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The last authorised edition of S. T. Coleridge's Poems, published by Mr. Moxon in 1852, bears the names of Derwent and Sara Coleridge, as joint editors. In uniting my name with my sister's, I yielded to her particular desire and request, but the work was performed almost entirely by herself. My opinion was consulted as to the general arrangement, and more especially as to the choice or rejection of particular pieces. Even here I had no occasion to do more than confirm the conclusions to which she had herself arrived, and sanction the course which she had herself adopted. I shared in the responsibility, but cannot claim
any share in the credit of the undertaking. This edition I propose to leave intact as it came from her own hands. I wish it to remain as one among other monuments of her fine taste, her solid judgment, and her scrupulous conscientiousness.
A few pieces of some interest appear, however, to have been overlooked. Two characteristic sonnets, not included in any former edition of the Poems, have been preserved in an anonymous work, entitled “ Letters, Recollections, and Conversations of S. T. Coleridge." These, with a further selection from the omitted Pieces, principally from the Juvenile Poems, have been added in an Appendix. So placed, they will not at any rate interfere with the general effect of the collection, while they add to its completeness. All these “buds of
promise" were once withdrawn, and afterwards reproduced by the author. It is not easy now to draw a line of separation which shall not be deemed either too indulgent or too severe.
That the literary productions of S. T. Coleridge should after a given period pass from under the control of his executors is right and fitting. That they should be brought out at the earliest period permitted by law, in various forms, by watchful and expectant publishers, is not a matter of surprise, and will not be alleged by me as a matter of blame. It is more pleasant for me to consider this hasty competition as a tribute to the genius of the author, and a proof of the estimation in which his works are held. In justice, however, to the author's immediate representatives, it may without impropriety be stated that the present, as it is the only authorised, so it is, and must for many years continue to be the only complete, or nearly complete, collection of his poems.
All the “poems written in later life,” many of them among the author's most finished and exquisite productions, together with the interesting notes and observations supplied by his daughter, are still copyright, while of the pieces now reprinted in the Appendix, several, whatever may be the date of composition, were not published till 1834.
The respectful acknowledgments of the editor are offered to those Publishers, whose courtesy and forbearance, had they been generally imitated, would have rendered this notice unnecessary.
This volume was prepared for the press by my lamented sister, Mrs. H. N. Coleridge, and will have an additional interest to many readers as the last monument of her highly-gifted mind. At her earnest request, my name appears with hers on the title-page, but the assistance rendered by me has been, in fact, little more than mechanical. The preface, and the greater part of the notes, are her composition the selection and arrangement have been determined almost exclusively by her critical judgment, or from records in her possession. A few slight corrections and unimportant additions are all that have been found necessary, the first and last sheets not having had the benefit of her own revision.
ST. MARK'S COLLEGE, CHELSEA,