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IN MEMORIAM, THE PRINCESS,
EDITED WITH CRITICAL INTRODUCTIONS, COMMENTARIES
JOHN CHURTON COLLINS
METHUEN & CO.
THE pioneer of a critical edition of Tennyson's poems is little to be envied. Never since Milton has a poet been so fastidiously scrupulous about the minutiae of expression and language, about the exact forms of inflexion, about spelling, about the collocation of vowels and consonants, about the use of small or capital letters, about the use of italics, about punctuation. It is well known that Milton ordered the substitution of "hundreds" for "hunderds" in Paradise Lost, i. 760, and the substitution of "we" for
wee in book ii. 414 of the same poem, to be noted specially as errata, and that he studied with the nicest care the forms of "thir" and "their," insisting importunately on the printers observing the distinction. But the work of an editor of Milton, even if he be as conscientious in his drudgery as the poet in the nobler activity of composition, is a comparatively easy one; for of the Minor Poems there are only two authentic editions, of Paradise Lost two also, of Paradise Regained and of Samson Agonistes one. The editions of Tennyson's various works are so numerous that no Bibliography records them, and no single library, public or private, so far at least as I can discover, contains them. These editions teem with variants, and so restlessly, one might almost say morbidly, indefatigable was Tennyson in correction, that till an edition, even though there be no indication on the title page that it is anything more
than a reprint, is inspected, there is no security that the text has not been altered. Backwards and forwards, forwards and backwards fluctuate the incessantly shifting variants. Take, for instance, In Memoriam, x. 5:—
Thou bringest the sailor to his wife
is the reading of the first two editions; the third substitutes "bring'st"; the fourth, seventh, and ninth return to "bringest"; in 1875 "bring'st" reappears; in 1877 "bringest" is restored; and in the final edition there is a return to "bring'st"; and this is typical of the history of numberless variants. In In Memoriam, cxv. 6, 7, the earlier and later editions read
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
but suddenly appears in 1875, disappearing immediately afterwards,
The distance takes a living hue,
And drown'd in yonder livelier blue.
I have done my best to make the record of the variants exhaustive, and also to fix the exact dates of each. But to fix the exact dates has not been possible in some cases, for the simple reason that all the innumerable editions of the three poems have not been accessible to me. All I could do was to collate the editions obtainable in the British Museum and in other public libraries, or borrowed from friends, or inspected through the courtesy of innumerable booksellers, to whom sincere thanks for that courtesy are due, and all this I have done with more labour and expenditure of time than one cares to
The critical opinions in the Introductions will, of course,