[ Humphry Davy; Romantic Poets ] Holograph of two poems written by Humphry Davy, "The Tempest" (signed "D [1796?]") and "[On] Mount's Bay" (signed "HD")

Humphry Davy, "first rank" chemist and poet
Publication details: 
[1796] and [1798 watermark respectively]
SKU: 21169

A. "The Tempest", 2pp. cr.8vo, apparently formerly in an album, with numbers in a different hand ("(136)" and "60" ("On Mounts Bay" below numbered "(137) and "59") and "5" adjacent to ascription to "Sir H. Davy"), trimmed with minor loss of text. A footnote in the volume of the Collected Works in which the poem is printed, reveals that the MS poem was found among the papers of a Dr Cardew who had added a note concerning Davy's authorship (as described above). It was published in the Annual Anthology of 1799 so that the minor differences from the holograph may well be authorial (use of ampersand and capitals etc, "bright beauty" to "her beauty", "sweet-smiling" to "bright", "murky" to "dismal". Davy has put a line through three lines of verse, and re-worked them, Another line is smudged, and appears re-worked later. B. "[On] Mounts Bay", 4pp., folio, grubby but legible, headed with note in another hand (presumably Cardew's as above)" (Sir H. Davy) | Extract from an unfinished poem on" [Mounts Bay in Davy's hand], published in Paris's "Life" (see note below). The text is worked over by the author, his corrections and additions often reflected in the printed text, from words, capitals, to lines elided. Notes: A. " [I]n his 1817 poetry collection Sibylline Leaves, S. T. Coleridge wrote that Davy was a man who would have established himself in the first rank of England’s living Poets, if the Genius of our country had not decreed that he should rather be the first in the first rank of its Philosophers and scientific Benefactors". B.[The Tempest] Text in The Collected Works of Humphry Davy, vol. 1, pp.31-2, etc; C. "On Mount Bay" in Paris's "The LIfe of Sir Humphry Davy", vol.1 (1831), pp.36-39. D. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge moved to the Lake District in 1800, and asked Davy to deal with the Bristol publishers of the Lyrical Ballads, Biggs & Cottle. Coleridge asked Davy to proofread the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads, the first to contain Wordsworth's Preface in a letter dated 16 July 1800: "Will you be so kind as just to look over the sheets of the lyrical Ballads". Wordsworth subsequently wrote to Davy on 29 July 1800, sending him the first manuscript sheet of poems and asking him specifically to correct: "any thing you find amiss in the punctuation a business at which I am ashamed to say I am no adept". Wordsworth was ill in the autumn of 1800 and slow in sending poems for the second edition; the volume appeared on 26 January 1801 even though it was dated 1800. While it is impossible to know whether Davy was at fault, this edition of the Lyrical Ballads contained many errors, including the poem "Michael" being left incomplete. In a personal notebook marked on the front cover "Clifton 1800 From August to Novr", Davy wrote his own Lyrical Ballad: "As I was walking up the street". Wordsworth features in Davy's poem as the recorder of ordinary lives in the line: "By poet Wordsworths Rymes".