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Title: Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends
Author: Keats, John, 1795-1821
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends" ***

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FAMILY AND FRIENDS***


Transcriber's note:

      Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

      Superscripted characters are enclosed by curly braces
      (example: Y{r} obed{t} serv{t}).



[Illustration: JOHN KEATS.

Portrait by Joseph Severn in the National Portrait Gallery.]


LETTERS OF JOHN KEATS TO HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Edited by Sidney Colvin

With Frontispiece



Macmillan and Co., Limited
St. Martin's Street, London
1925

Copyright
First Edition (Globe 8vo) June 1891
Reprinted October 1891, 1918, 1921
Reprinted (Crown 8vo) 1925

Printed in Great Britain



CONTENTS


  LETTER                                         DATE        PAGE

  PREFACE                                                      xi

    1. TO CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE       Oct. 13, 1816             1

    2. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Nov. 20, 1816             1

    3.      "           "             Nov. 20, 1816             2

    4. TO CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE       Dec. 17, 1816             2

    5. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Mar. 2, 1817?             3

    6.      "           "             Mar. 17, 1817             4

    7. TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS     April 15, 1817            4

    8. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      April 17, 1817            6

    9. TO LEIGH HUNT                  May 10, 1817             10

   10. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      May 10, 1817             13

   11. TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY   May 16, 1817             17

   12.      "           "             July 8, 1817             19

   13. TO MARIANE AND JANE REYNOLDS   Sept. 5, 1817            19

   14. TO FANNY KEATS                 Sept. 10, 1817           21

   15. TO JANE REYNOLDS               Sept. 14, 1817           24

   16. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Sept. 21, 1817           28

   17. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Sept. 28, 1817           32

   18. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             Oct. 8, 1817             33

   19.      "        "                About Nov. 1, 1817       36

   20.      "        "                Nov. 5, 1817             39

   21. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     Nov. 1817                40

   22. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             Nov. 22, 1817            40

   23. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Nov. 22, 1817            44

   24. TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS     Dec. 22, 1817            46

   25.      "           "             Jan. 5, 1818             48

   26. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Jan. 10, 1818            53

   27. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Jan. 10, 1818            53

   28. TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS     Jan. 13-20, 1818         54

   29. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Jan. 23, 1818            56

   30. TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS     Jan. 23, 1818            57

   31. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             Jan. 23, 1818            61

   32. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Jan. 30, 1818            64

   33. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Jan. 31, 1818            65

   34.      "           "             Feb. 3, 1818             67

   35. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Feb. 5, 1818             71

   36. TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS     Feb. 14, 1818            71

   37. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Feb. 19, 1818            73

   38. TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS     Feb. 21, 1818            75

   39. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Feb. 27, 1818            77

   40. TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY   Mar. 1818?               78

   41. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             Mar. 13, 1818            78

   42. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Mar. 14, 1818            82

   43. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Mar. 21, 1818            85

   44. TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY   Mar. 21, 1818            88

   45. TO JAMES RICE                  Mar. 24, 1818            88

   46. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Mar. 25, 1818            90

   47. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      April 8, 1818            94

   48. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      April 9, 1818            96

   49.      "             "           April 10, 1818           98

   50. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 April 24, 1818           99

   51. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      April 27, 1818          100

   52.      "             "           May 3, 1818             103

   53. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             May 28, 1818            109

   54.       "      "                 June 10, 1818           111

   55. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 June 21, 1818           114

   56. TO THOMAS KEATS                June 29-July 2, 1818    114

   57. TO FANNY KEATS                 July 2-4, 1818          118

   58. TO THOMAS KEATS                July 2-9, 1818          123

   59.     "      "                   July 10-14, 1818        127

   60. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      July 11-13, 1818        132

   61. TO THOMAS KEATS                July 17-21, 1818        136

   62. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             July 18-22, 1818        142

   63. TO THOMAS KEATS                July 23-26, 1818        147

   64.     "      "                   Aug. 3, 1818            153

   65. TO MRS. WYLIE                  Aug. 6, 1818            158

   66. TO FANNY KEATS                 Aug. 18, 1818           161

   67.     "     "                    Aug. 25, 1818           162

   68. TO JANE REYNOLDS               Sept. 1, 1818           162

   69. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     Sept. 21, 1818          163

   70. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      About Sept. 22, 1818    165

   71. TO FANNY KEATS                 Oct. 9, 1818            166

   72. TO JAMES AUGUSTUS HESSEY       Oct. 9, 1818            167

   73. TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS  Oct. 13-31, 1818        168

   74. TO FANNY KEATS                 Oct. 16, 1818           182

   75.     "      "                   Oct. 26, 1818           183

   76. TO RICHARD WOODHOUSE           Oct. 27, 1818           183

   77. TO FANNY KEATS                 Nov. 5, 1818            185

   78. TO JAMES RICE                  Nov. 24, 1818           186

   79. TO FANNY KEATS                 Dec. 1, 1818            187

   80. TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS  {About Dec. 18,
                                      {1818-Jan. 4, 1819      187

   81. TO RICHARD WOODHOUSE           Dec. 18, 1818           210

   82. TO MRS. REYNOLDS               Dec. 22, 1818           211

   83. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Dec. 22, 1818           211

   84. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Dec. 24, 1818           212

   85. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Dec. 27, 1818           213

   86. TO FANNY KEATS                 Dec. 30, 1818           213

   87. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Jan. 4, 1819            214

   88.       "             "          {Between Jan. 7
                                      {and 14, 1819           214

   89.       "             "          Jan. 1819               215

   90. TO FANNY KEATS                 Jan. 1819               215

   91.       "    "                   Feb. 11, 1819           216

   92. TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS  Feb. 14-May 3, 1819     217

   93. TO FANNY KEATS                 Feb. 27, 1819           262

   94.      "     "                   Mar. 13, 1819           263

   95.      "     "                   Mar. 24, 1819           264

   96. TO JOSEPH SEVERN               Mar. 29? 1819           265

   97. TO FANNY KEATS                 April 13, 1819          265

   98. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      April 13, 1819          267

   99. TO FANNY KEATS                 April 17, 1819?         268

  100.     "     "                    May 13, 1819            270

  101.     "     "                    May 26, 1819            270

  102.     "     "                    June 9, 1819            271

  103. TO JAMES ELMES                 June 12, 1819           272

  104. TO FANNY KEATS                 June 14, 1819           272

  105.     "     "                    June 16, 1819           273

  106. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      June 17, 1819           274

  107. TO FANNY KEATS                 July 6, 1819           275

  108. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      July 11, 1819           276

  109. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     July 31, 1819           277

  110. TO BENJAMIN BAILEY             Aug. 15, 1819           280

  111. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Aug. 23, 1819           281

  112. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Aug. 25, 1819           282

  113. TO FANNY KEATS                 Aug. 28, 1819           283

  114. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Sept. 1, 1819           286

  115.      "    "                    Sept. 5, 1819           286

  116. TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS  Sept. 17-27, 1819       290

  117. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Sept. 22, 1819          319

  118. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     Sept. 22, 1819          322

  119. TO CHARLES BROWN               Sept. 23, 1819          325

  120.       "      "                 Sept. 23, 1819          327

  121. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     Oct. 1, 1819           328

  122. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Oct. 3, 1819           328

  123. TO FANNY KEATS                 Oct. 16, 1819           331

  124. TO JOSEPH SEVERN               Oct. 27? 1819           332

  125. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Nov. 17, 1819           333

  126. TO FANNY KEATS                 Nov. 17, 1819           334

  127. TO JOSEPH SEVERN               Dec. 6? 1819            334

  128. TO JAMES RICE                  Dec. 1819               335

  129. TO FANNY KEATS                 Dec. 20, 1819           335

  130.      "     "                   Dec. 22, 1819           337

  131. TO GEORGIANA KEATS             Jan. 13-28, 1820        338

  132. TO FANNY KEATS                 Feb. 6, 1820            347

  133.      "     "                   Feb. 8, 1820            348

  134.      "     "                   Feb. 11, 1820           350

  135.      "     "                   Feb. 14, 1820           350

  136. TO JAMES RICE                  Feb. 16, 1820           350

  137. TO FANNY KEATS                 Feb. 19, 1820           352

  138. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS      Feb. 23 or 25, 1820     352

  139. TO FANNY KEATS                 Feb. 24, 1820           353

  140. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     Mar. 4, 1820            354

  141. TO FANNY KEATS                 Mar. 20, 1820           355

  142.      "     "                   April 1, 1820           356

  143.      "     "                   April 1820              357

  144.      "     "                   April 12, 1820          357

  145.      "     "                   April 21, 1820          357

  146.      "     "                   May 4, 1820             358

  147. TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE     May 1820                359

  148. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 June 11, 1820           360

  149. TO CHARLES BROWN               June 1820               360

  150. TO FANNY KEATS                 June 26, 1820           362

  151.      "     "                   July 5, 1820            363

  152. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      July 1820               363

  153. TO FANNY KEATS                 July 22, 1820           364

  154.      "     "                   Aug. 14, 1820           364

  155. TO PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY        Aug. 1820               365

  156. TO JOHN TAYLOR                 Aug. 14, 1820           367

  157. TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON      Aug. 1820               367

  158. TO CHARLES BROWN               Aug. 1820               368

  159. TO FANNY KEATS                 Aug. 23, 1820           368

  160. TO CHARLES BROWN               Aug. 1820               370

  161.       "      "                 Sept. 28, 1820          370

  162. TO MRS. BRAWNE                 Oct. 24, 1820           372

  163. TO CHARLES BROWN               Nov. 1, 2, 1820         374

  164.       "      "                 Nov. 30, 1820           376



PREFACE


The object of the present volume is to supply the want, which many readers
must have felt, of a separate and convenient edition of the letters of
Keats to his family and friends. He is one of those poets whose genius
makes itself felt in prose-writing almost as decisively as in verse, and
at their best these letters are among the most beautiful in our language.
Portions of them lent an especial charm to a book charming at any
rate--the biography of the poet first published more than forty years ago
by Lord Houghton. But the correspondence as given by Lord Houghton is
neither accurate nor complete. He had in few cases the originals before
him, but made use of copies, some of them quite fragmentary, especially
those supplied him from America; and moreover, working while many of the
poet's friends were still alive, he thought it right to exercise a degree
of editorial freedom for which there would now be neither occasion nor
excuse. While I was engaged in preparing the life of Keats for Mr.
Morley's series some years since, the following materials for an improved
edition of his letters came into my hands:--

(1) The copies made by Richard Woodhouse, a few years after Keats's death,
of the poet's correspondence with his principal friends, viz. the
publishers, Messrs. Taylor and Hessey; the transcriber, Woodhouse himself,
who was a young barrister of literary tastes in the confidence of those
gentlemen; John Hamilton Reynolds, solicitor, poet, humourist, and critic
(born 1796, died 1852); Jane and Mariane Reynolds, sisters of the
last-named, the former afterwards Mrs. Tom Hood; James Rice, the bosom
friend of Reynolds, and like him a young solicitor; Benjamin Bailey,
undergraduate of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, afterwards Archdeacon of Colombo
(1794?-1852), and one or two more.

(2) The imperfect copies of the poet's letters to his brother and
sister-in-law in America, which were made by the sister-in-law's second
husband, Mr. Jeffrey of Louisville, and sent by him to Lord Houghton, who
published them with further omissions and alterations of his own.

(3) Somewhat later, after the publication of my book, the autograph
originals of some of these same letters to America were put into my hands,
including almost the entire text of Nos. lxiii. lxxiii. lxxx. and xcii. in
the present edition. The three last are the long and famous
journal-letters written in the autumn of 1818 and spring of 1819, and
between them occupy nearly a quarter of the whole volume. I have shown
elsewhere[1] how much of their value and interest was sacrificed by Mr.
Jeffrey's omissions.

Besides these manuscript sources, I have drawn largely on Mr. Buxton
Forman's elaborate edition of Keats's works in four volumes (1883),[2] and
to a much less extent on the edition published by the poet's American
grand nephew, Mr. Speed (1884)[3]. Even thus, the correspondence is still
probably not quite complete. In some of the voluminous journal-letters
there may still be gaps, where a sheet of the autograph has gone astray;
and since the following pages have been in print, I have heard of the
existence in private collections of one or two letters which I have not
been able to include. But it is not a case in which absolute completeness
is of much importance.

In matters of the date and sequence of the letters, I have taken pains to
be more exact than previous editors, especially in tracing the daily
progress and different halting-places of the poet on his Scotch tour
(which it takes some knowledge of the ground to do), and in dating the
successive parts, written at intervals sometimes during two or three
months, of the long journal-letters to America. On these particulars Keats
himself is very vague, and his manuscript sometimes runs on without a
break at points where the sense shows that he has dropped and taken it up
again after a pause of days or weeks.[4] Again, I have in all cases given
in full the verse and other quotations contained in the correspondence,
where other editors have only indicated them by their first lines. It is
indeed from these that the letters derive a great part of their character.
Writing to his nearest relatives or most intimate friends, he is always
quoting for their pleasure poems of his own now classical, then warm from
his brain, sent forth uncertain whether to live or die, or snatches of
doggrel nonsense as the humour of the moment takes him. The former,
familiar as we may be with them, gain a new interest and freshness from
the context: the latter are nothing apart from it, and to print them
gravely, as has been done, among the Poetical Works, is to punish the
levities of genius too hard.

As to the text, I have followed the autograph wherever it was possible,
and in other cases the manuscript or printed version which I judged
nearest the autograph; with this exception, that I have not thought it
worth while to preserve mere slips of the pen or tricks of spelling. The
curious in such matters will find them religiously reproduced by Mr.
Buxton Forman wherever he has had the opportunity. The poet's punctuation,
on the other hand, and his use of capitals, which is odd and full of
character, I have preserved. As is well known, his handwriting is as a
rule clear and beautiful, quite free from unsteadiness or sign of fatigue;
and as mere specimens for the collector, few autographs can compare with
these close-written quarto (or sometimes extra folio) sheets, in which the
young poet has poured out to those he loved his whole self
indiscriminately, generosity and fretfulness, ardour and despondency,
boyish petulance side by side with manful good sense, the tattle of
suburban parlours with the speculations of a spirit unsurpassed for native
poetic gift and insight.

The editor of familiar correspondence has at all times a difficult task
before him in the choice what to give and what to withhold. In the case of
Keats the difficulty is greater than in most, from the ferment of opposing
elements and impulses in his nature, and from the extreme unreserve with
which he lays himself open alike in his weakness and his strength. The
other great letter-writers in English are men to some degree on their
guard: men, if not of the world, at least of some worldly training and
experience, and of characters in some degree formed and set. The phase of
unlimited youthful expansiveness, of enthusiastic or fretful outcry, they
have either escaped or left behind, and never give themselves away
completely. Gray is of course an extreme case in point. With a masterly
breadth of mind he unites an even finicking degree of academic
fastidiousness and personal reserve, and his correspondence charms, not
by impulse or openness, but by urbanity and irony, by ripeness of judgment
and knowledge, by his playful kindliness towards the few intimates he has,
and the sober wistfulness with which he looks out, from his Pisgah-height
of universal culture, over regions of imaginative delight into which it
was not given to him nor his contemporaries to enter fully. To take others
differing most widely both as men and poets: Cowper, whether
affectionately "chatting and chirping" to his cousin Lady Hesketh, or
confiding his spiritual terrors to the Rev. John Newton, that unwise
monitor who would not let them sleep,--Cowper is a letter-writer the most
unaffected and sincere, but has nevertheless the degree of reticence
natural to his breeding, as well as a touch of staidness and formality
proper to his age. Byron offers an extreme contrast; unrestrained he is,
but far indeed from being unaffected; the greatest attitudinist in
literature as in life, and the most brilliant of all letter-writers after
his fashion, with his wit, his wilfulness, his flash, his extraordinary
unscrupulousness and resource, his vulgar pride of caste, his everlasting
restlessness and egotism, his occasional true irradiations of the divine
fire. Shelley, again--but he, as has been justly said, must have his
singing robes about him to be quite truly Shelley, and in his
correspondence is little more than any other amiable and enthusiastic
gentleman and scholar on his travels. To the case of Keats, at any rate,
none of these other distinguished letter-writers affords any close
parallel. That admirable genius was from the social point of view an
unformed lad in the flush and rawness of youth. His passion for beauty,
his instinctive insight into the vital sources of imaginative delight in
nature, in romance, and in antiquity, went along with perceptions
painfully acute in matters of daily life, and nerves high-strung in the
extreme. He was moreover almost incapable of artifice or disguise. Writing
to his brothers and sister or to friends as dear, he is secret with them
on one thing only, and that is his unlucky love-passion after he became a
prey to it: for the rest he is open as the day, and keeps back nothing of
what crosses his mind, nothing that vexes or jars on him or tries his
patience. His character, as thus laid bare, contains elements of rare
nobility and attraction--modesty, humour, sweetness, courage, impulsive
disinterestedness, strong and tender family affection, the gift of
righteous indignation, the gift of sober and strict self-knowledge. But it
is only a character in the making. A strain of hereditary disease, lurking
in his constitution from the first, was developed by over-exertion and
aggravated by mischance, so that he never lived to be himself; and from
about his twenty-fourth birthday his utterances are those of one
struggling in vain against a hopeless distemper both of body and mind.

If a selection could be made from those parts only of Keats's
correspondence which show him at his best, we should have an anthology
full of intuitions of beauty, even of wisdom, and breathing the very
spirit of generous youth; one unrivalled for zest, whim, fancy, and
amiability, and written in an English which by its peculiar alert and
varied movement sometimes recalls, perhaps more closely than that of any
other writer (for the young Cockney has Shakspeare in his blood), the
prose passages of _Hamlet_ and _Much Ado about Nothing_. Had the
correspondence never been printed before, were it there to be dealt with
for the first time, this method of selection would no doubt be the
tempting one to apply to it. But such a treatment is now hardly possible,
and in any case would hardly be quite fair; since the object, or at all
events the effect, of publishing a man's correspondence is not merely to
give literary pleasure--it is to make the man himself known; and the
revelation, though it need not be wholly without reserve, is bound to be
just and proportionate as far as it goes. Even as an artist, in the work
which he himself published to the world, Keats was not one of those of
whom it could be said, "his worst he kept, his best he gave." Rather he
gave promiscuously, in the just confidence that among the failures and
half-successes of his inexperienced youth would be found enough of the
best to establish his place among the poets after his death. Considering
all things, the nature of the man, the difficulty of separating the
exquisite from the common, the healthful from the diseased, in his mind
and work, considering also the use that has already been made of the
materials, I have decided in this edition to give the correspondence
almost unpruned; omitting a few passages of mere crudity, hardly more than
two pages in all, but not attempting to suppress those which betray the
weak places in the writer's nature, his flaws of taste and training, his
movements of waywardness, irritability, and morbid suspicion. Only the
biographer without tact, the critic without balance, will insist on these.
A truer as well as more charitable judgment will recognise that what was
best in Keats was also what was most real, and will be fortified by
remembering that to those who knew him his faults were almost unapparent,
and that no man was ever held by his friends in more devoted or more
unanimous affection while he lived and afterwards.

There is one thing, however, which I have not chosen to do, and that is to
include in this collection the poet's love-letters to Fanny Brawne. As it
is, the intimate nature of the correspondence must sometimes give the
reader a sense of eavesdropping, of being admitted into petty private
matters with which he has no concern. If this is to some extent
inevitable, it is by no means inevitable that the public should be farther
asked to look over the shoulder of the sick and presently dying youth
while he declares the impatience and torment of his passion to the object,
careless and unresponsive as she seems to have been, who inspired it.
These letters too have been printed. As a matter of feeling I cannot put
myself in the place of the reader who desires to possess them; while as a
matter of literature they are in a different key from the rest,--not
lacking passages of beauty, but constrained and painful in the main, and
quite without the genial ease and play of mind which make the letters to
his family and friends so attractive. Therefore in this, which I hope may
become the standard edition of his correspondence, they shall find no
place.

As to the persons, other than those already mentioned, to whom the letters
here given are addressed:--Shelley of course needs no words; nor should
any be needed for the painter Haydon (1786-1846), or the poet and critic
Leigh Hunt (1784-1859). Theirs were the chief inspiring influences which
determined the young medical student, about his twentieth year, at the
time when this correspondence opens, to give up his intended profession
for poetry. Both were men of remarkable gifts and strong intellectual
enthusiasm, hampered in either case by foibles of character which their
young friend and follower, who has left so far more illustrious a name,
was only too quick to detect. Charles Cowden Clarke (1787-1877), the son
of Keats's schoolmaster at Enfield, had exercised a still earlier
influence on the lad's opening mind, and was himself afterwards long and
justly distinguished as a Shakspearean student and lecturer and essayist
on English literature. Charles Wentworth Dilke (1789-1864), having begun
life in the Civil Service, early abandoned that calling for letters, and
lived to be one of the most influential of English critics and
journalists; he is chiefly known from his connection with the _Athenæum_,
and through the memoir published by his grandson. Charles Brown,
afterwards styling himself Charles Armitage Brown (1786-1842), who became
known to Keats through Dilke in the summer of 1817, and was his most
intimate companion during the two years June 1818 to June 1820, had begun
life as a merchant in St. Petersburg, and failing, came home, and took, he
also, to literature, chiefly as a contributor to the various periodicals
edited by Leigh Hunt. He lived mostly in Italy from 1822 to 1834, then
for six years at Plymouth, and in 1841 emigrated to New Zealand, where he
died the following year. Joseph Severn (1793-1879) was the son of a
musician, himself beginning to practise as a painter when Keats knew him.
His devoted tendance of the poet during the last sad months in Italy was
the determining event of Severn's career, earning him the permanent regard
and gratitude of all lovers of genius. He established himself for good in
Rome, where he continued to practise his art, and was for many years
English consul, and one of the most familiar figures in the society of the
city.

Lastly, of the poet's own relations, George Keats (1799-1842) after his
brother's death continued to live at Louisville in America, where he made
and lost a fortune in business before he died. His widow (born Georgiana
Augusta Wylie), so often and affectionately addressed in these letters, by
and by took a second husband, a Mr. Jeffrey, already mentioned as the
correspondent of Lord Houghton. Frances Mary Keats (1803-1889), always
called Fanny in the delightful series of letters which her brother
addressed to her as a young girl,[5] in course of time married a Spanish
gentleman, Señor Llanos, and lived in Madrid to a great old age. Several
other members of the poet's circle enjoyed unusual length of days--Mr.
William Dilke, for instance, dying a few years ago at ninety, and Mr.
Gleig, long Chaplain-General of the Forces, at ninety-two. But with the
death of his sister a year and a half ago, passed away probably the last
survivor of those who could bear in memory the voice and features of
Adonais.

S. C.

_May 1891._



LETTERS OF JOHN KEATS TO HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS



I.--TO CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE.


[London, October 31, 1816.]

MY DAINTIE DAVIE--I will be as punctual as the Bee to the Clover. Very
glad am I at the thoughts of seeing so soon this glorious Haydon and all
his creation. I pray thee let me know when you go to Ollier's and where he
resides--this I forgot to ask you--and tell me also when you will help me
waste a sullen day--God 'ield you[6]--

J. K.



II.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


[London,] November 20, 1816.

My dear Sir--Last evening wrought me up, and I cannot forbear sending you
the following--

Yours unfeignedly,

JOHN KEATS.

Removed to 76 Cheapside.

  Great spirits now on earth are sojourning;
    He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,
    Who on Helvellyn's summit, wide awake,
  Catches his freshness from Archangel's wing:
  He of the rose, the violet, the spring,
    The social smile, the chain for Freedom's sake:
    And lo!--whose stedfastness would never take
  A meaner sound than Raphael's whispering.
  And other spirits there are standing apart
    Upon the forehead of the age to come;
  These, these will give the world another heart,
    And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum
  Of mighty workings in the human mart?
    Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.[7]



III.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


[London,] Thursday afternoon, November 20, 1816.

My dear Sir--Your letter has filled me with a proud pleasure, and shall be
kept by me as a stimulus to exertion--I begin to fix my eye upon one
horizon. My feelings entirely fall in with yours in regard to the
Ellipsis, and I glory in it. The Idea of your sending it to Wordsworth put
me out of breath--you know with what Reverence I would send my Well-wishes
to him.

Yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



IV.--TO CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE.


[London,] Tuesday [December 17, 1816].

My dear Charles--You may now look at Minerva's Ægis with impunity, seeing
that my awful Visage[8] did not turn you into a John Doree. You have
accordingly a legitimate title to a Copy--I will use my interest to
procure it for you. I'll tell you what--I met Reynolds at Haydon's a few
mornings since--he promised to be with me this Evening and Yesterday I had
the same promise from Severn and I must put you in mind that on last All
hallowmas' day you gave me your word that you would spend this Evening
with me--so no putting off. I have done little to Endymion lately[9]--I
hope to finish it in one more attack. I believe you I went to
Richards's--it was so whoreson a Night that I stopped there all the next
day. His Remembrances to you. (Ext. from the common place Book of my
Mind--Mem.--Wednesday--Hampstead--call in Warner Street--a sketch of Mr.
Hunt.)--I will ever consider you my sincere and affectionate friend--you
will not doubt that I am yours.

God bless you--

JOHN KEATS.



V.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[London,] Sunday Evening [March 2, 1817?].[10]

My dear Reynolds--Your kindness affects me so sensibly that I can merely
put down a few mono-sentences. Your Criticism only makes me extremely
anxious that I should not deceive you.

It's the finest thing by God as Hazlitt would say. However I hope I may
not deceive you. There are some acquaintances of mine who will scratch
their Beards and although I have, I hope, some Charity, I wish their Nails
may be long. I will be ready at the time you mention in all Happiness.

There is a report that a young Lady of 16 has written the new Tragedy, God
bless her--I will know her by Hook or by Crook in less than a week. My
Brothers' and my Remembrances to your kind Sisters.

Yours most sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



VI.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[London, March 17, 1817.]

My dear Reynolds--My Brothers are anxious that I should go by myself into
the country--they have always been extremely fond of me, and now that
Haydon has pointed out how necessary it is that I should be alone to
improve myself, they give up the temporary pleasure of living with me
continually for a great good which I hope will follow. So I shall soon be
out of Town. You must soon bring all your present troubles to a close, and
so must I, but we must, like the Fox, prepare for a fresh swarm of flies.
Banish money--Banish sofas--Banish Wine--Banish Music; but right Jack
Health, honest Jack Health, true Jack Health--Banish health and banish all
the world. I must ... if I come this evening, I shall horribly commit
myself elsewhere. So I will send my excuses to them and Mrs. Dilke by my
brothers.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



VII.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


[Southampton,] Tuesday Morn [April 15, 1817].

My dear Brothers--I am safe at Southampton--after having ridden three
stages outside and the rest in for it began to be very cold. I did not
know the Names of any of the Towns I passed through--all I can tell you is
that sometimes I saw dusty Hedges--sometimes Ponds--then nothing--then a
little Wood with trees look you like Launce's Sister "as white as a Lily
and as small as a Wand"--then came houses which died away into a few
straggling Barns--then came hedge trees aforesaid again. As the Lamplight
crept along the following things were discovered--"long heath broom
furze"--Hurdles here and there half a Mile--Park palings when the Windows
of a House were always discovered by reflection--One Nymph of
Fountain--_N.B. Stone_--lopped Trees--Cow ruminating--ditto Donkey--Man
and Woman going gingerly along--William seeing his Sisters over the
Heath--John waiting with a Lanthorn for his Mistress--Barber's
Pole--Doctor's Shop--However after having had my fill of these I popped my
Head out just as it began to Dawn--_N.B. this Tuesday Morn saw the Sun
rise_--of which I shall say nothing at present. I felt rather lonely this
Morning at Breakfast so I went and unbox'd a Shakspeare--"There's my
Comfort."[11] I went immediately after Breakfast to Southampton Water
where I enquired for the Boat to the Isle of Wight as I intend seeing that
place before I settle--it will go at 3, so shall I after having taken a
Chop. I know nothing of this place but that it is long--tolerably
broad--has bye streets--two or three Churches--a very respectable old Gate
with two Lions to guard it. The Men and Women do not materially differ
from those I have been in the Habit of seeing. I forgot to say that from
dawn till half-past six I went through a most delightful Country--some
open Down but for the most part thickly wooded. What surprised me most was
an immense quantity of blooming Furze on each side the road cutting a most
rural dash. The Southampton water when I saw it just now was no better
than a low Water Water which did no more than answer my expectations--it
will have mended its Manners by 3. From the Wharf are seen the shores on
each side stretching to the Isle of Wight. You, Haydon, Reynolds, etc.
have been pushing each other out of my Brain by turns. I have conned over
every Head in Haydon's Picture--you must warn them not to be afraid should
my Ghost visit them on Wednesday--tell Haydon to Kiss his Hand at Betty
over the Way for me yea and to spy at her for me. I hope one of you will
be competent to take part in a Trio while I am away--you need only
aggravate your voices a little and mind not to speak Cues and all--when
you have said Rum-ti-ti--you must not be rum any more or else another will
take up the ti-ti alone and then he might be taken God shield us for
little better than a Titmouse. By the by talking of Titmouse Remember me
particularly to all my Friends--give my Love to the Miss Reynoldses and to
Fanny who I hope you will soon see. Write to me soon about them all--and
you George particularly how you get on with Wilkinson's plan. What could I
have done without my Plaid? I don't feel inclined to write any more at
present for I feel rather muzzy--you must be content with this fac simile
of the rough plan of Aunt Dinah's Counterpane.

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN KEATS.

Reynolds shall hear from me soon.



VIII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Carisbrooke, April 17th [1817].

My dear Reynolds--Ever since I wrote to my Brothers from Southampton I
have been in a taking--and at this moment I am about to become
settled--for I have unpacked my books, put them into a snug corner, pinned
up Haydon, Mary Queen of Scots, and Milton with his daughters in a row. In
the passage I found a head of Shakspeare which I had not before seen. It
is most likely the same that George spoke so well of, for I like it
extremely. Well--this head I have hung over my Books, just above the three
in a row, having first discarded a French Ambassador--now this alone is a
good morning's work. Yesterday I went to Shanklin, which occasioned a
great debate in my mind whether I should live there or at Carisbrooke.
Shanklin is a most beautiful place--Sloping wood and meadow ground reach
round the Chine, which is a cleft between the Cliffs of the depth of
nearly 300 feet at least. This cleft is filled with trees and bushes in
the narrow part, and as it widens becomes bare, if it were not for
primroses on one side, which spread to the very verge of the Sea, and some
fishermen's huts on the other, perched midway in the Balustrades of
beautiful green Hedges along their steps down to the sands. But the sea,
Jack, the sea--the little waterfall--then the white cliff--then St.
Catherine's Hill--"the sheep in the meadows, the cows in the corn." Then,
why are you at Carisbrooke? say you. Because, in the first place, I should
be at twice the Expense, and three times the inconvenience--next that from
here I can see your continent--from a little hill close by the whole north
Angle of the Isle of Wight, with the water between us. In the 3rd place, I
see Carisbrooke Castle from my window, and have found several delightful
wood-alleys, and copses, and quick freshes.[12] As for primroses--the
Island ought to be called Primrose Island--that is, if the nation of
Cowslips agree thereto, of which there are divers Clans just beginning to
lift up their heads. Another reason of my fixing is, that I am more in
reach of the places around me. I intend to walk over the Island
east--West--North--South. I have not seen many specimens of Ruins--I don't
think however I shall ever see one to surpass Carisbrooke Castle. The
trench is overgrown with the smoothest turf, and the Walls with ivy. The
Keep within side is one Bower of ivy--a colony of Jackdaws have been there
for many years. I dare say I have seen many a descendant of some old cawer
who peeped through the Bars at Charles the first, when he was there in
Confinement. On the road from Cowes to Newport I saw some extensive
Barracks, which disgusted me extremely with the Government for placing
such a Nest of Debauchery in so beautiful a place. I asked a man on the
Coach about this--and he said that the people had been spoiled. In the
room where I slept at Newport, I found this on the Window--"O Isle spoilt
by the mil_a_tary!..."

The wind is in a sulky fit, and I feel that it would be no bad thing to be
the favourite of some Fairy, who would give one the power of seeing how
our Friends got on at a Distance. I should like, of all Loves, a sketch of
you and Tom and George in ink which Haydon will do if you tell him how I
want them. From want of regular rest I have been rather _narvus_--and the
passage in _Lear_--"Do you not hear the sea?"--has haunted me intensely.

ON THE SEA

  It keeps eternal whisperings around
    Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
    Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
  Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
  Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,
    That scarcely will the very smallest shell
    Be mov'd for days from where it sometime fell,
  When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
  O ye! who have your eye-balls vex'd and tir'd,
    Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
      O ye! whose Ears are dinn'd with uproar rude,
    Or fed too much with cloying melody--
      Sit ye near some old Cavern's Mouth, and brood
  Until ye start as if the sea Nymphs quired--[13]


April 18th.

Will you have the goodness to do this? Borrow a Botanical Dictionary--turn
to the words Laurel and Prunus, show the explanations to your sisters and
Mrs. Dilke and without more ado let them send me the Cups Basket and Books
they trifled and put off and off while I was in town. Ask them what they
can say for themselves--ask Mrs. Dilke wherefore she does so distress
me--let me know how Jane has her health--the Weather is unfavourable for
her. Tell George and Tom to write. I'll tell you what--on the 23d was
Shakspeare born. Now if I should receive a letter from you and another
from my Brothers on that day 'twould be a parlous good thing. Whenever you
write say a word or two on some Passage in Shakspeare that may have come
rather new to you, which must be continually happening, notwithstanding
that we read the same Play forty times--for instance, the following from
the Tempest never struck me so forcibly as at present,

                                          "Urchins
  _Shall, for the vast of night that they may work_,
  All exercise on thee--"

How can I help bringing to your mind the line--

  _In the dark backward and abysm of time_--

I find I cannot exist without Poetry--without eternal Poetry--half the day
will not do--the whole of it--I began with a little, but habit has made me
a Leviathan. I had become all in a Tremble from not having written
anything of late--the Sonnet overleaf did me good. I slept the better last
night for it--this Morning, however, I am nearly as bad again. Just now I
opened Spenser, and the first Lines I saw were these--

  "The noble heart that harbours virtuous thought,
  And is with child of glorious great intent,
  Can never rest until it forth have brought
  Th' eternal brood of glory excellent--"

Let me know particularly about Haydon, ask him to write to me about Hunt,
if it be only ten lines--I hope all is well--I shall forthwith begin my
Endymion, which I hope I shall have got some way with by the time you
come, when we will read our verses in a delightful place I have set my
heart upon, near the Castle. Give my Love to your Sisters severally--to
George and Tom. Remember me to Rice, Mr. and Mrs. Dilke and all we know.

Your sincere Friend

JOHN KEATS.

Direct J. Keats, Mrs. Cook's, New Village, Carisbrooke.



IX.--TO LEIGH HUNT.


Margate, May 10, 1817.

My dear Hunt--The little gentleman that sometimes lurks in a gossip's
bowl, ought to have come in the very likeness of a _roasted_ crab, and
choaked me outright for not answering your letter ere this: however, you
must not suppose that I was in town to receive it: no, it followed me to
the Isle of Wight, and I got it just as I was going to pack up for
Margate, for reasons which you anon shall hear. On arriving at this
treeless affair, I wrote to my brother George to request C. C. C.[14] to
do the thing you wot of respecting Rimini; and George tells me he has
undertaken it with great pleasure; so I hope there has been an
understanding between you for many proofs: C. C. C. is well acquainted
with Bensley. Now why did you not send the key of your cupboard, which, I
know, was full of papers? We would have locked them all in a trunk,
together with those you told me to destroy, which indeed I did not do, for
fear of demolishing receipts, there not being a more unpleasant thing in
the world (saving a thousand and one others) than to pay a bill twice.
Mind you, old Wood's a "very varmint," shrouded in covetousness:--and now
I am upon a horrid subject--what a horrid one you were upon last Sunday,
and well you handled it. The last Examiner[15] was a battering-ram against
Christianity, blasphemy, Tertullian, Erasmus, Sir Philip Sidney; and then
the dreadful Petzelians and their expiation by blood; and do Christians
shudder at the same thing in a newspaper which they attribute to their God
in its most aggravated form? What is to be the end of this? I must mention
Hazlitt's Southey.[16] O that he had left out the grey hairs; or that
they had been in any other paper not concluding with such a thunderclap!
That sentence about making a page of the feeling of a whole life, appears
to me like a whale's back in the sea of prose. I ought to have said a word
on Shakspeare's Christianity. There are two which I have not looked over
with you, touching the thing: the one for, the other against: that in
favour is in Measure for Measure, Act II. Scene ii.--

    _Isab._ Alas, alas!
  Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once;
  And He that might the 'vantage best have took,
  Found out the remedy.

That against is in Twelfth Night, Act III. Scene ii.--

     _Maria._ For there is no Christian that means to be saved by
     believing rightly, can ever believe such impossible passages of
     grossness.

Before I come to the Nymphs,[17] I must get through all disagreeables. I
went to the Isle of Wight, thought so much about poetry, so long together,
that I could not get to sleep at night; and, moreover, I know not how it
was, I could not get wholesome food. By this means, in a week or so, I
became not over capable in my upper stories, and set off pell-mell for
Margate, at least a hundred and fifty miles, because, forsooth, I fancied
that I should like my old lodging here, and could contrive to do without
trees. Another thing, I was too much in solitude, and consequently was
obliged to be in continual burning of thought, as an only resource.
However, Tom is with me at present, and we are very comfortable. We
intend, though, to get among some trees. How have you got on among them?
How are the Nymphs? I suppose they have led you a fine dance. Where are
you now?--in Judea, Cappadocia, or the parts of Libya about Cyrene?
Stranger from "Heaven, Hues, and Prototypes," I wager you have given
several new turns to the old saying, "Now the maid was fair and pleasant
to look on," as well as made a little variation in "Once upon a time."
Perhaps, too, you have rather varied, "Here endeth the first lesson." Thus
I hope you have made a horseshoe business of "unsuperfluous life," "faint
bowers," and fibrous roots. I vow that I have been down in the mouth
lately at this work. These last two days, however, I have felt more
confident--I have asked myself so often why I should be a poet more than
other men, seeing how great a thing it is,--how great things are to be
gained by it, what a thing to be in the mouth of Fame,--that at last the
idea has grown so monstrously beyond my seeming power of attainment, that
the other day I nearly consented with myself to drop into a Phaethon. Yet
'tis a disgrace to fail, even in a huge attempt; and at this moment I
drive the thought from me. I began my poem about a fortnight since, and
have done some every day, except travelling ones. Perhaps I may have done
a good deal for the time, but it appears such a pin's point to me, that I
will not copy any out. When I consider that so many of these pin-points go
to form a bodkin-point (God send I end not my life with a bare bodkin, in
its modern sense!), and that it requires a thousand bodkins to make a
spear bright enough to throw any light to posterity, I see nothing but
continual uphill journeying. Now is there anything more unpleasant (it may
come among the thousand and one) than to be so journeying and to miss the
goal at last? But I intend to whistle all these cogitations into the sea,
where I hope they will breed storms violent enough to block up all exit
from Russia. Does Shelley go on telling strange stories of the deaths of
kings?[18] Tell him, there are strange stories of the deaths of poets.
Some have died before they were conceived. "How do you make that out,
Master Vellum?" Does Mrs. S. cut bread and butter as neatly as ever? Tell
her to procure some fatal scissors, and cut the thread of life of all
to-be-disappointed poets. Does Mrs. Hunt tear linen as straight as ever?
Tell her to tear from the book of life all blank leaves. Remember me to
them all; to Miss Kent and the little ones all.

Your sincere Friend

JOHN KEATS _alias_ JUNKETS.

You shall hear where we move.



X.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Margate, Saturday Eve [May 10, 1817].

My dear Haydon,

  "Let Fame, that all pant after in their lives,
  Live register'd upon our brazen tombs,
  And so grace us in the disgrace of death:
  When spite of cormorant devouring Time
  The endeavour of this present breath may buy
  That Honour which shall bate his Scythe's keen edge
  And make us heirs of all eternity."[19]

To think that I have no right to couple myself with you in this speech
would be death to me, so I have e'en written it, and I pray God that our
"brazen tombs" be nigh neighbours. It cannot be long first; the "endeavour
of this present breath" will soon be over, and yet it is as well to
breathe freely during our sojourn--it is as well as if you have not been
teased with that Money affair, that bill-pestilence. However, I must think
that difficulties nerve the Spirit of a Man--they make our Prime Objects a
Refuge as well as a Passion. The Trumpet of Fame is as a tower of
Strength, the ambitious bloweth it and is safe. I suppose, by your telling
me not to give way to forebodings, George has mentioned to you what I have
lately said in my Letters to him--truth is I have been in such a state of
Mind as to read over my Lines and hate them. I am one that "gathers
Samphire, dreadful trade"--the Cliff of Poesy towers above me--yet when
Tom who meets with some of Pope's Homer in Plutarch's Lives reads some of
those to me they seem like Mice to mine. I read and write about eight
hours a day. There is an old saying "well begun is half done"--'tis a bad
one. I would use instead, "Not begun at all till half done;" so according
to that I have not begun my Poem and consequently (à priori) can say
nothing about it. Thank God! I do begin arduously where I leave off,
notwithstanding occasional depressions; and I hope for the support of a
High Power while I climb this little eminence, and especially in my Years
of more momentous Labour. I remember your saying that you had notions of a
good Genius presiding over you. I have of late had the same thought, for
things which I do half at Random are afterwards confirmed by my judgment
in a dozen features of Propriety. Is it too daring to fancy Shakspeare
this Presider? When in the Isle of Wight I met with a Shakspeare in the
Passage of the House at which I lodged--it comes nearer to my idea of him
than any I have seen--I was but there a Week, yet the old woman made me
take it with me though I went off in a hurry. Do you not think this is
ominous of good? I am glad you say every man of great views is at times
tormented as I am.


Sunday after [May 11].

This Morning I received a letter from George by which it appears that
Money Troubles are to follow us up for some time to come--perhaps for
always--these vexations are a great hindrance to one--they are not like
Envy and detraction stimulants to further exertion as being immediately
relative and reflected on at the same time with the prime object--but
rather like a nettle leaf or two in your bed. So now I revoke my Promise
of finishing my Poem by the Autumn which I should have done had I gone on
as I have done--but I cannot write while my spirit is fevered in a
contrary direction and I am now sure of having plenty of it this Summer.
At this moment I am in no enviable Situation--I feel that I am not in a
Mood to write any to-day; and it appears that the loss of it is the
beginning of all sorts of irregularities. I am extremely glad that a time
must come when everything will leave not a wrack behind. You tell me never
to despair--I wish it was as easy for me to observe the saying--truth is I
have a horrid Morbidity of Temperament which has shown itself at
intervals--it is I have no doubt the greatest Enemy and stumbling-block I
have to fear--I may even say that it is likely to be the cause of my
disappointment. However every ill has its share of good--this very bane
would at any time enable me to look with an obstinate eye on the Devil
Himself--aye to be as proud of being the lowest of the human race as
Alfred could be in being of the highest. I feel confident I should have
been a rebel angel had the opportunity been mine. I am very sure that you
do love me as your very Brother--I have seen it in your continual anxiety
for me--and I assure you that your welfare and fame is and will be a chief
pleasure to me all my Life. I know no one but you who can be fully
sensible of the turmoil and anxiety, the sacrifice of all what is called
comfort, the readiness to measure time by what is done and to die in six
hours could plans be brought to conclusions--the looking upon the Sun, the
Moon, the Stars, the Earth and its contents, as materials to form greater
things--that is to say ethereal things--but here I am talking like a
Madman,--greater things than our Creator himself made!!

I wrote to Hunt yesterday--scarcely know what I said in it. I could not
talk about Poetry in the way I should have liked for I was not in humor
with either his or mine. His self-delusions are very lamentable--they have
enticed him into a Situation which I should be less eager after than that
of a galley Slave--what you observe thereon is very true must be in time.

Perhaps it is a self-delusion to say so--but I think I could not be
deceived in the manner that Hunt is--may I die to-morrow if I am to be.
There is no greater Sin after the seven deadly than to flatter oneself
into an idea of being a great Poet--or one of those beings who are
privileged to wear out their Lives in the pursuit of Honor--how
comfortable a feel it is to feel that such a Crime must bring its heavy
Penalty? That if one be a Self-deluder accounts must be balanced? I am
glad you are hard at Work--'t will now soon be done--I long to see
Wordsworth's as well as to have mine in:[20] but I would rather not show
my face in Town till the end of the Year--if that will be time enough--if
not I shall be disappointed if you do not write for me even when you think
best. I never quite despair and I read Shakspeare--indeed I shall I think
never read any other Book much. Now this might lead me into a long Confab
but I desist. I am very near agreeing with Hazlitt that Shakspeare is
enough for us. By the by what a tremendous Southean article his last
was--I wish he had left out "grey hairs." It was very gratifying to meet
your remarks on the manuscript--I was reading Anthony and Cleopatra when I
got the Paper and there are several Passages applicable to the events you
commentate. You say that he arrived by degrees and not by any single
struggle to the height of his ambition--and that his Life had been as
common in particulars as other Men's. Shakspeare makes Enobarb say--

                                 Where's Antony?
  _Eros._--He's walking in the garden, and _spurns
  The rush that lies_ before him; cries, Fool, Lepidus!

In the same scene we find--

                       Let determined things
  To destiny hold unbewailed their way.

Dolabella says of Anthony's Messenger,

  An argument that he is pluck'd when hither
  He sends so poor a pinion of his wing.

Then again--

    _Eno._--I see Men's Judgments are
  A parcel of their fortunes; and things outward
  Do draw the inward quality after them,
  To suffer all alike.

The following applies well to Bertrand[21]--

                Yet he that can endure
  To follow with allegiance a fallen Lord,
  Does conquer him that did his Master conquer,
  And earns a place i' the story.

But how differently does Buonaparte bear his fate from Anthony!

'Tis good, too, that the Duke of Wellington has a good Word or so in the
Examiner. A Man ought to have the Fame he deserves--and I begin to think
that detracting from him as well as from Wordsworth is the same thing. I
wish he had a little more taste--and did not in that respect "deal in
Lieutenantry." You should have heard from me before this--but in the first
place I did not like to do so before I had got a little way in the First
Book, and in the next as G. told me you were going to write I delayed till
I had heard from you. Give my Respects the next time you write to the
North and also to John Hunt. Remember me to Reynolds and tell him to
write. Ay, and when you send Westward tell your Sister that I mentioned
her in this. So now in the name of Shakspeare, Raphael and all our Saints,
I commend you to the care of heaven!

Your everlasting Friend

JOHN KEATS.



XI.--TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY.


Margate, May 16, 1817.

My dear Sirs--I am extremely indebted to you for your liberality in the
shape of manufactured rag, value £20, and shall immediately proceed to
destroy some of the minor heads of that hydra the dun; to conquer which
the knight need have no Sword Shield Cuirass, Cuisses Herbadgeon Spear
Casque Greaves Paldrons spurs Chevron or any other scaly commodity, but
he need only take the Bank-note of Faith and Cash of Salvation, and set
out against the monster, invoking the aid of no Archimago or Urganda, but
finger me the paper, light as the Sibyl's leaves in Virgil, whereat the
fiend skulks off with his tail between his legs. Touch him with this
enchanted paper, and he whips you his head away as fast as a snail's
horn--but then the horrid propensity he has to put it up again has
discouraged many very valiant Knights. He is such a never-ending
still-beginning sort of a body--like my landlady of the Bell. I should
conjecture that the very spright that "the green sour ringlets makes
Whereof the ewe not bites" had manufactured it of the dew fallen on said
sour ringlets. I think I could make a nice little allegorical poem, called
"The Dun," where we would have the Castle of Carelessness, the drawbridge
of credit, Sir Novelty Fashion's expedition against the City of Tailors,
etc. etc. I went day by day at my poem for a Month--at the end of which
time the other day I found my Brain so over-wrought that I had neither
rhyme nor reason in it--so was obliged to give up for a few days. I hope
soon to be able to resume my work--I have endeavoured to do so once or
twice; but to no purpose. Instead of Poetry, I have a swimming in my head
and feel all the effects of a Mental debauch, lowness of Spirits, anxiety
to go on without the power to do so, which does not at all tend to my
ultimate progression. However to-morrow I will begin my next month. This
evening I go to Canterbury, having got tired of Margate. I was not right
in my head when I came--At Canterbury I hope the remembrance of Chaucer
will set me forward like a Billiard Ball. I am glad to hear of Mr. T.'s
health, and of the welfare of the "In-town-stayers." And think Reynolds
will like his Trip--I have some idea of seeing the Continent some time
this summer. In repeating how sensible I am of your kindness, I remain

Y{r} obed{t} serv{t} and friend

JOHN KEATS.

I shall be happy to hear any little intelligence in the literary or
friendly way when you have time to scribble.



XII.--TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY.


[London] Tuesday Morn [July 8, 1817].

My dear Sirs--I must endeavour to lose my maidenhead with respect to money
Matters as soon as possible--And I will too--So, here goes! A couple of
Duns that I thought would be silent till the beginning, at least, of next
month (when I am certain to be on my legs, for certain sure), have opened
upon me with a cry most "untuneable"; never did you hear such
_un-_"gallant chiding." Now you must know, I am not desolate, but have,
thank God, 25 good notes in my fob. But then, you know, I laid them by to
write with and would stand at bay a fortnight ere they should grab me. In
a month's time I must pay, but it would relieve my mind if I owed you,
instead of these Pelican duns.

I am afraid you will say I have "wound about with circumstance," when I
should have asked plainly--however as I said I am a little maidenish or
so, and I feel my virginity come strong upon me, the while I request the
loan of a £20 and a £10, which, if you would enclose to me, I would
acknowledge and save myself a hot forehead. I am sure you are confident of
my responsibility, and in the sense of squareness that is always in me.

Your obliged friend

JOHN KEATS.



XIII.--TO MARIANE AND JANE REYNOLDS.


[Oxford,[22] September 5, 1817].

My dear Friends--You are I am glad to hear comfortable at Hampton,[23]
where I hope you will receive the Biscuits we ate the other night at
Little Britain.[24] I hope you found them good. There you are among
sands, stones, Pebbles, Beeches, Cliffs, Rocks, Deeps, Shallows, weeds,
ships, Boats (at a distance), Carrots, Turnips, sun, moon, and stars and
all those sort of things--here am I among Colleges, halls, Stalls, Plenty
of Trees, thank God--Plenty of water, thank heaven--Plenty of Books, thank
the Muses--Plenty of Snuff, thank Sir Walter Raleigh--Plenty of
segars,--Ditto--Plenty of flat country, thank Tellus's rolling-pin. I'm on
the sofa--Buonaparte is on the snuff-box--But you are by the
seaside--argal, you bathe--you walk--you say "how beautiful"--find out
resemblances between waves and camels--rocks and dancing-masters--
fireshovels and telescopes--Dolphins and Madonas--which word, by the way,
I must acquaint you was derived from the Syriac, and came down in a way
which neither of you I am sorry to say are at all capable of comprehending.
But as a time may come when by your occasional converse with me you may
arrive at "something like prophetic strain," I will unbar the gates of my
pride and let my condescension stalk forth like a ghost at the
Circus.--The word Ma-don-a, my dear Ladies--or--the word Mad--Ona--so I
say! I am not mad--Howsumever when that aged Tamer Kewthon sold a certain
camel called Peter to the overseer of the Babel Sky-works, he thus spake,
adjusting his cravat round the tip of his chin--"My dear
Ten-story-up-in-air! this here Beast, though I say it as shouldn't say't,
not only has the power of subsisting 40 days and 40 nights without fire
and candle but he can sing.--Here I have in my Pocket a Certificate from
Signor Nicolini of the King's Theatre; a Certificate to this effect----" I
have had dinner since I left that effect upon you, and feel too heavy in
mentibus to display all the Profundity of the Polygon--so you had better
each of you take a glass of cherry Brandy and drink to the health of
Archimedes, who was of so benign a disposition that he never would leave
Syracuse in his life--So kept himself out of all Knight-Errantry.--This I
know to be a fact; for it is written in the 45th book of Winkine's
treatise on garden-rollers, that he trod on a fishwoman's toe in
Liverpool, and never begged her pardon. Now the long and short is
this--that is by comparison--for a long day may be a short year--A long
Pole may be a very stupid fellow as a man. But let us refresh ourself from
this depth of thinking, and turn to some innocent jocularity--the Bow
cannot always be bent--nor the gun always loaded, if you ever let it
off--and the life of man is like a great Mountain--his breath is like a
Shrewsbury cake--he comes into the world like a shoeblack, and goes out of
it like a cobbler--he eats like a chimney-sweeper, drinks like a
gingerbread baker--and breathes like Achilles--so it being that we are
such sublunary creatures, let us endeavour to correct all our bad
spelling--all our most delightful abominations, and let us wish health to
Marian and Jane, whoever they be and wherever.

Yours truly

JOHN KEATS.



XIV--TO FANNY KEATS.


Oxford, September 10 [1817].

My dear Fanny--Let us now begin a regular question and answer--a little
pro and con; letting it interfere as a pleasant method of my coming at
your favorite little wants and enjoyments, that I may meet them in a way
befitting a brother.

We have been so little together since you have been able to reflect on
things that I know not whether you prefer the History of King Pepin to
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress--or Cinderella and her glass slipper to
Moore's Almanack. However in a few Letters I hope I shall be able to come
at that and adapt my scribblings to your Pleasure. You must tell me about
all you read if it be only six Pages in a Week and this transmitted to me
every now and then will procure you full sheets of Writing from me pretty
frequently.--This I feel as a necessity for we ought to become intimately
acquainted, in order that I may not only, as you grow up love you as my
only Sister, but confide in you as my dearest friend. When I saw you last
I told you of my intention of going to Oxford and 'tis now a Week since I
disembark'd from his Whipship's Coach the Defiance in this place. I am
living in Magdalen Hall on a visit to a young Man with whom I have not
been long acquainted, but whom I like very much--we lead very industrious
lives--he in general Studies and I in proceeding at a pretty good rate
with a Poem which I hope you will see early in the next year.--Perhaps you
might like to know what I am writing about. I will tell you. Many Years
ago there was a young handsome Shepherd who fed his flocks on a Mountain's
Side called Latmus--he was a very contemplative sort of a Person and lived
solitary among the trees and Plains little thinking that such a beautiful
Creature as the Moon was growing mad in Love with him.--However so it was;
and when he was asleep on the Grass she used to come down from heaven and
admire him excessively for a long time; and at last could not refrain from
carrying him away in her arms to the top of that high Mountain Latmus
while he was a dreaming--but I daresay you have read this and all the
other beautiful Tales which have come down from the ancient times of that
beautiful Greece. If you have not let me know and I will tell you more at
large of others quite as delightful. This Oxford I have no doubt is the
finest City in the world--it is full of old Gothic buildings--Spires--
towers--Quadrangles--Cloisters--Groves, etc., and is surrounded with more
clear streams than ever I saw together. I take a Walk by the Side of one
of them every Evening and, thank God, we have not had a drop of rain these
many days. I had a long and interesting Letter from George, cross lines by
a short one from Tom yesterday dated Paris. They both send their loves to
you. Like most Englishmen they feel a mighty preference for everything
English--the French Meadows, the trees, the People, the Towns, the
Churches, the Books, the everything--although they may be in themselves
good: yet when put in comparison with our green Island they all vanish
like Swallows in October. They have seen Cathedrals, Manuscripts,
Fountains, Pictures, Tragedy, Comedy,--with other things you may by chance
meet with in this Country such as Washerwomen, Lamplighters, Turnpikemen,
Fishkettles, Dancing Masters, Kettle drums, Sentry Boxes, Rocking Horses,
etc.--and, now they have taken them over a set of boxing-gloves.

I have written to George and requested him, as you wish I should, to write
to you. I have been writing very hard lately, even till an utter
incapacity came on, and I feel it now about my head: so you must not mind
a little out-of-the-way sayings--though by the bye were my brain as clear
as a bell I think I should have a little propensity thereto. I shall stop
here till I have finished the 3d Book of my Story; which I hope will be
accomplish'd in at most three Weeks from to-day--about which time you
shall see me. How do you like Miss Taylor's essays in Rhyme--I just look'd
into the Book and it appeared to me suitable to you--especially since I
remember your liking for those pleasant little things the Original
Poems--the essays are the more mature production of the same hand. While I
was speaking about France it occurred to me to speak a few Words on their
Language--it is perhaps the poorest one ever spoken since the jabbering in
the Tower of Babel, and when you come to know that the real use and
greatness of a Tongue is to be referred to its Literature--you will be
astonished to find how very inferior it is to our native Speech.--I wish
the Italian would supersede French in every school throughout the Country,
for that is full of real Poetry and Romance of a kind more fitted for the
Pleasure of Ladies than perhaps our own.--It seems that the only end to be
gained in acquiring French is the immense accomplishment of speaking
it--it is none at all--a most lamentable mistake indeed. Italian indeed
would sound most musically from Lips which had began to pronounce it as
early as French is crammed down our Mouths, as if we were young Jackdaws
at the mercy of an overfeeding Schoolboy. Now Fanny you must write
soon--and write all you think about, never mind what--only let me have a
good deal of your writing--You need not do it all at once--be two or three
or four days about it, and let it be a diary of your little Life. You will
preserve all my Letters and I will secure yours--and thus in the course of
time we shall each of us have a good Bundle--which, hereafter, when things
may have strangely altered and God knows what happened, we may read over
together and look with pleasure on times past--that now are to come. Give
my Respects to the Ladies--and so my dear Fanny I am ever

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.

If you direct--Post Office, Oxford--your Letter will be brought to me.



XV.--TO JANE REYNOLDS.


Oxford, Sunday Evg. [September 14, 1817].

My dear Jane--You are such a literal translator, that I shall some day
amuse myself with looking over some foreign sentences, and imagining how
you would render them into English. This is an age for typical
Curiosities; and I would advise you, as a good speculation, to study
Hebrew, and astonish the world with a figurative version in our native
tongue. The Mountains skipping like rams, and the little hills like lambs,
you will leave as far behind as the hare did the tortoise. It must be so
or you would never have thought that I really meant you would like to pro
and con about those Honeycombs--no, I had no such idea, or, if I had,
'twould be only to tease you a little for love. So now let me put down in
black and white briefly my sentiments thereon.--Imprimis--I sincerely
believe that Imogen is the finest creature, and that I should have been
disappointed at hearing you prefer Juliet--Item--Yet I feel such a
yearning towards Juliet that I would rather follow her into Pandemonium
than Imogen into Paradise--heartily wishing myself a Romeo to be worthy of
her, and to hear the Devils quote the old proverb, "Birds of a feather
flock together"--Amen.--

Now let us turn to the Seashore. Believe me, my dear Jane, it is a great
happiness to see that you are in this finest part of the year winning a
little enjoyment from the hard world. In truth, the great Elements we know
of, are no mean comforters: the open sky sits upon our senses like a
sapphire crown--the Air is our robe of state--the Earth is our throne, and
the Sea a mighty minstrel playing before it--able, like David's harp, to
make such a one as you forget almost the tempest cares of life. I have
found in the ocean's music,--varying (tho self-same) more than the passion
of Timotheus, an enjoyment not to be put into words; and, "though inland
far I be," I now hear the voice most audibly while pleasing myself in the
idea of your sensations.

---- is getting well apace, and if you have a few trees, and a little
harvesting about you, I'll snap my fingers in Lucifer's eye. I hope you
bathe too--if you do not, I earnestly recommend it. Bathe thrice a week,
and let us have no more sitting up next winter. Which is the best of
Shakspeare's plays? I mean in what mood and with what accompaniment do you
like the sea best? It is very fine in the morning, when the sun,

  "Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
  Turns into yellow gold his salt sea streams,"

and superb when

  "The sun from meridian height
    Illumines the depth of the sea,
  And the fishes, beginning to sweat,
    Cry d---- it! how hot we shall be,"

and gorgeous, when the fair planet hastens

             "To his home
  Within the Western foam."

But don't you think there is something extremely fine after sunset, when
there are a few white clouds about and a few stars blinking--when the
waters are ebbing, and the horizon a mystery? This state of things has
been so fulfilling to me that I am anxious to hear whether it is a
favourite with you. So when you and Marianne club your letter to me put in
a word or two about it. Tell Dilke that it would be perhaps as well if he
left a Pheasant or Partridge alive here and there to keep up a supply of
game for next season--tell him to rein in if Possible all the Nimrod of
his disposition, he being a mighty hunter before the Lord--of the Manor.
Tell him to shoot fair, and not to have at the Poor devils in a
furrow--when they are flying, he may fire, and nobody will be the wiser.

Give my sincerest respects to Mrs. Dilke, saying that I have not forgiven
myself for not having got her the little box of medicine I promised, and
that, had I remained at Hampstead I would have made precious havoc with
her house and furniture--drawn a great harrow over her garden--poisoned
Boxer--eaten her clothes-pegs--fried her cabbages--fricaseed (how is it
spelt?) her radishes--ragout'd her Onions--belaboured her
_beat_-root--outstripped her scarlet-runners--parlez-vous'd with her
french-beans--devoured her mignon or mignionette--metamorphosed her
bell-handles--splintered her looking-glasses--bullocked at her cups and
saucers--agonised her decanters--put old Phillips to pickle in the
brine-tub--dis_organ_ised her piano--dislocated her candlesticks--emptied
her wine-bins in a fit of despair--turned out her maid to grass--and
astonished Brown; whose letter to her on these events I would rather see
than the original Copy of the Book of Genesis. Should you see Mr. W.
D.[25] remember me to him, and to little Robinson Crusoe, and to Mr.
Snook. Poor Bailey, scarcely ever well, has gone to bed, pleased that I
am writing to you. To your brother John (whom henceforth I shall consider
as mine) and to you, my dear friends, Marianne and Jane, I shall ever feel
grateful for having made known to me so real a fellow as Bailey. He
delights me in the selfish and (please God) the disinterested part of my
disposition. If the old Poets have any pleasure in looking down at the
enjoyers of their works, their eyes must bend with a double satisfaction
upon him. I sit as at a feast when he is over them, and pray that if,
after my death, any of my labours should be worth saving, they may have so
"honest a chronicler" as Bailey. Out of this, his enthusiasm in his own
pursuit and for all good things is of an exalted kind--worthy a more
healthful frame and an untorn spirit. He must have happy years to
come--"he shall not die by God."

A letter from John the other day was a chief happiness to me. I made a
little mistake when, just now, I talked of being far inland. How can that
be when Endymion and I are at the bottom of the sea? whence I hope to
bring him in safety before you leave the seaside; and, if I can so
contrive it, you shall be greeted by him upon the sea-sands, and he shall
tell you all his adventures, which having finished, he shall thus
proceed--"My dear Ladies, favourites of my gentle mistress, however my
friend Keats may have teased and vexed you, believe me he loves you not
the less--for instance, I am deep in his favour, and yet he has been
hauling me through the earth and sea with unrelenting perseverance. I know
for all this that he is mighty fond of me, by his contriving me all sorts
of pleasures. Nor is this the least, fair ladies, this one of meeting you
on the desert shore, and greeting you in his name. He sends you moreover
this little scroll--" My dear Girls, I send you, per favour of Endymion,
the assurance of my esteem for you, and my utmost wishes for your health
and pleasure, being ever,

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN KEATS.



XVI.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Oxford, Sunday Morn [September 21, 1817].

My dear Reynolds--So you are determined to be my mortal foe--draw a Sword
at me, and I will forgive--Put a Bullet in my Brain, and I will shake it
out as a dew-drop from the Lion's Mane--put me on a Gridiron, and I will
fry with great complacency--but--oh, horror! to come upon me in the shape
of a Dun! Send me bills! as I say to my Tailor, send me Bills and I'll
never employ you more. However, needs must, when the devil drives: and for
fear of "before and behind Mr. Honeycomb" I'll proceed. I have not time to
elucidate the forms and shapes of the grass and trees; for, rot it! I
forgot to bring my mathematical case with me, which unfortunately
contained my triangular Prism so that the hues of the grass cannot be
dissected for you--

For these last five or six days, we have had regularly a Boat on the Isis,
and explored all the streams about, which are more in number than your
eye-lashes. We sometimes skim into a Bed of rushes, and there become
naturalised river-folks,--there is one particularly nice nest, which we
have christened "Reynolds's Cove," in which we have read Wordsworth and
talked as may be. I think I see you and Hunt meeting in the Pit.--What a
very pleasant fellow he is, if he would give up the sovereignty of a Room
pro bono. What Evenings we might pass with him, could we have him from
Mrs. H. Failings I am always rather rejoiced to find in a man than sorry
for; they bring us to a Level. He has them, but then his makes-up are very
good. He agrees with the Northern Poet in this, "He is not one of those
who much delight to season their fireside with personal talk"--I must
confess however having a little itch that way, and at this present moment
I have a few neighbourly remarks to make. The world, and especially our
England, has, within the last thirty years, been vexed and teased by a
set of Devils, whom I detest so much that I almost hunger after an
Acherontic promotion to a Torturer, purposely for their accommodation.
These devils are a set of women, who having taken a snack or Luncheon of
Literary scraps, set themselves up for towers of Babel in languages,
Sapphos in Poetry, Euclids in Geometry, and everything in nothing. Among
such the name of Montague has been pre-eminent. The thing has made a very
uncomfortable impression on me. I had longed for some real feminine
Modesty in these things, and was therefore gladdened in the extreme on
opening the other day, one of Bailey's Books--a book of poetry written by
one beautiful Mrs. Philips, a friend of Jeremy Taylor's, and called "The
Matchless Orinda--" You must have heard of her, and most likely read her
Poetry--I wish you have not, that I may have the pleasure of treating you
with a few stanzas--I do it at a venture--You will not regret reading them
once more. The following, to her friend Mrs. M. A. at parting, you will
judge of.

1

  I have examin'd and do find,
    Of all that favour me
  There's none I grieve to leave behind
    But only, only thee.
  To part with thee I needs must die,
  Could parting sep'rate thee and I.

2

  But neither Chance nor Complement
    Did element our Love;
  'Twas sacred sympathy was lent
    Us from the Quire above.
  That Friendship Fortune did create,
  Still fears a wound from Time or Fate.

3

  Our chang'd and mingled Souls are grown
    To such acquaintance now,
  That if each would resume their own,
    Alas! we know not how.
  We have each other so engrost,
  That each is in the Union lost.

4

  And thus we can no Absence know,
    Nor shall we be confin'd;
  Our active Souls will daily go
    To learn each others mind.
  Nay, should we never meet to Sense,
  Our Souls would hold Intelligence.

5

  Inspired with a Flame Divine
    I scorn to court a stay;
  For from that noble Soul of thine
    I ne're can be away.
  But I shall weep when thou dost grieve;
  Nor can I die whil'st thou dost live.

6

  By my own temper I shall guess
    At thy felicity,
  And only like my happiness
    Because it pleaseth thee.
  Our hearts at any time will tell
  If thou, or I, be sick, or well.

7

  All Honour sure I must pretend,
    All that is good or great;
  She that would be _Rosania's_ Friend,
    Must be at least compleat.[A]
  If I have any bravery,
  'Tis cause I have so much of thee.

8

  Thy Leiger Soul in me shall lie,
    And all thy thoughts reveal;
  Then back again with mine shall flie,
    And thence to me shall steal.
  Thus still to one another tend;
  Such is the sacred name of _Friend_.

9

  Thus our twin-Souls in one shall grow,
    And teach the World new Love,
  Redeem the Age and Sex, and show
    A Flame Fate dares not move:
  And courting Death to be our friend,
  Our Lives together too shall end.

10

  A Dew shall dwell upon our Tomb
    Of such a quality,
  That fighting Armies, thither come,
    Shall reconciled be.
  We'll ask no Epitaph, but say
  Orinda and Rosania.

In other of her poems there is a most delicate fancy of the Fletcher
kind--which we will con over together. So Haydon is in Town. I had a
letter from him yesterday. We will contrive as the winter comes on--but
that is neither here nor there. Have you heard from Rice? Has Martin met
with the Cumberland Beggar, or been wondering at the old Leech-gatherer?
Has he a turn for fossils? that is, is he capable of sinking up to his
Middle in a Morass? How is Hazlitt? We were reading his Table[26] last
night. I know he thinks him self not estimated by ten people in the
world--I wish he knew he is. I am getting on famous with my third
Book--have written 800 lines thereof, and hope to finish it next Week.
Bailey likes what I have done very much. Believe me, my dear Reynolds, one
of my chief layings-up is the pleasure I shall have in showing it to you,
I may now say, in a few days. I have heard twice from my Brothers, they
are going on very well, and send their Remembrances to you. We expected to
have had notices from little-Hampton this morning--we must wait till
Tuesday. I am glad of their Days with the Dilkes. You are, I know, very
much teased in that precious London, and want all the rest possible; so I
shall be contented with as brief a scrawl--a Word or two, till there comes
a pat hour.

Send us a few of your stanzas to read in "Reynolds's Cove." Give my Love
and respects to your Mother, and remember me kindly to all at home.

Yours faithfully

JOHN KEATS.

I have left the doublings for Bailey, who is going to say that he will
write to you to-morrow.



XVII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Oxford, September 28 [1817].

My dear Haydon--I read your letter to the young Man, whose Name is Cripps.
He seemed more than ever anxious to avail himself of your offer. I think I
told you we asked him to ascertain his Means. He does not possess the
Philosopher's stone--nor Fortunatus's purse, nor Gyges's ring--but at
Bailey's suggestion, whom I assure you is a very capital fellow, we have
stummed up a kind of contrivance whereby he will be enabled to do himself
the benefits you will lay in his Path. I have a great Idea that he will be
a tolerable neat brush. 'Tis perhaps the finest thing that will befal him
this many a year: for he is just of an age to get grounded in bad habits
from which you will pluck him. He brought a copy of Mary Queen of Scots:
it appears to me that he has copied the bad style of the painting, as well
as coloured the eyeballs yellow like the original. He has also the fault
that you pointed out to me in Hazlitt on the constringing and diffusing of
substance. However I really believe that he will take fire at the sight of
your Picture--and set about things. If he can get ready in time to return
to town with me, which will be in a few days--I will bring him to you. You
will be glad to hear that within these last three weeks I have written
1000 lines--which are the third Book of my Poem. My Ideas with respect to
it I assure you are very low--and I would write the subject thoroughly
again--but I am tired of it and think the time would be better spent in
writing a new Romance which I have in my eye for next summer--Rome was not
built in a Day--and all the good I expect from my employment this summer
is the fruit of Experience which I hope to gather in my next Poem.
Bailey's kindest wishes, and my vow of being

Yours eternally

JOHN KEATS.



XVIII.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


Hampstead, Wednesday [October 8, 1817].

My dear Bailey--After a tolerable journey, I went from Coach to Coach as
far as Hampstead where I found my Brothers--the next Morning finding
myself tolerably well I went to Lamb's Conduit Street and delivered your
parcel. Jane and Marianne were greatly improved. Marianne especially, she
has no unhealthy plumpness in the face, but she comes me healthy and
angular to the chin--I did not see John--I was extremely sorry to hear
that poor Rice, after having had capital health during his tour, was very
ill. I daresay you have heard from him. From No. 19 I went to Hunt's and
Haydon's who live now neighbours.--Shelley was there--I know nothing about
anything in this part of the world--every Body seems at Loggerheads.
There's Hunt infatuated--there's Haydon's picture in statu quo--There's
Hunt walks up and down his painting room criticising every head most
unmercifully. There's Horace Smith tired of Hunt. "The web of our life is
of mingled yarn."[27] Haydon having removed entirely from Marlborough
Street, Cripps must direct his letter to Lisson Grove, North Paddington.
Yesterday Morning while I was at Brown's, in came Reynolds, he was pretty
bobbish, we had a pleasant day--he would walk home at night that cursed
cold distance. Mrs. Bentley's children are making a horrid
row[28]--whereby I regret I cannot be transported to your Room to write to
you. I am quite disgusted with literary men and will never know another
except Wordsworth--no not even Byron. Here is an instance of the
friendship of such. Haydon and Hunt have known each other many years--now
they live, pour ainsi dire, jealous neighbours--Haydon says to me, Keats,
don't show your lines to Hunt on any Account, or he will have done half
for you--so it appears Hunt wishes it to be thought. When he met Reynolds
in the Theatre, John told him that I was getting on to the completion of
4000 lines--Ah! says Hunt, had it not been for me they would have been
7000! If he will say this to Reynolds, what would he to other people?
Haydon received a Letter a little while back on this subject from some
Lady--which contains a caution to me, through him, on the subject--now is
not all this a most paltry thing to think about? You may see the whole of
the case by the following Extract from a Letter I wrote to George in the
Spring--"As to what you say about my being a Poet, I can return no Answer
but by saying that the high Idea I have of poetical fame makes me think I
see it towering too high above me. At any rate, I have no right to talk
until Endymion is finished--it will be a test, a trial of my Powers of
Imagination, and chiefly of my invention, which is a rare thing indeed--by
which I must make 4000 lines of one bare circumstance, and fill them with
poetry: and when I consider that this is a great task, and that when done
it will take me but a dozen paces towards the temple of fame--it makes me
say--God forbid that I should be without such a task! I have heard Hunt
say, and I may be asked--_why endeavour after a long Poem?_ To which I
should answer, Do not the Lovers of Poetry like to have a little Region to
wander in, where they may pick and choose, and in which the images are so
numerous that many are forgotten and found new in a second Reading: which
may be food for a Week's stroll in the Summer? Do not they like this
better than what they can read through before Mrs. Williams comes down
stairs? a Morning work at most.

"Besides, a long poem is a test of invention, which I take to be the Polar
star of Poetry, as Fancy is the Sails--and Imagination the rudder. Did our
great Poets ever write short Pieces? I mean in the shape of Tales--this
same invention seems indeed of late years to have been forgotten as a
Poetical excellence--But enough of this, I put on no Laurels till I shall
have finished Endymion, and I hope Apollo is not angered at my having made
a Mockery at him at Hunt's"----

You see, Bailey, how independent my Writing has been. Hunt's dissuasion
was of no avail--I refused to visit Shelley that I might have my own
unfettered scope;--and after all, I shall have the Reputation of Hunt's
élève. His corrections and amputations will by the knowing ones be traced
in the Poem. This is, to be sure, the vexation of a day, nor would I say
so many words about it to any but those whom I know to have my welfare and
reputation at heart. Haydon promised to give directions for those Casts,
and you may expect to see them soon, with as many Letters--You will soon
hear the dinning of Bells--never mind! you and Gleig[29] will defy the
foul fiend--But do not sacrifice your health to Books: do take it kindly
and not so voraciously. I am certain if you are your own Physician, your
Stomach will resume its proper strength and then what great benefits will
follow.--My sister wrote a Letter to me, which I think must be at the
post-office--Ax Will to see. My Brother's kindest remembrances to you--we
are going to dine at Brown's where I have some hopes of meeting Reynolds.
The little Mercury I have taken has corrected the poison and improved my
health--though I feel from my employment that I shall never be again
secure in Robustness. Would that you were as well as

Your Sincere friend and brother

JOHN KEATS.



