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BY THE EDITOR.
THE volumes now laid before the public have occupied the leisure hours of some years, and have been delayed by various circumstances which need not be detailed. The most gratifying of these was an interruption of several months during which my leisure had to be devoted to the preparation of two new editions of Shelley's Poetical Works, to meet a demand consequent on the favourable reception of the former edition. The only other cause of delay that concerns the public is the frequent discovery of fresh material; and in this respect I hope that Keats's many readers will find compensation.
Partly by the knowledge that much unused material existed, and partly by the feeling that the editions of Keats's writings current up to the present time left room for one on the lines of my library edition of Shelley, I was led to undertake this work; and in carrying it out I have followed the same principles of revision as in the other case, namely to gather together everything I could find from the hand of the poet, to establish the text as nearly as possible in accordance with what the poet wrote or meant to write, to make no changes without record,' and to elucidate and illustrate from such printed and manuscript sources as were open to me.
The three volumes of poetry printed during Keats's life have been reproduced upon this plan; and their contents have been collated with all available manuscripts and printed issues of authority, variations being given in foot-notes. The posthumous poems in order of date follow the three printed volumes; and the chronology has only been interrupted wittingly in the matter of Otho the Great, King Stephen, and The Cap and Bells. Here it was impossible to preserve the real order, because Keats had other things in progress at the same time as Otho, and these, if strict chronological order were followed, would have to be interspersed among the acts and scenes of the tragedy. It seemed better therefore to set the dramatic attempts apart as a kind of appendix, to be completed by the less happy experiment The Cap and Bells, and to leave the real poetical work of Keats to close characteristically with La Belle Dame sans Merci and the beautiful sonnet which was really the last thing he wrote in verse.
The literary fragments and notes in prose naturally follow the posthumous poetry; and the letters come
"Not to detain the reader at the outset with details of a technical kind, I have set apart among the Addenda to the Preface some notes relating to spelling, inflexion, &c., and some lists of altered words.
last, in order of date,-those to Fanny Brawne last of
all and apart.
Each volume has its appendix of matters related to its own particular contents ; and the general appendix in Volume IV consists of personal recollections, criticisms, &c., not related to any particular volume, but to the life and works of Keats generally.
The materials used for the present edition, besides what are generally known through published volumes, include, I believe, all that is most important. Whatever may remain in the hands of the American section of the Keats family is likely to be of minor importance, seeing how largely Lord Houghton was supplied with material from that source. His Lordship kindly offered to let me go over again the papers at Fryston Hall which served as the basis of his many editions; and I regret that circumstances have prevented me from availing myself of that privilege; but, as I have made full use of Lord Houghton's valuable series of books, the needs of the case should be fulfilled. Sir Charles Dilke's collections include many things of the utmost consequence, both to the text of the writings of Keats and to the completeness of illustrative detail. Letters from the poet, books formerly possessed by him, numerous letters from George Keats, Severn, and Brown, and a great mass of related documents, have been placed unreservedly in my hands by Sir Charles Dilke, and figure conspicuously throughout the volumes. The most important of the papers of Severn fell into the hands of Mr. Henry Sotheran of Piccadilly; and I have had the advantage of going over them all and making full collations, either by Mr. Sotheran's kindness or by that of later owners of such as passed from the Piccadilly establishment before I examined the collection. The numerous letters to and from Haydon, preserved in the journals of the painter, have largely enhanced the value of the edition, filling up important blanks and supplying a great number of additions and corrections. The manuscripts of Endymion, Lamia, The Eve of St. Agnes, and a portion of Isabella should be mentioned as especially fruitful of various readings and cancelled passages; and not the least of the fortunate chances attending my efforts to complete my work for Keats's lovers was the unexpected discovery of Richard Woodhouse's copy of Endymion, in which were noted, not only the varia. tions of the final manuscript from the printed text, but also those of the first draft, which had not itself come to the surface. Woodhouse seems to have been an ardent admirer of Keats and an enthusiastic student of his works, as well as a capital scholar; for his copy of Endymion was interleaved, seemingly while Keats was still alive, and the textual differences above referred to were noted down in the most business-like and elaborate manner, while the pages bear many remarks and hints of a learned and acute kind, whereof I have not scrupled to avail myself. I think he must have meant to edit Keats's writings at some time. So far as regards the largest of Keats's poems, this book has been of more service than either of the other printed copies of Endymion I have used, namely Sir Charles Dilke's copy and one in my own possession with a number of autograph corrections. But Sir Charles Dilke's copy has a quantity of manuscript poems bound up at the end; and these have yielded a good deal of assistance in textual work.
The letters of Keats to his sister, which form so large a proportion of the letters now first published, throw a flood of new light on his character. We knew him in nearly all relations except that of a protecting brother to a younger sister; and it is this hiatus in his delightful personality that these charming letters fill.
The beautiful couplets which I have gathered in from The Indicator and placed as a rejected passage of Endymion, at page 221 of the present volume, appeared with the signature "XXX"; and I am obliged to confess that, although that signature may be very readily reconciled with the authorship assigned to the passage, it was on purely internal evidence that I placed the couplets where they are. Their manner is absolutely identical with that of the best parts of the poem ; and, if Keats did not write it, there were two men living at the time who might, as far as manner goes,