Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/52

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34
MOXON'S CHEAP EDITION

note may help to explain why: "Did any one see the papers from which I drew that volume [the Posthumous Poems], the wonder would be how any eyes or patience were capable of extracting it from so confused a mass, interlined and broken into fragments, so that the sense could only be deciphered and joined by guesses, which might seem rather intuitive than founded on reasoning. Yet I believe no mistake was made." Mr. Garnett, in the "Relics of Shelley," writes: "Numerous errors have crept into the text of Shelley's poems, especially such as were published when, from his absence on the Continent, he was unable to attend to the correction of the press, and those posthumous pieces which were prepared for publication from almost illegible MSS." And as to this last point, Shelley's friend, Captain Trelawny, says somewhere, if I remember rightly, that the original MS. of the lovely poem, "To a Lady, with a Guitar," resembled a rude sketch of a reedy marsh, with blots and smears for the wild ducks. Mr. Garnett gave a chapter to the suggestion of emendations, and the suggestions were usually good; but they were very few in proportion to the number of errors, and they scarcely touched any of the countless cases of bad punctuation which were as apt to cause misunderstanding as were the verbal errors themselves.

Having looked up in this cheap edition numerous passages which I had marked in my own copy of Shelley as manifestly erroneous, I can bear witness that Mr. Rossetti has done his editing with great care and skill. A large number of mistakes he has definitely corrected, in other instances he has improved if he has not certainly rectified; and he seems to have paid particular attention to the punctuation, to the great benefit of the text.