Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette , 7 May 1913, Page 7
„ ———<—^•^^^■•■s^-.. liow punctilious' some been with respect even to detail of their manuscripts^ 'Dickens "was a jjeifeet terror, and would n.afce enough fuss over an errof of punctuation to sjbrive a poor "comp." out ot his wits.
Tennyson, too, *as most particular that, nor a comma should Jje omitted oV misplaced, whilst' his revisions were never finished. Perhaps the greatest terror of the compositor was Thomas Carlyle, for he would /cover . every square inch of a vacant space both- in the margin and between the lines with minute additions and emendations—■ and not once, but a dozen times.
Victor Hugo was equally difficult to please and satisfy. Of one of his famous works he made the printers supply no fewer than eleven successive revised proofs, and the last half-dozen were furnished in order to make quite sure that the commas were in their right places. ■
But perhaps Thomas Campbell, the famous poet who wrote such stirring masterpieces as "Hohenlinden," "The Battle of the Baltic," and "Ye Mariners of England," takes the cake in this respect. He was fastidious to a degree, which fact probably accounts for the small quantity and perfect quality of his literary output. It is said that he once walked six miles to his printers, and six miles back, in order to have a comma changed into a semicolon!
But an equally careful and fastidioiis literary workman owed a great improvement in the opening line of his most famous poem to a printer. This was Thomas Gray, whose "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is probably the best-known poem in the English language. ' Its first line reads:— The curfew tolls the knell of parting day; but when Gray sent it to the press his manuscript read:— The curfew tolls,; the knell of parting day. The thoughtful compositor did not understand the word "tolls" as an intransitive verb, so dropped the comma, thinking the poet had put it in by mistake, and when Gray read the line his sensitive ear at once caught its new, sustained melody, and he adopted the compositor's correction.
Probably the most fastidious living writer is the poet William Watson. His work bears the impress of extreme rate, and, like' Tennyson, his revision seems never to be done.