« VorigeDoorgaan »
18. Memoirs of William Wordsworth. By Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., Canon of
poems which underwent much alteration before taking their place in the
are placed the full text of OSORIO (the first draft of REMORSE), included in no former edition of Coleridge's Works; the full text of the Greek ode with which he gained the Browne Medal in 1792, hitherto unknown; other compositions which did not seem to demand a more prominent position; and, finally, a collection of 'Titles, Prefaces, Contents, etc.' ('APPENDIX K'), which will, I hope, serve all the purposes of a more formal bibliography.
That no reader of the poems may be unnecessarily or unwillingly disturbed, the editor's 'NOTES' have been placed at the end of the volume. Some readers, he fears, may share his own opinion that they are too voluminous, but it is hoped that, on the whole, they may be found useful, not only to the student of the poems, but to those who wish to study more closely the poet's life. Few of his verses, and few of the alterations he made in them from time to time, are without some bearing on his loves, or friendships, or adventures; and this I have endeavoured to bring out as far as my limited knowledge could serve.
As regards the arrangement of the poems, it is in the main chronological. In 1828 and 1829, Coleridge made a kind of classification under the headings, 'Juvenile Poems,''Poems occasioned by Political Events,' 'Love Poems,' etc., but it was of the roughest and least consistent description. Had I felt any scruples in departing from it, they would have been dispersed by the following deliverance of the poet on the subject, which shows, both by its date and its phrasing, that in the edition of 1834 the old classification was adhered to in opposition to his own better judgment :
'After all you [H. N. Coleridge] can say, I still think the chronological order the best for arranging a poet's works. All your divisions are in particular instances inadequate, and they destroy the interest which arises from watching the progress, maturity, and even the decay of genius.' (Table Talk, Jan. 1, 1834.)
A principle could hardly be stated more uncompromisingly, or more authoritatively, but, in practice, it is rarely wise to apply anything of the kin quite rigidly. For convenience sake, the DRAMATIC WORKS have been placed by themselves, apart from the POEMS; and, for reasons explained in the 'Notes,' a few allied poems have been grouped; but these departures from the settled order have been so rare as to be hardly worthy of mention. I cannot, of course, pretend to complete success in the attempt to fix
the dates of all the poems, but no pains have been spared in the endeavour; and in all doubtful cases a '?' has been attached to the dates conjecturally assigned. I think, however, that in the great majority of instances the true years have been ascertained.
As regards the INTRODUCTION, I believe I shall be readily excused for making it, not an estimate of Coleridge as a poet, but a plain narrative of the events of his life. Explanations have been offered when such seemed necessary or desirable, but comment, especially moralising, has been studiously avoided. I readily and gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness,
in varying measure, to all the biographical sketches which have hitherto appeared. If I venture to claim for my own a position to some small extent independent, it is because, for its compilation, all the old material has been carefully sifted, and much of it corrected from sadly misused original documents; while I have been privileged to make use of a large quantity of important material which is either absolutely new, or which was unavailable to my predecessors. Coleridge's biography may be looked for in due time from the hands of his grandson, Mr. E. H. Coleridge, who has been engaged for some time past on its preparation; but I believe that in the narrative I have compiled there is enough that is new, not only as regards the facts, but in the order in which old and new are presented, to render it worthy of the attention of any who may be willing to reconsider their estimate of its subject. Such readers, of course, will not be satisfied with this necessarily meagre outline, and it is primarily for their convenience that the pages have been encumbered, somewhat unduly perhaps, with citations of authorities. The general reader will be pleased to ignore all the foot-notes in the INTRODUCTION to which the figures 1, 2, 3, etc., are attached, giving attention only to those bearing the signs *, †, etc.
In the NOTES I have found frequent opportunity of offering my sincere thanks for help rendered in the preparation of this work; to name all those to whom I am indebted for kind services, were I able to make the list complete, would be tedious; but I cannot conclude without special acknowledgment of the unwearied kindness and generosity of my friend Mr. Ernest Hartley Coleridge, to whom all that is worthy in the editorial part of this volume owes more than I can adequately express. For nothing am I under greater obligation to him than for permission to use as freely as I have done, and with so much advantage, the Letters from the Lake Poets, which he edited and annotated for the daughters of their recipient, the late
Mr. Daniel Stuart of the Morning Post and the Courier. The volume was prepared and printed exclusively for private circulation, and the copyright of the contents is vested in Mr. Coleridge.
Portraits of Coleridge are numerous. To my mind, in none does he look very like a poet except in that which has been selected to form the frontispiece to the present volume. It has been reproduced directly from the original, now in the National Portrait Gallery. This belonged to Cottle, and was admirably engraved in his Early Recollections, where he thus writes of it: This portrait of Mr. Coleridge was taken in oils by a Mr. [Peter] Vandyke (a descendant of the great Vandyke). He was invited over from Holland by the late Sir Joshua Reynolds, to assist him in his portraits, particularly in the drapery department; in which capacity he remained with him many years. Mr. Vandyke afterwards settled in Bristol, and obtained great and just celebrity for his likenesses. His portrait of Mr. Coleridge did him great credit, as a better likeness was never taken; and it has the additional advantage of exhibiting Mr. C. in one of his animated conversations, the expression of which the painter has in good degree preserved.' Hancock's portrait of the following year has been more frequently engraved, and is therefore more familiar. Cottle says it was much admired at the time, and has an additional interest from having been drawn when Mr. C.'s spirits were in a state of depression, on account of the failure of the Watchman'
March 23, 1893.
J. DYKES CAMPBELL.