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as he has hurt you with. Nor, when I knew it, was it a principle with me to drop his acquaintance; although with you it would have been an imperious feeling. I wish you knew all that I think about Genius and the Heart." In a letter to Reynolds, from the same place, he says, "why don't you, as I do, look unconcerned at what may be called more particularly heart-vexations? They never surprise me. Lord! a man should have the fine point of his soul taken off, to become fit for this world.” Endymion" was finished at Burford Bridge, on the 28th of November, 1817, and Keats passed the following winter at Hampstead gaily enough among his friends; his society it appears being always much sought after from the delightful combination of earnestness and pleasantry which distinguished his intercourse with all men. His health does not seem at this time to have prevented him from indulging somewhat in that dissipation which his biographer intimates is "the natural outlet for the young energies of ardent temperaments." His bodily vigour too must at this time have been considerable, as he signalised himself, by giving a drubbing to a butcher, whom he saw beating a little boy, to the enthusiastic admiration of a crowd of bystanders.
Keats does not appear to have felt himself at home in fashionable society, and railed at it accordingly. Speaking of a dinner he had with Horace Smith, his two brothers, and Hill, and Kingston, he says,
They only served to convince me how superior humour is to riot, in respect to enjoyment. These men say things which make one start, without making one feel; they are all alike; their manners are alike; they all know fashionables; they have all a mannerism in their very eating and drinking, in their mere handling a decanter. They talked of Kean and his low company. "Would I were with that company instead of yours," said I to myself! I know such-like acquaintance will never do for me, and yet I am going to Reynolds, on Wednesday.
It was probably from the same feeling that he intimates in the same letter that he has just had two very pleasant evenings with Dilke. Writing to his brother a month afterwards, he says, in allusion to Hunt's critical objections to the first book of "Endymion," "The fact is, he and Shelley are hurt, and perhaps justly, at my not having showed them the affair officiously; and from several hints I have had, they appear much disposed to dissect and anatomise any trip or slip I may have made. But who's afraid? Ay! Tom! demme if I am." A month more and he writes also to his brother-"Honours rush so thickly upon me that I
shall not be able to bear up against them. What think you-am I to
be crowned in the Capitol? Am I to be made a Mandarin? No! I am to be invited, Mrs. Hunt tells me, to a party at Ollier's to keep Shakspeare's birthday. Shakspeare would stare to see me there." Another month, and one of his letters contains a passage upon which his biographer justly remarks never have words more effectively expressed the conviction of the superiority of virtue above beauty, never has a poet more devoutly submitted the glory of imagination to the power of conscience:
I am quite perplexed in a world of doubts and fancies; there is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your only music. I don't mean to include Bailey in this, and so I dismiss him from this, with all the opprobrium he deserves; that is, in so many words, he is one of the noblest men alive at the present day. In a note to Haydon, about a week ago (which I wrote with a full sense of what he
had done, and how he had never manifested any little mean drawback in his value of me), I said, if there were three things superior in the modern world, they were "The Excursion," Haydon's Pictures," and Hazlitt's depth of Taste. So I believe-not thus speaking with any poor vanity-that works of genius are the first things in this world. No! for that sort of probity and disinterestedness which such men as Bailey possess does hold and grasp the tip-top of any spiritual honours that can be paid to any thing in this world. And, moreover, having this feeling at this present come over me in its full force, I sat down to write to you with a grateful heart, in that I had not a brother who did not feel and credit me for a deeper feeling and devotion for his uprightness, than for any marks of genius, however splendid.
The correction and publication of "Endymion" were the chief occupations of the first half of 1818, and naturally furnish the chief matter of his correspondence. There are some fine examples of criticism in some of these letters. For example:
1st. I think poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not by singularity; it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a resemblance.
2nd. Its touches of beauty should never be halfway, thereby making the reader breathless, instead of content. The rise, the progress, the setting of imagery, should, like the sun, come natural to him, shine over him, and set soberly, although in magnificence, leaving him in the luxury of twilight. But it is easier to think what poetry should be, than to write it. And this leads
Another axiom-That if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.
On getting down to Teignmouth in the spring of the same year, he once more allowed his imagination to riot in the frolicsomeness which appeared to be natural to it, in its healthy tone.
Buy a girdle, put a pebble in your mouth, loosen your braces (he writes to Reynolds), for I am going among scenery whence I intend to tip you the Damosel Radcliffe. I'll cavern you, and grotto you, and water-fall you, and wood you, and water you, and immense-rock you, and tremendous-sound you, and solitude you. I'll make a lodgment on your glacis by a row of pines, and storm your covered way with bramble-bushes. I'll have at you with hip-andhaw small-shot, and cannonade you with shingles. I'll be witty upon salt fish, and impede your cavalry with clotted-cream. But ah, Coward! to talk at this rate to a sick man, or, I hope, to one that was sick-for I hope by this you stand on your right foot. If you are not-that's all-I intend to cut all sick people if they do not make up their minds to cut Sickness-a fellow to whom I have a complete aversion, and who, strange to say, is harboured and countenanced in several houses where I visit; he is sitting now, quite impudent, between me and Tom; he insults me at poor Jem Rice's; and you have seated him, before now, between us at the theatre, when I thought he looked with a longing eye at poor Kean. I shall say, once for all, to my friends, generally and severally, cut that fellow, or I cut you.