XIX.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


[Hampstead: about November 1, 1817.]

My dear Bailey--So you have got a Curacy--good, but I suppose you will be
obliged to stop among your Oxford favourites during Term time. Never mind.
When do you preach your first sermon?--tell me, for I shall propose to the
two R.'s[30] to hear it,--so don't look into any of the old corner oaken
pews, for fear of being put out by us. Poor Johnny Moultrie can't be
there. He is ill, I expect--but that's neither here nor there. All I can
say, I wish him as well through it as I am like to be. For this fortnight
I have been confined at Hampstead. Saturday evening was my first day in
town, when I went to Rice's--as we intend to do every Saturday till we
know not when. We hit upon an old gent we had known some few years ago,
and had a _veiry pleasante daye_. In this world there is no
quiet,--nothing but teasing and snubbing and vexation. My brother Tom
looked very unwell yesterday, and I am for shipping him off to Lisbon.
Perhaps I ship there with him. I have not seen Mrs. Reynolds since I left
you, wherefore my conscience smites me. I think of seeing her to-morrow;
have you any message? I hope Gleig came soon after I left. I don't suppose
I've written as many lines as you have read volumes, or at least chapters,
since I saw you. However, I am in a fair way now to come to a conclusion
in at least three weeks, when I assure you I shall be glad to dismount for
a month or two; although I'll keep as tight a rein as possible till then,
nor suffer myself to sleep. I will copy for you the opening of the Fourth
Book, in which you will see from the manner I had not an opportunity of
mentioning any poets, for fear of spoiling the effect of the passage by
particularising them.

Thus far had I written when I received your last, which made me at the
sight of the direction caper for despair; but for one thing I am glad
that I have been neglectful, and that is, therefrom I have received a
proof of your utmost kindness, which at this present I feel very much, and
I wish I had a heart always open to such sensations; but there is no
altering a man's nature, and mine must be radically wrong, for it will lie
dormant a whole month. This leads me to suppose that there are no men
thoroughly wicked, so as never to be self-spiritualised into a kind of
sublime misery; but, alas! 'tis but for an hour. He is the only Man "who
has kept watch on man's mortality," who has philanthropy enough to
overcome the disposition to an indolent enjoyment of intellect, who is
brave enough to volunteer for uncomfortable hours. You remember in
Hazlitt's essay on commonplace people he says, "they read the Edinburgh
and Quarterly, and think as they do." Now, with respect to Wordsworth's
"Gipsy," I think he is right, and yet I think Hazlitt is right, and yet I
think Wordsworth is rightest. If Wordsworth had not been idle, he had not
been without his task; nor had the "Gipsies"--they in the visible world
had been as picturesque an object as he in the invisible. The smoke of
their fire, their attitudes, their voices, were all in harmony with the
evenings. It is a bold thing to say--and I would not say it in print--but
it seems to me that if Wordsworth had thought a little deeper at that
moment, he would not have written the poem at all. I should judge it to
have been written in one of the most comfortable moods of his life--it is
a kind of sketchy intellectual landscape, not a search after truth, nor is
it fair to attack him on such a subject; for it is with the critic as with
the poet; had Hazlitt thought a little deeper, and been in a good temper,
he would never have spied out imaginary faults there. The Sunday before
last I asked Haydon to dine with me, when I thought of settling all
matters with him in regard to Cripps, and let you know about it. Now,
although I engaged him a fortnight before, he sent illness as an excuse.
He never will come. I have not been well enough to stand the chance of a
wet night, and so have not seen him, nor been able to expurgatorise more
masks for you; but I will not speak--your speakers are never doers. Then
Reynolds,--every time I see him and mention you, he puts his hand to his
head and looks like a son of Niobe's; but he'll write soon.

Rome, you know, was not built in a day. I shall be able, by a little
perseverance, to read your letters off-hand. I am afraid your health will
suffer from over study before your examination. I think you might regulate
the thing according to your own pleasure,--and I would too. They were
talking of your being up at Christmas. Will it be before you have passed?
There is nothing, my dear Bailey, I should rejoice at more than to see you
comfortable with a little Peona wife; an affectionate wife, I have a sort
of confidence, would do you a great happiness. May that be one of the many
blessings I wish you. Let me be but the one-tenth of one to you, and I
shall think it great. My brother George's kindest wishes to you. My dear
Bailey, I am,

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.

I should not like to be pages in your way; when in a tolerable hungry mood
you have no mercy. Your teeth are the Rock Tarpeian down which you capsize
epic poems like mad. I would not for forty shillings be Coleridge's Lays
in your way. I hope you will soon get through this abominable writing in
the schools, and be able to keep the terms with more comfort in the hope
of retiring to a comfortable and quiet home out of the way of all
Hopkinses and black beetles. When you are settled, I will come and take a
peep at your church, your house; try whether I shall have grown too lusty
for my chair by the fireside, and take a peep at my earliest bower. A
question is the best beacon towards a little speculation. Then ask me
after my health and spirits. This question ratifies in my mind what I have
said above. Health and spirits can only belong unalloyed to the selfish
man--the man who thinks much of his fellows can never be in spirits. You
must forgive, although I have only written three hundred lines; they would
have been five, but I have been obliged to go to town. Yesterday I called
at Lamb's. St. Jane looked very flush when I first looked in, but was much
better before I left.



XX.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


[_Fragment from an outside sheet: postmark_ London, November 5, 1817.]

... I will speak of something else, or my spleen will get higher and
higher--and I am a bearer of the two-edged sword.--I hope you will receive
an answer from Haydon soon--if not, Pride! Pride! Pride! I have received
no more subscription--but shall soon have a full health, Liberty and
leisure to give a good part of my time to him. I will certainly be in time
for him. We have promised him one year: let that have elapsed, then do as
we think proper. If I did not know how impossible it is, I should say--"do
not at this time of disappointments, disturb yourself about others."

There has been a flaming attack upon Hunt in the E_n_dinburgh Magazine. I
never read anything so virulent--accusing him of the greatest Crimes,
depreciating his Wife, his Poetry, his Habits, his Company, his
Conversation. These Philippics are to come out in numbers--called "the
Cockney School of Poetry." There has been but one number published--that
on Hunt--to which they have prefixed a motto from one Cornelius Webb
Poetaster--who unfortunately was of our party occasionally at Hampstead
and took it into his head to write the following,--something about "we'll
talk on Wordsworth, Byron, a theme we never tire on;" and so forth till he
comes to Hunt and Keats. In the Motto they have put Hunt and Keats in
large letters--I have no doubt that the second number was intended for me:
but have hopes of its non-appearance, from the following Advertisement in
last Sunday's Examiner:--"To Z.--The Writer of the Article signed Z., in
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine for October 1817 is invited to send his
address to the printer of the Examiner, in order that Justice may be
Executed on the proper person." I don't mind the thing much--but if he
should go to such lengths with me as he has done with Hunt, I must
infallibly call him to an Account if he be a human being, and appears in
Squares and Theatres, where we might possibly meet--I don't relish his
abuse....



XXI.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


[Hampstead, November 1817.]

My dear Dilke--Mrs. Dilke or Mr. Wm. Dilke, whoever of you shall receive
this present, have the kindness to send pr. bearer Sibylline Leaves, and
your petitioner shall ever pray as in duty bound.

Given under my hand this Wednesday morning of Novr. 1817.

JOHN KEATS.

Vivant Rex et Regina--amen.



XXII.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


[Burford Bridge, November 22, 1817.]

My dear Bailey--I will get over the first part of this (_un_said[31])
Letter as soon as possible, for it relates to the affairs of poor
Cripps.--To a Man of your nature such a Letter as Haydon's must have been
extremely cutting--What occasions the greater part of the World's
Quarrels?--simply this--two Minds meet, and do not understand each other
time enough to prevent any shock or surprise at the conduct of either
party--As soon as I had known Haydon three days, I had got enough of his
Character not to have been surprised at such a Letter 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--and yet I think
that you are thoroughly acquainted with my innermost breast in that
respect, or you could not have known me even thus long, and still hold me
worthy to be your dear Friend. In passing, however, I must say one thing
that has pressed upon me lately, and increased my Humility and capability
of submission--and that is this truth--Men of Genius are great as certain
ethereal Chemicals operating on the Mass of neutral intellect--but they
have not any individuality, any determined Character--I would call the top
and head of those who have a proper self Men of Power.

But I am running my head into a subject which I am certain I could not do
justice to under five Years' study, and 3 vols. octavo--and, moreover, I
long to be talking about the Imagination--so my dear Bailey, do not think
of this unpleasant affair, if possible do not--I defy any harm to come of
it--I defy. I shall write to Cripps this week, and request him to tell me
all his goings-on from time to time by Letter wherever I may be. It will
go on well--so don't because you have suddenly discovered a Coldness in
Haydon suffer yourself to be teased--Do not my dear fellow--O! I wish I
was as certain of the end of all your troubles as that of your momentary
start about the authenticity of the Imagination. I am certain of nothing
but of the holiness of the Heart's affections, and the truth of
Imagination. What the Imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth--whether
it existed before or not,--for I have the same idea of all our passions as
of Love: they are all, in their sublime, creative of essential Beauty. In
a Word, you may know my favourite speculation by my first Book, and the
little Song I sent in my last, which is a representation from the fancy of
the probable mode of operating in these Matters. The Imagination may be
compared to Adam's dream,--he awoke and found it truth:[32]--I am more
zealous in this affair, because I have never yet been able to perceive how
anything can be known for truth by consecutive reasoning--and yet it must
be. Can it be that even the greatest Philosopher ever arrived at his Goal
without putting aside numerous objections? However it may be, O for a life
of Sensations rather than of Thoughts! It is "a Vision in the form of
Youth," a shadow of reality to come--And this consideration has further
convinced me,--for it has come as auxiliary to another favourite
speculation of mine,--that we shall enjoy ourselves hereafter by having
what we called happiness on Earth repeated in a finer tone--And yet such a
fate can only befall those who delight in Sensation, rather than hunger as
you do after Truth. Adam's dream will do here, and seems to be a
Conviction that Imagination and its empyreal reflection, is the same as
human life and its spiritual repetition. But, as I was saying, the Simple
imaginative Mind may have its rewards in the repetition of its own silent
Working coming continually on the Spirit with a fine Suddenness--to
compare great things with small, have you never by being surprised with an
old Melody, in a delicious place by a delicious voice, _felt_ over again
your very speculations and surmises at the time it first operated on your
soul?--do you not remember forming to yourself the Singer's face--more
beautiful than it was possible, and yet with the elevation of the Moment
you did not think so? Even then you were mounted on the Wings of
Imagination, so high that the prototype must be hereafter--that delicious
face you will see. What a time! I am continually running away from the
subject. Sure this cannot be exactly the Case with a complex mind--one
that is imaginative, and at the same time careful of its fruits,--who
would exist partly on Sensation, partly on thought--to whom it is
necessary that years should bring the philosophic Mind? Such a one I
consider yours, and therefore it is necessary to your eternal happiness
that you not only drink this old Wine of Heaven, which I shall call the
redigestion of our most ethereal Musings upon Earth, but also increase in
knowledge and know all things. I am glad to hear that you are in a fair
way for Easter. You will soon get through your unpleasant reading, and
then!--but the world is full of troubles, and I have not much reason to
think myself pestered with many.

I think Jane or Marianne has a better opinion of me than I deserve: for,
really and truly, I do not think my Brother's illness connected with
mine--you know more of the real Cause than they do; nor have I any chance
of being rack'd as you have been. You perhaps at one time thought there
was such a thing as worldly happiness to be arrived at, at certain periods
of time marked out,--you have of necessity from your disposition been thus
led away--I scarcely remember counting upon any Happiness--I look not for
it if it be not in the present hour,--nothing startles me beyond the
moment. The Setting Sun will always set me to rights, or if a Sparrow come
before my Window, I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.
The first thing that strikes me on hearing a Misfortune having befallen
another is this--"Well, it cannot be helped: he will have the pleasure of
trying the resources of his Spirit"--and I beg now, my dear Bailey, that
hereafter should you observe anything cold in me not to put it to the
account of heartlessness, but abstraction--for I assure you I sometimes
feel not the influence of a passion or affection during a whole Week--and
so long this sometimes continues, I begin to suspect myself, and the
genuineness of my feelings at other times--thinking them a few barren
Tragedy Tears.

My brother Tom is much improved--he is going to Devonshire--whither I
shall follow him. At present, I am just arrived at Dorking--to change the
Scene--change the Air, and give me a spur to wind up my Poem, of which
there are wanting 500 lines. I should have been here a day sooner, but the
Reynoldses persuaded me to stop in Town to meet your friend Christie.
There were Rice and Martin--we talked about Ghosts. I will have some Talk
with Taylor and let you know,--when please God I come down at Christmas. I
will find that Examiner if possible. My best regards to Gleig, my
Brothers' to you and Mrs. Bentley.

Your affectionate Friend

JOHN KEATS.

I want to say much more to you--a few hints will set me going. Direct
Burford Bridge near Dorking.



XXIII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[Burford Bridge,] November 22, 1817.

My dear Reynolds--There are two things which tease me here--one of them
Cripps, and the other that I cannot go with Tom into Devonshire. However,
I hope to do my duty to myself in a week or so; and then I'll try what I
can do for my neighbour--now, is not this virtuous? On returning to Town
I'll damm all Idleness--indeed, in superabundance of employment, I must
not be content to run here and there on little two-penny errands, but turn
Rakehell, _i.e._ go a masking, or Bailey will think me just as great a
Promise Keeper as _he_ thinks you; for myself I do not, and do not
remember above one complaint against you for matter o' that. Bailey writes
so abominable a hand, to give his Letter a fair reading requires a little
time: so I had not seen, when I saw you last, his invitation to Oxford at
Christmas. I'll go with you. You know how poorly Rice was. I do not think
it was all corporeal,--bodily pain was not used to keep him silent. I'll
tell you what; he was hurt at what your Sisters said about his joking with
your Mother, he was, soothly to sain. It will all blow over. God knows,
my dear Reynolds, I should not talk any sorrow to you--you must have
enough vexations--so I won't any more. If I ever start a rueful subject in
a letter to you--blow me! Why don't you?--now I am going to ask you a very
silly Question neither you nor anybody else could answer, under a folio,
or at least a Pamphlet--you shall judge--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.

I like this place very much. There is Hill and Dale and a little River. I
went up Box hill this Evening after the Moon--"you a' seen the Moon"--came
down, and wrote some lines. Whenever I am separated from you, and not
engaged in a continued Poem, every letter shall bring you a lyric--but I
am too anxious for you to enjoy the whole to send you a particle. One of
the three books I have with me is Shakspeare's Poems: I never found so
many beauties in the sonnets--they seem to be full of fine things said
unintentionally--in the intensity of working out conceits. Is this to be
borne? Hark ye!

  When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
     Which erst from heat did canopy the head,
  And Summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
     Borne on the bier with white and bristly head.

He has left nothing to say about nothing or anything: for look at
snails--you know what he says about Snails--you know when he talks about
"cockled Snails"--well, in one of these sonnets, he says--the chap slips
into--no! I lie! this is in the Venus and Adonis: the simile brought it to
my Mind.

  As the snail, whose tender horns being hit,
     Shrinks back into his shelly cave with pain,
  And there all smothered up in shade doth sit,
     Long after fearing to put forth again;
  So at his bloody view her eyes are fled,
  Into the deep dark Cabins of her head.

He overwhelms a genuine Lover of poesy with all manner of abuse, talking
about--

                              "a poet's rage
  And stretched metre of an antique song."

Which, by the bye, will be a capital motto for my poem, won't it? He
speaks too of "Time's antique pen"--and "April's first-born flowers"--and
"Death's eternal cold."--By the Whim-King! I'll give you a stanza, because
it is not material in connection, and when I wrote it I wanted you--to
give your vote, pro or con.--

  Crystalline Brother of the belt of Heaven,
  Aquarius! to whom King Jove hath given
  Two liquid pulse-streams, 'stead of feather'd wings--
  Two fan-like fountains--thine illuminings
  For Dian play:
  Dissolve the frozen purity of air;
  Let thy white shoulders, silvery and bare,
  Show cold through wat'ry pinions: make more bright
  The Star-Queen's Crescent on her marriage night:
  Haste, haste away!

... I see there is an advertisement in the _Chronicle_ to Poets--he is so
over-loaded with poems on the "late Princess." I suppose you do not
lack--send me a few--lend me thy hand to laugh a little--send me a little
pullet-sperm, a few finch-eggs--and remember me to each of our
card-playing Club. When you die you will all be turned into Dice, and be
put in pawn with the devil: for cards, they crumple up like anything....

I rest Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.

Give my love to both houses--hinc atque illinc.



XXIV.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


Hampstead, December 22, 1817.

My dear Brothers--I must crave your pardon for not having written ere
this.... I saw Kean return to the public in Richard III., and finely he
did it, and, at the request of Reynolds, I went to criticise his _Duke_
in Rich{d.}--the critique is in to-day's Champion, which I send you with
the Examiner, in which you will find very proper lamentation on the
obsoletion of Christmas Gambols and pastimes: but it was mixed up with so
much egotism of that drivelling nature that pleasure is entirely lost.
Hone the publisher's trial, you must find very amusing, and as Englishmen
very encouraging: his _Not Guilty_ is a thing, which not to have been,
would have dulled still more Liberty's Emblazoning--Lord Ellenborough has
been paid in his own coin--Wooler and Hone have done us an essential
service. I have had two very pleasant evenings with Dilke yesterday and
to-day, and am at this moment just come from him, and feel in the humour
to go on with this, begun in the morning, and from which he came to fetch
me. I spent Friday evening with Wells[33] and went next morning to see
_Death on the Pale horse_. It is a wonderful picture, when West's age is
considered; but there is nothing to be intense upon, no women one feels
mad to kiss, no face swelling into reality. The excellence of every art is
its intensity, capable of making all disagreeables evaporate from their
being in close relationship with Beauty and Truth--Examine King Lear, and
you will find this exemplified throughout; but in this picture we have
unpleasantness without any momentous depth of speculation excited, in
which to bury its repulsiveness--The picture is larger than Christ
rejected.

I dined with Haydon the Sunday after you left, and had a very pleasant
day, I dined too (for I have been out too much lately) with Horace Smith
and met his two Brothers with Hill and Kingston and one Du Bois, they only
served to convince me how superior humour is to wit, 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. Brown and Dilke walked with me and back from the
Christmas pantomime. I had not a dispute, but a disquisition, with Dilke
upon various subjects; several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once
it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in
Literature, and which Shakspeare possessed so enormously--I mean _Negative
Capability_, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties,
mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.
Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude
caught from the Penetralium of mystery,[34] from being incapable of
remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would
perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of
Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all
consideration.

Shelley's poem[35] is out and there are words about its being objected to,
as much as Queen Mab was. Poor Shelley I think he has his Quota of good
qualities, in sooth la! Write soon to your most sincere friend and
affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XXV.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


Featherstone Buildings,[36] Monday [January 5, 1818].

My dear Brothers--I ought to have written before, and you should have had
a long letter last week, but I undertook the Champion for Reynolds, who
is at Exeter. I wrote two articles, one on the Drury Lane Pantomime, the
other on the Covent Garden new Tragedy, which they have not put in;[37]
the one they have inserted is so badly punctuated that you perceive I am
determined never to write more, without some care in that particular.
Wells tells me that you are licking your chops, Tom, in expectation of my
book coming out. I am sorry to say I have not begun my corrections yet:
to-morrow I set out. I called on Sawrey[38] this morning. He did not seem
to be at all put out at anything I said and the inquiries I made with
regard to your spitting of blood, and moreover desired me to ask you to
send him a correct account of all your sensations and symptoms concerning
the palpitation and the spitting and the cough--if you have any. Your last
letter gave me a great pleasure, for I think the invalid is in a better
spirit there along the Edge; and as for George, I must immediately, now I
think of it, correct a little misconception of a part of my last letter.
The Misses Reynolds have never said one word against me about you, or by
any means endeavoured to lessen you in my estimation. That is not what I
referred to; but the manner and thoughts which I knew they internally had
towards you, time will show. Wells and Severn dined with me yesterday. We
had a very pleasant day. I pitched upon another bottle of claret, we
enjoyed ourselves very much; were all very witty and full of Rhymes. We
played a concert from 4 o'clock till 10--drank your healths, the Hunts',
and (_N.B._) seven Peter Pindars. I said on that day the only good thing I
was ever guilty of. We were talking about Stephens and the 1st Gallery. I
said I wondered that careful folks would go there, for although it was but
a shilling, still you had to pay through the Nose. I saw the Peachey
family in a box at Drury one night. I have got such a curious[39] ... or
rather I had such, now I am in my own hand.

I have had a great deal of pleasant time with Rice lately, and am getting
initiated into a little band. They call drinking deep dyin' scarlet. They
call good wine a pretty tipple, and call getting a child knocking out an
apple; stopping at a tavern they call hanging out. Where do you sup? is
where do you hang out?

Thursday I promised to dine with Wordsworth, and the weather is so bad
that I am undecided, for he lives at Mortimer Street. I had an invitation
to meet him at Kingston's,[40] but not liking that place I sent my excuse.
What I think of doing to-day is to dine in Mortimer Street (Words{th}),
and sup here in the Feath{s} buildings, as Mr. Wells has invited me. On
Saturday, I called on Wordsworth before he went to Kingston's, and was
surprised to find him with a stiff collar. I saw his spouse, and I think
his daughter. I forget whether I had written my last before my Sunday
evening at Haydon's--no, I did not, or I should have told you, Tom, of a
young man you met at Paris, at Scott's, ... Ritchie. I think he is going
to Fezan, in Africa; then to proceed if possible like Mungo Park. He was
very polite to me, and inquired very particularly after you. Then there
was Wordsworth, Lamb, Monkhouse, Landseer, Kingston, and your humble
servant. Lamb got tipsy and blew up Kingston--proceeding so far as to take
the candle across the room, hold it to his face, and show us what a soft
fellow he was.[41] I astonished Kingston at supper with a pertinacity in
favour of drinking, keeping my two glasses at work in a knowing way.

I have seen Fanny twice lately--she inquired particularly after you and
wants a co-partnership letter from you. She has been unwell, but is
improving. I think she will be quick. Mrs. Abbey was saying that the
Keatses were ever indolent, that they would ever be so, and that it is
born in them. Well, whispered Fanny to me, if it is born with us, how can
we help it? She seems very anxious for a letter. As I asked her what I
should get for her, she said a "Medal of the Princess." I called on
Haslam--we dined very snugly together. He sent me a Hare last week, which
I sent to Mrs. Dilke. Brown is not come back. I and Dilke are getting
capital friends. He is going to take the Champion. He has sent his farce
to Covent Garden. I met Bob Harris[42] on the steps at Covent Garden; we
had a good deal of curious chat. He came out with his old humble opinion.
The Covent Garden pantomime is a very nice one, but they have a middling
Harlequin, a bad Pantaloon, a worse Clown, and a shocking Columbine, who
is one of the Miss Dennets. I suppose you will see my critique on the new
tragedy in the next week's Champion. It is a shocking bad one. I have not
seen Hunt; he was out when I called. Mrs. Hunt looks as well as ever I saw
her after her confinement. There is an article in the se'nnight Examiner
on Godwin's Mandeville, signed E. K.--I think it Miss Kent's--I will send
it. There are fine subscriptions going on for Hone.

You ask me what degrees there are between Scott's novels and those of
Smollett. They appear to me to be quite distinct in every particular, more
especially in their aims. Scott endeavours to throw so interesting and
romantic a colouring into common and low characters as to give them a
touch of the sublime. Smollett on the contrary pulls down and levels what
with other men would continue romance. The grand parts of Scott are
within the reach of more minds than the finest humours in Humphrey
Clinker. I forget whether that fine thing of the Serjeant is Fielding or
Smollett, but it gives me more pleasure than the whole novel of the
Antiquary. You must remember what I mean. Some one says to the Serjeant:
"That's a non-sequitur!"--"If you come to that," replies the Serjeant,
"you're another!"--

I see by Wells's letter Mr. Abbey[43] does not overstock you with money.
You must write. I have not seen ... yet, but expect it on Wednesday. I am
afraid it is gone. Severn tells me he has an order for some drawings for
the Emperor of Russia.

You must get well Tom, and then I shall feel whole and genial as the
winter air. Give me as many letters as you like, and write to Sawrey soon.
I received a short letter from Bailey about Cripps, and one from Haydon,
ditto. Haydon thinks he improved very much. Mrs. Wells desires
particularly ... to Tom and her respects to George, and I desire no better
than to be ever your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.

_P.S._--I had not opened the Champion before I found both my articles in
it.

I was at a dance at Redhall's, and passed a pleasant time enough--drank
deep, and won 10.6 at cutting for half guineas.... Bailey was there and
seemed to enjoy the evening. Rice said he cared less about the hour than
any one, and the proof is his dancing--he cares not for time, dancing as
if he was deaf. Old Redhall not being used to give parties, had no idea of
the quantity of wine that would be drank, and he actually put in readiness
on the kitchen stairs eight dozen.

Every one inquires after you, and desires their remembrances to you.

Your Brother

JOHN.



XXVI.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


[Hampstead,] Saturday Morn [January 10, 1818].

My dear Haydon--I should have seen you ere this, but on account of my
sister being in Town: so that when I have sometimes made ten paces towards
you, Fanny has called me into the City; and the Christmas Holydays are
your only time to see Sisters, that is if they are so situated as mine. I
will be with you early next week--to-night it should be, but we have a
sort of a Club every Saturday evening--to-morrow, but I have on that day
an insuperable engagement. Cripps has been down to me, and appears
sensible that a binding to you would be of the greatest advantage to
him--if such a thing be done it cannot be before £150 or £200 are secured
in subscriptions to him. I will write to Bailey about it, give a Copy of
the Subscribers' names to every one I know who is likely to get a £5 for
him. I will leave a Copy at Taylor and Hessey's, Rodwell and Martin, and
will ask Kingston and Co. to cash up.

Your friendship for me is now getting into its teens--and I feel the past.
Also every day older I get--the greater is my idea of your achievements in
Art: and I am convinced that there are three things to rejoice at in this
Age--The Excursion, Your Pictures, and Hazlitt's depth of Taste.

Yours affectionately

JOHN KEATS.



XXVII.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


[Hampstead,] Saturday Morning [January 10, 1818].

My dear Taylor--Several things have kept me from you lately:--first you
had got into a little hell, which I was not anxious to reconnoitre--
secondly, I have made a vow not to call again without my first book: so you
may expect to see me in four days. Thirdly, I have been racketing too
much, and do not feel over well. I have seen Wordsworth frequently--Dined
with him last Monday--Reynolds, I suppose you have seen. Just scribble me
thus many lines, to let me know you are in the land of the living, and
well. Remember me to the Fleet Street Household--and should you see any
from Percy Street, give my kindest regards to them.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



XXVIII.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


[Hampstead,] Tuesday [January 13, 1818].

My dear Brothers--I am certain I think of having a letter to-morrow
morning for I expected one so much this morning, having been in town two
days, at the end of which my expectations began to get up a little. I
found two on the table, one from Bailey and one from Haydon, 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 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 do believe--Not thus speaking with any
poor vanity that works of genius were 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 tiptop of any spiritual honours that can
be paid to anything 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. I was speaking about doubts and
fancies--I mean there has been a quarrel of a severe nature between Haydon
and Reynolds and another ("the Devil rides upon a fiddlestick") between
Hunt and Haydon--the first grew from the Sunday on which Haydon invited
some friends to meet Wordsworth. Reynolds never went, and never sent any
Notice about it, this offended Haydon more than it ought to have done--he
wrote a very sharp and high note to Reynolds and then another in
palliation--but which Reynolds feels as an aggravation of the
first--Considering all things, Haydon's frequent neglect of his
Appointments, etc. his notes were bad enough to put Reynolds on the right
side of the question--but then Reynolds has no power of sufferance; no
idea of having the thing against him; so he answered Haydon in one of the
most cutting letters I ever read; exposing to himself all his own
weaknesses and going on to an excess, which whether it is just or no, is
what I would fain have unsaid, the fact is, they are both in the right and
both in the wrong.

The quarrel with Hunt I understand thus far. Mrs. H. was in the habit of
borrowing silver of Haydon--the last time she did so, Haydon asked her to
return it at a certain time--she did not--Haydon sent for it--Hunt went to
expostulate on the indelicacy, etc.--they got to words and parted for
ever. All I hope is at some time to bring them together again.--Lawk!
Molly there's been such doings--Yesterday evening I made an appointment
with Wells to go to a private theatre, and it being in the neighbourhood
of Drury Lane, and thinking we might be fatigued with sitting the whole
evening in one dirty hole, I got the Drury Lane ticket, and therewith we
divided the evening with a spice of Richard III----


[Later, January 19 or 20.]

Good Lord! I began this letter nearly a week ago, what have I been doing
since--I have been--I mean not been--sending last Sunday's paper to you.
I believe because it was not near me--for I cannot find it, and my
conscience presses heavy on me for not sending it. You would have had one
last Thursday, but I was called away, and have been about somewhere ever
since. Where? What! Well I rejoice almost that I have not heard from you
because no news is good news. I cannot for the world recollect why I was
called away, all I know is that there has been a dance at Dilke's, and
another at the London Coffee House; to both of which I went. But I must
tell you in another letter the circumstances thereof--for though a week
should have passed since I wrote on the other side it quite appals me. I
can only write in scraps and patches. Brown is returned from Hampstead.
Haydon has returned an answer in the same style--they are all dreadfully
irritated against each other. On Sunday I saw Hunt and dined with Haydon,
met Hazlitt and Bewick there, and took Haslam with me--forgot to speak
about Cripps though I broke my engagement to Haslam's on purpose.
Mem.--Haslam came to meet me, found me at Breakfast, had the goodness to
go with me my way--I have just finished the revision of my first book, and
shall take it to Taylor's to-morrow--intend to persevere--Do not let me
see many days pass without hearing from you.

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XXIX.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


[Hampstead,] Friday 23d [January 1818].

My dear Taylor--I have spoken to Haydon about the drawing. He would do it
with all his Art and Heart too, if so I will it; however, he has written
thus to me; but I must tell you, first, he intends painting a finished
Picture from the Poem. Thus he writes--"When I do anything for your Poem
it must be effectual--an honour to both of us: to hurry up a sketch for
the season won't do. I think an engraving from your head, from a Chalk
drawing of mine, done with all my might, to which I would put my name,
would answer Taylor's idea better than the other. Indeed, I am sure of it.
This I will do, and this will be effectual, and as I have not done it for
any other human being, it will have an effect."

What think you of this? Let me hear. I shall have my second Book in
readiness forthwith.

Yours most sincerely

JOHN KEATS.

If Reynolds calls tell him three lines will be acceptable, for I am squat
at Hampstead.



XXX.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


[Hampstead,] Friday 23d January [1818].

My dear Brothers--I was thinking what hindered me from writing so long,
for I have so many things to say to you, and know not where to begin. It
shall be upon a thing most interesting to you, my Poem. Well! I have given
the first Book to Taylor; he seemed more than satisfied with it, and to my
surprise proposed publishing it in Quarto if Haydon would make a drawing
of some event therein, for a Frontispiece. I called on Haydon, he said he
would do anything I liked, but said he would rather paint a finished
picture, from it, which he seems eager to do; this in a year or two will
be a glorious thing for us; and it will be, for Haydon is struck with the
1st Book. I left Haydon and the next day received a letter from him,
proposing to make, as he says, with all his might, a finished chalk sketch
of my head, to be engraved in the first style and put at the head of my
Poem, saying at the same time he had never done the thing for any human
being, and that it must have considerable effect as he will put his name
to it--I begin to-day to copy my 2nd Book--"thus far into the bowels of
the land"--You shall hear whether it will be Quarto or non Quarto, picture
or non picture. Leigh Hunt I showed my 1st Book to--he allows it not much
merit as a whole; says it is unnatural and made ten objections to it in
the mere skimming over. He says the conversation is unnatural and too
high-flown for Brother and Sister--says it should be simple forgetting do
ye mind that they are both overshadowed by a supernatural Power, and of
force could not speak like Francesca in the Rimini. He must first prove
that Caliban's poetry is unnatural--This with me completely overturns his
objections--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. I went
last Tuesday, an hour too late, to Hazlitt's Lecture on poetry, got there
just as they were coming out, when all these pounced upon me. Hazlitt,
John Hunt and Son, Wells, Bewick, all the Landseers, Bob Harris, aye and
more--the Landseers enquired after you particularly--I know not whether
Wordsworth has left town--But Sunday I dined with Hazlitt and Haydon, also
that I took Haslam with me--I dined with Brown lately. Dilke having taken
the Champion Theatricals was obliged to be in town--Fanny has returned to
Walthamstow.--Mr. Abbey appeared very glum, the last time I went to see
her, and said in an indirect way, that I had no business there--Rice has
been ill, but has been mending much lately--

I think a little change has taken place in my intellect lately--I cannot
bear to be uninterested or unemployed, I, who for so long a time have been
addicted to passiveness. Nothing is finer for the purposes of great
productions than a very gradual ripening of the intellectual powers. As an
instance of this--observe--I sat down yesterday to read King Lear once
again: the thing appeared to demand the prologue of a sonnet, I wrote it,
and began to read--(I know you would like to see it.)

ON SITTING DOWN TO KING LEAR ONCE AGAIN.

  O golden-tongued Romance with serene Lute!
  Fair-plumed Syren, Queen of far-away!
  Leave melodising on this wintry day,
  Shut up thine olden volume and be mute.
  Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute
  Betwixt Hell torment and impassion'd Clay
  Must I burn through; once more assay
  The bitter sweet of this Shakspearian fruit.
  Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
  Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
  When I am through the old oak forest gone
  Let me not wander in a barren dream,
  But, when I am consumed with the Fire,
  Give me new Phoenix-wings to fly at my desire.

So you see I am getting at it, with a sort of determination and strength,
though verily I do not feel it at this moment--this is my fourth letter
this morning, and I feel rather tired, and my head rather swimming--so I
will leave it open till to-morrow's post.--

I am in the habit of taking my papers to Dilke's and copying there; so I
chat and proceed at the same time. I have been there at my work this
evening, and the walk over the Heath takes off all sleep, so I will even
proceed with you. I left off short in my last just as I began an account
of a private theatrical--Well it was of the lowest order, all greasy and
oily, insomuch that if they had lived in olden times, when signs were hung
over the doors, the only appropriate one for that oily place would have
been--a guttered Candle. They played John Bull, The Review, and it was to
conclude with Bombastes Furioso--I saw from a Box the first Act of John
Bull, then went to Drury and did not return till it was over--when by
Wells's interest we got behind the scenes--there was not a yard wide all
the way round for actors, scene-shifters, and interlopers to move in--for
'Nota Bene' the Green Room was under the stage, and there was I threatened
over and over again to be turned out by the oily scene-shifters, there did
I hear a little painted Trollop own, very candidly, that she had failed
in Mary, with a "damn'd if she'd play a serious part again, as long as she
lived," and at the same time she was habited as the Quaker in the
Review.--There was a quarrel, and a fat good-natured looking girl in
soldiers' clothes wished she had only been a man for Tom's sake. One
fellow began a song, but an unlucky finger-point from the Gallery sent him
off like a shot. One chap was dressed to kill for the King in Bombastes,
and he stood at the edge of the scene in the very sweat of anxiety to show
himself, but Alas the thing was not played. The sweetest morsel of the
night moreover was, that the musicians began pegging and fagging away--at
an overture--never did you see faces more in earnest, three times did they
play it over, dropping all kinds of corrections and still did not the
curtain go up. Well then they went into a country dance, then into a
region they well knew, into the old boonsome Pothouse, and then to see how
pompous o' the sudden they turned; how they looked about and chatted; how
they did not care a damn; was a great treat----

I hope I have not tired you by this filling up of the dash in my last.
Constable the bookseller has offered Reynolds ten guineas a sheet to write
for his Magazine--it is an Edinburgh one, which Blackwood's started up in
opposition to. Hunt said he was nearly sure that the 'Cockney School' was
written by Scott[44] so you are right Tom!--There are no more little bits
of news I can remember at present.

I remain, My dear Brothers, Your very affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XXXI.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


[Hampstead,] Friday Jan{y.} 23 [1818].

My dear Bailey--Twelve days have pass'd since your last reached me.--What
has gone through the myriads of human minds since the 12th? We talk of the
immense Number of Books, the Volumes ranged thousands by thousands--but
perhaps more goes through the human intelligence in Twelve days than ever
was written.--_How has that unfortunate family lived through the twelve?_
One saying of yours I shall never forget--you may not recollect it--it
being perhaps said when you were looking on the Surface and seeming of
Humanity alone, without a thought of the past or the future--or the deeps
of good and evil--you were at that moment estranged from speculation, and
I think you have arguments ready for the Man who would utter it to
you--this is a formidable preface for a simple thing--merely you said,
"_Why should woman suffer?_" Aye, why should she? "By heavens I'd coin my
very Soul, and drop my Blood for Drachmas!" These things are, and he, who
feels how incompetent the most skyey Knight-errantry is to heal this
bruised fairness, is like a sensitive leaf on the hot hand of
thought.--Your tearing, my dear friend, a spiritless and gloomy letter up,
to re-write to me, is what I shall never forget--it was to me a real
thing--Things have happened lately of great perplexity--you must have
heard of them--Reynolds and Haydon retorting and recriminating--and
parting for ever--the same thing has happened between Haydon and Hunt. It
is unfortunate--Men should bear with each other: there lives not the Man
who may not be cut up, aye Lashed to pieces on his weakest side. The best
of Men have but a portion of good in them--a kind of spiritual yeast in
their frames, which creates the ferment of existence--by which a Man is
propelled to act, and strive, and buffet with Circumstance. The sure way,
Bailey, is first to know a Man's faults, and then be passive--if after
that he insensibly draws you towards him then you have no power to break
the link. Before I felt interested in either Reynolds or Haydon, I was
well read in their faults; yet, knowing them, I have been cementing
gradually with both. I have an affection for them both, for reasons almost
opposite--and to both must I of necessity cling, supported always by the
hope that, when a little time, a few years, shall have tried me more fully
in their esteem, I may be able to bring them together. The time must come,
because they have both hearts: and they will recollect the best parts of
each other, when this gust is overblown.--I had a message from you through
a letter to Jane--I think, about Cripps--there can be no idea of binding
until a sufficient sum is sure for him--and even then the thing should be
maturely considered by all his helpers--I shall try my luck upon as many
fat purses as I can meet with.--Cripps is improving very fast: I have the
greater hopes of him because he is so slow in development. A Man of great
executing powers at 20, with a look and a speech almost stupid, is sure to
do something.

I have just looked through the Second Side of your Letter--I feel a great
content at it.--I was at Hunt's the other day, and he surprised me with a
real authenticated lock of _Milton's Hair_. I know you would like what I
wrote thereon, so here it is--_as they say of a Sheep in a Nursery
Book_:--

ON SEEING A LOCK OF MILTON'S HAIR.

  Chief of Organic Numbers!
    Old Scholar of the Spheres!
  Thy spirit never slumbers,
    But rolls about our ears
  For ever, and for ever!
  O what a mad endeavour
            Worketh he,
  Who to thy sacred and ennobled hearse
  Would offer a burnt sacrifice of verse
            And melody.

  How heavenward thou soundest,
    Live Temple of sweet noise,
  And Discord unconfoundest,
    Giving Delight new joys,
  And Pleasure nobler pinions!
  O, where are thy dominions?
            Lend thine ear
  To a young Delian oath,--aye, by thy soul,
  By all that from thy mortal lips did roll,
  And by the kernel of thine earthly love,
  Beauty, in things on earth, and things above,
            I swear!
    When every childish fashion
      Has vanish'd from my rhyme,
    Will I, gray-gone in passion,
      Leave to an after-time,
        Hymning and harmony
  Of thee, and of thy works, and of thy life;
  But vain is now the burning and the strife,
  Pangs are in vain, until I grow high-rife
        With old Philosophy,
  And mad with glimpses of futurity!

  For many years my offering must be hush'd;
    When I do speak, I'll think upon this hour,
  Because I feel my forehead hot and flush'd,
    Even at the simplest vassal of thy power,--
      A lock of thy bright hair,--
      Sudden it came,
  And I was startled, when I caught thy name
      Coupled so unaware;
  Yet, at the moment, temperate was my blood.
  I thought I had beheld it from the flood.

This I did at Hunt's at his request--perhaps I should have done something
better alone and at home.--I have sent my first Book to the press, and
this afternoon shall begin preparing the Second--my visit to you will be a
great spur to quicken the proceeding.--I have not had your Sermon
returned--I long to make it the Subject of a Letter to you--What do they
say at Oxford?

I trust you and Gleig pass much fine time together. Remember me to him and
Whitehead. My Brother Tom is getting stronger, but his spitting of Blood
continues. I sat down to read King Lear yesterday, and felt the greatness
of the thing up to the Writing of a Sonnet preparatory thereto--in my next
you shall have it.--There were some miserable reports of Rice's health--I
went, and lo! Master Jemmy had been to the play the night before, and was
out at the time--he always comes on his legs like a Cat. I have seen a
good deal of Wordsworth. Hazlitt is lecturing on Poetry at the Surrey
Institution--I shall be there next Tuesday.

Your most affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



XXXII.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


[Hampstead, January 30, 1818.]

My dear Taylor--These lines as they now stand about "happiness," have rung
in my ears like "a chime a mending"--See here,

                                "Behold
  Wherein lies happiness, Peona? fold, etc."

It appears to me the very contrary of blessed. I hope this will appear to
you more eligible.

  "Wherein lies Happiness? In that which becks
  Our ready minds to fellowship divine,
  A fellowship with Essence till we shine
  Full alchemised, and free of space--Behold
  The clear religion of Heaven--fold, etc."

You must indulge me by putting this in, for setting aside the badness of
the other, such a preface is necessary to the subject. The whole thing
must, I think, have appeared to you, who are a consecutive man, as a thing
almost of mere words, but I assure you that, when I wrote it, it was a
regular stepping of the Imagination towards a truth. My having written
that argument will perhaps be of the greatest service to me of anything I
ever did. It set before me the gradations of happiness, even like a kind
of pleasure thermometer, and is my first step towards the chief attempt in
the drama. The playing of different natures with joy and Sorrow--Do me
this favour, and believe me

Your sincere friend

J. KEATS.

I hope your next work will be of a more general Interest. I suppose you
cogitate a little about it, now and then.



XXXIII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Hampstead, Saturday [January 31, 1818].

My dear Reynolds--I have parcelled out this day for Letter Writing--more
resolved thereon because your Letter will come as a refreshment and will
have (sic parvis etc.) the same effect as a Kiss in certain situations
where people become over-generous. I have read this first sentence over,
and think it savours rather; however an inward innocence is like a nested
dove, as the old song says....

Now I purposed to write to you a serious poetical letter, but I find that
a maxim I met with the other day is a just one: "On cause míeux quand on
ne dit pas _causons_." I was hindered, however, from my first intention by
a mere muslin Handkerchief very neatly pinned--but "Hence, vain deluding,"
etc. Yet I cannot write in prose; it is a sunshiny day and I cannot, so
here goes,--

  Hence Burgundy, Claret, and Port,
    Away with old Hock and Madeira,
  Too earthly ye are for my sport;
    There's a beverage brighter and clearer.
  Instead of a pitiful rummer,
  My wine overbrims a whole summer;
    My bowl is the sky,
    And I drink at my eye,
    Till I feel in the brain
    A Delphian pain--
  Then follow, my Caius! then follow:
    On the green of the hill
    We will drink our fill
    Of golden sunshine,
    Till our brains intertwine
  With the glory and grace of Apollo!

  God of the Meridian,
    And of the East and West,
  To thee my soul is flown,
    And my body is earthward press'd.--
  It is an awful mission,
  A terrible division;
  And leaves a gulph austere
  To be fill'd with worldly fear.
  Aye, when the soul is fled
  Too high above our head,
  Affrighted do we gaze
  After its airy maze,
  As doth a mother wild,
  When her young infant child
  Is in an eagle's claws--
  And is not this the cause
  Of madness?--God of Song,
  Thou bearest me along
  Through sights I scarce can bear:
  O let me, let me share
  With the hot lyre and thee,
  The staid Philosophy.
  Temper my lonely hours,
  And let me see thy bowers
  More unalarm'd!

My dear Reynolds, you must forgive all this ranting--but the fact is, I
cannot write sense this Morning--however you shall have some--I will copy
out my last Sonnet.

  When I have fears that I may cease to be
    Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
  Before high piled Books in charactery,
    Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain--
  When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
  And think that I may never live to trace
    Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
  And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
    That I shall never look upon thee more,
  Never have relish in the faery power
    Of unreflecting Love;--then on the shore
        Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
        Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

I must take a turn, and then write to Teignmouth. Remember me to all, not
excepting yourself.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



XXXIV.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Hampstead, Tuesday [February 3, 1818].

My dear Reynolds--I thank you for your dish of Filberts--would I could get
a basket of them by way of dessert every day for the sum of twopence.[45]
Would we were a sort of ethereal Pigs, and turned loose to feed upon
spiritual Mast and Acorns--which would be merely being a squirrel and
feeding upon filberts, for what is a squirrel but an airy pig, or a
filbert but a sort of archangelical acorn? About the nuts being worth
cracking, all I can say is, that where there are a throng of delightful
Images ready drawn, simplicity is the only thing. The first is the best on
account of the first line, and the "arrow, foil'd of its antler'd food,"
and moreover (and this is the only word or two I find fault with, the more
because I have had so much reason to shun it as a quicksand) the last has
"tender and true." We must cut this, and not be rattlesnaked into any more
of the like. It may be said that we ought to read our contemporaries, that
Wordsworth, etc., should have their due from us. But, for the sake of a
few fine imaginative or domestic passages, are we to be bullied into a
certain Philosophy engendered in the whims of an Egotist? Every man has
his speculations, but every man does not brood and peacock over them till
he makes a false coinage and deceives himself. Many a man can travel to
the very bourne of Heaven, and yet want confidence to put down his
half-seeing. Sancho will invent a Journey heavenward as well as anybody.
We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us, and, if we do not
agree, seems to put its hand into its breeches pocket. Poetry should be
great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not
startle it or amaze it with itself--but with its subject. How beautiful
are the retired flowers!--how would they lose their beauty were they to
throng into the highway, crying out, "Admire me, I am a violet! Dote upon
me, I am a primrose!" Modern poets differ from the Elizabethans in this:
each of the moderns like an Elector of Hanover governs his petty state and
knows how many straws are swept daily from the Causeways in all his
dominions, and has a continual itching that all the Housewives should have
their coppers well scoured: The ancients were Emperors of vast Provinces,
they had only heard of the remote ones and scarcely cared to visit them. I
will cut all this--I will have no more of Wordsworth or Hunt in
particular--Why should we be of the tribe of Manasseh, when we can wander
with Esau? Why should we kick against the Pricks, when we can walk on
Roses? Why should we be owls, when we can be eagles? Why be teased with
"nice-eyed wagtails," when we have in sight "the Cherub Contemplation"?
Why with Wordsworth's "Matthew with a bough of wilding in his hand," when
we can have Jacques "under an oak," etc.? The secret of the Bough of
Wilding will run through your head faster than I can write it. Old Matthew
spoke to him some years ago on some nothing, and because he happens in an
Evening Walk to imagine the figure of the old Man, he must stamp it down
in black and white, and it is henceforth sacred. I don't mean to deny
Wordsworth's grandeur and Hunt's merit, but I mean to say we need not be
teased with grandeur and merit when we can have them uncontaminated and
unobtrusive. Let us have the old Poets and Robin Hood. Your letter and its
sonnets gave me more pleasure than will the Fourth Book of Childe Harold
and the whole of anybody's life and opinions. In return for your Dish of
Filberts, I have gathered a few Catkins, I hope they'll look pretty.

TO J. H. R. IN ANSWER TO HIS ROBIN HOOD SONNETS.

  No! those days are gone away,
  And their hours are old and gray,
  And their minutes buried all
  Under the down-trodden pall
  Of the leaves of many years.
  Many times have Winter's shears,
  Frozen North and chilling East,
  Sounded tempests to the feast
  Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
  Since men paid no rent on Leases.
    No! the Bugle sounds no more,
  And the twanging bow no more;
  Silent is the ivory shrill
  Past the heath and up the Hill;
  There is no mid-forest laugh,
  Where lone Echo gives the half
  To some wight amaz'd to hear
  Jesting, deep in forest drear.
    On the fairest time of June
  You may go with Sun or Moon,
  Or the seven stars to light you,
  Or the polar ray to right you;
  But you never may behold
  Little John or Robin bold;
  Never any of all the clan,
  Thrumming on an empty can
  Some old hunting ditty, while
  He doth his green way beguile
  To fair Hostess Merriment
  Down beside the pasture Trent,
  For he left the merry tale,
  Messenger for spicy ale.
    Gone the merry morris din,
  Gone the song of Gamelyn,
  Gone the tough-belted outlaw
  Idling in the "grenè shawe":
  All are gone away and past!
  And if Robin _should_ be cast
  Sudden from his turfed grave,
  And if Marian _should_ have
  Once again her forest days,
  She would weep, and he would craze:
  He would swear, for all his oaks,
  Fall'n beneath the Dock-yard strokes,
  Have rotted on the briny seas;
  She would weep that her wild bees
  Sang not to her--"strange that honey
  Can't be got without hard money!"

    So it is! yet let us sing,
  Honour to the old bow-string,
  Honour to the bugle-horn,
  Honour to the woods unshorn,
  Honour to the Lincoln green,
  Honour to the archer keen,
  Honour to tight little John,
  And the horse he rode upon:
  Honour to bold Robin Hood,
  Sleeping in the underwood!
  Honour to maid Marian,
  And to all the Sherwood clan--
  Though their days have hurried by
  Let us two a burden try.

I hope you will like them--they are at least written in the Spirit of
Outlawry. Here are the Mermaid lines,

  Souls of Poets dead and gone,
  What Elysium have ye known,
  Happy field, or mossy cavern,
  Fairer than the Mermaid Tavern?
    Have ye tippled drink more fine
  Than mine Host's Canary wine?
  Or are fruits of paradise
  Sweeter than those dainty pies
  Of Venison? O generous food
  Drest as though bold Robin Hood
  Would with his Maid Marian,
  Sup and bowse from horn and can.
    I have heard that, on a day,
  Mine host's sign-board flew away,
  No body knew whither, till
  An astrologer's old Quill
  To a sheepskin gave the story,
  Said he saw you in your glory,
  Underneath a new old-sign
  Sipping beverage divine,
  And pledging with contented smack,
  The Mermaid in the Zodiac.
    Souls of Poets dead and gone,
  Are the winds a sweeter home?
  Richer is uncellar'd cavern,
  Than the merry mermaid Tavern?[46]

I will call on you at 4 to-morrow, and we will trudge together, for it is
not the thing to be a stranger in the Land of Harpsicols. I hope also to
bring you my 2nd Book. In the hope that these Scribblings will be some
amusement for you this Evening, I remain, copying on the Hill,

Your sincere friend and Co-scribbler

JOHN KEATS.



XXXV.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Fleet Street, Thursday Morn [February 5, 1818].

My dear Taylor--I have finished copying my Second Book--but I want it for
one day to overlook it. And moreover this day I have very particular
employ in the affair of Cripps--so I trespass on your indulgence, and take
advantage of your good nature. You shall hear from me or see me soon. I
will tell Reynolds of your engagement to-morrow.

Yours unfeignedly

JOHN KEATS.



XXXVI.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


Hampstead, Saturday Night [February 14, 1818].

My dear Brothers--When once a man delays a letter beyond the proper time,
he delays it longer, for one or two reasons--first, because he must begin
in a very common-place style, that is to say, with an excuse; and secondly
things and circumstances become so jumbled in his mind, that he knows not
what, or what not, he has said in his last--I shall visit you as soon as I
have copied my poem all out, I am now much beforehand with the printer,
they have done none yet, and I am half afraid they will let half the
season by before the printing. I am determined they shall not trouble me
when I have copied it all.--Horace Smith has lent me his manuscript called
"Nehemiah Muggs, an exposure of the Methodists"--perhaps I may send you a
few extracts--Hazlitt's last Lecture was on Thomson, Cowper, and Crabbe,
he praised Thomson and Cowper but he gave Crabbe an unmerciful licking--I
think Hunt's article of Fazio--no it was not, but I saw Fazio the first
night, it hung rather heavily on me--I am in the high way of being
introduced to a squad of people, Peter Pindar, Mrs. Opie, Mrs. Scott--Mr.
Robinson a great friend of Coleridge's called on me.[47] Richards tells me
that my poems are known in the west country, and that he saw a very clever
copy of verses, headed with a Motto from my Sonnet to George--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.[48] The Wednesday before last Shelley, Hunt and I wrote each a
Sonnet on the River Nile, some day you shall read them all. I saw a sheet
of Endymion, and have all reason to suppose they will soon get it done,
there shall be nothing wanting on my part. I have been writing at
intervals many songs and Sonnets, and I long to be at Teignmouth, to read
them over to you: however I think I had better wait till this Book is off
my mind; it will not be long first.

Reynolds has been writing two very capital articles, in the Yellow Dwarf,
on popular Preachers--All the talk here is about Dr. Croft the Duke of
Devon etc.

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XXXVII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[Hampstead, February 19, 1818.]

My dear Reynolds--I had an idea that a Man might pass a very pleasant life
in this manner--Let him on a certain day read a certain page of full Poesy
or distilled Prose, and let him wander with it, and muse upon it, and
reflect from it, and bring home to it, and prophesy upon it, and dream
upon it: until it becomes stale--But when will it do so? Never--When Man
has arrived at a certain ripeness in intellect any one grand and spiritual
passage serves him as a starting-post towards all "the two-and-thirty
Palaces." How happy is such a voyage of conception, what delicious
diligent indolence! A doze upon a sofa does not hinder it, and a nap upon
Clover engenders ethereal finger-pointings--the prattle of a child gives
it wings, and the converse of middle-age a strength to beat them--a strain
of music conducts to "an odd angle of the Isle," and when the leaves
whisper it puts a girdle round the earth.--Nor will this sparing touch of
noble Books be any irreverence to their Writers--for perhaps the honors
paid by Man to Man are trifles in comparison to the benefit done by great
works to the "spirit and pulse of good" by their mere passive existence.
Memory should not be called Knowledge--Many have original minds who do not
think it--they are led away by Custom. Now it appears to me that almost
any Man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy
Citadel--the points of leaves and twigs on which the spider begins her
work are few, and she fills the air with a beautiful circuiting. Man
should be content with as few points to tip with the fine Web of his Soul,
and weave a tapestry empyrean--full of symbols for his spiritual eye, of
softness for his spiritual touch, of space for his wandering, of
distinctness for his luxury. But the minds of mortals are so different and
bent on such diverse journeys that it may at first appear impossible for
any common taste and fellowship to exist between two or three under these
suppositions. It is however quite the contrary. Minds would leave each
other in contrary directions, traverse each other in numberless points,
and at last greet each other at the journey's end. An old man and a child
would talk together and the old man be led on his path and the child left
thinking. Man should not dispute or assert, but whisper results to his
Neighbour, and thus by every germ of spirit sucking the sap from mould
ethereal every human might become great, and humanity instead of being a
wide heath of furze and briars, with here and there a remote Oak or Pine,
would become a grand democracy of forest trees. It has been an old
comparison for our urging on--the beehive--however it seems to me that we
should rather be the flower than the Bee--for it is a false notion that
more is gained by receiving than giving--no, the receiver and the giver
are equal in their benefits. The flower, I doubt not, receives a fair
guerdon from the Bee--its leaves blush deeper in the next spring--and who
shall say between Man and Woman which is the most delighted? Now it is
more noble to sit like Jove than to fly like Mercury:--let us not
therefore go hurrying about and collecting honey, bee-like, buzzing here
and there impatiently from a knowledge of what is to be arrived at. But
let us open our leaves like a flower, and be passive and receptive;
budding patiently under the eye of Apollo and taking hints from every
noble insect that favours us with a visit--Sap will be given us for meat,
and dew for drink. I was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, by the
beauty of the morning operating on a sense of Idleness. I have not read
any Books--the Morning said I was right--I had no idea but of the Morning,
and the Thrush said I was right--seeming to say,

  "O thou whose face hath felt the Winter's wind,
  Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in Mist,
  And the black Elmtops 'mong the freezing stars:
  To thee the Spring will be a harvest-time--
  O thou, whose only book has been the light
  Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
  Night after night, when Phoebus was away,
  To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn--
  O fret not after knowledge--I have none,
  And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
  O fret not after knowledge--I have none,
  And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
  At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
  And he's awake who thinks himself asleep."

Now I am sensible all this is a mere sophistication (however it may
neighbour to any truths), to excuse my own indolence--So I will not
deceive myself that Man should be equal with Jove--but think himself very
well off as a sort of scullion-Mercury or even a humble-bee. It is no
matter whether I am right or wrong either one way or another, if there is
sufficient to lift a little time from your shoulders--

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



XXXVIII.--TO GEORGE AND THOMAS KEATS.


Hampstead, Saturday [February 21, 1818].

My dear Brothers--I am extremely sorry to have given you so much
uneasiness by not writing; however, you know good news is no news or vice
versâ. I do not like to write a short letter to you, or you would have had
one long before. The weather although boisterous to-day has been very much
milder; and I think Devonshire is not the last place to receive a
temperate Change. I have been abominably idle since you left, but have
just turned over a new leaf, and used as a marker a letter of excuse to an
invitation from Horace Smith. The occasion of my writing to-day is the
enclosed letter--by Postmark from Miss W----[49] Does she expect you in
town George? I received a letter the other day from Haydon, in which he
says, his Essays on the Elgin Marbles are being translated into Italian,
the which he superintends. I did not mention that I had seen the British
Gallery, there are some nice things by Stark, and Bathsheba by Wilkie,
which is condemned. I could not bear Alston's Uriel.

Reynolds has been very ill for some time, confined to the house, and had
leeches applied to his chest; when I saw him on Wednesday he was much the
same, and he is in the worst place for amendment, among the strife of
women's tongues, in a hot and parch'd room: I wish he would move to
Butler's for a short time. The Thrushes and Blackbirds have been singing
me into an idea that it was Spring, and almost that leaves were on the
trees. So that black clouds and boisterous winds seem to have mustered and
collected in full Divan, for the purpose of convincing me to the contrary.
Taylor says my poem shall be out in a month, I think he will be out before
it....

The thrushes are singing now as if they would speak to the winds, because
their big brother Jack, the Spring, was not far off. I am reading Voltaire
and Gibbon, although I wrote to Reynolds the other day to prove reading of
no use; I have not seen Hunt since, I am a good deal with Dilke and Brown,
we are very thick; they are very kind to me, they are well. I don't think
I could stop in Hampstead but for their neighbourhood. I hear Hazlitt's
lectures regularly, his last was on Gray, Collins, Young, etc., and he
gave a very fine piece of discriminating Criticism on Swift, Voltaire, and
Rabelais. I was very disappointed at his treatment of Chatterton. I
generally meet with many I know there. Lord Byron's 4th Canto is expected
out, and I heard somewhere, that Walter Scott has a new Poem in readiness.
I am sorry that Wordsworth has left a bad impression wherever he visited
in town by his egotism, Vanity, and bigotry. Yet he is a great poet if not
a philosopher. I have not yet read Shelley's Poem, I do not suppose you
have it yet, at the Teignmouth libraries. These double letters must come
rather heavy, I hope you have a moderate portion of cash, but don't fret
at all, if you have not--Lord! I intend to play at cut and run as well as
Falstaff, that is to say, before he got so lusty.

I remain praying for your health my dear Brothers

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XXXIX.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Hampstead, February 27 [1818].

My dear Taylor--Your alteration strikes me as being a great
Improvement--And now I will attend to the punctuations you speak of--The
comma should be at _soberly_, and in the other passage, the Comma should
follow _quiet_. I am extremely indebted to you for this alteration, and
also for your after admonitions. It is a sorry thing for me that any one
should have to overcome prejudices in reading my verses--that affects me
more than any hypercriticism on any particular passage--In Endymion, I
have most likely but moved into the go-cart from the leading-strings--In
poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their
centre.

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 remembrance.

2d. Its touches of beauty should never be half-way, 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 me to

Another axiom--That if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a
tree, it had better not come at all.--However it may be with me, I cannot
help looking into new countries with "O for a Muse of Fire to ascend!" If
Endymion serves me as a pioneer, perhaps I ought to be content--I have
great reason to be content, for thank God I can read, and perhaps
understand Shakspeare to his depths; and I have I am sure many friends,
who, if I fail, will attribute any change in my life and temper to
humbleness rather than pride--to a cowering under the wings of great
poets, rather than to a bitterness that I am not appreciated. I am anxious
to get Endymion printed that I may forget it and proceed. I have copied
the 3rd Book and begun the 4th. On running my eye over the proofs, I saw
one mistake--I will notice it presently, and also any others, if there be
any. There should be no comma in "the raft branch down sweeping from a
tall ash-top." I have besides made one or two alterations, and also
altered the thirteenth line p. 32 to make sense of it, as you will see. I
will take care the printer shall not trip up my heels. There should be no
dash after Dryope, in the line "Dryope's lone lulling of her child."

Remember me to Percy Street.

Your sincere and obliged friend

JOHN KEATS.

_P.S._--You shall have a short preface in good time.



XL.--TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY.


[Hampstead, March 1818?]

My dear Sirs--I am this morning making a general clearance of all lent
Books--all--I am afraid I do not return all--I must fog your memories
about them--however with many thanks here are the remainder--which I am
afraid are not worth so much now as they were six months ago--I mean the
fashions may have changed--

Yours truly

JOHN KEATS.



XLI.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


Teignmouth, Friday [March 13, 1818].[50]

My dear Bailey--When a poor devil is drowning, it is said he comes thrice
to the surface ere he makes his final sink--if however even at the third
rise he can manage to catch hold of a piece of weed or rock he stands a
fair chance, as I hope I do now, of being saved. I have sunk twice in our
correspondence, have risen twice, and have been too idle, or something
worse, to extricate myself. I have sunk the third time, and just now risen
again at this two of the Clock P.M., and saved myself from utter perdition
by beginning this, all drenched as I am, and fresh from the water. And I
would rather endure the present inconvenience of a wet jacket than you
should keep a laced one in store for me. Why did I not stop at Oxford in
my way? How can you ask such a Question? Why, did I not promise to do so?
Did I not in a letter to you make a promise to do so? Then how can you be
so unreasonable as to ask me why I did not? This is the thing--(for I have
been rubbing up my Invention--trying several sleights--I first polished a
cold, felt it in my fingers, tried it on the table, but could not pocket
it:--I tried Chillblains, Rheumatism, Gout, tight boots,--nothing of that
sort would do,--so this is, as I was going to say, the thing)--I had a
letter from Tom, saying how much better he had got, and thinking he had
better stop--I went down to prevent his coming up. Will not this do? turn
it which way you like--it is selvaged all round. I have used it, these
three last days, to keep out the abominable Devonshire weather--by the by,
you may say what you will of Devonshire: the truth is, it is a splashy,
rainy, misty, snowy, foggy, haily, floody, muddy, slipshod county. The
hills are very beautiful, when you get a sight of 'em--the primroses are
out, but then you are in--the Cliffs are of a fine deep colour, but then
the Clouds are continually vieing with them--the Women like your London
people in a sort of negative way--because the native men are the poorest
creatures in England--because Government never have thought it worth while
to send a recruiting party among them. When I think of Wordsworth's sonnet
"Vanguard of Liberty! ye men of Kent!" the degenerated race about me are
Pulvis ipecac. simplex--a strong dose. Were I a corsair, I'd make a
descent on the south coast of Devon; if I did not run the chance of having
Cowardice imputed to me. As for the men, they'd run away into the
Methodist meeting-houses, and the women would be glad of it. Had England
been a large Devonshire, we should not have won the Battle of Waterloo.
There are knotted oaks--there are lusty rivulets? there are meadows such
as are not--there are valleys of feminine[51] climate--but there are no
thews and sinews--Moore's Almanack is here a Curiosity--Arms, neck, and
shoulders may at least be seen there, and the ladies read it as some
out-of-the-way Romance. Such a quelling Power have these thoughts over me
that I fancy the very air of a deteriorating quality. I fancy the flowers,
all precocious, have an Acrasian spell about them--I feel able to beat off
the Devonshire waves like soapfroth. I think it well for the honour of
Britain that Julius Cæsar did not first land in this County. A Devonshirer
standing on his native hills is not a distinct object--he does not show
against the light--a wolf or two would dispossess him. I like, I love
England. I like its living men--give me a long brown plain "for my
morning,"[51] so I may meet with some of Edmund Ironside's descendants.
Give me a barren mould, so I may meet with some shadowing of Alfred in the
shape of a Gipsy, a huntsman or a shepherd. Scenery is fine--but human
nature is finer--the sward is richer for the tread of a real nervous
English foot--the Eagle's nest is finer, for the Mountaineer has looked
into it. Are these facts or prejudices? Whatever they be, for them I shall
never be able to relish entirely any Devonshire scenery--Homer is fine,
Achilles is fine, Diomed is fine, Shakspeare is fine, Hamlet is fine, Lear
is fine, but dwindled Englishmen are not fine. Where too the women are so
passable, and have such English names, such as Ophelia, Cordelia etc. that
they should have such Paramours or rather Imparamours--As for them, I
cannot in thought help wishing, as did the cruel Emperor, that they had
but one head, and I might cut it off to deliver them from any horrible
Courtesy they may do their undeserving countrymen, I wonder I meet with no
born monsters--O Devonshire, last night I thought the moon had dwindled in
heaven----

I have never had your Sermon from Wordsworth, but Mr. Dilke lent it me.
You know my ideas about Religion. I do not think myself more in the right
than other people, and that nothing in this world is proveable. I wish I
could enter into all your feelings on the subject, merely for one short 10
minutes, and give you a page or two to your liking. I am sometimes so very
sceptical as to think Poetry itself a mere Jack o' Lantern to amuse
whoever may chance to be struck with its brilliance. As tradesmen say
everything is worth what it will fetch, so probably every mental pursuit
takes its reality and worth from the ardour of the pursuer--being in
itself a Nothing. Ethereal things may at least be thus real, divided under
three heads--Things real--things semireal--and nothings. Things real, such
as existences of Sun moon and Stars--and passages of Shakspeare.--Things
semireal, such as love, the Clouds etc., which require a greeting of the
Spirit to make them wholly exist--and Nothings, which are made great and
dignified by an ardent pursuit--which, by the by, stamp the Burgundy mark
on the bottles of our minds, insomuch as they are able to "_consecrate
whate'er they look upon_." I have written a sonnet here of a somewhat
collateral nature--so don't imagine it an "apropos des bottes"--

  Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
    There are four seasons in the mind of Man:
  He hath his lusty Spring, when Fancy clear
    Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
  He has his Summer, when luxuriously
    He chews the honied cud of fair Spring thoughts,
  Till in his Soul, dissolv'd, they come to be
    Part of himself: He hath his Autumn Ports
  And havens of repose, when his tired wings
    Are folded up, and he content to look[52]
  On Mists in idleness--to let fair things
    Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
          He has his winter too of Pale misfeature,
          Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

Aye, this may be carried--but what am I talking of?--it is an old maxim of
mine, and of course must be well known, that every point of thought is the
Centre of an intellectual world. The two uppermost thoughts in a Man's
mind are the two poles of his world--he revolves on them, and everything
is Southward or Northward to him through their means.--We take but three
steps from feathers to iron.--Now, my dear fellow, I must once for all
tell you I have not one idea of the truth of any of my speculations--I
shall never be a reasoner, because I care not to be in the right, when
retired from bickering and in a proper philosophical temper. So you must
not stare if in any future letter, I endeavour to prove that Apollo, as he
had catgut strings to his lyre, used a cat's paw as a pecten--and further
from said Pecten's reiterated and continual teasing came the term
_hen-pecked_. My Brother Tom desires to be remembered to you; he has just
this moment had a spitting of blood, poor fellow--Remember me to Gleig and
Whitehead.

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



XLII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Teignmouth, Saturday [March 14, 1818].

Dear Reynolds--I escaped being blown over and blown under and trees and
house being toppled on me.--I have since hearing of Brown's accident had
an aversion to a dose of parapet, and being also a lover of antiquities I
would sooner have a harmless piece of Herculaneum sent me quietly as a
present than ever so modern a chimney-pot tumbled on to my head--Being
agog to see some Devonshire, I would have taken a walk the first day, but
the rain would not let me; and the second, but the rain would not let me;
and the third, but the rain forbade it. Ditto 4--ditto 5--ditto--so I made
up my Mind to stop indoors, and catch a sight flying between the showers:
and, behold I saw a pretty valley--pretty cliffs, pretty Brooks, pretty
Meadows, pretty trees, both standing as they were created, and blown down
as they are uncreated--The green is beautiful, as they say, and pity it is
that it is amphibious--_mais!_ but alas! the flowers here wait as
naturally for the rain twice a day as the Mussels do for the Tide; so we
look upon a brook in these parts as you look upon a splash in your
Country. There must be something to support this--aye, fog, hail, snow,
rain, Mist blanketing up three parts of the year. This Devonshire is like
Lydia Languish, very entertaining when it smiles, but cursedly subject to
sympathetic moisture. You have the sensation of walking under one great
Lamplighter: and you can't go on the other side of the ladder to keep your
frock clean, and cosset your superstition. Buy a girdle--put a pebble in
your mouth--loosen your braces--for I am going among scenery whence I
intend to tip you the Damosel Radcliffe--I'll cavern you, and grotto you,
and waterfall 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 and haw 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--

I went to the Theatre here the other night, which I forgot to tell George,
and got insulted, which I ought to remember to forget to tell any Body;
for I did not fight, and as yet have had no redress--"Lie thou there,
sweetheart!"[53] I wrote to Bailey yesterday, obliged to speak in a high
way, and a damme who's afraid--for I had owed him so long; however, he
shall see I will be better in future. Is he in town yet? I have directed
to Oxford as the better chance. I have copied my fourth Book, and shall
write the Preface soon. I wish it was all done; for I want to forget it
and make my mind free for something new--Atkins the Coachman, Bartlett the
Surgeon, Simmons the Barber, and the Girls over at the Bonnet-shop, say we
shall now have a month of seasonable weather--warm, witty, and full of
invention--Write to me and tell me that you are well or thereabouts, or by
the holy Beaucoeur, which I suppose is the Virgin Mary, or the repented
Magdalen (beautiful name, that Magdalen), I'll take to my Wings and fly
away to anywhere but old or Nova Scotia--I wish I had a little innocent
bit of Metaphysic in my head, to criss-cross the letter: but you know a
favourite tune is hardest to be remembered when one wants it most and you,
I know, have long ere this taken it for granted that I never have any
speculations without associating you in them, where they are of a pleasant
nature, and you know enough of me to tell the places where I haunt most,
so that if you think for five minutes after having read this, you will
find it a long letter, and see written in the Air above you,

Your most affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.

Remember me to all. Tom's remembrances to you.



XLIII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Teignmouth, Saturday Morn [March 21, 1818].

My dear Haydon--In sooth, I hope you are not too sanguine about that
seal--in sooth I hope it is not Brumidgeum--in double sooth I hope it is
his--and in triple sooth I hope I shall have an impression.[54] Such a
piece of intelligence came doubly welcome to me while in your own County
and in your own hand--not but I have blown up the said County for its
urinal qualifications--the six first days I was here it did nothing but
rain; and at that time having to write to a friend I gave Devonshire a
good blowing up--it has been fine for almost three days, and I was coming
round a bit; but to-day it rains again--with me the County is yet upon its
good behaviour. I have enjoyed the most delightful Walks these three fine
days beautiful enough to make me content.

  Here all the summer could I stay,
      For there's Bishop's teign
      And King's teign
  And Coomb at the clear teign head--
      Where close by the stream
      You may have your cream
  All spread upon barley bread.

      There's arch Brook
      And there's larch Brook
  Both turning many a mill;
      And cooling the drouth
      Of the salmon's mouth,
  And fattening his silver gill.

      There is Wild wood,
      A Mild hood
  To the sheep on the lea o' the down,
      Where the golden furze,
      With its green, thin spurs,
  Doth catch at the maiden's gown.

      There is Newton marsh
      With its spear grass harsh--
  A pleasant summer level
      Where the maidens sweet
      Of the Market Street,
  Do meet in the dusk to revel.

      There's the Barton rich
      With dyke and ditch
  And hedge for the thrush to live in
      And the hollow tree
      For the buzzing bee
  And a bank for the wasp to hive in.

      And O, and O
      The daisies blow
  And the primroses are waken'd,
      And the violets white
      Sit in silver plight,
  And the green bud's as long as the spike end.

      Then who would go
      Into dark Soho,
  And chatter with dack'd hair'd critics,
      When he can stay
      For the new-mown hay,
  And startle the dappled Prickets?

I know not if this rhyming fit has done anything--it will be safe with you
if worthy to put among my Lyrics. Here's some doggrel for you--Perhaps you
would like a bit of b----hrell--

  Where be ye going, you Devon Maid?
    And what have you there in the Basket?
  Ye tight little fairy just fresh from the dairy,
    Will ye give me some cream if I ask it?

  I love your Meads, and I love your flowers,
    And I love your junkets mainly,
  But 'hind the door I love kissing more,
    O look not so disdainly.

  I love your hills, and I love your dales,
    And I love your flocks a-bleating--
  But O, on the heather to lie together,
    With both our hearts a-beating!

  I'll put your Basket all safe in a nook,
    Your shawl I hang up on the willow,
  And we will sigh in the daisy's eye
    And kiss on a grass green pillow.

