London: Printed for T.N. Longman and O. Rees, by Biggs and Co., 1800.
The First Edition of "Lyrical Ballads" with Wordsworth's Famous Preface
WORDSWORTH, W[illiam, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge]. Lyrical Ballads, with Other Poems. In Two Volumes. By. W. Wordsworth. London: Printed for T.N. Longman and O. Rees, by Biggs and Co. Bristol, 1800.
First complete edition, with the second edition of Volume I and the first edition of Volume II. Two small octavo volumes (6 1/8 x 3 7/8 inches; 158 x 98 mm.). xlvi, [2, blank], 210, , [1, blank]; , 227, [1, errata] pp. Both volumes were issued without half-titles. In Volume I, leaf a3 (pp. v-vi) is a cancel (with p. [v] reading, “The First Volume”); leaves I3 and I4 (pp. 133-136) are cancels, with the incorrect spellings "becn" and "te" on p. 137; and p. 196, line 14 reads "That agency returns." In Volume II, p. 210 and the final errata leaf are both in their earliest state (with only ten lines and three items, respectively); p. 209 with last word of footnote in the middle of the page; p. 211 with 19 lines, ending with "he thought again"; p. 212 with 19 lines, beginning with "And his heart fail'd him" p. 64, line 1 reads "Oft had I heard" and line 6 reads "wide Moor," p. 83, line 6, reads "last days."; p. 92, line 2 reads "the skill which he" and p. 129, line 11 has “when they please” spaced normally.
Contemporary tree calf, rebacked to style. Spines stamped in gilt. spines with red and green morocco spine labels, lettered in gilt. Board edges stamped in gilt. All edges speckled brown. Previous owner's old ink signature on front free endpaper of volume II, dated "1801." Some foxing to signature D of volume II, otherwise very clean. Overall a very good copy.
This is the first edition of Lyrical Ballads to contain Wordsworth's great preface on his theory of poetry- one of the clearest statements of the aims of the Romantic movement and one of the most important documents of literary theory ever published: "It is not the incidental remarks on dictation that are important but Wordsworth's revolt against eighteenth-century artificiality. Its outline of the supreme function of poetry, expressed in such phrases as that poetry 'takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity', set a new tone; and it became in effect the revolutionary manifesto of the romantic poets of the next generation" (Printing and the Mind of Man).
Printing and the Mind of Man 256. Healey 6-11. Wise, Wordsworth, 5.