There is a letter almost as playful and of a still more imaginative character, written to Rice from the same place. The vacillation that is almost inseparable from poetic genius, is made peculiarly and yet pleasingly manifest at this same epoch. In a letter to Reynolds, dated April 9, 1818, he says, "I have many reasons for going wonder-ways, to make my winter chair free from spleen; to enlarge my vision; to escape disquisitions on poetry, and Kingston-criticism; to promote digestion and economise shoe-leather. I'll have leather mittens and belt; and if Brown holds his mind, over the hills we go.' If my books will help me to it, Sept.-VOL. LXXXIV. No. CCCXXXIII.
then will I take all Europe in turn, and see the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them."
On the 27th of the same month, he wrote to Taylor in a more humble and philosophic humour.
I was proposing to travel over the North this summer. There is but one thing to prevent me. I know nothing-I have read nothing-and I mean to follow Solomon's directions, "Get learning-get understanding." I find earlier days are gone by- I find that I can have no enjoyment in the world but continual drinking of knowledge. I find there is no worthy pursuit but the idea of doing some good to the world. Some do it with their society; some with their wit; some with their benevolence; some with a sort of power of conferring pleasure and good humour on all they meet-and in a thousand ways, all dutiful to the command of great Nature. There is but one way for me. The road lies through application, study, and thought. I will pursue it ; and, for that end, purpose retiring for some years. I have been hovering for some time between an exquisite sense of the luxurious, and a love for philosophy were I calculated for the former I should be glad. But as I am not, I shall turn all my soul to the latter.
John Keats's philosophy is not, however, always either very lucid or logical; witness what he says upon his brother George's marriage.
I had known my sister-in-law some time before she was my sister, and was very fond of her. I like her better and better. She is the most disinterested woman I ever knew-that is to say, she goes beyond degrees in it. To see an entirely disinterested girl quite happy is the most pleasant and extraordinary thing in the world. It depends upon a thousand circumstances. On my word it is extraordinary. Women must want imagination, and they may thank God for it; and so may we, that a delicate being can feel happy without any sense of crime. It puzzles me, and I have no sort of logic to comfort me ; I shall think it over.
An agreeable diversion to his somewhat monotonous life was afforded this summer, by a walking-tour through the Lakes and Highlands with his friend Mr. Brown, who has recorded the rapture of Keats, when he became sensible for the first time of the full effect of mountain scenery. At a turn of the road above Bowness, where the Lake of Windermere first bursts on the view, he stopped as if stupified with beauty. In writing to his brother Tom, he says, that in the ascent of Skiddaw, he felt as if he were going to a tournament. Keats, however, loved mankind better than any of the other works of nature.
After Skiddaw, we walked to Treby, the oldest market town in Cumberland, where we were greatly amused by a country dancing-school, holden at the "Tun." It was indeed, "no new cotillion fresh from France." No, they kickit and jumpit with mettle extraordinary, and whiskit, and friskit, and toed it, and go'd it, and twirl'd it, and whirl'd it, and stamped it, and sweated it, tattooing the floor like mad. The difference between our country dances and these Scottish figures is about the same as leisurely stirring a cup of tea and beating up a batter-pudding. I was extremely glad to think that, if I had pleasures they knew nothing of, they had also some into which I could not possibly enter. I hope I shall not return without having got the Highland fling. There was as fine a row of boys and girls as you ever saw; some beautiful faces, and one exquisite mouth. I never felt so near the glory of patriotism, the glory of making, by any means, a country happier. This is what I like better than scenery. I fear our continued moving from place to place will prevent our becoming learned in village affairs; we are mere creatures of rivers, lakes, and mountains.
Of Burns's tomb, Keats says, it was not much to his taste, though on a scale large enough to show they wanted to honour him. In a sonnet written on the spot, he also intimates that the town, the church-yard,
and the setting-sun-the very clouds, trees, and rounded hills-all seemed beautiful, but cold and strange, and then he beautifully adds,
Burns with honour due
I oft have honour'd thee. Great shadow, hide
He, however, wrote a more genial sonnet in the whisky-shop into which the cottage where Burns was born was converted. He also commemorates in simple prose, that "we have now begun upon whisky, called here 'whuskey'—very smart stuff it is. Mixed like our liquors, with sugar and water, 'tis called toddy; very pretty drink, and much praised by Burns."