How does the work go on? I should like to bring out my "Dentatus"[55] at
the time your Epic makes its appearance. I expect to have my Mind soon
clear for something new. Tom has been much worse: but is now getting
better--his remembrances to you. I think of seeing the Dart and
Plymouth--but I don't know. It has as yet been a Mystery to me how and
where Wordsworth went. I can't help thinking he has returned to his
Shell--with his beautiful Wife and his enchanting Sister. It is a great
Pity that People should by associating themselves with the finest things,
spoil them. Hunt has damned Hampstead and masks and sonnets and Italian
tales. Wordsworth has damned the lakes--Milman has damned the old
drama--West has damned----wholesale. Peacock has damned satire--Ollier has
damn'd Music--Hazlitt has damned the bigoted and the blue-stockinged; how
durst the Man?! he is your only good damner, and if ever I am damn'd--damn
me if I shouldn't like him to damn me. It will not be long ere I see you,
but I thought I would just give you a line out of Devon.

Yours affectionately

JOHN KEATS.

Remember me to all we know.



XLIV.--TO MESSRS. TAYLOR AND HESSEY.


Teignmouth, Saturday Morn [March 21, 1818].

My dear Sirs--I had no idea of your getting on so fast--I thought of
bringing my 4th Book to Town all in good time for you--especially after
the late unfortunate chance.

I did not however for my own sake delay finishing the copy which was done
a few days after my arrival here. I send it off to-day, and will tell you
in a Postscript at what time to send for it from the Bull and Mouth or
other Inn. You will find the Preface and dedication and the title Page as
I should wish it to stand--for a Romance is a fine thing notwithstanding
the circulating Libraries. My respects to Mrs. Hessey and to Percy Street.

Yours very sincerely

JOHN KEATS.

_P.S._--I have been advised to send it to you--you may expect it on
Monday--for I sent it by the Postman to Exeter at the same time with this
Letter. Adieu!



XLV.--TO JAMES RICE.


Teignmouth, Tuesday [March 24, 1818].

My dear Rice--Being in the midst of your favourite Devon, I should not, by
rights, pen one word but it should contain a vast portion of Wit, Wisdom
and learning--for I have heard that Milton ere he wrote his answer to
Salmasius came into these parts, and for one whole month, rolled himself
for three whole hours (per day?), in a certain meadow hard by us--where
the mark of his nose at equidistances is still shown. The exhibitor of the
said meadow further saith, that, after these rollings, not a nettle sprang
up in all the seven acres for seven years, and that from the said time, a
new sort of plant was made from the whitethorn, of a thornless nature,
very much used by the bucks of the present day to rap their boots withal.
This account made me very naturally suppose that the nettles and thorns
etherealised by the scholar's rotatory motion, and garnered in his head,
thence flew after a process of fermentation against the luckless Salmasius
and occasioned his well-known and unhappy end. What a happy thing it would
be if we could settle our thoughts and make our minds up on any matter in
five minutes, and remain content--that is, build a sort of mental cottage
of feelings, quiet and pleasant--to have a sort of Philosophical
back-garden, and cheerful holiday-keeping front one--but alas! this never
can be: for as the material cottager knows there are such places as France
and Italy, and the Andes and burning mountains, so the spiritual Cottager
has knowledge of the terra semi-incognita of things unearthly, and cannot
for his life keep in the check-rein--or I should stop here quiet and
comfortable in my theory of nettles. You will see, however, I am obliged
to run wild being attracted by the load-stone concatenation. No sooner had
I settled the knotty point of Salmasius, than the Devil put this whim into
my head in the likeness of one of Pythagoras's questionings--Did Milton do
more good or harm in the world? He wrote, let me inform you (for I have it
from a friend, who had it of ----,) he wrote Lycidas, Comus, Paradise Lost
and other Poems, with much delectable prose--He was moreover an active
friend to man all his life, and has been since his death.--Very good--but,
my dear Fellow, I must let you know that, as there is ever the same
quantity of matter constituting this habitable globe--as the ocean
notwithstanding the enormous changes and revolutions taking place in some
or other of its demesnes--notwithstanding Waterspouts whirlpools and
mighty rivers emptying themselves into it--still is made up of the same
bulk, nor ever varies the number of its atoms--and as a certain bulk of
water was instituted at the creation--so very likely a certain portion of
intellect was spun forth into the thin air, for the brains of man to prey
upon it. You will see my drift without any unnecessary parenthesis. That
which is contained in the Pacific could not lie in the hollow of the
Caspian--that which was in Milton's head could not find room in Charles
the Second's--He like a Moon attracted intellect to its flow--it has not
ebbed yet, but has left the shore-pebbles all bare--I mean all Bucks,
Authors of Hengist, and Castlereaghs of the present day; who without
Milton's gormandising might have been all wise men--Now forasmuch as I was
very predisposed to a country I had heard you speak so highly of, I took
particular notice of everything during my journey, and have bought some
folio asses' skins for memorandums. I have seen everything but the
wind--and that, they say, becomes visible by taking a dose of acorns, or
sleeping one night in a hog-trough, with your tail to the Sow Sow-West.
Some of the little Bar-maids look'd at me as if I knew Jem Rice.... Well,
I can't tell! I hope you are showing poor Reynolds the way to get well.
Send me a good account of him, and if I can, I'll send you one of Tom--Oh!
for a day and all well!

I went yesterday to Dawlish fair.

  Over the Hill and over the Dale,
    And over the Bourne to Dawlish,
  Where ginger-bread wives have a scanty sale,
    And ginger-bread nuts are smallish, etc. etc.

Tom's remembrances and mine to you all.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



XLVI.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[Teignmouth, March 25, 1818.]

My dear Reynolds--In hopes of cheering you through a Minute or two, I was
determined will he nill he to send you some lines, so you will excuse the
unconnected subject and careless verse. You know, I am sure, Claude's
Enchanted Castle,[56] and I wish you may be pleased with my remembrance of
it. The Rain is come on again--I think with me Devonshire stands a very
poor chance. I shall damn it up hill and down dale, if it keep up to the
average of six fine days in three weeks. Let me have better news of you.

Tom's remembrances to you. Remember us to all.

Your affectionate friend,

JOHN KEATS.

  Dear Reynolds! as last night I lay in bed,
  There came before my eyes that wonted thread
  Of shapes, and shadows, and remembrances,
  That every other minute vex and please:
  Things all disjointed come from north and south,--
  Two Witch's eyes above a Cherub's mouth,
  Voltaire with casque and shield and habergeon,
  And Alexander with his nightcap on;
  Old Socrates a-tying his cravat,
  And Hazlitt playing with Miss Edgeworth's cat;
  And Junius Brutus, pretty well so so,
  Making the best of's way towards Soho.

    Few are there who escape these visitings,--
  Perhaps one or two whose lives have patent wings,
  And thro' whose curtains peeps no hellish nose,
  No wild-boar tushes, and no Mermaid's toes;
  But flowers bursting out with lusty pride,
  And young Æolian harps personify'd;
  Some Titian colours touch'd into real life,--
  The sacrifice goes on; the pontiff knife
  Gleams in the Sun, the milk-white heifer lows,
  The pipes go shrilly, the libation flows:
  A white sail shows above the green-head cliff,
  Moves round the point, and throws her anchor stiff;
  The mariners join hymn with those on land.

    You know the Enchanted Castle,--it doth stand
  Upon a rock, on the border of a Lake,
  Nested in trees, which all do seem to shake
  From some old magic-like Urganda's Sword.
  O Phoebus! that I had thy sacred word
  To show this Castle, in fair dreaming wise,
  Unto my friend, while sick and ill he lies!

    You know it well enough, where it doth seem
  A mossy place, a Merlin's Hall, a dream;
  You know the clear Lake, and the little Isles,
  The mountains blue, and cold near neighbour rills,
  All which elsewhere are but half animate;
  There do they look alive to love and hate,
  To smiles and frowns; they seem a lifted mound
  Above some giant, pulsing underground.

    Part of the Building was a chosen See,
  Built by a banish'd Santon of Chaldee;
  The other part, two thousand years from him,
  Was built by Cuthbert de Saint Aldebrim;
  Then there's a little wing, far from the Sun,
  Built by a Lapland Witch turn'd maudlin Nun;
  And many other juts of aged stone
  Founded with many a mason-devil's groan.

    The doors all look as if they op'd themselves
  The windows as if latch'd by Fays and Elves,
  And from them comes a silver flash of light,
  As from the westward of a Summer's night;
  Or like a beauteous woman's large blue eyes
  Gone mad thro' olden songs and poesies.

    See! what is coming from the distance dim!
  A golden Galley all in silken trim!
  Three rows of oars are lightening, moment whiles
  Into the verd'rous bosoms of those isles;
  Towards the shade, under the Castle wall,
  It comes in silence,--now 'tis hidden all.
  The Clarion sounds, and from a Postern-gate
  An echo of sweet music doth create
  A fear in the poor Herdsman, who doth bring
  His beasts to trouble the enchanted spring,--
  He tells of the sweet music, and the spot,
  To all his friends, and they believe him not.

    O that our dreamings all, of sleep or wake,
  Would all their colours from the sunset take:
  From something of material sublime,
  Rather than shadow our own soul's day-time
  In the dark void of night. For in the world
  We jostle,--but my flag is not unfurl'd
  On the Admiral-staff,--and so philosophise
  I dare not yet! Oh, never will the prize,
  High reason, and the love of good and ill,
  Be my award! Things cannot to the will
  Be settled, but they tease us out of thought;
  Or is it that imagination brought
  Beyond its proper bound, yet still confin'd,
  Lost in a sort of Purgatory blind,
  Cannot refer to any standard law
  Of either earth or heaven? It is a flaw
  In happiness, to see beyond our bourn,--
  It forces us in summer skies to mourn,
  It spoils the singing of the Nightingale.

    Dear Reynolds! I have a mysterious tale,
  And cannot speak it: the first page I read
  Upon a Lampit rock of green sea-weed
  Among the breakers; 'twas a quiet eve,
  The rocks were silent, the wide sea did weave
  An untumultuous fringe of silver foam
  Along the flat brown sand; I was at home
  And should have been most happy,--but I saw
  Too far into the sea, where every maw
  The greater on the less feeds evermore.--
  But I saw too distinct into the core
  Of an eternal fierce destruction,
  And so from happiness I far was gone.
  Still am I sick of it, and tho' to-day,
  I've gather'd young spring-leaves, and flowers gay
  Of periwinkle and wild strawberry,
  Still do I that most fierce destruction see,--
  The Shark at savage prey,--the Hawk at pounce,--
  The gentle Robin, like a Pard or Ounce,
  Ravening a worm,--Away, ye horrid moods!
  Moods of one's mind! You know I hate them well.
  You know I'd sooner be a clapping Bell
  To some Kamtschatkan Missionary Church,
  Than with these horrid moods be left i' the lurch.



XLVII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wednesday, [Teignmouth, April 8, 1818].

My dear Haydon--I am glad you were pleased with my nonsense, and if it so
happen that the humour takes me when I have set down to prose to you I
will not gainsay it. I should be (God forgive me) ready to swear because I
cannot make use of your assistance in going through Devon if I was not in
my own Mind determined to visit it thoroughly at some more favourable time
of the year. But now Tom (who is getting greatly better) is anxious to be
in Town--therefore I put off my threading the County. I purpose within a
month to put my knapsack at my back and make a pedestrian tour through the
North of England, and part of Scotland--to make a sort of Prologue to the
Life I intend to pursue--that is to write, to study and to see all Europe
at the lowest expence. I will clamber through the Clouds and exist. I will
get such an accumulation of stupendous recollections that as I walk
through the suburbs of London I may not see them--I will stand upon Mount
Blanc and remember this coming Summer when I intend to straddle Ben
Lomond--with my soul!--galligaskins are out of the Question. I am nearer
myself to hear your "Christ" is being tinted into immortality. Believe me
Haydon your picture is part of myself--I have ever been too sensible of
the labyrinthian path to eminence in Art (judging from Poetry) ever to
think I understood the emphasis of painting. The innumerable compositions
and decompositions which take place between the intellect and its thousand
materials before it arrives at that trembling delicate and snail-horn
perception of beauty. I know not your many havens of intenseness--nor ever
can know them: but for this I hope not you achieve is lost upon me[57]:
for when a Schoolboy the abstract Idea I had of an heroic painting--was
what I cannot describe. I saw it somewhat sideways, large, prominent,
round, and colour'd with magnificence--somewhat like the feel I have of
Anthony and Cleopatra. Or of Alcibiades leaning on his Crimson Couch in
his Galley, his broad shoulders imperceptibly heaving with the Sea. That
passage in Shakspeare is finer than this--

  See how the surly Warwick mans the Wall.

I like your consignment of Corneille--that's the humour of it--they shall
be called your Posthumous Works.[58] I don't understand your bit of
Italian. I hope she will awake from her dream and flourish fair--my
respects to her. The Hedges by this time are beginning to leaf--Cats are
becoming more vociferous--young Ladies who wear Watches are always looking
at them. Women about forty-five think the Season very backward--Ladies'
Mares have but half an allowance of food. It rains here again, has been
doing so for three days--however as I told you I'll take a trial in June,
July, or August next year.

I am afraid Wordsworth went rather huff'd out of Town--I am sorry for
it--he cannot expect his fireside Divan to be infallible--he cannot expect
but that every man of worth is as proud as himself. O that he had not fit
with a Warrener[59]--that is dined at Kingston's. I shall be in town in
about a fortnight and then we will have a day or so now and then before I
set out on my northern expedition--we will have no more abominable
Rows--for they leave one in a fearful silence--having settled the
Methodists let us be rational--not upon compulsion--no--if it will out
let it--but I will not play the Bassoon any more deliberately. Remember me
to Hazlitt, and Bewick--

Your affectionate friend,

JOHN KEATS.



XLVIII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Thy. morng., [Teignmouth, April 9, 1818].

My dear Reynolds--Since you all agree that the thing[60] is bad, it must
be so--though I am not aware there is anything like Hunt in it (and if
there is, it is my natural way, and I have something in common with Hunt).
Look it over again, and examine into the motives, the seeds, from which
any one sentence sprung--I have not the slightest feel of humility towards
the public--or to anything in existence,--but the eternal Being, the
Principle of Beauty, and the Memory of great Men. When I am writing for
myself for the mere sake of the moment's enjoyment, perhaps nature has its
course with me--but a Preface is written to the Public; a thing I cannot
help looking upon as an Enemy, and which I cannot address without feelings
of Hostility. If I write a Preface in a supple or subdued style, it will
not be in character with me as a public speaker--I would be subdued before
my friends, and thank them for subduing me--but among Multitudes of Men--I
have no feel of stooping, I hate the idea of humility to them.

I never wrote one single Line of Poetry with the least Shadow of public
thought.

Forgive me for vexing you and making a Trojan horse of such a Trifle, both
with respect to the matter in Question, and myself--but it eases me to
tell you--I could not live without the love of my friends--I would jump
down Ætna for any great Public good--but I hate a Mawkish Popularity. I
cannot be subdued before them--My glory would be to daunt and dazzle the
thousand jabberers about Pictures and Books--I see swarms of Porcupines
with their Quills erect "like lime-twigs set to catch my Wingëd Book," and
I would fright them away with a torch. You will say my Preface is not much
of a Torch. It would have been too insulting "to begin from Jove," and I
could not set a golden head upon a thing of clay. If there is any fault in
the Preface it is not affectation, but an undersong of disrespect to the
Public--if I write another Preface it must be done without a thought of
those people--I will think about it. If it should not reach you in four or
five days, tell Taylor to publish it without a Preface, and let the
Dedication simply stand--"inscribed to the Memory of Thomas Chatterton."

I had resolved last night to write to you this morning--I wish it had been
about something else--something to greet you towards the close of your
long illness. I have had one or two intimations of your going to Hampstead
for a space; and I regret to see your confounded Rheumatism keeps you in
Little Britain where, I am sure the air is too confined. Devonshire
continues rainy. As the drops beat against the window, they give me the
same sensation as a quart of cold water offered to revive a half-drowned
devil--no feel of the clouds dropping fatness; but as if the roots of the
earth were rotten, cold, and drenched. I have not been able to go to
Kent's cave at Babbicombe--however on one very beautiful day I had a fine
Clamber over the rocks all along as far as that place. I shall be in Town
in about Ten days--We go by way of Bath on purpose to call on Bailey. I
hope soon to be writing to you about the things of the north, purposing to
wayfare all over those parts. I have settled my accoutrements in my own
mind, and will go to gorge wonders. However, we'll have some days together
before I set out--

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 buttons and belt; and, if Brown holds his mind, over the
Hills we go. If my Books will help me to it, then will I take all Europe
in turn, and see the Kingdoms of the Earth and the glory of them. Tom is
getting better, he hopes you may meet him at the top o' the hill. My Love
to your nurses. I am ever

Your affectionate Friend

JOHN KEATS.



XLIX.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[Teignmouth,] Friday [April 10, 1818].

My dear Reynolds--I am anxious you should find this Preface tolerable. If
there is an affectation in it 'tis natural to me. Do let the Printer's
Devil cook it, and let me be as "the casing air."

You are too good in this Matter--were I in your state, I am certain I
should have no thought but of discontent and illness--I might though be
taught patience: I had an idea of giving no Preface; however, don't you
think this had better go? O, let it--one should not be too timid--of
committing faults.

The climate here weighs us down completely; Tom is quite low-spirited. It
is impossible to live in a country which is continually under hatches. Who
would live in a region of Mists, Game Laws, indemnity Bills, etc., when
there is such a place as Italy? It is said this England from its Clime
produces a Spleen, able to engender the finest Sentiments, and cover the
whole face of the isle with Green--so it ought, I'm sure.--I should still
like the Dedication simply, as I said in my last.

I wanted to send you a few songs written in your favorite Devon--it cannot
be--Rain! Rain! Rain! I am going this morning to take a facsimile of a
Letter of Nelson's, very much to his honour--you will be greatly pleased
when you see it--in about a week. What a spite it is one cannot get
out--the little way I went yesterday, I found a lane banked on each side
with store of Primroses, while the earlier bushes are beginning to leaf.

I shall hear a good account of you soon.

Your affectionate Friend

JOHN KEATS.

My Love to all and remember me to Taylor.



L.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Teignmouth, Friday [April 24, 1818].

My dear Taylor--I think I did wrong to leave to you all the trouble of
Endymion--But I could not help it then--another time I shall be more bent
to all sorts of troubles and disagreeables. Young men for some time have
an idea that such a thing as happiness is to be had, and therefore are
extremely impatient under any unpleasant restraining. In time however, of
such stuff is the world about them, they know better, and instead of
striving from uneasiness, greet it as an habitual sensation, a pannier
which is to weigh upon them through life--And in proportion to my disgust
at the task is my sense of your kindness and anxiety. The book pleased me
much. It is very free from faults: and, although there are one or two
words I should wish replaced, I see in many places an improvement greatly
to the purpose.

I think those speeches which are related--those parts where the speaker
repeats a speech, such as Glaucus's repetition of Circe's words, should
have inverted commas to every line. In this there is a little
confusion.--If we divide the speeches into _identical_ and _related_; and
to the former put merely one inverted Comma at the beginning and another
at the end; and to the latter inverted Commas before every line, the book
will be better understood at the 1st glance. Look at pages 126, 127, you
will find in the 3d line the beginning of a related speech marked thus
"Ah! art awake--" while, at the same time, in the next page the
continuation of the _identical_ speech is marked in the same manner,
"Young man of Latmos--" You will find on the other side all the parts
which should have inverted commas to every line.

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 for 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.--My brother Tom is getting better, and I hope I shall see both him
and Reynolds better before I retire from the world. I shall see you soon,
and have some talk about what Books I shall take with me.

Your very sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.

Pray remember me to Hessey Woodhouse and Percy Street.



LI.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Teignmouth, April 27, 1818.

My dear Reynolds--It is an awful while since you have heard from me--I
hope I may not be punished, when I see you well, and so anxious as you
always are for me, with the remembrance of my so seldom writing when you
were so horribly confined. The most unhappy hours in our lives are those
in which we recollect times past to our own blushing--If we are immortal
that must be the Hell. If I must be immortal, I hope it will be after
having taken a little of "that watery labyrinth" in order to forget some
of my school-boy days and others since those.

I have heard from George at different times how slowly you were
recovering--It is a tedious thing--but all Medical Men will tell you how
far a very gradual amendment is preferable; you will be strong after this,
never fear. We are here still enveloped in clouds--I lay awake last night
listening to the Rain with a sense of being drowned and rotted like a
grain of wheat. There is a continual courtesy between the Heavens and the
Earth. The heavens rain down their unwelcomeness, and the Earth sends it
up again to be returned to-morrow. Tom has taken a fancy to a physician
here, Dr. Turton, and I think is getting better--therefore I shall perhaps
remain here some Months. I have written to George for some Books--shall
learn Greek, and very likely Italian--and in other ways prepare myself to
ask Hazlitt in about a year's time the best metaphysical road I can take.
For although I take poetry to be Chief, yet there is something else
wanting to one who passes his life among Books and thoughts on Books--I
long to feast upon old Homer as we have upon Shakspeare, and as I have
lately upon Milton. If you understood Greek, and would read me passages,
now and then, explaining their meaning, 'twould be, from its mistiness,
perhaps, a greater luxury than reading the thing one's self. I shall be
happy when I can do the same for you. I have written for my folio
Shakspeare, in which there are the first few stanzas of my "Pot of Basil."
I have the rest here finished, and will copy the whole out fair shortly,
and George will bring it you--The compliment is paid by us to Boccace,
whether we publish or no: so there is content in this world--_mine_ is
short--you must be deliberate about yours: you must not think of it till
many months after you are quite well:--then put your passion to it, and I
shall be bound up with you in the shadows of Mind, as we are in our
matters of human life. Perhaps a Stanza or two will not be too foreign to
your Sickness.

  Were they unhappy then?--It cannot be--
    Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
  Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
    Too much of pity after they are dead,
  Too many doleful stories do we see,
    Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
  Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
  Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

  But, for the general award of love
    The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
  Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
    And Isabella's was a great distress,
  Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
    Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less--
  Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
  Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

       *       *       *       *       *

  She wept alone for pleasures not to be;
    Sorely she wept until the night came on,
  And then, instead of love, O misery!
    She brooded o'er the luxury alone:
  What might have been too plainly did she see,[61]
    And to the silence made a gentle moan,
  Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
  And on her couch low murmuring "Where? O where?"

I heard from Rice this morning--very witty--and have just written to
Bailey. Don't you think I am brushing up in the letter way? and being in
for it, you shall hear again from me very shortly:--if you will promise
not to put hand to paper for me until you can do it with a tolerable ease
of health--except it be a line or two. Give my Love to your Mother and
Sisters. Remember me to the Butlers--not forgetting Sarah.

Your affectionate Friend

JOHN KEATS.



LII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Teignmouth, May 3d [1818].

My dear Reynolds--What I complain of is that I have been in so uneasy a
state of Mind as not to be fit to write to an invalid. I cannot write to
any length under a disguised feeling. I should have loaded you with an
addition of gloom, which I am sure you do not want. I am now thank God in
a humour to give you a good groat's worth--for Tom, after a Night without
a Wink of sleep, and over-burthened with fever, has got up after a
refreshing day-sleep and is better than he has been for a long time; and
you I trust have been again round the common without any effect but
refreshment. As to the Matter I hope I can say with Sir Andrew[62] "I have
matter enough in my head" in your favour--And now, in the second place,
for I reckon that I have finished my Imprimis, I am glad you blow up the
weather--all through your letter there is a leaning towards a
climate-curse, and you know what a delicate satisfaction there is in
having a vexation anathematised: one would think there has been growing up
for these last four thousand years, a grand-child Scion of the old
forbidden tree, and that some modern Eve had just violated it; and that
there was come with double charge

  "Notus and Afer, black with thundrous clouds
  From Serraliona--"

I shall breathe worsted stockings[63] sooner than I thought for--Tom wants
to be in Town--we will have some such days upon the heath like that of
last summer--and why not with the same book? or what say you to a black
Letter Chaucer, printed in 1596: aye I've got one huzza! I shall have it
bound en gothique--a nice sombre binding--it will go a little way to
unmodernise. And also I see no reason, because I have been away this last
month, why I should not have a peep at your Spenserian--notwithstanding
you speak of your office, in my thought a little too early, for I do not
see why a Mind like yours is not capable of harbouring and digesting the
whole Mystery of Law as easily as Parson Hugh does pippins, which did not
hinder him from his poetic canary.[64] Were I to study physic or rather
Medicine again, I feel it would not make the least difference in my
Poetry; when the mind is in its infancy a Bias is in reality a Bias, but
when we have acquired more strength, a Bias becomes no Bias. Every
department of Knowledge we see excellent and calculated towards a great
whole--I am so convinced of this that I am glad at not having given away
my medical Books, which I shall again look over to keep alive the little I
know thitherwards; and moreover intend through you and Rice to become a
sort of pip-civilian. An extensive knowledge is needful to thinking
people--it takes away the heat and fever; and helps, by widening
speculation, to ease the Burden of the Mystery, a thing which I begin to
understand a little, and which weighed upon you in the most gloomy and
true sentence in your Letter. The difference of high Sensations with and
without knowledge appears to me this: in the latter case we are falling
continually ten thousand fathoms deep and being blown up again, without
wings, and with all horror of a bare-shouldered Creature--in the former
case, our shoulders are fledged, and we go through the same air and space
without fear. This is running one's rigs on the score of abstracted
benefit--when we come to human Life and the affections, it is impossible
to know how a parallel of breast and head can be drawn (you will forgive
me for thus privately treading out of my depth, and take it for treading
as school-boys tread the water); it is impossible to know how far
knowledge will console us for the death of a friend, and the ill "that
flesh is heir to." With respect to the affections and Poetry you must know
by a sympathy my thoughts that way, and I daresay these few lines will be
but a ratification: I wrote them on Mayday--and intend to finish the ode
all in good time--

  Mother of Hermes! and still youthful Maia!
              May I sing to thee
  As thou wast hymned on the shores of Baiæ?
              Or may I woo thee
  In earlier Sicilian? or thy smiles
  Seek as they once were sought, in Grecian isles,
  By Bards who died content on pleasant sward,
  Leaving great verse unto a little clan?
  O, give me their old vigour, and unheard
  Save of the quiet Primrose, and the span
              Of heaven and few ears,
  Rounded by thee, my song should die away
              Content as theirs,
  Rich in the simple worship of a day.--

You may perhaps be anxious to know for fact to what sentence in your
Letter I allude. You say, "I fear there is little chance of anything else
in this life"--you seem by that to have been going through with a more
painful and acute zest the same labyrinth that I have--I have come to the
same conclusion thus far. My Branchings out therefrom have been numerous:
one of them is the consideration of Wordsworth's genius and as a help, in
the manner of gold being the meridian Line of worldly wealth, how he
differs from Milton. And here I have nothing but surmises, from an
uncertainty whether Milton's apparently less anxiety for Humanity proceeds
from his seeing further or not than Wordsworth: And whether Wordsworth has
in truth epic passion, and martyrs himself to the human heart, the main
region of his song. In regard to his genius alone--we find what he says
true as far as we have experienced, and we can judge no further but by
larger experience--for axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are
proved upon our pulses. We read fine things, but never feel them to the
full until we have gone the same steps as the author.--I know this is not
plain; you will know exactly my meaning when I say that now I shall
relish Hamlet more than I ever have done--Or, better--you are sensible no
man can set down Venery as a bestial or joyless thing until he is sick of
it, and therefore all philosophising on it would be mere wording. Until we
are sick, we understand not; in fine, as Byron says, "Knowledge is
sorrow"; and I go on to say that "Sorrow is wisdom"--and further for aught
we can know for certainty "Wisdom is folly"--So you see how I have run
away from Wordsworth and Milton, and shall still run away from what was in
my head, to observe, that some kind of letters are good squares, others
handsome ovals, and other some orbicular, others spheroid--and why should
not there be another species with two rough edges like a Rat-trap? I hope
you will find all my long letters of that species, and all will be well;
for by merely touching the spring delicately and ethereally, the
rough-edged will fly immediately into a proper compactness; and thus you
may make a good wholesome loaf, with your own leaven in it, of my
fragments--If you cannot find this said Rat-trap sufficiently tractable,
alas for me, it being an impossibility in grain for my ink to stain
otherwise: If I scribble long letters I must play my vagaries--I must be
too heavy, or too light, for whole pages--I must be quaint and free of
Tropes and figures--I must play my draughts as I please, and for my
advantage and your erudition, crown a white with a black, or a black with
a white, and move into black or white, far and near as I please--I must go
from Hazlitt to Patmore, and make Wordsworth and Coleman play at
leap-frog, or keep one of them down a whole half-holiday at
fly-the-garter--"From Gray to Gay, from Little to Shakspeare." Also as a
long cause requires two or more sittings of the Court, so a long letter
will require two or more sittings of the Breech, wherefore I shall resume
after dinner--

Have you not seen a Gull, an orc, a Sea-Mew, or anything to bring this
Line to a proper length, and also fill up this clear part; that like the
Gull I may _dip_[65]--I hope, not out of sight--and also, like a Gull, I
hope to be lucky in a good-sized fish--This crossing a letter is not
without its association--for chequer-work leads us naturally to a
Milkmaid, a Milkmaid to Hogarth, Hogarth to Shakspeare--Shakspeare to
Hazlitt--Hazlitt to Shakspeare--and thus by merely pulling an apron-string
we set a pretty peal of Chimes at work--Let them chime on while, with your
patience, I will return to Wordsworth--whether or no he has an extended
vision or a circumscribed grandeur--whether he is an eagle in his nest or
on the wing--And to be more explicit and to show you how tall I stand by
the giant, I will put down a simile of human life as far as I now perceive
it; that is, to the point to which I say we both have arrived at--Well--I
compare human life to a large Mansion of Many apartments, two of which I
can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me--The
first we step into we call the infant or thoughtless Chamber, in which we
remain as long as we do not think--We remain there a long while, and
notwithstanding the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing
a bright appearance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length
imperceptibly impelled by the awakening of the thinking principle within
us--we no sooner get into the second Chamber, which I shall call the
Chamber of Maiden-Thought, than we become intoxicated with the light and
the atmosphere, we see nothing but pleasant wonders, and think of delaying
there for ever in delight: However among the effects this breathing is
father of is that tremendous one of sharpening one's vision into the heart
and nature of Man--of convincing one's nerves that the world is full of
Misery and Heartbreak, Pain, Sickness, and oppression--whereby this
Chamber of Maiden Thought becomes gradually darkened, and at the same
time, on all sides of it, many doors are set open--but all dark--all
leading to dark passages--We see not the balance of good and evil--we are
in a mist--we are now in that state--We feel the "burden of the Mystery."
To this point was Wordsworth come, as far as I can conceive, when he wrote
'Tintern Abbey,' and it seems to me that his Genius is explorative of
those dark Passages. Now if we live, and go on thinking, we too shall
explore them--He is a genius and superior to us, in so far as he can, more
than we, make discoveries and shed a light in them--Here I must think
Wordsworth is deeper than Milton, though I think it has depended more upon
the general and gregarious advance of intellect, than individual greatness
of Mind--From the Paradise Lost and the other Works of Milton, I hope it
is not too presuming, even between ourselves, to say, that his Philosophy,
human and divine, may be tolerably understood by one not much advanced in
years. In his time, Englishmen were just emancipated from a great
superstition, and Men had got hold of certain points and resting-places in
reasoning which were too newly born to be doubted, and too much opposed by
the Mass of Europe not to be thought ethereal and authentically
divine--Who could gainsay his ideas on virtue, vice, and Chastity in
Comus, just at the time of the dismissal of a hundred disgraces? who would
not rest satisfied with his hintings at good and evil in the Paradise
Lost, when just free from the Inquisition and burning in Smithfield? The
Reformation produced such immediate and great benefits, that Protestantism
was considered under the immediate eye of heaven, and its own remaining
Dogmas and superstitions then, as it were, regenerated, constituted those
resting-places and seeming sure points of Reasoning--from that I have
mentioned, Milton, whatever he may have thought in the sequel, appears to
have been content with these by his writings--He did not think into the
human heart as Wordsworth has done--Yet Milton as a Philosopher had sure
as great powers as Wordsworth--What is then to be inferred? O many
things--It proves there is really a grand march of intellect,--It proves
that a mighty providence subdues the mightiest Minds to the service of the
time being, whether it be in human Knowledge or Religion. I have often
pitied a tutor who has to hear "Nom. Musa" so often dinn'd into his
ears--I hope you may not have the same pain in this scribbling--I may have
read these things before, but I never had even a thus dim perception of
them; and moreover I like to say my lesson to one who will endure my
tediousness for my own sake--After all there is certainly something real
in the world--Moore's present to Hazlitt is real--I like that Moore, and
am glad I saw him at the Theatre just before I left Town. Tom has spit a
_leetle_ blood this afternoon, and that is rather a damper--but I
know--the truth is there is something real in the World. Your third
Chamber of Life shall be a lucky and a gentle one--stored with the wine of
love--and the Bread of Friendship--When you see George if he should not
have received a letter from me tell him he will find one at home most
likely--tell Bailey I hope soon to see him--Remember me to all. The leaves
have been out here for mony a day--I have written to George for the first
stanzas of my Isabel--I shall have them soon, and will copy the whole out
for you.

Your affectionate Friend

JOHN KEATS.



LIII.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


Hampstead, Thursday [May 28, 1818].

My dear Bailey--I should have answered your Letter on the Moment, if I
could have said yes to your invitation. What hinders me is insuperable: I
will tell it at a little length. You know my Brother George has been out
of employ for some time: it has weighed very much upon him, and driven him
to scheme and turn over things in his Mind. The result has been his
resolution to emigrate to the back Settlements of America, become Farmer
and work with his own hands, after purchasing 14 hundred acres of the
American Government. This for many reasons has met with my entire
Consent--and the chief one is this; he is of too independent and liberal a
Mind to get on in Trade in this Country, in which a generous Man with a
scanty resource must be ruined. I would sooner he should till the ground
than bow to a customer. There is no choice with him: he could not bring
himself to the latter. I would not consent to his going alone;--no--but
that objection is done away with: he will marry before he sets sail a
young lady he has known for several years, of a nature liberal and
high-spirited enough to follow him to the Banks of the Mississippi. He
will set off in a month or six weeks, and you will see how I should wish
to pass that time with him.--And then I must set out on a journey of my
own. Brown and I are going a pedestrian tour through the north of England
and Scotland as far as John o' Grot's. I have this morning such a lethargy
that I cannot write. The reason of my delaying is oftentimes from this
feeling,--I wait for a proper temper. Now you ask for an immediate answer,
I do not like to wait even till to-morrow. However, I am now so depressed
that I have not an idea to put to paper--my hand feels like lead--and yet
it is an unpleasant numbness; it does not take away the pain of Existence.
I don't know what to write.


Monday [June 1].

You see how I have delayed; and even now I have but a confused idea of
what I should be about. My intellect must be in a degenerating state--it
must be--for when I should be writing about--God knows what--I am
troubling you with moods of my own mind, or rather body, for mind there is
none. I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick
to come up to the top--I know very well 'tis all nonsense--In a short time
I hope I shall be in a temper to feel sensibly your mention of my book. In
vain have I waited till Monday to have any Interest in that or anything
else. I feel no spur at my Brother's going to America, and am almost
stony-hearted about his wedding. All this will blow over--All I am sorry
for is having to write to you in such a time--but I cannot force my
letters in a hotbed. I could not feel comfortable in making sentences for
you. I am your debtor--I must ever remain so--nor do I wish to be clear of
any Rational debt: there is a comfort in throwing oneself on the charity
of one's friends--'tis like the albatross sleeping on its wings. I will be
to you wine in the cellar, and the more modestly, or rather, indolently, I
retire into the backward bin, the more Falerne will I be at the drinking.
There is one thing I must mention--my Brother talks of sailing in a
fortnight--if so I will most probably be with you a week before I set out
for Scotland. The middle of your first page should be sufficient to rouse
me. What I said is true, and I have dreamt of your mention of it, and my
not answering it has weighed on me since. If I come, I will bring your
letter, and hear more fully your sentiments on one or two points. I will
call about the Lectures at Taylor's, and at Little Britain, to-morrow.
Yesterday I dined with Hazlitt, Barnes, and Wilkie, at Haydon's. The topic
was the Duke of Wellington--very amusingly pro-and-con'd. Reynolds has
been getting much better; and Rice may begin to crow, for he got a little
so-so at a party of his, and was none the worse for it the next morning. I
hope I shall soon see you, for we must have many new thoughts and feelings
to analyse, and to discover whether a little more knowledge has not made
us more ignorant.

Yours affectionately

JOHN KEATS.



LIV.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


London [June 10, 1818].

My dear Bailey--I have been very much gratified and very much hurt by your
letters in the Oxford Paper:[66] because independent of that unlawful and
mortal feeling of pleasure at praise, there is a glory in enthusiasm; and
because the world is malignant enough to chuckle at the most honourable
Simplicity. Yes, on my soul, my dear Bailey, you are too simple for the
world--and that Idea makes me sick of it. How is it that by extreme
opposites we have, as it were, got discontented nerves? You have all your
life (I think so) believed everybody. I have suspected everybody. And,
although you have been so deceived, you make a simple appeal--the world
has something else to do, and I am glad of it--Were it in my choice, I
would reject a Petrarchal coronation--on account of my dying day, and
because women have cancers. I should not by rights speak in this tone to
you for it is an incendiary spirit that would do so. Yet I am not old
enough or magnanimous enough to annihilate self--and it would perhaps be
paying you an ill compliment. I was in hopes some little time back to be
able to relieve your dulness by my spirits--to point out things in the
world worth your enjoyment--and now I am never alone without rejoicing
that there is such a thing as death--without placing my ultimate in the
glory of dying for a great human purpose. Perhaps if my affairs were in a
different state, I should not have written the above--you shall judge: I
have two brothers; one is driven, by the "burden of Society," to America;
the other with an exquisite love of life, is in a lingering state--My love
for my Brothers, from the early loss of our Parents, and even from earlier
misfortunes,[67] has grown into an affection "passing the love of women."
I have been ill-tempered with them--I have vexed them--but the thought of
them has always stifled the impression that any woman might otherwise have
made upon me. I have a sister too, and may not follow them either to
America or to the grave. Life must be undergone, and I certainly derive
some consolation from the thought of writing one or two more poems before
it ceases.

I have heard some hints of your retiring to Scotland--I should like to
know your feeling on it--it seems rather remote. Perhaps Gleig will have a
duty near you. I am not certain whether I shall be able to go any journey,
on account of my Brother Tom, and a little indisposition of my own. If I
do not you shall see me soon, if _no_ on my return or I'll quarter myself
on you next winter. 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
degree 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. I am not at home,
and your letter being there I cannot look it over to answer any
particular--only I must say I feel that passage of Dante. If I take any
book with me it shall be those minute volumes of Carey, for they will go
into the aptest corner.

Reynolds is getting, I may say, robust, his illness has been of service to
him--like every one just recovered, he is high-spirited--I hear also good
accounts of Rice. With respect to domestic literature, the Edinburgh
Magazine, in another blow-up against Hunt, calls me "the amiable Mister
Keats"--and I have more than a laurel from the Quarterly Reviewers for
they have smothered me in "Foliage." I want to read you my "Pot of
Basil"--if you go to Scotland, I should much like to read it there to you,
among the snows of next winter. My Brothers' remembrances to you.

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



LV.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


[Hampstead,] Sunday Evening [June 21, 1818].

My dear Taylor--I am sorry I have not had time to call and wish you health
till my return--Really I have been hard run these last three
days--However, au revoir, God keep us all well! I start to-morrow Morning.
My brother Tom will I am afraid be lonely. I can scarce ask a loan of
books for him, since I still keep those you lent me a year ago. If I am
overweening, you will I know be indulgent. Therefore when you shall write,
do send him some you think will be most amusing--he will be careful in
returning them. Let him have one of my books bound. I am ashamed to
catalogue these messages. There is but one more, which ought to go for
nothing as there is a lady concerned. I promised Mrs. Reynolds one of my
books bound. As I cannot write in it let the opposite[68] be pasted in
'prythee. Remember me to Percy St.--Tell Hilton that one gratification on
my return will be to find him engaged on a history piece to his own
content--And tell Dewint I shall become a disputant on the landscape--Bow
for me very genteelly to Mrs. D. or she will not admit your diploma.
Remember me to Hessey, saying I hope he'll _Cary_ his point. I would not
forget Woodhouse. Adieu!

Your sincere friend

JOHN O' GROTS.



LVI.--TO THOMAS KEATS.


Keswick, June 29th [1818].

My dear Tom--I cannot make my Journal as distinct and actual as I could
wish, from having been engaged in writing to George, and therefore I must
tell you without circumstance that we proceeded from Ambleside to Rydal,
saw the Waterfalls there, and called on Wordsworth, who was not at home,
nor was any one of his family. I wrote a note and left it on the
mantel-piece. Thence on we came to the foot of Helvellyn, where we slept,
but could not ascend it for the mist. I must mention that from Rydal we
passed Thirlswater, and a fine pass in the Mountains--from Helvellyn we
came to Keswick on Derwent Water. The approach to Derwent Water surpassed
Windermere--it is richly wooded, and shut in with rich-toned Mountains.
From Helvellyn to Keswick was eight miles to Breakfast, after which we
took a complete circuit of the Lake, going about ten miles, and seeing on
our way the Fall of Lowdore. I had an easy climb among the streams, about
the fragments of Rocks and should have got I think to the summit, but
unfortunately I was damped by slipping one leg into a squashy hole. There
is no great body of water, but the accompaniment is delightful; for it
oozes out from a cleft in perpendicular Rocks, all fledged with Ash and
other beautiful trees.[69] It is a strange thing how they got there. At
the south end of the Lake, the Mountains of Borrowdale are perhaps as fine
as anything we have seen. On our return from this circuit, we ordered
dinner, and set forth about a mile and a half on the Penrith road, to see
the Druid temple. We had a fag up hill, rather too near dinner-time, which
was rendered void by the gratification of seeing those aged stones on a
gentle rise in the midst of the Mountains, which at that time darkened all
around, except at the fresh opening of the Vale of St. John. We went to
bed rather fatigued, but not so much so as to hinder us getting up this
morning to mount Skiddaw. It promised all along to be fair, and we had
fagged and tugged nearly to the top, when, at half-past six, there came a
Mist upon us and shut out the view. We did not, however, lose anything by
it: we were high enough without mist to see the coast of Scotland--the
Irish Sea--the hills beyond Lancaster--and nearly all the large ones of
Cumberland and Westmoreland, particularly Helvellyn and Scawfell. It grew
colder and colder as we ascended, and we were glad, at about three parts
of the way, to taste a little rum which the Guide brought with him, mixed,
mind ye, with Mountain water. I took two glasses going and one returning.
It is about six miles from where I am writing to the top--So we have
walked ten miles before Breakfast to-day. We went up with two others, very
good sort of fellows--All felt, on arising into the cold air, that same
elevation which a cold bath gives one--I felt as if I were going to a
Tournament.

Wordsworth's house is situated just on the rise of the foot of Mount
Rydal; his parlour-window looks directly down Windermere; I do not think I
told you how fine the Vale of Grasmere is, and how I discovered "the
ancient woman seated on Helm Crag"[70]--We shall proceed immediately to
Carlisle, intending to enter Scotland on the 1st of July viâ--


[Carlisle,] July 1st.

We are this morning at Carlisle. 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 cotillon
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 o' Tea and beating up a
batter-pudding. I was extremely gratified 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. Our yesterday's journey was
from Treby to Wigton, and from Wigton to Carlisle. The Cathedral does not
appear very fine--the Castle is very ancient, and of brick. The City is
very various--old white-washed narrow streets--broad red-brick ones more
modern--I will tell you anon whether the inside of the Cathedral is worth
looking at. It is built of sandy red stone or Brick. We have now walked
114 miles, and are merely a little tired in the thighs, and a little
blistered. We shall ride 38 miles to Dumfries, when we shall linger awhile
about Nithsdale and Galloway. I have written two letters to Liverpool. I
found a letter from sister George; very delightful indeed: I shall
preserve it in the bottom of my knapsack for you.


[Dumfries, evening of same day, July 1.]

ON VISITING THE TOMB OF BURNS.

  The Town, the churchyard, and the setting sun,
  The Clouds, the trees, the rounded hills all seem,
  Though beautiful, Cold--strange--as in a dream,
  I dreamed long ago, now new begun.
  The short-liv'd, paly Summer is but won
  From Winter's ague, for one hour's gleam;
  Though sapphire-warm, their stars do never beam:
  All is cold Beauty; pain is never done:
  For who has mind to relish, Minos-wise,
  The Real of Beauty, free from that dead hue
  Sickly imagination and sick pride
  Cast wan upon it! Burns! with honour due
  I oft have honour'd thee. Great shadow, hide
  Thy face; I sin against thy native skies.

You will see by this sonnet that I am at Dumfries. We have dined in
Scotland. Burns's tomb is in the Churchyard corner, not very much to my
taste, though on a scale large enough to show they wanted to honour him.
Mrs. Burns lives in this place; most likely we shall see her
to-morrow--This Sonnet I have written in a strange mood, half-asleep. I
know not how it is, the Clouds, the Sky, the Houses, all seem anti-Grecian
and anti-Charlemagnish. I will endeavour to get rid of my prejudices and
tell you fairly about the Scotch.


[Dumfries,] July 2nd.

In Devonshire they say, "Well, where be ye going?" Here it is, "How is it
wi' yoursel?" A man on the Coach said the horses took a Hellish heap o'
drivin'; the same fellow pointed out Burns's Tomb with a deal of
life--"There de ye see it, amang the trees--white, wi' a roond tap?" The
first well-dressed Scotchman we had any conversation with, to our surprise
confessed himself a Deist. The careful manner of delivering his opinions,
not before he had received several encouraging hints from us, was very
amusing. Yesterday was an immense Horse-fair at Dumfries, so that we met
numbers of men and women on the road, the women nearly all barefoot, with
their shoes and clean stockings in hand, ready to put on and look smart in
the Towns. There are plenty of wretched cottages whose smoke has no outlet
but by the door. 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.



LVII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Dumfries, July 2nd [1818].

My dear Fanny--I intended to have written to you from Kirkcudbright, the
town I shall be in to-morrow--but I will write now because my Knapsack has
worn my coat in the Seams, my coat has gone to the Tailor's and I have but
one Coat to my back in these parts. I must tell you how I went to
Liverpool with George and our new Sister and the Gentleman my fellow
traveller through the Summer and autumn--We had a tolerable journey to
Liverpool--which I left the next morning before George was up for
Lancaster--Then we set off from Lancaster on foot with our Knapsacks on,
and have walked a Little zig-zag through the mountains and Lakes of
Cumberland and Westmoreland--We came from Carlisle yesterday to this
place--We are employed in going up Mountains, looking at strange towns,
prying into old ruins and eating very hearty breakfasts. Here we are full
in the Midst of broad Scotch "How is it a' wi' yoursel"--the Girls are
walking about bare-footed and in the worst cottages the smoke finds its
way out of the door. I shall come home full of news for you and for fear I
should choak you by too great a dose at once I must make you used to it by
a letter or two. We have been taken for travelling Jewellers, Razor
sellers and Spectacle vendors because friend Brown wears a pair. The first
place we stopped at with our Knapsacks contained one Richard Bradshaw, a
notorious tippler. He stood in the shape of a [Symbol: ounce] and
ballanced himself as well as he could saying with his nose right in Mr.
Brown's face "Do--yo--u sell spect--ta--cles?" Mr. Abbey says we are Don
Quixotes--tell him we are more generally taken for Pedlars. All I hope is
that we may not be taken for excisemen in this whisky country. We are
generally up about 5 walking before breakfast and we complete our 20 miles
before dinner.--Yesterday we visited Burns's Tomb and this morning the
fine Ruins of Lincluden.


[Auchencairn, same day, July 2.]

I had done thus far when my coat came back fortified at all points--so as
we lose no time we set forth again through Galloway--all very pleasant and
pretty with no fatigue when one is used to it--We are in the midst of Meg
Merrilies's country of whom I suppose you have heard.

  Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
    And liv'd upon the Moors:
  Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
    And her house was out of doors.

  Her apples were swart blackberries,
    Her currants pods o' broom;
  Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
    Her book a churchyard tomb.

  Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
    Her Sisters larchen trees--
  Alone with her great family
    She liv'd as she did please.

  No breakfast had she many a morn,
    No dinner many a noon,
  And 'stead of supper she would stare
    Full hard against the Moon.

  But every morn of woodbine fresh
    She made her garlanding,
  And every night the dark glen Yew
    She wove, and she would sing.

  And with her fingers old and brown
    She plaited Mats o' Rushes,
  And gave them to the Cottagers
    She met among the Bushes.

  Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
    And tall as Amazon:
  An old red blanket cloak she wore;
    A chip hat had she on.
  God rest her aged bones somewhere--
    She died full long agone!

If you like these sort of Ballads I will now and then scribble one for
you--if I send any to Tom I'll tell him to send them to you.


[Kirkcudbright, evening of same day, July 2.]

I have so many interruptions that I cannot manage to fill a Letter in one
day--since I scribbled the song we have walked through a beautiful Country
to Kirkcudbright--at which place I will write you a song about myself--

  There was a naughty Boy,
    A naughty boy was he,
  He would not stop at home,
    He could not quiet be--
      He took
      In his Knapsack
      A Book
      Full of vowels
      And a shirt
      With some towels--
      A slight cap
      For night cap--
      A hair brush,
      Comb ditto,
      New Stockings
      For old ones
      Would split O!
      This Knapsack
      Tight at's back
      He rivetted close
    And followéd his Nose
      To the North,
      To the North,
    And follow'd his nose
      To the North.

  There was a naughty boy
    And a naughty boy was he,
  For nothing would he do
    But scribble poetry--
      He took
      An inkstand
      In his hand
      And a Pen
      Big as ten
      In the other,
      And away
      In a Pother
      He ran
      To the mountains
      And fountains
      And ghostes
      And Postes
      And witches
      And ditches
      And wrote
      In his coat
      When the weather
      Was cool,
      Fear of gout,
      And without
      When the weather
      Was warm--
      Och the charm
      When we choose
    To follow one's nose
      To the north,
      To the north,
    To follow one's nose
      To the north!

  There was a naughty boy
    And a naughty boy was he,
  He kept little fishes
    In washing tubs three
      In spite
      Of the might
      Of the Maid
      Nor afraid
      Of his Granny-good--
      He often would
      Hurly burly
      Get up early
      And go
      By hook or crook
      To the brook
      And bring home
      Miller's thumb,
      Tittlebat
      Not over fat,
      Minnows small
      As the stall
      Of a glove,
      Not above
      The size
      Of a nice
      Little Baby's
      Little fingers--
      O he made
      'Twas his trade
    Of Fish a pretty Kettle
      A Kettle--
      A Kettle
    Of Fish a pretty Kettle
      A Kettle!

  There was a naughty Boy,
    And a naughty Boy was he,
  He ran away to Scotland
    The people for to see--
      Then he found
      That the ground
      Was as hard,
      That a yard
      Was as long,
      That a song
      Was as merry,
      That a cherry
      Was as red--
      That lead
      Was as weighty,
      That fourscore
      Was as eighty,
      That a door
      Was as wooden
      As in England--
    So he stood in his shoes
      And he wonder'd
      He wonder'd,
    He stood in his shoes
      And he wonder'd.


[Newton Stewart, July 4.]

My dear Fanny, I am ashamed of writing you such stuff, nor would I if it
were not for being tired after my day's walking, and ready to tumble into
bed so fatigued that when I am asleep you might sew my nose to my great
toe and trundle me round the town, like a Hoop, without waking me. Then I
get so hungry a Ham goes but a very little way and fowls are like Larks to
me--A Batch of Bread I make no more ado with than a sheet of parliament;
and I can eat a Bull's head as easily as I used to do Bull's eyes. I take
a whole string of Pork Sausages down as easily as a Pen'orth of Lady's
fingers. Ah dear I must soon be contented with an acre or two of oaten
cake a hogshead of Milk and a Clothes-basket of Eggs morning noon and
night when I get among the Highlanders. Before we see them we shall pass
into Ireland and have a chat with the Paddies, and look at the Giant's
Causeway which you must have heard of--I have not time to tell you
particularly for I have to send a Journal to Tom of whom you shall hear
all particulars or from me when I return. Since I began this we have
walked sixty miles to Newton Stewart at which place I put in this
Letter--to-night we sleep at Glenluce--to-morrow at Portpatrick and the
next day we shall cross in the passage boat to Ireland. I hope Miss Abbey
has quite recovered. Present my Respects to her and to Mr. and Mrs.
Abbey. God bless you.

Your affectionate Brother,

JOHN.

Do write me a Letter directed to _Inverness_, Scotland.



LVIII.--TO THOMAS KEATS.


Auchtercairn [for Auchencairn,] 3rd [for 2d] July 1818.

My dear Tom--We are now in Meg Merrilies's country, and have this morning
passed through some parts exactly suited to her. Kirkcudbright County is
very beautiful, very wild, with craggy hills, somewhat in the Westmoreland
fashion. We have come down from Dumfries to the sea-coast part of it. The
following song you will have from Dilke, but perhaps you would like it
here.[71]...


[Newton Stewart,] July 5th [for 4th].

Yesterday was passed in Kirkcudbright, the country is very rich, very
fine, and with a little of Devon. I am now writing at Newton Stewart, six
miles into Wigtown. Our landlady of yesterday said very few southerners
passed hereaways. The children jabber away, as if in a foreign language;
the bare-footed girls look very much in keeping, I mean with the scenery
about them. Brown praises their cleanliness and appearance of comfort, the
neatness of their cottages, etc.--it may be--they are very squat among
trees and fern and heath and broom, on levels slopes and heights--but I
wish they were as snug as those up the Devonshire valleys. We are lodged
and entertained in great varieties. We dined yesterday on dirty Bacon,
dirtier eggs, and dirtiest potatoes, with a slice of salmon--we breakfast
this morning in a nice carpeted room, with sofa, hair-bottomed Chairs, and
green-baized Mahogany. A spring by the road-side is always welcome: we
drink water for dinner, diluted with a Gill of whisky.


[Donaghadee] July 6.

Yesterday morning we set out from Glenluce, going some distance round to
see some rivers: they were scarcely worth the while. We went on to
Stranraer, in a burning sun, and had gone about six miles when the Mail
overtook us: we got up, were at Port Patrick in a jiffey, and I am writing
now in little Ireland. The dialects on the neighbouring shores of Scotland
and Ireland are much the same, yet I can perceive a great difference in
the nations, from the chamber-maid at this _nate toone_ kept by Mr. Kelly.
She is fair, kind, and ready to laugh, because she is out of the horrible
dominion of the Scotch Kirk. A Scotch girl stands in terrible awe of the
Elders--poor little Susannahs, they will scarcely laugh, and their Kirk is
greatly to be damned. These Kirk-men have done Scotland good (Query?).
They have made men, women; old men, young men; old women, young women;
boys, girls; and all infants careful--so that they are formed into regular
Phalanges of savers and gainers. Such a thrifty army cannot fail to enrich
their Country, and give it a greater appearance of Comfort, than that of
their poor rash neighbourhood--these Kirk-men have done Scotland harm;
they have banished puns, and laughing, and kissing, etc. (except in cases
where the very danger and crime must make it very gustful). I shall make a
full stop at kissing, for after that there should be a better parenthesis,
and go on to remind you of the fate of Burns--poor unfortunate fellow, his
disposition was Southern--how sad it is when a luxurious imagination is
obliged, in self-defence, to deaden its delicacy in vulgarity, and rot[72]
in things attainable, that it may not have leisure to go mad after things
which are not. No man, in such matters, will be content with the
experience of others--It is true that out of suffering there is no
dignity, no greatness, that in the most abstracted pleasure there is no
lasting happiness--Yet who would not like to discover over again that
Cleopatra was a Gipsy, Helen a rogue, and Ruth a deep one? 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.

It is not so far to the Giant's Causeway as we supposed--We thought it 70,
and hear it is only 48 miles--So we shall leave one of our knapsacks here
at Donaghadee, take our immediate wants, and be back in a week, when we
shall proceed to the County of Ayr. In the Packet yesterday we heard some
ballads from two old men--One was a Romance which seemed very poor--then
there was "The Battle of the Boyne," then "Robin Huid," as they call
him--"Before the King you shall go, go, go; before the King you shall go."


[Stranraer,] July 9th.

We stopped very little in Ireland, and that you may not have leisure to
marvel at our speedy return to Port Patrick, I will tell you that it is as
dear living in Ireland as at the Hummums--thrice the expense of
Scotland--it would have cost us £15 before our return; moreover we found
those 48 miles to be Irish ones, which reach to 70 English--so having
walked to Belfast one day, and back to Donaghadee the next, we left
Ireland with a fair breeze. We slept last night at Port Patrick, when I
was gratified by a letter from you. On our walk in Ireland, we had too
much opportunity to see the worse than nakedness, the rags, the dirt and
misery, of the poor common Irish--A Scotch cottage, though in that
sometimes the smoke has no exit but at the door, is a palace to an Irish
one. We could observe that impetuosity in Man and Woman--We had the
pleasure of finding our way through a Peat-bog, three miles long at
least--dreary, flat, dank, black, and spongy--here and there were poor
dirty Creatures, and a few strong men cutting or carting Peat--We heard on
passing into Belfast through a most wretched suburb, that most disgusting
of all noises, worse than the Bagpipes--the laugh of a Monkey--the chatter
of women--the scream of a Macaw--I mean the sound of the Shuttle. What a
tremendous difficulty is the improvement of such people. I cannot conceive
how a mind "_with child_" of philanthrophy could grasp at its
possibility--with me it is absolute despair--

At a miserable house of entertainment, half-way between Donaghadee and
Belfast, were two men sitting at Whisky--one a labourer, and the other I
took to be a drunken weaver--the labourer took me to be a Frenchman, and
the other hinted at bounty-money; saying he was ready to take it--On
calling for the letters at Port Patrick, the man snapped out "what
Regiment?" On our return from Belfast we met a sedan--the Duchess of
Dunghill. It is no laughing matter though. Imagine the worst dog kennel
you ever saw, placed upon two poles from a mouldy fencing--In such a
wretched thing sat a squalid old woman, squat like an ape half-starved,
from a scarcity of biscuit in its passage from Madagascar to the Cape,
with a pipe in her mouth, and looking out with a round-eyed skinny-lidded
inanity; with a sort of horizontal idiotic movement of her head--Squat and
lean she sat, and puffed out the smoke, while two ragged tattered girls
carried her along. What a thing would be a history of her life and
sensations; I shall endeavour when I have thought a little more, to give
you my idea of the difference between the Scotch and Irish--The two
Irishmen I mentioned were speaking of their treatment in England, when the
weaver said--"Ah you were a civil man, but I was a drinker."

Till further notice you must direct to Inverness.

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.



LIX.--TO THOMAS KEATS.


Belantree [for Ballantrae,] July 10

  Ah! ken ye what I met the day
    Out oure the Mountains
  A coming down by craggies gray
    An mossie fountains--
  Ah goud-hair'd Marie yeve I pray
    Ane minute's guessing--
  For that I met upon the way
    Is past expressing.
  As I stood where a rocky brig
    A torrent crosses
  I spied upon a misty rig
    A troup o' Horses--
  And as they trotted down the glen
    I sped to meet them
  To see if I might know the Men
    To stop and greet them.
  First Willie on his sleek mare came
    At canting gallop
  His long hair rustled like a flame
    On board a shallop,
  Then came his brother Rab and then
    Young Peggy's Mither
  And Peggy too--adown the glen
    They went togither--
  I saw her wrappit in her hood
    Frae wind and raining--
  Her cheek was flush wi' timid blood
    Twixt growth and waning--
  She turn'd her dazed head full oft
    For there her Brithers
  Came riding with her Bridegroom soft
    And mony ithers.
  Young Tam came up and eyed me quick
    With reddened cheek--
  Braw Tam was daffed like a chick--
    He could na speak--
  Ah Marie they are all gane hame
    Through blustering weather
  An' every heart is full on flame
    An' light as feather.
  Ah! Marie they are all gone hame
    Frae happy wadding,
  Whilst I--Ah is it not a shame?
    Sad tears am shedding.

My dear Tom--The reason for my writing these lines was that Brown wanted
to impose a Galloway song upon Dilke--but it won't do. The subject I got
from meeting a wedding just as we came down into this place--where I am
afraid we shall be imprisoned a while by the weather. Yesterday we came 27
Miles from Stranraer--entered Ayrshire a little beyond Cairn, and had our
path through a delightful Country. I shall endeavour that you may follow
our steps in this walk--it would be uninteresting in a Book of Travels--it
can not be interesting but by my having gone through it. When we left
Cairn our Road lay half way up the sides of a green mountainous shore,
full of clefts of verdure and eternally varying--sometimes up sometimes
down, and over little Bridges going across green chasms of moss, rock and
trees--winding about everywhere. After two or three Miles of this we
turned suddenly into a magnificent glen finely wooded in Parts--seven
Miles long--with a Mountain stream winding down the Midst--full of
cottages in the most happy situations--the sides of the Hills covered with
sheep--the effect of cattle lowing I never had so finely. At the end we
had a gradual ascent and got among the tops of the Mountains whence in a
little time I descried in the Sea Ailsa Rock 940 feet high--it was 15
Miles distant and seemed close upon us. The effect of Ailsa with the
peculiar perspective of the Sea in connection with the ground we stood on,
and the misty rain then falling gave me a complete Idea of a deluge. Ailsa
struck me very suddenly--really I was a little alarmed.


[Girvan, same day, July 10.]

Thus far had I written before we set out this morning. Now we are at
Girvan 13 Miles north of Belantree. Our Walk has been along a more grand
shore to-day than yesterday--Ailsa beside us all the way.--From the
heights we could see quite at home Cantire and the large Mountains of
Arran, one of the Hebrides. We are in comfortable Quarters. The Rain we
feared held up bravely and it has been "fu fine this day."----To-morrow we
shall be at Ayr.


[Kirkoswald, July 11.]

'Tis now the 11th of July and we have come 8 Miles to Breakfast to
Kirkoswald. I hope the next Kirk will be Kirk Alloway. I have nothing of
consequence to say now concerning our journey--so I will speak as far as I
can judge on the Irish and Scotch--I know nothing of the higher
Classes--yet I have a persuasion that there the Irish are victorious. As
to the profanum vulgus I must incline to the Scotch. They never laugh--but
they are always comparatively neat and clean. Their constitutions are not
so remote and puzzling as the Irish. The Scotchman will never give a
decision on any point--he will never commit himself in a sentence which
may be referred to as a meridian in his notion of things--so that you do
not know him--and yet you may come in nigher neighbourhood to him than to
the Irishman who commits himself in so many places that it dazes your
head. A Scotchman's motive is more easily discovered than an Irishman's. A
Scotchman will go wisely about to deceive you, an Irishman cunningly. An
Irishman would bluster out of any discovery to his disadvantage. A
Scotchman would retire perhaps without much desire for revenge. An
Irishman likes to be thought a gallous fellow. A Scotchman is contented
with himself. It seems to me they are both sensible of the Character they
hold in England and act accordingly to Englishmen. Thus the Scotchman
will become over grave and over decent and the Irishman over-impetuous. I
like a Scotchman best because he is less of a bore--I like the Irishman
best because he ought to be more comfortable.--The Scotchman has made up
his Mind within himself in a sort of snail shell wisdom. The Irishman is
full of strongheaded instinct. The Scotchman is farther in Humanity than
the Irishman--there he will stick perhaps when the Irishman will be
refined beyond him--for the former thinks he cannot be improved--the
latter would grasp at it for ever, place but the good plain before him.


Maybole, [same day, July 11].

Since breakfast we have come only four Miles to dinner, not merely, for we
have examined in the way two Ruins, one of them very fine, called
Crossraguel Abbey--there is a winding Staircase to the top of a little
Watch Tower.


Kingswells, July 13.

I have been writing to Reynolds--therefore any particulars since
Kirkoswald have escaped me--from said Kirk we went to Maybole to
dinner--then we set forward to Burness' town Ayr--the approach to it is
extremely fine--quite outwent my expectations--richly meadowed, wooded,
heathed and rivuleted--with a grand Sea view terminated by the black
Mountains of the isle of Arran. As soon as I saw them so nearly I said to
myself "How is it they did not beckon Burns to some grand attempt at
Epic?"

The bonny Doon is the sweetest river I ever saw--overhung with fine trees
as far as we could see--We stood some time on the Brig across it, over
which Tam o' Shanter fled--we took a pinch of snuff on the Key stone--then
we proceeded to the "auld Kirk Alloway." As we were looking at it a Farmer
pointed the spots where Mungo's Mither hang'd hersel' and "drunken Charlie
brake's neck's bane." Then we proceeded to the Cottage he was born
in--there was a board to that effect by the door side--it had the same
effect as the same sort of memorial at Stratford on Avon. We drank some
Toddy to Burns's Memory with an old Man who knew Burns--damn him and damn
his anecdotes--he was a great bore--it was impossible for a Southron to
understand above 5 words in a hundred.--There was something good in his
description of Burns's melancholy the last time he saw him. I was
determined to write a sonnet in the Cottage--I did--but it was so bad I
cannot venture it here.

Next we walked into Ayr Town and before we went to Tea saw the new Brig
and the Auld Brig and Wallace tower. Yesterday we dined with a Traveller.
We were talking about Kean. He said he had seen him at Glasgow "in Othello
in the Jew, I mean er, er, er, the Jew in Shylock." He got bother'd
completely in vague ideas of the Jew in Othello, Shylock in the Jew,
Shylock in Othello, Othello in Shylock, the Jew in Othello, etc. etc.
etc.--he left himself in a mess at last.--Still satisfied with himself he
went to the Window and gave an abortive whistle of some tune or other--it
might have been Handel. There is no end to these Mistakes--he'll go and
tell people how he has seen "Malvolio in the Countess"--"Twelfth night in
Midsummer night's dream"--Bottom in much ado about Nothing--Viola in
Barrymore--Antony in Cleopatra--Falstaff in the mouse Trap.--


[Glasgow,] July 14.

We enter'd Glasgow last Evening under the most oppressive Stare a body
could feel. When we had crossed the Bridge Brown look'd back and said its
whole population had turned out to wonder at us--we came on till a drunken
Man came up to me--I put him off with my Arm--he returned all up in Arms
saying aloud that, "he had seen all foreigners bu-u-ut he never saw the
like o' me." I was obliged to mention the word Officer and Police before
he would desist.--The City of Glasgow I take to be a very fine one--I was
astonished to hear it was twice the size of Edinburgh. It is built of
Stone and has a much more solid appearance than London. We shall see the
Cathedral this morning--they have devilled it into "High Kirk." I want
very much to know the name of the ship George is gone in--also what port
he will land in--I know nothing about it. I hope you are leading a quiet
Life and gradually improving. Make a long lounge of the whole Summer--by
the time the Leaves fall I shall be near you with plenty of confab--there
are a thousand things I cannot write. Take care of yourself--I mean in not
being vexed or bothered at anything.

God bless you!

JOHN ----.



LX.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Maybole, July 11 [1818].

My dear Reynolds--I'll not run over the Ground we have passed; that would
be merely as bad as telling a dream--unless perhaps I do it in the manner
of the Laputan printing press--that is I put down Mountains, Rivers,
Lakes, dells, glens, Rocks, and Clouds, with beautiful enchanting, Gothic
picturesque fine, delightful, enchanting, Grand, sublime--a few blisters,
etc.--and now you have our journey thus far: where I begin a letter to you
because I am approaching Burns's Cottage very fast. We have made continual
inquiries from the time we saw his Tomb at Dumfries--his name of course is
known all about--his great reputation among the plodding people is, "that
he wrote a good _mony_ sensible things." One of the pleasantest means of
annulling self is approaching such a shrine as the Cottage of Burns--we
need not think of his misery--that is all gone, bad luck to it--I shall
look upon it hereafter with unmixed pleasure, as I do upon my
Stratford-on-Avon day with Bailey. I shall fill this sheet for you in the
Bardie's country, going no further than this till I get into the town of
Ayr which will be a 9 miles' walk to Tea.


[Kingswells, July 13.]

We were talking on different and indifferent things, when on a sudden we
turned a corner upon the immediate Country of Ayr--the Sight was as rich
as possible. I had no Conception that the native place of Burns was so
beautiful--the idea I had was more desolate, his 'rigs of Barley' seemed
always to me but a few strips of Green on a cold hill--O prejudice! it was
as rich as Devon--I endeavoured to drink in the Prospect, that I might
spin it out to you as the Silkworm makes silk from Mulberry leaves--I
cannot recollect it--Besides all the Beauty, there were the Mountains of
Arran Isle, black and huge over the Sea. We came down upon everything
suddenly--there were in our way the 'bonny Doon,' with the Brig that Tam
o' Shanter crossed, Kirk Alloway, Burns's Cottage, and then the Brigs of
Ayr. First we stood upon the Bridge across the Doon; surrounded by every
Phantasy of green in Tree, Meadow, and Hill,--the stream of the Doon, as a
Farmer told us, is covered with trees from head to foot--you know those
beautiful heaths so fresh against the weather of a summer's evening--there
was one stretching along behind the trees. I wish I knew always the humour
my friends would be in at opening a letter of mine, to suit it to them as
nearly as possible. I could always find an egg shell for Melancholy, and
as for Merriment a Witty humour will turn anything to Account--My head is
sometimes in such a whirl in considering the million likings and
antipathies of our Moments--that I can get into no settled strain in my
Letters. My Wig! Burns and sentimentality coming across you and Frank
Fladgate in the office--O scenery that thou shouldst be crushed between
two Puns--As for them I venture the rascalliest in the Scotch Region--I
hope Brown does not put them punctually in his journal--If he does I must
sit on the cutty-stool all next winter. We went to Kirk Alloway--"a
Prophet is no Prophet in his own Country"--We went to the Cottage and
took some Whisky. I wrote a sonnet for the mere sake of writing some lines
under the roof--they are so bad I cannot transcribe them--The Man at the
Cottage was a great Bore with his Anecdotes--I hate the rascal--his Life
consists in fuz, fuzzy, fuzziest--He drinks glasses five for the Quarter
and twelve for the hour--he is a mahogany-faced old Jackass who knew
Burns--He ought to have been kicked for having spoken to him. He calls
himself "a curious old Bitch"--but he is a flat old dog--I should like to
employ Caliph Vathek to kick him. O the flummery of a birthplace! Cant!
Cant! Cant! It is enough to give a spirit the guts-ache--Many a true word,
they say, is spoken in jest--this may be because his gab hindered my
sublimity: the flat dog made me write a flat sonnet. My dear Reynolds--I
cannot write about scenery and visitings--Fancy is indeed less than a
present palpable reality, but it is greater than remembrance--you would
lift your eyes from Homer only to see close before you the real Isle of
Tenedos--you would rather read Homer afterwards than remember
yourself--One song of Burns's is of more worth to you than all I could
think for a whole year in his native country. His Misery is a dead weight
upon the nimbleness of one's quill--I tried to forget it--to drink Toddy
without any Care--to write a merry sonnet--it won't do--he talked with
Bitches--he drank with Blackguards, he was miserable--We can see horribly
clear, in the works of such a Man his whole life, as if we were God's
spies.--What were his addresses to Jean in the latter part of his life? I
should not speak so to you--yet why not--you are not in the same case--you
are in the right path, and you shall not be deceived. I have spoken to you
against Marriage, but it was general--the Prospect in those matters has
been to me so blank, that I have not been unwilling to die--I would not
now, for I have inducements to Life--I must see my little Nephews in
America, and I must see you marry your lovely Wife. My sensations are
sometimes deadened for weeks together--but believe me I have more than
once yearned for the time of your happiness to come, as much as I could
for myself after the lips of Juliet.--From the tenor of my occasional
rodomontade in chit-chat, you might have been deceived concerning me in
these points--upon my soul, I have been getting more and more close to
you, every day, ever since I knew you, and now one of the first pleasures
I look to is your happy Marriage--the more, since I have felt the pleasure
of loving a sister in Law. I did not think it possible to become so much
attached in so short a time--Things like these, and they are real, have
made me resolve to have a care of my health--you must be as careful.

The rain has stopped us to-day at the end of a dozen Miles, yet we hope to
see Loch Lomond the day after to-morrow;--I will piddle out my
information, as Rice says, next Winter, at any time when a substitute is
wanted for Vingt-un. We bear the fatigue very well--20 Miles a day in
general--A Cloud came over us in getting up Skiddaw--I hope to be more
lucky in Ben Lomond--and more lucky still in Ben Nevis. What I think you
would enjoy is poking about Ruins--sometimes Abbey, sometimes Castle. The
short stay we made in Ireland has left few remembrances--but an old woman
in a dog-kennel Sedan with a pipe in her Mouth, is what I can never
forget--I wish I may be able to give you an idea of her--Remember me to
your Mother and Sisters, and tell your Mother how I hope she will pardon
me for having a scrap of paper pasted in the Book sent to her. I was
driven on all sides and had not time to call on Taylor--So Bailey is
coming to Cumberland--well, if you'll let me know where at Inverness, I
will call on my return and pass a little time with him--I am glad 'tis not
Scotland--Tell my friends I do all I can for them, that is, drink their
healths in Toddy. Perhaps I may have some lines by and by to send you
fresh, on your own Letter--Tom has a few to show you.

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



LXI.--TO THOMAS KEATS.


Cairn-something [for Cairndow,] July 17, [1818].

My dear Tom--Here's Brown going on so that I cannot bring to mind how the
two last days have vanished--for example he says The Lady of the Lake went
to Rock herself to sleep on Arthur's seat and the Lord of the Isles coming
to Press a Piece.... I told you last how we were stared at in Glasgow--we
are not out of the Crowd yet. Steam Boats on Loch Lomond and Barouches on
its sides take a little from the Pleasure of such romantic chaps as Brown
and I. The Banks of the Clyde are extremely beautiful--the north end of
Loch Lomond grand in excess--the entrance at the lower end to the narrow
part from a little distance is precious good--the Evening was beautiful
nothing could surpass our fortune in the weather--yet was I worldly enough
to wish for a fleet of chivalry Barges with Trumpets and Banners just to
die away before me into that blue place among the mountains--I must give
you an outline as well as I can.[73]

No{t} B--the Water was a fine Blue silvered and the Mountains a dark
purple, the Sun setting aslant behind them--meantime the head of ben
Lomond was covered with a rich Pink Cloud. We did not ascend Ben
Lomond--the price being very high and a half a day of rest being quite
acceptable. We were up at 4 this morning and have walked to breakfast 15
Miles through two Tremendous Glens--at the end of the first there is a
place called rest and be thankful which we took for an Inn--it was nothing
but a Stone and so we were cheated into 5 more Miles to Breakfast--I have
just been bathing in Loch Fyne a salt water Lake opposite the
Windows,--quite pat and fresh but for the cursed Gad flies--damn 'em they
have been at me ever since I left the Swan and two necks.[74]

  All gentle folks who owe a grudge
    To any living thing
  Open your ears and stay your trudge
    Whilst I in dudgeon sing.

