Shelley, a poem, with other writings relating to Shelley, to which is added an essay on the poems of William Blake/Notice of Rossetti's Edition of Shelley's Works

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NOTICE OF ROSSETTI'S EDITION OF SHELLEY'S POETICAL WORKS.[1]


The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. In three volumes. London: E. Moxon, Son, and Co., 1878.


ENGLAND is at length beginning to do something like justice to its supreme Poet of this century. Quite recently, besides the cheap popular Editions of the Poems, of which the best we have examined is by Mr. Rossetti, there have been issued the reprint of the original Editions of the complete Works (so far as obtainable) under the care of Mr. R. Herne Shepherd, and the library edition, in four vols., of the Poetical Works by Mr. H. Buxton Forman; and now Mr. Rossetti has been encouraged to issue, with improvements up to date, a second edition of that which appeared in 1870. Those who, like ourselves, have had occasion to examine minutely the 1870 edition, know in how many and what important cases it rectified and tended to rectify the very inaccurate text of Mrs. Shelley; and both in the Memoir and the text this second issue is a marked improvement on the first. In Mr. Rossetti's own words: "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. I took very great pains with the edition of 1870, and have taken equal or still greater pains with this of 1878. I have now cancelled, I suppose, a full third of the notes to the former edition, and have introduced a rather larger bulk of new notes; and the same, in minor proportion, has been done with the Memoir." This Memoir, we may add, occupies a hundred and fifty pages, and is a full record and discussion of all that has hitherto come to light concerning the career of the poet. Now that his eldest daughter is dead, we think his family owe, both to his memory and to the considerable public for whom it is really sacred, a prompt revelation of the documents regarding his separation from his first wife and the causes that impelled her to suicide. We elders, whose love and reverence for the Poet of Poets were nurtured on a text abounding with mistakes, and in a society which mainly regarded him with horror when it regarded him at all, can heartily congratulate the younger generation who have been brought up to appreciate and revere him, and who have such an Edition as the present to assist their study.

1878

  1. This and the following article are reprinted by permission from Cope's Tobacco Plant.