The Prospectus in Different Manuscripts

The Prospectus lines exist in two manuscript forms prior to their entry into MS B, the fair copy manuscript of Home at Grasmere (1806). In both cases the text seems to exist as a discrete piece of writing, although both manuscripts are relatively clean copied text and no first draft has survived.

DC MS 45

This manuscript consists of a fairly clean fair copy on the recto pages 2r, 3r, 4r and 5r of DC MS 45, with some corrections and one addition on 3v. This was an account book used for the orphaned children of George and Sarah Green. It probably dates from 1802 since it is the same as other notebooks bought at this time and used for The Prelude and The Excursion (MSS W, X, Y; DC MSS 38, 47, 48; DC MS 70). It contains 77 lines of the Prospectus, corresponding closely to MS B with the omission of lines 1002-1014 and it breaks down into draft from 67-73. It precedes the version in DC MS 24 and MS B. There is no other verse entered in the notebook.

DC MS 24

This manuscript is a loose single page containing 49 lines of text (lines 1019-1048 of MS B) on the recto with a torn left-hand corner. It is a fair copy text with some corrections, including later revision of the draft on DC MS 45. On the other side of the sheet are copied lines from Il Penseroso used as the epigraph for Wordsworth's version of Chaucer's Prioress' Tale and a quotation about Chaucer from Drayton's Elegy to Henry Reynolds (Reed CMY , 664). It comes after DC MS 45 and provides the copy text for MS B.

MS B: DC MS 59

The Prospectus lines are entered at the end of the Home at Grasmere material as part of the continuous text. In this version they consist of 89 lines. MS B must provide the copy text for the published edition in The Excursion although there are quite a number of changes included there with an extension of length to 107 lines.

MS D: DC MS 76.

The copied text of MS D, in Mary Wordsworth's hand, finishes on 30v with the first two lines of the Prospectus and a note indicating that it should follow the text of The Excursion from this point:

On Man, on Nature, & on Human Life


Thinking in Solitude (see Preface to the Excursion

to the conclusion)

(MS D, 30v)