  The Gadfly he hath stung me sore--
    O may he ne'er sting you!
  But we have many a horrid bore
    He may sting black and blue.

  Has any here an old gray Mare
    With three legs all her store,
  O put it to her Buttocks bare
    And straight she'll run on four.

  Has any here a Lawyer suit
    Of 1743,
  Take Lawyer's nose and put it to't
    And you the end will see.

  Is there a Man in Parliament
    Dumbfounder'd in his speech,
  O let his neighbour make a rent
    And put one in his breech.

  O Lowther how much better thou
    Hadst figur'd t'other day
  When to the folks thou mad'st a bow
    And hadst no more to say.

  If lucky Gadfly had but ta'en
    His seat upon thine A--e
  And put thee to a little pain
    To save thee from a worse.

  Better than Southey it had been,
    Better than Mr. D----,
  Better than Wordsworth too, I ween,
    Better than Mr. V----.

  Forgive me pray good people all
    For deviating so--
  In spirit sure I had a call--
    And now I on will go.

  Has any here a daughter fair
    Too fond of reading novels,
  Too apt to fall in love with care
    And charming Mister Lovels,

  O put a Gadfly to that thing
    She keeps so white and pert--
  I mean the finger for the ring,
    And it will breed a wort.

  Has any here a pious spouse
    Who seven times a day
  Scolds as King David pray'd, to chouse
    And have her holy way--

  O let a Gadfly's little sting
    Persuade her sacred tongue
  That noises are a common thing,
    But that her bell has rung.

  And as this is the summum bo-
    num of all conquering,
  I leave "withouten wordes mo"
    The Gadfly's little sting.


[Inverary, July 18.]

Last Evening we came round the End of Loch Fyne to Inverary--the Duke of
Argyle's Castle is very modern magnificent and more so from the place it
is in--the woods seem old enough to remember two or three changes in the
Crags about them--the Lake was beautiful and there was a Band at a
distance by the Castle. I must say I enjoyed two or three common
tunes--but nothing could stifle the horrors of a solo on the Bag-pipe--I
thought the Beast would never have done.--Yet was I doomed to hear
another.--On entering Inverary we saw a Play Bill. Brown was knocked up
from new shoes--so I went to the Barn alone where I saw the Stranger
accompanied by a Bag-pipe. There they went on about interesting creaters
and human nater till the Curtain fell and then came the Bag-pipe. When
Mrs. Haller fainted down went the Curtain and out came the Bag-pipe--at
the heartrending, shoemending reconciliation the Piper blew amain. I never
read or saw this play before; not the Bag-pipe nor the wretched players
themselves were little in comparison with it--thank heaven it has been
scoffed at lately almost to a fashion--

  Of late two dainties were before me placed
    Sweet, holy, pure, sacred and innocent,
    From the ninth sphere to me benignly sent
  That Gods might know my own particular taste:
  First the soft Bag-pipe mourn'd with zealous haste,
    The Stranger next with head on bosom bent
    Sigh'd; rueful again the piteous Bag-pipe went,
  Again the Stranger sighings fresh did waste.
  O Bag-pipe thou didst steal my heart away--
    O Stranger thou my nerves from Pipe didst charm--
  O Bag-pipe thou didst re-assert thy sway--
    Again thou Stranger gav'st me fresh alarm--
  Alas! I could not choose. Ah! my poor heart
  Mumchance art thou with both oblig'd to part.

I think we are the luckiest fellows in Christendom--Brown could not
proceed this morning on account of his feet and lo there is thunder and
rain.


[Kilmelfort,] July 20th.

For these two days past we have been so badly accommodated more
particularly in coarse food that I have not been at all in cue to write.
Last night poor Brown with his feet blistered and scarcely able to walk,
after a trudge of 20 Miles down the Side of Loch Awe had no supper but
Eggs and Oat Cake--we have lost the sight of white bread entirely--Now we
had eaten nothing but Eggs all day--about 10 a piece and they had become
sickening--To-day we have fared rather better--but no oat Cake wanting--we
had a small Chicken and even a good bottle of Port but all together the
fare is too coarse--I feel it a little.--Another week will break us in. I
forgot to tell you that when we came through Glenside it was early in the
morning and we were pleased with the noise of Shepherds, Sheep and dogs in
the misty heights close above us--we saw none of them for some time, till
two came in sight creeping among the Crags like Emmets, yet their voices
came quite plainly to us--The approach to Loch Awe was very solemn
towards nightfall--the first glance was a streak of water deep in the
Bases of large black Mountains.--We had come along a complete mountain
road, where if one listened there was not a sound but that of Mountain
Streams. We walked 20 Miles by the side of Loch Awe--every ten steps
creating a new and beautiful picture--sometimes through little wood--there
are two islands on the Lake each with a beautiful ruin--one of them rich
in ivy.--We are detained this morning by the rain. I will tell you exactly
where we are. We are between Loch Craignish and the sea just opposite Long
Island.[75] Yesterday our walk was of this description--the near Hills
were not very lofty but many of them steep, beautifully wooded--the
distant Mountains in the Hebrides very grand, the Saltwater Lakes coming
up between Crags and Islands full tide and scarcely ruffled--sometimes
appearing as one large Lake, sometimes as three distinct ones in different
directions. At one point we saw afar off a rocky opening into the main
sea.--We have also seen an Eagle or two. They move about without the least
motion of Wings when in an indolent fit.--I am for the first time in a
country where a foreign Language is spoken--they gabble away Gaelic at a
vast rate--numbers of them speak English. There are not many Kilts in
Argyleshire--at Fort William they say a Man is not admitted into Society
without one--the Ladies there have a horror at the indecency of Breeches.
I cannot give you a better idea of Highland Life than by describing the
place we are in. The Inn or public is by far the best house in the
immediate neighbourhood. It has a white front with tolerable windows--the
table I am writing on surprises me as being a nice flapped Mahogany
one.... You may if you peep see through the floor chinks into the ground
rooms. The old Grandmother of the house seems intelligent though not over
clean. _N.B._ No snuff being to be had in the village she made us some.
The Guid Man is a rough-looking hardy stout Man who I think does not speak
so much English as the Guid wife who is very obliging and sensible and
moreover though stockingless has a pair of old Shoes--Last night some
Whisky Men sat up clattering Gaelic till I am sure one o'Clock to our
great annoyance. There is a Gaelic testament on the Drawers in the next
room. White and blue China ware has crept all about here--Yesterday there
passed a Donkey laden with tin-pots--opposite the Window there are hills
in a Mist--a few Ash trees and a mountain stream at a little
distance.--They possess a few head of Cattle.--If you had gone round to
the back of the House just now--you would have seen more hills in a
Mist--some dozen wretched black Cottages scented of peat smoke which finds
its way by the door or a hole in the roof--a girl here and there barefoot.
There was one little thing driving Cows down a slope like a mad thing.
There was another standing at the cowhouse door rather pretty fac'd all up
to the ankles in dirt.


[Oban, July 21.]

We have walk'd 15 Miles in a soaking rain to Oban opposite the Isle of
Mull which is so near Staffa we had thought to pass to it--but the expense
is 7 Guineas and those rather extorted.--Staffa you see is a fashionable
place and therefore every one concerned with it either in this town or the
Island are what you call up. 'Tis like paying sixpence for an apple at the
playhouse--this irritated me and Brown was not best pleased--we have
therefore resolved to set northward for fort William to-morrow morning. I
fed upon a bit of white Bread to-day like a Sparrow--it was very fine--I
cannot manage the cursed Oat Cake. Remember me to all and let me hear a
good account of you at Inverness--I am sorry Georgy had not those lines.
Good-bye.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



LXII.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


Inverary, July 18 [1818].

My dear Bailey--The only day I have had a chance of seeing you when you
were last in London I took every advantage of--some devil led you out of
the way--Now I have written to Reynolds to tell me where you will be in
Cumberland--so that I cannot miss you. And when I see you, the first thing
I shall do will be to read that about Milton and Ceres, and
Proserpine--for though I am not going after you to John o' Grot's, it will
be but poetical to say so. And here, Bailey, I will say a few words
written in a sane and sober mind, a very scarce thing with me, for they
may, hereafter, save you a great deal of trouble about me, which you do
not deserve, and for which I ought to be bastinadoed. I carry all matters
to an extreme--so that when I have any little vexation, it grows in five
minutes into a theme for Sophocles. Then, and in that temper, if I write
to any friend, I have so little self-possession that I give him matter for
grieving at the very time perhaps when I am laughing at a Pun. Your last
letter made me blush for the pain I had given you--I know my own
disposition so well that I am certain of writing many times hereafter in
the same strain to you--now, you know how far to believe in them. You must
allow for Imagination. I know I shall not be able to help it.

I am sorry you are grieved at my not continuing my visits to Little
Britain--Yet I think I have as far as a Man can do who has Books to read
and subjects to think upon--for that reason I have been nowhere else
except to Wentworth Place so nigh at hand--moreover I have been too often
in a state of health that made it prudent not to hazard the night air.
Yet, further, I will confess to you that I cannot enjoy Society small or
numerous--I am certain that our fair friends are glad I should come for
the mere sake of my coming; but I am certain I bring with me a vexation
they are better without--If I can possibly at any time feel my temper
coming upon me I refrain even from a promised visit. I am certain I have
not a right feeling towards women--at this moment, I am striving to be
just to them, but I cannot--Is it because they fall so far beneath my
boyish Imagination? When I was a schoolboy I thought a fair woman a pure
Goddess; my mind was a soft nest in which some one of them slept, though
she knew it not. I have no right to expect more than their reality--I
thought them ethereal above men--I find them perhaps equal--great by
comparison is very small. Insult may be inflicted in more ways than by
word or action--One who is tender of being insulted does not like to think
an insult against another. I do not like to think insults in a lady's
company--I commit a crime with her which absence would not have known. Is
it not extraordinary?--when among men, I have no evil thoughts, no malice,
no spleen--I feel free to speak or to be silent--I can listen, and from
every one I can learn--my hands are in my pockets, I am free from all
suspicion and comfortable. When I am among women, I have evil thoughts,
malice, spleen--I cannot speak, or be silent--I am full of suspicions and
therefore listen to nothing--I am in a hurry to be gone. You must be
charitable and put all this perversity to my being disappointed since my
boyhood. Yet with such feelings I am happier alone among crowds of men, by
myself, or with a friend or two. With all this, trust me, I have not the
least idea that men of different feelings and inclinations are more
short-sighted than myself. I never rejoiced more than at my Brother's
marriage, and shall do so at that of any of my friends. I must absolutely
get over this--but how? the only way is to find the root of the evil, and
so cure it "with backward mutters of dissevering power"--that is a
difficult thing; for an obstinate Prejudice can seldom be produced but
from a gordian complication of feelings, which must take time to unravel,
and care to keep unravelled. I could say a good deal about this, but I
will leave it, in hopes of better and more worthy dispositions--and also
content that I am wronging no one, for after all I do think better of
womankind than to suppose they care whether Mister John Keats five feet
high likes them or not. You appeared to wish to know my moods on this
subject--don't think it a bore my dear fellow, it shall be my Amen. I
should not have consented to myself these four months tramping in the
highlands, but that I thought it would give me more experience, rub off
more prejudice, use to more hardship, identify finer scenes, load me with
grander mountains, and strengthen more my reach in Poetry, than would
stopping at home among books, even though I should reach Homer. By this
time I am comparatively a Mountaineer. I have been among wilds and
mountains too much to break out much about their grandeur. I have fed upon
oat-cake--not long enough to be very much attached to it.--The first
mountains I saw, though not so large as some I have since seen, weighed
very solemnly upon me. The effect is wearing away--yet I like them mainly.


[Island of Mull, July 22.]

We have come this Evening with a guide--for without was impossible--into
the middle of the Isle of Mull, pursuing our cheap journey to Iona, and
perhaps Staffa. We would not follow the common and fashionable mode, from
the great Imposition of Expense. We have come over heath and rock, and
river and bog, to what in England would be called a horrid place. Yet it
belongs to a Shepherd pretty well off perhaps. The family speak not a word
but Gaelic, and we have not yet seen their faces for the smoke, which,
after visiting every cranny (not excepting my eyes very much incommoded
for writing), finds its way out at the door. I am more comfortable than I
could have imagined in such a place, and so is Brown. The people are all
very kind--We lost our way a little yesterday; and inquiring at a Cottage,
a young woman without a word threw on her cloak and walked a mile in a
mizzling rain and splashy way to put us right again.

I could not have had a greater pleasure in these parts than your mention
of my sister. She is very much prisoned from me. I am afraid it will be
some time before I can take her to many places I wish. I trust we shall
see you ere long in Cumberland--At least I hope I shall, before my visit
to America, more than once. I intend to pass a whole year there, if I live
to the completion of the three next. My sister's welfare, and the hopes of
such a stay in America, will make me observe your advice. I shall be
prudent and more careful of my health than I have been. I hope you will be
about paying your first visit to Town after settling when we come into
Cumberland--Cumberland however will be no distance to me after my present
journey. I shall spin to you in a Minute. I begin to get rather a contempt
of distances. I hope you will have a nice convenient room for a library.
Now you are so well in health, do keep it up by never missing your dinner,
by not reading hard, and by taking proper exercise. You'll have a horse, I
suppose, so you must make a point of sweating him. You say I must study
Dante--well, the only Books I have with me are those 3 little volumes.[76]
I read that fine passage you mention a few days ago. Your letter followed
me from Hampstead to Port-Patrick, and thence to Glasgow. You must think
me by this time a very pretty fellow. One of the pleasantest bouts we have
had was our walk to Burns's Cottage, over the Doon, and past Kirk Alloway.
I had determined to write a Sonnet in the Cottage. I did--but lawk! it was
so wretched I destroyed it--however in a few days afterwards I wrote some
lines cousin-german to the circumstance, which I will transcribe, or
rather cross-scribe in the front of this.

Reynolds's illness has made him a new man--he will be stronger than
ever--before I left London he was really getting a fat face. Brown keeps
on writing volumes of adventures to Dilke. When we get in of an evening
and I have perhaps taken my rest on a couple of chairs, he affronts my
indolence and Luxury by pulling out of his knapsack 1st his paper--2ndly
his pens and last his ink. Now I would not care if he would change a
little. I say now why not Bailey, take out his pens first sometimes--But I
might as well tell a hen to hold up her head before she drinks instead of
afterwards.

Your affectionate Friend,

JOHN KEATS.

LINES WRITTEN IN THE HIGHLANDS AFTER A VISIT TO BURNS'S COUNTRY

  There is a charm in footing slow across a silent plain,
  Where patriot Battle has been fought, where glory had the gain;
  There is a pleasure on the heath where Druids old have been,
  Where Mantles gray have rustled by and swept the nettles green;
  There is a Joy in every spot made known by times of old,
  New to the feet, although each tale a hundred times be told;
  There is a deeper Joy than all, more solemn in the heart,
  More parching to the tongue than all, of more divine a smart,
  When weary steps forget themselves, upon a pleasant turf,
  Upon hot sand, or flinty road, or sea-shore iron scurf,
  Toward the Castle, or the Cot, where long ago was born
  One who was great through mortal days, and died of fame unshorn.
  Light heather-bells may tremble then, but they are far away;
  Wood-lark may sing from sandy fern,--the sun may hear his Lay;
  Runnels may kiss the grass on shelves and shallows clear,
  But their low voices are not heard, though come on travels drear;
  Blood-red the sun may set behind black mountain peaks;
  Blue tides may sluice and drench their time in Caves and weedy creeks;
  Eagles may seem to sleep wing-wide upon the Air;
  Ring-doves may fly convuls'd across to some high-cedar'd lair;
  But the forgotten eye is still fast lidded to the ground,
  As Palmer's, that, with weariness, mid-desert shrine hath found.
    At such a time the Soul's a child, in childhood is the brain;
  Forgotten is the worldly heart--alone, it beats in vain.--
  Aye, if a Madman could have leave to pass a healthful day
  To tell his forehead's swoon and faint when first began decay,
  He might make tremble many a one whose spirit had gone forth
  To find a Bard's low cradle-place about the silent North.
  Scanty the hour and few the steps beyond the bourn of Care,
  Beyond the sweet and bitter world,--beyond it unaware!
  Scanty the hour and few the steps, because a longer stay
  Would bar return, and make a man forget his mortal way:
  O horrible! to lose the sight of well remember'd face,
  Of Brother's eyes, of Sister's brow--constant to every place;
  Filling the Air, as on we move, with Portraiture intense;
  More warm than those heroic tints that pain a Painter's sense,
  When shapes of old come striding by, and visages of old,
  Locks shining black, hair scanty gray, and passions manifold.
  No No, that horror cannot be, for at the cable's length
  Man feels the gentle anchor pull and gladdens in its strength:--
  One hour, half-idiot, he stands by mossy waterfall,
  But in the very next he reads his soul's Memorial:--
  He reads it on the mountain's height, where chance he may sit down
  Upon rough marble diadem--that hill's eternal Crown.
  Yet be his Anchor e'er so fast, room is there for a prayer
  That man may never lose his Mind on Mountains black and bare;
  That he may stray league after league some Great birthplace to find
  And keep his vision clear from speck, his inward sight unblind.



LXIII.--TO THOMAS KEATS.


Dun an cullen,[77] Island of Mull [July 23, 1818].

My dear Tom--Just after my last had gone to the Post, in came one of the
Men with whom we endeavoured to agree about going to Staffa--he said what
a pity it was we should turn aside and not see the curiosities. So we had
a little talk, and finally agreed that he should be our guide across the
Isle of Mull. We set out, crossed two ferries--one to the Isle of Kerrara,
of little distance; the other from Kerrara to Mull 9 Miles across--we did
it in forty minutes with a fine Breeze. The road through the Island, or
rather the track, is the most dreary you can think of--between dreary
Mountains, over bog and rock and river with our Breeches tucked up and our
Stockings in hand. About 8 o'Clock we arrived at a shepherd's Hut, into
which we could scarcely get for the Smoke through a door lower than my
Shoulders. We found our way into a little compartment with the rafters and
turf-thatch blackened with smoke, the earth floor full of Hills and Dales.
We had some white Bread with us, made a good supper, and slept in our
Clothes in some Blankets; our Guide snored on another little bed about an
Arm's length off. This morning we came about sax Miles to Breakfast, by
rather a better path, and we are now in by comparison a Mansion. Our Guide
is I think a very obliging fellow--in the way this morning he sang us two
Gaelic songs--one made by a Mrs. Brown on her husband's being drowned, the
other a jacobin one on Charles Stuart. For some days Brown has been
enquiring out his Genealogy here--he thinks his Grandfather came from long
Island. He got a parcel of people about him at a Cottage door last
Evening, chatted with ane who had been a Miss Brown, and who I think from
a likeness, must have been a Relation--he jawed with the old
Woman--flattered a young one--kissed a child who was afraid of his
Spectacles and finally drank a pint of Milk. They handle his Spectacles as
we do a sensitive leaf.


[Oban,] July 26th.

Well--we had a most wretched walk of 37 Miles across the Island of Mull
and then we crossed to Iona or Icolmkill--from Icolmkill we took a boat at
a bargain to take us to Staffa and land us at the head of Loch Nakgal,[78]
whence we should only have to walk half the distance to Oban again and on
a better road. All this is well passed and done, with this singular piece
of Luck, that there was an interruption in the bad Weather just as we saw
Staffa at which it is impossible to land but in a tolerable Calm sea. But
I will first mention Icolmkill--I know not whether you have heard much
about this Island; I never did before I came nigh it. It is rich in the
most interesting Antiquities. Who would expect to find the ruins of a fine
Cathedral Church, of Cloisters Colleges Monasteries and Nunneries in so
remote an Island? The Beginning of these things was in the sixth Century,
under the superstition of a would-be-Bishop-saint, who landed from
Ireland, and chose the spot from its Beauty--for at that time the now
treeless place was covered with magnificent Woods. Columba in the Gaelic
is Colm, signifying Dove--Kill signifies church, and I is as good as
Island--so I-colm-kill means the Island of Saint Columba's Church. Now
this Saint Columba became the Dominic of the barbarian Christians of the
north and was famed also far south--but more especially was reverenced by
the Scots the Picts the Norwegians the Irish. In a course of years perhaps
the Island was considered the most holy ground of the north, and the old
Kings of the aforementioned nations chose it for their burial-place. We
were shown a spot in the Churchyard where they say 61 Kings are buried 48
Scotch from Fergus II. to Macbeth 8 Irish 4 Norwegians and 1 French--they
lie in rows compact. Then we were shown other matters of later date, but
still very ancient--many tombs of Highland Chieftains--their effigies in
complete armour, face upwards, black and moss-covered--Abbots and Bishops
of the island always of one of the chief Clans. There were plenty Macleans
and Macdonnels; among these latter, the famous Macdonel Lord of the Isles.
There have been 300 Crosses in the Island but the Presbyterians destroyed
all but two, one of which is a very fine one, and completely covered with
a shaggy coarse Moss. The old Schoolmaster, an ignorant little man but
reckoned very clever, showed us these things. He is a Maclean, and as much
above 4 foot as he is under 4 foot three inches. He stops at one glass of
whisky unless you press another and at the second unless you press a
third--

I am puzzled how to give you an Idea of Staffa. It can only be represented
by a first-rate drawing. One may compare the surface of the Island to a
roof--this roof is supported by grand pillars of basalt standing together
as thick as honeycombs. The finest thing is Fingal's Cave--it is entirely
a hollowing out of Basalt Pillars. Suppose now the Giants who rebelled
against Jove had taken a whole Mass of black Columns and bound them
together like bunches of matches--and then with immense axes had made a
cavern in the body of these columns--Of course the roof and floor must be
composed of the broken ends of the Columns--such is Fingal's Cave, except
that the Sea has done the work of excavations, and is continually dashing
there--so that we walk along the sides of the cave on the pillars which
are left as if for convenient stairs. The roof is arched somewhat
gothic-wise, and the length of some of the entire side-pillars is fifty
feet. About the island you might seat an army of Men each on a pillar. The
length of the Cave is 120 feet, and from its extremity the view into the
sea, through the large Arch at the entrance--the colour of the columns is
a sort of black with a lurking gloom of purple therein. For solemnity and
grandeur it far surpasses the finest Cathedral. At the extremity of the
Cave there is a small perforation into another cave, at which the waters
meeting and buffeting each other there is sometimes produced a report as
of a cannon heard as far as Iona, which must be 12 Miles. As we approached
in the boat, there was such a fine swell of the sea that the pillars
appeared rising immediately out of the crystal. But it is impossible to
describe it--

  Not Aladdin magian
  Ever such a work began.
  Not the Wizard of the Dee
  Ever such a dream could see,
  Not St. John in Patmos Isle
  In the passion of his toil
  When he saw the churches seven
  Golden-aisled built up in heaven
  Gaz'd at such a rugged wonder.
  As I stood its roofing under
  Lo! I saw one sleeping there
  On the marble cold and bare.
  While the surges wash'd his feet
  And his garments white did beat
  Drench'd about the sombre rocks,
  On his neck his well-grown locks
  Lifted dry above the Main
  Were upon the curl again--
  "What is this? and what art thou?"
  Whisper'd I, and touch'd his brow;
  "What art thou? and what is this?"
  Whisper'd I, and strove to kiss
  The Spirit's hand, to wake his eyes;
  Up he started in a trice:
  "I am Lycidas," said he,
  "Fam'd in funeral Minstrelsy--
  This was architected thus
  By the great Oceanus.
  Here his mighty waters play
  Hollow Organs all the day,
  Here, by turns, his dolphins all,
  Finny palmers great and small,
  Come to pay devotion due--
  Each a mouth of pearls must strew!
  Many a Mortal of these days
  Dares to pass our sacred ways,
  Dares to touch, audaciously
  This Cathedral of the sea--
  I have been the Pontiff-priest,
  Where the Waters never rest,
  Where a fledgy sea-bird choir
  Soars for ever--holy fire
  I have hid from Mortal Man.
  Proteus is my Sacristan.
  But the stupid eye of Mortal
  Hath pass'd beyond the Rocky portal.
  So for ever will I leave
  Such a taint and soon unweave
  All the magic of the place--
  'Tis now free to stupid face--
  To cutters and to fashion boats,
  To cravats and to Petticoats.
  The great Sea shall war it down,
  For its fame shall not be blown
  At every farthing quadrille dance."[79]
  So saying with a Spirit's glance
  He dived----

I am sorry I am so indolent as to write such stuff as this. It can't be
helped. The western coast of Scotland is a most strange place--it is
composed of rocks, Mountains, mountainous and rocky Islands intersected by
lochs--you can go but a short distance anywhere from salt water in the
highlands.

I have a slight sore throat and think it best to stay a day or two at
Oban--then we shall proceed to Fort William and Inverness, where I am
anxious to be on account of a Letter from you. Brown in his Letters puts
down every little circumstance. I should like to do the same, but I
confess myself too indolent, and besides next winter everything will come
up in prime order as we verge on such and such things.

Have you heard in any way of George? I should think by this time he must
have landed. I in my carelessness never thought of knowing where a letter
would find him on the other side--I think Baltimore, but I am afraid of
directing it to the wrong place. I shall begin some chequer work for him
directly, and it will be ripe for the post by the time I hear from you
next after this. I assure you I often long for a seat and a Cup o' tea at
Well Walk, especially now that mountains, castles, and Lakes are becoming
common to me. Yet I would rather summer it out, for on the whole I am
happier than when I have time to be glum--perhaps it may cure me.
Immediately on my return I shall begin studying hard, with a peep at the
theatre now and then--and depend upon it I shall be very luxurious. With
respect to Women I think I shall be able to conquer my passions hereafter
better than I have yet done. You will help me to talk of George next
winter, and we will go now and then to see Fanny. Let me hear a good
account of your health and comfort, telling me truly how you do alone.
Remember me to all including Mr. and Mrs. Bentley.

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.



LXIV.--TO THOMAS KEATS.


Letter Findlay, August 3 [1818].

Ah mio Ben.

My dear Tom--We have made but poor progress lately, chiefly from bad
weather, for my throat is in a fair way of getting quite well, so I have
had nothing of consequence to tell you till yesterday when we went up Ben
Nevis, the highest Mountain in Great Britain. On that account I will never
ascend another in this empire--Skiddaw is nothing to it either in height
or in difficulty. It is above 4300 feet from the Sea level, and
Fortwilliam stands at the head of a Salt water Lake, consequently we took
it completely from that level. I am heartily glad it is done--it is almost
like a fly crawling up a wainscoat. Imagine the task of mounting ten Saint
Pauls without the convenience of Staircases. We set out about five in the
morning with a Guide in the Tartan and Cap, and soon arrived at the foot
of the first ascent which we immediately began upon. After much fag and
tug and a rest and a glass of whisky apiece we gained the top of the first
rise and saw then a tremendous chap above us, which the guide said was
still far from the top. After the first Rise our way lay along a heath
valley in which there was a Loch--after about a Mile in this Valley we
began upon the next ascent, more formidable by far than the last, and kept
mounting with short intervals of rest until we got above all vegetation,
among nothing but loose Stones which lasted us to the very top. The Guide
said we had three Miles of a stony ascent--we gained the first tolerable
level after the valley to the height of what in the Valley we had thought
the top and saw still above us another huge crag which still the Guide
said was not the top--to that we made with an obstinate fag, and having
gained it there came on a Mist, so that from that part to the very top we
walked in a Mist. The whole immense head of the Mountain is composed of
large loose stones--thousands of acres. Before we had got halfway up we
passed large patches of snow and near the top there is a chasm some
hundred feet deep completely glutted with it.--Talking of chasms they are
the finest wonder of the whole--they appear great rents in the very heart
of the mountain though they are not, being at the side of it, but other
huge crags arising round it give the appearance to Nevis of a shattered
heart or Core in itself. These Chasms are 1500 feet in depth and are the
most tremendous places I have ever seen--they turn one giddy if you choose
to give way to it. We tumbled in large stones and set the echoes at work
in fine style. Sometimes these chasms are tolerably clear, sometimes there
is a misty cloud which seems to steam up and sometimes they are entirely
smothered with clouds.

After a little time the Mist cleared away but still there were large
Clouds about attracted by old Ben to a certain distance so as to form as
it appeared large dome curtains which kept sailing about, opening and
shutting at intervals here and there and everywhere: so that although we
did not see one vast wide extent of prospect all round we saw something
perhaps finer--these cloud-veils opening with a dissolving motion and
showing us the mountainous region beneath as through a loophole--these
cloudy loopholes ever varying and discovering fresh prospect east, west,
north and south. Then it was misty again, and again it was fair--then puff
came a cold breeze of wind and bared a craggy chap we had not yet seen
though in close neighbourhood. Every now and then we had overhead blue Sky
clear and the sun pretty warm. I do not know whether I can give you an
Idea of the prospect from a large Mountain top. You are on a stony plain
which of course makes you forget you are on any but low ground--the
horizon or rather edges of this plain being above 4000 feet above the Sea
hide all the Country immediately beneath you, so that the next object you
see all round next to the edges of the flat top are the Summits of
Mountains of some distance off. As you move about on all sides you see
more or less of the near neighbour country according as the Mountain you
stand upon is in different parts steep or rounded--but the most new thing
of all is the sudden leap of the eye from the extremity of what appears a
plain into so vast a distance. On one part of the top there is a handsome
pile of Stones done pointedly by some soldiers of artillery; I clim[b]ed
on to them and so got a little higher than old Ben himself. It was not so
cold as I expected--yet cold enough for a glass of Whisky now and then.
There is not a more fickle thing than the top of a Mountain--what would a
Lady give to change her head-dress as often and with as little
trouble!--There are a good many red deer upon Ben Nevis--we did not see
one--the dog we had with us kept a very sharp look out and really
languished for a bit of a worry. I have said nothing yet of our getting on
among the loose stones large and small sometimes on two, sometimes on
three, sometimes four legs--sometimes two and stick, sometimes three and
stick, then four again, then two, then a jump, so that we kept on ringing
changes on foot, hand, stick, jump, boggle, stumble, foot, hand, foot
(very gingerly), stick again, and then again a game at all fours. After
all there was one Mrs. Cameron of 50 years of age and the fattest woman in
all Inverness-shire who got up this Mountain some few years ago--true she
had her servants--but then she had her self. She ought to have hired
Sisyphus,--"Up the high hill he heaves a huge round--Mrs. Cameron." 'Tis
said a little conversation took place between the mountain and the Lady.
After taking a glass of Whisky as she was tolerably seated at ease she
thus began--

_Mrs. C._

  Upon my Life Sir Nevis I am pique'd
  That I have so far panted tugg'd and reek'd
  To do an honor to your old bald pate
  And now am sitting on you just to bait,
  Without your paying me one compliment.
  Alas 'tis so with all, when our intent
  Is plain, and in the eye of all Mankind
  We fair ones show a preference, too blind!
  You Gentle man immediately turn tail--
  O let me then my hapless fate bewail!
  Ungrateful Baldpate have I not disdain'd
  The pleasant Valleys--have I not madbrain'd
  Deserted all my Pickles and preserves
  My China closet too--with wretched Nerves
  To boot--say wretched ingrate have I not
  Left my soft cushion chair and caudle pot.
  'Tis true I had no corns--no! thank the fates
  My Shoemaker was always Mr. Bates.
  And if not Mr. Bates why I'm not old!
  Still dumb ungrateful Nevis--still so cold!

Here the Lady took some more whisky and was putting even more to her lips
when she dashed it to the Ground for the Mountain began to grumble--which
continued for a few minutes before he thus began--

_Ben Nevis._

  What whining bit of tongue and Mouth thus dares
  Disturb my slumber of a thousand years?
  Even so long my sleep has been secure--
  And to be so awaked I'll not endure.
  Oh pain--for since the Eagle's earliest scream
  I've had a damn'd confounded ugly dream,
  A Nightmare sure. What Madam was it you?
  It cannot be! My old eyes are not true!
  Red-Crag, my Spectacles! Now let me see!
  Good Heavens Lady how the gemini
  Did you get here? O I shall split my sides!
  I shall earthquake----


_Mrs. C._

  Sweet Nevis do not quake, for though I love
  Your honest Countenance all things above
  Truly I should not like to be convey'd
  So far into your Bosom--gentle Maid
  Loves not too rough a treatment gentle Sir--
  Pray thee be calm and do not quake nor stir
  No not a Stone or I shall go in fits--


_Ben Nevis._

  I must--I shall--I meet not such tit bits--
  I meet not such sweet creatures every day--
  By my old night cap night cap night and day
  I must have one sweet Buss--I must and shall!
  Red Crag!--What Madam can you then repent
  Of all the toil and vigour you have spent
  To see Ben Nevis and to touch his nose?
  Red Crag I say! O I must have them close!
  Red Crag, there lies beneath my furthest toe
  A vein of Sulphur--go dear Red Crag, go--
  And rub your flinty back against it--budge!
  Dear Madam I must kiss you, faith I must!
  I must Embrace you with my dearest gust!
  Block-head, d'ye hear--Block-head I'll make her feel
  There lies beneath my east leg's northern heel
  A cave of young earth dragons--well my boy
  Go thither quick and so complete my joy
  Take you a bundle of the largest pines
  And when the sun on fiercest Phosphor shines
  Fire them and ram them in the Dragon's nest
  Then will the dragons fry and fizz their best
  Until ten thousand now no bigger than
  Poor Alligators--poor things of one span--
  Will each one swell to twice ten times the size
  Of northern whale--then for the tender prize--
  The moment then--for then will Red Crag rub
  His flinty back--and I shall kiss and snub
  And press my dainty morsel to my breast.
  Block-head make haste!
                          O Muses weep the rest--
  The Lady fainted and he thought her dead
  So pulled the clouds again about his head
  And went to sleep again--soon she was rous'd
  By her affrighted servants--next day hous'd
  Safe on the lowly ground she bless'd her fate
  That fainting fit was not delayed too late.

But what surprises me above all is how this Lady got down again. I felt it
horribly. 'Twas the most vile descent--shook me all to pieces. Over leaf
you will find a Sonnet I wrote on the top of Ben Nevis. We have just
entered Inverness. I have three Letters from you and one from Fanny--and
one from Dilke. I would set about crossing this all over for you but I
will first write to Fanny and Mrs. Wylie. Then I will begin another to you
and not before because I think it better you should have this as soon as
possible. My Sore throat is not quite well and I intend stopping here a
few days.

  Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud
    Upon the top of Nevis, blind in mist!
  I look into the chasms, and a shroud
    Vapourous doth hide them,--just so much I wist
  Mankind do know of hell; I look o'erhead,
    And there is sullen mist,--even so much
  Mankind can tell of heaven; mist is spread
    Before the earth, beneath me,--even such,
  Even so vague is man's sight of himself!
    Here are the craggy stones beneath my feet,--
  Thus much I know that, a poor witless elf,
    I tread on them,--that all my eye doth meet
  Is mist and crag, not only on this height,
  But in the world of thought and mental might!

Good-bye till to-morrow.

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



LXV.--TO MRS. WYLIE.


Inverness, August 6 [1818].

My dear Madam--It was a great regret to me that I should leave all my
friends, just at the moment when I might have helped to soften away the
time for them. I wanted not to leave my brother Tom, but more especially,
believe me, I should like to have remained near you, were it but for an
atom of consolation after parting with so dear a daughter. My brother
George has ever been more than a brother to me; he has been my greatest
friend, and I can never forget the sacrifice you have made for his
happiness. As I walk along the Mountains here I am full of these things,
and lay in wait, as it were, for the pleasure of seeing you immediately on
my return to town. I wish, above all things, to say a word of Comfort to
you, but I know not how. It is impossible to prove that black is white; it
is impossible to make out that sorrow is joy, or joy is sorrow.

Tom tells me that you called on Mr. Haslam, with a newspaper giving an
account of a gentleman in a Fur cap falling over a precipice in
Kirkcudbrightshire. If it was me, I did it in a dream, or in some magic
interval between the first and second cup of tea; which is nothing
extraordinary when we hear that Mahomet, in getting out of Bed, upset a
jug of water, and, whilst it was falling, took a fortnight's trip, as it
seemed, to Heaven; yet was back in time to save one drop of water being
spilt. As for Fur caps, I do not remember one beside my own, except at
Carlisle: this was a very good Fur cap I met in High Street, and I daresay
was the unfortunate one. I daresay that the fates, seeing but two Fur caps
in the north, thought it too extraordinary, and so threw the dies which of
them should be drowned. The lot fell upon Jones: I daresay his name was
Jones. All I hope is that the gaunt Ladies said not a word about hanging;
if they did I shall repent that I was not half-drowned in Kirkcudbright.
Stop! let me see!--being half-drowned by falling from a precipice, is a
very romantic affair: why should I not take it to myself? How glorious to
be introduced in a drawing-room to a Lady who reads Novels, with "Mr.
So-and-so--Miss So-and-so; Miss So-and-so, this is Mr. So-and-so, who fell
off a precipice and was half-drowned." Now I refer to you, whether I
should lose so fine an opportunity of making my fortune. No romance lady
could resist me--none. Being run under a Waggon--side-lamed in a
playhouse, Apoplectic through Brandy--and a thousand other tolerably
decent things for badness, would be nothing, but being tumbled over a
precipice into the sea--oh! it would make my fortune--especially if you
could contrive to hint, from this bulletin's authority, that I was not
upset on my own account, but that I dashed into the waves after Jessy of
Dumblane, and pulled her out by the hair. But that, alas! she was dead, or
she would have made me happy with her hand--however in this you may use
your own discretion. But I must leave joking, and seriously aver, that I
have been very romantic indeed among these Mountains and Lakes. I have got
wet through, day after day--eaten oat-cake, and drank Whisky--walked up to
my knees in Bog--got a sore throat--gone to see Icolmkill and Staffa; met
with wholesome food just here and there as it happened--went up Ben Nevis,
and--_N.B._, came down again. Sometimes when I am rather tired I lean
rather languishingly on a rock, and long for some famous Beauty to get
down from her Palfrey in passing, approach me, with--her saddle-bags, and
give me--a dozen or two capital roastbeef Sandwiches.

When I come into a large town, you know there is no putting one's Knapsack
into one's fob, so the people stare. We have been taken for
Spectacle-vendors, Razor-sellers, Jewellers, travelling linendrapers,
Spies, Excisemen, and many things I have no idea of. When I asked for
letters at Port Patrick, the man asked what regiment? I have had a peep
also at little Ireland. Tell Henry I have not camped quite on the bare
Earth yet, but nearly as bad, in walking through Mull, for the Shepherds'
huts you can scarcely breathe in, for the Smoke which they seem to
endeavour to preserve for smoking on a large scale. Besides riding about
400, we have walked above 600 Miles, and may therefore reckon ourselves as
set out.

I assure you, my dear Madam, that one of the greatest pleasures I shall
have on my return, will be seeing you, and that I shall ever be

Yours, with the greatest respect and sincerity,

JOHN KEATS.



LXVI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Hampstead, August 18 [1818].

My dear Fanny--I am afraid you will think me very negligent in not having
answered your Letter--I see it is dated June 12. I did not arrive at
Inverness till the 8th of this Month so I am very much concerned at your
being disappointed so long a time. I did not intend to have returned to
London so soon but have a bad sore throat from a cold I caught in the
island of Mull: therefore I thought it best to get home as soon as
possible, and went on board the Smack from Cromarty. We had a nine days'
passage and were landed at London Bridge yesterday. I shall have a good
deal to tell you about Scotland--I would begin here but I have a
confounded toothache. Tom has not been getting better since I left London
and for the last fortnight has been worse than ever--he has been getting a
little better for these two or three days. I shall ask Mr. Abbey to let me
bring you to Hampstead. If Mr. A. should see this Letter tell him that he
still must if he pleases forward the Post Bill to Perth as I have
empowered my fellow traveller to receive it. I have a few Scotch pebbles
for you from the Island of Icolmkill--I am afraid they are rather
shabby--I did not go near the Mountain of Cairn Gorm. I do not know the
Name of George's ship--the Name of the Port he has gone to is Philadelphia
whence he will travel to the Settlement across the Country--I will tell
you all about this when I see you. The Title of my last Book is
Endymion--you shall have one soon.--I would not advise you to play on the
Flageolet--however I will get you one if you please. I will speak to Mr.
Abbey on what you say concerning school. I am sorry for your poor Canary.
You shall have another volume of my first Book. My toothache keeps on so
that I cannot write with any pleasure--all I can say now is that your
Letter is a very nice one without fault and that you will hear from or
see in a few days if his throat will let him,

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



LXVII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Hampstead, Tuesday [August 25, 1818].

My dear Fanny--I have just written to Mr. Abbey to ask him to let you come
and see poor Tom who has lately been much worse. He is better at
present--sends his Love to you and wishes much to see you--I hope he will
shortly--I have not been able to come to Walthamstow on his account as
well as a little Indisposition of my own. I have asked Mr. A. to write
me--if he does not mention anything of it to you, I will tell you what
reasons he has though I do not think he will make any objection. Write me
what you want with a Flageolet and I will get one ready for you by the
time you come.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



LXVIII.--TO JANE REYNOLDS.


Well Walk, September 1st [1818].

My dear Jane--Certainly your kind note would rather refresh than trouble
me, and so much the more would your coming if as you say, it could be done
without agitating my Brother too much. Receive on your Hearth our deepest
thanks for your Solicitude concerning us.

I am glad John is not hurt, but gone safe into Devonshire--I shall be in
great expectation of his Letter--but the promise of it in so anxious and
friendly a way I prize more than a hundred. I shall be in town to-day on
some business with my guardian "as was" with scarce a hope of being able
to call on you. For these two last days Tom has been more cheerful: you
shall hear again soon how he will be.

Remember us particularly to your Mother.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



LXIX.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


[Hampstead, September 21 1818.]

My dear Dilke--According to the Wentworth place Bulletin you have left
Brighton much improved: therefore now a few lines will be more of a
pleasure than a bore. I have things to say to you, and would fain begin
upon them in this fourth line: but I have a Mind too well regulated to
proceed upon anything without due preliminary remarks.--You may perhaps
have observed that in the simple process of eating radishes I never begin
at the root but constantly dip the little green head in the salt--that in
the Game of Whist if I have an ace I constantly play it first. So how can
I with any face begin without a dissertation on letter-writing? Yet when I
consider that a sheet of paper contains room only for three pages and a
half, how can I do justice to such a pregnant subject? However, as you
have seen the history of the world stamped as it were by a diminishing
glass in the form of a chronological Map, so will I "with retractile
claws" draw this into the form of a table--whereby it will occupy merely
the remainder of this first page--

     Folio--Parsons, Lawyers, Statesmen, Physicians out of
     place--ut--Eustace--Thornton--out of practice or on their travels.

     Foolscap--1. Superfine--Rich or noble poets--ut Byron. 2. common ut
     egomet.

     Quarto--Projectors, Patentees, Presidents, Potato growers.

     Bath--Boarding schools, and suburbans in general.

     Gilt edge--Dandies in general, male, female, and literary.

     Octavo or tears--All who make use of a lascivious seal.

     Duodec.--May be found for the most part on Milliners' and
     Dressmakers' Parlour tables.

     Strip--At the Playhouse-doors, or anywhere.

     Slip--Being but a variation.

     Snip--So called from its size being disguised by a twist.

I suppose you will have heard that Hazlitt has on foot a prosecution
against Blackwood. I dined with him a few days since at Hessey's--there
was not a word said about it, though I understand he is excessively vexed.
Reynolds, by what I hear, is almost over-happy, and Rice is in town. I
have not seen him, nor shall I for some time, as my throat has become
worse after getting well, and I am determined to stop at home till I am
quite well. I was going to Town to-morrow with Mrs. D. but I thought it
best to ask her excuse this morning. I wish I could say Tom was any
better. His identity presses upon me so all day that I am obliged to go
out--and although I intended to have given some time to study alone, I am
obliged to write and plunge into abstract images to ease myself of his
countenance, his voice, and feebleness--so that I live now in a continual
fever. It must be poisonous to life, although I feel well. Imagine "the
hateful siege of contraries"--if I think of fame, of poetry, it seems a
crime to me, and yet I must do so or suffer. I am sorry to give you
pain--I am almost resolved to burn this--but I really have not
self-possession and magnanimity enough to manage the thing
otherwise--after all it may be a nervousness proceeding from the Mercury.

Bailey I hear is gaining his spirits, and he will yet be what I once
thought impossible, a cheerful Man--I think he is not quite so much spoken
of in Little Britain. I forgot to ask Mrs. Dilke if she had anything she
wanted to say immediately to you. This morning look'd so unpromising that
I did not think she would have gone--but I find she has, on sending for
some volumes of Gibbon. I was in a little funk yesterday, for I sent in an
unseal'd note of sham abuse, until I recollected, from what I heard
Charles say, that the servant could neither read nor write--not even to
her Mother as Charles observed. I have just had a Letter from Reynolds--he
is going on gloriously. The following is a translation of a line of
Ronsard--

  Love pour'd her beauty into my warm veins.

You have passed your Romance, and I never gave in to it, or else I think
this line a feast for one of your Lovers. How goes it with Brown?

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



LXX.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[Hampstead, about September 22, 1818.]

My dear Reynolds--Believe me I have rather rejoiced at your happiness than
fretted at your silence. Indeed I am grieved on your account that I am not
at the same time happy--But I conjure you to think at Present of nothing
but pleasure--"Gather the rose, etc."--gorge the honey of life. I pity you
as much that it cannot last for ever, as I do myself now drinking bitters.
Give yourself up to it--you cannot help it--and I have a Consolation in
thinking so. I never was in love--Yet the voice and shape of a Woman has
haunted me these two days[80]--at such a time, when the relief, the
feverous relief of Poetry seems a much less crime--This morning Poetry has
conquered--I have relapsed into those abstractions which are my only
life--I feel escaped from a new strange and threatening sorrow--And I am
thankful for it--There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of
Immortality.

Poor Tom--that woman--and Poetry were ringing changes in my senses--Now I
am in comparison happy--I am sensible this will distress you--you must
forgive me. Had I known you would have set out so soon I could have sent
you the 'Pot of Basil' for I had copied it out ready.--Here is a free
translation of a Sonnet of Ronsard, which I think will please you--I have
the loan of his works--they have great Beauties.

  Nature withheld Cassandra in the skies,
    For more adornment, a full thousand years;
  She took their cream of Beauty's fairest dyes,
    And shap'd and tinted her above all Peers:
  Meanwhile Love kept her dearly with his wings,
    And underneath their shadow fill'd her eyes
  With such a richness that the cloudy Kings
    Of high Olympus utter'd slavish sighs.
  When from the Heavens I saw her first descend,
    My heart took fire, and only burning pains,
  They were my pleasures--they my Life's sad end;
    Love pour'd her beauty into my warm veins.
      *        *          *        *        *
      *        *          *        *        *

I had not the original by me when I wrote it, and did not recollect the
purport of the last lines.

I should have seen Rice ere this--but I am confined by Sawrey's mandate in
the house now, and have as yet only gone out in fear of the damp
night.--You know what an undangerous matter it is. I shall soon be quite
recovered--Your offer I shall remember as though it had even now taken
place in fact--I think it cannot be. Tom is not up yet--I cannot say he is
better. I have not heard from George.

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



LXXI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead, October 9, 1818.]

My dear Fanny--Poor Tom is about the same as when you saw him last;
perhaps weaker--were it not for that I should have been over to pay you a
visit these fine days. I got to the stage half an hour before it set out
and counted the buns and tarts in a Pastry-cook's window and was just
beginning with the Jellies. There was no one in the Coach who had a Mind
to eat me like Mr. Sham-deaf. I shall be punctual in enquiring about next
Thursday--

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



LXXII.--TO JAMES AUGUSTUS HESSEY.


[Hampstead, October 9, 1818.]

My dear Hessey--You are very good in sending me the letters from the
Chronicle--and I am very bad in not acknowledging such a kindness
sooner--pray forgive me. It has so chanced that I have had that paper
every day--I have seen to-day's. I cannot but feel indebted to those
Gentlemen who have taken my part--As for the rest, I begin to get a little
acquainted with my own strength and weakness.--Praise or blame has but a
momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him
a severe critic on his own Works. My own domestic criticism has given me
pain without comparison beyond what Blackwood or the Quarterly could
possibly inflict--and also when I feel I am right, no external praise can
give me such a glow as my own solitary reperception and ratification of
what is fine. J. S. is perfectly right in regard to the slip-shod
Endymion.[81] That it is so is no fault of mine. No!--though it may sound
a little paradoxical. It is as good as I had power to make it--by
myself--Had I been nervous about its being a perfect piece, and with that
view asked advice, and trembled over every page, it would not have been
written; for it is not in my nature to fumble--I will write
independently.--I have written independently _without Judgment_. I may
write independently, and _with Judgment_, hereafter. The Genius of Poetry
must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law and
precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself--That which is
creative must create itself--In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea,
and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the
quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and
piped a silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. I was never
afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the
greatest--But I am nigh getting into a rant. So, with remembrances to
Taylor and Woodhouse etc. I am

Yours very sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



LXXIII.--TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS.


[Hampstead, October 13 or 14, 1818.]

My dear George--There was a part in your Letter which gave me a great deal
of pain, that where you lament not receiving Letters from England. I
intended to have written immediately on my return from Scotland (which was
two Months earlier than I had intended on account of my own as well as
Tom's health) but then I was told by Mrs. W. that you had said you would
not wish any one to write till we had heard from you. This I thought odd
and now I see that it could not have been so; yet at the time I suffered
my unreflecting head to be satisfied, and went on in that sort of abstract
careless and restless Life with which you are well acquainted. This
sentence should it give you any uneasiness do not let it last for before I
finish it will be explained away to your satisfaction--

I am grieved to say I am not sorry you had not Letters at Philadelphia;
you could have had no good news of Tom and I have been withheld on his
account from beginning these many days; I could not bring myself to say
the truth, that he is no better but much worse--However it must be told;
and you must my dear Brother and Sister take example from me and bear up
against any Calamity for my sake as I do for yours. Our's are ties which
independent of their own Sentiment are sent us by providence to prevent
the deleterious effects of one great solitary grief. I have Fanny and I
have you--three people whose Happiness to me is sacred--and it does annul
that selfish sorrow which I should otherwise fall into, living as I do
with poor Tom who looks upon me as his only comfort--the tears will come
into your Eyes--let them--and embrace each other--thank heaven for what
happiness you have, and after thinking a moment or two that you suffer in
common with all Mankind hold it not a sin to regain your cheerfulness--

I will relieve you of one uneasiness of overleaf: I returned I said on
account of my health--I am now well from a bad sore throat which came of
bog trotting in the Island of Mull--of which you shall hear by the copies
I shall make from my Scotch Letters--

Your content in each other is a delight to me which I cannot express--the
Moon is now shining full and brilliant--she is the same to me in Matter,
what you are to me in Spirit. If you were here my dear Sister I could not
pronounce the words which I can write to you from a distance: I have a
tenderness for you, and an admiration which I feel to be as great and more
chaste than I can have for any woman in the world. You will mention
Fanny--her character is not formed, her identity does not press upon me as
yours does. I hope from the bottom of my heart that I may one day feel as
much for her as I do for you--I know not how it is, but I have never made
any acquaintance of my own--nearly all through your medium my dear
Brother--through you I know not only a Sister but a glorious human being.
And now I am talking of those to whom you have made me known I cannot
forbear mentioning Haslam as a most kind and obliging and constant friend.
His behaviour to Tom during my absence and since my return has endeared
him to me for ever--besides his anxiety about you. To-morrow I shall call
on your Mother and exchange information with her. On Tom's account I have
not been able to pass so much time with her as I would otherwise have
done--I have seen her but twice--once I dined with her and Charles--She
was well, in good spirits, and I kept her laughing at my bad jokes. We
went to tea at Mrs. Millar's, and in going were particularly struck with
the light and shade through the Gate way at the Horse Guards. I intend to
write you such Volumes that it will be impossible for me to keep any order
or method in what I write: that will come first which is uppermost in my
Mind, not that which is uppermost in my heart--besides I should wish to
give you a picture of our Lives here whenever by a touch I can do it; even
as you must see by the last sentence our walk past Whitehall all in good
health and spirits--this I am certain of, because I felt so much pleasure
from the simple idea of your playing a game at Cricket. At Mrs. Millar's I
saw Henry quite well--there was Miss Keasle--and the good-natured Miss
Waldegrave--Mrs. Millar began a long story and you know it is her
Daughter's way to help her on as though her tongue were ill of the gout.
Mrs. M. certainly tells a story as though she had been taught her Alphabet
in Crutched Friars. Dilke has been very unwell; I found him very ailing on
my return--he was under Medical care for some time, and then went to the
Sea Side whence he has returned well. Poor little Mrs. D. has had another
gall-stone attack; she was well ere I returned--she is now at Brighton.
Dilke was greatly pleased to hear from you, and will write a letter for me
to enclose--He seems greatly desirous of hearing from you of the
settlement itself--


[October 14 or 15.]

I came by ship from Inverness, and was nine days at Sea without being
sick--a little Qualm now and then put me in mind of you--however as soon
as you touch the shore all the horrors of Sickness are soon forgotten, as
was the case with a Lady on board who could not hold her head up all the
way. We had not been in the Thames an hour before her tongue began to some
tune; paying off as it was fit she should all old scores. I was the only
Englishman on board. There was a downright Scotchman who hearing that
there had been a bad crop of Potatoes in England had brought some
triumphant specimens from Scotland--these he exhibited with national pride
to all the Lightermen and Watermen from the Nore to the Bridge. I fed upon
beef all the way; not being able to eat the thick Porridge which the
Ladies managed to manage with large awkward horn spoons into the bargain.
Severn has had a narrow escape of his Life from a Typhus fever: he is now
gaining strength--Reynolds has returned from a six weeks' enjoyment in
Devonshire--he is well, and persuades me to publish my pot of Basil as an
answer to the attacks made on me in Blackwood's Magazine and the Quarterly
Review. There have been two Letters in my defence in the Chronicle and one
in the Examiner, copied from the Alfred Exeter Paper, and written by
Reynolds. I do not 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 insures me personal respect
while I am in sight whatever they may say when my back is turned. Poor
Haydon's eyes will not suffer him to proceed with his picture--he has been
in the Country--I have seen him but once since my return. I hurry matters
together here because I do not know when the Mail sails--I shall enquire
to-morrow, and then shall know whether to be particular or general in my
letter--You shall have at least two sheets a day till it does sail whether
it be three days or a fortnight--and then I will begin a fresh one for the
next Month. The Miss Reynoldses are very kind to me, but they have lately
displeased me much, and in this way--Now I am coming the Richardson. On my
return the first day I called they were in a sort of taking or bustle
about a Cousin of theirs who having fallen out with her Grandpapa in a
serious manner was invited by Mrs. R. to take Asylum in her house. She is
an east indian and ought to be her Grandfather's Heir.[82] At the time I
called Mrs. R. was in conference with her up stairs, and the young Ladies
were warm in her praises down stairs, calling her genteel, interesting and
a thousand other pretty things to which I gave no heed, not being partial
to 9 days' wonders--Now all is completely changed--they hate her, and from
what I hear she is not without faults--of a real kind: but she has others
which are more apt to make women of inferior charms hate her. She is not a
Cleopatra, but she is at least a Charmian. She has a rich Eastern look;
she has fine eyes and fine manners. When she comes into a room she makes
an impression the same as the Beauty of a Leopardess. She is too fine and
too conscious of herself to repulse any Man who may address her--from
habit she thinks that nothing _particular_. I always find myself more at
ease with such a woman; the picture before me always gives me a life and
animation which I cannot possibly feel with anything inferior. I am at
such times too much occupied in admiring to be awkward or in a tremble. I
forget myself entirely because I live in her. You will by this time think
I am in love with her; so before I go any further I will tell you I am
not--she kept me awake one Night as a tune of Mozart's might do. I speak
of the thing as a pastime and an amusement, than which I can feel none
deeper than a conversation with an imperial woman, the very "yes" and
"no" of whose Lips is to me a Banquet. I don't cry to take the moon home
with me in my Pocket nor do I fret to leave her behind me. I like her and
her like because one has no _sensations_--what we both are is taken for
granted. You will suppose I have by this had much talk with her--no such
thing--there are the Miss Reynoldses on the look out--They think I don't
admire her because I did not stare at her.

They call her a flirt to me--What a want of knowledge! She walks across a
room in such a manner that a Man is drawn towards her with a magnetic
Power. This they call flirting! they do not know things. They do not know
what a Woman is. I believe though she has faults--the same as Charmian and
Cleopatra might have had. Yet she is a fine thing speaking in a worldly
way: for there are two distinct tempers of mind in which we judge of
things--the worldly, theatrical and pantomimical; and the unearthly,
spiritual and ethereal--in the former Buonaparte, Lord Byron and this
Charmian hold the first place in our Minds; in the latter, John Howard,
Bishop Hooker rocking his child's cradle and you my dear Sister are the
conquering feelings. As a Man in the world I love the rich talk of a
Charmian; as an eternal Being I love the thought of you. I should like her
to ruin me, and I should like you to save me. Do not think, my dear
Brother, from this that my Passions are headlong, or likely to be ever of
any pain to you--

  "I am free from Men of Pleasure's cares,
  By dint of feelings far more deep than theirs."

This is Lord Byron, and is one of the finest things he has said. I have no
town talk for you, as I have not been much among people--as for Politics
they are in my opinion only sleepy because they will soon be too wide
awake. Perhaps not--for the long and continued Peace of England itself has
given us notions of personal safety which are likely to prevent the
re-establishment of our national Honesty. There is, of a truth, nothing
manly or sterling in any part of the Government. There are many Madmen in
the Country I have no doubt, who would like to be beheaded on tower Hill
merely for the sake of éclat, there are many Men like Hunt who from a
principle of taste would like to see things go on better, there are many
like Sir F. Burdett who like to sit at the head of political dinners,--but
there are none prepared to suffer in obscurity for their Country--The
motives of our worst men are Interest and of our best Vanity. We have no
Milton, no Algernon Sidney--Governors in these days lose the title of Man
in exchange for that of Diplomat and Minister. We breathe in a sort of
Officinal Atmosphere--All the departments of Government have strayed far
from Simplicity which is the greatest of Strength there is as much
difference in this respect between the present Government and Oliver
Cromwell's as there is between the 12 Tables of Rome and the volumes of
Civil Law which were digested by Justinian. A Man now entitled Chancellor
has the same honour paid to him whether he be a Hog or a Lord Bacon. No
sensation is created by Greatness but by the number of Orders a Man has at
his Button holes. Notwithstanding the part which the Liberals take in the
Cause of Napoleon, I cannot but think he has done more harm to the life of
Liberty than any one else could have done: not that the divine right
Gentlemen have done or intend to do any good--no they have taken a Lesson
of him, and will do all the further harm he would have done without any of
the good. The worst thing he has done is, that he has taught them how to
organise their monstrous armies. The Emperor Alexander it is said intends
to divide his Empire as did Diocletian--creating two Czars besides
himself, and continuing the supreme Monarch of the whole. Should he do
this and they for a series of Years keep peaceable among themselves Russia
may spread her conquest even to China--I think it a very likely thing that
China itself may fall, Turkey certainly will. Meanwhile European north
Russia will hold its horns against the rest of Europe, intriguing
constantly with France. 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
Man--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
infuse 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. I have a great mind to make a prophecy, and they say
prophecies work out their own fulfilment--

  'Tis the witching time of night,
  Orbed is the moon and bright,
  And the Stars they glisten, glisten,
  Seeming with bright eyes to listen.
  For what listen they?
  For a song and for a charm,
  See they glisten in alarm
  And the Moon is waxing warm
  To hear what I shall say.
  Moon keep wide thy golden ears
  Hearken Stars and hearken Spheres
  Hearken thou eternal Sky
  I sing an infant's Lullaby,
  O pretty Lullaby!
  Listen, Listen, listen, listen
  Glisten, glisten, glisten, glisten
  And hear my Lullaby!
  Though the Rushes that will make
  Its cradle still are in the lake,
  Though the linen that will be
  Its swathe, is on the cotton tree,
  Though the woollen that will keep
  It warm, is on the silly sheep;
  Listen Starlight, listen, listen
  Glisten, Glisten, glisten, glisten
  And hear my Lullaby!
  Child! I see thee! Child, I've found thee
  Midst of the quiet all around thee!
  Child, I see thee! Child, I spy thee
  And thy mother sweet is nigh thee!--
  Child, I know thee! Child no more
  But a Poet _ever_more
  See, See the Lyre, The Lyre
  In a flame of fire
  Upon the little cradle's top
  Flaring, flaring, flaring
  Past the eyesight's bearing--
  Awake it from its sleep,
  And see if it can keep
  Its eyes upon the blaze--
  Amaze, Amaze!
  It stares, it stares, it stares
  It dares what no one dares
  It lifts its little hand into the flame
  Unharm'd, and on the strings
  Paddles a little tune and sings
  With dumb endeavour sweetly!
  Bard art thou completely!
  Little Child
  O' the western wild,
  Bard art thou completely!--
  Sweetly, with dumb endeavour--
  A Poet now or never!
  Little Child
  O' the western wild
  A Poet now or never!


[October 16.]

This is Friday, I know not what day of the Month--I will enquire
to-morrow, for it is fit you should know the time I am writing. I went to
Town yesterday, and calling at Mrs. Millar's was told that your Mother
would not be found at home--I met Henry as I turned the corner--I had no
leisure to return, so I left the letters with him. He was looking very
well. Poor Tom is no better to-night--I am afraid to ask him what Message
I shall send from him. And here I could go on complaining of my Misery,
but I will keep myself cheerful for your Sakes. With a great deal of
trouble I have succeeded in getting Fanny to Hampstead. She has been
several times. Mr. Lewis has been very kind to Tom all the summer, there
has scarce a day passed but he has visited him, and not one day without
bringing or sending some fruit of the nicest kind. He has been very
assiduous in his enquiries after you--It would give the old Gentleman a
great deal of pleasure if you would send him a Sheet enclosed in the next
parcel to me, after you receive this--how long it will be first--Why did I
not write to Philadelphia? Really I am sorry for that neglect. I wish to
go on writing ad infinitum to you--I wish for interesting matter and a pen
as swift as the wind--But the fact is I go so little into the Crowd now
that I have nothing fresh and fresh every day to speculate upon except my
own Whims and Theories. I have been but once to Haydon's, once to Hunt's,
once to Rice's, once to Hessey's. I have not seen Taylor, I have not been
to the Theatre. Now if I had been many times to all these and was still in
the habit of going I could on my return at night have each day something
new to tell you of without any stop--But now I have such a dearth that
when I get to the end of this sentence and to the bottom of this page I
must wait till I can find something interesting to you before I begin
another. After all it is not much matter what it may be about, for the
very words from such a distance penned by this hand will be grateful to
you--even though I were to copy out the tale of Mother Hubbard or Little
Red Riding Hood.


[Later.]

I have been over to Dilke's this evening--there with Brown we have been
talking of different and indifferent Matters--of Euclid, of Metaphysics,
of the Bible, of Shakspeare, of the horrid System and consequences of the
fagging at great schools. I know not yet how large a parcel I can send--I
mean by way of Letters--I hope there can be no objection to my dowling up
a quire made into a small compass. That is the manner in which I shall
write. I shall send you more than Letters--I mean a tale--which I must
begin on account of the activity of my Mind; of its inability to remain at
rest. It must be prose and not very exciting. I must do this because in
the way I am at present situated I have too many interruptions to a train
of feeling to be able to write Poetry. So I shall write this Tale, and if
I think it worth while get a duplicate made before I send it off to you.


[October 21.]

This is a fresh beginning the 21st October. Charles and Henry were with us
on Sunday, and they brought me your Letter to your Mother--we agreed to
get a Packet off to you as soon as possible. I shall dine with your Mother
to-morrow, when they have promised to have their Letters ready. I shall
send as soon as possible without thinking of the little you may have from
me in the first parcel, as I intend, as I said before, to begin another
Letter of more regular information. Here I want to communicate so largely
in a little time that I am puzzled where to direct my attention. Haslam
has promised to let me know from Capper and Hazlewood. For want of
something better I shall proceed to give you some extracts from my Scotch
Letters--Yet now I think on it why not send you the letters themselves--I
have three of them at present--I believe Haydon has two which I will get
in time. I dined with your Mother and Henry at Mrs. Millar's on Thursday,
when they gave me their Letters. Charles's I have not yet--he has promised
to send it. The thought of sending my Scotch Letters has determined me to
enclose a few more which I have received and which will give you the best
cue to how I am going on, better than you could otherwise know. Your
Mother was well, and I was sorry I could not stop later. I called on Hunt
yesterday--it has been always my fate to meet Ollier there--On Thursday I
walked with Hazlitt as far as Covent Garden: he was going to play
Racquets. I think Tom has been rather better these few last days--he has
been less nervous. I expect Reynolds to-morrow.


[Later, about October 25.]

Since I wrote thus far I have met with that same Lady again, whom I saw at
Hastings and whom I met when we were going to the English Opera. It was in
a street which goes from Bedford Row to Lamb's Conduit Street.--I passed
her and turned back: she seemed glad of it--glad to see me, and not
offended at my passing her before. We walked on towards Islington, where
we called on a friend of hers who keeps a Boarding School. She has always
been an enigma to me--she has been in a Room with you and Reynolds, and
wishes we should be acquainted without any of our common acquaintance
knowing it. As we went along, sometimes through shabby, sometimes through
decent Streets, I had my guessing at work, not knowing what it would be,
and prepared to meet any surprise. First it ended at this House at
Islington: on parting from which I pressed to attend her home. She
consented, and then again my thoughts were at work what it might lead to,
though now they had received a sort of genteel hint from the Boarding
School. Our Walk ended in 34 Gloucester Street, Queen Square--not exactly
so, for we went upstairs into her sitting-room, a very tasty sort of place
with Books, Pictures, a bronze Statue of Buonaparte, Music, æolian Harp, a
Parrot, a Linnet, a Case of choice Liqueurs, etc. etc. She behaved in the
kindest manner--made me take home a Grouse for Tom's dinner. Asked for my
address for the purpose of sending more game.... I expect to pass some
pleasant hours with her now and then: in which I feel I shall be of
service to her in matters of knowledge and taste: if I can I will.... She
and your George are the only women à peu près de mon age whom I would be
content to know for their mind and friendship alone.--I shall in a short
time write you as far as I know how I intend to pass my Life--I cannot
think of those things now Tom is so unwell and weak. Notwithstanding your
Happiness and your recommendation I hope I shall never marry. Though the
most beautiful Creature were waiting for me at the end of a Journey or a
Walk; though the Carpet were of Silk, the Curtains of the morning Clouds;
the chairs and Sofa stuffed with Cygnet's down; the food Manna, the Wine
beyond Claret, the Window opening on Winander mere, I should not feel--or
rather my Happiness would not be so fine, as my Solitude is sublime. Then
instead of what I have described, there is a sublimity to welcome me
home--The roaring of the wind is my wife and the Stars through the window
pane are my Children. The mighty abstract Idea I have of Beauty in all
things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness--an amiable
wife and sweet Children I contemplate as a part of that Beauty, but I must
have a thousand of those beautiful particles to fill up my heart. I feel
more and more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do not live
in this world alone but in a thousand worlds--No sooner am I alone than
shapes of epic greatness are stationed around me, and serve my Spirit the
office which is equivalent to a King's bodyguard--then "Tragedy with
sceptred pall comes sweeping by." According to my state of mind I am with
Achilles shouting in the Trenches, or with Theocritus in the Vales of
Sicily. Or I throw my whole being into Troilus, and repeating those lines,
"I wander like a lost Soul upon the stygian Banks staying for waftage," I
melt into the air with a voluptuousness so delicate that I am content to
be alone. These things, combined with the opinion I have of the generality
of women--who appear to me as children to whom I would rather give a sugar
Plum than my time, form a barrier against Matrimony which I rejoice in.

I have written this that you might see I have my share of the highest
pleasures, and that though I may choose to pass my days alone I shall be
no Solitary. You see there is nothing spleenical in all this. The only
thing that can ever affect me personally for more than one short passing
day, is any doubt about my powers for poetry--I seldom have any, and I
look with hope to the nighing time when I shall have none. I am as happy
as a Man can be--that is, in myself I should be happy if Tom was well, and
I knew you were passing pleasant days. Then I should be most
enviable--with the yearning Passion I have for the beautiful, connected
and made one with the ambition of my intellect. Think of my Pleasure in
Solitude in comparison of my commerce with the world--there I am a
child--there they do not know me, not even my most intimate
acquaintance--I give into their feelings as though I were refraining from
irritating a little child. Some think me middling, others silly, others
foolish--every one thinks he sees my weak side against my will, when in
truth it is with my will--I am content to be thought all this because I
have in my own breast so great a resource. This is one great reason why
they like me so; because they can all show to advantage in a room and
eclipse from a certain tact one who is reckoned to be a good Poet. I hope
I am not here playing tricks 'to make the angels weep': I think not: for I
have not the least contempt for my species, and though it may sound
paradoxical, my greatest elevations of soul leave me every time more
humbled--Enough of this--though in your Love for me you will not think it
enough.


[Later, October 29 or 31.]

Haslam has been here this morning and has taken all the Letters except
this sheet, which I shall send him by the Twopenny, as he will put the
Parcel in the Boston post Bag by the advice of Capper and Hazlewood, who
assure him of the safety and expedition that way--the Parcel will be
forwarded to Warder and thence to you all the same. There will not be a
Philadelphia ship for these six weeks--by that time I shall have another
Letter to you. Mind you I mark this Letter A. By the time you will receive
this you will have I trust passed through the greatest of your fatigues.
As it was with your Sea Sickness I shall not hear of them till they are
past. Do not set to your occupation with too great an anxiety--take it
calmly--and let your health be the prime consideration. I hope you will
have a Son, and it is one of my first wishes to have him in my Arms--which
I will do please God before he cuts one double tooth. Tom is rather more
easy than he has been: but is still so nervous that I cannot speak to him
of these Matters--indeed it is the care I have had to keep his Mind aloof
from feelings too acute that has made this Letter so short a one--I did
not like to write before him a Letter he knew was to reach your hands--I
cannot even now ask him for any Message--his heart speaks to you. Be as
happy as you can. Think of me, and for my sake be cheerful.

Believe me, my dear Brother and sister, Your anxious and affectionate
Brother

JOHN.

This day is my Birth day.

All our friends have been anxious in their enquiries, and all send their
remembrances.



LXXIV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Hampstead, Friday Morn [October 16, 1818].

My dear Fanny--You must not condemn me for not being punctual to Thursday,
for I really did not know whether it would not affect poor Tom too much to
see you. You know how it hurt him to part with you the last time. At all
events you shall hear from me; and if Tom keeps pretty well to-morrow, I
will see Mr. Abbey the next day, and endeavour to settle that you shall be
with us on Tuesday or Wednesday. I have good news from George--He has
landed safely with our Sister--they are both in good health--their
prospects are good--and they are by this time nighing to their journey's
end--you shall hear the particulars soon.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.

Tom's love to you.



LXXV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead, October 26, 1818.]

My dear Fanny--I called on Mr. Abbey in the beginning of last Week: when
he seemed averse to letting you come again from having heard that you had
been to other places besides Well Walk. I do not mean to say you did
wrongly in speaking of it, for there should rightly be no objection to
such things: but you know with what People we are obliged in the course of
Childhood to associate, whose conduct forces us into duplicity and
falsehood to them. To the worst of People we should be openhearted: but it
is as well as things are to be prudent in making any communication to any
one, that may throw an impediment in the way of any of the little
pleasures you may have. I do not recommend duplicity but prudence with
such people. Perhaps I am talking too deeply for you: if you do not now,
you will understand what I mean in the course of a few years. I think poor
Tom is a little Better: he sends his love to you. I shall call on Mr.
Abbey to-morrow: when I hope to settle when to see you again. Mrs. Dilke
has been for some time at Brighton--she is expected home in a day or two.
She will be pleased I am sure with your present. I will try for permission
for you to remain here all Night should Mrs. D. return in time.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



LXXVI.--TO RICHARD WOODHOUSE.


[Hampstead, October 27, 1818.]

My dear Woodhouse--Your letter gave me great satisfaction, more on account
of its friendliness than any relish of that matter in it which is
accounted so acceptable to the "genus irritabile." The best answer I can
give you is in a clerklike manner to make some observations on two
principal points which seem to point like indices into the midst of the
whole pro and con about genius, and views, and achievements, and ambition,
et cætera.--1st. As to the poetical Character itself (I mean that sort, of
which, if I am anything, I am a member; that sort distinguished from the
Wordsworthian, or egotistical Sublime; which is a thing per se, and stands
alone,) it is not itself--it has no self--It is everything and nothing--It
has no character--it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul
or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated--It has as much
delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous
philosopher delights the chameleon poet. It does no harm from its relish
of the dark side of things, any more than from its taste for the bright
one, because they both end in speculation. A poet is the most unpoetical
of anything in existence, because he has no Identity--he is continually in
for and filling some other body. The Sun,--the Moon,--the Sea, and men and
women, who are creatures of impulse, are poetical, and have about them an
unchangeable attribute; the poet has none, no identity--he is certainly
the most unpoetical of all God's creatures.--If then he has no self, and
if I am a poet, where is the wonder that I should say I would write no
more? Might I not at that very instant have been cogitating on the
Characters of Saturn and Ops?[83] It is a wretched thing to confess; but
it is a very fact, that not one word I ever utter can be taken for granted
as an opinion growing out of my identical Nature--how can it, when I have
no Nature? When I am in a room with people, if I ever am free from
speculating on creations of my own brain, then, not myself goes home to
myself, but the identity of every one in the room begins to press upon me,
so that I am in a very little time annihilated--not only among men; it
would be the same in a nursery of Children. I know not whether I make
myself wholly understood: I hope enough so to let you see that no
dependence is to be placed on what I said that day.

