University of Virginia Library



The Library 5th ser. 9 (1954), 221-241. Foxon notes nineteenth-century reference to an earlier title page in Bohn's edition of Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual (I, 493), repeated by Knight in his edition of Wordsworth's Poems (1882-1889, I, xl). It is also repeated by J. R. Tutin, "The Bibliography of Wordsworth," Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth (London, 1888), pp. 897-912 (also issued separately).

For assistance in the preparation of this article I am indebted to Drs. David McKitterick, Robert Petre, and Robert Woof; Professors James A. Butler and Bruce Graver; Courtney Lehmann; and the staffs of the libraries mentioned hereafter.


I draw especially on Foxon and on Joseph Cottle, Early Recollections, Chiefly Relating to the Late Samuel Taylor Coleridge (London, 1837), I, 310-325, II, 23-27; Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 166-185; Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (London, 1898), pp. ix-xvi; Thomas J. Wise, Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of William Wordsworth (London, 1916), pp. 14-34; Wise, Two Lake Poets, A Catalogue of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Autograph Letters by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (London, 1927), pp. 3-6; Wise, The Ashley Library (London, 1922-1936), VII, 4-5; Robert W. Daniel, "The Publication of the `Lyrical Ballads', MLR XXXIII (1938), 406-410; The Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. E. L. Griggs, (Oxford, 1956), I, 411-413; Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth, A Biography: The Early Years (Oxford, 1957; rev. 1968), pp. 370-409; The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, The Early Years, 1787-1805, ed. Ernest de Selincourt, rev. Chester L. Shaver (Oxford, 1967), pp. 217-228; Mark L. Reed, Wordsworth: The Chronology of the Early Years (Cambridge, MA, 1967), pp. 238-249; James A. Butler, "Wordsworth, Cottle, and the Lyrical Ballads: Five Letters, 1797-1800," JEGP 75 (1976), 139-153; James Butler and Karen Green, eds., `Lyrical Ballads' and Other Poems (Ithaca, NY, 1992), pp. 11-15, 44; Alan D. Boehm, "The 1798 Lyrical Ballads and the Poetics of Late Eighteenth-Century Book Production," ELH 63 (1996), 453-487.


Coleridge, writing to Cottle probably on 4 June, urges as compelling anonymity the circumstance that "to a large number of persons" his name "stinks." (The Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as cited in note 2; Reed, pp. 238-239.) Dr. Robert Woof points out to me that Coleridge's phrasing shows him fully aware of the existence of political hostility of the sort that was from July until September to fuel lampoons of him in the Anti-Jacobin, where he was ridiculed in the poem "The New Morality," the poem "The Anarchists," and Gillray's caricature based on the first poem.


See John D. Gordan, William Wordsworth, 1770-1850, An Exhibition (New York, 1950), p. 6; Foxon, p. 236.


This copy was reproduced in facsimile in the Noel Douglas Replica Series, London, 1926; and again by the Scolar Press, Menston, in 1971.


Stitchholes show that the contents leaf was earlier bound in wrong way around between [A]2 and [A]3, following the leaf containing the Argument for "The Ancyent Marinere." (Foxon, p. 237, notes this placement but not the reversal.) The earlier placement seems too strange to have resulted from mere carelessness. One might conjecture that the original Cottonian binder (a) had no title leaf, (b) wished the book to commence with the next-most-impressive title available, the half title for "The Ancyent Marinere," on the recto of [A]1, (c) doggedly wanted to keep the table of contents near the front, yet was forced to recognize that any such placement of it would one way or another intrude as an irrelevance on "The Ancyent Marinere," and (d) decided that the least of evils would be to insert the leaf after the Argument leaf but reversed so that the blank, less preoccupying, side of the leaf would meet a reader's eye first.


Concerning these four copies see especially Foxon, pp. 224-225, 233-237, and Duncan Wu, "Lyrical Ballads (1798): the Beddoes Copy," The Library 6th ser. 15 (1993), 332-335. Wu cites John Edmonds Stock, Memoirs of the Life of Thomas Beddoes, M.D., (London [&c.], 1811), p. 114.


Foxon, p. 235, notes that the verso of the title leaf of the Beddoes copy reveals offset from a table of contents. Since the "Nightingale" table of contents was printed on the recto of the fourth leaf of its gathering, it—unlike the "Lewti" contents leaf as originally bound—could not have left offset on the verso of the title leaf. The verso of the title leaf of the Cornell Bristol-Longman copy retains similar table-of-contents offset.


Possibly unfairly I construe as absolute the conclusion of his remark regarding gathering O, "What is quite impossible is that the [watermark date] should appear on the fourth leaf—that is, the title page" (p. 227).


Butler, pp. 143-144; Reminiscences I, 326. Early Recollections, p. 185, states, ". . . the 'Lyrical Ballads' were published."


Offset from a "Lewti" contents page on examples of O3v would of course fit the argument but would not be unassailable proof of it: gathered copies could have been stacked lacking title leaves and O4, with "Lewti" contents that had been printed elsewhere from O4 facing the last pages (versos of O3) of copies above. I have observed small smudges of ink on O3v in several copies, but never in shapes meaningfully correspondent with the table of contents.


One such explanation would be that, even though no copy has been seen lacking a table of contents, the binder in this one instance omitted the contents leaf and attached a Bristol-Cottle title directly to [A]1; in which case of course the stub would remain from a Bristol-Cottle title with a watermark appropriate for O4. Among improbabilities that this hypothesis would have to accommodate is that although the binder included the gathering π—which for reasons noted elsewhere was almost certainly printed after the Bristol-Longman title—in the body of text sheets, he yet employed a title leaf printed earlier than the Bristol-Longman.


In this copy, for example, leaves E7 and E8 have the same watermark, a case impossible unless leaves from different sheets had been mixed in stacks. Concerning gathering and binding of leaves E7, 8 in ideal-collation "Nightingale" copies see Foxon, pp. 227-229.