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April 04 , 2010

Poems, Volume 1 (of 3)


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In the present edition of Crabbe's Poems the general arrangement adopted is that of the chronological order of publication. The poem entitled Midnight has been inserted at a conjectural date as belonging to the period of the Juvenile Poems (1772-1780); but all other poems contained in this edition which have hitherto remained unpublished will be printed after the published poems, in the sequence of their production so far as this is ascertainable. With the poems hitherto unpublished I have also been fortunate enough to obtain permission to include in a later volume, among other posthumously printed pieces, the Two Poetical Epistles by Crabbe, first published, from a manuscript in the collection of Mr Buxton Forman, in Vol. II of Literary Anecdotes of the Nineteenth Century edited by W. Robertson Nicoll and Thomas J. Wise (London, 1896). From the second of these Epistles were taken, but not in their original order, the ten lines reproduced in the present volume from George Crabbe the younger's 1834 edition of his father's Poems.

The earliest of the Juvenile Poems here printed are taken from The Lady's Magazine, or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, appropriated solely to their Use and Amusement, for the year 1772, printed at London for Robinson and Roberts, 25 Paternoster Row. The first volume of this Magazine seems to have been that for the year 1770, and to have comprised the numbers from August to December inclusive; but the earlier portion of this volume had been previously published in the same year 1770 under the same title by J. Wheble at 20 Paternoster Row, 'by whom letters to the Editor are requested and received.' This then must be the 'Wheble's Magazine for 1772,' of which George Crabbe the younger in the Life prefixed to the 1834 edition of his father's Poems (p. 22) states that he had after long search discovered a copy. The Magazine seems itself to have been a revival of an earlier Lady's Magazine, of which portions of the volumes for 1760 and 1761 are extant, and which, according to the title-page of the volume for 1761, was printed for J. Wilkie at the Bible in St Paul's Churchyard.

But the younger Crabbe's account of his father's verses in 'Wheble's Magazine for 1772' does not tally with the actual contents of the volume for 1772 of The Lady's Magazine which has been used for the present edition. It is possible, of course, though there is no evidence to support the supposition, that The Lady's Magazine published by Wheble was continued at all events till 1772, parallel to The Lady's Magazine published by Robinson and Roberts, with which in 1770 it had been in some measure blended. It is equally possible that the younger Crabbe made some mistake or mistakes. In any case, his statement is, that Wheble's Magazine for 1772 'contains besides the prize poem on Hope,' from which he proceeds to quote the concluding six lines, 'four other pieces, signed "G. C., Woodbridge, Suffolk," "To Mira," "The Atheist reclaimed," "The Bee," and "An Allegorical Fable."' The volume published by Robinson and Roberts contains no pieces corresponding to these, except that in its October number there is printed an Essay on Hope, in which the lines cited by the younger Crabbe and reprinted, on his authority, in the present edition, do not appear, but of which the concluding lines seem to imply that it was a copy of verses written in competition for a prize. It cannot however be by Crabbe. For it is signed 'C. C., Rotherhithe, 1772'; and the July number of the same volume contains a piece of verse of some length entitled The Rotherhithe Beauties and signed 'C. C., Rotherhithe, July 15,' which is certainly not by Crabbe; and later in the volume follows another piece entitled Night, signed 'C. C., Rotherhithe, November 19, 1772,' which likewise cannot be attributed to Crabbe.


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