In the 2d place, I will speak of my views, and of the life I purpose to
myself. I am ambitious of doing the world some good: if I should be
spared, that may be the work of maturer years--in the interval I will
assay to reach to as high a summit in poetry as the nerve bestowed upon me
will suffer. The faint conceptions I have of poems to come bring the blood
frequently into my forehead--All I hope is, that I may not lose all
interest in human affairs--that the solitary Indifference I feel for
applause, even from the finest spirits, will not blunt any acuteness of
vision I may have. I do not think it will. I feel assured I should write
from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the beautiful, even if my
night's labours should be burnt every Morning, and no eye ever shine upon
them. But even now I am perhaps not speaking from myself, but from some
Character in whose soul I now live.

I am sure however that this next sentence is from myself--I feel your
anxiety, good opinion, and friendship, in the highest degree, and am

Yours most sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



LXXVII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead, November 5, 1818.]

My dear Fanny--I have seen Mr. Abbey three times about you, and have not
been able to get his consent. He says that once more between this and the
Holidays will be sufficient. What can I do? I should have been at
Walthamstow several times, but I am not able to leave Tom for so long a
time as that would take me. Poor Tom has been rather better these 4 last
days in consequence of obtaining a little rest a nights. Write to me as
often as you can, and believe that I would do anything to give you any
pleasure--we must as yet wait patiently.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



LXXVIII.--TO JAMES RICE.


Well Walk [Hampstead,] Nov{r.} 24, [1818].

My dear Rice--Your amende Honorable I must call "un surcroît d'Amitié,"
for I am not at all sensible of anything but that you were unfortunately
engaged and I was unfortunately in a hurry. I completely understand your
feeling in this mistake, and find in it that balance of comfort which
remains after regretting your uneasiness. I have long made up my mind to
take for granted the genuine-heartedness of my friends, notwithstanding
any temporary ambiguousness in their behaviour or their tongues, nothing
of which however I had the least scent of this morning. I say completely
understand; for I am everlastingly getting my mind into such-like painful
trammels--and am even at this moment suffering under them in the case of a
friend of ours.--I will tell you two most unfortunate and parallel
slips--it seems down-right pre-intention--A friend says to me, "Keats, I
shall go and see Severn this week."--"Ah! (says I) you want him to take
your Portrait."--And again, "Keats," says a friend, "when will you come to
town again?"--"I will," says I, "let you have the MS. next week." In both
these cases I appeared to attribute an interested motive to each of my
friends' questions--the first made him flush, the second made him look
angry:--and yet I am innocent in both cases; my mind leapt over every
interval, to what I saw was per se a pleasant subject with him. You see I
have no allowances to make--you see how far I am from supposing you could
show me any neglect. I very much regret the long time I have been obliged
to exile from you: for I have one or two rather pleasant occasions to
confer upon with you. What I have heard from George is favourable--I
expect a letter from the Settlement itself.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.

I cannot give any good news of Tom.



LXXIX.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead,] Tuesday Morn [December 1, 1818].

My dear Fanny--Poor Tom has been so bad that I have delayed your visit
hither--as it would be so painful to you both. I cannot say he is any
better this morning--he is in a very dangerous state--I have scarce any
hopes of him. Keep up your spirits for me my dear Fanny--repose entirely
in

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



LXXX.--TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS.


[Hampstead,[84] about Dec{r.} 18, 1818.]

My dear Brother and Sister--You will have been prepared before this
reaches you for the worst news you could have, nay, if Haslam's letter
arrives in proper time, I have a consolation in thinking that the first
shock will be past before you receive this. The last days of poor Tom were
of the most distressing nature; but his last moments were not so painful,
and his very last was without a pang. I will not enter into any parsonic
comments on death--yet the common observations of the commonest people on
death are as true as their proverbs. I have scarce a doubt of immortality
of some nature or other--neither had Tom. My friends have been exceedingly
kind to me every one of them--Brown detained me at his House. I suppose no
one could have had their time made smoother than mine has been. During
poor Tom's illness I was not able to write and since his death the task of
beginning has been a hindrance to me. Within this last Week I have been
everywhere--and I will tell you as nearly as possible how all go on. With
Dilke and Brown I am quite thick--with Brown indeed I am going to
domesticate--that is, we shall keep house together. I shall have the front
parlour and he the back one, by which I shall avoid the noise of Bentley's
Children--and be the better able to go on with my Studies--which have been
greatly interrupted lately, so that I have not the shadow of an idea of a
book in my head, and my pen seems to have grown too gouty for sense. How
are you going on now? The goings on of the world makes me dizzy--There you
are with Birkbeck--here I am with Brown--sometimes I fancy an immense
separation, and sometimes as at present, a direct communication of Spirit
with you. That will be one of the grandeurs of immortality--There will be
no space, and consequently the only commerce between spirits will be by
their intelligence of each other--when they will completely understand
each other, while we in this world merely comprehend each other in
different degrees--the higher the degree of good so higher is our Love and
friendship. I have been so little used to writing lately that I am afraid
you will not smoke my meaning so I will give an example--Suppose Brown or
Haslam or any one whom I understand in the next degree to what I do you,
were in America, they would be so much the farther from me in proportion
as their identity was less impressed upon me. Now the reason why I do not
feel at the present moment so far from you is that I remember your Ways
and Manners and actions; I know your manner of thinking, your manner of
feeling: I know what shape your joy or your sorrow would take; I know the
manner of your walking, standing, sauntering, sitting down, laughing,
punning, and every action so truly that you seem near to me. You will
remember me in the same manner--and the more when I tell you that I shall
read a passage of Shakspeare every Sunday at ten o'Clock--you read one at
the same time, and we shall be as near each other as blind bodies can be
in the same room.

I saw your Mother the day before yesterday, and intend now frequently to
pass half a day with her--she seem'd tolerably well. I called in Henrietta
Street and so was speaking with your Mother about Miss Millar--we had a
chat about Heiresses--she told me I think of 7 or eight dying Swains.
Charles was not at home. I think I have heard a little more talk about
Miss Keasle--all I know of her is she had a new sort of shoe on of bright
leather like our Knapsacks. Miss Millar gave me one of her confounded
pinches. _N.B._ did not like it. Mrs. Dilke went with me to see Fanny last
week, and Haslam went with me last Sunday. She was well--she gets a little
plumper and had a little Colour. On Sunday I brought from her a present of
facescreens and a work-bag for Mrs. D.--they were really very pretty. From
Walthamstow we walked to Bethnal green--where I felt so tired from my long
walk that I was obliged to go to Bed at ten. Mr. and Mrs. Keasle were
there. Haslam has been excessively kind, and his anxiety about you is
great; I never meet him but we have some chat thereon. He is always doing
me some good turn--he gave me this thin paper[85] for the purpose of
writing to you. I have been passing an hour this morning with Mr.
Lewis--he wants news of you very much. Haydon was here yesterday--he
amused us much by speaking of young Hoppner who went with Captain Ross on
a voyage of discovery to the Poles. The Ship was sometimes entirely
surrounded with vast mountains and crags of ice, and in a few Minutes not
a particle was to be seen all round the Horizon. Once they met with so
vast a Mass that they gave themselves over for lost; their last resource
was in meeting it with the Bowsprit, which they did, and split it asunder
and glided through it as it parted, for a great distance--one Mile and
more. Their eyes were so fatigued with the eternal dazzle and whiteness
that they lay down on their backs upon deck to relieve their sight on the
blue sky. Hoppner describes his dreadful weariness at the continual
day--the sun ever moving in a circle round above their heads--so pressing
upon him that he could not rid himself of the sensation even in the dark
Hold of the Ship. The Esquimaux are described as the most wretched of
Beings--they float from their summer to their winter residences and back
again like white Bears on the ice floats. They seem never to have washed,
and so when their features move the red skin shows beneath the cracking
peel of dirt. They had no notion of any inhabitants in the World but
themselves. The sailors who had not seen a Star for some time, when they
came again southwards on the hailing of the first revision of one, all ran
upon deck with feelings of the most joyful nature. Haydon's eyes will not
suffer him to proceed with his Picture--his Physician tells him he must
remain two months more, inactive. Hunt keeps on in his old way--I am
completely tired of it all. He has lately publish'd a Pocket Book called
the literary Pocket-Book--full of the most sickening stuff you can
imagine. Reynolds is well; he has become an Edinburgh Reviewer. I have not
heard from Bailey. Rice I have seen very little of lately--and I am very
sorry for it. The Miss R's. are all as usual. Archer above all people
called on me one day--he wanted some information by my means, from Hunt
and Haydon, concerning some Man they knew. I got him what he wanted, but
know none of the whys and wherefores. Poor Kirkman left Wentworth Place
one evening about half-past eight and was stopped, beaten and robbed of
his Watch in Pond Street. I saw him a few days since; he had not recovered
from his bruises. I called on Hazlitt the day I went to Romney Street--I
gave John Hunt extracts from your letters--he has taken no notice. I have
seen Lamb lately--Brown and I were taken by Hunt to Novello's--there we
were devastated and excruciated with bad and repeated puns--Brown don't
want to go again. We went the other evening to see Brutus a new Tragedy by
Howard Payne, an American--Kean was excellent--the play was very bad. It
is the first time I have been since I went with you to the Lyceum.

Mrs. Brawne who took Brown's house for the Summer, still resides in
Hampstead. She is a very nice woman, and her daughter senior is I think
beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange. We have a
little tiff now and then--and she behaves a little better, or I must have
sheered off.[86] I find by a sidelong report from your Mother that I am to
be invited to Miss Millar's birthday dance. Shall I dance with Miss
Waldegrave? Eh! I shall be obliged to shirk a good many there. I shall be
the only Dandy there--and indeed I merely comply with the invitation that
the party may not be entirely destitute of a specimen of that race. I
shall appear in a complete dress of purple, Hat and all--with a list of
the beauties I have conquered embroidered round my Calves.


Thursday [December 24].

This morning is so very fine, I should have walked over to Walthamstow if
I had thought of it yesterday. What are you doing this morning? Have you a
clear hard frost as we have? How do you come on with the gun? Have you
shot a Buffalo? Have you met with any Pheasants? My Thoughts are very
frequently in a foreign Country--I live more out of England than in it.
The Mountains of Tartary are a favourite lounge, if I happen to miss the
Alleghany ridge, or have no whim for Savoy. There must be great pleasure
in pursuing game--pointing your gun--no, it won't do--now, no--rabbit
it--now bang--smoke and feathers--where is it? Shall you be able to get a
good pointer or so? Have you seen Mr. Trimmer? He is an acquaintance of
Peachey's. Now I am not addressing myself to G. minor, and yet I am--for
you are one. Have you some warm furs? By your next Letters I shall expect
to hear exactly how you go on--smother nothing--let us have all; fair and
foul, all plain. Will the little bairn have made his entrance before you
have this? Kiss it for me, and when it can first know a cheese from a
Caterpillar show it my picture twice a Week. You will be glad to hear that
Gifford's attack upon me has done me service--it has got my Book among
several _sets_--Nor must I forget to mention once more what I suppose
Haslam has told you, the present of a £25 note I had anonymously sent me.
I have many things to tell you--the best way will be to make copies of my
correspondence; and I must not forget the Sonnet I received with the Note.
Last Week I received the following from Woodhouse whom you must
recollect:--

     "My dear Keats--I send enclosed a Letter, which when read take the
     trouble to return to me. The History of its reaching me is this. My
     Cousin, Miss Frogley of Hounslow, borrowed my copy of _Endymion_ for
     a specified time. Before she had time to look into it, she and my
     friend Mr. Hy. Neville of Esher, who was house Surgeon to the late
     Princess Charlotte, insisted upon having it to read for a day or two,
     and undertook to make my Cousin's peace with me on account of the
     extra delay. Neville told me that one of the Misses Porter (of
     romance Celebrity) had seen it on his table, dipped into it, and
     expressed a wish to read it. I desired he should keep it as long and
     lend it to as many as he pleased, provided it was not allowed to
     slumber on any one's shelf. I learned subsequently from Miss Frogley
     that these Ladies had requested of Mr. Neville, if he was acquainted
     with the Author, the Pleasure of an introduction. About a week back
     the enclosed was transmitted by Mr. Neville to my Cousin, as a
     species of Apology for keeping her so long without the Book, and she
     sent it to me, knowing that it would give me Pleasure--I forward it
     to you for somewhat the same reason, but principally because it gives
     me the opportunity of naming to you (which it would have been
     fruitless to do before) the opening there is for an introduction to a
     class of society from which you may possibly derive advantage, as
     well as qualification, if you think proper to avail yourself of it.
     In such a case I should be very happy to further your Wishes. But do
     just as you please. The whole is entirely _entre nous_.--

     Yours, etc.,

     R. W."

Well--now this is Miss Porter's Letter to Neville--

     "Dear Sir--As my Mother is sending a Messenger to Esher, I cannot but
     make the same the bearer of my regrets for not having had the
     pleasure of seeing you the morning you called at the gate. I had
     given orders to be denied, I was so very unwell with my still
     adhesive cold; but had I known it was you I should have taken off the
     interdict for a few minutes, to say how very much I am delighted with
     _Endymion_. I had just finished the Poem and have done as you
     permitted, lent it to Miss Fitzgerald. I regret you are not
     personally acquainted with the Author, for I should have been happy
     to have acknowledged to him, through the advantage of your
     communication, the very rare delight my sister and myself have
     enjoyed from the first fruits of Genius. I hope the ill-natured
     Review will not have damaged" (or damped) "such true Parnassian
     fire--it ought not, for when Life is granted, etc."

--and so she goes on. Now I feel more obliged than flattered by this--so
obliged that I will not at present give you an extravaganza of a Lady
Romancer. I will be introduced to them if it be merely for the pleasure of
writing to you about it--I shall certainly see a new race of People. I
shall more certainly have no time for them.

Hunt has asked me to meet Tom Moore some day--so you shall hear of him.
The Night we went to Novello's there was a complete set to of Mozart and
punning. I was so completely tired of it that if I were to follow my own
inclinations I should never meet any one of that set again, not even Hunt,
who is certainly a pleasant fellow in the main when you are with him--but
in reality he is vain, egotistical, and disgusting in matters of taste
and in morals. He understands many a beautiful thing; but then, instead
of giving other minds credit for the same degree of perception as he
himself professes--he begins an explanation in such a curious manner that
our taste and self-love is offended continually. Hunt does one harm by
making fine things petty, and beautiful things hateful. Through him I am
indifferent to Mozart, I care not for white Busts--and many a glorious
thing when associated with him becomes a nothing. This distorts one's
mind--makes one's thoughts bizarre--perplexes one in the standard of
Beauty. Martin is very much irritated against Blackwood for printing some
Letters in his Magazine which were Martin's property--he always found
excuses for Blackwood till he himself was injured, and now he is enraged.
I have been several times thinking whether or not I should send you the
Examiners, as Birkbeck no doubt has all the good periodical
Publications--I will save them at all events. I must not forget to mention
how attentive and useful Mrs. Bentley has been--I am very sorry to leave
her--but I must, and I hope she will not be much a loser by it. Bentley is
very well--he has just brought me a clothes'-basket of Books. Brown has
gone to town to-day to take his Nephews who are on a visit here to see the
Lions. I am passing a Quiet day--which I have not done for a long
while--and if I do continue so, I feel I must again begin with my
poetry--for if I am not in action mind or Body I am in pain--and from that
I suffer greatly by going into parties where from the rules of society and
a natural pride I am obliged to smother my Spirit and look like an
Idiot--because I feel my impulses given way to would too much amaze them.
I live under an everlasting restraint--never relieved except when I am
composing--so I will write away.


Friday [December 25].

I think you knew before you left England that my next subject would be
"the fall of Hyperion." I went on a little with it last night, but it
will take some time to get into the vein again. I will not give you any
extracts because I wish the whole to make an impression. I have however a
few Poems which you will like, and I will copy out on the next sheet. I
shall dine with Haydon on Sunday, and go over to Walthamstow on Monday if
the frost hold. I think also of going into Hampshire this Christmas to Mr.
Snook's[87]--they say I shall be very much amused--But I don't know--I
think I am in too huge a Mind for study--I must do it--I must wait at home
and let those who wish come to see me. I cannot always be (how do you
spell it?) trapsing. Here I must tell you that I have not been able to
keep the journal or write the Tale I promised--now I shall be able to do
so. I will write to Haslam this morning to know when the Packet sails, and
till it does I will write something every day--After that my journal shall
go on like clockwork, and you must not complain of its dulness--for what I
wish is to write a quantity to you--knowing well that dulness itself will
from me be interesting to you--You may conceive how this not having been
done has weighed upon me. I shall be able to judge from your next what
sort of information will be of most service or amusement to you. Perhaps
as you were fond of giving me sketches of character you may like a little
picnic of scandal even across the Atlantic. But now I must speak
particularly to you, my dear Sister--for I know you love a little quizzing
better than a great bit of apple dumpling. Do you know Uncle Redhall? He
is a little Man with an innocent powdered upright head, he lisps with a
protruded under lip--he has two Nieces, each one would weigh three of
him--one for height and the other for breadth--he knew Bartolozzi. He gave
a supper, and ranged his bottles of wine all up the Kitchen and cellar
stairs--quite ignorant of what might be drunk--It might have been a good
joke to pour on the sly bottle after bottle into a washing tub, and roar
for more--If you were to trip him up it would discompose a Pigtail and
bring his under lip nearer to his nose. He never had the good luck to lose
a silk Handkerchief in a Crowd, and therefore has only one topic of
conversation--Bartolozzi. Shall I give you Miss Brawne? She is about my
height--with a fine style of countenance of the lengthened sort--she wants
sentiment in every feature--she manages to make her hair look well--her
nostrils are fine--though a little painful--her mouth is bad and good--her
Profile is better than her full-face which indeed is not full but pale and
thin without showing any bone. Her shape is very graceful and so are her
movements--her Arms are good her hands baddish--her feet tolerable. She is
not seventeen--but she is ignorant--monstrous in her behaviour, flying out
in all directions--calling people such names that I was forced lately to
make use of the term _Minx_--this is I think not from any innate vice, but
from a penchant she has for acting stylishly--I am however tired of such
style and shall decline any more of it. She had a friend to visit her
lately--you have known plenty such--her face is raw as if she was standing
out in a frost; her lips raw and seem always ready for a Pullet--she plays
the Music without one sensation but the feel of the ivory at her fingers.
She is a downright Miss without one set off--We hated her and smoked her
and baited her and I think drove her away. Miss B. thinks her a Paragon of
fashion, and says she is the only woman she would change persons with.
What a stupe--She is superior as a Rose to a Dandelion. When we went to
bed Brown observed as he put out the Taper what a very ugly old woman that
Miss Robinson would make--at which I must have groaned aloud for I'm sure
ten minutes. I have not seen the thing Kingston again--George will
describe him to you--I shall insinuate some of these Creatures into a
Comedy some day--and perhaps have Hunt among them--

Scene, a little Parlour. _Enter_ Hunt--Gattie--Hazlitt--Mrs.
Novello--Ollier. _Gattie._ Ha! Hunt, got into your new house? Ha! Mrs.
Novello: seen Altam and his Wife?--_Mrs. N._ Yes (with a grin), it's Mr.
Hunt's, isn't it?--_Gattie._ Hunt's? no, ha! Mr. Ollier, I congratulate
you upon the highest compliment I ever heard paid to the Book. Mr.
Hazlitt, I hope you are well.--_Hazlitt._ Yes Sir, no Sir.--_Mr. Hunt_ (at
the Music), "La Biondina," etc. Hazlitt, did you ever hear this?--"La
Biondina," etc.--_Hazlitt._ O no Sir--I never.--_Ollier._ Do, Hunt, give
it us over again--divine.--_Gattie._ Divino--Hunt, when does your
Pocket-Book come out?--_Hunt._ "What is this absorbs me quite?" O we are
spinning on a little, we shall floridise soon I hope. Such a thing was
very much wanting--people think of nothing but money getting--now for me I
am rather inclined to the liberal side of things. I am reckoned lax in my
Christian principles, etc. etc. etc.


[December 29.]

It is some days since I wrote the last page--and what I have been about
since I have no Idea. I dined at Haslam's on Sunday--with Haydon
yesterday, and saw Fanny in the morning; she was well. Just now I took out
my poem to go on with it, but the thought of my writing so little to you
came upon me and I could not get on--so I have began at random and I have
not a word to say--and yet my thoughts are so full of you that I can do
nothing else. I shall be confined at Hampstead a few days on account of a
sore throat--the first thing I do will be to visit your Mother again. The
last time I saw Henry he show'd me his first engraving, which I thought
capital. Mr. Lewis called this morning and brought some American Papers--I
have not look'd into them--I think we ought to have heard of you before
this--I am in daily expectation of Letters--Nil desperandum. Mrs. Abbey
wishes to take Fanny from School--I shall strive all I can against that.
There has happened a great Misfortune in the Drewe Family--old Drewe has
been dead some time; and lately George Drewe expired in a fit--on which
account Reynolds has gone into Devonshire. He dined a few days since at
Horace Twisse's with Liston and Charles Kemble. I see very little of him
now, as I seldom go to Little Britain because the _Ennui_ always seizes me
there, and John Reynolds is very dull at home. Nor have I seen Rice. How
you are now going on is a Mystery to me--I hope a few days will clear it
up.


[December 30.]

I never know the day of the Month. It is very fine here to-day, though I
expect a Thundercloud, or rather a snow cloud, in less than an hour. I am
at present alone at Wentworth Place--Brown being at Chichester and Mr. and
Mrs. Dilke making a little stay in Town. I know not what I should do
without a sunshiny morning now and then--it clears up one's spirits. Dilke
and I frequently have some chat about you. I have now and then some doubt,
but he seems to have a great confidence. I think there will soon be
perceptible a change in the fashionable slang literature of the day--it
seems to me that Reviews have had their day--that the public have been
surfeited--there will soon be some new folly to keep the Parlours in
talk--What it is I care not. We have seen three literary Kings in our
Time--Scott, Byron, and then the Scotch novels. All now appears to be
dead--or I may mistake, literary Bodies may still keep up the Bustle which
I do not hear. Haydon show'd me a letter he had received from
Tripoli--Ritchie was well and in good Spirits, among Camels, Turbans, Palm
Trees, and Sands. You may remember I promised to send him an Endymion
which I did not--however he has one--you have one. One is in the Wilds of
America--the other is on a Camel's back in the plains of Egypt. I am
looking into a Book of Dubois's--he has written directions to the
Players--one of them is very good. "In singing never mind the
music--observe what time you please. It would be a pretty degradation
indeed if you were obliged to confine your genius to the dull regularity
of a fiddler--horse hair and cat's guts--no, let him keep _your_ time and
play _your_ tune--_dodge him_." I will now copy out the Letter and Sonnet
I have spoken of. The outside cover was thus directed, "Messrs. Taylor and
Hessey, (Booksellers), No. 93 Fleet Street, London," and it contained
this:

     'Messrs. Taylor and Hessey are requested to forward the enclosed
     letter by some _safe_ mode of conveyance to the Author of Endymion,
     who is not known at Teignmouth: or if they have not his address, they
     will return the letter by post, directed as below, within a
     _fortnight_, "Mr. P. Fenbank, P. O., Teignmouth." 9th Novr. 1818.'

In this sheet was enclosed the following, with a superscription--'Mr. John
Keats, Teignmouth.' Then came Sonnet to John Keats--which I would not copy
for any in the world but you--who know that I scout "mild light and
loveliness" or any such nonsense in myself.

  Star of high promise!--not to this dark age
    Do thy mild light and loveliness belong;
    For it is blind, intolerant, and wrong;
  Dead to empyreal soarings, and the rage
  Of scoffing spirits bitter war doth wage
    With all that bold integrity of song.
    Yet thy clear beam shall shine through ages strong
  To ripest times a light and heritage.
  And there breathe now who dote upon thy fame,
    Whom thy wild numbers wrap beyond their being,
  Who love the freedom of thy lays--their aim
    Above the scope of a dull tribe unseeing--
  And there is one whose hand will never scant
  From his poor store of fruits all _thou_ canst want.

  November 1818.        turn over.

I turn'd over and found a £25 note. Now this appears to me all very
proper--if I had refused it I should have behaved in a very bragadochio
dunderheaded manner--and yet the present galls me a little, and I do not
know whether I shall not return it if I ever meet with the donor after,
whom to no purpose I have written. I have your Miniature on the Table
George the great--it's very like--though not quite about the upper lip. I
wish we had a better of your little George. I must not forget to tell you
that a few days since I went with Dilke a shooting on the heath and shot a
Tomtit. There were as many guns abroad as Birds. I intended to have been
at Chichester this Wednesday--but on account of this sore throat I wrote
him (Brown) my excuse yesterday.


Thursday [December 31].

(I will date when I finish.)--I received a Note from Haslam
yesterday--asking if my letter is ready--now this is only the second
sheet--notwithstanding all my promises. But you must reflect what
hindrances I have had. However on sealing this I shall have nothing to
prevent my proceeding in a gradual journal, which will increase in a Month
to a considerable size. I will insert any little pieces I may
write--though I will not give any extracts from my large poem which is
scarce began. I want to hear very much whether Poetry and literature in
general has gained or lost interest with you--and what sort of writing is
of the highest gust with you now. With what sensation do you read
Fielding?--and do not Hogarth's pictures seem an old thing to you? Yet you
are very little more removed from general association than I am--recollect
that no Man can live but in one society at a time--his enjoyment in the
different states of human society must depend upon the Powers of his
Mind--that is you can imagine a Roman triumph or an Olympic game as well
as I can. We with our bodily eyes see but the fashion and Manners of one
country for one age--and then we die. Now to me manners and customs long
since passed whether among the Babylonians or the Bactrians are as real,
or even more real than those among which I now live--My thoughts have
turned lately this way--The more we know the more inadequacy we find in
the world to satisfy us--this is an old observation; but I have made up
my Mind never to take anything for granted--but even to examine the truth
of the commonest proverbs--This however is true. Mrs. Tighe and Beattie
once delighted me--now I see through them and can find nothing in them but
weakness, and yet how many they still delight! Perhaps a superior being
may look upon Shakspeare in the same light--is it possible? No--This same
inadequacy is discovered (forgive me, little George, you know I don't mean
to put you in the mess) in Women with few exceptions--the Dress Maker, the
blue Stocking, and the most charming sentimentalist differ but in a slight
degree and are equally smokeable. But I'll go no further--I may be
speaking sacrilegiously--and on my word I have thought so little that I
have not one opinion upon anything except in matters of taste--I never can
feel certain of any truth but from a clear perception of its Beauty--and I
find myself very young minded even in that perceptive power--which I hope
will increase. A year ago I could not understand in the slightest degree
Raphael's cartoons--now I begin to read them a little--And how did I learn
to do so? By seeing something done in quite an opposite spirit--I mean a
picture of Guido's in which all the Saints, instead of that heroic
simplicity and unaffected grandeur which they inherit from Raphael, had
each of them both in countenance and gesture all the canting, solemn,
melodramatic mawkishness of Mackenzie's father Nicholas. When I was last
at Haydon's I looked over a Book of Prints taken from the fresco of the
Church at Milan, the name of which I forget--in it are comprised Specimens
of the first and second age of art in Italy. I do not think I ever had a
greater treat out of Shakspeare. Full of Romance and the most tender
feeling--magnificence of draperies beyond any I ever saw, not excepting
Raphael's. But Grotesque to a curious pitch--yet still making up a fine
whole--even finer to me than more accomplish'd works--as there was left so
much room for Imagination. I have not heard one of this last course of
Hazlitt's lectures. They were upon 'Wit and Humour,' 'the English comic
writers.'


Saturday, Jan{y.} 2nd [1819].

Yesterday Mr. and Mrs. D. and myself dined at Mrs. Brawne's--nothing
particular passed. I never intend hereafter to spend any time with Ladies
unless they are handsome--you lose time to no purpose. For that reason I
shall beg leave to decline going again to Redall's or Butler's or any
Squad where a fine feature cannot be mustered among them all--and where
all the evening's amusement consists in saying 'your good health, _your_
good health, and YOUR good health--and (O I beg your pardon) yours, Miss
----,' and such thing not even dull enough to keep one awake--With respect
to amiable speaking I can read--let my eyes be fed or I'll never go out to
dinner anywhere. Perhaps you may have heard of the dinner given to Thos.
Moore in Dublin, because I have the account here by me in the Philadelphia
democratic paper. The most pleasant thing that occurred was the speech Mr.
Tom made on his Father's health being drank. I am afraid a great part of
my Letters are filled up with promises and what I will do rather than any
great deal written--but here I say once for all--that circumstances
prevented me from keeping my promise in my last, but now I affirm that as
there will be nothing to hinder me I will keep a journal for you. That I
have not yet done so you would forgive if you knew how many hours I have
been repenting of my neglect. For I have no thought pervading me so
constantly and frequently as that of you--my Poem cannot frequently drive
it away--you will retard it much more than you could by taking up my time
if you were in England. I never forget you except after seeing now and
then some beautiful woman--but that is a fever--the thought of you both is
a passion with me, but for the most part a calm one. I asked Dilke for a
few lines for you--he has promised them--I shall send what I have written
to Haslam on Monday Morning--what I can get into another sheet to-morrow
I will--There are one or two little poems you might like. I have given up
snuff very nearly quite--Dilke has promised to sit with me this evening, I
wish he would come this minute for I want a pinch of snuff very much just
now--I have none though in my own snuff box. My sore throat is much better
to-day--I think I might venture on a pinch. Here are the Poems--they will
explain themselves--as all poems should do without any comment--

  Ever let the Fancy roam,
  Pleasure never is at home.
  At a touch sweet pleasure melteth
  Like to bubbles when rain pelteth:
  Then let winged fancy wander
  Towards heaven still spread beyond her--
  Open wide the mind's cage door,
  She'll dart forth and cloudward soar.
  O sweet Fancy, let her loose!
  Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
  And the enjoying of the spring
  Fades as doth its blossoming:
  Autumn's red-lipped fruitage too
  Blushing through the mist and dew,
  Cloys with kissing. What do then?
  Sit thee in an ingle when
  The sear faggot blazes bright,
  Spirit of a winter night:
  When the soundless earth is muffled,
  And the caked snow is shuffled
  From the Ploughboy's heavy shoon:
  When the night doth meet the moon
  In a dark conspiracy
  To banish vesper from the sky.
  Sit thee then and send abroad
  With a Mind self-overaw'd
  Fancy high-commission'd; send her,--
  She'll have vassals to attend her--
  She will bring thee, spite of frost,
  Beauties that the Earth has lost;
  She will bring thee all together
  All delights of summer weather;
  All the faery buds of May,
  On spring turf or scented spray;
  All the heaped Autumn's wealth
  With a still mysterious stealth;
  She will mix these pleasures up
  Like three fit wines in a cup
  And thou shalt quaff it--Thou shalt hear
  Instant harvest carols clear,
  Bustle of the reaped corn
  Sweet Birds antheming the Morn;
  And in the same moment hark
  To the early April lark,
  And the rooks with busy caw
  Foraging for sticks and straw.
  Thou shalt at one glance behold
  The daisy and the marigold;
  White plumed lilies and the first
  Hedgerow primrose that hath burst;
  Shaded Hyacinth alway
  Sapphire Queen of the Mid-may;
  And every leaf and every flower
  Pearled with the same soft shower.
  Thou shalt see the fieldmouse creep
  Meagre from its celled sleep,
  And the snake all winter shrank
  Cast its skin on sunny bank;
  Freckled nest eggs shalt thou see
  Hatching in the hawthorn tree;
  When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
  Quiet on its mossy nest;
  Then the hurry and alarm
  When the Beehive casts its swarm--
  Acorns ripe down scattering
  While the autumn breezes sing,
  For the same sleek throated mouse
  To store up in its winter house.
    O, sweet Fancy, let her loose!
  Every joy is spoilt by use:
  Every pleasure, every joy--
  Not a Mistress but doth cloy.
  Where's the cheek that doth not fade,
  Too much gaz'd at? Where's the Maid
  Whose lip mature is ever new?
  Where's the eye, however blue,
  Doth not weary? Where's the face
  One would meet in every place?
  Where's the voice however soft
  One would hear too oft and oft?
  At a touch sweet pleasure melteth
  Like to bubbles when rain pelteth.
  Let then winged fancy find
  Thee a Mistress to thy mind.
  Dulcet-eyed as Ceres' daughter
  Ere the God of torment taught her
  How to frown and how to chide:
  With a waist and with a side
  White as Hebe's when her Zone
  Slipp'd its golden clasp, and down
  Fell her Kirtle to her feet
  While she held the goblet sweet,
  And Jove grew languid--Mistress fair!
  Thou shalt have that tressed hair
  Adonis tangled all for spite;
  And the mouth he would not kiss,
  And the treasure he would miss;
  And the hand he would not press
  And the warmth he would distress.
    O the Ravishment--the Bliss!
  Fancy has her there she is--
  Never fulsome, ever new,
  There she steps! and tell me who
  Has a Mistress so divine?
  Be the palate ne'er so fine
  She cannot sicken. Break the Mesh
  Of the Fancy's silken leash;
  Where she's tether'd to the heart.
  Quickly break her prison string
  And such joys as these she'll bring,
  Let the winged fancy roam,
  Pleasure never is at home.

I did not think this had been so long a Poem. I have another not so
long--but as it will more conveniently be copied on the other side I will
just put down here some observations on Caleb Williams by Hazlitt--I meant
to say St. Leon, for although he has mentioned all the Novels of Godwin
very freely I do not quote them, but this only on account of its being a
specimen of his usual abrupt manner, and fiery laconicism. He says of St.
Leon--

     "He is a limb torn off society. In possession of eternal youth and
     beauty he can feel no love; surrounded, tantalised, and tormented
     with riches, he can do no good. The faces of Men pass before him as
     in a speculum; but he is attached to them by no common tie of
     sympathy or suffering. He is thrown back into himself and his own
     thoughts. He lives in the solitude of his own breast--without wife
     or child or friend or Enemy in the world. _This is the solitude of
     the soul, not of woods or trees or mountains_--but the desert of
     society--the waste and oblivion of the heart. He is himself alone.
     His existence is purely intellectual, and is therefore intolerable to
     one who has felt the rapture of affection, or the anguish of woe."

As I am about it I might as well give you his character of Godwin as a
Romancer:--

     "Whoever else is, it is pretty clear that the author of Caleb
     Williams is not the author of Waverley. Nothing can be more distinct
     or excellent in their several ways than these two writers. If the one
     owes almost everything to external observations and traditional
     character, the other owes everything to internal conception and
     contemplation of the possible workings of the human Mind. There is
     little knowledge of the world, little variety, neither an eye for the
     picturesque nor a talent for the humorous in Caleb Williams, for
     instance, but you cannot doubt for a moment of the originality of the
     work and the force of the conception. The impression made upon the
     reader is the exact measure of the strength of the author's genius.
     For the effect both in Caleb Williams and St. Leon is entirely made
     out, not by facts nor dates, by blackletter, or magazine learning, by
     transcript nor record, but by intense and patient study of the human
     heart, and by an imagination projecting itself into certain
     situations, and capable of working up its imaginary feelings to the
     height of reality."

This appears to me quite correct--Now I will copy the other Poem--it is on
the double immortality of Poets--

  Bards of Passion and of Mirth
  Ye have left your souls on earth--
  Have ye souls in heaven too,
  Double liv'd in regions new?
  Yes--and those of heaven commune
  With the spheres of Sun and Moon;
  With the noise of fountains wondrous
  And the parle of voices thund'rous;
  With the Whisper of heaven's trees,
  And one another, in soft ease
  Seated on elysian Lawns
  Browsed by none but Dian's fawns;
  Underneath large bluebells tented,
  Where the daisies are rose scented,
  And the rose herself has got
  Perfume that on Earth is not.
  Where the nightingale doth sing
  Not a senseless, tranced thing;
  But melodious truth divine,
  Philosophic numbers fine;
  Tales and golden histories
  Of Heaven and its Mysteries.
  Thus ye live on Earth, and then
  On the Earth ye live again;
  And the souls ye left behind you
  Teach us here the way to find you,
  Where your other souls are joying
  Never slumber'd, never cloying.
  Here your earth born souls still speak
  To mortals of the little week
  They must sojourn with their cares;
  Of their sorrows and delights
  Of their Passions and their spites;
  Of their glory and their shame--
  What doth strengthen and what maim.
  Thus ye teach us every day
  Wisdom though fled far away.
    Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
  Ye have left your Souls on Earth!
  Ye have souls in heaven too,
  Double liv'd in Regions new!

These are specimens of a sort of rondeau which I think I shall become
partial to--because you have one idea amplified with greater ease and more
delight and freedom than in the sonnet. It is my intention to wait a few
years before I publish any minor poems--and then I hope to have a volume
of some worth--and which those people will relish who cannot bear the
burthen of a long poem. In my journal I intend to copy the poems I write
the days they are written--There is just room, I see, in this page to copy
a little thing I wrote off to some Music as it was playing--

  I had a dove and the sweet dove died,
  And I have thought it died of grieving:
  O what could it mourn for? it was tied
  With a silken thread of my own hand's weaving.
  Sweet little red-feet why did you die?
  Why would you leave me--sweet dove why?
  You lived alone on the forest tree.
  Why pretty thing could you not live with me?
  I kissed you oft and I gave you white peas.
  Why not live sweetly as in the green trees?


Sunday [January 3].

I have been dining with Dilke to-day--He is up to his Ears in Walpole's
letters. Mr. Manker is there, and I have come round to see if I can
conjure up anything for you. Kirkman came down to see me this morning--his
family has been very badly off lately. He told me of a villainous trick of
his Uncle William in Newgate Street, who became sole Creditor to his
father under pretence of serving him, and put an execution on his own
Sister's goods. He went in to the family at Portsmouth; conversed with
them, went out and sent in the Sherriff's officer. He tells me too of
abominable behaviour of Archer to Caroline Mathew--Archer has lived nearly
at the Mathews these two years; he has been amusing Caroline--and now he
has written a Letter to Mrs. M. declining, on pretence of inability to
support a wife as he would wish, all thoughts of marriage. What is the
worst is Caroline is 27 years old. It is an abominable matter. He has
called upon me twice lately--I was out both times. What can it be
for?--There is a letter to-day in the Examiner to the Electors of
Westminster on Mr. Hobhouse's account. In it there is a good character of
Cobbett--I have not the paper by me or I would copy it. I do not think I
have mentioned the discovery of an African Kingdom--the account is much
the same as the first accounts of Mexico--all magnificence--There is a
Book being written about it. I will read it and give you the cream in my
next. The romance we have heard upon it runs thus: They have window frames
of gold--100,000 infantry--human sacrifices. The Gentleman who is the
Adventurer has his wife with him--she, I am told, is a beautiful little
sylphid woman--her husband was to have been sacrificed to their Gods and
was led through a Chamber filled with different instruments of torture
with privilege to choose what death he would die, without their having a
thought of his aversion to such a death, they considering it a supreme
distinction. However he was let off, and became a favourite with the King,
who at last openly patronised him, though at first on account of the
Jealousy of his Ministers he was wont to hold conversations with his
Majesty in the dark middle of the night. All this sounds a little
Bluebeardish--but I hope it is true. There is another thing I must mention
of the momentous kind;--but I must mind my periods in it--Mrs. Dilke has
two Cats--a Mother and a Daughter--now the Mother is a tabby and the
daughter a black and white like the spotted child. Now it appears to me,
for the doors of both houses are opened frequently, so that there is a
complete thoroughfare for both Cats (there being no board up to the
contrary), they may one and several of them come into my room ad libitum.
But no--the Tabby only comes--whether from sympathy for Ann the Maid or me
I cannot tell--or whether Brown has left behind him any atmospheric spirit
of Maidenhood I cannot tell. The Cat is not an old Maid herself--her
daughter is a proof of it--I have questioned her--I have look'd at the
lines of her paw--I have felt her pulse--to no purpose. Why should the
_old_ Cat come to me? I ask myself--and myself has not a word to answer.
It may come to light some day; if it does you shall hear of it.

Kirkman this morning promised to write a few lines to you and send them to
Haslam. I do not think I have anything to say in the Business way. You
will let me know what you would wish done with your property in
England--what things you would wish sent out--But I am quite in the dark
about what you are doing--If I do not hear soon I shall put on my wings
and be after you. I will in my next, and after I have seen your next
letter, tell you my own particular idea of America. Your next letter will
be the key by which I shall open your hearts and see what spaces want
filling with any particular information--Whether the affairs of Europe are
more or less interesting to you--whether you would like to hear of the
Theatres--of the bear Garden--of the Boxers--the Painters, the
Lectures--the Dress--The progress of Dandyism--The Progress of
Courtship--or the fate of Mary Millar--being a full, true, and très
particular account of Miss M.'s ten Suitors--How the first tried the
effect of swearing; the second of stammering; the third of
whispering;--the fourth of sonnets--the fifth of Spanish leather
boots;--the sixth of flattering her body--the seventh of flattering her
mind--the eighth of flattering himself--the ninth stuck to the Mother--the
tenth kissed the Chambermaid and told her to tell her Mistress--But he was
soon discharged, his reading led him into an error; he could not sport the
Sir Lucius to any advantage. And now for this time I bid you good-bye--I
have been thinking of these sheets so long that I appear in closing them
to take my leave of you--but that is not it--I shall immediately as I send
this off begin my journal--when some days I shall write no more than 10
lines and others 10 times as much. Mrs. Dilke is knocking at the wall for
Tea is ready--I will tell you what sort of a tea it is and then bid you
Good-bye.


[January 4.]

This is Monday morning--nothing particular happened yesterday evening,
except that when the tray came up Mrs. Dilke and I had a battle with
celery stalks--she sends her love to you. I shall close this and send it
immediately to Haslam--remaining ever, My dearest brother and sister,

Your most affectionate Brother

JOHN.



LXXXI.--TO RICHARD WOODHOUSE.


Wentworth Place, Friday Morn [December 18, 1818].

My dear Woodhouse--I am greatly obliged to you. I must needs feel
flattered by making an impression on a set of ladies. I should be content
to do so by meretricious romance verse, if they alone, and not men, were
to judge. I should like very much to know those ladies--though look here,
Woodhouse--I have a new leaf to turn over: I must work; I must read; I
must write. I am unable to afford time for new acquaintances. I am
scarcely able to do my duty to those I have. Leave the matter to chance.
But do not forget to give my remembrances to your cousin.

Yours most sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



LXXXII.--TO MRS. REYNOLDS.


Wentworth Place, Tuesd. [December 22, 1818].

My dear Mrs. Reynolds--When I left you yesterday, 'twas with the
conviction that you thought I had received no previous invitation for
Christmas day: the truth is I had, and had accepted it under the
conviction that I should be in Hampshire at the time: else believe me I
should not have done so, but kept in Mind my old friends. I will not speak
of the proportion of pleasure I may receive at different Houses--that
never enters my head--you may take for a truth that I would have given up
even what I did see to be a greater pleasure, for the sake of old
acquaintanceship--time is nothing--two years are as long as twenty.

Yours faithfully

JOHN KEATS.



LXXXIII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wentworth Place, Tuesday [December 22, 1818].

My dear Haydon--Upon my Soul I never felt your going out of the room at
all--and believe me I never rhodomontade anywhere but in your Company--my
general Life in Society is silence. I feel in myself all the vices of a
Poet, irritability, love of effect and admiration--and influenced by such
devils I may at times say more ridiculous things than I am aware of--but I
will put a stop to that in a manner I have long resolved upon--I will buy
a gold ring and put it on my finger--and from that time a Man of superior
head shall never have occasion to pity me, or one of inferior Nunskull to
chuckle at me. I am certainly more for greatness in a shade than in the
open day--I am speaking as a mortal--I should say I value more the
privilege of seeing great things in loneliness than the fame of a Prophet.
Yet here I am sinning--so I will turn to a thing I have thought on more--I
mean your means till your picture be finished: not only now but for this
year and half have I thought of it. Believe me Haydon I have that sort of
fire in my heart that would sacrifice everything I have to your service--I
speak without any reserve--I know you would do so for me--I open my heart
to you in a few words. I will do this sooner than you shall be distressed:
but let me be the last stay--Ask the rich lovers of Art first--I'll tell
you why--I have a little money which may enable me to study, and to travel
for three or four years. I never expect to get anything by my Books: and
moreover I wish to avoid publishing--I admire Human Nature but I do not
like _Men_. I should like to compose things honourable to Man--but not
fingerable over by _Men_. So I am anxious to exist without troubling the
printer's devil or drawing upon Men's or Women's admiration--in which
great solitude I hope God will give me strength to rejoice. Try the long
purses--but do not sell your drawings or I shall consider it a breach of
friendship. I am sorry I was not at home when Salmon called. Do write and
let me know all your present whys and wherefores.

Yours most faithfully

JOHN KEATS.



LXXXIV.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Wentworth Place, [December 24, 1818].

My dear Taylor--Can you lend me £30 for a short time? Ten I want for
myself--and twenty for a friend--which will be repaid me by the middle of
next month. I shall go to Chichester on Wednesday and perhaps stay a
fortnight--I am afraid I shall not be able to dine with you before I
return. Remember me to Woodhouse.

Yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



LXXXV.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wentworth Place, [December 27, 1818].

My dear Haydon--I had an engagement to-day--and it is so fine a morning
that I cannot put it off--I will be with you to-morrow--when we will thank
the Gods, though you have bad eyes and I am idle.

I regret more than anything the not being able to dine with you to-day. I
have had several movements that way--but then I should disappoint one who
has been my true friend. I will be with you to-morrow morning and stop all
day--we will hate the profane vulgar and make us Wings.

God bless you.

J. KEATS.



LXXXVI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Wednesday [December 30, 1818].

My dear Fanny--I am confined at Hampstead with a sore throat; but I do not
expect it will keep me above two or three days. I intended to have been in
Town yesterday but feel obliged to be careful a little while. I am in
general so careless of these trifles, that they tease me for Months, when
a few days' care is all that is necessary. I shall not neglect any chance
of an endeavour to let you return to School--nor to procure you a Visit to
Mrs. Dilke's which I have great fears about. Write me if you can find
time--and also get a few lines ready for George as the Post sails next
Wednesday.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



LXXXVII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wentworth Place, Monday Aft. [January 4, 1819].

My dear Haydon--I have been out this morning, and did not therefore see
your note till this minute, or I would have gone to town directly--it is
now too late for to-day. I will be in town early to-morrow, and trust I
shall be able to lend you assistance noon or night. I was struck with the
improvement in the architectural part of your Picture--and, now I think on
it, I cannot help wondering you should have had it so poor, especially
after the Solomon. Excuse this dry bones of a note: for though my pen may
grow cold, I should be sorry my Life should freeze--

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



LXXXVIII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wentworth Place, [between January 7 and 14, 1819].

My dear Haydon--We are very unlucky--I should have stopped to dine with
you, but I knew I should not have been able to leave you in time for my
plaguy sore throat; which is getting well.

I shall have a little trouble in procuring the Money and a great ordeal to
go through--no trouble indeed to any one else--or ordeal either. I mean I
shall have to go to town some thrice, and stand in the Bank an hour or
two--to me worse than anything in Dante--I should have less chance with
the people around me than Orpheus had with the Stones. I have been writing
a little now and then lately: but nothing to speak of--being discontented
and as it were moulting. Yet I do not think I shall ever come to the rope
or the Pistol, for after a day or two's melancholy, although I smoke more
and more my own insufficiency--I see by little and little more of what is
to be done, and how it is to be done, should I ever be able to do it. On
my soul, there should be some reward for that continual _agonie
ennuyeuse_. I was thinking of going into Hampshire for a few days. I have
been delaying it longer than I intended. You shall see me soon; and do not
be at all anxious, for _this_ time I really will do, what I never did
before in my life, business in good time, and properly.--With respect to
the Bond--it may be a satisfaction to you to let me have it: but as you
love me do not let there be any mention of interest, although we are
mortal men--and bind ourselves for fear of death.

Yours for ever

JOHN KEATS.



LXXXIX.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wentworth Place, [January 1819].

My dear Haydon--My throat has not suffered me yet to expose myself to the
night air: however I have been to town in the day time--have had several
interviews with my guardian--have written him rather a plain-spoken
Letter--which has had its effect; and he now seems inclined to put no
stumbling-block in my way: so that I see a good prospect of performing my
promise. What I should have lent you ere this if I could have got it, was
belonging to poor Tom--and the difficulty is whether I am to inherit it
before my Sister is of age; a period of six years. Should it be so I must
incontinently take to Corduroy Trousers. But I am nearly confident 'tis
all a Bam. I shall see you soon--but do let me have a line to-day or
to-morrow concerning your health and spirits.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



XC.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, [January 1819].

My dear Fanny--I send this to Walthamstow for fear you should not be at
Pancras Lane when I call to-morrow--before going into Hampshire for a few
days--I will not be more I assure you--You may think how disappointed I
am in not being able to see you more and spend more time with you than I
do--but how can it be helped? The thought is a continual vexation to
me--and often hinders me from reading and composing--Write to me as often
as you can--and believe me,

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



XCI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Feb{y.} [11, 1819]. Thursday.

My dear Fanny--Your Letter to me at Bedhampton hurt me very much,--What
objection can there be to your receiving a Letter from me? At Bedhampton I
was unwell and did not go out of the Garden Gate but twice or thrice
during the fortnight I was there--Since I came back I have been taking
care of myself--I have been obliged to do so, and am now in hopes that by
this care I shall get rid of a sore throat which has haunted me at
intervals nearly a twelvemonth. I had always a presentiment of not being
able to succeed in persuading Mr. Abbey to let you remain longer at
School--I am very sorry that he will not consent. I recommend you to keep
up all that you know and to learn more by yourself however little. The
time will come when you will be more pleased with Life--look forward to
that time and, though it may appear a trifle be careful not to let the
idle and retired Life you lead fix any awkward habit or behaviour on
you--whether you sit or walk endeavour to let it be in a seemly and if
possible a graceful manner. We have been very little together: but you
have not the less been with me in thought. You have no one in the world
besides me who would sacrifice anything for you--I feel myself the only
Protector you have. In all your little troubles think of me with the
thought that there is at least one person in England who if he could would
help you out of them--I live in hopes of being able to make you happy.--I
should not perhaps write in this manner, if it were not for the fear of
not being able to see you often or long together. I am in hopes Mr. Abbey
will not object any more to your receiving a letter now and then from me.
How unreasonable! I want a few more lines from you for George--there are
some young Men, acquaintances of a Schoolfellow of mine, going out to
Birkbeck's at the latter end of this Month--I am in expectation every day
of hearing from George--I begin to fear his last letters miscarried. I
shall be in town to-morrow--if you should not be in town, I shall send
this little parcel by the Walthamstow Coach--I think you will like
Goldsmith--Write me soon--

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.

Mrs. Dilke has not been very well--she is gone a walk to town to-day for
exercise.



XCII.--TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS.


Sunday Morn{g.} February 14, [1819].

My dear Brother and Sister--How is it that we have not heard from you from
the Settlement yet? The letters must surely have miscarried. I am in
expectation every day. Peachey wrote me a few days ago, saying some more
acquaintances of his were preparing to set out for Birkbeck; therefore, I
shall take the opportunity of sending you what I can muster in a sheet or
two. I am still at Wentworth Place--indeed, I have kept indoors lately,
resolved if possible to rid myself of my sore throat; consequently I have
not been to see your Mother since my return from Chichester; but my
absence from her has been a great weight upon me. I say since my return
from Chichester--I believe I told you I was going thither. I was nearly a
fortnight at Mr. John Snook's and a few days at old Mr. Dilke's. Nothing
worth speaking of happened at either place. I took down some thin paper
and wrote on it a little poem called St. Agnes's Eve, which you shall have
as it is when I have finished the blank part of the rest for you. I went
out twice at Chichester to dowager Card parties. I see very little now,
and very few persons, being almost tired of men and things. Brown and
Dilke are very kind and considerate towards me. The Miss R.'s have been
stopping next door lately, but are very dull. Miss Brawne and I have every
now and then a chat and a tiff. Brown and Dilke are walking round their
garden, hands in pockets, making observations. The literary world I know
nothing about. There is a poem from Rogers dead born; and another satire
is expected from Byron, called "Don Giovanni." Yesterday I went to town
for the first time for these three weeks. I met people from all parts and
of all sets--Mr. Towers, one of the Holts, Mr. Dominie Williams, Mr.
Woodhouse, Mrs. Hazlitt and son, Mrs. Webb, and Mrs. Septimus Brown. Mr.
Woodhouse was looking up at a book window in Newgate Street, and, being
short-sighted, twisted his muscles into so queer a stage that I stood by
in doubt whether it was him or his brother, if he has one, and turning
round, saw Mrs. Hazlitt, with that little Nero, her son. Woodhouse, on his
features subsiding, proved to be Woodhouse, and not his brother. I have
had a little business with Mr. Abbey from time to time; he has behaved to
me with a little Brusquerie: this hurt me a little, especially when I knew
him to be the only man in England who dared to say a thing to me I did not
approve of without its being resented, or at least noticed--so I wrote him
about it, and have made an alteration in my favour--I expect from this to
see more of Fanny, who has been quite shut out from me. I see Cobbett has
been attacking the Settlement, but I cannot tell what to believe, and
shall be all out at elbows till I hear from you. I am invited to Miss
Millar's birthday dance on the 19th--I am nearly sure I shall not be able
to go. A dance would injure my throat very much. I see very little of
Reynolds. Hunt, I hear, is going on very badly--I mean in money matters.
I shall not be surprised to hear of the worst. Haydon too, in consequence
of his eyes, is out at elbows. I live as prudently as it is possible for
me to do. I have not seen Haslam lately. I have not seen Richards for this
half year, Rice for three months, or Charles Cowden Clarke for God knows
when.

When I last called in Henrietta Street[88] Miss Millar was very unwell,
and Miss Waldegrave as staid and self-possessed as usual. Henry was well.
There are two new tragedies--one by the apostate Maw, and one by Miss Jane
Porter. Next week I am going to stop at Taylor's for a few days, when I
will see them both and tell you what they are. Mr. and Mrs. Bentley are
well, and all the young carrots. I said nothing of consequence passed at
Snook's--no more than this--that I like the family very much. Mr. and Mrs.
Snook were very kind We used to have a little religion and politics
together almost every evening,--and sometimes about you. He proposed
writing out for me his experience in farming, for me to send to you. If I
should have an opportunity of talking to him about it, I will get all I
can at all events; but you may say in your answer to this what value you
place upon such information. I have not seen Mr. Lewis lately, for I have
shrank from going up the hill. Mr. Lewis went a few mornings ago to town
with Mrs. Brawne. They talked about me, and I heard that Mr. L. said a
thing I am not at all contented with. Says he, "O, he is quite the little
poet." Now this is abominable--You might as well say Buonaparte is quite
the little soldier. You see what it is to be under six foot and not a
lord. There is a long fuzz to-day in the Examiner about a young man who
delighted a young woman with a valentine--I think it must be Ollier's.
Brown and I are thinking of passing the summer at Brussels--If we do, we
shall go about the first of May. We--_i.e._ Brown and I--sit opposite one
another all day authorizing (_N.B._, an "s" instead of a "z" would give a
different meaning). He is at present writing a story of an old woman who
lived in a forest, and to whom the Devil or one of his aides-de-feu came
one night very late and in disguise. The old dame sets before him pudding
after pudding--mess after mess--which he devours, and moreover casts his
eyes up at a side of Bacon hanging over his head, and at the same time
asks if her Cat is a Rabbit. On going he leaves her three pips of Eve's
Apple, and somehow she, having lived a virgin all her life, begins to
repent of it, and wished herself beautiful enough to make all the world
and even the other world fall in love with her. So it happens, she sets
out from her smoky cottage in magnificent apparel.--The first City she
enters, every one falls in love with her, from the Prince to the
Blacksmith. A young gentleman on his way to the Church to be married
leaves his unfortunate Bride and follows this nonsuch--A whole regiment of
soldiers are smitten at once and follow her--A whole convent of Monks in
Corpus Christi procession join the soldiers.--The mayor and corporation
follow the same road--Old and young, deaf and dumb,--all but the
blind,--are smitten, and form an immense concourse of people, who----what
Brown will do with them I know not. The devil himself falls in love with
her, flies away with her to a desert place, in consequence of which she
lays an infinite number of eggs--the eggs being hatched from time to time,
fill the world with many nuisances, such as John Knox, George Fox, Johanna
Southcote, and Gifford.

There have been within a fortnight eight failures of the highest
consequence in London. Brown went a few evenings since to Davenport's, and
on his coming in he talked about bad news in the city with such a face I
began to think of a national bankruptcy. I did not feel much surprised and
was rather disappointed. Carlisle, a bookseller on the Hone principle, has
been issuing pamphlets from his shop in Fleet Street called the Deist. He
was conveyed to Newgate last Thursday; he intends making his own defence.
I was surprised to hear from Taylor the amount of money of the
bookseller's last sale. What think you of £25,000? He sold 4000 copies of
Lord Byron. I am sitting opposite the Shakspeare I brought from the Isle
of Wight--and I never look at him but the silk tassels on it give me as
much pleasure as the face of the poet itself.[89]

In my next packet, as this is one by the way, I shall send you the Pot of
Basil, St. Agnes Eve, and if I should have finished it, a little thing
called the Eve of St. Mark. You see what fine Mother Radcliff names I
have--it is not my fault--I do not search for them. I have not gone on
with Hyperion--for to tell the truth I have not been in great cue for
writing lately--I must wait for the spring to rouse me up a little. The
only time I went out from Bedhampton was to see a chapel
consecrated--Brown, I, and John Snook the boy, went in a chaise behind a
leaden horse. Brown drove, but the horse did not mind him. This chapel is
built by a Mr. Way, a great Jew converter, who in that line has spent one
hundred thousand pounds. He maintains a great number of poor Jews--_Of
course his communion plate was stolen_. He spoke to the clerk about
it--The clerk said he was very sorry, adding, "_I dare shay, your honour,
it's among ush_."

The chapel is built in Mr. Way's park. The consecration was not amusing.
There were numbers of carriages--and his house crammed with clergy--They
sanctified the Chapel, and it being a wet day, consecrated the
burial-ground through the vestry window. I begin to hate parsons; they did
not make me love them that day when I saw them in their proper colours. A
parson is a Lamb in a drawing-room, and a Lion in a vestry. The notions of
Society will not permit a parson to give way to his temper in any
shape--So he festers in himself--his features get a peculiar, diabolical,
self-sufficient, iron stupid expression. He is continually acting--his
mind is against every man, and every man's mind is against him--He is a
hypocrite to the Believer and a coward to the unbeliever--He must be
either a knave or an idiot--and there is no man so much to be pitied as an
idiot parson. The soldier who is cheated into an Esprit du Corps by a red
coat, a band, and colours, for the purpose of nothing, is not half so
pitiable as the parson who is led by the nose by the Bench of Bishops and
is smothered in absurdities--a poor necessary subaltern of the Church.


Friday, Feb{y.} 18.

The day before yesterday I went to Romney Street--your Mother was not at
home--but I have just written her that I shall see her on Wednesday. I
call'd on Mr. Lewis this morning--he is very well--and tells me not to be
uneasy about Letters, the chances being so arbitrary. He is going on as
usual among his favourite democrat papers. We had a chat as usual about
Cobbett and the Westminster electors. Dilke has lately been very much
harrassed about the manner of educating his son--he at length decided for
a public school--and then he did not know what school--he at last has
decided for Westminster; and as Charley is to be a day boy, Dilke will
remove to Westminster. We lead very quiet lives here--Dilke is at present
in Greek histories and antiquities, and talks of nothing but the electors
of Westminster and the retreat of the ten-thousand. I never drink now
above three glasses of wine--and never any spirits and water. Though by
the bye, the other day Woodhouse took me to his coffee house and ordered a
Bottle of Claret--now I like Claret, whenever I can have Claret I must
drink it,--'tis the only palate affair that I am at all sensual in. Would
it not be a good speck to send you some vine roots--could it be done? I'll
enquire--If you could make some wine like Claret to drink on summer
evenings in an arbour! For really 'tis so fine--it fills one's mouth with
a gushing freshness--then goes down cool and feverless--then you do not
feel it quarrelling with your liver--no, it is rather a Peacemaker, and
lies as quiet as it did in the grape; then it is as fragrant as the Queen
Bee, and the more ethereal Part of it mounts into the brain, not
assaulting the cerebral apartments like a bully in a bad-house looking for
his trull and hurrying from door to door bouncing against the wainstcoat,
but rather walks like Aladdin about his own enchanted palace so gently
that you do not feel his step. Other wines of a heavy and spirituous
nature transform a Man to a Silenus: this makes him a Hermes--and gives a
Woman the soul and immortality of Ariadne, for whom Bacchus always kept a
good cellar of claret--and even of that he could never persuade her to
take above two cups. I said this same claret is the only palate-passion I
have--I forgot game--I must plead guilty to the breast of a Partridge, the
back of a hare, the backbone of a grouse, the wing and side of a Pheasant
and a Woodcock _passim_. Talking of game (I wish I could make it), the
Lady whom I met at Hastings and of whom I said something in my last I
think has lately made me many presents of game, and enabled me to make as
many. She made me take home a Pheasant the other day, which I gave to Mrs.
Dilke; on which to-morrow Rice, Reynolds and the Wentworthians will dine
next door. The next I intend for your Mother. These moderate sheets of
paper are much more pleasant to write upon than those large thin sheets
which I hope you by this time have received--though that can't be, now I
think of it. I have not said in any Letter yet a word about my affairs--in
a word I am in no despair about them--my poem has not at all succeeded; in
the course of a year or so I think I shall try the public again--in a
selfish point of view I should suffer my pride and my contempt of public
opinion to hold me silent--but for yours and Fanny's sake I will pluck up
a spirit and try again. I have no doubt of success in a course of years if
I persevere--but it must be patience, for the Reviews have enervated and
made indolent men's minds--few think for themselves. These Reviews too are
getting more and more powerful, especially the Quarterly--they are like a
superstition which the more it prostrates the Crowd and the longer it
continues the more powerful it becomes just in proportion to their
increasing weakness. I was in hopes that when people saw, as they must do
now, all the trickery and iniquity of these Plagues they would scout them,
but no, they are like the spectators at the Westminster cock-pit--they
like the battle and do not care who wins or who loses. Brown is going on
this morning with the story of his old woman and the Devil--He makes but
slow progress--The fact is it is a Libel on the Devil, and as that person
is Brown's Muse, look ye, if he libels his own Muse how can he expect to
write? Either Brown or his Muse must turn tail. Yesterday was Charley
Dilke's birthday. Brown and I were invited to tea. During the evening
nothing passed worth notice but a little conversation between Mrs. Dilke
and Mrs. Brawne. The subject was the Watchman. It was ten o'clock, and
Mrs. Brawne, who lived during the summer in Brown's house and now lives in
the Road, recognised her old Watchman's voice, and said that he came as
far as her now. "Indeed," said Mrs. D., "does he turn the Corner?" There
have been some Letters passed between me and Haslam but I have not seen
him lately. The day before yesterday--which I made a day of Business--I
called upon him--he was out as usual. Brown has been walking up and down
the room a-breeding--now at this moment he is being delivered of a
couplet, and I daresay will be as well as can be expected. Gracious--he
has twins!

I have a long story to tell you about Bailey--I will say first the
circumstances as plainly and as well as I can remember, and then I will
make my comment. You know that Bailey was very much cut up about a little
Jilt in the country somewhere. I thought he was in a dying state about it
when at Oxford with him: little supposing, as I have since heard, that he
was at that very time making impatient Love to Marian Reynolds--and guess
my astonishment at hearing after this that he had been trying at Miss
Martin. So Matters have been--So Matters stood--when he got ordained and
went to a Curacy near Carlisle, where the family of the Gleigs reside.
There his susceptible heart was conquered by Miss Gleig--and thereby all
his connections in town have been annulled--both male and female. I do not
now remember clearly the facts--These however I know--He showed his
correspondence with Marian to Gleig, returned all her Letters and asked
for his own--he also wrote very abrupt Letters to Mrs. Reynolds. I do not
know any more of the Martin affair than I have written above. No doubt his
conduct has been very bad. The great thing to be considered is--whether it
is want of delicacy and principle or want of knowledge and polite
experience. And again weakness--yes, that is it; and the want of a
Wife--yes, that is it; and then Marian made great Bones of him although
her Mother and sister have teased her very much about it. Her conduct has
been very upright throughout the whole affair--She liked Bailey as a
Brother but not as a Husband--especially as he used to woo her with the
Bible and Jeremy Taylor under his arm--they walked in no grove but Jeremy
Taylor's. Marian's obstinacy is some excuse, but his so quickly taking to
Miss Gleig can have no excuse--except that of a Ploughman who wants a
wife. The thing which sways me more against him than anything else is
Rice's conduct on the occasion; Rice would not make an immature resolve:
he was ardent in his friendship for Bailey, he examined the whole for and
against minutely; and he has abandoned Bailey entirely. All this I am not
supposed by the Reynoldses to have any hint of. It will be a good lesson
to the Mother and Daughters--nothing would serve but Bailey. If you
mentioned the word Tea-pot some one of them came out with an à propros
about Bailey--noble fellow--fine fellow! was always in their mouths--This
may teach them that the man who ridicules romance is the most romantic of
Men--that he who abuses women and slights them loves them the most--that
he who talks of roasting a Man alive would not do it when it came to the
push--and above all, that they are very shallow people who take everything
literally. A Man's life of any worth is a continual allegory, and very few
eyes can see the Mystery of his life--a life like the scriptures,
figurative--which such people can no more make out than they can the
Hebrew Bible. Lord Byron cuts a figure but he is not figurative--Shakspeare
led a life of Allegory: his works are the comments on it--


March 12, Friday.

I went to town yesterday chiefly for the purpose of seeing some young Men
who were to take some Letters for us to you--through the medium of
Peachey. I was surprised and disappointed at hearing they had changed
their minds, and did not purpose going so far as Birkbeck's. I was much
disappointed, for I had counted upon seeing some persons who were to see
you--and upon your seeing some who had seen me. I have not only lost this
opportunity, but the sail of the Post-Packet to New York or Philadelphia,
by which last your Brothers have sent some Letters. The weather in town
yesterday was so stifling that I could not remain there though I wanted
much to see Kean in Hotspur. I have by me at present Hazlitt's Letter to
Gifford--perhaps you would like an extract or two from the high-seasoned
parts. It begins thus:

     "Sir, you have an ugly trick of saying what is not true of any one
     you do not like; and it will be the object of this Letter to cure you
     of it. You say what you please of others; it is time you were told
     what you are. In doing this give me leave to borrow the familiarity
     of your style:--for the fidelity of the picture I shall be
     answerable. You are a little person but a considerable cat's paw; and
     so far worthy of notice. Your clandestine connection with persons
     high in office constantly influences your opinions and alone gives
     importance to them. You are the government critic, a character nicely
     differing from that of a government spy--the invisible link which
     connects literature with the Police."

Again:

     "Your employers, Mr. Gifford, do not pay their hirelings for
     nothing--for condescending to notice weak and wicked sophistry; for
     pointing out to contempt what excites no admiration; for cautiously
     selecting a few specimens of bad taste and bad grammar where nothing
     else is to be found. They want your invisible pertness, your
     mercenary malice, your impenetrable dulness, your bare-faced
     impudence, your pragmatical self-sufficiency, your hypocritical zeal,
     your pious frauds to stand in the gap of their Prejudices and
     pretensions to fly-blow and taint public opinion, to defeat
     independent efforts, to apply not the touch of the scorpion but the
     touch of the Torpedo to youthful hopes, to crawl and leave the slimy
     track of sophistry and lies over every work that does not dedicate
     its sweet leaves to some Luminary of the treasury bench, or is not
     fostered in the hotbed of corruption. This is your office; 'this is
     what is look'd for at your hands, and this you do not baulk'--to
     sacrifice what little honesty and prostitute what little intellect
     you possess to any dirty job you are commission'd to execute. 'They
     keep you as an ape does an apple in the corner of his jaw, first
     mouth'd to be at last swallow'd.' You are by appointment literary
     toadeater to greatness and taster to the court. You have a natural
     aversion to whatever differs from your own pretensions, and an
     acquired one for what gives offence to your superiors. Your vanity
     panders to your interest, and your malice truckles only to your love
     of Power. If your instructive or premeditated abuse of your enviable
     trust were found wanting in a single instance; if you were to make a
     single slip in getting up your select committee of enquiry and green
     bag report of the state of Letters, your occupation would be gone.
     You would never after obtain a squeeze of the hand from acquaintance,
     or a smile from a Punk of Quality. The great and powerful whom you
     call wise and good do not like to have the privacy of their self-love
     startled by the obtrusive and unmanageable claims of Literature and
     Philosophy, except through the intervention of people like you, whom,
     if they have common penetration, they soon find out to be without any
     superiority of intellect; or if they do not, whom they can despise
     for their meanness of soul. You 'have the office opposite to Saint
     Peter.' You keep a corner in the public mind for foul prejudice and
     corrupt power to knot and gender in; you volunteer your services to
     people of quality to ease scruples of mind and qualms of conscience;
     you lay the flattering unction of venal prose and laurell'd verse to
     their souls. You persuade them that there is neither purity of
     morals, nor depth of understanding except in themselves and their
     hangers-on; and would prevent the unhallow'd names of Liberty and
     humanity from ever being whispered in ears polite! You, sir, do you
     not all this? I cry you mercy then: I took you for the Editor of the
     Quarterly Review."

This is the sort of feu de joie he keeps up. There is another extract or
two--one especially which I will copy to-morrow--for the candles are burnt
down and I am using the wax taper--which has a long snuff on it--the fire
is at its last click--I am sitting with my back to it with one foot rather
askew upon the rug and the other with the heel a little elevated from the
carpet--I am writing this on the Maid's Tragedy, which I have read since
tea with great pleasure--Besides this volume of Beaumont and Fletcher,
there are on the table two volumes of Chaucer and a new work of Tom
Moore's, called Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress--nothing in it. These are
trifles--but I require nothing so much of you but that you will give one a
like description of yourselves, however it may be when you are writing to
me. Could I see the same thing done of any great Man long since dead it
would be a great delight: as to know in what position Shakspeare sat when
he began "To be or not to be"--such things become interesting from
distance of time or place. I hope you are both now in that sweet sleep
which no two beings deserve more than you do--I must fancy so--and please
myself in the fancy of speaking a prayer and a blessing over you and your
lives--God bless you--I whisper good-night in your ears, and you will
dream of me.


March 13, Saturday.

I have written to Fanny this morning and received a note from Haslam. I
was to have dined with him to-morrow: he gives me a bad account of his
Father, who has not been in Town for five weeks, and is not well enough
for company. Haslam is well--and from the prosperous state of some love
affair he does not mind the double tides he has to work. I have been a
Walk past west end--and was going to call at Mr. Monkhouse's--but I did
not, not being in the humour. I know not why Poetry and I have been so
distant lately; I must make some advances soon or she will cut me
entirely. Hazlitt has this fine Passage in his Letter: Gifford in his
Review of Hazlitt's characters of Shakspeare's plays attacks the
Coriolanus critique. He says that Hazlitt has slandered Shakspeare in
saying that he had a leaning to the arbitrary side of the question.
Hazlitt thus defends himself,

     "My words are, 'Coriolanus is a storehouse of political commonplaces.
     The Arguments for and against aristocracy and democracy on the
     Privileges of the few and the claims of the many, on Liberty and
     slavery, power and the abuse of it, peace and war, are here very ably
     handled, with the spirit of a Poet and the acuteness of a
     Philosopher. Shakspeare himself seems to have had a leaning to the
     arbitrary side of the question, perhaps from some feeling of contempt
     for his own origin, and to have spared no occasion of bating the
     rabble. What he says of them is very true; what he says of their
     betters is also very true, though he dwells less upon it.' I then
     proceed to account for this by showing how it is that 'the cause of
     the people is but little calculated for a subject for poetry; or that
     the language of Poetry naturally falls in with the language of
     power.' I affirm, Sir, that Poetry, that the imagination generally
     speaking, delights in power, in strong excitement, as well as in
     truth, in good, in right, whereas pure reason and the moral sense
     approve only of the true and good. I proceed to show that this
     general love or tendency to immediate excitement or theatrical
     effect, no matter how produced, gives a Bias to the imagination often
     consistent with the greatest good, that in Poetry it triumphs over
     principle, and bribes the passions to make a sacrifice of common
     humanity. You say that it does not, that there is no such original
     Sin in Poetry, that it makes no such sacrifice or unworthy compromise
     between poetical effect and the still small voice of reason. And how
     do you prove that there is no such principle giving a bias to the
     imagination and a false colouring to poetry? Why, by asking in reply
     to the instances where this principle operates, and where no other
     can with much modesty and simplicity--'But are these the only topics
     that afford delight in Poetry, etc.?' No; but these objects do afford
     delight in poetry, and they afford it in proportion to their strong
     and often tragical effect, and not in proportion to the good
     produced, or their desireableness in a moral point of view. Do we
     read with more pleasure of the ravages of a beast of prey than of the
     Shepherd's pipe upon the Mountain? No; but we do read with pleasure
     of the ravages of a beast of prey, and we do so on the principle I
     have stated, namely, from the sense of power abstracted from the
     sense of good; and it is the same principle that makes us read with
     admiration and reconciles us in fact to the triumphant progress of
     the conquerors and mighty Hunters of mankind, who come to stop the
     Shepherd's Pipe upon the Mountains and sweep away his listening
     flock. Do you mean to deny that there is anything imposing to the
     imagination in power, in grandeur, in outward show, in the
     accumulation of individual wealth and luxury, at the expense of equal
     justice and the common weal? Do you deny that there is anything in
     the 'Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance of glorious war, that makes
     ambition virtue' in the eyes of admiring multitudes? Is this a new
     theory of the pleasures of the imagination, which says that the
     pleasures of the imagination do not take rise solely in the
     calculation of the understanding? Is it a paradox of my creating that
     'one murder makes a villain millions a Hero'? or is it not true that
     here, as in other cases, the enormity of the evil overpowers and
     makes a convert of the imagination by its very magnitude? You
     contradict my reasoning because you know nothing of the question, and
     you think that no one has a right to understand what you do not. My
     offence against purity in the passage alluded to, 'which contains the
     concentrated venom of my malignity,' is that I have admitted that
     there are tyrants and slaves abroad in the world; and you would hush
     the matter up and pretend that there is no such thing in order that
     there may be nothing else. Further, I have explained the cause, the
     subtle sophistry of the human mind, that tolerates and pampers the
     evil in order to guard against its approaches; you would conceal the
     cause in order to prevent the cure, and to leave the proud flesh
     about the heart to harden and ossify into one impenetrable mass of
     selfishness and hypocrisy, that we may not 'sympathise in the
     distresses of suffering virtue' in any case in which they come in
     competition with the fictitious wants and 'imputed weaknesses of the
     great.' You ask, 'Are we gratified by the cruelties of Domitian or
     Nero?' No, not we--they were too petty and cowardly to strike the
     imagination at a distance; but the Roman senate tolerated them,
     addressed their perpetrators, exalted them into gods, the fathers of
     the people, they had pimps and scribblers of all sorts in their pay,
     their Senecas, etc., till a turbulent rabble, thinking there were no
     injuries to Society greater than the endurance of unlimited and
     wanton oppression, put an end to the farce and abated the sin as well
     as they could. Had you and I lived in those times we should have been
     what we are now, I 'a sour malcontent,' and you 'a sweet courtier.'"

