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Swinburne's revisions separate by time into two categories: those we find transcribed in the Nichol copy, and those not present there and presumably incorporated at some point between 1900 and 1904. A subdivision of the second category consists of Swinburne's revision of his revisions, his several minor changes in the material he had added to the Nichol. The three parodies left untouched are those of Mrs. Browning ("The Poet and the Woodlouse"), of Rossetti ("Sonnet for a Picture"), and of Swinburne himself.

"The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell"
Modeled upon Tennyson's "The Higher Pantheism," which had appeared in 1869, Swinburne's version consisted originally of twenty-four lines, six more than the original. In the margins of the Nichol are inked two additional lines, which in 1904 become lines 15-16:
More is the whole than a part: but half is more than the whole:
Clearly, the soul is the body: but is not the body the soul?
"John Jones's Wife"
Browning's "James Lee" appeared initially in Dramatis Personae (1864), but when reissued four years later it bore the title "James Lee's Wife." On its first appearance, Swinburne's parody was called simply "John Jones"; no change of title occurs in the Nichol, which suggests that Swinburne was


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still unaware of Browning's adjustment and, perhaps, that little time passed between the publication of Heptalogia and Swinburne's revisions. However, in the Chatto and then in 1904, it is newly titled to reflect Browning's revision, and possibly to parody it since Swinburne's emphasis is as much on Browning's unintelligibility (who is the speaker?) as on his diction. In keeping with the original, Swinburne divides his poem into parts, each with its appropriate heading ("By the Cliff," "Up the Spout"); but though Browning's sections total nine, Swinburne relents at five.

"I. At the Piano." The one revision in this section is in the form of an omission. In 1880 line 12 reads,

Hues of the prawn's tail or comb that makes dawn stale,1 so red for our sins!
The number is resumed at the bottom of the page:
1Whose youth and freshness
Wrinkles Apollo's, and makes stale the morning. — SHAKESPEARE.
The juxtaposition sets Shakespeare's felicity against Browning's harshness; in showing the comparison, Browning is made presumably to vaunt his improvement on the original. Number and note remain unaltered in both the Nichol and the Chatto, but are omitted from the published version of 1904.

"III. On the Sands." Totals twenty-four stanzas in 1880; three more (X through XII) are added in the Nichol, the remainder renumbered. Minor revisions of the Nichol material show in 1904:

1. 49: contents for suffices; (see?), added
1. 59: o'for oh
As much as he admired the vigor of Browning's imagination, Swinburne could not be reconciled to his style — his "miserable English language, garotted, gouged, her jaw broken and the teeth driven down her throat."[13] Two revisions which strongly suggest the texture Swinburne sought are recorded for the first time in the Chatto:
1. 8: Chicken or egg for Nay, but, Meg
1. 25: and be hanged to the pup! for and who cares for the pup?

"V. Off the Pier." Consists of eight stanzas in 1880, to which a ninth (VI) is added in Nichol, Swinburne renumbering those that follow. The nine are given without further change in 1904. Allusions in the new stanza help, I think, in the question of dating:


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. . . Shakespeare (Malone's)
Might have said sleep was murdered — new scholiasts have sent
you pills
To purge text of him! Bread? give me — Scottice — scones!
The "new scholiasts" alludes, obviously, to the followers of F. J. Furnivall, with whom Swinburne had been feuding since the mid-1870's. Their controversy, after a momentary lapse in intensity, reached high climax by the start of 1881 with the appearance of two pamphlets: Furnivall's The 'Co.' of Pigsbrook & Co. (for Pigsbrook we are to read Swines-burn) and J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps' Correspondence with Robt. Browning, president of New Shakespere society, relative to language used by Mr. Furnivall in speaking of Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps. Swinburne was especially concerned that Browning should be in alliance with Furnivall, and he made the overture of sending him a copy of Studies in Song, which Browning gracefully acknowledged.[14] Neither poet alludes to the Heptalogia, nearly a half of which is devoted to Elizabeth and Robert Browning.
"The Person of the House"
Patmore's Angel in the House had appeared in 1854, and if Wise's dating is to be trusted, Swinburne composed his version in 1859, while he was yet at Oxford.[15] The one revision, present in Nichol and retained in 1904, occurs in line 16 which as first printed had read: "Kit, Nick, Dick, Mark, Aminadab." For "Kit," the diminutive of Christopher, the Christ-bearer, Swinburne substitutes "Luke." The change was motivated probably by the desire to afford a private pleasure since its effect is primarily visual, the inked in replacement demonstrating to Nichol and Burne-Jones how the poet can modulate from assonance to consonance, sustain the association with Mark and especially with Aminadab (see Luke 3:33), and generally affirm the household religiosity of the speaker. Swinburne knew better than to intrude when later the new-born in question is christened Paul Cyril Athanasius John.
"Last Words of a Seventh-Rate Poet"
This is the longest and, as its title implies, the most merciless of the seven parodies; it assaults poet and works. Swinburne was, or pretended to be, personally offended by Lytton's public sneers in his direction;[16] more important, as a poet he was affronted by the mannerisms of this "poeticule" — at once casual and flaccid and unoriginal, the qualities brought into focus in the parody. Swinburne accuses Lytton of plagiarism and seems to have enjoyed the irony of plagiarizing the plagiarist; his additions, the bulk of them in Nichol, are lavish.


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  • 1. 41: lava for ova (in Nichol and retained)
  • 11. 54-55: in Nichol and retained
  • 11. 72-77: in Nichol and retained
  • 1. 83: disputing my claim to Empedocles, Maud for assign to his hand the Confessional, Bill (in Nichol and retained)
  • 11. 130-133: in Nichol and retained with minor revisions:
  • 1. 132: disdainful for contemptuous
  • 1. 133: it was for they were
  • 1. 140: lips for life (in Nichol and retained)
  • 11. 206-213: in Nichol and retained with minor revisions:
  • 1. 207: title for rank; always, added
  • 1. 211: reader — to for public, to
  • 11. 222-229: in Nichol and retained
  • 1. 237: vent for write (in Nichol and retained)
There is, however, one major addition which appears initially in the Chatto copy from which it is then carried into the 1904 edition. As his close, under the heading "Specimen from the speaker's original poems," Swinburne appends a travesty of the most famous of the lyrics in Maud, thus offering in evidence a document in support of his earlier revision of line 83:
Come into the orchard, Anne,
For the dark owl, Night, has fled,
And Phosphor slumbers, as well as he can
With a daffodil sky for a bed:
And the musk of the roses perplexes a man
And the pimpernel [worries deleted] muddles his head.
Swinburne's primary target remains, of course, "Owen Meredith," his chosen mask, though one may perhaps suspect the faintest malice in the direction of Tennyson.