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BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.
THE following Poem was commenced in the beginning of the year 1799, and completed in the summer of 1805.
The design and occasion of the work are described by the Author in his Preface to the EXCURSION, first published in 1814, where he thus speaks :—
"Several years ago, when the Author retired to his native mountains with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary work that might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should take a review of his own mind, and examine how far Nature and Education had qualified him for such an employment.
"As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted with them.
"That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished
for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the author's
intellect is deeply indebted, has been long finished; and the
result of the investigation which gave rise to it, was a
determination to compose a philosophical Poem, containing
views of Man, Nature, and Society, and to be entitled the
'Recluse ;' as having for its principal subject the sensations
and opinions of a poet living in retirement.
"The preparatory poem is biographical, and conducts the
history of the Author's mind to the point when he was
emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured
for entering upon the arduous labour which he had proposed
to himself; and the two works have the same kind of relation
to each other, if he may so express himself, as the Ante-chapel
has to the body of a Gothic Church. Continuing this allusion,
he may be permitted to add, that his minor pieces, which
have been long before the public, when they shall be properly
arranged, will be found by the attentive reader to have such
connection with the main work as may give them claim to be
likened to the little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses,
ordinarily included in those edifices."
Such was the Author's language in the year
It will thence be seen, that the present Poem was
intended to be introductory to the RECLUSE, and
that the RECLUSE, if completed, would have consisted
of Three Parts. Of these, the Second Part alone,
viz., the EXCURSION, was finished, and given to the
world by the Author.
The First Book of the First Part of the RECLUSE
still remains in manuscript; but the Third Part was
only planned. The materials of which it would have
been formed have, however, been incorporated, for
the most part, in the Author's other Publications,
written subsequently to the ExCURSION.
The Friend, to whom the present Poem is addressed,
was the late SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, who was
resident in Malta, for the restoration of his health,
when the greater part of it was composed.
Mr. Coleridge read a considerable portion of the
Poem while he was abroad; and his feelings, on
hearing it recited by the Author (after his return
July 13th, 1850.