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accruing up to that dark day of July when the inexorable waves of the Mediterranean closed over a brain and a life still below the rounded manhood of thirty. “Why, then," it may pertinently be asked, “give ampler publicity to all this vile stuff, capable only of derogating from that typical Shelley created for the homage of continents and of centuries?" I answer: Because it interests me as being Shelley's, and ought in my opinion to interest everybody to whom the later developments of that astonishing mind are dear. To find that Pope, whose manhood produced the Satires, had in boyhood the capacity which goes to the Ode on Solitude, is interesting, -and that apart from the merit which these juvenile verses possess;—to find that Shelley, whose manhood produced The Cenci and the Witch of Atlas, had in boyhood the incapacity which babbles in the poems of St Irvyne, is also and indeed equally interesting. At twentythree, Shelley as author of Alastor is an unusually mature youthful poet ; even at twenty, as author of Queen Mab, his powers have attained an exceptional ascendant in a certain direction : but at seventeen or eighteen his poetic product is rant and resonance, twaddle and tinsel. Surely this is a fact which may be subjected to some more appropriate treatment than mere hiding out of sight. Such at least is my own sentiment on the subject ; and, knowing myself to be not wanting in enthusiasm and reverence for Shelley, I feel justified in acting according to it. I might indeed have felt some hesitation in dragging out into the light of scorn immature writings totally unpublished as yet ; but, as a matter of fact, few such have been at my disposal. Six juvenile productions, hitherto unprinted, do, however, appear in the Appendix. Another (written probably in 1811) is in the possession of Mr. Frederick Locker, who obligingly communicated it to me; and this is a very curious scrap, not wanting in verve and piquancy, but too unpleasant, in its tone regarding family matters, to see the light of publication. Substantially, therefore, I have simply reproduced, in connexion with Shelley's standard works, those earlier failures which already exist elsewhere in print.
Besides this Appendix, a certain number of pieces, either wholly unprinted till now, or else not printed among the works of Shelley, distinguish the present edition from all predecessors.* No omission from any writing whatever, I need hardly say, has been made on any ground of assumed “propriety," moral or religious. As Shelley did not write, so neither do I revise, for babes and sucklings.
The question how a re-editor should treat the works of a great poet, when confessedly inaccurate in some respects, is of the highest importance. I shall not debate the various sides of the question, for there will be plenty of people to show that the modes of treatment which I have not adopted are severally right ; I therefore confine myself to saying what I have done, and briefly why. I have considered it my clear duty and prerogative to set absolutely wrong grammar right; as thus
“Thou too, O Comet, beautiful and fierce,
Who drew'st (drew) the heart of this frail universe ;" and to set absolutely wrong rhyming right ; as thus
“Beneath whose spires which swayed in the red flame slight]
Reclining as they ate, of liberty,
Earth's children did a woof of happy converse frame" ; and to set absolutely wrong metre right; as thus
“This plan might be tried too. Where's General
Laoctonos? It is my royal pleasure,' instead of
* The reader may like to see here the exact list of these pieces. They are as
[Introduced from printed sources] Lines written in the Bay of Lerici ; ToThy dewy looks sink in my breast) ; Scene from Tasso; Orpheus; To his Genius ; Fiordispina (a portion); Love, Hope, Desire, and Fear ; Prologue to Hellas; Sonnet to Byron ; Fragments of an Unfinished Drama (a portion); Lines (We meet not as me parted); Homer's Hymn to Venus; First Canzone of the Convito ; Matilda gathering Flowers ; Fragments 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 21, 22, 28, 29, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 64, 96. (Hitherto unprinted) Lines (If I walk in autumn's even); Marenghi (the majority); Lines written for Miss Sophia Stacey; Time Long Past; The Boat on the Serchio (a portion); Fragments of an Unfinished Drama (a portion); Charles I. the majority); Fragments 9, 23, 24, 25, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 87, 88, 89, 90; From Virgil, the Tenth Eclogue.
In the Appendix, only two items come from the collected editions-Singing, and the variation from Prometheus Unbound. Eleven items had never been printed–The Solitary; To Mary, who died in this Opinion; Mother and Son; The Mexican Revolution: To Ireland: To — 10 thou); Eyes; a Hate Song; the second version of the Epithalamium; and the omitted lines from the Indian Serenade, and the Recollection. All the residue is from outlying printed sources.