The manner in which this is managed: the force and innate power with which
it yeasts and works up itself--the feeling for the costume of society; is
in a style of genius. He hath a demon, as he himself says of Lord Byron.
We are to have a party this evening. The Davenports from Church Row--I
don't think you know anything of them--they have paid me a good deal of
attention. I like Davenport himself. The names of the rest are Miss
Barnes, Miss Winter with the Children.


[Later, March 17 or 18.]

On Monday we had to dinner Severn and Cawthorn, the Bookseller and
print-virtuoso; in the evening Severn went home to paint, and we other
three went to the play, to see Sheil's new tragedy ycleped Evadné. In the
morning Severn and I took a turn round the Museum--There is a Sphinx there
of a giant size, and most voluptuous Egyptian expression, I had not seen
it before. The play was bad even in comparison with 1818, the Augustan age
of the Drama, "comme on sait," as Voltaire says--the whole was made up of
a virtuous young woman, an indignant brother, a suspecting lover, a
libertine prince, a gratuitous villain, a street in Naples, a Cypress
grove, lilies and roses, virtue and vice, a bloody sword, a spangled
jacket, one Lady Olivia, one Miss O'Neil alias Evadné, alias Bellamira,
alias--Alias--Yea, and I say unto you a greater than Elias--There was
Abbot, and talking of Abbot his name puts me in mind of a spelling-book
lesson, descriptive of the whole Dramatis personæ--Abbot--Abbess--Actor--
Actress--The play is a fine amusement, as a friend of mine once said to
me--"Do what you will," says he, "a poor gentleman who wants a guinea,
cannot spend his two shillings better than at the playhouse." The
pantomime was excellent, I had seen it before and I enjoyed it again. Your
Mother and I had some talk about Miss H.---- Says I, will Henry have that
Miss ----, a lath with a boddice, she who has been fine drawn--fit for
nothing but to cut up into Cribbage pins, to the tune of 15.2; one who is
all muslin; all feathers and bone; once in travelling she was made use of
as a lynch pin; I hope he will not have her, though it is no uncommon
thing to be _smitten with a staff_; though she might be very useful as his
walking-stick, his fishing-rod, his tooth-pik, his hat-stick (she runs so
much in his head)--let him turn farmer, she would cut into hurdles; let
him write poetry, she would be his turn-style. Her gown is like a flag on
a pole; she would do for him if he turn freemason; I hope she will prove a
flag of truce; when she sits languishing with her one foot on a stool, and
one elbow on the table, and her head inclined, she looks like the sign of
the crooked billet--or the frontispiece to Cinderella, or a tea-paper
wood-cut of Mother Shipton at her studies; she is a make-believe--She is
bona _s_ide a thin young 'oman--But this is mere talk of a
fellow-creature; yet pardie I would not that Henry have her--Non volo ut
eam possideat, nam, for, it would be a bam, for it would be a sham--

Don't think I am writing a petition to the Governors of St. Luke--no, that
would be in another style. May it please your Worships; forasmuch as the
undersigned has committed, transferred, given up, made over, consigned,
and aberrated himself, to the art and mystery of poetry; forasmuch as he
hath cut, rebuffed, affronted, huffed, and shirked, and taken stint at,
all other employments, arts, mysteries, and occupations, honest, middling,
and dishonest; forasmuch as he hath at sundry times and in divers places,
told truth unto the men of this generation, and eke to the women;
moreover, forasmuch as he hath kept a pair of boots that did not fit, and
doth not admire Sheil's play, Leigh Hunt, Tom Moore, Bob Southey, and Mr.
Rogers; and does admire Wm. Hazlitt; moreoverer for as more as he liketh
half of Wordsworth, and none of Crabbe; moreover-est for as most as he
hath written this page of penmanship--he prayeth your Worships to give him
a lodging--Witnessed by Rd. Abbey and Co., cum familiaribus et
consanguineis (signed) Count de Cockaigne.

The nothing of the day is a machine called the velocipede. It is a wheel
carriage to ride cock-horse upon, sitting astride and pushing it along
with the toes, a rudder wheel in hand--they will go seven miles an hour--A
handsome gelding will come to eight guineas; however they will soon be
cheaper, unless the army takes to them. I look back upon the last month, I
find nothing to write about; indeed I do not recollect anything particular
in it. It's all alike; we keep on breathing. The only amusement is a
little scandal, of however fine a shape, a laugh at a pun--and then after
all we wonder how we could enjoy the scandal, or laugh at the pun.

I have been at different times turning it in my head whether I should go
to Edinburgh and study for a physician; I am afraid I should not take
kindly to it; I am sure I could not take fees--and yet I should like to do
so; it's not worse than writing poems, and hanging them up to be fly-blown
on the Review shambles. Everybody is in his own mess. Here is the parson
at Hampstead quarrelling with all the world, he is in the wrong by this
same token; when the black cloth was put up in the Church for the Queen's
mourning, he asked the workmen to hang it the wrong side outwards, that it
might be better when taken down, it being his perquisite--Parsons will
always keep up their character, but as it is said there are some animals
the ancients knew which we do not, let us hope our posterity will miss the
black badger with tri-cornered hat; Who knows but some Reviewer of Buffon
or Pliny may put an account of the parson in the Appendix; No one will
then believe it any more than we believe in the Phoenix. I think we may
class the lawyer in the same natural history of Monsters; a green bag will
hold as much as a lawn sleeve. The only difference is that one is fustian
and the other flimsy; I am not unwilling to read Church history at present
and have Milner's in my eye; his is reckoned a very good one.


18th September 1819.

[In looking over some of my papers I found the above specimen of my
carelessness. It is a sheet you ought to have had long ago--my letter must
have appeared very unconnected, but as I number the sheets you must have
discovered how the mistake happened. How many things have happened since I
wrote it--How have I acted contrary to my resolves. The interval between
writing this sheet and the day I put this supplement to it, has been
completely filled with generous and most friendly actions of Brown towards
me. How frequently I forget to speak of things which I think of and feel
most. 'Tis very singular, the idea about Buffon above has been taken up by
Hunt in the Examiner, in some papers which he calls "A Preter-natural
History."][90]


Friday 19th March.

This morning I have been reading "the False One." Shameful to say, I was
in bed at ten--I mean this morning. The Blackwood Reviewers have committed
themselves in a scandalous heresy--they have been putting up Hogg, the
Ettrick Shepherd, against Burns: the senseless villains! The Scotch cannot
manage themselves at all, they want imagination, and that is why they are
so fond of Hogg, who has a little of it. This morning I am in a sort of
temper, indolent and supremely careless--I long after a Stanza or two of
Thomson's Castle of Indolence--my passions are all asleep, from my having
slumbered till nearly eleven, and weakened the animal fibre all over me,
to a delightful sensation, about three degrees on this side of faintness.
If I had teeth of pearl and the breath of lilies I should call it
languor, but as I am[B] I must call it laziness. In this state of
effeminacy the fibres of the brain are relaxed in common with the rest of
the body, and to such a happy degree that pleasure has no show of
enticement and pain no unbearable power. Neither Poetry, nor Ambition, nor
Love have any alertness of countenance as they pass by me; they seem
rather like figures on a Greek vase--a Man and two women whom no one but
myself could distinguish in their disguisement.[91] This is the only
happiness, and is a rare instance of the advantage of the body
overpowering the Mind. I have this moment received a note from Haslam, in
which he expects the death of his Father, who has been for some time in a
state of insensibility; his mother bears up he says very well--I shall go
to town to-morrow to see him. This is the world--thus we cannot expect to
give way many hours to pleasure. Circumstances are like Clouds continually
gathering and bursting--While we are laughing, the seed of some trouble is
put into the wide arable land of events--while we are laughing it sprouts
it grows and suddenly bears a poison fruit which we must pluck. Even so we
have leisure to reason on the misfortunes of our friends; our own touch us
too nearly for words. Very few men have ever arrived at a complete
disinterestedness of Mind: very few have been influenced by a pure desire
of the benefit of others,--in the greater part of the Benefactors to
Humanity some meretricious motive has sullied their greatness--some
melodramatic scenery has fascinated them. From the manner in which I feel
Haslam's misfortune I perceive how far I am from any humble standard of
disinterestedness. Yet this feeling ought to be carried to its highest
pitch, as there is no fear of its ever injuring society--which it would
do, I fear, pushed to an extremity. For in wild nature the Hawk would lose
his Breakfast of Robins and the Robin his of Worms--The Lion must starve
as well as the swallow. The greater part of Men make their way with the
same instinctiveness, the same unwandering eye from their purposes, the
same animal eagerness as the Hawk. The Hawk wants a Mate, so does the
Man--look at them both, they set about it and procure one in the same
manner. They want both a nest and they both set about one in the same
manner--they get their food in the same manner. The noble animal Man for
his amusement smokes his pipe--the Hawk balances about the Clouds--that is
the only difference of their leisures. This it is that makes the Amusement
of Life--to a speculative Mind--I go among the Fields and catch a glimpse
of a Stoat or a fieldmouse peeping out of the withered grass--the creature
hath a purpose, and its eyes are bright with it. I go amongst the
buildings of a city and I see a Man hurrying along--to what? the Creature
has a purpose and his eyes are bright with it. But then, as Wordsworth
says, "we have all one human heart----" There is an electric fire in human
nature tending to purify--so that among these human creatures there is
continually some birth of new heroism. The pity is that we must wonder at
it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish. I have no doubt that
thousands of people never heard of have had hearts completely
disinterested: I can remember but two--Socrates and Jesus--Their histories
evince it. What I heard a little time ago, Taylor observe with respect to
Socrates, may be said of Jesus--That he was so great a man that though he
transmitted no writing of his own to posterity, we have his Mind and his
sayings and his greatness handed to us by others. It is to be lamented
that the history of the latter was written and revised by Men interested
in the pious frauds of Religion. Yet through all this I see his splendour.
Even here, though I myself am pursuing the same instinctive course as the
veriest human animal you can think of, I am, however young, writing at
random, straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness,
without knowing the bearing of any one assertion, of any one opinion. Yet
may I not in this be free from sin? May there not be superior beings
amused with any graceful, though instinctive, attitude my mind may fall
into as I am entertained with the alertness of a Stoat or the anxiety of a
Deer? Though a quarrel in the Streets is a thing to be hated, the energies
displayed in it are fine; the commonest Man shows a grace in his quarrel.
By a superior Being our reasonings may take the same tone--though
erroneous they may be fine. This is the very thing in which consists
Poetry, and if so it is not so fine a thing as philosophy--For the same
reason that an eagle is not so fine a thing as a truth. Give me this
credit--Do you not think I strive--to know myself? Give me this credit,
and you will not think that on my own account I repeat Milton's lines--

  "How charming is divine Philosophy,
  Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
  But musical as is Apollo's lute."

No--not for myself--feeling grateful as I do to have got into a state of
mind to relish them properly. Nothing ever becomes real till it is
experienced--Even a Proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has
illustrated it. I am ever afraid that your anxiety for me will lead you to
fear for the violence of my temperament continually smothered down: for
that reason I did not intend to have sent you the following sonnet--but
look over the two last pages and ask yourselves whether I have not that in
me which will bear the buffets of the world. It will be the best comment
on my sonnet; it will show you that it was written with no Agony but that
of ignorance; with no thirst of anything but Knowledge when pushed to the
point though the first steps to it were through my human passions--they
went away and I wrote with my Mind--and perhaps I must confess a little
bit of my heart--

  Why did I laugh to-night? No voice will tell:
    No God, no Deamon of severe response
  Deigns to reply from heaven or from Hell.--
    Then to my human heart I turn at once--
  Heart! thou and I are here sad and alone;
    Say, wherefore did I laugh? O mortal pain!
  O Darkness! Darkness! ever must I moan,
    To question Heaven and Hell and Heart in vain!
  Why did I laugh? I know this being's lease,
    My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads:
  Yet could I on this very midnight cease,[92]
    And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds;
  Verse, fame and Beauty are intense indeed
  But Death intenser--Death is Life's high meed.

I went to bed and enjoyed an uninterrupted sleep. Sane I went to bed and
sane I arose.


[April 15.]

This is the 15th of April--you see what a time it is since I wrote; all
that time I have been day by day expecting Letters from you. I write quite
in the dark. In the hopes of a Letter daily I have deferred that I might
write in the light. I was in town yesterday, and at Taylor's heard that
young Birkbeck had been in Town and was to set forward in six or seven
days--so I shall dedicate that time to making up this parcel ready for
him. I wish I could hear from you to make me "whole and general as the
casing air."[93] A few days after the 19th of April[94] I received a note
from Haslam containing the news of his father's death. The Family has all
been well. Haslam has his father's situation. The Framptons have behaved
well to him. The day before yesterday I went to a rout at Sawrey's--it was
made pleasant by Reynolds being there and our getting into conversation
with one of the most beautiful Girls I ever saw--She gave a remarkable
prettiness to all those commonplaces which most women who talk must
utter--I liked Mrs. Sawrey very well. The Sunday before last your Brothers
were to come by a long invitation--so long that for the time I forgot it
when I promised Mrs. Brawne to dine with her on the same day. On
recollecting my engagement with your Brothers I immediately excused myself
with Mrs. Brawne, but she would not hear of it, and insisted on my
bringing my friends with me. So we all dined at Mrs. Brawne's. I have been
to Mrs. Bentley's this morning, and put all the letters to and from you
and poor Tom and me.[95] I found some of the correspondence between him
and that degraded Wells and Amena. It is a wretched business; I do not
know the rights of it, but what I do know would, I am sure, affect you so
much that I am in two minds whether I will tell you anything about it. And
yet I do not see why--for anything, though it be unpleasant, that calls to
mind those we still love has a compensation in itself for the pain it
occasions--so very likely to-morrow I may set about copying the whole of
what I have about it: with no sort of a Richardson self-satisfaction--I
hate it to a sickness--and I am afraid more from indolence of mind than
anything else. I wonder how people exist with all their worries. I have
not been to Westminster but once lately, and that was to see Dilke in his
new Lodgings--I think of living somewhere in the neighbourhood myself.
Your mother was well by your Brothers' account. I shall see her perhaps
to-morrow--yes I shall. We have had the Boys[96] here lately--they make a
bit of a racket--I shall not be sorry when they go. I found also this
morning, in a note from George to you and my dear sister a lock of your
hair which I shall this moment put in the miniature case. A few days ago
Hunt dined here and Brown invited Davenport to meet him, Davenport from a
sense of weakness thought it incumbent on him to show off--and pursuant
to that never ceased talking and boring all day till I was completely
fagged out. Brown grew melancholy--but Hunt perceiving what a
complimentary tendency all this had bore it remarkably well--Brown
grumbled about it for two or three days. I went with Hunt to Sir John
Leicester's gallery; there I saw Northcote--Hilton--Bewick, and many more
of great and Little note. Haydon's picture is of very little progress this
year--He talks about finishing it next year. Wordsworth is going to
publish a Poem called Peter Bell--what a perverse fellow it is! Why will
he talk about Peter Bells--I was told not to tell--but to you it will not
be telling--Reynolds hearing that said Peter Bell was coming out, took it
into his head to write a skit upon it called Peter Bell. He did it as soon
as thought on, it is to be published this morning, and comes out before
the real Peter Bell, with this admirable motto from the "Bold Stroke for a
Wife" "I am the real Simon Pure." It would be just as well to trounce Lord
Byron in the same manner. I am still at a stand in versifying--I cannot do
it yet with any pleasure--I mean, however, to look round on my resources
and means, and see what I can do without poetry--To that end I shall live
in Westminster--I have no doubt of making by some means a little to help
on, or I shall be left in the Lurch--with the burden of a little
Pride--However I look in time. The Dilkes like their Lodgings at
Westminster tolerably well. I cannot help thinking what a shame it is that
poor Dilke should give up his comfortable house and garden for his Son,
whom he will certainly ruin with too much care. The boy has nothing in his
ears all day but himself and the importance of his education. Dilke has
continually in his mouth "My Boy." This is what spoils princes: it may
have the same effect with Commoners. Mrs. Dilke has been very well
lately--But what a shameful thing it is that for that obstinate Boy Dilke
should stifle himself in Town Lodgings and wear out his Life by his
continual apprehension of his Boy's fate in Westminster school, with the
rest of the Boys and the Masters. Every one has some wear and tear. One
would think Dilke ought to be quiet and happy--but no--this one Boy makes
his face pale, his society silent and his vigilance jealous--He would I
have no doubt quarrel with any one who snubb'd his Boy--With all this he
has no notion how to manage him. O what a farce is our greatest cares! Yet
one must be in the pother for the sake of Clothes food and Lodging. There
has been a squabble between Kean and Mr. Bucke--There are faults on both
sides--on Bucke's the faults are positive to the Question: Kean's fault is
a want of genteel knowledge and high Policy. The former writes knavishly
foolish, and the other silly bombast. It was about a Tragedy written by
said Mr. Bucke which, it appears, Mr. Kean kick'd at--it was so bad--After
a little struggle of Mr. Bucke's against Kean, Drury Lane had the Policy
to bring it out and Kean the impolicy not to appear in it. It was damn'd.
The people in the Pit had a favourite call on the night of "Buck, Buck,
rise up" and "Buck, Buck, how many horns do I hold up." Kotzebue the
German Dramatist and traitor to his country was murdered lately by a young
student whose name I forget--he stabbed himself immediately after crying
out Germany! Germany! I was unfortunate to miss Richards the only time I
have been for many months to see him.

Shall I treat you with a little extempore?--

  When they were come into the Faery's Court
  They rang--no one at home--all gone to sport
  And dance and kiss and love as faerys do
  For Faries be as humans lovers true.
  Amid the woods they were so lone and wild,
  Where even the Robin feels himself exil'd,
  And where the very brooks, as if afraid,
  Hurry along to some less magic shade.
  'No one at home!' the fretful princess cry'd;
  'And all for nothing such a dreary ride,
  And all for nothing my new diamond cross;
  No one to see my Persian feathers toss,
  No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool,
  Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule.
  Ape, Dwarf, and Fool, why stand you gaping there,
  Burst the door open, quick--or I declare
  I'll switch you soundly and in pieces tear.'
  The Dwarf began to tremble, and the Ape
  Star'd at the Fool, the Fool was all agape,
  The Princess grasp'd her switch, but just in time
  The dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme.
  'O mighty Princess, did you ne'er hear tell
  What your poor servants know but too too well?
  Know you the three great crimes in faery land?
  The first, alas! poor Dwarf, I understand,
  I made a whipstock of a faery's wand;
  The next is snoring in their company;
  The next, the last, the direst of the three,
  Is making free when they are not at home.
  I was a Prince--a baby prince--my doom,
  You see, I made a whipstock of a wand,
  My top has henceforth slept in faery land.
  He was a Prince, the Fool, a grown-up Prince,
  But he has never been a King's son since
  He fell a snoring at a faery Ball.
  Your poor Ape was a Prince, and he poor thing
  Picklock'd a faery's boudoir--now no king
  But ape--so pray your highness stay awhile,
  'Tis sooth indeed, we know it to our sorrow--
  Persist and _you_ may be an ape to-morrow.'
  While the Dwarf spake the Princess, all for spite,
  Peel'd the brown hazel twig to lilly white,
  Clench'd her small teeth, and held her lips apart,
  Try'd to look unconcern'd with beating heart.
  They saw her highness had made up her mind,
  A-quavering like the reeds before the wind--
  And they had had it, but O happy chance
  The Ape for very fear began to dance
  And grinn'd as all his ugliness did ache--
  She staid her vixen fingers for his sake,
  He was so very ugly: then she took
  Her pocket-mirror and began to look
  First at herself and then at him, and then
  She smil'd at her own beauteous face again.
  Yet for all this--for all her pretty face--
  She took it in her head to see the place.
  Women gain little from experience
  Either in Lovers, husbands, or expense.
  The more their beauty the more fortune too--
  Beauty before the wide world never knew--
  So each fair reasons--tho' it oft miscarries.
  She thought _her_ pretty face would please the fairies.
  'My darling Ape I won't whip you to-day,
  Give me the Picklock sirrah and go play.'
  They all three wept but counsel was as vain
  As crying cup biddy to drops of rain.
  Yet lingering by did the sad Ape forth draw
  The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw.
  The Princess took it, and dismounting straight
  Tripp'd in blue silver'd slippers to the gate
  And touch'd the wards, the Door full courteously
  Opened--she enter'd with her servants three.
  Again it clos'd and there was nothing seen
  But the Mule grazing on the herbage green.

End of Canto XII.


Canto the XIII.

  The Mule no sooner saw himself alone
  Than he prick'd up his Ears--and said 'well done;
  At least unhappy Prince I may be free--
  No more a Princess shall side-saddle me.
  O King of Otaheite--tho' a Mule,
    Aye, every inch a King'--tho' 'Fortune's fool,'
  Well done--for by what Mr. Dwarfy said
  I would not give a sixpence for her head.'
  Even as he spake he trotted in high glee
  To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree,
  And rubb'd his sides against the mossed bark
  Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark
  Except his Bridle--how get rid of that
  Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait.
  At last it struck him to pretend to sleep,
  And then the thievish Monkies down would creep
  And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away.
  No sooner thought of than adown he lay,
  Shamm'd a good snore--the Monkey-men descended,
  And whom they thought to injure they befriended.
  They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough
  And off he went run, trot, or anyhow--

Brown is gone to bed--and I am tired of rhyming--there is a north wind
blowing playing young gooseberry with the trees--I don't care so it helps
even with a side wind a Letter to me--for I cannot put faith in any
reports I hear of the Settlement; some are good and some bad. Last
Sunday I took a Walk towards Highgate and in the lane that winds by the
side of Lord Mansfield's park I met Mr. Green our Demonstrator at
Guy's in conversation with Coleridge--I joined them, after enquiring
by a look whether it would be agreeable--I walked with him at his
alderman-after-dinner pace for near two miles I suppose. In those two
Miles he broached a thousand things--let me see if I can give you a
list--Nightingales--Poetry--on Poetical Sensation--Metaphysics--Different
genera and species of Dreams--Nightmare--a dream accompanied by a sense of
touch--single and double touch--a dream related--First and second
consciousness--the difference explained between will and Volition--so say
metaphysicians from a want of smoking the second consciousness--Monsters--
the Kraken--Mermaids--Southey believes in them--Southey's belief too much
diluted--a Ghost story--Good morning--I heard his voice as he came towards
me--I heard it as he moved away--I had heard it all the interval--if it
may be called so. He was civil enough to ask me to call on him at
Highgate. Good-night!


[Later, April 16 or 17.]

It looks so much like rain I shall not go to town to-day: but put it off
till to-morrow. Brown this morning is writing some Spenserian stanzas
against Mrs., Miss Brawne and me; so I shall amuse myself with him a
little: in the manner of Spenser--

  He is to weet a melancholy Carle
  Thin in the waist, with bushy head of hair
  As hath the seeded thistle when in parle
  It holds the Zephyr, ere it sendeth fair
  Its light balloons into the summer air
  Thereto his beard had not begun to bloom
  No brush had touch'd his chin or razor sheer
  No care had touch'd his cheek with mortal doom,
    But new he was and bright as scarf from Persian loom.

  Ne cared he for wine, or half-and-half
  Ne cared he for fish or flesh or fowl,
  And sauces held he worthless as the chaff
  He 'sdeign'd the swineherd at the wassail bowl
  Ne with lewd ribbalds sat he cheek by jowl
  Ne with sly Lemans in the scorner's chair
  But after water-brooks this Pilgrim's soul
  Panted, and all his food was woodland air
    Though he would ofttimes feast on gilliflowers rare--

  The slang of cities in no wise he knew
  _Tipping the wink_ to him was heathen Greek;
  He sipp'd no olden Tom or ruin blue
  Or nantz or cherry brandy drunk full meek
  By many a Damsel hoarse and rouge of cheek
  Nor did he know each aged Watchman's beat--
  Nor in obscured purlieus would he seek
  For curled Jewesses, with ankles neat
    Who as they walk abroad make tinkling with their feet.

This character would ensure him a situation in the establishment of
patient Griselda. The servant has come for the little Browns this
morning--they have been a toothache to me which I shall enjoy the riddance
of--Their little voices are like wasps' stings--Sometimes am I all wound
with Browns.[97] We had a claret feast some little while ago. There were
Dilke, Reynolds, Skinner, Mancur, John Brown, Martin, Brown and I. We all
got a little tipsy--but pleasantly so--I enjoy Claret to a degree.


[Later, April 18 or 19.]

I have been looking over the correspondence of the pretended Amena and
Wells this evening--I now see the whole cruel deception. I think Wells
must have had an accomplice in it--Amena's letters are in a Man's language
and in a Man's hand imitating a woman's. The instigations to this
diabolical scheme were vanity, and the love of intrigue. It was no
thoughtless hoax--but a cruel deception on a sanguine Temperament, with
every show of friendship. I do not think death too bad for the villain.
The world would look upon it in a different light should I expose
it--they would call it a frolic--so I must be wary--but I consider it my
duty to be prudently revengeful. I will hang over his head like a sword by
a hair. I will be opium to his vanity--if I cannot injure his
interests--He is a rat and he shall have ratsbane to his vanity--I will
harm him all I possibly can--I have no doubt I shall be able to do so--Let
us leave him to his misery alone, except when we can throw in a little
more. The fifth canto of Dante pleases me more and more--it is that one in
which he meets with Paolo and Francesca. I had passed many days in rather
a low state of mind, and in the midst of them I dreamt of being in that
region of Hell. The dream was one of the most delightful enjoyments I ever
had in my life. I floated about the whirling atmosphere, as it is
described, with a beautiful figure, to whose lips mine were joined as it
seemed for an age--and in the midst of all this cold and darkness I was
warm--even flowery tree-tops sprung up, and we rested on them, sometimes
with the lightness of a cloud, till the wind blew us away again. I tried a
sonnet upon it--there are fourteen lines, but nothing of what I felt in
it--O that I could dream it every night--

  As Hermes once took to his feathers light
  When lulled Argus, baffled, swoon'd and slept,
  So on a delphic reed my idle spright
  So play'd, so charm'd, so conquer'd, so bereft
  The Dragon world of all its hundred eyes;
  And seeing it asleep, so fled away;--
  Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
  Nor unto Tempe where Jove grieved that day;
  But to that second circle of sad Hell
  Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
  Of Rain and hailstones, lovers need not tell
  Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
  Pale were the lips I kiss'd, and fair the form
  I floated with about that melancholy storm.

I want very very much a little of your wit, my dear Sister--a Letter or
two of yours just to bandy back a pun or two across the Atlantic, and send
a quibble over the Floridas. Now you have by this time crumpled up your
large Bonnet, what do you wear--a cap? do you put your hair in papers of a
night? do you pay the Miss Birkbecks a morning visit--have you any tea? or
do you milk-and-water with them--What place of Worship do you go to--the
Quakers, the Moravians, the Unitarians, or the Methodists? Are there any
flowers in bloom you like--any beautiful heaths--any streets full of
Corset Makers? What sort of shoes have you to fit those pretty feet of
yours? Do you desire Compliments to one another? Do you ride on Horseback?
What do you have for breakfast, dinner, and supper? without mentioning
lunch and bever,[98] and wet and snack--and a bit to stay one's stomach?
Do you get any Spirits--now you might easily distill some whiskey--and
going into the woods, set up a whiskey shop for the Monkeys--Do you and
the Miss Birkbecks get groggy on anything--a little so-soish so as to be
obliged to be seen home with a Lantern? You may perhaps have a game at
puss in the corner--Ladies are warranted to play at this game though they
have not whiskers. Have you a fiddle in the Settlement--or at any rate a
Jew's harp--which will play in spite of one's teeth--When you have nothing
else to do for a whole day I tell you how you may employ it--First get up
and when you are dressed, as it would be pretty early with a high wind in
the woods, give George a cold Pig with my Compliments. Then you may
saunter into the nearest coffee-house, and after taking a dram and a look
at the Chronicle--go and frighten the wild boars upon the strength--you
may as well bring one home for breakfast, serving up the hoofs garnished
with bristles and a grunt or two to accompany the singing of the
kettle--then if George is not up give him a colder Pig always with my
Compliments--When you are both set down to breakfast I advise you to eat
your full share, but leave off immediately on feeling yourself inclined
to anything on the other side of the puffy--avoid that, for it does not
become young women--After you have eaten your breakfast keep your eye upon
dinner--it is the safest way--You should keep a Hawk's eye over your
dinner and keep hovering over it till due time then pounce taking care not
to break any plates. While you are hovering with your dinner in prospect
you may do a thousand things--put a hedgehog into George's hat--pour a
little water into his rifle--soak his boots in a pail of water--cut his
jacket round into shreds like a Roman kilt or the back of my grandmother's
stays--Sew _off_ his buttons--


[Later, April 21 or 22.]

Yesterday I could not write a line I was so fatigued, for the day before I
went to town in the morning, called on your Mother, and returned in time
for a few friends we had to dinner. These were Taylor, Woodhouse,
Reynolds: we began cards at about 9 o'clock, and the night coming on, and
continuing dark and rainy, they could not think of returning to town--So
we played at Cards till very daylight--and yesterday I was not worth a
sixpence. Your Mother was very well but anxious for a Letter. We had half
an hour's talk and no more, for I was obliged to be home. Mrs. and Miss
Millar were well, and so was Miss Waldegrave. I have asked your Brothers
here for next Sunday. When Reynolds was here on Monday he asked me to give
Hunt a hint to take notice of his Peter Bell in the Examiner--the best
thing I can do is to write a little notice of it myself, which I will do
here, and copy out if it should suit my Purpose--

_Peter Bell._ There have been lately advertised two Books both Peter Bell
by name; what stuff the one was made of might be seen by the motto--"I am
the real Simon Pure." This false Florimel has hurried from the press and
obtruded herself into public notice, while for aught we know the real one
may be still wandering about the woods and mountains. Let us hope she may
soon appear and make good her right to the magic girdle. The
Pamphleteering Archimage, we can perceive, has rather a splenetic love
than a downright hatred to real Florimels--if indeed they had been so
christened--or had even a pretention to play at bob cherry with Barbara
Lewthwaite: but he has a fixed aversion to those three rhyming Graces
Alice Fell, Susan Gale and Betty Foy; and now at length especially to
Peter Bell--fit Apollo. It may be seen from one or two Passages in this
little skit, that the writer of it has felt the finer parts of Mr.
Wordsworth, and perhaps expatiated with his more remote and sublimer muse.
This as far as it relates to Peter Bell is unlucky. The more he may love
the sad embroidery of the Excursion, the more he will hate the coarse
Samplers of Betty Foy and Alice Fell; and as they come from the same hand,
the better will he be able to imitate that which can be imitated, to wit
Peter Bell--as far as can be imagined from the obstinate Name. We repeat,
it is very unlucky--this real Simon Pure is in parts the very Man--there
is a pernicious likeness in the scenery, a 'pestilent humour' in the
rhymes, and an inveterate cadence in some of the Stanzas, that must be
lamented. If we are one part amused with this we are three parts sorry
that an appreciator of Wordsworth should show so much temper at this
really provoking name of Peter Bell--![99]

This will do well enough--I have copied it and enclosed it to Hunt. You
will call it a little politic--seeing I keep clear of all parties. I say
something for and against both parties--and suit it to the tune of the
Examiner--I meant to say I do not unsuit it--and I believe I think what I
say, nay I am sure I do--I and my conscience are in luck to-day--which is
an excellent thing. The other night I went to the Play with Rice,
Reynolds, and Martin--we saw a new dull and half-damn'd opera call'd the
'Heart of Midlothian,' that was on Saturday--I stopt at Taylor's on
Sunday with Woodhouse--and passed a quiet sort of pleasant day. I have
been very much pleased with the Panorama of the Ship at the North
Pole--with the icebergs, the Mountains, the Bears, the Wolves--the seals,
the Penguins--and a large whale floating back above water--it is
impossible to describe the place--


Wednesday Evening [April 28].

LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI

  O what can ail thee Knight at arms
    Alone and palely loitering?
  The sedge has withered from the Lake
    And no birds sing!

  O what can ail thee Knight at arms
    So haggard, and so woe-begone?
  The squirrel's granary is full
    And the harvest's done.

  I see a lily on thy brow,
    With anguish moist and fever dew,
  And on thy cheek a fading rose
    Fast Withereth too--

  I met a Lady in the Meads
    Full beautiful, a faery's child--
  Her hair was long, her foot was light
    And her eyes were wild--

  I made a Garland for her head,
    And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone
  She look'd at me as she did love
    And made sweet moan--

  I set her on my pacing steed
    And nothing else saw all day long,
  For sidelong would she bend and sing
    A faery's song--

  She found me roots of relish sweet
    And honey wild and manna dew
  And sure in language strange she said
    I love thee true--

  She took me to her elfin grot
    And there she wept and sigh'd full sore,
  And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
    With kisses four--

  And there she lulled me asleep,
    And there I dream'd Ah Woe betide!
  The latest dream I ever dreamt
    On the cold hill side.

  I saw pale Kings and Princes too
    Pale warriors death-pale were they all
  They cried--La belle dame sans merci
    Thee hath in thrall.

  I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
    With horrid warning gaped wide,
  And I awoke, and found me here
    On the cold hill's side.

  And this is why I sojourn here
    Alone and palely loitering;
  Though the sedge is withered from the Lake
    And no birds sing.[100]...

Why four kisses--you will say--why four, because I wish to restrain the
headlong impetuosity of my Muse--she would have fain said "score" without
hurting the rhyme--but we must temper the Imagination, as the Critics say,
with Judgment. I was obliged to choose an even number, that both eyes
might have fair play, and to speak truly I think two a piece quite
sufficient. Suppose I had said seven there would have been three and a
half a piece--a very awkward affair, and well got out of on my side--


[Later.]

CHORUS OF FAIRIES. 4--FIRE, AIR, EARTH, AND WATER--SALAMANDER, ZEPHYR,
DUSKETHA, BREAMA.

  _Sal._   Happy happy glowing fire!
  _Zep._   Fragrant air, delicious light!
  _Dusk._  Let me to my glooms retire.
  _Bream._ I to greenweed rivers bright.

_Salam._

  Happy, happy glowing fire!
  Dazzling bowers of soft retire,
  Ever let my nourish'd wing,
  Like a bat's still wandering,
  Faintly fan your fiery spaces
  Spirit sole in deadly places,
  In unhaunted roar and blaze
  Open eyes that never daze
  Let me see the myriad shapes
  Of Men and Beasts and Fish and apes,
  Portray'd in many a fiery den,
  And wrought by spumy bitumen
  On the deep intenser roof,
  Arched every way aloof.
  Let me breathe upon my skies,
  And anger their live tapestries;
  Free from cold and every care,
  Of chilly rain and shivering air.

_Zephyr._

  Spright of fire--away away!
  Or your very roundelay
  Will sear my plumage newly budded
  From its quilled sheath and studded
  With the self-same dews that fell
  On the May-grown Asphodel.
  Spright of fire away away!

_Breama._

  Spright of fire away away!
  Zephyr blue-eyed faery turn,
  And see my cool sedge-shaded urn,
  Where it rests its mossy brim
  Mid water-mint and cresses dim;
  And the flowers, in sweet troubles,
  Lift their eyes above the bubbles,
  Like our Queen when she would please
  To sleep, and Oberon will tease--
  Love me blue-eyed Faery true
  Soothly I am sick for you.

_Zephyr._

  Gentle Breama! by the first
  Violet young nature nurst,
  I will bathe myself with thee,
  So you sometime follow me
  To my home far far in west,
  Far beyond the search and quest
  Of the golden-browed sun.
  Come with me, o'er tops of trees,
  To my fragrant Palaces,
  Where they ever-floating are
  Beneath the cherish of a star
  Call'd Vesper--who with silver veil
  Ever Hides his brilliance pale,
  Ever gently drows'd doth keep
  Twilight of the Fays to sleep.
  Fear not that your watery hair
  Will thirst in drouthy ringlets there--
  Clouds of stored summer rains
  Thou shalt taste before the stains
  Of the mountain soil they take,
  And too unlucent for thee make.
  I love thee, Crystal faery true
  Sooth I am as sick for you--

_Salam._

  Out ye agueish Faeries out!
  Chilly Lovers, what a rout
  Keep ye with your frozen breath
  Colder than the mortal death--
  Adder-eyed Dusketha speak,
  Shall we leave them and go seek
  In the Earth's wide Entrails old
  Couches warm as their's is cold?
  O for a fiery gloom and thee,
  Dusketha, so enchantingly
  Freckle-wing'd and lizard-sided!

_Dusketha._

  By thee Spright will I be guided
  I care not for cold or heat
  Frost and Flame or sparks or sleet
  To my essence are the same--
  But I honour more the flame--
  Spright of fire I follow thee
  Wheresoever it may be;
  To the torrid spouts and fountains,
  Underneath earth-quaked mountains
  Or at thy supreme desire,
  Touch the very pulse of fire
  With my bare unlidded eyes.

_Salam._

  Sweet Dusketha! Paradise!
  Off ye icy Spirits fly!
  Frosty creatures of the Sky!

_Dusketha._

  Breathe upon them fiery Spright!

_Zephyr, Breama (to each other)._

  Away Away to our delight!

_Salam._

  Go feed on icicles while we
  Bedded in tongued-flames will be.

_Dusketha._

  Lead me to those fev'rous glooms,
  Spright of fire--

_Breama._

                        Me to the blooms
  Blue-eyed Zephyr of those flowers
  Far in the west where the May cloud lours;
  And the beams of still Vesper, where winds are all whist
  Are shed through the rain and the milder mist,
  And twilight your floating bowers--

I have been reading lately two very different books, Robertson's America
and Voltaire's Siècle de Louis XIV. It is like walking arm and arm between
Pizarro and the great-little Monarch. In how lamentable a case do we see
the great body of the people in both instances; in the first, where Men
might seem to inherit quiet of Mind from unsophisticated senses; from
uncontamination of civilisation, and especially from their being, as it
were, estranged from the mutual helps of Society and its mutual
injuries--and thereby more immediately under the Protection of
Providence--even there they had mortal pains to bear as bad, or even worse
than Bailiffs, Debts, and Poverties of civilised Life. The whole appears
to resolve into this--that Man is originally a poor forked creature
subject to the same mischances as the beasts of the forest, destined to
hardships and disquietude of some kind or other. If he improves by
degrees his bodily accommodations and comforts--at each stage, at each
ascent there are waiting for him a fresh set of annoyances--he is mortal,
and there is still a heaven with its Stars above his head. The most
interesting question that can come before us is, How far by the
persevering endeavours of a seldom appearing Socrates Mankind may be made
happy--I can imagine such happiness carried to an extreme, but what must
it end in?--Death--and who could in such a case bear with death? The whole
troubles of life, which are now frittered away in a series of years, would
then be accumulated for the last days of a being who instead of hailing
its approach would leave this world as Eve left Paradise. But in truth I
do not at all believe in this sort of perfectibility--the nature of the
world will not admit of it--the inhabitants of the world will correspond
to itself. Let the fish Philosophise the ice away from the Rivers in
winter time, and they shall be at continual play in the tepid delight of
summer. Look at the Poles and at the Sands of Africa, whirlpools and
volcanoes--Let men exterminate them and I will say that they may arrive at
earthly Happiness. The point at which Man may arrive is as far as the
parallel state in inanimate nature, and no further. For instance suppose a
rose to have sensation, it blooms on a beautiful morning, it enjoys
itself, but then comes a cold wind, a hot sun--it cannot escape it, it
cannot destroy its annoyances--they are as native to the world as itself:
no more can man be happy in spite, the worldly elements will prey upon his
nature. The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and
superstitious is "a vale of tears," from which we are to be redeemed by a
certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven--What a little
circumscribed straightened notion! Call the world if you please "The vale
of Soul-making." Then you will find out the use of the world (I am
speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be
immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a
thought which has struck me concerning it) I say '_Soul-making_'--Soul as
distinguished from an Intelligence. There may be intelligences or sparks
of the divinity in millions--but they are not Souls till they acquire
identities, till each one is personally itself. Intelligences are atoms of
perception--they know and they see and they are pure, in short they are
God--how then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are
God to have identity given them--so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to
each one's individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like
this? This point I sincerely wish to consider because I think it a grander
system of salvation than the Christian religion--or rather it is a system
of Spirit-creation--This is effected by three grand materials acting the
one upon the other for a series of years--These three Materials are the
_Intelligence_--the _human heart_ (as distinguished from intelligence or
Mind), and the _World_ or _Elemental space_ suited for the proper action
of _Mind and Heart_ on each other for the purpose of forming the _Soul_ or
_Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity_. I can scarcely
express what I but dimly perceive--and yet I think I perceive it--that you
may judge the more clearly I will put it in the most homely form possible.
I will call the _world_ a School instituted for the purpose of teaching
little children to read--I will call the _human heart_ the _horn Book_
used in that School--and I will call the _Child able to read, the Soul_
made from that _School_ and its _horn book_. Do you not see how necessary
a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a
soul? A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse
ways. Not merely is the Heart a Hornbook, It is the Mind's Bible, it is
the Mind's experience, it is the text from which the Mind or Intelligence
sucks its identity. As various as the Lives of Men are--so various become
their souls, and thus does God make individual beings, Souls, Identical
Souls of the sparks of his own essence. This appears to me a faint sketch
of a system of Salvation which does not offend our reason and humanity--I
am convinced that many difficulties which Christians labour under would
vanish before it--there is one which even now strikes me--the salvation of
Children. In them the spark or intelligence returns to God without any
identity--it having had no time to learn of and be altered by the
heart--or seat of the human Passions. It is pretty generally suspected
that the Christian scheme has been copied from the ancient Persian and
Greek Philosophers. Why may they not have made this simple thing even more
simple for common apprehension by introducing Mediators and Personages, in
the same manner as in the heathen mythology abstractions are personified?
Seriously I think it probable that this system of Soul-making may have
been the Parent of all the more palpable and personal schemes of
Redemption among the Zoroastrians the Christians and the Hindoos. For as
one part of the human species must have their carved Jupiter; so another
part must have the palpable and named Mediator and Saviour, their Christ,
their Oromanes, and their Vishnu. If what I have said should not be plain
enough, as I fear it may not be, I will put you in the place where I began
in this series of thoughts--I mean I began by seeing how man was formed by
circumstances--and what are circumstances but touchstones of his heart?
and what are touchstones but provings of his heart, but fortifiers or
alterers of his nature? and what is his altered nature but his Soul?--and
what was his Soul before it came into the world and had these provings and
alterations and perfectionings?--An intelligence without Identity--and how
is this Identity to be made? Through the medium of the Heart? and how is
the heart to become this Medium but in a world of Circumstances?

There now I think what with Poetry and Theology, you may thank your stars
that my pen is not very long-winded. Yesterday I received two Letters from
your Mother and Henry, which I shall send by young Birkbeck with this.


Friday, April 30.

Brown has been here rummaging up some of my old sins--that is to say
sonnets. I do not think you remember them, so I will copy them out, as
well as two or three lately written. I have just written one on
Fame--which Brown is transcribing and he has his book and mine. I must
employ myself perhaps in a sonnet on the same subject--

ON FAME

_You cannot eat your cake and have it too._--Proverb.

  How fever'd is that Man who cannot look
    Upon his mortal days with temperate blood
  Who vexes all the leaves of his Life's book
    And robs his fair name of its maidenhood.
  It is as if the rose should pluck herself
    Or the ripe plum finger its misty bloom,
  As if a clear Lake meddling with itself
    Should cloud its clearness with a muddy gloom.
  But the rose leaves herself upon the Briar
  For winds to kiss and grateful Bees to feed,
  And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire,
  The undisturbed Lake has crystal space--
  Why then should man, teasing the world for grace
  Spoil his salvation by a fierce miscreed?

ANOTHER ON FAME

  Fame like a wayward girl will still be coy
    To those who woo her with too slavish knees
  But makes surrender to some thoughtless boy
    And dotes the more upon a heart at ease--
  She is a Gipsy will not speak to those
    Who have not learnt to be content without her,
  A Jilt whose ear was never whisper'd close,
    Who think they scandal her who talk about her--
  A very Gipsy is she Nilus born,
  Sister-in-law to jealous Potiphar--
  Ye lovesick Bards, repay her scorn for scorn,
  Ye lovelorn Artists, madmen that ye are,
  Make your best bow to her and bid adieu,
  Then if she likes it she will follow you.

TO SLEEP

  O soft embalmer of the still midnight
    Shutting with careful fingers and benign
  Our gloom-pleased eyes embowered from the light
    Enshaded in forgetfulness divine--
  O soothest sleep, if so it please thee close
    In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
  Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
    Around my bed its dewy Charities.
  Then save me or the passed day will shine
  Upon my pillow breeding many woes.
  Save me from curious conscience that still lords
  Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a Mole--
  Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
  And seal the hushed Casket of my soul.

The following Poem--the last I have written--is the first and the only one
with which I have taken even moderate pains. I have for the most part
dash'd off my lines in a hurry. This I have done leisurely--I think it
reads the more richly for it, and will I hope encourage me to write other
things in even a more peaceable and healthy spirit. You must recollect
that Psyche was not embodied as a goddess before the time of Apuleius the
Platonist who lived after the Augustan age, and consequently the Goddess
was never worshipped or sacrificed to with any of the ancient fervour--and
perhaps never thought of in the old religion--I am more orthodox than to
let a heathen Goddess be so neglected--

ODE TO PSYCHE

  O Goddess hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
    By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
  And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
    Even into thine own soft-conched ear!
  Surely I dreamt to-day; or did I see
    The winged Psyche, with awaked eyes?
  I wandered in a forest thoughtlessly,
    And on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
  Saw two fair Creatures couched side by side
    In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring fan
  Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
    A Brooklet scarce espied
  'Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
    Blue, freckle pink, and budded Syrian
  They lay, calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
    Their arms embraced and their pinions too;
  Their lips touch'd not, but had not bid adieu,
  As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
  And ready still past kisses to outnumber
  At tender dawn of aurorian love.
    The winged boy I knew:
  But who wast thou O happy happy dove?
    His Psyche true?
  O latest born, and loveliest vision far
    Of all Olympus' faded Hierarchy!
  Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-region'd star,
    Or Vesper amorous glow-worm of the sky;
  Fairer than these though Temple thou hadst none,
    Nor Altar heap'd with flowers;
  Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
    Upon the midnight hours;
  No voice, no lute, no pipe no incense sweet
    From chain-swung Censer teeming--
  No shrine, no grove, no Oracle, no heat
    Of pale mouth'd Prophet dreaming!

  O Bloomiest! though too late for antique vows;
    Too, too late for the fond believing Lyre,
  When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
    Holy the Air, the water and the fire;
  Yet even in these days so far retir'd
    From happy Pieties, thy lucent fans,
  Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
    I see, and sing by my own eyes inspired.
  O let me be thy Choir and make a moan
    Upon the midnight hours;
  Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
    From swinged Censer teeming;
  Thy Shrine, thy Grove, thy Oracle, thy heat
    Of pale-mouth'd Prophet dreaming!
  Yes, I will be thy Priest and build a fane
    In some untrodden region of my Mind,
  Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain
    Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind.
  Far, far around shall those dark cluster'd trees
    Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
  And there by Zephyrs streams and birds and bees
    The moss-lain Dryads shall be lulled to sleep.
  And in the midst of this wide-quietness
    A rosy Sanctuary will I dress
  With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain;
    With buds and bells and stars without a name;
  With all the gardener-fancy e'er could feign,
    Who breeding flowers will never breed the same--
  And there shall be for thee all soft delight
    That shadowy thought can win;
  A bright torch and a casement ope at night
    To let the warm Love in.

  Here endethe ye Ode to Psyche.

Incipit altera Sonneta

I have been endeavouring to discover a better Sonnet Stanza than we have.
The legitimate does not suit the language over well from the pouncing
rhymes--the other kind appears too elegiac--and the couplet at the end of
it has seldom a pleasing effect--I do not pretend to have succeeded--it
will explain itself.

  If by dull rhymes our English must be chained,
  And, like Andromeda, the sonnet sweet
  Fetter'd, in spite of pained Loveliness;
  Let us find out, if we must be constrain'd,
  Sandals more interwoven and complete
  To fit the naked foot of poesy;
  Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress
  Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd
  By ear industrious, and attention meet;
  Misers of sound and syllable, no less
  Than Midas of his coinage, let us be
  Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown,
  So, if we may not let the muse be free,
  She will be bound with Garlands of her own.


[May 3.]

This is the third of May, and everything is in delightful forwardness; the
violets are not withered before the peeping of the first rose. You must
let me know everything--how parcels go and come, what papers you have,
and what newspapers you want, and other things. God bless you, my dear
brother and sister.

Your ever affectionate Brother

JOHN KEATS.



XCIII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place. Saturday Morn.

[_Postmark_, February 27, 1819.]

My dear Fanny--I intended to have not failed to do as you requested, and
write you as you say once a fortnight. On looking to your letter I find
there is no date; and not knowing how long it is since I received it I do
not precisely know how great a sinner I am. I am getting quite well, and
Mrs. Dilke is getting on pretty well. You must pay no attention to Mrs.
Abbey's unfeeling and ignorant gabble. You can't stop an old woman's
crying more than you can a Child's. The old woman is the greatest nuisance
because she is too old for the rod. Many people live opposite a
Blacksmith's till they cannot hear the hammer. I have been in Town for two
or three days and came back last night. I have been a little concerned at
not hearing from George--I continue in daily expectation. Keep on reading
and play as much on the music and the grassplot as you can. I should like
to take possession of those Grassplots for a Month or so; and send Mrs. A.
to Town to count coffee berries instead of currant Bunches, for I want you
to teach me a few common dancing steps--and I would buy a Watch box to
practise them in by myself. I think I had better always pay the postage of
these Letters. I shall send you another book the first time I am in Town
early enough to book it with one of the morning Walthamstow Coaches. You
did not say a word about your Chillblains. Write me directly and let me
know about them--Your Letter shall be answered like an echo.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



XCIV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, March 13 [1819].

My dear Fanny--I have been employed lately in writing to George--I do not
send him very short letters, but keep on day after day. There were some
young Men I think I told you of who were going to the Settlement: they
have changed their minds, and I am disappointed in my expectation of
sending Letters by them.--I went lately to the only dance I have been to
these twelve months or shall go to for twelve months again--it was to our
Brother in law's cousin's--She gave a dance for her Birthday and I went
for the sake of Mrs. Wylie. I am waiting every day to hear from George--I
trust there is no harm in the silence: other people are in the same
expectation as we are. On looking at your seal I cannot tell whether it is
done or not with a Tassie--it seems to me to be paste. As I went through
Leicester Square lately I was going to call and buy you some, but not
knowing but you might have some I would not run the chance of buying
duplicates. Tell me if you have any or if you would like any--and whether
you would rather have motto ones like that with which I seal this letter;
or heads of great Men such as Shakspeare, Milton, etc.--or fancy pieces of
Art; such as Fame, Adonis, etc.--those gentry you read of at the end of
the English Dictionary. Tell me also if you want any particular Book; or
Pencils, or drawing paper--anything but live stock. Though I will not now
be very severe on it, remembering how fond I used to be of Goldfinches,
Tomtits, Minnows, Mice, Ticklebacks, Dace, Cock salmons and all the whole
tribe of the Bushes and the Brooks: but verily they are better in the
Trees and the water--though I must confess even now a partiality for a
handsome Globe of gold-fish--then I would have it hold 10 pails of water
and be fed continually fresh through a cool pipe with another pipe to let
through the floor--well ventilated they would preserve all their beautiful
silver and Crimson. Then I would put it before a handsome painted window
and shade it all round with myrtles and Japonicas. I should like the
window to open onto the Lake of Geneva--and there I'd sit and read all day
like the picture of somebody reading. The weather now and then begins to
feel like spring; and therefore I have begun my walks on the heath again.
Mrs. Dilke is getting better than she has been as she has at length taken
a Physician's advice. She ever and anon asks after you and always bids me
remember her in my Letters to you. She is going to leave Hampstead for the
sake of educating their son Charles at the Westminster School. We (Mr.
Brown and I) shall leave in the beginning of May; I do not know what I
shall do or where be all the next summer. Mrs. Reynolds has had a sick
house; but they are all well now. You see what news I can send you I
do--we all live one day like the other as well as you do--the only
difference is being sick and well--with the variations of single and
double knocks, and the story of a dreadful fire in the Newspapers. I
mentioned Mr. Brown's name--yet I do not think I ever said a word about
him to you. He is a friend of mine of two years' standing, with whom I
walked through Scotland: who has been very kind to me in many things when
I most wanted his assistance and with whom I keep house till the first of
May--you will know him some day. The name of the young Man who came with
me is William Haslam.

Ever your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XCV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[_Postmark_, Hampstead, March 24, 1819.]

My dear Fanny--It is impossible for me to call on you to-day--for I have
particular Business at the other end of the Town this morning, and must be
back to Hampstead with all speed to keep a long agreed on appointment.
To-morrow I shall see you.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



XCVI.--TO JOSEPH SEVERN.


Wentworth Place, Monday Aft. [March 29? 1819].

My dear Severn--Your note gave me some pain, not on my own account, but on
yours. Of course I should never suffer any petty vanity of mine to hinder
you in any wise; and therefore I should say "put the miniature in the
exhibition" if only myself was to be hurt. But, will it not hurt you? What
good can it do to any future picture. Even a large picture is lost in that
canting place--what a drop of water in the ocean is a Miniature. Those who
might chance to see it for the most part if they had ever heard of either
of us and know what we were and of what years would laugh at the puff of
the one and the vanity of the other. I am however in these matters a very
bad judge--and would advise you to act in a way that appears to yourself
the best for your interest. As your "Hermia and Helena" is finished send
that without the prologue of a Miniature. I shall see you soon, if you do
not pay me a visit sooner--there's a Bull for you.

Yours ever sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



XCVII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place [April 13, 1819].

My dear Fanny--I have been expecting a Letter from you about what the
Parson said to your answers. I have thought also of writing to you often,
and I am sorry to confess that my neglect of it has been but a small
instance of my idleness of late--which has been growing upon me, so that
it will require a great shake to get rid of it. I have written nothing and
almost read nothing--but I must turn over a new leaf. One most
discouraging thing hinders me--we have no news yet from George--so that I
cannot with any confidence continue the Letter I have been preparing for
him. Many are in the same state with us and many have heard from the
Settlement. They must be well however: and we must consider this silence
as good news. I ordered some bulbous roots for you at the Gardener's, and
they sent me some, but they were all in bud--and could not be sent--so I
put them in our Garden. There are some beautiful heaths now in bloom in
Pots--either heaths or some seasonable plants I will send you
instead--perhaps some that are not yet in bloom that you may see them come
out. To-morrow night I am going to a rout, a thing I am not at all in love
with. Mr. Dilke and his Family have left Hampstead--I shall dine with them
to-day in Westminster where I think I told you they were going to reside
for the sake of sending their son Charles to the Westminster School. I
think I mentioned the Death of Mr. Haslam's Father. Yesterday week the two
Mr. Wylies dined with me. I hope you have good store of double violets--I
think they are the Princesses of flowers, and in a shower of rain, almost
as fine as barley sugar drops are to a schoolboy's tongue. I suppose this
fine weather the lambs' tails give a frisk or two extraordinary--when a
boy would cry huzza and a Girl O my! a little Lamb frisks its tail. I have
not been lately through Leicester Square--the first time I do I will
remember your Seals. I have thought it best to live in Town this Summer,
chiefly for the sake of books, which cannot be had with any comfort in the
Country--besides my Scotch journey gave me a dose of the Picturesque with
which I ought to be contented for some time. Westminster is the place I
have pitched upon--the City or any place very confined would soon turn me
pale and thin--which is to be avoided. You must make up your mind to get
stout this summer--indeed I have an idea we shall both be corpulent old
folks with triple chins and stumpy thumbs.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



XCVIII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Tuesday [April 13, 1819].

My dear Haydon--When I offered you assistance I thought I had it in my
hand; I thought I had nothing to do but to do. The difficulties I met with
arose from the alertness and suspicion of Abbey: and especially from the
affairs being still in a Lawyer's hand--who has been draining our Property
for the last six years of every charge he could make. I cannot do two
things at once, and thus this affair has stopped my pursuits in every
way--from the first prospect I had of difficulty. I assure you I have
harassed myself ten times more than if I alone had been concerned in so
much gain or loss. I have also ever told you the exact particulars as well
as and as literally as any hopes or fear could translate them: for it was
only by parcels that I found all those petty obstacles which for my own
sake should not exist a moment--and yet why not--for from my own
imprudence and neglect all my accounts are entirely in my Guardian's
Power. This has taught me a Lesson. Hereafter I will be more correct. I
find myself possessed of much less than I thought for and now if I had all
on the table all I could do would be to take from it a moderate two years'
subsistence and lend you the rest; but I cannot say how soon I could
become possessed of it. This would be no sacrifice nor any matter worth
thinking of--much less than parting as I have more than once done with
little sums which might have gradually formed a library to my taste. These
sums amount together to nearly £200, which I have but a chance of ever
being repaid or paid at a very distant period. I am humble enough to put
this in writing from the sense I have of your struggling situation and the
great desire that you should do me the justice to credit me the
unostentatious and willing state of my nerves on all such occasions. It
has not been my fault. I am doubly hurt at the slightly reproachful tone
of your note and at the occasion of it,--for it must be some other
disappointment; you seem'd so sure of some important help when I last saw
you--now you have maimed me again; I was whole, I had began reading
again--when your note came I was engaged in a Book. I dread as much as a
Plague the idle fever of two months more without any fruit. I will walk
over the first fine day: then see what aspect your affairs have taken, and
if they should continue gloomy walk into the City to Abbey and get his
consent for I am persuaded that to me alone he will not concede a jot.



XCIX.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Saturday.

[April 17, 1819?]

My dear Fanny--If it were but six o'Clock in the morning I would set off
to see you to-day: if I should do so now I could not stop long enough for
a how d'ye do--it is so long a walk through Hornsey and Tottenham--and as
for Stage Coaching it besides that it is very expensive it is like going
into the Boxes by way of the pit. I cannot go out on Sunday--but if on
Monday it should promise as fair as to-day I will put on a pair of loose
easy palatable boots and me rendre chez vous. I continue increasing my
letter to George to send it by one of Birkbeck's sons who is going out
soon--so if you will let me have a few more lines, they will be in time. I
am glad you got on so well with Mons{r.} le Curé. Is he a nice
clergyman?--a great deal depends upon a cock'd hat and powder--not
gunpowder, lord love us, but lady-meal, violet-smooth, dainty-scented,
lilly-white, feather-soft, wigsby-dressing, coat-collar-spoiling,
whisker-reaching, pig-tail-loving, swans-down-puffing, parson-sweetening
powder. I shall call in passing at the Tottenham nursery and see if I can
find some seasonable plants for you. That is the nearest place--or by our
la'kin or lady kin, that is by the virgin Mary's kindred, is there not a
twig-manufacturer in Walthamstow? Mr. and Mrs. Dilke are coming to dine
with us to-day. They will enjoy the country after Westminster. O there is
nothing like fine weather, and health, and Books, and a fine country, and
a contented Mind, and diligent habit of reading and thinking, and an
amulet against the ennui--and, please heaven, a little claret wine cool
out of a cellar a mile deep--with a few or a good many ratafia cakes--a
rocky basin to bathe in, a strawberry bed to say your prayers to Flora in,
a pad nag to go you ten miles or so; two or three sensible people to chat
with; two or three spiteful folks to spar with; two or three odd fishes to
laugh at and two or three numskulls to argue with--instead of using dumb
bells on a rainy day--

  Two or three Posies
  With two or three simples--
  Two or three Noses
  With two or three pimples--
  Two or three wise men
  And two or three ninny's--
  Two or three purses
  And two or three guineas--
  Two or three raps
  At two or three doors--
  Two or three naps
  Of two or three hours--
  Two or three Cats
  And two or three mice--
  Two or three sprats
  At a very great price--
  Two or three sandies
  And two or three tabbies--
  Two or three dandies
  And two Mrs.----          mum
  Two or three Smiles
  And two or three frowns--
  Two or three Miles
  To two or three towns--
  Two or three pegs
  For two or three bonnets--
  Two or three dove eggs
  To hatch into sonnets--
  Good-bye I've an appointment--can't
    stop pon word--good-bye--now
      don't get up--open the door my-
        self--good-bye--see ye Monday.

J. K.



C.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead, May 13, 1819.]

My dear Fanny--I have a Letter from George at last--and it contains,
considering all things, good news--I have been with it to-day to Mrs.
Wylie's, with whom I have left it. I shall have it again as soon as
possible and then I will walk over and read it to you. They are quite well
and settled tolerably in comfort after a great deal of fatigue and harass.
They had the good chance to meet at Louisville with a Schoolfellow of
ours. You may expect me within three days. I am writing to-night several
notes concerning this to many of my friends. Good-night! God bless you.

JOHN KEATS.



CI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead, May 26, 1819.]

My dear Fanny--I have been looking for a fine day to pass at Walthamstow:
there has not been one Morning (except Sunday and then I was obliged to
stay at home) that I could depend upon. I have I am sorry to say had an
accident with the Letter--I sent it to Haslam and he returned it torn into
a thousand pieces. So I shall be obliged to tell you all I can remember
from Memory. You would have heard from me before this but that I was in
continual expectation of a fine Morning--I want also to speak to you
concerning myself. Mind I do not purpose to quit England, as George has
done; but I am afraid I shall be forced to take a voyage or two. However
we will not think of that for some Months. Should it be a fine morning
to-morrow you will see me.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place [June 9, 1819].

My dear Fanny--I shall be with you next Monday at the farthest. I could
not keep my promise of seeing you again in a week because I am in so
unsettled a state of mind about what I am to do--I have given up the Idea
of the Indiaman; I cannot resolve to give up my favorite studies: so I
purpose to retire into the Country and set my Mind at work once more. A
Friend of Mine who has an ill state of health called on me yesterday and
proposed to spend a little time with him at the back of the Isle of Wight
where he said we might live very cheaply. I agreed to his proposal. I have
taken a great dislike to Town--I never go there--some one is always
calling on me and as we have spare beds they often stop a couple of days.
I have written lately to some acquaintances in Devonshire concerning a
cheap Lodging and they have been very kind in letting me know all I
wanted. They have described a pleasant place which I think I shall
eventually retire to. How came you on with my young Master Yorkshire Man?
Did not Mrs. A. sport her Carriage and one? They really surprised me with
super civility--how did Mrs. A. manage it? How is the old tadpole gardener
and little Master next door? it is to be hop'd they will both die some of
these days. Not having been to Town I have not heard whether Mr. A.
purposes to retire from business. Do let me know if you have heard
anything more about it. If he should not I shall be very disappointed. If
any one deserves to be put to his shifts it is that Hodgkinson--as for the
other he would live a long time upon his fat and be none the worse for a
good long lent. How came miledi to give one Lisbon wine--had she drained
the Gooseberry? Truly I cannot delay making another visit--asked to take
Lunch, whether I will have ale, wine, take sugar,--objection to
green--like cream--thin bread and butter--another cup--agreeable--enough
sugar--little more cream--too weak--12 shillin etc. etc. etc.--Lord I must
come again. We are just going to Dinner I must must[101] with this to the
Post----

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CIII.--TO JAMES ELMES.


Wentworth Place, Hampstead [June 12, 1819].

Sir--I did not see your Note till this Saturday evening, or I should have
answered it sooner--However as it happens I have but just received the
Book which contains the only copy of the verses in question.[102] I have
asked for it repeatedly ever since I promised Mr. Haydon and could not
help the delay; which I regret. The verses can be struck out in no time,
and will I hope be quite in time. If you think it at all necessary a proof
may be forwarded; but as I shall transcribe it fairly perhaps there may be
no need.

I am, Sir, your obed{t} Serv{t}

JOHN KEATS.



CIV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, [June 14, 1819].

My dear Fanny--I cannot be with you to-day for two reasons--1{ly} I have
my sore-throat coming again to prevent my walking. 2{ly} I do not happen
just at present to be flush of silver so that I might ride. To-morrow I am
engaged--but the day after you shall see me. Mr. Brown is waiting for me
as we are going to Town together, so good-bye.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place [June 16, 1819].

My dear Fanny--Still I cannot afford to spend money by Coachhire and still
my throat is not well enough to warrant my walking. I went yesterday to
ask Mr. Abbey for some money; but I could not on account of a Letter he
showed me from my Aunt's solicitor. You do not understand the business. I
trust it will not in the end be detrimental to you. I am going to try the
Press once more, and to that end shall retire to live cheaply in the
country and compose myself and verses as well as I can. I have very good
friends ready to help me--and I am the more bound to be careful of the
money they lend me. It will all be well in the course of a year I hope. I
am confident of it, so do not let it trouble you at all. Mr. Abbey showed
me a Letter he had received from George containing the news of the birth
of a Niece for us--and all doing well--he said he would take it to you--so
I suppose to-day you will see it. I was preparing to enquire for a
situation with an apothecary, but Mr. Brown persuades me to try the press
once more; so I will with all my industry and ability. Mr. Rice a friend
of mine in ill health has proposed retiring to the back of the Isle of
Wight--which I hope will be cheap in the summer--I am sure it will in the
winter. Thence you shall frequently hear from me and in the Letters I will
copy those lines I may write which will be most pleasing to you in the
confidence you will show them to no one. I have not run quite aground yet
I hope, having written this morning to several people to whom I have lent
money requesting repayment. I shall henceforth shake off my indolent fits,
and among other reformation be more diligent in writing to you, and mind
you always answer me. I shall be obliged to go out of town on Saturday and
shall have no money till to-morrow, so I am very sorry to think I shall
not be able to come to Walthamstow. The Head Mr. Severn did of me is now
too dear, but here inclosed is a very capital Profile done by Mr. Brown. I
will write again on Monday or Tuesday--Mr. and Mrs. Dilke are well.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CVI.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Wentworth Place.

Thursday Morning [June 17, 1819].

My dear Haydon--I know you will not be prepared for this, because your
Pocket must needs be very low having been at ebb tide so long: but what
can I do? mine is lower. I was the day before yesterday much in want of
Money: but some news I had yesterday has driven me into necessity. I went
to Abbey's for some Cash, and he put into my hand a letter from my Aunt's
Solicitor containing the pleasant information that she was about to file a
Bill in Chancery against us. Now in case of a defeat Abbey will be very
undeservedly in the wrong box; so I could not ask him for any more money,
nor can I till the affair is decided; and if it goes against him I must in
conscience make over to him what little he may have remaining. My purpose
is now to make one more attempt in the Press--if that fail, "ye hear no
more of me" as Chaucer says. Brown has lent me some money for the present.
Do borrow or beg somehow what you can for me. Do not suppose I am at all
uncomfortable about the matter in any other way than as it forces me to
apply to the needy. I could not send you those lines, for I could not get
the only copy of them before last Saturday evening. I sent them Mr. Elmes
on Monday. I saw Monkhouse on Sunday--he told me you were getting on with
the Picture. I would have come over to you to-day, but I am fully
employed.

Yours ever sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CVII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Shanklin, Isle of Wight, Tuesday, July 6.

My dear Fanny--I have just received another Letter from George--full of as
good news as we can expect. I cannot inclose it to you as I could wish
because it contains matters of Business to which I must for a Week to come
have an immediate reference. I think I told you the purpose for which I
retired to this place--to try the fortune of my Pen once more, and indeed
I have some confidence in my success: but in every event, believe me my
dear sister, I shall be sufficiently comfortable, as, if I cannot lead
that life of competence and society I should wish, I have enough knowledge
of my gallipots to ensure me an employment and maintenance. The Place I am
in now I visited once before and a very pretty place it is were it not for
the bad weather. Our window looks over house-tops and Cliffs onto the Sea,
so that when the Ships sail past the Cottage chimneys you may take them
for weathercocks. We have Hill and Dale, forest and Mead, and plenty of
Lobsters. I was on the Portsmouth Coach the Sunday before last in that
heavy shower--and I may say I went to Portsmouth by water--I got a little
cold, and as it always flies to my throat I am a little out of sorts that
way. There were on the Coach with me some common French people but very
well behaved--there was a woman amongst them to whom the poor Men in
ragged coats were more gallant than ever I saw gentleman to Lady at a
Ball. When we got down to walk up hill--one of them pick'd a rose, and on
remounting gave it to the woman with "Ma'mselle voila une belle rose!" I
am so hard at work that perhaps I should not have written to you for a day
or two if George's Letter had not diverted my attention to the interests
and pleasure of those I love--and ever believe that when I do not behave
punctually it is from a very necessary occupation, and that my silence is
no proof of my not thinking of you, or that I want more than a gentle
fillip to bring your image with every claim before me. You have never seen
mountains, or I might tell you that the hill at Steephill is I think
almost of as much consequence as Mount Rydal on Lake Winander. Bonchurch
too is a very delightful Place--as I can see by the Cottages, all
romantic--covered with creepers and honeysuckles, with roses and
eglantines peeping in at the windows. Fit abodes for the People I guess
live in them, romantic old maids fond of novels, or soldiers' widows with
a pretty jointure--or any body's widows or aunts or anythings given to
Poetry and a Piano-forte--as far as in 'em lies--as people say. If I could
play upon the Guitar I might make my fortune with an old song--and get two
blessings at once--a Lady's heart and the Rheumatism. But I am almost
afraid to peep at those little windows--for a pretty window should show a
pretty face, and as the world goes chances are against me. I am living
with a very good fellow indeed, a Mr. Rice.--He is unfortunately labouring
under a complaint which has for some years been a burthen to him. This is
a pain to me. He has a greater tact in speaking to people of the village
than I have, and in those matters is a great amusement as well as good
friend to me. He bought a ham the other day for says he "Keats, I don't
think a Ham is a wrong thing to have in a house." Write to me, Shanklin,
Isle of Wight, as soon as you can; for a Letter is a great treat to me
here--believing me ever,

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CVIII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


_Extract from a letter dated_ Shanklin, n{r} Ryde, Isle of Wight,

Sunday, 12th [for 11th] July, 1819.

       *       *       *       *       *

You will be glad to hear, under my own hand (though Rice says we are like
Sauntering Jack and Idle Joe), how diligent I have been, and am being. I
have finished the Act, and in the interval of beginning the 2{d} have
proceeded pretty well with Lamia, finishing the 1{st} part which consists
of about 400 lines. I have great hopes of success, because I make use of
my Judgment more deliberately than I have yet done; but in case of failure
with the world, I shall find my content. And here (as I know you have my
good at heart as much as a Brother), I can only repeat to you what I have
said to George--that however I should like to enjoy what the competencies
of life procure, I am in no wise dashed at a different prospect. I have
spent too many thoughtful days and moralised through too many nights for
that, and fruitless would they be indeed, if they did not by degrees make
me look upon the affairs of the world with a healthy deliberation. I have
of late been moulting: not for fresh feathers and wings: they are gone,
and in their stead I hope to have a pair of patient sublunary legs. I have
altered, not from a Chrysalis into a butterfly, but the contrary; having
two little loopholes, whence I may look out into the stage of the world:
and that world on our coming here I almost forgot. The first time I sat
down to write, I could scarcely believe in the necessity for so doing. It
struck me as a great oddity--Yet the very corn which is now so beautiful,
as if it had only took to ripening yesterday, is for the market; so, why
should I be delicate?

       *       *       *       *       *



CIX.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


Shanklin, Saturday Evening [July 31, 1819].

My dear Dilke--I will not make my diligence an excuse for not writing to
you sooner--because I consider idleness a much better plea. A Man in the
hurry of business of any sort is expected and ought to be expected to look
to everything--his mind is in a whirl, and what matters it what whirl? But
to require a Letter of a Man lost in idleness is the utmost cruelty; you
cut the thread of his existence, you beat, you pummel him, you sell his
goods and chattels, you put him in prison; you impale him; you crucify
him. If I had not put pen to paper since I saw you this would be to me a
vi et armis taking up before the Judge; but having got over my darling
lounging habits a little, it is with scarcely any pain I come to this
dating from Shanklin and Dear Dilke. The Isle of Wight is but so so, etc.
Rice and I passed rather a dull time of it. I hope he will not repent
coming with me. He was unwell, and I was not in very good health: and I am
afraid we made each other worse by acting upon each other's spirits. We
would grow as melancholy as need be. I confess I cannot bear a sick person
in a House, especially alone--it weighs upon me day and night--and more so
when perhaps the Case is irretrievable. Indeed I think Rice is in a
dangerous state. I have had a Letter from him which speaks favourably of
his health at present. Brown and I are pretty well harnessed again to our
dog-cart. I mean the Tragedy, which goes on sinkingly. We are thinking of
introducing an Elephant, but have not historical reference within reach to
determine us as to Otho's Menagerie. When Brown first mentioned this I
took it for a joke; however he brings such plausible reasons, and
discourses so eloquently on the dramatic effect that I am giving it a
serious consideration. The Art of Poetry is not sufficient for us, and if
we get on in that as well as we do in painting, we shall by next winter
crush the Reviews and the Royal Academy. Indeed, if Brown would take a
little of my advice, he could not fail to be first palette of his day. But
odd as it may appear, he says plainly that he cannot see any force in my
plea of putting skies in the background, and leaving Indian ink out of an
ash tree. The other day he was sketching Shanklin Church, and as I saw how
the business was going on, I challenged him to a trial of skill--he lent
me Pencil and Paper--we keep the Sketches to contend for the Prize at the
Gallery. I will not say whose I think best--but really I do not think
Brown's done to the top of the Art.

