Understanding MS D (DC MS 76)

MS D is the final fair copy text of Home at Grasmere -- it represents the poem in its last surviving state. It was made after the removal of material from the MS B version of the poem for The Excursion and is a home-made notebook without covers. It was originally sewn into the account book containing MS RV of The Prelude (DC MS 21) as a result of which some pencil revisions exist on the pages of that account book. It is now detached from it.

Three Blocks of Paper in MS D

The manuscript holds 28 leaves with two stubs at pages 4 and 16 and joining stubs between p.2/ 3 and 24/25. It consists of three blocks of paper sewn together:

1. Blue-tinted laid paper countermarked 1828. This block of paper is smaller than the main notebook. It consists of two folded conjugate pages (1 and 2; stub and 3) sewn together. Material on 1 and 2 was added first, then the second folded sheet with writing on page 3 was sewn onto it.

DATE: 1832.

2. White laid paper countermarked 1810. 3 leaves at the start of this block were torn out and replaced with a newly copied opening. (The stub at p. 4 is a remnant of the original third opening page). This is the original base text of MS D. It runs from page 5 to 15.

DATE: 1812-14.

3. Blue-tinted laid paper countermarked 1828. These pages were sewn on to the main block of 1810 paper after the stub at page 16. They run from page 17 to page 30. Another stub caused by a sewn-in page occurs after p.25 (25a).

DATE: 1832.

Physical Appearance of the three blocks of paper in MS D

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Order of Entry into MS D

First Entry of Copy Text: 1812-14

The first block of work for MS D on the large white paper originally would have started at the beginning of the poem. This material, copied from MS B (after removal of Excursion material) by Mary Wordsworth runs continuously until two thirds of the way down page 14 where the ink clearly changes on the page after line 258.

Second Entry of Copy Text: 1831-32

As Beth Darlington points out, the new ink from page 14, line 259 onwards, appears to run continuously over the rest of the 1810 paper and onto the added 1828 paper. This suggests that, "Mary abandoned her 1812-14 copying at l.258 and resumed it at l.259 nearly twenty years later" (410). In view of the arbitrary mid-page changes of hand discussed in MS B this seems possible.

Removal of Opening and Pasted-in Additions: 1831-32

Either before or after entering the continuous text, Mary made physical changes to the overall manuscript in order to incorporate late revisions by William. She cut out the first three leaves of the main MS D copy and sewed in the first conjugate sheet (p.1 and 2). At some point, either immediately or later, this new opening was further revised and stub 2a and leaf 3 were added.

The exact order of the entry of base material at the back and the new material at the front (around the initial block of MS D work) cannot be determined. Mary could have entered the rest of MS D first, then the new beginning 1-2, then that on p. 3. Alternatively she could have entered the new beginning 1-2 then the rest of MS D, then the revised beginning on 3, or she could have entered 1-2, revised it on p.3 and then gone on to copy MS D at the back of the notebook.

At some time after entering the base text, possibly at the same time as making the changes to p.3, Mary also added pasted-over revisions to sections of text on p. 19 and 25 (added page). Finally, at a time possibly later than 1832 she also added pasted-in sheets on 21v and 26r.