Poetical Works published in the author's lifetimethe three-volume edition issued by Pickering in the spring and summer of 1834.

I have adopted the text of 1834 in preference to that of 1829, which was selected by James Dykes Campbell for his monumental edition of 1893. I should have deferred to his authority but for the existence of conclusive proof that, here and there, Coleridge altered and emended the text of 1829, with a view to the forthcoming edition of 1834. In the Preface to the new edition of 1852, the editors maintain that the three-volume edition of 1828 (a mistake for 1829) was the last upon which Coleridge was able to bestow personal care and attention', while that of 1834 was arranged mainly if not entirely at the discretion of his latest editor, H. N. Coleridge'. This, no doubt, was perfectly true with regard to the choice and arrangement of the poems, and the labour of seeing the three volumes through the press ; but the fact remains that the text of 1829 differs from that of 1834, and that Coleridge himself, and not his latest editor', was responsible for that difference.

I have in my possession the proof of the first page of the · Destiny of Nations' as it appeared in 1828 and 1829. Line 5 ran thus: The Will, the Word, the Breath, the Living God.' This line is erased and line 5 of 1834 substituted: To the Will Absolute, the One, the Good' and line 6, The I Am, the Word, the Life, the Living God,' is added, and, in 1834, appeared for the first time. Moreover, in the 'Songs of the Pixies', lines 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, as printed in 1834, differ from the readings of 1829 and all previous editions. Again, in 'Christabel' lines 6, 7 as printed in 1834 differ from the versions of 1828, 1829, and revert to the original reading of the MSS. and the First Edition. It is inconceivable that in. Coleridge's lifetime and while his pen was still busy, his nephew should have meddled with, or remodelled, the master's handiwork.

The poems have been printed, as far as possible, in chronological order, but when no MS. is extant, or when the MS. authority is a first draft embodied in a notebook, the exact date can only be arrived at by a balance of probabilities. Some of the fragments (vide post, p. 951, n. 1) I have since discovered are not original compositions, but were selected passages from elder poets-amongst them Cartwright's lines, entitled “The Second Birth', which are printed on p. 362 of the text; but for their insertion in the edition of 1893, for a few misreadings of the MSS., and for their approximate date, I was mainly responsible.

In preparing the textual and bibliographical notes which are now printed as footnotes to the poems I was constantlyindebted for information and suggestions to the Notes to the Poems (pp. 561–654) in the edition of 1893. I have taken nothing for granted, but I have followed, for the most part, where Dykes Campbell led, and if I differ from his conclusions or have been able to supply fresh information, it is because fresh information based on fresh material was at my disposal.

No apology is needed for publishing a collation of the text of Coleridge's Poems with that of earlier editions or with the MSS. of first drafts and alternative versions. The first to attempt anything of the kind was Richard Herne Shepherd, the learned and accurate editor of the Poetical Works in four volumes, issued by Basil Montagu Pickering in 1877. Important variants are recorded by Mr. Campbell in his Notes to the edition of 1893; and in a posthumous volume, edited by Mr. Hale White in 1899 (Coleridge's Poems, &c.), the corrected parts of Religious Musings', the MSS. of Lewti', the Introduction to the Dark Ladié', and other poems are reproduced in facsimile. Few poets have altered the text of their poems so often, and so often for the better, as Coleridge. He has been blamed for writing so little', for deserting poetry for metaphysics and theology; he has been upbraided for winning only to lose the prize of his high calling'. Sir Walter Scott, one of his kindlier censors, rebukes him for the caprice and indolence with which he has thrown from him, as if in mere wantonness, those unfinished scraps of poetry, which like the Torso of antiquity defy the skill of his poetical brethren to complete them'. But whatever may be said for or against Coleridge as an 'inventor of harmonies', neither the fineness of his self-criticism nor the laborious diligence which he expended on perfecting his inventions can be gainsaid. His erasures and emendations are not only a lesson in the art of poetry, not only a record of poetical growth and development, but they discover and reveal the hidden springs, the thoughts and passions of the artificer.

But if this be true of a stanza, a line, a word here or there, inserted as an afterthought, is there use or sense in printing a number of trifling or, apparently, accidental variants ? Might not a choice have been made, and the jots and tittles ignored or suppressed ?

My plea is that it is difficult if not impossible to draw a line above which a variant is important and below which it is negligible ; that, to use a word of the poet's own coining, his emendations are rarely if ever 'lightheartednesses'; and that if a collation of the printed text with MSS. is worth studying at all the one must be as decipherable as the other. Facsimiles are rare and costly productions, and an exhaustive table of variants is the nearest approach to a substitute. Many, I know, are the shortcomings, too many, I fear, are the errors in the footnotes to this volume, but now, for the first time, the MSS. of Coleridge's poems which are known to be extant are in a manner reproduced and made available for study and research.

Six poems of some length are now printed and included in the text of the poems for the first time.

The first, ' Easter Holidays' (p. 1), is unquestionably a 'School-boy Poem', and was written some months before the author had completed his fifteenth year. It tends to throw doubt on the alleged date of Time, Real and Imaginary ::

The second, 'An Inscription for a Seat,' &c. (p. 349), was first published in the Morning Post, on October 21, 1800, Coleridge's twenty-eighth birthday. It remains an open question whether it was written by Coleridge or by Wordsworth. Both were contributors to the Morning Post. Both wrote Inscriptions'. Both had a hand in making the 'seat'. Neither claimed or republished the poem. It favours or, rather, parodies the style and sentiments now of one and now of the other.

The third, 'The Rash Conjurer '(p. 399), must have been read by H. N. Coleridge, who included the last seven lines, the 'Epilogue', in the first volume of Literary Remains, published in 1836. I presume that, even as a fantasia, the subject was regarded as too extravagant, and, it may be, too coarsely worded for publication. It was no doubt in the first instance a' metrical experiment', but it is to be interpreted allegorically. The 'Rash Conjurer', the âme damnée, is the adept in the black magic of metaphysics. But for that he might have been like his brothers, a 'Devonshire Christian'.

The fourth, 'The Madman and the Lethargist ' (p. 414), is an expansion of an epigram in the Greek Anthology. It is possible that it was written in Germany in 1799, and is contemporary with the epigrams published in the Morning Post in 1802, for the Greek original is quoted by Lessing in a critical excursus on the nature of an epigram.

The fifth, Faith, Hope, and Charity' (p. 427), was translated from the Italian of Guarini at Calne, in 1815.

Of the sixth, The Delinquent Travellers '(p. 443), I know

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