A word or two on the Isle of Wight. I have been no further than Steephill.
If I may guess, I should say that there is no finer part in the Island
than from this Place to Steephill. I do not hesitate to say it is fine.
Bonchurch is the best. But I have been so many finer walks, with a
background of lake and mountain instead of the sea, that I am not much
touch'd with it, though I credit it for all the Surprise I should have
felt if it had taken my cockney maidenhead. But I may call myself an old
Stager in the picturesque, and unless it be something very large and
overpowering, I cannot receive any extraordinary relish.

I am sorry to hear that Charles is so much oppress'd at Westminster,
though I am sure it will be the finest touchstone for his Metal in the
world. His troubles will grow day by day less, as his age and strength
increase. The very first Battle he wins will lift him from the Tribe of
Manasseh. I do not know how I should feel were I a Father--but I hope I
should strive with all my Power not to let the present trouble me. When
your Boy shall be twenty, ask him about his childish troubles and he will
have no more memory of them than you have of yours. Brown tells me Mrs.
Dilke sets off to-day for Chichester. I am glad--I was going to say she
had a fine day--but there has been a great Thunder cloud muttering over
Hampshire all day--I hope she is now at supper with a good appetite.

So Reynolds's Piece succeeded--that is all well. Papers have with thanks
been duly received. We leave this place on the 13th, and will let you know
where we may be a few days after--Brown says he will write when the fit
comes on him. If you will stand law expenses I'll beat him into one before
his time. When I come to town I shall have a little talk with you about
Brown and one Jenny Jacobs. Open daylight! he don't care. I am afraid
there will be some more feet for little stockings--[_of Keats's making_.
(_I mean the feet._)[103]] Brown here tried at a piece of Wit but it
failed him, as you see, though long a brewing.--[_this is a 2{d} lie._]
Men should never despair--you see he has tried again and succeeded to a
miracle.--He wants to try again, but as I have a right to an inside place
in my own Letter--I take possession.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CX.--TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.


[_Fragment (outside sheet) of a letter addressed to Bailey at St.
Andrews._ Winchester, August 15, 1819.]

       *       *       *       *       *

We removed to Winchester for the convenience of a library, and find it an
exceeding pleasant town, enriched with a beautiful Cathedral, and
surrounded by a fresh-looking country. We are in tolerably good and cheap
lodgings--Within these two months I have written 1500 lines, most of
which, besides many more of prior composition, you will probably see by
next winter. I have written 2 tales, one from Boccaccio, called the Pot of
Basil, and another called St. Agnes's Eve, on a popular Superstition, and
a 3{rd} called Lamia (half finished). I have also been writing parts of my
"Hyperion," and completed 4 Acts of a tragedy. It was the opinion of most
of my friends that I should never be able to write a scene. I will
endeavour to wipe away the prejudice--I sincerely hope you will be pleased
when my labours, since we last saw each other, shall reach you. One of my
Ambitions is to make as great a revolution in modern dramatic writing as
Kean has done in acting. Another to upset the drawling of the
blue-stocking literary world--if in the Course of a few years I do these
two things, I ought to die content, and my friends should drink a dozen of
claret on my tomb. I am convinced more and more every day that (excepting
the human friend philosopher), a fine writer is the most genuine being in
the world. Shakspeare and the Paradise lost every day become greater
wonders to me. I look upon fine phrases like a lover. I was glad to see by
a passage of one of Brown's letters, some time ago, from the North that
you were in such good spirits. Since that you have been married, and in
congratulating you I wish you every continuance of them. Present my
respects to Mrs. Bailey. This sounds oddly to me, and I daresay I do it
awkwardly enough: but I suppose by this time it is nothing new to you.
Brown's remembrances to you. As far as I know, we shall remain at
Winchester for a goodish while.

Ever your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXI.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Winchester, Monday morn [August 23, 1819].

My dear Taylor-- ... Brown and I have together been engaged (this I should
wish to remain secret) on a Tragedy which I have just finished and from
which we hope to share moderate profits.... I feel every confidence that,
if I choose, I may be a popular writer. That I will never be; but for all
that I will get a livelihood. I equally dislike the favour of the public
with the love of a woman. They are both a cloying treacle to the wings of
Independence. I shall ever consider them (People) as debtors to me for
verses, not myself to them for admiration--which I can do without. I have
of late been indulging my spleen by composing a preface AT them: after all
resolving never to write a preface at all. "There are so many verses,"
would I have said to them, "give so much means for me to buy pleasure
with, as a relief to my hours of labour"--You will observe at the end of
this if you put down the letter, "How a solitary life engenders pride and
egotism!" True--I know it does: but this pride and egotism will enable me
to write finer things than anything else could--so I will indulge it. Just
so much as I am humbled by the genius above my grasp am I exalted and
look with hate and contempt upon the literary world.--A drummer-boy who
holds out his hand familiarly to a field Marshal,--that drummer-boy with
me is the good word and favour of the public. Who could wish to be among
the common-place crowd of the little famous--who are each individually
lost in a throng made up of themselves? Is this worth louting or playing
the hypocrite for? To beg suffrages for a seat on the benches of a
myriad-aristocracy in letters? This is not wise.--I am not a wise
man--'Tis pride--I will give you a definition of a proud man--He is a man
who has neither Vanity nor Wisdom--One filled with hatreds cannot be vain,
neither can he be wise. Pardon me for hammering instead of writing.
Remember me to Woodhouse Hessey and all in Percy Street.

Ever yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CXII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Winchester, August 25 [1819].

My dear Reynolds--By this post I write to Rice, who will tell you why we
have left Shanklin; and how we like this place. I have indeed scarcely
anything else to say, leading so monotonous a life, except I was to give
you a history of sensations, and day-nightmares. You would not find me at
all unhappy in it, as all my thoughts and feelings which are of the
selfish nature, home speculations, every day continue to make me more
iron--I am convinced more and more, every day, that fine writing is, next
to fine doing, the top thing in the world; the Paradise Lost becomes a
greater wonder. The more I know what my diligence may in time probably
effect, the more does my heart distend with Pride and Obstinacy--I feel it
in my power to become a popular writer--I feel it in my power to refuse
the poisonous suffrage of a public. My own being which I know to be
becomes of more consequence to me than the crowds of Shadows in the shape
of men and women that inhabit a kingdom. The soul is a world of itself,
and has enough to do in its own home. Those whom I know already, and who
have grown as it were a part of myself, I could not do without: but for
the rest of mankind, they are as much a dream to me as Milton's
Hierarchies. I think if I had a free and healthy and lasting organisation
of heart, and lungs as strong as an ox's so as to be able to bear unhurt
the shock of extreme thought and sensation without weariness, I could pass
my life very nearly alone though it should last eighty years. But I feel
my body too weak to support me to the height, I am obliged continually to
check myself, and be nothing. It would be vain for me to endeavour after a
more reasonable manner of writing to you. I have nothing to speak of but
myself, and what can I say but what I feel? If you should have any reason
to regret this state of excitement in me, I will turn the tide of your
feelings in the right Channel, by mentioning that it is the only state for
the best sort of Poetry--that is all I care for, all I live for. Forgive
me for not filling up the whole sheet; Letters become so irksome to me,
that the next time I leave London I shall petition them all to be spared
me. To give me credit for constancy, and at the same time waive letter
writing will be the highest indulgence I can think of.

Ever your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXIII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Winchester, August 28 [1819].

My dear Fanny--You must forgive me for suffering so long a space to elapse
between the dates of my letters. It is more than a fortnight since I left
Shanklin chiefly for the purpose of being near a tolerable Library, which
after all is not to be found in this place. However we like it very much:
it is the pleasantest Town I ever was in, and has the most recommendations
of any. There is a fine Cathedral which to me is always a source of
amusement, part of it built 1400 years ago; and the more modern by a
magnificent Man, you may have read of in our History, called William of
Wickham. The whole town is beautifully wooded. From the Hill at the
eastern extremity you see a prospect of Streets, and old Buildings mixed
up with Trees. Then there are the most beautiful streams about I ever
saw--full of Trout. There is the Foundation of St. Croix about half a mile
in the fields--a charity greatly abused. We have a Collegiate School, a
Roman catholic School; a chapel ditto and a Nunnery! And what improves it
all is, the fashionable inhabitants are all gone to Southampton. We are
quiet--except a fiddle that now and then goes like a gimlet through my
Ears--our Landlady's son not being quite a Proficient. I have still been
hard at work, having completed a Tragedy I think I spoke of to you. But
there I fear all my labour will be thrown away for the present, as I hear
Mr. Kean is going to America. For all I can guess I shall remain here till
the middle of October--when Mr. Brown will return to his house at
Hampstead; whither I shall return with him. I some time since sent the
Letter I told you I had received from George to Haslam with a request to
let you and Mrs. Wylie see it: he sent it back to me for very insufficient
reasons without doing so; and I was so irritated by it that I would not
send it travelling about by the post any more: besides the postage is very
expensive. I know Mrs. Wylie will think this a great neglect. I am sorry
to say my temper gets the better of me--I will not send it again. Some
correspondence I have had with Mr. Abbey about George's affairs--and I
must confess he has behaved very kindly to me as far as the wording of his
Letter went. Have you heard any further mention of his retiring from
Business? I am anxious to hear whether Hodgkinson, whose name I cannot
bear to write, will in any likelihood be thrown upon himself. The
delightful Weather we have had for two Months is the highest gratification
I could receive--no chill'd red noses--no shivering--but fair atmosphere
to think in--a clean towel mark'd with the mangle and a basin of clear
Water to drench one's face with ten times a day: no need of much
exercise--a Mile a day being quite sufficient. My greatest regret is that
I have not been well enough to bathe though I have been two Months by the
seaside and live now close to delicious bathing--Still I enjoy the
Weather--I adore fine Weather as the greatest blessing I can have. Give me
Books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of
doors, played by somebody I do not know--not pay the price of one's time
for a jig--but a little chance music: and I can pass a summer very quietly
without caring much about Fat Louis, fat Regent or the Duke of Wellington.
Why have you not written to me? Because you were in expectation of
George's Letter and so waited? Mr. Brown is copying out our Tragedy of
Otho the Great in a superb style--better than it deserves--there as I said
is labour in vain for the present. I had hoped to give Kean another
opportunity to shine. What can we do now? There is not another actor of
Tragedy in all London or Europe. The Covent Garden Company is execrable.
Young is the best among them and he is a ranting coxcombical tasteless
Actor--a Disgust, a Nausea--and yet the very best after Kean. What a set
of barren asses are actors! I should like now to promenade round your
Gardens--apple-tasting--pear-tasting--plum-judging--apricot-nibbling--
peach-scrunching--nectarine-sucking and Melon-carving. I have also a great
feeling for antiquated cherries full of sugar cracks--and a white currant
tree kept for company. I admire lolling on a lawn by a water lilied pond
to eat white currants and see gold-fish: and go to the Fair in the Evening
if I'm good. There is not hope for that--one is sure to get into some mess
before evening. Have these hot days I brag of so much been well or ill for
your health? Let me hear soon.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXIV.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Winchester, September 1, 1819.

My dear Taylor--Brown and I have been employed for these 3 weeks past from
time to time in writing to our different friends--a dead silence is our
only answer--we wait morning after morning. Tuesday is the day for the
Examiner to arrive, this is the 2d Tuesday which has been barren even of a
newspaper--Men should be in imitation of spirits "responsive to each
other's note." Instead of that I pipe and no one hath danced. We have been
cursing like Mandeville and Lisle--With this I shall send by the same post
a 3d letter to a friend of mine, who though it is of consequence has
neither answered right or left. We have been much in want of news from the
Theatres, having heard that Kean is going to America--but no--not a word.
Why I should come on you with all these complaints I cannot explain to
myself, especially as I suspect you must be in the country. Do answer me
soon for I really must know something. I must steer myself by the rudder
of Information....

Ever yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CXV.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Winchester, September 5 [1819].

My dear Taylor--This morning I received yours of the 2d, and with it a
letter from Hessey enclosing a Bank post Bill of £30, an ample sum I
assure you--more I had no thought of.--You should not have delayed so long
in Fleet St.--leading an inactive life as you did was breathing poison:
you will find the country air do more for you than you expect. But it must
be proper country air. You must choose a spot. What sort of a place is
Retford? You should have a dry, gravelly, barren, elevated country, open
to the currents of air, and such a place is generally furnished with the
finest springs--The neighbourhood of a rich enclosed fulsome manured
arable land, especially in a valley and almost as bad on a flat, would be
almost as bad as the smoke of Fleet St.--Such a place as this was
Shanklin, only open to the south-east, and surrounded by hills in every
other direction. From this south-east came the damps of the sea; which,
having no egress, the air would for days together take on an unhealthy
idiosyncrasy altogether enervating and weakening as a city smoke--I felt
it very much. Since I have been here at Winchester I have been improving
in health--it is not so confined--and there is on one side of the City a
dry chalky down, where the air is worth Sixpence a pint. So if you do not
get better at Retford, do not impute it to your own weakness before you
have well considered the Nature of the air and soil--especially as Autumn
is encroaching--for the Autumn fog over a rich land is like the steam from
cabbage water. What makes the great difference between valesmen,
flatlandmen and mountaineers? The cultivation of the earth in a great
measure--Our health temperament and disposition are taken more
(notwithstanding the contradiction of the history of Cain and Abel) from
the air we breathe, than is generally imagined. See the difference between
a Peasant and a Butcher.--I am convinced a great cause of it is the
difference of the air they breathe: the one takes _his_ mingled with the
fume of slaughter, the other from the dank exhalement from the glebe; the
teeming damp that comes up from the plough-furrow is of great effect in
taming the fierceness of a strong man--more than his labour--Let him be
mowing furze upon a mountain, and at the day's end his thoughts will run
upon a..axe[104] if he ever had handled one; let him leave the plough, and
he will think quietly of his supper. Agriculture is the tamer of men--the
steam from the earth is like drinking their Mother's milk--it enervates
their nature--this appears a great cause of the imbecility of the Chinese:
and if this sort of atmosphere is a mitigation to the energy of a strong
man, how much more must it injure a weak one unoccupied unexercised--For
what is the cause of so many men maintaining a good state in Cities, but
occupation--An idle man, a man who is not sensitively alive to
self-interest in a city cannot continue long in good health. This is
easily explained--If you were to walk leisurely through an unwholesome
path in the fens, with a little horror of them, you would be sure to have
your ague. But let Macbeth cross the same path, with the dagger in the air
leading him on, and he would never have an ague or anything like it--You
should give these things a serious consideration. Notts, I believe, is a
flat county--You should be on the slope of one of the dry barren hills in
Somersetshire. I am convinced there is as harmful air to be breathed in
the country as in town. I am greatly obliged to you for your letter.
Perhaps, if you had had strength and spirits enough, you would have felt
offended by my offering a note of hand, or rather expressed it. However, I
am sure you will give me credit for not in anywise mistrusting you: or
imagining that you would take advantage of any power I might give you over
me. No--It proceeded from my serious resolve not to be a gratuitous
borrower, from a great desire to be correct in money matters, to have in
my desk the Chronicles of them to refer to, and know my worldly
non-estate: besides in case of my death such documents would be but just,
if merely as memorials of the friendly turns I had done to me--Had I known
of your illness I should not have written in such fiery phrase in my first
letter. I hope that shortly you will be able to bear six times as much.
Brown likes the tragedy very much: But he is not a fit judge of it, as I
have only acted as midwife to his plot; and of course he will be fond of
his child. I do not think I can make you any extracts without spoiling the
effect of the whole when you come to read it--I hope you will then not
think my labour mis-spent. Since I finished it, I have finished Lamia, and
am now occupied in revising St. Agnes's Eve, and studying Italian.
Ariosto I find as diffuse, in parts, as Spenser--I understand completely
the difference between them. I will cross the letter with some lines from
Lamia. Brown's kindest remembrances to you--and I am ever your most
sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.

  A haunting Music sole perhaps and lone
  Supportress of the fairy roof made moan
  Throughout as fearful the whole charm might fade.
  Fresh Carved Cedar mimicking a glade
  Of Palm and Plantain met from either side
  In the high midst in honour of the Bride--
  Two Palms, and then two plantains and so on
  From either side their stems branch'd one to one
  All down the aisled place--and beneath all
  There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.
  So canopied lay an untasted feast
  Teeming a perfume. Lamia regal drest
  Silverly paced about and as she went
  Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich
  The splendid finish of each nook and niche--
  Between the tree stems wainscoated at first
  Came jasper panels--then anon there burst
  Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees
  And with the larger wove in small intricacies--
  And so till she was sated--then came down
  Soft lighting on her head a brilliant crown
  Wreath'd turban-wise of tender wannish fire
  And sprinkled o'er with stars like Ariadne's tiar,
  Approving all--she faded at self will
  And shut the Chamber up close hush'd and still;
  Complete, and ready, for the revels rude
  When dreadful Guests would come to spoil her solitude
  The day came soon and all the gossip-rout--
  O senseless Lycius[105] ...

       *       *       *       *       *

This is a good sample of the story. Brown is gone to Chichester
a-visiting--I shall be alone here for 3 weeks, expecting accounts of your
health.



CXVI.--TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS.


Winchester, September [17, 1819], Friday.

My dear George--I was closely employed in reading and composition in this
place, whither I had come from Shanklin for the convenience of a library,
when I received your last dated 24th July. You will have seen by the short
letter I wrote from Shanklin how matters stand between us and Mr.
Jennings. They had not at all moved, and I knew no way of overcoming the
inveterate obstinacy of our affairs. On receiving your last, I immediately
took a place in the same night's coach for London. Mr. Abbey behaved
extremely well to me, appointed Monday evening at seven to meet me, and
observed that he should drink tea at that hour. I gave him the enclosed
note and showed him the last leaf of yours to me. He really appeared
anxious about it, and promised he would forward your money as quickly as
possible. I think I mentioned that Walton was dead.... He will apply to
Mr. Gliddon the partner, endeavour to get rid of Mrs. Jennings' claim, and
be expeditious. He has received an answer from my letter to Fry. That is
something. We are certainly in a very low estate--I say we, for I am in
such a situation, that were it not for the assistance of Brown and Taylor,
I must be as badly off as a man can be. I could not raise any sum by the
promise of any poem, no, not by the mortgage of my intellect. We must wait
a little while. I really have hopes of success. I have finished a tragedy,
which if it succeeds will enable me to sell what I may have in manuscript
to a good advantage. I have passed my time in reading, writing, and
fretting--the last I intend to give up, and stick to the other two. They
are the only chances of benefit to us. Your wants will be a fresh spur to
me. I assure you you shall more than share what I can get whilst I am
still young. The time may come when age will make me more selfish. I have
not been well treated by the world, and yet I have, capitally well. I do
not know a person to whom so many purse-strings would fly open as to me,
if I could possibly take advantage of them, which I cannot do, for none of
the owners of these purses are rich. Your present situation I will not
suffer myself to dwell upon. When misfortunes are so real, we are glad
enough to escape them and the thought of them. I cannot help thinking Mr.
Audubon a dishonest man. Why did he make you believe that he was a man of
property? How is it that his circumstances have altered so suddenly? In
truth, I do not believe you fit to deal with the world, or at least the
American world. But, good God! who can avoid these chances? You have done
your best. Take matters as coolly as you can; and confidently expecting
help from England, act as if no help were nigh. Mine, I am sure, is a
tolerable tragedy; it would have been a bank to me, if just as I had
finished it, I had not heard of Kean's resolution to go to America. That
was the worst news I could have had. There is no actor can do the
principal character besides Kean. At Covent Garden there is a great chance
of its being damm'd. Were it to succeed even there it would lift me out of
the mire; I mean the mire of a bad reputation which is continually rising
against me. My name with the literary fashionables is vulgar. I am a
weaver-boy to them. A tragedy would lift me out of this mess, and mess it
is as far as regards our pockets. But be not cast down any more than I am;
I feel that I can bear real ills better than imaginary ones. Whenever I
find myself growing vapourish, I rouse myself, wash, and put on a clean
shirt, brush my hair and clothes, tie my shoestrings neatly, and in fact
adonise as I were going out. Then, all clean and comfortable, I sit down
to write. This I find the greatest relief. Besides I am becoming
accustomed to the privations of the pleasures of sense. In the midst of
the world I live like a hermit. I have forgot how to lay plans for the
enjoyment of any pleasure. I feel I can bear anything,--any misery, even
imprisonment, so long as I have neither wife nor child. Perhaps you will
say yours are your only comfort; they must be. I returned to Winchester
the day before yesterday, and am now here alone, for Brown, some days
before I left, went to Bedhampton, and there he will be for the next
fortnight. The term of his house will be up in the middle of next month
when we shall return to Hampstead. On Sunday, I dined with your mother and
Hen and Charles in Henrietta Street. Mrs. and Miss Millar were in the
country. Charles had been but a few days returned from Paris. I daresay
you will have letters expressing the motives of his journey. Mrs. Wylie
and Miss Waldegrave seem as quiet as two mice there alone. I did not show
your last. I thought it better not, for better times will certainly come,
and why should they be unhappy in the meantime? On Monday morning I went
to Walthamstow. Fanny looked better than I had seen her for some time. She
complains of not hearing from you, appealing to me as if it were half my
fault. I had been so long in retirement that London appeared a very odd
place. I could not make out I had so many acquaintances, and it was a
whole day before I could feel among men. I had another strange sensation.
There was not one house I felt any pleasure to call at. Reynolds was in
the country, and, saving himself, I am prejudiced against all that family.
Dilke and his wife and child were in the country. Taylor was at
Nottingham. I was out, and everybody was out. I walked about the streets
as in a strange land. Rice was the only one at home. I passed some time
with him. I know him better since we have lived a month together in the
Isle of Wight. He is the most sensible and even wise man I know. He has a
few John Bull prejudices, but they improve him. His illness is at times
alarming. We are great friends, and there is no one I like to pass a day
with better. Martin called in to bid him good-bye before he set out for
Dublin. If you would like to hear one of his jokes, here is one which, at
the time, we laughed at a good deal: A Miss ----, with three young ladies,
one of them Martin's sister, had come a-gadding in the Isle of Wight and
took for a few days a cottage opposite ours. We dined with them one day,
and as I was saying they had fish. Miss ---- said she thought _they tasted
of the boat_. "No" says Martin, very seriously, "they haven't been kept
long enough." I saw Haslam. He is very much occupied with love and
business, being one of Mr. Saunders' executors and lover to a young woman.
He showed me her picture by Severn. I think she is, though not very
cunning, too cunning for him. Nothing strikes me so forcibly with a sense
of the ridiculous as love. A man in love I do think cuts the sorriest
figure in the world; queer, when I know a poor fool to be really in pain
about it, I could burst out laughing in his face. His pathetic visage
becomes irresistible. Not that I take Haslam as a pattern for lovers; he
is a very worthy man and a good friend. His love is very amusing.
Somewhere in the Spectator is related an account of a man inviting a party
of stutterers and squinters to his table. It would please me more to
scrape together a party of lovers--not to dinner, but to tea. There would
be no fighting as among knights of old.

  Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes,
  Nibble their toast and cool their tea with sighs;
  Or else forget the purpose of the night,
  Forget their tea, forget their appetite.
  See, with cross'd arms they sit--Ah! hapless crew,
  The fire is going out and no one rings
  For coals, and therefore no coals Betty brings.
  A fly is in the milk-pot. Must he die
  Circled by a humane society?
  No, no; there, Mr. Werter takes his spoon,
  Inserts it, dips the handle, and lo! soon
  The little straggler, sav'd from perils dark,
  Across the tea-board draws a long wet mark.
  Romeo! Arise take snuffers by the handle,
  There's a large cauliflower in each candle.
  A winding sheet--ah, me! I must away
  To No. 7, just beyond the circus gay.
  Alas, my friend, your coat sits very well;
  Where may your Taylor live? I may not tell.
  O pardon me. I'm absent now and then.
  Where _might_ my Taylor live? I say again
  I cannot tell. Let me no more be teased;
  He lives in Wapping, might live where he pleased.

You see, I cannot get on without writing, as boys do at school, a few
nonsense verses. I begin them, and before I have written six the whim has
passed--if there is anything deserving so respectable a name in them. I
shall put in a bit of information anywhere, just as it strikes me. Mr.
Abbey is to write to me as soon as he can bring matters to bear, and then
I am to go to town and tell him the means of forwarding to you through
Capper and Hazlewood. I wonder I did not put this before. I shall go on
to-morrow; it is so fine now I must take a bit of a walk.


Saturday [September 18].

With my inconstant disposition it is no wonder that this morning, amid all
our bad times and misfortunes, I should feel so alert and well-spirited.
At this moment you are perhaps in a very different state of mind. It is
because my hopes are ever paramount to my despair. I have been reading
over a part of a short poem I have composed lately, called Lamia, and I am
certain there is that sort of fire in it that must take hold of people
some way. Give them either pleasant or unpleasant sensation--what they
want is a sensation of some sort. I wish I could pitch the key of your
spirits as high as mine is; but your organ-loft is beyond the reach of my
voice.

I admire the exact admeasurement of my niece in your mother's letter--O!
the little span-long elf. I am not in the least a judge of the proper
weight and size of an infant. Never trouble yourselves about that. She is
sure to be a fine woman. Let her have only delicate nails both on hands
and feet, and both as small as a May-fly's, who will live you his life on
a 3 square inch of oak-leaf; and nails she must have, quite different from
the market-women here, who plough into butter and make a quarter pound
taste of it. I intend to write a letter to your wife, and there I may say
more on this little plump subject--I hope she's plump. Still harping on my
daughter. This Winchester is a place tolerably well suited to me. There is
a fine cathedral, a college, a Roman Catholic chapel, a Methodist do., and
Independent do.; and there is not one loom, or anything like manufacturing
beyond bread and butter, in the whole city. There are a number of rich
Catholics in the place. It is a respectable, ancient, aristocratic place,
and moreover it contains a nunnery. Our set are by no means so hail fellow
well met on literary subjects as we were wont to be. Reynolds has turn'd
to the law. By the bye, he brought out a little piece at the Lyceum call'd
One, Two, Three, Four: by Advertisement. It met with complete success. The
meaning of this odd title is explained when I tell you the principal actor
is a mimic, who takes off four of our best performers in the course of the
farce. Our stage is loaded with mimics. I did not see the piece, being out
of town the whole time it was in progress. Dilke is entirely swallowed up
in his boy. It is really lamentable to what a pitch he carries a sort of
parental mania. I had a letter from him at Shanklin. He went on, a word or
two about the Isle of Wight, which is a bit of hobby horse of his, but he
soon deviated to his boy. "I am sitting," says he, "at the window
expecting my boy from ----." I suppose I told you somewhere that he lives
in Westminster, and his boy goes to school there, where he gets beaten,
and every bruise he has, and I daresay deserves, is very bitter to Dilke.
The place I am speaking of puts me in mind of a circumstance which
occurred lately at Dilke's. I think it very rich and dramatic and quite
illustrative of the little quiet fun that he will enjoy sometimes. First I
must tell you that their house is at the corner of Great Smith Street, so
that some of the windows look into one street, and the back windows into
another round the corner. Dilke had some old people to dinner--I know not
who, but there were two old ladies among them. Brown was there--they had
known him from a child. Brown is very pleasant with old women, and on
that day it seems behaved himself so winningly that they became hand and
glove together, and a little complimentary. Brown was obliged to depart
early. He bid them good-bye and passed into the passage. No sooner was his
back turned than the old women began lauding him. When Brown had reached
the street door, and was just going, Dilke threw up the window and called:
"Brown! Brown! They say you look younger than ever you did!" Brown went
on, and had just turned the corner into the other street when Dilke
appeared at the back window, crying: "Brown! Brown! By God, they say
you're handsome!" You see what a many words it requires to give any
identity to a thing I could have told you in half a minute.

I have been reading lately Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, and I think you
will be very much amused with a page I here copy for you. I call it a Feu
de Joie round the batteries of Fort St. Hyphen-de-Phrase on the birthday
of the Digamma. The whole alphabet was drawn up in a phalanx on the corner
of an old dictionary, band playing, "Amo, amas," etc.

     "Every lover admires his mistriss, though she be very deformed of
     herself, ill-favoured, wrinkled, pimpled, pale, red, yellow, tan'd,
     tallow-faced, have a swoln juglers platter face, or a thin, lean,
     chitty face, have clouds in her face, be crooked, dry, bald,
     goggle-ey'd, blear-ey'd or with staring eys, she looks like a squis'd
     cat, hold her head still awry, heavy, dull, hollow-mouthed, Persean
     hook-nosed, have a sharp Jose nose, a red nose, China flat, great
     nose, _nare simo patuloque_, a nose like a promontory, gubber-tushed,
     rotten teeth, black, uneven, brown teeth, beetle browed, a witches
     beard, her breath stink all over the room, her nose drop winter and
     summer with a Bavarian poke under her chin, a sharp chin, lave eared,
     with a long cranes neck, which stands awry too, _pendulis mammis, her
     dugs like two double jugs_, or else no dugs in the other extream,
     bloody faln fingers, she have filthy long unpaired nails, scabbed
     hands or wrists, a tan'd skin, a rotten carkass, crooked back, she
     stoops, is lame, splea-footed, _as slender in the middle as a cow in
     the waste_, gowty legs, her ankles hang over her shooes, her feet
     stink, she breed lice, a mere changeling, a very monster, an aufe
     imperfect, her whole complexion savours, an harsh voyce, incondite
     gesture, vile gait, a vast virago, or an ugly tit, a slug, a fat
     fustilugs, a truss, a long lean rawbone, a skeleton, a sneaker (_sí
     qua latent meliora puta_), and to thy judgment looks like a Mard in a
     lanthorn, whom thou couldst not fancy for a world, but hatest,
     lothest, and wouldst have spit in her face, or blow thy nose in her
     bosome, _remedium amoris_ to another man, a dowdy, a slut, a scold, a
     nasty, rank, rammy, filthy, beastly quean, dishonest peradventure,
     obscene, base, beggerly, rude, foolish, untaught, peevish, Irus'
     daughter, Thersite's sister, Grobian's schollar; if he love her once,
     he admires her for all this, he takes no notice of any such errors,
     or imperfections of body or minde."

There's a dose for you. Fire!! I would give my favourite leg to have
written this as a speech in a play. With what effect could Matthews
pop-gun it at the pit! This I think will amuse you more than so much
poetry. Of that I do not like to copy any, as I am afraid it is too mal à
propos for you at present; and yet I will send you some, for by the time
you receive it, things in England may have taken a different turn. When I
left Mr. Abbey on Monday evening, I walked up Cheapside, but returned to
put some letters in the post, and met him again in Bucklesbury. We walked
together through the Poultry as far as the baker's shop he has some
concern in--He spoke of it in such a way to me, I thought he wanted me to
make an offer to assist him in it. I do believe if I could be a hatter I
might be one. He seems anxious about me. He began blowing up Lord Byron
while I was sitting with him: "However, may be the fellow says true now
and then," at which he took up a magazine, and read me some extracts from
Don Juan (Lord Byron's last flash poem), and particularly one against
literary ambition. I do think I must be well spoken of among sets, for
Hodgkinson is more than polite, and the coffee German endeavoured to be
very close to me the other night at Covent Garden, where I went at half
price before I tumbled into bed. Every one, however distant an
acquaintance, behaves in the most conciliating manner to me. You will see
I speak of this as a matter of interest. On the next sheet I will give you
a little politics.

In every age there has been in England, for two or three centuries,
subjects of great popular interest on the carpet, so that however great
the uproar, one can scarcely prophecy any material change in the
Government, for as loud disturbances have agitated the country many times.
All civilised countries become gradually more enlightened, and there
should be a continual change for the better. Look at this country at
present, and remember it when it was even thought impious to doubt the
justice of a trial by combat. From that time there has been a gradual
change. Three great changes have been in progress: first for the better,
next for the worse, and a third for the better once more. The first was
the gradual annihilation of the tyranny of the nobles, when kings found it
their interest to conciliate the common people, elevate them, and be just
to them. Just when baronial power ceased, and before standing armies were
so dangerous, taxes were few, kings were lifted by the people over the
heads of their nobles, and those people held a rod over kings. The change
for the worse in Europe was again this: the obligation of kings to the
multitude began to be forgotten. Custom had made noblemen the humble
servants of kings. Then kings turned to the nobles as the adorners of
their power, the slaves of it, and from the people as creatures
continually endeavouring to check them. Then in every kingdom there was a
long struggle of kings to destroy all popular privileges. The English were
the only people in Europe who made a grand kick at this. They were slaves
to Henry VIII, but were freemen under William III at the time the French
were abject slaves under Louis XIV. The example of England, and the
liberal writers of France and England, sowed the seed of opposition to
this tyranny, and it was swelling in the ground till it burst out in the
French Revolution. That has had an unlucky termination. It put a stop to
the rapid progress of free sentiments in England, and gave our Court hopes
of turning back to the despotism of the eighteenth century. They have made
a handle of this event in every way to undermine our freedom. They spread
a horrid superstition against all innovation and improvement. The present
struggle in England of the people is to destroy this superstition. What
has roused them to do it is their distresses. Perhaps, on this account,
the present distresses of this nation are a fortunate thing though so
horrid in their experience. You will see I mean that the French Revolution
put a temporary stop to this third change--the change for the better--Now
it is in progress again, and I think it is an effectual one. This is no
contest between Whig and Tory, but between right and wrong. There is
scarcely a grain of party spirit now in England. Right and wrong
considered by each man abstractedly, is the fashion. I know very little of
these things. I am convinced, however, that apparently small causes make
great alterations. There are little signs whereby we may know how matters
are going on. This makes the business of Carlisle the bookseller of great
amount in my mind. He has been selling deistical pamphlets, republished
Tom Paine, and many other works held in superstitious horror. He even has
been selling, for some time, immense numbers of a work called The Deist,
which comes out in weekly numbers. For this conduct he, I think, has had
about a dozen indictments issued against him, for which he has found bail
to the amount of many thousand pounds. After all, they are afraid to
prosecute. They are afraid of his defence; it would be published in all
the papers all over the empire. They shudder at this. The trials would
light a flame they could not extinguish. Do you not think this of great
import? You will hear by the papers of the proceedings at Manchester, and
Hunt's triumphal entry into London. It would take me a whole day and a
quire of paper to give you anything like detail. I will merely mention
that it is calculated that 30,000 people were in the streets waiting for
him. The whole distance from the Angel at Islington to the Crown and
Anchor was lined with multitudes.

As I passed Colnaghi's window I saw a profile portrait of Sandt, the
destroyer of Kotzebue. His very look must interest every one in his
favour. I suppose they have represented him in his college dress. He seems
to me like a young Abelard--a fine mouth, cheek bones (and this is no
joke) full of sentiment, a fine, unvulgar nose, and plump temples.

On looking over some letters I found the one I wrote, intended for you,
from the foot of Helvellyn to Liverpool; but you had sailed, and therefore
it was returned to me. It contained, among other nonsense, an acrostic of
my sister's name--and a pretty long name it is. I wrote it in a great
hurry which you will see. Indeed I would not copy it if I thought it would
ever be seen by any but yourselves.

  Give me your patience, sister, while I frame
  Exact in capitals your golden name,
  Or sue the fair Apollo, and he will
  Rouse from his heavy slumber and instil
  Great love in me for thee and Poesy.
  Imagine not that greatest mastery
  And kingdom over all the realms of verse
  Nears more to Heaven in aught than when we nurse
  And surety give to love and brotherhood.

  Anthropopagi in Othello's mood;
  Ulysses storm'd, and his enchanted belt
  Glowed with the Muse: but they are never felt
  Unbosom'd so, and so eternal made,
  Such tender incense in their laurel shade
  To all the recent sisters of the Nine,
  As this poor offering to you, sister mine.

  Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;
  Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where;
  And may its taste to you, like good old wine,
  Take you to real happiness, and give
  Sons, daughters, and a home like honied hive.

  Foot of Helvellyn, June 27.

I sent you in my first packet some of my Scotch letters. I find I have one
kept back, which was written in the most interesting part of our tour, and
will copy part of it in the hope you will not find it unamusing. I would
give now anything for Richardson's power of making mountains of molehills.


Incipit epistola caledoniensa--

"Dunancullen."

(I did not know the day of the month, for I find I have not added it.
Brown must have been asleep). "Just after my last had gone to the post"
(before I go any further, I must premise that I would send the identical
letter, instead of taking the trouble to copy it; I do not do so, for it
would spoil my notion of the neat manner in which I intend to fold these
three genteel sheets. The original is written on coarse paper, and the
soft one would ride in the post bag very uneasy. Perhaps there might be a
quarrel)[106]

       *       *       *       *       *

I ought to make a large "?" here, but I had better take the opportunity of
telling you I have got rid of my haunting sore throat, and conduct myself
in a manner not to catch another.

You speak of Lord Byron and me. There is this great difference between us:
he describes what he sees--I describe what I imagine. Mine is the hardest
task; now see the immense difference. The Edinburgh Reviewers are afraid
to touch upon my poem. They do not know what to make of it; they do not
like to condemn it, and they will not praise it for fear. They are as shy
of it as I should be of wearing a Quaker's hat. The fact is, they have no
real taste. They dare not compromise their judgments on so puzzling a
question. If on my next publication they should praise me, and so lug in
Endymion, I will address them in a manner they will not at all relish. The
cowardliness of the Edinburgh is more than the abuse of the Quarterly.


Monday [September 20].

This day is a grand day for Winchester. They elect the mayor. It was
indeed high time the place should have some sort of excitement. There was
nothing going on--all asleep. Not an old maid's sedan returning from a
card party; and if any old women have got tipsy at christenings, they have
not exposed themselves in the street. The first night, though, of our
arrival here there was a slight uproar took place at about ten of the
clock. We heard distinctly a noise patting down the street, as of a
walking-cane of the good old dowager breed; and a little minute after we
heard a less voice observe, "What a noise the ferril made--it must be
loose." Brown wanted to call the constables, but I observed it was only a
little breeze, and would soon pass over. The side streets here are
excessively maiden-lady-like; the door-steps always fresh from the
flannel. The knockers have a very staid, serious, nay almost awful
quietness about them. I never saw so quiet a collection of lions' and
rams' heads. The doors most part black, with a little brass handle just
above the keyhole, so that you may easily shut yourself out of your own
house. He! He! There is none of your Lady Bellaston ringing and rapping
here; no thundering Jupiter-footmen, no opera-treble tattoos, but a modest
lifting up of the knocker by a set of little wee old fingers that peep
through the gray mittens, and a dying fall thereof. The great beauty of
poetry is that it makes everything in every place interesting. The
palatine Venice and the abbotine Winchester are equally interesting. Some
time since I began a poem called "The Eve of St. Mark," quite in the
spirit of town quietude. I think I will give you the sensation of walking
about an old country town in a coolish evening. I know not whether I
shall ever finish it; I will give it as far as I have gone. Ut tibi
placeat--

THE EVE OF ST. MARK.

  Upon a Sabbath-day it fell;
  Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell,
  That call'd the folk to evening prayer;
  The city streets were clean and fair
  From wholesome drench of April rains;
  And, when on western window panes,
  The chilly sunset faintly told
  Of unmatured green vallies cold,
  Of the green thorny bloomless hedge,
  Of rivers new with spring-tide sedge,
  Of primroses by shelter'd rills,
  And daisies on the aguish hills.
  Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell:
  The silent streets were crowded well
  With staid and pious companies,
  Warm from their fireside orat'ries;
  And moving, with demurest air,
  To even-song, and vesper prayer.
  Each arched porch, and entry low,
  Was fill'd with patient folk and slow,
  With whispers hush, and shuffling feet,
  While play'd the organ loud and sweet.

  The bells had ceas'd, the prayers begun,
  And Bertha had not yet half done
  A curious volume, patch'd and torn,
  That all day long, from earliest morn,
  Had taken captive her two eyes,
  Among its golden broideries;
  Perplex'd her with a thousand things,--
  The stars of Heaven, and angels' wings,
  Martyrs in a fiery blaze,
  Azure saints and silver rays,
  Moses' breastplate, and the seven
  Candlesticks John saw in Heaven,
  The winged Lion of St. Mark,
  And the Covenantal Ark,
  With its many mysteries,
  Cherubim and golden mice.
  Bertha was a maiden fair,
  Dwelling in the old Minster-square;
  From her fireside she could see,
  Sidelong, its rich antiquity,
  Far as the Bishop's garden-wall,
  Where sycamores and elm-trees tall,
  Full-leav'd the forest had outstript,
  By no sharp north-wind ever nipt,
  So shelter'd by the mighty pile.
  Bertha arose, and read awhile,
  With forehead 'gainst the window-pane.
  Again she try'd, and then again,
  Until the dusk eve left her dark
  Upon the legend of St. Mark.
  From plaited lawn-frill, fine and thin,
  She lifted up her soft warm chin,
  With aching neck and swimming eyes,
  And dazed with saintly imageries.

  All was gloom, and silent all,
  Save now and then the still footfall
  Of one returning homewards late,
  Past the echoing minster-gate.
  The clamorous daws, that all the day
  Above tree-tops and towers play,
  Pair by pair had gone to rest,
  Each in ancient belfry-nest,
  Where asleep they fall betimes,
  To music and the drowsy chimes.

  All was silent, all was gloom,
  Abroad and in the homely room:
  Down she sat, poor cheated soul!
  And struck a lamp from the dismal coal;
  Lean'd forward, with bright drooping hair
  And slant book, full against the glare.
  Her shadow, in uneasy guise,
  Hover'd about, a giant size,
  On ceiling-beam and old oak chair,
  The parrot's cage, and panel square;
  And the warm angled winter-screen,
  On which were many monsters seen,
  Call'd doves of Siam, Lima mice,
  And legless birds of Paradise,
  Macaw and tender Avadavat,
  And silken-furr'd Angora cat.
  Untir'd she read, her shadow still
  Glower'd about, as it would fill
  The room with wildest forms and shades,
  As though some ghostly queen of spades
  Had come to mock behind her back,
  And dance, and ruffle her garments black,
  Untir'd she read the legend page,
  Of holy Mark, from youth to age,
  On land, on sea, in pagan chains,
  Rejoicing for his many pains.
  Sometimes the learned eremite,
  With golden star, or dagger bright,
  Referr'd to pious poesies
  Written in smallest crow-quill size
  Beneath the text; and thus the rhyme
  Was parcelled out from time to time:
  "... Als writith he of swevenis,
  Man han beforne they wake in bliss,
  Whanne that hir friendes thinke him bound
  In crimped shroude farre under grounde;
  And how a litling child mote be
  A saint er its nativitie,
  Gif that the modre (God her blesse!)
  Kepen in solitarinesse,
  And kissen devoute the holy croce.
  Of Goddes love, and Sathan's force,--
  He writith; and thinges many mo
  Of swiche thinges I may not show
  Bot I must tellen verilie
  Somdel of Saintè Cicilie,
  And chieflie what he auctorethe
  Of Saintè Markis life and dethe;"

  At length her constant eyelids come
  Upon the fervent martyrdom;
  Then lastly to his holy shrine,
  Exalt amid the tapers' shine
  At Venice,--

I hope you will like this for all its carelessness. I must take an
opportunity here to observe that though I am writing _to_ you, I am all
the while writing _at_ your wife. This explanation will account for my
speaking sometimes hoity-toity-ishly, whereas if you were alone, I should
sport a little more sober sadness. I am like a squinty gentleman, who,
saying soft things to one lady ogles another, or what is as bad, in
arguing with a person on his left hand, appeals with his eyes to one on
the right. His vision is elastic; he bends it to a certain object, but
having a patent spring it flies off. Writing has this disadvantage of
speaking--one cannot write a wink, or a nod, or a grin, or a purse of the
lips, or a _smile--O law!_ One cannot put one's finger to one's nose, or
yerk ye in the ribs, or lay hold of your button in writing; but in all the
most lively and titterly parts of my letter you must not fail to imagine
me, as the epic poets say, now here, now there; now with one foot pointed
at the ceiling, now with another; now with my pen on my ear, now with my
elbow in my mouth. O, my friends, you lose the action, and attitude is
everything, as Fuseli said when he took up his leg like a musket to shoot
a swallow just darting behind his shoulder. And yet does not the word
"mum" go for one's finger beside the nose? I hope it does. I have to make
use of the word "mum" before I tell you that Severn has got a little
baby--all his own, let us hope. He told Brown he had given up painting,
and had turned modeller. I hope sincerely 'tis not a party concern--that
no Mr. ---- or ---- is the real Pinxit and Severn the poor Sculpsit to
this work of art. You know he has long studied in the life Academy.
"Haydon--yes," your wife will say, "Here is a sum total account of Haydon
again. I wonder your brother don't put a monthly bulletin in the
Philadelphia papers about him. I won't hear--no. Skip down to the bottom,
and there are some more of his verses--skip (lullaby-by) them too."--"No,
let's go regularly through."--"I won't hear a word about Haydon--bless the
child, how rioty she is--there, go on there."

Now, pray go on here, for I have a few words to say about Haydon. Before
this chancery threat had cut off every legitimate supply of cash from me,
I had a little at my disposal. Haydon being very much in want, I lent him
£30 of it. Now in this see-saw game of life, I got nearest to the ground,
and this chancery business rivetted me there, so that I was sitting in
that uneasy position where the seat slants so abominably. I applied to him
for payment. He could not. That was no wonder; but Goodman Delver, where
was the wonder then? Why marry in this: he did not seem to care much about
it, and let me go without my money with almost nonchalance, when he ought
to have sold his drawings to supply me. I shall perhaps still be
acquainted with him, but for friendship, that is at an end. Brown has been
my friend in this. He got him to sign a bond, payable at three months.
Haslam has assisted me with the return of part of the money you lent him.

Hunt--"there," says your wife, "there's another of those dull folk! Not a
syllable about my friends? Well, Hunt--What about Hunt? You little thing,
see how she bites my finger! My! is not this a tooth?" Well when you have
done with the tooth, read on. Not a syllable about your friends! Here are
some syllables. As far as I could smoke things on the Sunday before last,
thus matters stood in Henrietta Street. Henry was a greater blade then
ever I remember to have seen him. He had on a very nice coat, a becoming
waistcoat, and buff trousers. I think his face has lost a little of the
Spanish-brown, but no flesh. He carved some beef exactly to suit my
appetite, as if I had been measured for it. As I stood looking out of the
window with Charles, after dinner, quizzing the passengers,--at which I am
sorry to say he is too apt,--I observed that this young son of a gun's
whiskers had begun to curl and curl, little twists and twists, all down
the sides of his face, getting properly thickest on the angles of the
visage. He certainly will have a notable pair of whiskers. "How shiny your
gown is in front," says Charles. "Why don't you see? 'tis an apron," says
Henry; whereat I scrutinised, and behold your mother had a purple stuff
gown on, and over it an apron of the same colour, being the same cloth
that was used for the lining. And furthermore to account for the shining,
it was the first day of wearing. I guessed as much of the gown--but that
is entre nous. Charles likes England better than France. They've got a
fat, smiling, fair cook as ever you saw; she is a little lame, but that
improves her; it makes her go more swimmingly. When I asked "Is Mrs. Wylie
within?" she gave me such a large five-and-thirty-year-old smile, it made
me look round upon the fourth stair--it might have been the fifth; but
that's a puzzle. I shall never be able, if I were to set myself a
recollecting for a year, to recollect. I think I remember two or three
specks in her teeth, but I really can't say exactly. Your mother said
something about Miss Keasle--what that was is quite a riddle to me now,
whether she had got fatter or thinner, or broader or longer, straiter, or
had taken to the zigzags--whether she had taken to or had left off asses'
milk. That, by the bye, she ought never to touch. How much better it would
be to put her out to nurse with the wise woman of Brentford. I can say no
more on so spare a subject. Miss Millar now is a different morsel, if one
knew how to divide and subdivide, theme her out into sections and
subsections, lay a little on every part of her body as it is divided, in
common with all her fellow-creatures, in Moor's Almanack. But, alas, I
have not heard a word about her, no cue to begin upon: there was indeed a
buzz about her and her mother's being at old Mrs. So and So's, _who was
like to die_, as the Jews say. But I dare say, keeping up their dialect,
_she was not like to die_. I must tell you a good thing Reynolds _did_.
'Twas the best thing he ever _said_. You know at taking leave of a party
at a doorway, sometimes a man dallies and foolishes and gets awkward, and
does not know how to make off to advantage. Good-bye--well, good-bye--and
yet he does not go; good-bye, and so on,--well, good bless you--you know
what I mean. Now Reynolds was in this predicament, and got out of it in a
very witty way. He was leaving us at Hampstead. He delayed, and we were
pressing at him, and even said "be off," at which he put the tails of his
coat between his legs and sneak'd off as nigh like a spaniel as could be.
He went with flying colours. This is very clever. I must, being upon the
subject, tell you another good thing of him. He began, for the service it
might be of to him in the law, to learn French; he had lessons at the
cheap rate of 2s. 6d. per fag, and observed to Brown, "Gad," says he, "the
man sells his lessons so cheap he must have stolen 'em." You have heard of
Hook, the farce writer. Horace Smith said to one who asked him if he knew
Hook, "Oh yes, Hook and I are very intimate." There's a page of wit for
you, to put John Bunyan's emblems out of countenance.


Tuesday [September 21].

You see I keep adding a sheet daily till I send the packet off, which I
shall not do for a few days, as I am inclined to write a good deal; for
there can be nothing so remembrancing and enchaining as a good long
letter, be it composed of what it may. From the time you left me our
friends say I have altered completely--am not the same person. Perhaps in
this letter I am, for in a letter one takes up one's existence from the
time we last met. I daresay you have altered also--every man does--our
bodies every seven years are completely material'd. Seven years ago it was
not this hand that clinched itself against Hammond. We are like the relict
garments of a saint--the same and not the same, for the careful monks
patch it and patch it till there's not a thread of the original garment
left, and still they show it for St. Anthony's shirt. This is the reason
why men who have been bosom friends, on being separated for any number of
years meet coldly, neither of them knowing why. The fact is they are both
altered.

Men who live together have a silent moulding and influencing power over
each other. They interassimilate. 'Tis an uneasy thought, that in seven
years the same hands cannot greet each other again. All this may be
obviated by a wilful and dramatic exercise of our minds towards each
other. Some think I have lost that poetic ardour and fire 'tis said I once
had--the fact is, perhaps I have; but, instead of that, I hope I shall
substitute a more thoughtful and quiet power. I am more frequently now
contented to read and think, but now and then haunted with ambitious
thoughts. Quieter in my pulse, improved in my digestion, exerting myself
against vexing speculations, scarcely content to write the best verses for
the fever they leave behind. I want to compose without this fever. I hope
I one day shall. You would scarcely imagine I could live alone so
comfortably. "Kepen in solitarinesse." I told Anne, the servant here, the
other day, to say I was not at home if any one should call. I am not
certain how I should endure loneliness and bad weather together. Now the
time is beautiful. I take a walk every day for an hour before dinner, and
this is generally my walk: I go out the back gate, across one street into
the cathedral yard, which is always interesting; there I pass under the
trees along a paved path, pass the beautiful front of the cathedral, turn
to the left under a stone doorway,--then I am on the other side of the
building,--which leaving behind me, I pass on through two college-like
squares, seemingly built for the dwelling-place of deans and prebendaries,
garnished with grass and shaded with trees; then I pass through one of the
old city gates, and then you are in one college street, through which I
pass, and at the end thereof crossing some meadows, and at last a country
alley of gardens, I arrive, that is my worship arrives, at the foundation
of St. Cross, which is a very interesting old place, both for its gothic
tower and alms square and for the appropriation of its rich rents to a
relation of the Bishop of Winchester. Then I pass across St. Cross meadows
till you come to the most beautifully clear river--now this is only one
mile of my walk. I will spare you the other two till after supper, when
they would do you more good. You must avoid going the first mile best
after dinner--


[Wednesday, September 22.]

I could almost advise you to put by this nonsense until you are lifted out
of your difficulties; but when you come to this part, feel with
confidence what I now feel, that though there can be no stop put to
troubles we are inheritors of, there can be, and must be, an end to
immediate difficulties. Rest in the confidence that I will not omit any
exertion to benefit you by some means or other--If I cannot remit you
hundreds, I will tens, and if not that, ones. Let the next year be managed
by you as well as possible--the next month, I mean, for I trust you will
soon receive Abbey's remittance. What he can send you will not be a
sufficient capital to ensure you any command in America. What he has of
mine I have nearly anticipated by debts, so I would advise you not to sink
it, but to live upon it, in hopes of my being able to increase it. To this
end I will devote whatever I may gain for a few years to come, at which
period I must begin to think of a security of my own comforts, when quiet
will become more pleasant to me than the world. Still, I would have you
doubt my success. 'Tis at present the cast of a die with me. You say,
"These things will be a great torment to me." I shall not suffer them to
be so. I shall only exert myself the more, while the seriousness of their
nature will prevent me from nursing up imaginary griefs. I have not had
the blue devils once since I received your last. I am advised not to
publish till it is seen whether the tragedy will or not succeed. Should
it, a few months may see me in the way of acquiring property. Should it
not, it will be a drawback, and I shall have to perform a longer literary
pilgrimage. You will perceive that it is quite out of my interest to come
to America. What could I do there? How could I employ myself out of reach
of libraries? You do not mention the name of the gentleman who assists
you. 'Tis an extraordinary thing. How could you do without that
assistance? I will not trust myself with brooding over this. The following
is an extract from a letter of Reynolds to me:--

"I am glad to hear you are getting on so well with your writings. I hope
you are not neglecting the revision of your poems for the press, from
which I expect more than you do."

The first thought that struck me on reading your last was to mortgage a
poem to Murray, but on more consideration, I made up my mind not to do so;
my reputation is very low; he would not have negotiated my bill of
intellect, or given me a very small sum. I should have bound myself down
for some time. 'Tis best to meet present misfortunes; not for a momentary
good to sacrifice great benefits which one's own untrammell'd and free
industry may bring one in the end. In all this do never think of me as in
any way unhappy: I shall not be so. I have a great pleasure in thinking of
my responsibility to you, and shall do myself the greatest luxury if I can
succeed in any way so as to be of assistance to you. We shall look back
upon these times, even before our eyes are at all dim--I am convinced of
it. But be careful of those Americans. I could almost advise you to come,
whenever you have the sum of £500, to England. Those Americans will, I am
afraid, still fleece you. If ever you think of such a thing, you must bear
in mind the very different state of society here,--the immense
difficulties of the times, the great sum required per annum to maintain
yourself in any decency. In fact the whole is with Providence. I know not
how to advise you but by advising you to advise with yourself. In your
next tell me at large your thoughts about America--what chance there is of
succeeding there, for it appears to me you have as yet been somehow
deceived. I cannot help thinking Mr. Audubon has deceived you. I shall not
like the sight of him. I shall endeavour to avoid seeing him. You see how
puzzled I am. I have no meridian to fix you to, being the slave of what is
to happen. I think I may bid you finally remain in good hopes, and not
tease yourself with my changes and variations of mind. If I say nothing
decisive in any one particular part of my letter, you may glean the truth
from the whole pretty correctly. You may wonder why I had not put your
affairs with Abbey in train on receiving your letter before last, to which
there will reach you a short answer dated from Shanklin. I did write and
speak to Abbey, but to no purpose. Your last, with the enclosed note, has
appealed home to him. He will not see the necessity of a thing till he is
hit in the mouth. 'Twill be effectual.

I am sorry to mix up foolish and serious things together, but in writing
so much I am obliged to do so, and I hope sincerely the tenor of your mind
will maintain itself better. In the course of a few months I shall be as
good an Italian scholar as I am a French one. I am reading Ariosto at
present, not managing more than six or eight stanzas at a time. When I
have done this language, so as to be able to read it tolerably well, I
shall set myself to get complete in Latin, and there my learning must
stop. I do not think of returning upon Greek. I would not go even so far
if I were not persuaded of the power the knowledge of any language gives
one. The fact is I like to be acquainted with foreign languages. It is,
besides, a nice way of filling up intervals, etc. Also the reading of
Dante is well worth the while; and in Latin there is a fund of curious
literature of the Middle Ages, the works of many great men--Aretino and
Sannazaro and Machiavelli. I shall never become attached to a foreign
idiom, so as to put it into my writings. The Paradise Lost, though so fine
in itself, is a corruption of our language. It should be kept as it
is--unique, a curiosity, a beautiful and grand curiosity, the most
remarkable production of the world; a northern dialect accommodating
itself to Greek and Latin inversions and intonations. The purest English,
I think--or what ought to be purest--is Chatterton's. The language had
existed long enough to be entirely uncorrupted of Chaucer's Gallicisms,
and still the old words are used. Chatterton's language is entirely
northern. I prefer the native music of it to Milton's, cut by feet. I have
but lately stood on my guard against Milton. Life to him would be death
to me. Miltonic verse cannot be written, but is the verse of art. I wish
to devote myself to another verse alone.


Friday [September 24].

I have been obliged to intermit your letter for two days (this being
Friday morning), from having had to attend to other correspondence. Brown,
who was at Bedhampton, went thence to Chichester, and I am still directing
my letters Bedhampton. There arose a misunderstanding about them. I began
to suspect my letters had been stopped from curiosity. However, yesterday
Brown had four letters from me all in a lump, and the matter is cleared
up. Brown complained very much in his letter to me of yesterday of the
great alteration the disposition of Dilke has undergone. He thinks of
nothing but political justice and his boy. Now, the first political duty a
man ought to have a mind to is the happiness of his friends. I wrote Brown
a comment on the subject, wherein I explained what I thought of Dilke's
character, which resolved itself into this conclusion, that Dilke was a
man who cannot feel he has a personal identity unless he has made up his
mind about everything. The only means of strengthening one's intellect is
to make up one's mind about nothing--to let the mind be a thoroughfare for
all thoughts, not a select party. The genus is not scarce in population;
all the stubborn arguers you meet with are of the same brood. They never
begin upon a subject they have not pre-resolved on. They want to hammer
their nail into you, and if you have the point, still they think you
wrong. Dilke will never come at a truth as long as he lives, because he is
always trying at it. He is a Godwin Methodist.

I must not forget to mention that your mother show'd me the lock of
hair--'tis of a very dark colour for so young a creature. Then it is two
feet in length. I shall not stand a barley corn higher. That's not fair;
one ought to go on growing as well as others. At the end of this sheet I
shall stop for the present and send it off. You may expect another letter
immediately after it. As I never know the day of the month but by chance,
I put here that this is the 24th September.

I would wish you here to stop your ears, for I have a word or two to say
to your wife.

       *       *       *       *       *

My dear Sister--In the first place I must quarrel with you for sending me
such a shabby piece of paper, though that is in some degree made up for by
the beautiful impression of the seal. You should like to know what I was
doing the first of May. Let me see--I cannot recollect. I have all the
Examiners ready to send--they will be a great treat to you when they reach
you. I shall pack them up when my business with Abbey has come to a good
conclusion, and the remittance is on the road to you. I have dealt round
your best wishes like a pack of cards, but being always given to cheat
myself, I have turned up ace. You see I am making game of you. I see you
are not all happy in that America. England, however, would not be over
happy for you if you were here. Perhaps 'twould be better to be teased
here than there. I must preach patience to you both. No step hasty or
injurious to you must be taken. You say let one large sheet be all to me.
You will find more than that in different parts of this packet for you.
Certainly, I have been caught in rains. A catch in the rain occasioned my
last sore throat; but as for red-haired girls, upon my word, I do not
recollect ever having seen one. Are you quizzing me or Miss Waldegrave
when you talk of promenading? As for pun-making, I wish it was as good a
trade as pin-making. There is very little business of that sort going on
now. We struck for wages, like the Manchester weavers, but to no purpose.
So we are all out of employ. I am more lucky than some, you see, by having
an opportunity of exporting a few--getting into a little foreign trade,
which is a comfortable thing. I wish one could get change for a pun in
silver currency. I would give three and a half any night to get into Drury
pit, but they won't ring at all. No more will notes you will say; but
notes are different things, though they make together a pun-note as the
term goes. If I were your son, I shouldn't mind you, though you rapt me
with the scissors. But, Lord! I should be out of favour when the little un
be comm'd. You have made an uncle of me, you have, and I don't know what
to make of myself. I suppose next there will be a nevey. You say in my
last, write directly. I have not received your letter above ten days. The
thought of your little girl puts me in mind of a thing I heard a Mr. Lamb
say. A child in arms was passing by towards its mother, in the nurse's
arms. Lamb took hold of the long clothes, saying: "Where, God bless me,
where does it leave off?"


Saturday [September 25].

If you would prefer a joke or two to anything else, I have two for you,
fresh hatched, just ris, as the bakers' wives say by the rolls. The first
I played off on Brown; the second I played on myself. Brown, when he left
me, "Keats," says he, "my good fellow" (staggering upon his left heel and
fetching an irregular pirouette with his right); "Keats," says he
(depressing his left eyebrow and elevating his right one), though by the
way at the moment I did not know which was the right one; "Keats," says he
(still in the same posture, but furthermore both his hands in his
waistcoat pockets and putting out his stomach), "Keats--my--go-o-ood
fell-o-o-ooh," says he (interlarding his exclamation with certain
ventriloquial parentheses),--no, this is all a lie--He was as sober as a
judge, when a judge happens to be sober, and said: "Keats, if any letters
come for me, do not forward them, but open them and give me the marrow of
them in a few words." At the time I wrote my first to him no letter had
arrived. I thought I would invent one, and as I had not time to
manufacture a long one, I dabbed off a short one, and that was the reason
of the joke succeeding beyond my expectations. Brown let his house to a
Mr. Benjamin--a Jew. Now, the water which furnishes the house is in a
tank, sided with a composition of lime, and the lime impregnates the water
unpleasantly. Taking advantage of this circumstance, I pretended that Mr.
Benjamin had written the following short note--

     Sir--By drinking your damn'd tank water I have got the gravel. What
     reparation can you make to me and my family?

     NATHAN BENJAMIN.

By a fortunate hit, I hit upon his right--heathen name--his right
pronomen. Brown in consequence, it appears, wrote to the surprised Mr.
Benjamin the following--

     Sir--I cannot offer you any remuneration until your gravel shall have
     formed itself into a stone--when I will cut you with pleasure.

     C. BROWN.

This of Brown's Mr. Benjamin has answered, insisting on an explanation of
this singular circumstance. B. says: "When I read your letter and his
following, I roared; and in came Mr. Snook, who on reading them seem'd
likely to burst the hoops of his fat sides." So the joke has told well.

Now for the one I played on myself. I must first give you the scene and
the dramatis personæ. There are an old major and his youngish wife here in
the next apartments to me. His bedroom door opens at an angle with my
sitting-room door. Yesterday I was reading as demurely as a parish clerk,
when I heard a rap at the door. I got up and opened it; no one was to be
seen. I listened, and heard some one in the major's room. Not content with
this, I went upstairs and down, looked in the cupboards and watch'd. At
last I set myself to read again, not quite so demurely, when there came a
louder rap. I was determined to find out who it was. I looked out; the
staircases were all silent. "This must be the major's wife," said I. "At
all events I will see the truth." So I rapt me at the major's door and
went in, to the utter surprise and confusion of the lady, who was in
reality there. After a little explanation, which I can no more describe
than fly, I made my retreat from her, convinced of my mistake. She is to
all appearance a silly body, and is really surprised about it. She must
have been, for I have discovered that a little girl in the house was the
rapper. I assure you she has nearly made me sneeze. If the lady tells
tits, I shall put a very grave and moral face on the matter with the old
gentleman, and make his little boy a present of a humming top.


[Monday, September 27.]

My dear George--This Monday morning, the 27th, I have received your last,
dated 12th July. You say you have not heard from England for three months.
Then my letter from Shanklin, written, I think, at the end of June, has
not reach'd you. You shall not have cause to think I neglect you. I have
kept this back a little time in expectation of hearing from Mr. Abbey. You
will say I might have remained in town to be Abbey's messenger in these
affairs. That I offered him, but he in his answer convinced me that he was
anxious to bring the business to an issue. He observed, that by being
himself the agent in the whole, people might be more expeditious. You say
you have not heard for three months, and yet your letters have the tone of
knowing how our affairs are situated, by which I conjecture I acquainted
you with them in a letter previous to the Shanklin one. That I may not
have done. To be certain, I will here state that it is in consequence of
Mrs. Jennings threatening a chancery suit that you have been kept from the
receipt of monies, and myself deprived of any help from Abbey. I am glad
you say you keep up your spirits. I hope you make a true statement on
that score. Still keep them up, for we are all young. I can only repeat
here that you shall hear from me again immediately. Notwithstanding this
bad intelligence, I have experienced some pleasure in receiving so
correctly two letters from you, as it gives me, if I may so say, a distant
idea of proximity. This last improves upon my little niece--kiss her for
me. Do not fret yourself about the delay of money on account of my
immediate opportunity being lost, for in a new country whoever has money
must have an opportunity of employing it in many ways. The report runs now
more in favour of Kean stopping in England. If he should, I have confident
hopes of our tragedy. If he invokes the hot-blooded character of
Ludolph,--and he is the only actor that can do it,--he will add to his own
fame and improve my fortune. I will give you a half-dozen lines of it
before I part as a specimen--

  Not as a swordsman would I pardon crave,
  But as a son: the bronz'd Centurion,
  Long-toil'd in foreign wars, and whose high deeds
  Are shaded in a forest of tall spears,
  Known only to his troop, hath greater plea
  Of favour with my sire than I can have.

Believe me, my dear brother and sister, your affectionate and anxious
Brother

JOHN KEATS.



CXVII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


Winchester, September 22, 1819.

My dear Reynolds--I was very glad to hear from Woodhouse that you would
meet in the country. I hope you will pass some pleasant time together.
Which I wish to make pleasanter by a brace of letters, very highly to be
estimated, as really I have had very bad luck with this sort of game this
season. I "kepen in solitarinesse," for Brown has gone a-visiting. I am
surprised myself at the pleasure I live alone in. I can give you no news
of the place here, or any other idea of it but what I have to this effect
written to George. Yesterday I say to him was a grand day for Winchester.
They elected a Mayor. It was indeed high time the place should receive
some sort of excitement. There was nothing going on: all asleep: not an
old maid's sedan returning from a card party: and if any old woman got
tipsy at Christenings they did not expose it in the streets. The first
night though of our arrival here, there was a slight uproar took place at
about 10 o' the Clock. We heard distinctly a noise pattering down the High
Street as of a walking cane of the good old Dowager breed; and a little
minute after we heard a less voice observe "What a noise the ferril
made--it must be loose." Brown wanted to call the constables, but I
observed 'twas only a little breeze and would soon pass over.--The side
streets here are excessively maiden-lady-like: the door-steps always fresh
from the flannel. The knockers have a staid serious, nay almost awful
quietness about them. I never saw so quiet a collection of Lions' and
Rams' heads. The doors are most part black, with a little brass handle
just above the keyhole, so that in Winchester a man may very quietly shut
himself out of his own house. How beautiful the season is now--How fine
the air. A temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste
weather--Dian skies--I never liked stubble-fields so much as now--Aye
better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow, a stubble-field looks
warm--in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me so much
in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it.[107]

I hope you are better employed than in gaping after weather. I have been
at different times so happy as not to know what weather it was--No I will
not copy a parcel of verses. I always somehow associate Chatterton with
autumn. He is the purest writer in the English Language. He has no French
idiom or particles, like Chaucer--'tis genuine English Idiom in English
words. I have given up Hyperion--there were too many Miltonic inversions
in it--Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful, or, rather,
artist's humour. I wish to give myself up to other sensations. English
ought to be kept up. It may be interesting to you to pick out some lines
from Hyperion, and put a mark × to the false beauty proceeding from art,
and one || to the true voice of feeling. Upon my soul 'twas imagination--I
cannot make the distinction--Every now and then there is a Miltonic
intonation--But I cannot make the division properly. The fact is, I must
take a walk: for I am writing a long letter to George: and have been
employed at it all the morning. You will ask, have I heard from George. I
am sorry to say not the best news--I hope for better. This is the reason,
among others, that if I write to you it must be in such a scrap-like way.
I have no meridian to date interests from, or measure circumstances--
To-night I am all in a mist; I scarcely know what's what--But you knowing
my unsteady and vagarish disposition, will guess that all this turmoil
will be settled by to-morrow morning. It strikes me to-night that I have
led a very odd sort of life for the two or three last years--Here and
there--no anchor--I am glad of it.--If you can get a peep at Babbicombe
before you leave the country, do.--I think it the finest place I have
seen, or is to be seen, in the South. There is a Cottage there I took warm
water at, that made up for the tea. I have lately shirk'd some friends of
ours, and I advise you to do the same, I mean the blue-devils--I am never
at home to them. You need not fear them while you remain in
Devonshire--there will be some of the family waiting for you at the Coach
office--but go by another Coach.

I shall beg leave to have a third opinion in the first discussion you
have with Woodhouse--just half-way, between both. You know I will not give
up my argument--In my walk to-day I stoop'd under a railing that lay
across my path, and asked myself "Why I did not get over." "Because,"
answered I, "no one wanted to force you under." I would give a guinea to
be a reasonable man--good sound sense--a says what he thinks and does what
he says man--and did not take snuff. They say men near death, however mad
they may have been, come to their senses--I hope I shall here in this
letter--there is a decent space to be very sensible in--many a good
proverb has been in less--nay, I have heard of the statutes at large being
changed into the Statutes at Small and printed for a watch paper.

Your sisters, by this time, must have got the Devonshire "ees"--short
ees--you know 'em--they are the prettiest ees in the language. O how I
admire the middle-sized delicate Devonshire girls of about fifteen. There
was one at an Inn door holding a quartern of brandy--the very thought of
her kept me warm a whole stage--and a 16 miler too--"You'll pardon me for
being jocular."

Ever your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXVIII.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


Winchester, Wednesday Eve.

[September 22, 1819.]

My dear Dilke--Whatever I take to for the time I cannot leave off in a
hurry; letter writing is the go now; I have consumed a quire at least. You
must give me credit, now, for a free Letter when it is in reality an
interested one, on two points, the one requestive, the other verging to
the pros and cons. As I expect they will lead me to seeing and conferring
with you in a short time, I shall not enter at all upon a letter I have
lately received from George, of not the most comfortable intelligence: but
proceed to these two points, which if you can theme out into sections and
subsections, for my edification, you will oblige me. The first I shall
begin upon, the other will follow like a tail to a Comet. I have written
to Brown on the subject, and can but go over the same ground with you in a
very short time, it not being more in length than the ordinary paces
between the Wickets. It concerns a resolution I have taken to endeavour to
acquire something by temporary writing in periodical works. You must agree
with me how unwise it is to keep feeding upon hopes, which depending so
much on the state of temper and imagination, appear gloomy or bright, near
or afar off, just as it happens. Now an act has three parts--to act, to
do, and to perform--I mean I should _do_ something for my immediate
welfare. Even if I am swept away like a spider from a drawing-room, I am
determined to spin--homespun anything for sale. Yea, I will traffic.
Anything but Mortgage my Brain to Blackwood. I am determined not to lie
like a dead lump. If Reynolds had not taken to the law, would he not be
earning something? Why cannot I. You may say I want tact--that is easily
acquired. You may be up to the slang of a cock pit in three battles. It is
fortunate I have not before this been tempted to venture on the common. I
should a year or two ago have spoken my mind on every subject with the
utmost simplicity. I hope I have learned a little better and am confident
I shall be able to cheat as well as any literary Jew of the Market and
shine up an article on anything without much knowledge of the subject, aye
like an orange. I would willingly have recourse to other means. I cannot;
I am fit for nothing but literature. Wait for the issue of this Tragedy?
No--there cannot be greater uncertainties east, west, north, and south
than concerning dramatic composition. How many months must I wait! Had I
not better begin to look about me now? If better events supersede this
necessity what harm will be done? I have no trust whatever on Poetry. I
don't wonder at it--the marvel is to me how people read so much of it. I
think you will see the reasonableness of my plan. To forward it I purpose
living in cheap Lodging in Town, that I may be in the reach of books and
information, of which there is here a plentiful lack. If I can find any
place tolerably comfortable I will settle myself and fag till I can afford
to buy Pleasure--which if I never can afford I must go without. Talking of
Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other
holding to my Mouth a Nectarine--good God how fine. It went down soft,
pulpy, slushy, oozy--all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat
like a large beatified Strawberry. I shall certainly breed. Now I come to
my request. Should you like me for a neighbour again? Come, plump it out,
I won't blush. I should also be in the neighbourhood of Mrs. Wylie, which
I should be glad of, though that of course does not influence me.
Therefore will you look about Marsham, or Rodney Street for a couple of
rooms for me. Rooms like the gallant's legs in Massinger's time, "as good
as the times allow, Sir." I have written to-day to Reynolds, and to
Woodhouse. Do you know him? He is a Friend of Taylor's at whom Brown has
taken one of his funny odd dislikes. I'm sure he's wrong, because
Woodhouse likes my Poetry--conclusive. I ask your opinion and yet I must
say to you as to him, Brown, that if you have anything to say against it I
shall be as obstinate and heady as a Radical. By the Examiner coming in
your handwriting you must be in Town. They have put me into spirits.
Notwithstanding my aristocratic temper I cannot help being very much
pleased with the present public proceedings. I hope sincerely I shall be
able to put a Mite of help to the Liberal side of the Question before I
die. If you should have left Town again (for your Holidays cannot be up
yet) let me know when this is forwarded to you. A most extraordinary
mischance has befallen two letters I wrote Brown--one from London whither
I was obliged to go on business for George; the other from this place
since my return. I can't make it out. I am excessively sorry for it. I
shall hear from Brown and from you almost together, for I have sent him a
Letter to-day: you must positively agree with me or by the delicate toe
nails of the virgin I will not open your Letters. If they are as David
says "suspicious looking letters" I won't open them. If St. John had been
half as cunning he might have seen the revelations comfortably in his own
room, without giving angels the trouble of breaking open seals. Remember
me to Mrs. D. and the West-monasteranian and believe me

Ever your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXIX.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


Winchester, September 23, 1819.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I am going to enter on the subject of self. It is quite time I should
set myself doing something, and live no longer upon hopes. I have never
yet exerted myself. I am getting into an idle-minded, vicious way of life,
almost content to live upon others. In no period of my life have I acted
with any self-will but in throwing up the apothecary profession. That I do
not repent of. Look at Reynolds, if he was not in the law, he would be
acquiring, by his abilities, something towards his support. My occupation
is entirely literary: I will do so, too. I will write, on the liberal side
of the question, for whoever will pay me. I have not known yet what it is
to be diligent. I purpose living in town in a cheap lodging, and
endeavouring, for a beginning, to get the theatricals of some paper. When
I can afford to compose deliberate poems, I will. I shall be in
expectation of an answer to this. Look on my side of the question. I am
convinced I am right. Suppose the tragedy should succeed,--there will be
no harm done. And here I will take an opportunity of making a remark or
two on our friendship, and on all your good offices to me. I have a
natural timidity of mind in these matters; liking better to take the
feeling between us for granted, than to speak of it. But, good God! what a
short while you have known me! I feel it a sort of duty thus to
recapitulate, however unpleasant it may be to you. You have been living
for others more than any man I know. This is a vexation to me, because it
has been depriving you, in the very prime of your life, of pleasures which
it was your duty to procure. As I am speaking in general terms, this may
appear nonsense; you perhaps will not understand it; but if you can go
over, day by day, any month of the last year, you will know what I mean.
On the whole however this is a subject that I cannot express myself
upon--I speculate upon it frequently; and believe me the end of my
speculations is always an anxiety for your happiness. This anxiety will
not be one of the least incitements to the plan I purpose pursuing. I had
got into a habit of mind of looking towards you as a help in all
difficulties--This very habit would be the parent of idleness and
difficulties. You will see it is a duty I owe myself to break the neck of
it. I do nothing for my subsistence--make no exertion--At the end of
another year you shall applaud me, not for verses, but for conduct. While
I have some immediate cash, I had better settle myself quietly, and fag on
as others do. I shall apply to Hazlitt, who knows the market as well as
any one, for something to bring me in a few pounds as soon as possible. I
shall not suffer my pride to hinder me. The whisper may go round; I shall
not hear it. If I can get an article in the Edinburgh, I will. One must
not be delicate--Nor let this disturb you longer than a moment. I look
forward with a good hope that we shall one day be passing free,
untrammelled, unanxious time together. That can never be if I continue a
dead lump. I shall be expecting anxiously an answer from you. If it does
not arrive in a few days this will have miscarried, and I shall come
straight to ---- before I go to town, which you I am sure will agree had
better be done while I still have some ready cash. By the middle of
October I shall expect you in London. We will then set at the theatres. If
you have anything to gainsay, I shall be even as the deaf adder which
stoppeth her ears.

