« PreviousContinue »
HE present work is substantially a reprint of the "Aldine Edition of the Poetical Works of Cowper," ed
ited by the late SIR HARRIS NICOLAS. Without designing to put forth, in any sense, a critical edition of the works of this admirable Poet, the Editor has taken pains on two points; the one, to approach to a settlement of the text by a collation of all doubtful passages with the editions published in Cowper's life-time, and with the chief of those which have appeared more recently; the other point has been to add brief illustrative notes on passages which contain allusions to persons or circumstances, which have faded out of general knowledge.
A new Memoir of the Poet has also been prefixed. Sir H. Nicolas's memoir was pronounced by Southey to be "the most judicious," as the Aldine edition was declared to be "the best arranged," that had then appeared. But our knowledge of facts relating to Cowper is cumulative. It has
advanced considerably beyond the point which it had attained when Sir Harris wrote. It has been thought better, therefore, leaving the former memoir to stand as a distinction of the previous Aldine editions, to prefix on the present occasion a memoir entirely re-written. It was the Editor's intention to have inserted in this memoir various letters and papers connected with the Poet with which he has been favoured, and which have never yet seen the light, but, although the present memoir contains many things which are new, the length to which all the Editor's unpublished materials would have extended, was found to be inconsistent with the size and general character of the present edition. They have therefore been reserved for a separate publication.
The Editor desires gratefully to acknowledge the contribution of valuable information which he has received from many friends. Miss Stokes, of Tyndale House, Cheltenham; Robert Cole, Esq., F.S.A.; W. Bodham Donne, Esq.; Edward Dalton, Esq., LL.D., of Dunkirk House, near Nailsworth; Henry Gough, Esq.; Thomas William King, Esq., York Herald; S. W. Rix, Esq., of Beccles; William J. Thoms, Esq., F.S.A., and James Yeowell, Esq., with many others, have favoured the Editor with most valuable communications.