The pedestrians next passed through the country of Meg Merrilies, and crossed thence to Ireland. Most curious are Keats's reflections upon the chamber-maid in the latter country, who is fair, kind, and ready to laugh, because she is out of the horrible dominion of the Scotch Kirk. He goes on to describe how the kirk men have done good by making cottagers thrifty, and how they have done harm by banishing puns, love, and laughter, and he concludes the argument by saying,
I have not sufficient reasoning faculty to settle the doctrine of thrift, as it is consistent with the dignity of human society-with the happiness of cottagers; all I can do is by plump contrasts: were the fingers made to squeeze a guinea or a white hand?-were the lips made to hold a pen or a kiss? And yet, in cities, man is shut out from his fellows if he is poor; the cottager must be very dirty, and very wretched, if she be not thrifty-the present state of society demands this, and this convinces me that the world is very young, and in a very ignorant state. We live in a barbarous age. I would sooner be a wild deer, than a girl under the dominion of the Kirk; and I would sooner be a wild hog, than be the occasion of a poor creature's penance before those execrable elders.
Ireland was found to be expensive, and the travellers stopped there but a short time. They returned by Ailsa Crag, immortalised in verse, and Burns's cottage, Inverary, Mull, and Iona, and the account given of these travels in his letters, is characteristic and entertaining. It had been his intention to return by Edinburgh, not to conciliate his literary enemies, the authors of the series called the "Cockney School of Poetry,' a thing which would have outraged his sensibility and sense of moral dignity, but an illness brought on by the accidents of travel, obliged him to return at once to London. On returning to the south, Keats found his brother alarmingly ill, and he soon afterwards died, affectionately tended and fraternally mourned. The correspondence of this period contains little reference to the celebrated attacks made by the Quarterly Review and Blackwood's Magazine. In a letter to his brother, dated October 29th, instead of being "snuff'd out by an article,” he says,
There have been two letters in my defence in the Chronicle, and one in the Examiner, copied from the Exeter paper, and written by Reynolds. I don't know who wrote those in the Chronicle. This is a mere matter of the moment: I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death. Even as a matter of present interest, the attempt to crush me in the Quarterly has only brought me more into notice, and it is a common expression among book-men, "I wonder the Quarterly should cut its own throat." It does me not the least harm in society to make me appear little and ridiculous: I know when a man is superior to me, and give him all due respect; he will be the last to laugh at me; and, as for the rest, I feel that I make an impression upon them which ensures me personal respect while I am in sight, whatever they may say when my back is turned.
Keats's account of the sensations awakened by her whom he designates as his Charmian, are as full of originality as almost every thing that falls from his pen, but his remarks upon the American intellect appear, in the dearth of space, better worth extracting.
Dilke, whom you know to be a Godwin-perfectibility man, pleases himself with the idea that America will be the country to take up the human intellect where England leaves off. I differ there with him greatly a country like the United States, whose greatest men are Franklins and Washingtons, will never do that: they are great men doubtless; but how are they to be compared to those, our countrymen, Milton and the two Sidneys? The one is a philosophical Quaker, full of mean and thrifty maxims; the other sold the very charger who had taken him through all his battles. Those Americans are great, but they are not sublime men; the humanity of the United States can never reach the sublime. Birkbeck's mind is too much in the American style; you must endeavour to enforce a little spirit of another sort into the settlement, -always with great caution; for thereby you may do your descendants more good than you may imagine. If I had a prayer to make for any great good, next to Tom's recovery, it should be that one of your children should be the first American poet.
When Keats was left alone by his brother's death, he went to reside with his friend Mr. Brown, and he then began his "Hyperion," a poem written as clearly under Miltonic influence as Endymion" is imbued with the spirit of Spenser, Fletcher, and Ben Jonson, and of which Shelley said, that the scenery and drawing of Satan dethroned by the fallen Titans, surpassed those of Satan and his rebellious angels in "Paradise Lost."
The greater part of the summer of 1819 was passed at Shanklin, in the Isle of Wight, in company with Mr. Brown, and where they jointly produced a tragedy called "Otho the Great," and Keats wrote his "Lamia," a story taken from that treasure house of legendary philosophy, Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," versified after Dryden. In August Keats removed to Winchester, whose noble cathedral and quiet close was much favoured by the poet. He also alludes in a letter to Mr. Bailey to the library as a great convenience to him. The gloomy tone of his letters and the pecuniary difficulties under which he laboured soon brought back Mr. Brown to him and the friends returned together to London, but a still stronger impulse drew him back again to Hampstead. She, whose name was ever on his lips, but never on his tongue," exercised too mighty a control over his being for him to remain at a distance, which, says Mr. Milnes, was neither absence nor presence, and he soon returned to where he could rest his eyes on her habitation, and enjoy each chance opportunity of her society. It is a curious circumstance in Keats's life, that just at this moment, when real anxieties were pressing most threateningly upon him, when the struggle between his ever-growing passion and the miserable circumstances of his daily life was beating down his spirit, and when disease was advancing with stealthy progress, to consummate by a cruel and lingering death the hard conditions of his mortal being, that he was actually engaged in his first humorous poem which he intended to have called" Lucy Vaughan Lloyd," from some untraceable association, and which was the last of his literary labours.
One night, on returning home after travelling outside the stage coach, Keats was seized with haemoptysis, and from his previous studies he knew the blood to be arterial and proclaimed his doom. He rallied a little, removed to Gravesend and Kentish town, and back again to Hampstead,