The exact date of composition cannot be determined, but there is no reason to suppose that it was much earlier than the date of publication of Essay 1 in Coleridge’s The Frien., no. 25 (22 February 1810); Wordsworth says, in the Fenwick note to his ‘Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces’ (P., iv. 448), that it was ‘written about [the] time’ ‘when Mr. Coleridge was writing his “Friend”. Essay 1 appeared here so that an issue of The Frien. could be filled at a time when Coleridge ‘was utterly unprovided’; though Wordsworth ‘did not intend it to be published now’, it was ‘ready’ and therefore used as a stop-gap (M., i. 391). By 28 February Wordsworth had completed Essays 11 and in and was willing to use them for a similar purpose (M., i. 391): but as The Frien. failed after no. 27 (15 March 1810), they were not so used. Coleridge wished to insert them in the reprint of The Frien. of 1812, but by accident or design this project failed (C., iii. 392; M., ii. 13). Wordsworth used Essay 1 as the body of a note to The Excursio., v. 978, and printed it in the first (1814) edition of that poem, revising it in subsequent editions. The second and third Essays appeared first, in an inaccurate text, in A. B. Grosart’s edition of Wordsworth’s Prose Work. (1876); Christopher Wordsworth had made quotations from them, also inaccurate, in his Memoirs of William Wordswort. (1851). My text of Essay 1, with one necessary correction, is Wordsworth’s final version, in Poetical Work. (1849–50), vi. 287–300. This text lacks an introductory paragraph and a second which makes clearer Wordsworth’s disagreement with the account of Pope’s epitaphs in Johnson’s Life of Pope. these paragraphs appear only in The Frien., but as The Frien. in turn lacks significant additions made during revision, I have preferred to print Wordsworth’s final version. My text of Essays 11 and 111 is based on Pros., ii. 63–99, which is from the surviving manuscript, in the hand of Mary Wordsworth, preserved in the Wordsworth Library, Grasmere. The appended passage (pp. 165–6) is a proposed revision 121of Essay 11, to be inserted after the quotation of Lord Lyttleton’s epitaph (p. 145) as a replacement for all or some of the following paragraph (The prose part …’, pp. 145–6). How much of this paragraph was to be excised cannot be determined from the manuscript, and the substitution cannot, therefore, be effectively made: see Pros., ii. 75, 97.