LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers, 23 March [1825]

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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‘Rydal Mount: 23 March [1825].

‘My dear Friend,—I am obliged by your kindness in taking so much trouble about my poems, and more especially so by the tone in which you met Mr. Murray when he was disposed to put on the airs of a patron. I do not look for much advantage either to Mr. M. or to any other bookseller with whom I may treat, and for still less to myself, but I assure you that I would a thousand times rather that not a verse of mine should ever enter the press again, than allow any of them to say that I was to the amount of the strength of a hair dependent upon their countenance, consideration, patronage, or by whatever term they may dignify their ostentation or selfish vanity. You recollect Dr. Johnson’s short method of settling precedence at Dilly’s, “No, Sir, authors above booksellers.”

‘I ought to apologise for being so late in my reply, and, indeed, I scarcely feel justified in troubling even so kind a friend about an affair in which I am myself so indifferent as far as inclination goes. As long as any portion of the public seems inclined to call for my poems, it is my duty to gratify that inclination, and if there be the prospect of pecuniary gain, though small, it does not become me to despise it, otherwise I should not face the disagreeable sensations, and injurious, and for the most
part unprofitable labours in which the preparing for a new edition always entangles me; the older I grow, the more irksome does this task become, for many reasons which you as a painstaking author will easily divine, and with which you can readily sympathise. But to the point.

‘I have seen Southey lately. He tells me that Murray can sell more copies of any book that will sell at all than Longman—but it does not follow from that that in the end an author will profit more, because Murray sells books considerably lower to the trade, and advertises even more expensively than Longman, though that seems scarcely possible. Southey’s “Book of the Church” cost 100l. advertising first edition. This is not equal to my little tract of the Lakes, the first edition, for which I got 9l. 8s. 2d., was charged 27l. 2s. 3d. advertising. The second edition is already charged to me 30l. 7s. 2d., the immense profits are yet to come. Thus my throat is cut, and if we bargain with M. we must have some protection from this deadly weapon. I have little to say; the books are before the public, only there will be to be added to the Miscellaneous vols. about 60 pages of new matter, and 200, viz., the “Memorials” and “Ecclesiastical Sketches,” not yet incorporated with them, and the “Ex.” [“Excursion”] to be printed uniform with them in one volume. I mean to divide the poems into five vols., in this way.

‘1st Vol., as at present, to consist of “Childhood and Early Youth,” “Juvenile Pieces,” and “Poems of the Affections,” withdrawing from it the “Blind Highland Boy” (to be added to the “Scotch Poems”), and “Ruth
Laodamia,” “Her Eyes are wild,” &c., to be added to those of the “Imagination.”

‘2nd Vol. to consist of the “Fancy and Imagination,” as now, the “Scotch Poems” to be subducted, and their place supplied as above with the “Ode to Enterprise,” and others.

‘3rd Vol. “Local Poems”—“The River Duddon,” “Scotch Poems,” with some new ones, “The Continental Memorials,” and “Miscellaneous Poems,” selected out of the four vols., with some additions. Those on the naming of places and the “Waggoner.”

‘4th Vol. To consist of “Sonnets, Political and Ecclesiastical,” meaning the Sketches and Miscellaneous, with the “Thanksgiving” and the other political odes.

‘5th Vol. “White Doe,” “Poems of Sentiment and Reflection,” “Elegies and Epitaphs,” “Final Ode,” &c.

‘6th Vol. “The Excursion.”

‘Now these vols., I conjecture, will run about 340 pages each, and the “Excursion” 450. Of the Miscellaneous, two vols., viz., the local poetry and the sonnets, might perhaps be sold separately to advantage. The others cannot be divided without much injury to their effect upon any reflecting mind.

‘As to your considerate proposal of making a selection of the most admired or the most popular, even were there not insuperable objections to it in my own feelings, I should be utterly at a loss how to proceed in that selection. Therefore I must abide by the above arrangement, and throw the management of the business upon your friendship.

‘I shall not be in town this year, nor can I foresee,
since the loss of
Mr. Monkhouse, when I shall revisit London; the place does not suit me on account of the irritability of my eyes. I must look for you and other friends here. Pray come down this summer. I could let you have a quiet room, this house having lately been added to in a small way. Mr. M. is not only a loss to his friends and kindred but to society at large, as in all his dealings and transactions he was a man of perfect integrity and the most refined honour; he was not bright or entertaining, but so gentle and gracious, and so much interested in most of what ought to interest a pure mind, that his company was highly prized by all who knew him intimately. You say nothing of your sister, nothing of Sharp, but you Londoners have so many notes and letters to write that this must be excused. I often read your “Italy,” which I like much, though there are quaintnesses and abruptnesses which I think might be softened down, and in the versification I would suggest that with so many trochaic terminations to the lines, the final pauses in the middle of the verse should be more frequently on firm syllables on that account. With best remembrances from all,

‘Ever your obliged Friend,
Wm. Wordsworth.

‘Pray read what part [you like] of the above to Mr. Murray; you will then hear what he has to say, and I leave it to you to proceed accordingly.’