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[In Woodhouse's copy of Endymion (see Preface) there is a note against the passage “ so I will begin” &c., line 39, Book I, to the effect that the poem was begun in the spring of 1817 and finished in the winter of 1817-18; and in the title-page he has inserted April before 1818. The statement corresponds with Keats's own record of May 1817 (see Letters) that he was busying himself at Margate with the commencement of Endymion. This reference cannot of course be to the same Endymion that he expected to finish in one more attack when he wrote to Clarke in December 1816. Probably the conception referred to by Lord Houghton (Aldine edition, page xvii) as “long germinating in his fancy” really took bodily form and substance, and that substance was wholly rejected, when Keats came within the radius of Haydon's heroic art propaganda, for the design on an ambitious scale which the next Spring was to see in print. Woodhouse records that at the end of the first draft is written “ Burford Bridge, Nov. 28, 1817”. His statement as to the month of issue scarcely does more than confirm the record of the series of documents bearing on this point published by Lord Houghton. Thus, the first book was in the publisher's hands by January 1818, and the last was copied out by the 14th of March; the original Preface, rejected upon the unfavourable verdict of Reynolds and others of Keats's friends, is dated the 19th of March ; the Preface as published is dated the roth of April, and went, it seems, in a letter to Reynolds of that date ; and on the 27th of April Keats wrote to Taylor apologizing for giving him “all the trouble” of Endymion, and adding, apparently in allusion to that poem,“ The book pleased me much. It is very free from faults ; and, although there are one or two words I should wish replaced, I see in many places an improvement greatly to the purpose”. The measure of Keats's fluency in composition may be judged by observing the alterations recorded in Book I in the following pages. Of that Book there appears to have been but one manuscript, written on sheets of quarto foolscap paper, and considerably altered before going to press. The other three Books were written into a blank book and afterwards copied on quarto foolscap uniform with that used for Book 1. Hence the printer's copy (the quarto manuscript) shows much more revision in Book I than elsewhere. With that manuscript I have collated the printed text throughout ; but the variations given in Books II, III, and IV as from the draft, I have taken from Woodhouse's manuscript annotations. The original edition of Endymion is a handsome octavo volume, originally issued in thick drab boards labelled at back, Keats's Endymion. Lond. 1818, and consisting of fly-title as here reproduced, but with imprint at foot of verso, “Printed
by T. Miller, Noble street, Cheapside", title-page (with its motto adapted from Shakespeare's seventeenth Sonnet), and dedication to Chatterton's memory, as given opposite, Preface pages vii to ix, an erratum leaf with sometimes one and sometimes five errata printed on recto, and 207 pages of text including the fly-titles to the four books as given in the present edition. The head-line throughout is Endymion in Roman small capitals, the number of the Book being indicated in smaller letters at the inner corners, and the pages in Arabic figures as usual at the outer corners. The full page consists of 22 lines; and the lines are numbered in tens in the margin ; not every ten lines of verse, but every ten lines of print, so that when a fresh paragraph begins with a portion of a verse, that particular verse counts for two lines. In numbering the lines in fives I have of course counted by lines of verse.-H. B. F.]
KNOWING within myself the manner in which this Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public.
What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press; nor should they if I thought a