The Daemon of the World/Preface




The copy of Queen Mab upon which Shelley worked to produce the revised fragment published in 1816 with Alastor as The Dæmon of the World has been lost to the ken of Shelley-students and enthusiasts for many years. It was described in Medwin's Life of Shelley as a very much cut-down and altered version of Queen Mab. A somewhat similar account of the book was given in Middleton's Shelley and His Writings, with an intimation that the revised book would soon be published.

Since that time there has not been, as far as I know, any public notice tending to keep track of this precious volume. It remained, in point of fact, in the hands of Mr. Brooks the publisher, who gave it to Thomas Wade, the poet of Mundi et Cordis Carmina, not many years ago. From the time of Wade's death, in comparative seclusion, this book was reverently preserved by his widow, who, on learning that I was looking up all available material for an exhaustive edition of Shelley's writings, placed this treasure at my disposal.

On examination the volume has proved to be a retrenchment of Queen Mab, with a great deal of fresh writing—the first, second, eighth, and ninth Cantos alone being recognized by Shelley as worthy of preservation in the new poem thus constructed. The first and second are the substance of what he issued with Alastor in 1816 as The Dæmon of the World, a Fragment: the eighth and ninth are the substance of what he converted, no doubt in the year 1815, into a Second Part of The Dæmon of the World. This Second Part, deciphered and connected not without difficulty, contains so much that is fresh, and is so important as establishing what Shelley thought worth rescuing in 1815 from his work of 1813, that it seems to me well worth while, as a preliminary measure, to give printed embodiment to the whole Poem as a connected work.

H. Buxton Forman.

Christmas, 1876.
38 Marlborouqh Hill, St. John's Wood,