Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, etc., being selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson/Prefatory Note
THIS small volume of selections is the first-fruits of my work at the Remains of Crabb Robinson, preserved in Dr. Williams's Library: on this I have been engaged, with interruptions due to the war, since 1912. My intention is ultimately to publish all the correspondence and all those parts of the Diary and Reminiscences which are of interest from the standpoint of literary history. The task is a lengthy one, and meanwhile, since Sadler's edition, originally published in 1869, though in some respects excellent, has long been out-of-print, and is, moreover, badly-proportioned and unreliable, it is thought that a selection from the large mass of available material may prove welcome to many readers. The Blake Reminiscences were put together by Crabb Robinson in 1825: they are to be found at the end of the first volume of the Reminiscences which were compiled by him from the journals and from memory between 1845 and 1853. Many, but not all, of the passages relating to Blake have already been printed in Gilchrist's Life, and elsewhere. I have reprinted only those which are not found substantially in the extracts from H. C. R.'s letters and from his Diary, which are here given the preference since they have the interest of contemporary impressions, as distinct from the later less vivid criticism.
The early part of the Diary is full of references to the great writers of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and especially to Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Lamb, with whom H. C. R. was in close personal intercourse. Many such passages are known from Sadler's volumes, but H. C. R.'s own selections from his many memories of them have not hitherto been printed. These Reminiscences extend from the year 1808 to 1829, and were penned in his old age between 1849 and 1853. These, too, are supplemented, and in some cases, where the accounts over-lap, replaced, first by Crabb Robinson's references to Coleridge's lectures in both his Diary and correspondence, (much of this material has not previously been printed,) and secondly by the complete publication for the first time of those parts of the Diary and letters which give an account of the quarrel between Wordsworth and Coleridge, and the reconciliation effected between them in 1812 by Crabb Robinson. It was tempting to enlarge the volume by the inclusion of other matter, e.g. the Diary accounts of Hazlitt's lectures, Carlyle's letters relating to his translations from German novels, or Landor's letters, which are among the contents of outstanding interest. But I have thought it wiser to confine myself to very definite limits, in order that the volume may be within the reach of all those who desire to possess it.
My thanks are due to Dr. Williams's Trustees for their permission to publish these extracts from the MSS., and to the Rev. Travers Herford, their secretary, and Mr. Stephen Jones and Miss Borthwick, his assistants, for the kindness they have shown in facilitating my work at the Library. Mr. Herford is responsible for the transcripts from shorthand, the key to which he has discovered and been good enough to hand on to me. I am also much indebted to Mr. McKechnie, of the Manchester University Press, for his invaluable help in preparing the volume for publication.
University College, Reading,
[Words and letters in square brackets have been supplied by the Editor. H. C. R.'s spelling and punctuation have been corrected, and his abbreviations, particularly of proper names, written in extenso wherever these alterations seemed to make the text clearer. Apart from such changes, it is an exact transcript from the originals.]