“ This plan might be tried too. Where's General Laoctonos ?
It is my royal pleasure." Annexed to this is another duty, that of pointing out any and every such change ; this is done in my notes. In speaking of “absolutely wrong" grammar, rhyming, and metre, I by no means include a vast number of laxities in these matters laxities which are a genuine portion of Shelley's poetic intention and performance, and which it would be presumption in me so much as to censure. These are of course left untouched; and along with them not a few things which, though in strictness even absolutely wrong, may also be fairly understood to appear as Shelley meant them to appear, or as he would not have troubled himself to prevent their appearing. I have made it a point to follow the readings of the original editions, unless some strong presumption should arise that these readings are erroneous, and those of subsequent editions correct. Some instances occur in which I have felt quite uncertain which was correct among different readings, and then I have chosen the one I myself prefer. I have also with scrupulous exactness attended to the punctuation of every line ; and (a minor yet not wholly unimportant point) have made the marginal setting of type throughout the volumes such as to represent the true interrelations of rhythm and rhyme-a matter left hitherto at sixes and sevens. The interruption of foot-notes in a page of fine poetry is, I conceive, always some sort of annoyance ; and even the numbers or other marks in the text calling attention to notes at a later page come under the same disfavour. Convenient they assuredly are to the tiro or the student : as certainly are they tiresome to the expert. On the whole, it has appeared to me best to remove all notes from the foot of the page to the end of the poem or subdivision, and to give no figures or marks of reference. My own notes come in mass at the end of the respective volumes.
As to conjectural emendation—that most dangerous and lethal weapon, but still, I apprehend, a lawful and needful weapon in the hands of a re-editor-I am well aware that I shall have offended some readers, and perhaps disappointed others. Among friends of high critical qualifications whom I have consulted, some have urged me onwards in the path of emendation,
and others withheld me. I have tended more towards lagging behind than towards outstripping my own theoretic standard in this regard, acting very generally on the rule that a conjectural emendation should not be tolerated, unless it is either a stopgap expedient against a patent and formidable blunder, or else convincing in a very high degree indeed. Good or bad, many or few, my conjectural emendations are of course all set forth in the notes, and can be cancelled as errata by any reader who may consider them in that light.
The notes do not aim at being excursive, critical, or explanatory, nor to any large extent even illustrative. Such illustration as they supply is chiefly from Shelley's own writings : mainly, the notes profess to be textual, and no more. They specify all modifications of the text * which rest on my own authority, and a fair proportion even of those which depend upon MSS., or the safest editions. I have no fear of having specified too few minute points in these notes—too many, rather.
I have expressed, and must here repeat, my obligations to Mr. Garnett, who, waiving all rights of priority and personal research, has freely imparted to me whatever Shelleyan items he had at command, whether MSS., transcripts, or details of any kind elucidating the text of the poems; including the book containing Charles I., for permission to use which I am indeed primarily indebted, through Mr. Garnett, to the owner, Sir Percy Shelley. It is a gratification to acknowledge also valuable advice or assistance from Captain Trelawny, Mr. Browning, Mr. W. Bell Scott, Mr. Swinburne, Mr. Allingham, Mr. C. B. Cayley, Mr. G. S. D. Murray, my brother, and others. Captain Trelawny's information has been especially valuable both for the poems and for the memoir, and commands my most respectful and grateful thanks.
No man is better qualified than a re-editor of Shelley to affirm that authors, editors, and printers, are all fallible. To flatter myself that the present edition is free from errors of purpose on my part, or from casual oversights, would be the height of folly, and would be my best title to detraction. But I can say that the editorial work has been to me a true labour of love, and has been gone through diligently and deliberately. Indeed, the pleasure of having anything to do with Shelley's poems is to myself so great that I should have been my own tormentor had I stinted or slurred work in any particular.
* Not including, however, small changes of punctuation which make no marked difference of meaning; nor changes of spelling or printing, such as “wrapped" instead of “wrapt," or "linked" instead of "linked." In these respects I have (properly speaking, systematized rather than altered.