in autographs, and the more unstudied and unpremeditated the better.
In the case of a poet, nothing can be compared with the interest inspired by the first draft of a poem, with its successive amendments — the path by which his thought attained its final and perfect utterance.
, it is reported, was very indignant with those who bore away from his study certain rough drafts of poems, justly holding that the world had no right to any but the completed form.
Yet this is what, as students of poetry, we all instinctively wish to do. Rightly or wrongly, we long to trace the successive steps.
To some extent, the same opportunity is given in successive editions of the printed work, but here the study is not so much of changes in the poet's own mind as of those produced by the criticisms, often dull or ignorant, of his readers; those especially who fail to catch a poet's very finest thought, and persuade him to dilute it a little for their satisfaction.
When I pointed out to Browning
some rather unfortunate alterations in his later editions, and charged him with having made them to accommodate stupid people, he admitted the charge and promised to alter them back again, although, of course, he never did. But the changes in an author's manuscript almost