too surely that Longfellow
was no exception; thus we learn that he had made important alterations in the ‘Golden Legend
’ within a few weeks of publication.
These things show that his remark to Mr. Lawton
does not tell quite the whole story.
As with most poets, his alterations were not always improvements.
Thus, in ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus
,’ he made the fourth verse much more vigorous to the ear as it was originally written,—
Then up and spoke an old sailor
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
than when he made the latter line read
Sailed to the Spanish Main,
as in all recent editions.
The explanation doubtless was that he at first supposed the ‘Spanish Main’ to mean the Caribbean Sea
; whereas it actually referred only to the southern shore of it. Still more curious is the history of a line in one of his favorite poems, ‘To a Child.’
Speaking of this, he says in his diary,1
Some years ago, writing an “Ode to a child,” I spoke of
The buried treasures of the miser, “Time.”
What was my astonishment to-day, in reading for the first time in my life Wordsworth's ode “On the power of sound,” to read
“All treasures hoarded by the miser, time.”