       *       *       *       *       *



CXX.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


Winchester, September 23, 1819.

       *       *       *       *       *

Do not suffer me to disturb you unpleasantly: I do not mean that you
should not suffer me to occupy your thoughts, but to occupy them
pleasantly; for I assure you I am as far from being unhappy as possible.
Imaginary grievances have always been more my torment than real ones--You
know this well--Real ones will never have any other effect upon me than to
stimulate me to get out of or avoid them. This is easily accounted
for--Our imaginary woes are conjured up by our passions, and are fostered
by passionate feeling: our real ones come of themselves, and are opposed
by an abstract exertion of mind. Real grievances are displacers of
passion. The imaginary nail a man down for a sufferer, as on a cross; the
real spur him up into an agent. I wish, at one view, you would see my
heart towards you. 'Tis only from a high tone of feeling that I can put
that word upon paper--out of poetry. I ought to have waited for your
answer to my last before I wrote this. I felt however compelled to make a
rejoinder to yours. I had written to Dilke on the subject of my last, I
scarcely know whether I shall send my letter now. I think he would approve
of my plan; it is so evident. Nay, I am convinced, out and out, that by
prosing for a while in periodical works I may maintain myself decently.

       *       *       *       *       *



CXXI.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


Winchester, Friday, October 1 [1819].

My dear Dilke--For sundry reasons, which I will explain to you when I come
to Town, I have to request you will do me a great favour as I must call it
knowing how great a Bore it is. That your imagination may not have time to
take too great an alarm I state immediately that I want you to hire me a
couple of rooms (a Sitting Room and bed room for myself alone) in
Westminster. Quietness and cheapness are the essentials: but as I shall
with Brown be returned by next Friday you cannot in that space have
sufficient time to make any choice selection, and need not be very
particular as I can when on the spot suit myself at leisure. Brown bids me
remind you not to send the Examiners after the third. Tell Mrs. D. I am
obliged to her for the late ones which I see are directed in her hand.
Excuse this mere business letter for I assure you I have not a syllable at
hand on any subject in the world.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXXII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Winchester, Sunday Morn [October 3, 1819].

My dear Haydon--Certainly I might: but a few Months pass away before we
are aware. I have a great aversion to letter writing, which grows more and
more upon me; and a greater to summon up circumstances before me of an
unpleasant nature. I was not willing to trouble you with them. Could I
have dated from my Palace of Milan you would have heard from me. Not even
now will I mention a word of my affairs--only that "I Rab am here" but
shall not be here more than a Week more, as I purpose to settle in Town
and work my way with the rest. I hope I shall never be so silly as to
injure my health and industry for the future by speaking, writing or
fretting about my non-estate. I have no quarrel, I assure you, of so
weighty a nature, with the world, on my own account as I have on yours. I
have done nothing--except for the amusement of a few people who refine
upon their feelings till anything in the un-understandable way will go
down with them--people predisposed for sentiment. I have no cause to
complain because I am certain anything really fine will in these days be
felt. I have no doubt that if I had written Othello I should have been
cheered by as good a mob as Hunt. So would you be now if the operation of
painting was as universal as that of Writing. It is not: and therefore it
did behove men I could mention among whom I must place Sir George Beaumont
to have lifted you up above sordid cares. That this has not been done is a
disgrace to the country. I know very little of Painting, yet your pictures
follow me into the Country. When I am tired of reading I often think them
over and as often condemn the spirit of modern Connoisseurs. Upon the
whole, indeed, you have no complaint to make, being able to say what so
few Men can, "I have succeeded." On sitting down to write a few lines to
you these are the uppermost in my mind, and, however I may be beating
about the arctic while your spirit has passed the line, you may lay to a
minute and consider I am earnest as far as I can see. Though at this
present "I have great dispositions to write" I feel every day more and
more content to read. Books are becoming more interesting and valuable to
me. I may say I could not live without them. If in the course of a
fortnight you can procure me a ticket to the British Museum I will make a
better use of it than I did in the first instance. I shall go on with
patience in the confidence that if I ever do anything worth remembering
the Reviewers will no more be able to stumble-block me than the Royal
Academy could you. They have the same quarrel with you that the Scotch
nobles had with Wallace. The fame they have lost through you is no joke to
them. Had it not been for you Fuseli would have been not as he is major
but maximus domo. What Reviewers can put a hindrance to must be--a
nothing--or mediocre which is worse. I am sorry to say that since I saw
you I have been guilty of a practical joke upon Brown which has had all
the success of an innocent Wildfire among people. Some day in the next
week you shall hear it from me by word of Mouth. I have not seen the
portentous Book which was skummer'd at you just as I left town. It may be
light enough to serve you as a Cork Jacket and save you for a while the
trouble of swimming. I heard the Man went raking and rummaging about like
any Richardson. That and the Memoirs of Menage are the first I shall be
at. From Sr. G. B.'s, Lord Ms[108] and particularly Sr. John Leicesters
good lord deliver us. I shall expect to see your Picture plumped out like
a ripe Peach--you would not be very willing to give me a slice of it. I
came to this place in the hopes of meeting with a Library but was
disappointed. The High Street is as quiet as a Lamb. The knockers are
dieted to three raps per diem. The walks about are interesting from the
many old Buildings and archways. The view of the High Street through the
Gate of the City in the beautiful September evening light has amused me
frequently. The bad singing of the Cathedral I do not care to smoke--being
by myself I am not very coy in my taste. At St. Cross there is an
interesting picture of Albert Dürer's--who living in such war-like times
perhaps was forced to paint in his Gauntlets--so we must make all
allowances.

I am, my dear Haydon, Yours ever

JOHN KEATS.

Brown has a few words to say to you and will cross this.



CXXIII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place[109] [October 16, 1819].

My dear Fanny--My Conscience is always reproaching me for neglecting you
for so long a time. I have been returned from Winchester this fortnight,
and as yet I have not seen you. I have no excuse to offer--I should have
no excuse. I shall expect to see you the next time I call on Mr. A. about
George's affairs which perplex me a great deal--I should have to-day gone
to see if you were in town--but as I am in an industrious humour (which is
so necessary to my livelihood for the future) I am loath to break through
it though it be merely for one day, for when I am inclined I can do a
great deal in a day--I am more fond of pleasure than study (many men have
prefer'd the latter) but I have become resolved to know something which
you will credit when I tell you I have left off animal food that my brains
may never henceforth be in a greater mist than is theirs by nature--I took
lodgings in Westminster for the purpose of being in the reach of Books,
but am now returned to Hampstead being induced to it by the habit I have
acquired in this room I am now in and also from the pleasure of being free
from paying any petty attentions to a diminutive house-keeping. Mr. Brown
has been my great friend for some time--without him I should have been
in, perhaps, personal distress--as I know you love me though I do not
deserve it, I am sure you will take pleasure in being a friend to Mr.
Brown even before you know him.--My lodgings for two or three days were
close in the neighbourhood of Mrs. Dilke who never sees me but she
enquires after you--I have had letters from George lately which do not
contain, as I think I told you in my last, the best news--I have hopes for
the best--I trust in a good termination to his affairs which you please
God will soon hear of--It is better you should not be teased with the
particulars. The whole amount of the ill news is that his mercantile
speculations have not had success in consequence of the general depression
of trade in the whole province of Kentucky and indeed all America.--I have
a couple of shells for you you will call pretty.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXXIV.--TO JOSEPH SEVERN.


Wentworth Place, Wednesday

[October 27? 1819].

Dear Severn--Either your joke about staying at home is a very old one or I
really call'd. I don't remember doing so. I am glad to hear you have
finish'd the Picture and am more anxious to see it than I have time to
spare: for I have been so very lax, unemployed, unmeridian'd, and
objectless these two months that I even grudge indulging (and that is no
great indulgence considering the Lecture is not over till 9 and the
lecture room seven miles from Wentworth Place) myself by going to
Hazlitt's Lecture. If you have hours to the amount of a brace of dozens to
throw away you may sleep nine of them here in your little Crib and chat
the rest. When your Picture is up and in a good light I shall make a point
of meeting you at the Academy if you will let me know when. If you should
be at the Lecture to-morrow evening I shall see you--and congratulate you
heartily--Haslam I know "is very Beadle to an amorous sigh."

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXXV.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Wentworth Place, Hampstead,

November 17 [1819].

My dear Taylor--I have come to a determination not to publish anything I
have now ready written: but, for all that, to publish a poem before long,
and that I hope to make a fine one. As the marvellous is the most
enticing, and the surest guarantee of harmonious numbers, I have been
endeavouring to persuade myself to untether Fancy, and to let her manage
for herself.[110] I and myself cannot agree about this at all. Wonders are
no wonders to me. I am more at home amongst men and women. I would rather
read Chaucer than Ariosto. The little dramatic skill I may as yet have,
however badly it might show in a drama, would, I think, be sufficient for
a poem. I wish to diffuse the colouring of St. Agnes's Eve throughout a
poem in which character and sentiment would be the figures to such
drapery. Two or three such poems, if God should spare me, written in the
course of the next six years, would be a famous Gradus ad Parnassum
altissimum--I mean they would nerve me up to the writing of a few fine
plays--my greatest ambition, when I do feel ambitious. I am sorry to say
that is very seldom. The subject we have once or twice talked of appears a
promising one--The Earl of Leicester's history. I am this morning reading
Holinshed's "Elizabeth." You had some books a while ago, you promised to
send me, illustrative of my subject. If you can lay hold of them, or any
others which may be serviceable to me, I know you will encourage my
low-spirited muse by sending them, or rather by letting me know where our
errand-cart man shall call with my little box. I will endeavour to set
myself selfishly at work on this poem that is to be.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXXVI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wednesday Morn--[November 17, 1819].

My dear Fanny--I received your letter yesterday Evening and will obey it
to-morrow. I would come to-day--but I have been to Town so frequently on
George's Business it makes me wish to employ to-day at Hampstead. So I say
Thursday without fail. I have no news at all entertaining--and if I had I
should not have time to tell them as I wish to send this by the morning
Post.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CXXVII.--TO JOSEPH SEVERN.


Wentworth Place, Monday Morn--

[December 6? 1819].

My dear Severn--I am very sorry that on Tuesday I have an appointment in
the City of an undeferable nature; and Brown on the same day has some
business at Guildhall. I have not been able to figure your manner of
executing the Cave of despair,[111] therefore it will be at any rate a
novelty and surprise to me--I trust on the right side. I shall call upon
you some morning shortly, early enough to catch you before you can get
out--when we will proceed to the Academy. I think you must be suited with
a good painting light in your Bay window. I wish you to return the
Compliment by going with me to see a Poem I have hung up for the Prize in
the Lecture Room of the Surry Institution. I have many Rivals, the most
threatening are An Ode to Lord Castlereagh, and a new series of Hymns for
the New, new Jerusalem Chapel. (You had best put me into your Cave of
despair.)

Ever yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CXXVIII.--TO JAMES RICE.


Wentworth Place [December 1819].

My dear Rice--As I want the coat on my back mended, I would be obliged if
you would send me the one Brown left at your house by the Bearer--During
your late contest I had regular reports of you, how that your time was
completely taken up and your health improving--I shall call in the course
of a few days, and see whether your promotion has made any difference in
your Behaviour to us. I suppose Reynolds has given you an account of Brown
and Elliston. As he has not rejected our Tragedy, I shall not venture to
call him directly a fool; but as he wishes to put it off till next season,
I cannot help thinking him little better than a knave.--That it will not
be acted this season is yet uncertain. Perhaps we may give it another
furbish and try it at Covent Garden. 'Twould do one's heart good to see
Macready in Ludolph. If you do not see me soon it will be from the humour
of writing, which I have had for three days continuing. I must say to the
Muses what the maid says to the Man--"Take me while the fit is on me."...

Ever yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CXXIX.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Monday Morn--

[December 20, 1819.]

My dear Fanny--When I saw you last, you ask'd me whether you should see me
again before Christmas. You would have seen me if I had been quite well. I
have not, though not unwell enough to have prevented me--not indeed at
all--but fearful lest the weather should affect my throat which on
exertion or cold continually threatens me.--By the advice of my Doctor I
have had a warm great Coat made and have ordered some thick shoes--so
furnish'd I shall be with you if it holds a little fine before Christmas
day.--I have been very busy since I saw you, especially the last Week, and
shall be for some time, in preparing some Poems to come out in the Spring,
and also in brightening the interest of our Tragedy.--Of the Tragedy I can
give you but news semigood. It is accepted at Drury Lane with a promise of
coming out next season: as that will be too long a delay we have
determined to get Elliston to bring it out this Season or to transfer it
to Covent Garden. This Elliston will not like, as we have every motive to
believe that Kean has perceived how suitable the principal Character will
be for him. My hopes of success in the literary world are now better than
ever. Mr. Abbey, on my calling on him lately, appeared anxious that I
should apply myself to something else--He mentioned Tea Brokerage. I
supposed he might perhaps mean to give me the Brokerage of his concern
which might be executed with little trouble and a good profit; and
therefore said I should have no objection to it, especially as at the same
time it occurred to me that I might make over the business to George--I
questioned him about it a few days after. His mind takes odd turns. When I
became a Suitor he became coy. He did not seem so much inclined to serve
me. He described what I should have to do in the progress of business. It
will not suit me. I have given it up. I have not heard again from George,
which rather disappoints me, as I wish to hear before I make any fresh
remittance of his property. I received a note from Mrs. Dilke a few days
ago inviting me to dine with her on Xmas day which I shall do. Mr. Brown
and I go on in our old dog trot of Breakfast, dinner (not tea, for we have
left that off), supper, Sleep, Confab, stirring the fire and reading.
Whilst I was in the Country last Summer, Mrs. Bentley tells me, a woman
in mourning call'd on me,--and talk'd something of an aunt of ours--I am
so careless a fellow I did not enquire, but will particularly: On Tuesday
I am going to hear some Schoolboys Speechify on breaking up day--I'll lay
you a pocket piece we shall have "My name is Norval." I have not yet
look'd for the Letter you mention'd as it is mix'd up in a box full of
papers--you must tell me, if you can recollect, the subject of it. This
moment Bentley brought a Letter from George for me to deliver to Mrs.
Wylie--I shall see her and it before I see you. The Direction was in his
best hand written with a good Pen and sealed with a Tassie's Shakspeare
such as I gave you--We judge of people's hearts by their Countenances; may
we not judge of Letters in the same way?--if so, the Letter does not
contain unpleasant news--Good or bad spirits have an effect on the
handwriting. This direction is at least unnervous and healthy. Our Sister
is also well, or George would have made strange work with Ks and Ws. The
little Baby is well or he would have formed precious vowels and
Consonants--He sent off the Letter in a hurry, or the mail bag was rather
a warm berth, or he has worn out his Seal, for the Shakspeare's head is
flattened a little. This is close muggy weather as they say at the Ale
houses.

I am ever, my dear Sister, yours affectionately

JOHN KEATS.



CXXX.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Wednesday.

[December 22, 1819.]

My dear Fanny--I wrote to you a Letter directed Walthamstow the day before
yesterday wherein I promised to see you before Christmas day. I am sorry
to say I have been and continue rather unwell, and therefore shall not be
able to promise certainly. I have not seen Mrs. Wylie's Letter. Excuse my
dear Fanny this very shabby note.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CXXXI.--TO GEORGIANA KEATS.


Thursday, January 13, 1820.

My dear Sister--By the time you receive this your trouble will be over. I
wish you knew they were half over. I mean that George is safe in England
and in good health.[112] To write to you by him is almost like following
one's own letter in the mail. That it may not be quite so, I will leave
common intelligence out of the question, and write wide of him as I can. I
fear I must be dull, having had no good-natured flip from Fortune's finger
since I saw you, and no sideway comfort in the success of my friends. I
could almost promise that if I had the means I would accompany George back
to America, and pay you a visit of a few months. I should not think much
of the time, or my absence from my books; or I have no right to think, for
I am very idle. But then I ought to be diligent, and at least keep myself
within the reach of materials for diligence. Diligence, that I do not mean
to say; I should say dreaming over my books, or rather other people's
books. George has promised to bring you to England when the five years
have elapsed. I regret very much that I shall not be able to see you
before that time, and even then I must hope that your affairs will be in
so prosperous a way as to induce you to stop longer. Yours is a hardish
fate, to be so divided among your friends and settled among a people you
hate. You will find it improve. You have a heart that will take hold of
your children; even George's absence will make things better. His return
will banish what must be your greatest sorrow, and at the same time minor
ones with it. Robinson Crusoe, when he saw himself in danger of perishing
on the waters, looked back to his island as to the haven of his happiness,
and on gaining it once more was more content with his solitude. We smoke
George about his little girl. He runs the common-beaten road of every
father, as I dare say you do of every mother: there is no child like his
child, so original,--original forsooth! However, I take you at your words.
I have a lively faith that yours is the very gem of all children. Ain't I
its uncle?

On Henry's marriage there was a piece of bride cake sent me. It missed its
way. I suppose the carrier or coachman was a conjuror, and wanted it for
his own private use. Last Sunday George and I dined at Millar's. There
were your mother and Charles with Fool Lacon, Esq., who sent the sly,
disinterested shawl to Miss Millar, with his own heathen name engraved in
the middle. Charles had a silk handkerchief belonging to a Miss Grover,
with whom he pretended to be smitten, and for her sake kept exhibiting and
adoring the handkerchief all the evening. Fool Lacon, Esq., treated it
with a little venturesome, trembling contumely, whereupon Charles set him
quietly down on the floor, from where he as quietly got up. This process
was repeated at supper time, when your mother said, "If I were you Mr.
Lacon I would not let him do so." Fool Lacon, Esq., did not offer any
remark. He will undoubtedly die in his bed. Your mother did not look quite
so well on Sunday. Mrs. Henry Wylie is excessively quiet before people. I
hope she is always so. Yesterday we dined at Taylor's, in Fleet Street.
George left early after dinner to go to Deptford; he will make all square
there for me. I could not go with him--I did not like the amusement.
Haslam is a very good fellow indeed; he has been excessively anxious and
kind to us. But is this fair? He has an innamorata at Deptford, and he has
been wanting me for some time past to see her. This is a thing which it is
impossible not to shirk. A man is like a magnet--he must have a repelling
end. So how am I to see Haslam's lady and family, if I even went? for by
the time I got to Greenwich I should have repell'd them to Blackheath, and
by the time I got to Deptford they would be on Shooter's Hill; when I came
to Shooter Hill they would alight at Chatham, and so on till I drove them
into the sea, which I think might be indictable. The evening before
yesterday we had a pianoforte hop at Dilke's. There was very little
amusement in the room, but a Scotchman to hate. Some people, you must have
observed, have a most unpleasant effect upon you when you see them
speaking in profile. This Scotchman is the most accomplished fellow in
this way I ever met with. The effect was complete. It went down like a
dose of bitters, and I hope will improve my digestion. At Taylor's too,
there was a Scotchman,--not quite so bad, for he was as clean as he could
get himself. Not having succeeded in Drury Lane with our tragedy, we have
been making some alterations, and are about to try Covent Garden. Brown
has just done patching up the copy--as it is altered. The reliance I had
on it was in Kean's acting. I am not afraid it will be damn'd in the
Garden. You said in one of your letters that there was nothing but Haydon
and Co. in mine. There can be nothing of him in this, for I never see him
or Co. George has introduced to us an American of the name of Hart. I like
him in a moderate way. He was at Mrs. Dilke's party--and sitting by me; we
began talking about English and American ladies. The Miss ---- and some of
their friends made not a very enticing row opposite us. I bade him mark
them and form his judgment of them. I told him I hated Englishmen because
they were the only men I knew. He does not understand this. Who would be
Braggadochio to Johnny Bull? Johnny's house is his castle--and a precious
dull castle it is; what a many Bull castles there are in so-and-so
crescent! I never wish myself an unversed writer and newsmonger but when I
write to you. I should like for a day or two to have somebody's
knowledge--Mr. Lacon's for instance--of all the different folks of a wide
acquaintance, to tell you about. Only let me have his knowledge of family
minutiæ and I would set them in a proper light; but, bless me, I never go
anywhere. My pen is no more garrulous than my tongue. Any third person
would think I was addressing myself to a lover of scandal. But we know we
do not love scandal, but fun; and if scandal happens to be fun, that is no
fault of ours. There were very good pickings for me in George's letters
about the prairie settlement, if I had any taste to turn them to account
in England. I knew a friend of Miss Andrews, yet I never mentioned her to
him; for after I had read the letter I really did not recollect her story.
Now I have been sitting here half an hour with my invention at work, to
say something about your mother or Charles or Henry, but it is in vain. I
know not what to say. Three nights since, George went with your mother to
the play. I hope she will soon see mine acted. I do not remember ever to
have thanked you for your tassels to my Shakspeare--there he hangs so ably
supported opposite me. I thank you now. It is a continual memento of you.
If you should have a boy, do not christen him John, and persuade George
not to let his partiality for me come across. 'Tis a bad name, and goes
against a man. If my name had been Edmund I should have been more
fortunate.

I was surprised to hear of the state of society at Louisville; it seems to
me you are just as ridiculous there as we are here--threepenny parties,
halfpenny dances. The best thing I have heard of is your shooting; for it
seems you follow the gun. Give my compliments to Mrs. Audubon, and tell
her I cannot think her either good-looking or honest. Tell Mr. Audubon
he's a fool, and Briggs that 'tis well I was not Mr. A.


Saturday, January 15.

It is strange that George having to stop so short a time in England, I
should not have seen him for nearly two days. He has been to Haslam's and
does not encourage me to follow his example. He had given promise to dine
with the same party to-morrow, but has sent an excuse which I am glad of,
as we shall have a pleasant party with us to-morrow. We expect Charles
here to-day. This is a beautiful day. I hope you will not quarrel with it
if I call it an American one. The sun comes upon the snow and makes a
prettier candy than we have on twelfth-night cakes. George is busy this
morning in making copies of my verses. He is making one now of an "Ode to
the Nightingale," which is like reading an account of the Black Hole at
Calcutta on an iceberg.

You will say this is a matter of course. I am glad it is--I mean that I
should like your brothers more the more I know them. I should spend much
more time with them if our lives were more run in parallel; but we can
talk but on one subject--that is you.

The more I know of men the more I know how to value entire liberality in
any of them. Thank God, there are a great many who will sacrifice their
worldly interest for a friend. I wish there were more who would sacrifice
their passions. The worst of men are those whose self-interests are their
passion; the next, those whose passions are their self-interest. Upon the
whole I dislike mankind. Whatever people on the other side of the question
may advance, they cannot deny that they are always surprised at hearing of
a good action, and never of a bad one. I am glad you have something to
like in America--doves. Gertrude of Wyoming and Birkbeck's book should be
bound up together like a brace of decoy ducks--one is almost as poetical
as the other. Precious miserable people at the prairie. I have been
sitting in the sun whilst I wrote this till it's become quite
oppressive--this is very odd for January. The vulcan fire is the true
natural heat for winter. The sun has nothing to do in winter but to give a
little glooming light much like a shade. Our Irish servant has piqued me
this morning by saying that her father in Ireland was very much like my
Shakspeare, only he had more colour than the engraving. You will find on
George's return that I have not been neglecting your affairs. The delay
was unfortunate, not faulty. Perhaps by this time you have received my
three last letters, not one of which had reached before George sailed. I
would give twopence to have been over the world as much as he has. I wish
I had money enough to do nothing but travel about for years. Were you now
in England I dare say you would be able (setting aside the pleasure you
would have in seeing your mother) to suck out more amusement for society
than I am able to do. To me it is all as dull here as Louisville could be.
I am tired of the theatres. Almost all the parties I may chance to fall
into I know by heart. I know the different styles of talk in different
places,--what subjects will be started, how it will proceed like an acted
play, from the first to the last act. If I go to Hunt's I run my head into
many tunes heard before, old puns, and old music; to Haydon's worn-out
discourses of poetry and painting. The Miss ---- I am afraid to speak to,
for fear of some sickly reiteration of phrase or sentiment. When they were
at the dance the other night I tried manfully to sit near and talk to
them, but to no purpose; and if I had it would have been to no purpose
still. My question or observation must have been an old one, and the
rejoinder very antique indeed. At Dilke's I fall foul of politics. 'Tis
best to remain aloof from people and like their good parts without being
eternally troubled with the dull process of their everyday lives. When
once a person has smoked the vapidness of the routine of society he must
either have self-interest or the love of some sort of distinction to keep
him in good humour with it. All I can say is that, standing at Charing
Cross and looking east, west, north, and south, I can see nothing but
dulness. I hope while I am young to live retired in the country. When I
grow in years and have a right to be idle, I shall enjoy cities more. If
the American ladies are worse than the English they must be very bad. You
say you should like your Emily brought up here. You had better bring her
up yourself. You know a good number of English ladies; what encomium could
you give of half a dozen of them? The greater part seem to me downright
American. I have known more than one Mrs. Audubon. Her affectation of
fashion and politeness cannot transcend ours. Look at our Cheapside
tradesmen's sons and daughters--only fit to be taken off by a plague. I
hope now soon to come to the time when I shall never be forced to walk
through the city and hate as I walk.


Monday, January 17.

George had a quick rejoinder to his letter of excuse to Haslam, so we had
not his company yesterday, which I was sorry for as there was our old set.
I know three witty people all distinct in their excellence--Rice,
Reynolds, and Richards. Rice is the wisest, Reynolds the playfullest,
Richards the out-o'-the-wayest. The first makes you laugh and think, the
second makes you laugh and not think, the third puzzles your head. I
admire the first, I enjoy the second, I stare at the third. The first is
claret, the second ginger-beer, the third crême de Byrapymdrag. The first
is inspired by Minerva, the second by Mercury, the third by Harlequin
Epigram, Esq. The first is neat in his dress, the second slovenly, the
third uncomfortable. The first speaks adagio, the second allegretto, the
third both together. The first is Swiftean, the second Tom-Crib-ean, the
third Shandean. And yet these three eans are not three eans but one ean.

Charles came on Saturday but went early; he seems to have schemes and
plans and wants to get off. He is quite right; I am glad to see him
employed at business. You remember I wrote you a story about a woman named
Alice being made young again, or some such stuff. In your next letter tell
me whether I gave it as my own, or whether I gave it as a matter Brown was
employed upon at the time. He read it over to George the other day, and
George said he had heard it all before. So Brown suspects I have been
giving you his story as my own. I should like to set him right in it by
your evidence. George has not returned from town; when he does I shall tax
his memory. We had a young, long, raw, lean Scotchman with us yesterday,
called Thornton. Rice, for fun or for mistake, would persist in calling
him Stevenson. I know three people of no wit at all, each distinct in his
excellence--A, B, and C. A is the foolishest, B the sulkiest, C is a
negative. A makes you yawn, B makes you hate, as for C you never see him
at all though he were six feet high--I bear the first, I forbear the
second, I am not certain that the third is. The first is gruel, the second
ditch-water, the third is spilt--he ought to be wip'd up. A is inspired by
Jack-o'-the-clock, B has been drilled by a Russian serjeant, C, they say,
is not his mother's true child, but she bought him of the man who cries,
Young lambs to sell.

Twang-dillo-dee--This you must know is the amen to nonsense. I know a good
many places where Amen should be scratched out, rubbed over with ponce
made of Momus's little finger bones, and in its place Twang-dillo-dee
written. This is the word I shall be tempted to write at the end of most
modern poems. Every American book ought to have it. It would be a good
distinction in society. My Lords Wellington and Castlereagh, and Canning,
and many more, would do well to wear Twang-dillo-dee on their backs
instead of Ribbons at their button-holes; how many people would go
sideways along walls and quickset hedges to keep their "Twang-dillo-dee"
out of sight, or wear large pig-tails to hide it. However there would be
so many that the Twang-dillo-dees would keep one another in
countenance--which Brown cannot do for me--I have fallen away lately.
Thieves and murderers would gain rank in the world, for would any of them
have the poorness of spirit to condescend to be a Twang-dillo-dee? "I have
robbed many a dwelling house; I have killed many a fowl, many a goose,
and many a Man (would such a gentleman say) but, thank Heaven, I was never
yet a Twang-dillo-dee." Some philosophers in the moon, who spy at our
globe as we do at theirs, say that Twang-dillo-dee is written in large
letters on our globe of earth; they say the beginning of the "T" is just
on the spot where London stands, London being built within the flourish;
"wan" reaches downward and slants as far as Timbuctoo in Africa; the tail
of the "g" goes slap across the Atlantic into the Rio della Plata; the
remainder of the letters wrap around New Holland, and the last "e"
terminates in land we have not yet discovered. However, I must be silent;
these are dangerous times to libel a man in--much more a world.


Friday 27 [for 28th January 1820].

I wish you would call me names: I deserve them so much. I have only
written two sheets for you, to carry by George, and those I forgot to
bring to town and have therefore to forward them to Liverpool. George went
this morning at 6 o'clock by the Liverpool coach. His being on his journey
to you prevents my regretting his short stay. I have no news of any sort
to tell you. Henry is wife bound in Camden Town; there is no getting him
out. I am sorry he has not a prettier wife: indeed 'tis a shame: she is
not half a wife. I think I could find some of her relations in Buffon, or
Capt{n} Cook's voyages or the hie_rogue_glyphics in Moor's Almanack, or
upon a Chinese clock door, the shepherdesses on her own mantelpiece, or in
a _cruel_ sampler in which she may find herself worsted, or in a Dutch
toyshop window, or one of the daughters in the ark, or any picture shop
window. As I intend to retire into the country where there will be no sort
of news, I shall not be able to write you very long letters. Besides I am
afraid the postage comes to too much; which till now I have not been aware
of.

People in military bands are generally seriously occupied. None may or
can laugh at their work but the Kettle Drum, Long Drum, Do. Triangle and
Cymbals. Thinking you might want a rat-catcher I put your mother's old
quaker-colour'd cat into the top of your bonnet. She's wi' kitten, so you
may expect to find a whole family. I hope the family will not grow too
large for its lodging. I shall send you a close written sheet on the first
of next month, but for fear of missing the Liverpool Post I must finish
here. God bless you and your little girl.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN KEATS.



CXXXII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Sunday Morning.

[February 6, 1820.]

My dear Sister--I should not have sent those Letters without some notice
if Mr. Brown had not persuaded me against it on account of an illness with
which I was attack'd on Thursday.[113] After that I was resolved not to
write till I should be on the mending hand; thank God, I am now so. From
imprudently leaving off my great coat in the thaw I caught cold which flew
to my Lungs. Every remedy that has been applied has taken the desired
effect, and I have nothing now to do but stay within doors for some time.
If I should be confined long I shall write to Mr. Abbey to ask permission
for you to visit me. George has been running great chance of a similar
attack, but I hope the sea air will be his Physician in case of
illness--the air out at sea is always more temperate than on land--George
mentioned, in his Letters to us, something of Mr. Abbey's regret
concerning the silence kept up in his house. It is entirely the fault of
his Manner. You must be careful always to wear warm clothing not only in
frost but in a Thaw.--I have no news to tell you. The half-built houses
opposite us stand just as they were and seem dying of old age before they
are brought up. The grass looks very dingy, the Celery is all gone, and
there is nothing to enliven one but a few Cabbage Stalks that seem fix'd
on the superannuated List. Mrs. Dilke has been ill but is better. Several
of my friends have been to see me. Mrs. Reynolds was here this morning and
the two Mr. Wylie's. Brown has been very alert about me, though a little
wheezy himself this weather. Everybody is ill. Yesterday evening Mr.
Davenport, a gentleman of Hampstead, sent me an invitation to supper,
instead of his coming to see us, having so bad a cold he could not stir
out--so you see 'tis the weather and I am among a thousand. Whenever you
have an inflammatory fever never mind about eating. The day on which I was
getting ill I felt this fever to a great height, and therefore almost
entirely abstained from food the whole day. I have no doubt experienced a
benefit from so doing--The Papers I see are full of anecdotes of the late
King: how he nodded to a Coal-heaver and laugh'd with a Quaker and lik'd
boiled Leg of Mutton. Old Peter Pindar is just dead: what will the old
King and he say to each other? Perhaps the King may confess that Peter was
in the right, and Peter maintain himself to have been wrong. You shall
hear from me again on Tuesday.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CXXXIII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Tuesday Morn.

[February 8, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--I had a slight return of fever last night, which terminated
favourably, and I am now tolerably well, though weak from the small
quantity of food to which I am obliged to confine myself: I am sure a
mouse would starve upon it. Mrs. Wylie came yesterday. I have a very
pleasant room for a sick person. A Sofa bed is made up for me in the front
Parlour which looks on to the grass plot as you remember Mrs. Dilke's
does. How much more comfortable than a dull room up stairs, where one gets
tired of the pattern of the bed curtains. Besides I see all that
passes--for instance now, this morning--if I had been in my own room I
should not have seen the coals brought in. On Sunday between the hours of
twelve and one I descried a Pot boy. I conjectured it might be the one
o'Clock beer--Old women with bobbins and red cloaks and unpresuming
bonnets I see creeping about the heath. Gipsies after hare skins and
silver spoons. Then goes by a fellow with a wooden clock under his arm
that strikes a hundred and more. Then comes the old French emigrant (who
has been very well to do in France) with his hands joined behind on his
hips, and his face full of political schemes. Then passes Mr. David Lewis,
a very good-natured, good-looking old gentleman who has been very kind to
Tom and George and me. As for those fellows the Brickmakers they are
always passing to and fro. I mus'n't forget the two old maiden Ladies in
Well Walk who have a Lap dog between them that they are very anxious
about. It is a corpulent Little beast whom it is necessary to coax along
with an ivory-tipp'd cane. Carlo our Neighbour Mrs. Brawne's dog and it
meet sometimes. Lappy thinks Carlo a devil of a fellow and so do his
Mistresses. Well they may--he would sweep 'em all down at a run; all for
the Joke of it. I shall desire him to peruse the fable of the Boys and the
frogs: though he prefers the tongues and the Bones. You shall hear from me
again the day after to-morrow.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN KEATS.



CXXXIV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place [February 11, 1820].

My dear Fanny--I am much the same as when I last wrote. I hope a little
more verging towards improvement. Yesterday morning being very fine, I
took a walk for a quarter of an hour in the garden and was very much
refresh'd by it. You must consider no news, good news--if you do not hear
from me the day after to-morrow.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CXXXV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Monday Morn.

[February 14, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--I am improving but very gradually and suspect it will be a
long while before I shall be able to walk six miles--The Sun appears half
inclined to shine; if he obliges us I shall take a turn in the garden this
morning. No one from Town has visited me since my last. I have had so many
presents of jam and jellies that they would reach side by side the length
of the sideboard. I hope I shall be well before it is all consumed. I am
vexed that Mr. Abbey will not allow you pocket money sufficient. He has
not behaved well--By detaining money from me and George when we most
wanted it he has increased our expenses. In consequence of such delay
George was obliged to take his voyage to England which will be £150 out of
his pocket. I enclose you a note--You shall hear from me again the day
after to-morrow.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CXXXVI.--TO JAMES RICE.


Wentworth Place, February 16, 1820.

My dear Rice--I have not been well enough to make any tolerable rejoinder
to your kind letter. I will, as you advise, be very chary of my health
and spirits. I am sorry to hear of your relapse and hypochondriac symptoms
attending it. Let us hope for the best, as you say. I shall follow your
example in looking to the future good rather than brooding upon the
present ill. I have not been so worn with lengthened illnesses as you
have, therefore cannot answer you on your own ground with respect to those
haunting and deformed thoughts and feelings you speak of. When I have
been, or supposed myself in health, I have had my share of them,
especially within the last year. I may say, that for six months before I
was taken ill I had not passed a tranquil day. Either that gloom
overspread me, or I was suffering under some passionate feeling, or if I
turned to versify, that acerbated the poison of either sensation. The
beauties of nature had lost their power over me. How astonishingly (here I
must premise that illness, as far as I can judge in so short a time, has
relieved my mind of a load of deceptive thoughts and images, and makes me
perceive things in a truer light),--how astonishingly does the chance of
leaving the world impress a sense of its natural beauties upon us! Like
poor Falstaff, though I do not "babble," I think of green fields; I muse
with the greatest affection on every flower I have known from my
infancy--their shapes and colours are as new to me as if I had just
created them with a superhuman fancy. It is because they are connected
with the most thoughtless and the happiest moments of our lives. I have
seen foreign flowers in hothouses, of the most beautiful nature, but I do
not care a straw for them. The simple flowers of our Spring are what I
want to see again.

Brown has left the inventive and taken to the imitative art. He is doing
his forte, which is copying Hogarth's heads. He has just made a purchase
of the Methodist Meeting picture, which gave me a horrid dream a few
nights ago. I hope I shall sit under the trees with you again in some such
place as the Isle of Wight. I do not mind a game of cards in a saw-pit or
waggon, but if ever you catch me on a stage-coach in the winter full
against the wind, bring me down with a brace of bullets, and I promise not
to 'peach. Remember me to Reynolds, and say how much I should like to hear
from him; that Brown returned immediately after he went on Sunday, and
that I was vexed at forgetting to ask him to lunch; for as he went towards
the gate, I saw he was fatigued and hungry.

I am, my dear Rice, ever most sincerely yours

JOHN KEATS.

I have broken this open to let you know I was surprised at seeing it on
the table this morning, thinking it had gone long ago.



CXXXVII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[February 19, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--Being confined almost entirely to vegetable food and the
weather being at the same time so much against me, I cannot say I have
much improved since I wrote last. The Doctor tells me there are no
dangerous Symptoms about me, and quietness of mind and fine weather will
restore me. Mind my advice to be very careful to wear warm cloathing in a
thaw. I will write again on Tuesday when I hope to send you good news.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXXXVIII.--TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.


[February 23 or 25, 1820.]

My dear Reynolds--I have been improving since you saw me: my nights are
better which I think is a very encouraging thing. You mention your cold in
rather too slighting a manner--if you travel outside have some flannel
against the wind--which I hope will not keep on at this rate when you are
in the Packet boat. Should it rain do not stop upon deck though the
Passengers should vomit themselves inside out. Keep under Hatches from all
sort of wet.

I am pretty well provided with Books at present, when you return I may
give you a commission or two. Mr. B. C. has sent me not only his Sicilian
Story but yesterday his Dramatic Scenes--this is very polite, and I shall
do what I can to make him sensible I think so. I confess they teaze
me--they are composed of amiability, the Seasons, the Leaves, the Moons,
etc., upon which he rings (according to Hunt's expression), triple bob
majors. However that is nothing--I think he likes poetry for its own sake,
not his. I hope I shall soon be well enough to proceed with my faeries and
set you about the notes on Sundays and Stray-days. If I had been well
enough I should have liked to cross the water with you. Brown wishes you a
pleasant voyage--Have fish for dinner at the sea ports, and don't forget a
bottle of Claret. You will not meet with so much to hate at Brussels as at
Paris. Remember me to all my friends. If I were well enough I would
paraphrase an ode of Horace's for you, on your embarking in the seventy
years ago style. The Packet will bear a comparison with a Roman galley at
any rate.

Ever yours affectionately

J. KEATS.



CXXXIX.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Thursday.

[February 24, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--I am sorry to hear you have been so unwell: now you are
better, keep so. Remember to be very careful of your clothing--this
climate requires the utmost care. There has been very little alteration in
me lately. I am much the same as when I wrote last. When I am well enough
to return to my old diet I shall get stronger. If my recovery should be
delay'd long I will ask Mr. Abbey to let you visit me--keep up your
Spirits as well as you can. You shall hear soon again from me.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXL.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


[Hampstead, March 4, 1820.]

My dear Dilke--Since I saw you I have been gradually, too gradually
perhaps, improving; and though under an interdict with respect to animal
food, living upon pseudo victuals, Brown says I have pick'd up a little
flesh lately. If I can keep off inflammation for the next six weeks I
trust I shall do very well. You certainly should have been at Martin's
dinner, for making an index is surely as dull work as engraving. Have you
heard that the Bookseller is going to tie himself to the manger eat or not
as he pleases. He says Rice shall have his foot on the fender
notwithstanding. Reynolds is going to sail on the salt seas. Brown has
been mightily progressing with his Hogarth. A damn'd melancholy picture it
is, and during the first week of my illness it gave me a psalm-singing
nightmare, that made me almost faint away in my sleep. I know I am better,
for I can bear the Picture. I have experienced a specimen of great
politeness from Mr. Barry Cornwall. He has sent me his books. Some time
ago he had given his first publish'd book to Hunt for me; Hunt forgot to
give it and Barry Cornwall thinking I had received it must have thought me
a very neglectful fellow. Notwithstanding he sent me his second book and
on my explaining that I had not received his first he sent me that also. I
am sorry to see by Mrs. D.'s note that she has been so unwell with the
spasms. Does she continue the Medicines that benefited her so much? I am
afraid not. Remember me to her, and say I shall not expect her at
Hampstead next week unless the Weather changes for the warmer. It is
better to run no chance of a supernumerary cold in March. As for you, you
must come. You must improve in your penmanship; your writing is like the
speaking of a child of three years old, very understandable to its father
but to no one else. The worst is it looks well--no, that is not the
worst--the worst is, it is worse than Bailey's. Bailey's looks illegible
and may perchance be read; yours looks very legible and may perchance not
be read. I would endeavour to give you a fac-simile of your word
Thistlewood if I were not minded on the instant that Lord Chesterfield has
done some such thing to his son. Now I would not bathe in the same River
with Lord C. though I had the upper hand of the stream. I am grieved that
in writing and speaking it is necessary to make use of the same particles
as he did. Cobbett is expected to come in. O that I had two double
plumpers for him. The ministry are not so inimical to him but it would
like to put him out of Coventry. Casting my eye on the other side I see a
long word written in a most vile manner, unbecoming a Critic. You must
recollect I have served no apprenticeship to old plays. If the only copies
of the Greek and Latin authors had been made by you, Bailey and Haydon
they were as good as lost. It has been said that the Character of a Man
may be known by his handwriting--if the Character of the age may be known
by the average goodness of said, what a slovenly age we live in. Look at
Queen Elizabeth's Latin exercises and blush. Look at Milton's hand. I
can't say a word for Shakspeare's.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CXLI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[March 20, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--According to your desire I write to-day. It must be but a
few lines, for I have been attack'd several times with a palpitation at
the heart and the Doctor says I must not make the slightest exertion. I
am much the same to-day as I have been for a week past. They say 'tis
nothing but debility and will entirely cease on my recovery of my strength
which is the object of my present diet. As the Doctor will not suffer me
to write I shall ask Mr. Brown to let you hear news of me for the future
if I should not get stronger soon. I hope I shall be well enough to come
and see your flowers in bloom.

Ever your most affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXLII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, April 1 [1820].

My dear Fanny--I am getting better every day and should think myself quite
well were I not reminded every now and then by faintness and a tightness
in the Chest. Send your Spaniel over to Hampstead, for I think I know
where to find a Master or Mistress for him. You may depend upon it if you
were even to turn it loose in the common road it would soon find an owner.
If I keep improving as I have done I shall be able to come over to you in
the course of a few weeks. I should take the advantage of your being in
Town but I cannot bear the City though I have already ventured as far as
the west end for the purpose of seeing Mr. Haydon's Picture, which is just
finished and has made its appearance. I have not heard from George yet
since he left Liverpool. Mr. Brown wrote to him as from me the other
day--Mr. B. wrote two Letters to Mr. Abbey concerning me--Mr. A. took no
notice and of course Mr. B. must give up such a correspondence when as the
man said all the Letters are on one side. I write with greater ease than I
had thought, therefore you shall soon hear from me again.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXLIII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[April 1820.]

My dear Fanny--Mr. Brown is waiting for me to take a walk. Mrs. Dilke is
on a visit next door and desires her love to you. The Dog shall be taken
care of and for his name I shall go and look in the parish register where
he was born--I still continue on the mending hand.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXLIV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, April 12 [1820].

My dear Fanny--Excuse these shabby scraps of paper I send you--and also
from endeavouring to give you any consolation just at present, for though
my health is tolerably well I am too nervous to enter into any discussion
in which my heart is concerned. Wait patiently and take care of your
health, being especially careful to keep yourself from low spirits which
are great enemies to health. You are young and have only need of a little
patience. I am not yet able to bear the fatigue of coming to Walthamstow,
though I have been to Town once or twice. I have thought of taking a
change of air. You shall hear from me immediately on my moving anywhere. I
will ask Mrs. Dilke to pay you a visit if the weather holds fine, the
first time I see her. The Dog is being attended to like a Prince.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CXLV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


[Hampstead, April 21, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--I have been slowly improving since I wrote last. The Doctor
assures me that there is nothing the matter with me except nervous
irritability and a general weakness of the whole system, which has
proceeded from my anxiety of mind of late years and the too great
excitement of poetry. Mr. Brown is going to Scotland by the Smack, and I
am advised for change of exercise and air to accompany him and give myself
the chance of benefit from a Voyage. Mr. H. Wylie call'd on me yesterday
with a letter from George to his mother: George is safe at the other side
of the water, perhaps by this time arrived at his home. I wish you were
coming to town that I might see you; if you should be coming write to me,
as it is quite a trouble to get by the coaches to Walthamstow. Should you
not come to Town I must see you before I sail, at Walthamstow. They tell
me I must study lines and tangents and squares and angles to put a little
Ballast into my mind. We shall be going in a fortnight and therefore you
will see me within that space. I expected sooner, but I have not been able
to venture to walk across the country. Now the fine Weather is come you
will not find your time so irksome. You must be sensible how much I regret
not being able to alleviate the unpleasantness of your situation, but
trust my dear Fanny that better times are in wait for you.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXLVI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Thursday [May 4, 1820].

My dear Fanny--I went for the first time into the City the day before
yesterday, for before I was very disinclined to encounter the scuffle,
more from nervousness than real illness; which notwithstanding I should
not have suffered to conquer me if I had not made up my mind not to go to
Scotland, but to remove to Kentish Town till Mr. Brown returns. Kentish
Town is a mile nearer to you than Hampstead--I have been getting gradually
better, but am not so well as to trust myself to the casualties of rain
and sleeping out which I am liable to in visiting you. Mr. Brown goes on
Saturday, and by that time I shall have settled in my new lodging, when I
will certainly venture to you. You will forgive me I hope when I confess
that I endeavour to think of you as little as possible and to let George
dwell upon my mind but slightly. The reason being that I am afraid to
ruminate on anything which has the shade of difficulty or melancholy in
it, as that sort of cogitation is so pernicious to health, and it is only
by health that I can be enabled to alleviate your situation in future. For
some time you must do what you can of yourself for relief; and bear your
mind up with the consciousness that your situation cannot last for ever,
and that for the present you may console yourself against the reproaches
of Mrs. Abbey. Whatever obligations you may have had to her you have none
now, as she has reproached you. I do not know what property you have, but
I will enquire into it: be sure however that beyond the obligation that a
lodger may have to a landlord you have none to Mrs. Abbey. Let the surety
of this make you laugh at Mrs. A.'s foolish tattle. Mrs. Dilke's Brother
has got your Dog. She is now very well--still liable to Illness. I will
get her to come and see you if I can make up my mind on the propriety of
introducing a stranger into Abbey's house. Be careful to let no fretting
injure your health as I have suffered it--health is the greatest of
blessings--with _health_ and _hope_ we should be content to live, and so
you will find as you grow older.

I am, my dear Fanny, your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CXLVII.--TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.


[Hampstead, May 1820].

My dear Dilke--As Brown is not to be a fixture at Hampstead, I have at
last made up my mind to send home all lent books. I should have seen you
before this, but my mind has been at work all over the world to find out
what to do. I have my choice of three things, or at least two,--South
America, or Surgeon to an Indiaman, which last, I think, will be my fate.
I shall resolve in a few days. Remember me to Mrs. D. and Charles, and
your father and mother.

Ever truly yours

JOHN KEATS.



CXLVIII.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


[Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town][114]

June 11 [1820].

My dear Taylor--In reading over the proof of St. Agnes's Eve since I left
Fleet Street, I was struck with what appears to me an alteration in the
seventh stanza very much for the worse. The passage I mean stands thus--

                      her maiden eyes incline
  Still on the floor, while many a sweeping train
  Pass by.

'Twas originally written--

                      her maiden eyes divine
  Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
  Pass by.

My meaning is quite destroyed in the alteration. I do not use _train_ for
_concourse of passers by_, but for _skirts_ sweeping along the floor.

In the first stanza my copy reads, second line--

  bitter _chill_ it was,

to avoid the echo _cold_ in the second line.

Ever yours sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CXLIX.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


[Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town, June 1820.]

My dear Brown--I have only been to ----'s once since you left, when ----
could not find your letters. Now this is bad of me. I should, in this
instance, conquer the great aversion to breaking up my regular habits,
which grows upon me more and more. True, I have an excuse in the weather,
which drives one from shelter to shelter in any little excursion. I have
not heard from George. My book is coming out with very low hopes, though
not spirits, on my part. This shall be my last trial; not succeeding, I
shall try what I can do in the apothecary line. When you hear from or see
---- it is probable you will hear some complaints against me, which this
notice is not intended to forestall. The fact is, I did behave badly; but
it is to be attributed to my health, spirits, and the disadvantageous
ground I stand on in society. I could go and accommodate matters if I were
not too weary of the world. I know that they are more happy and
comfortable than I am; therefore why should I trouble myself about it? I
foresee I shall know very few people in the course of a year or two. Men
get such different habits that they become as oil and vinegar to one
another. Thus far I have a consciousness of having been pretty dull and
heavy, both in subject and phrase; I might add, enigmatical. I am in the
wrong, and the world is in the right, I have no doubt. Fact is, I have had
so many kindnesses done me by so many people, that I am cheveaux-de-frised
with benefits, which I must jump over or break down. I met ---- in town, a
few days ago, who invited me to supper to meet Wordsworth, Southey, Lamb,
Haydon, and some more; I was too careful of my health to risk being out at
night. Talking of that, I continue to improve slowly, but I think surely.
There is a famous exhibition in Pall-Mall of the old English portraits by
Vandyck and Holbein, Sir Peter Lely, and the great Sir Godfrey. Pleasant
countenances predominate; so I will mention two or three unpleasant ones.
There is James the First, whose appearance would disgrace a "Society for
the Suppression of Women;" so very squalid and subdued to nothing he
looks. Then, there is old Lord Burleigh, the high-priest of economy, the
political save-all, who has the appearance of a Pharisee just rebuffed by
a Gospel bon-mot. Then, there is George the Second, very like an
unintellectual Voltaire, troubled with the gout and a bad temper. Then,
there is young Devereux, the favourite, with every appearance of as slang
a boxer as any in the Court; his face is cast in the mould of
blackguardism with jockey-plaster. I shall soon begin upon "Lucy Vaughan
Lloyd."[115] I do not begin composition yet, being willing, in case of a
relapse, to have nothing to reproach myself with. I hope the weather will
give you the slip; let it show itself and steal out of your company. When
I have sent off this, I shall write another to some place about fifty
miles in advance of you.

Good morning to you. Yours ever sincerely

JOHN KEATS.



CL.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Friday Morn [Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town,

June 26, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--I had intended to delay seeing you till a Book which I am
now publishing was out,[116] expecting that to be the end of this week
when I would have brought it to Walthamstow: on receiving your Letter of
course I set myself to come to town, but was not able, for just as I was
setting out yesterday morning a slight spitting of blood came on which
returned rather more copiously at night. I have slept well and they tell
me there is nothing material to fear. I will send my Book soon with a
Letter which I have had from George who is with his family quite well.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CLI.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Mortimer Terrace,[117] Wednesday [July 5, 1820].

My dear Fanny--I have had no return of the spitting of blood, and for two
or three days have been getting a little stronger. I have no hopes of an
entire re-establishment of my health under some months of patience. My
Physician tells me I must contrive to pass the Winter in Italy. This is
all very unfortunate for us--we have no recourse but patience, which I am
now practising better than ever I thought it possible for me. I have this
moment received a Letter from Mr. Brown, dated Dunvegan Castle, Island of
Skye. He is very well in health and spirits. My new publication has been
out for some days and I have directed a Copy to be bound for you, which
you will receive shortly. No one can regret Mr. Hodgkinson's ill fortune:
I must own illness has not made such a Saint of me as to prevent my
rejoicing at his reverse. Keep yourself in as good hopes as possible; in
case my illness should continue an unreasonable time many of my friends
would I trust for my sake do all in their power to console and amuse you,
at the least word from me--You may depend upon it that in case my strength
returns I will do all in my power to extricate you from the Abbeys. Be
above all things careful of your health which is the corner stone of all
pleasure.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CLII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


[Mortimer Terrace, July 1820.]

My dear Haydon--I am sorry to be obliged to try your patience a few more
days when you will have the Book[118] sent from Town. I am glad to hear
you are in progress with another Picture. Go on. I am afraid I shall pop
off just when my mind is able to run alone.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CLIII.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Mortimer Terrace [July 22, 1820].

My dear Fanny--I have been gaining strength for some days: it would be
well if I could at the same time say I am gaining hopes of a speedy
recovery. My constitution has suffered very much for two or three years
past, so as to be scarcely able to make head against illness, which the
natural activity and impatience of my Mind renders more dangerous. It will
at all events be a very tedious affair, and you must expect to hear very
little alteration of any sort in me for some time. You ought to have
received a copy of my Book ten days ago. I shall send another message to
the Booksellers. One of the Mr. Wylie's will be here to-day or to-morrow
when I will ask him to send you George's Letter. Writing the smallest note
is so annoying to me that I have waited till I shall see him. Mr. Hunt
does everything in his power to make the time pass as agreeably with me as
possible. I read the greatest part of the day, and generally take two
half-hour walks a-day up and down the terrace which is very much pester'd
with cries, ballad singers, and street music. We have been so unfortunate
for so long a time, every event has been of so depressing a nature that I
must persuade myself to think some change will take place in the aspect of
our affairs. I shall be upon the look out for a trump card.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CLIV.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place [August 14, 1820].

My dear Fanny--'Tis a long time since I received your last. An accident of
an unpleasant nature occurred at Mr. Hunt's and prevented me from
answering you, that is to say made me nervous. That you may not suppose it
worse I will mention that some one of Mr. Hunt's household opened a Letter
of mine--upon which I immediately left Mortimer Terrace, with the
intention of taking to Mrs. Bentley's again; fortunately I am not in so
lone a situation, but am staying a short time with Mrs. Brawne who lives
in the house which was Mrs. Dilke's. I am excessively nervous: a person I
am not quite used to entering the room half chokes me. 'Tis not yet
Consumption I believe, but it would be were I to remain in this climate
all the Winter: so I am thinking of either voyaging or travelling to
Italy. Yesterday I received an invitation from Mr. Shelley, a Gentleman
residing at Pisa, to spend the Winter with him: if I go I must be away in
a month or even less. I am glad you like the Poems, you must hope with me
that time and health will produce you some more. This is the first morning
I have been able to sit to the paper and have many Letters to write if I
can manage them. God bless you my dear Sister.

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN ----.



CLV.--TO PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.


[Wentworth Place, Hampstead, August 1820.]

My dear Shelley--I am very much gratified that you, in a foreign country,
and with a mind almost over-occupied, should write to me in the strain of
the letter beside me. If I do not take advantage of your invitation, it
will be prevented by a circumstance I have very much at heart to prophesy.
There is no doubt that an English winter would put an end to me, and do so
in a lingering, hateful manner. Therefore, I must either voyage or journey
to Italy, as a soldier marches up to a battery. My nerves at present are
the worst part of me, yet they feel soothed that, come what extreme may, I
shall not be destined to remain in one spot long enough to take a hatred
of any four particular bedposts. I am glad you take any pleasure in my
poor poem, which I would willingly take the trouble to unwrite, if
possible, did I care so much as I have done about reputation. I received a
copy of the Cenci, as from yourself, from Hunt. There is only one part of
it I am judge of--the poetry and dramatic effect, which by many spirits
nowadays is considered the Mammon. A modern work, it is said, must have a
purpose, which may be the God. An artist must serve Mammon; he must have
"self-concentration"--selfishness, perhaps. You, I am sure, will forgive
me for sincerely remarking that you might curb your magnanimity, and be
more of an artist, and load every rift of your subject with ore. The
thought of such discipline must fall like cold chains upon you, who
perhaps never sat with your wings furled for six months together. And is
not this extraordinary talk for the writer of Endymion, whose mind was
like a pack of scattered cards? I am picked up and sorted to a pip. My
imagination is a monastery, and I am its monk. I am in expectation of
Prometheus every day. Could I have my own wish effected, you would have it
still in manuscript, or be but now putting an end to the second act. I
remember you advising me not to publish my first blights, on Hampstead
Heath. I am returning advice upon your hands. Most of the poems in the
volume I send you have been written above two years, and would never have
been published but for hope of gain; so you see I am inclined enough to
take your advice now. I must express once more my deep sense of your
kindness, adding my sincere thanks and respects for Mrs. Shelley.

In the hope of soon seeing you, I remain most sincerely yours

JOHN KEATS.



CLVI.--TO JOHN TAYLOR.


Wentworth Place [August 14, 1820].

My dear Taylor--My chest is in such a nervous state, that anything extra,
such as speaking to an unaccustomed person, or writing a note, half
suffocates me. This journey to Italy wakes me at daylight every morning,
and haunts me horribly. I shall endeavour to go, though it be with the
sensation of marching up against a battery. The first step towards it is
to know the expense of a journey and a year's residence, which if you will
ascertain for me, and let me know early, you will greatly serve me. I have
more to say, but must desist, for every line I write increases the
tightness of my chest, and I have many more to do. I am convinced that
this sort of thing does not continue for nothing. If you can come, with
any of our friends, do.

Your sincere friend

JOHN KEATS.



CLVII.--TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.


Mrs. Brawne's Next door to Brown's,

Wentworth Place, Hampstead,

[August] 1820.

My dear Haydon--I am much better this morning than I was when I wrote the
note: that is my hopes and spirits are better which are generally at a
very low ebb from such a protracted illness. I shall be here for a little
time and at home all and every day. A journey to Italy is recommended me,
which I have resolved upon and am beginning to prepare for. Hoping to see
you shortly

I remain your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



CLVIII.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


[Wentworth Place, August 1820.]

My dear Brown--You may not have heard from ----, or ----, or in any way,
that an attack of spitting of blood, and all its weakening consequences,
has prevented me from writing for so long a time. I have matter now for a
very long letter, but not news: so I must cut everything short. I shall
make some confession, which you will be the only person, for many reasons,
I shall trust with. A winter in England would, I have not a doubt, kill
me; so I have resolved to go to Italy, either by sea or land. Not that I
have any great hopes of that, for, I think, there is a core of disease in
me not easy to pull out. I shall be obliged to set off in less than a
month. Do not, my dear Brown, teaze yourself about me. You must fill up
your time as well as you can, and as happily. You must think of my faults
as lightly as you can. When I have health I will bring up the long arrear
of letters I owe you. My book has had good success among the literary
people, and I believe has a moderate sale. I have seen very few people we
know. ---- has visited me more than any one. I would go to ---- and make
some inquiries after you, if I could with any bearable sensation; but a
person I am not quite used to causes an oppression on my chest. Last week
I received a letter from Shelley, at Pisa, of a very kind nature, asking
me to pass the winter with him. Hunt has behaved very kindly to me. You
shall hear from me again shortly.

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



CLIX.--TO FANNY KEATS.


Wentworth Place, Wednesday Morning.

[August 23, 1820.]

My dear Fanny--It will give me great Pleasure to see you here, if you can
contrive it; though I confess I should have written instead of calling
upon you before I set out on my journey, from the wish of avoiding
unpleasant partings. Meantime I will just notice some parts of your
Letter. The seal-breaking business is over blown. I think no more of it. A
few days ago I wrote to Mr. Brown, asking him to befriend me with his
company to Rome. His answer is not yet come, and I do not know when it
will, not being certain how far he may be from the Post Office to which my
communication is addressed. Let us hope he will go with me. George
certainly ought to have written to you: his troubles, anxieties and
fatigues are not quite a sufficient excuse. In the course of time you will
be sure to find that this neglect, is not forgetfulness. I am sorry to
hear you have been so ill and in such low spirits. Now you are better,
keep so. Do not suffer your Mind to dwell on unpleasant reflections--that
sort of thing has been the destruction of my health. Nothing is so bad as
want of health--it makes one envy scavengers and cinder-sifters. There are
enough real distresses and evils in wait for every one to try the most
vigorous health. Not that I would say yours are not real--but they are
such as to tempt you to employ your imagination on them, rather than
endeavour to dismiss them entirely. Do not diet your mind with grief, it
destroys the constitution; but let your chief care be of your health, and
with that you will meet your share of Pleasure in the world--do not doubt
it. If I return well from Italy I will turn over a new leaf for you. I
have been improving lately, and have very good hopes of "turning a Neuk"
and cheating the consumption. I am not well enough to write to George
myself--Mr Haslam will do it for me, to whom I shall write to-day,
desiring him to mention as gently as possible your complaint. I am, my
dear Fanny,

Your affectionate Brother

JOHN.



CLX.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


[Wentworth Place, August 1820.]

My dear Brown--I ought to be off at the end of this week, as the cold
winds begin to blow towards evening;--but I will wait till I have your
answer to this. I am to be introduced, before I set out, to a Dr. Clark, a
physician settled at Rome, who promises to befriend me in every way there.
The sale of my book is very slow, though it has been very highly rated.
One of the causes, I understand from different quarters, of the
unpopularity of this new book, is the offence the ladies take at me. On
thinking that matter over, I am certain that I have said nothing in a
spirit to displease any woman I would care to please; but still there is a
tendency to class women in my books with roses and sweetmeats,--they never
see themselves dominant. I will say no more, but, waiting in anxiety for
your answer, doff my hat, and make a purse as long as I can.

Your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



CLXI.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


Saturday, September 28 [1820], _Maria Crowther_,

Off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.

My dear Brown--The time has not yet come for a pleasant letter from me. I
have delayed writing to you from time to time, because I felt how
impossible it was to enliven you with one heartening hope of my recovery;
this morning in bed the matter struck me in a different manner; I thought
I would write "while I was in some liking," or I might become too ill to
write at all; and then if the desire to have written should become strong
it would be a great affliction to me. I have many more letters to write,
and I bless my stars that I have begun, for time seems to press,--this may
be my best opportunity. We are in a calm, and I am easy enough this
morning. If my spirits seem too low you may in some degree impute it to
our having been at sea a fortnight without making any way.[119] I was very
disappointed at not meeting you at Bedhampton, and am very provoked at the
thought of you being at Chichester to-day. I should have delighted in
setting off for London for the sensation merely,--for what should I do
there? I could not leave my lungs or stomach or other worse things behind
me. I wish to write on subjects that will not agitate me much--there is
one I must mention and have done with it. Even if my body would recover of
itself, this would prevent it. The very thing which I want to live most
for will be a great occasion of my death. I cannot help it. Who can help
it? Were I in health it would make me ill, and how can I bear it in my
state? I daresay you will be able to guess on what subject I am
harping--you know what was my greatest pain during the first part of my
illness at your house. I wish for death every day and night to deliver me
from these pains, and then I wish death away, for death would destroy even
those pains which are better than nothing. Land and sea, weakness and
decline, are great separators, but death is the great divorcer for ever.
When the pang of this thought has passed through my mind, I may say the
bitterness of death is passed. I often wish for you that you might flatter
me with the best. I think without my mentioning it for my sake you would
be a friend to Miss Brawne when I am dead. You think she has many
faults--but for my sake think she has not one. If there is anything you
can do for her by word or deed I know you will do it. I am in a state at
present in which woman merely as woman can have no more power over me than
stocks and stones, and yet the difference of my sensations with respect to
Miss Brawne and my sister is amazing. The one seems to absorb the other
to a degree incredible. I seldom think of my brother and sister in
America. The thought of leaving Miss Brawne is beyond everything
horrible--the sense of darkness coming over me--I eternally see her figure
eternally vanishing. Some of the phrases she was in the habit of using
during my last nursing at Wentworth Place ring in my ears. Is there
another life? Shall I awake and find all this a dream? There must be, we
cannot be created for this sort of suffering. The receiving this letter is
to be one of yours. I will say nothing about our friendship, or rather
yours to me, more than that, as you deserve to escape, you will never be
so unhappy as I am. I should think of--you in my last moments. I shall
endeavour to write to Miss Brawne if possible to-day. A sudden stop to my
life in the middle of one of these letters would be no bad thing, for it
keeps one in a sort of fever awhile. Though fatigued with a letter longer
than any I have written for a long while, it would be better to go on for
ever than awake to a sense of contrary winds. We expect to put into
Portland Roads to-night. The captain, the crew, and the passengers, are
all ill-tempered and weary. I shall write to Dilke. I feel as if I was
closing my last letter to you.

My dear Brown, your affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.



CLXII.--TO MRS. BRAWNE.


October 24 [1820], Naples Harbour.

My dear Mrs. Brawne--A few words will tell you what sort of a Passage we
had, and what situation we are in, and few they must be on account of the
Quarantine, our Letters being liable to be opened for the purpose of
fumigation at the Health Office. We have to remain in the vessel ten days
and are at present shut in a tier of ships. The sea air has been
beneficial to me about to as great an extent as squally weather and bad
accommodations and provisions has done harm. So I am about as I was. Give
my Love to Fanny and tell her, if I were well there is enough in this Port
of Naples to fill a quire of Paper--but it looks like a dream--every man
who can row his boat and walk and talk seems a different being from
myself. I do not feel in the world. It has been unfortunate for me that
one of the Passengers is a young Lady in a Consumption--her imprudence has
vexed me very much--the knowledge of her complaints--the flushings in her
face, all her bad symptoms have preyed upon me--they would have done so
had I been in good health. Severn now is a very good fellow but his nerves
are too strong to be hurt by other people's illnesses--I remember poor
Rice wore me in the same way in the Isle of Wight--I shall feel a load off
me when the Lady vanishes out of my sight. It is impossible to describe
exactly in what state of health I am--at this moment I am suffering from
indigestion very much, which makes such stuff of this Letter. I would
always wish you to think me a little worse than I really am; not being of
a sanguine disposition I am likely to succeed. If I do not recover your
regret will be softened--if I do your pleasure will be doubled. I dare not
fix my Mind upon Fanny, I have not dared to think of her. The only comfort
I have had that way has been in thinking for hours together of having the
knife she gave me put in a silver-case--the hair in a Locket--and the
Pocket Book in a gold net. Show her this. I dare say no more. Yet you must
not believe I am so ill as this Letter may look, for if ever there was a
person born without the faculty of hoping I am he. Severn is writing to
Haslam, and I have just asked him to request Haslam to send you his
account of my health. O what an account I could give you of the Bay of
Naples if I could once more feel myself a Citizen of this world--I feel a
spirit in my Brain would lay it forth pleasantly--O what a misery it is to
have an intellect in splints! My Love again to Fanny--tell Tootts I wish I
could pitch her a basket of grapes--and tell Sam the fellows catch here
with a line a little fish much like an anchovy, pull them up fast.
Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Dilke--mention to Brown that I wrote him a
letter at Portsmouth which I did not send and am in doubt if he ever will
see it.

My dear Mrs. Brawne, yours sincerely and affectionate

JOHN KEATS.

Good bye Fanny! God bless you.



CLXIII.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


Naples, November 1 [1820].

My dear Brown--Yesterday we were let out of quarantine, during which my
health suffered more from bad air and the stifled cabin than it had done
the whole voyage. The fresh air revived me a little, and I hope I am well
enough this morning to write to you a short calm letter;--if that can be
called one, in which I am afraid to speak of what I would fainest dwell
upon. As I have gone thus far into it, I must go on a little;--perhaps it
may relieve the load of WRETCHEDNESS which presses upon me. The persuasion
that I shall see her no more will kill me. My dear Brown, I should have
had her when I was in health, and I should have remained well. I can bear
to die--I cannot bear to leave her. Oh, God! God! God! Every thing I have
in my trunks that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear. The silk
lining she put in my travelling cap scalds my head. My imagination is
horribly vivid about her--I see her--I hear her. There is nothing in the
world of sufficient interest to divert me from her a moment. This was the
case when I was in England; I cannot recollect, without shuddering, the
time that I was a prisoner at Hunt's, and used to keep my eyes fixed on
Hampstead all day. Then there was a good hope of seeing her again--Now!--O
that I could be buried near where she lives! I am afraid to write to
her--to receive a letter from her--to see her handwriting would break my
heart--even to hear of her anyhow, to see her name written, would be more
than I can bear. My dear Brown, what am I to do? Where can I look for
consolation or ease? If I had any chance of recovery, this passion would
kill me. Indeed, through the whole of my illness, both at your house and
at Kentish Town, this fever has never ceased wearing me out. When you
write to me, which you will do immediately, write to Rome (poste
restante)--if she is well and happy, put a mark thus +; if----

Remember me to all. I will endeavour to bear my miseries patiently. A
person in my state of health should not have such miseries to bear. Write
a short note to my sister, saying you have heard from me. Severn is very
well. If I were in better health I would urge your coming to Rome. I fear
there is no one can give me any comfort. Is there any news of George? O
that something fortunate had ever happened to me or my brothers!--then I
might hope,--but despair is forced upon me as a habit. My dear Brown, for
my sake be her advocate for ever. I cannot say a word about Naples; I do
not feel at all concerned in the thousand novelties around me. I am afraid
to write to her--I should like her to know that I do not forget her. Oh,
Brown I have coals of fire in my breast--It surprises me that the human
heart is capable of containing and bearing so much misery. Was I born for
this end? God bless her, and her mother, and my sister, and George, and
his wife, and you, and all!

Your ever affectionate friend

JOHN KEATS.


[Thursday, November 2.]

I was a day too early for the Courier. He sets out now. I have been more
calm to-day, though in a half dread of not continuing so. I said nothing
of my health; I know nothing of it; you will hear Severn's account from
Haslam. I must leave off. You bring my thoughts too near to Fanny. God
bless you!



CLXIV.--TO CHARLES BROWN.


Rome, November 30, 1820.

My dear Brown--'Tis the most difficult thing in the world to me to write a
letter. My stomach continues so bad, that I feel it worse on opening any
book,--yet I am much better than I was in quarantine. Then I am afraid to
encounter the pro-ing and con-ing of anything interesting to me in
England. I have an habitual feeling of my real life having passed, and
that I am leading a posthumous existence. God knows how it would have
been--but it appears to me--however, I will not speak of that subject. I
must have been at Bedhampton nearly at the time you were writing to me
from Chichester--how unfortunate--and to pass on the river too! There was
my star predominant! I cannot answer anything in your letter, which
followed me from Naples to Rome, because I am afraid to look it over
again. I am so weak (in mind) that I cannot bear the sight of any
handwriting of a friend I love so much as I do you. Yet I ride the little
horse, and at my worst even in quarantine, summoned up more puns, in a
sort of desperation, in one week than in any year of my life. There is one
thought enough to kill me; I have been well, healthy, alert, etc., walking
with her, and now--the knowledge of contrast, feeling for light and shade,
all that information (primitive sense) necessary for a poem, are great
enemies to the recovery of the stomach. There, you rogue, I put you to the
torture; but you must bring your philosophy to bear, as I do mine, really,
or how should I be able to live? Dr. Clark is very attentive to me; he
says, there is very little the matter with my lungs, but my stomach, he
says, is very bad. I am well disappointed in hearing good news from
George, for it runs in my head we shall all die young. I have not written
to Reynolds yet, which he must think very neglectful; being anxious to
send him a good account of my health, I have delayed it from week to
week. If I recover, I will do all in my power to correct the mistakes made
during sickness; and if I should not, all my faults will be forgiven.
Severn is very well, though he leads so dull a life with me. Remember me
to all friends, and tell Haslam I should not have left London without
taking leave of him, but from being so low in body and mind. Write to
George as soon as you receive this, and tell him how I am, as far as you
can guess; and also a note to my sister--who walks about my imagination
like a ghost--she is so like Tom. I can scarcely bid you good-bye, even in
a letter. I always made an awkward bow.

God bless you!

JOHN KEATS.[120]



INDEX

NOTE.--The first lines of all verses quoted in the letters are given here
under the first word. An asterisk is prefixed to the names of those to
whom letters are written, the letters themselves, as well as the addresses
from which Keats wrote, being given under the heading "Letters."


  Abbey, Miss, 122

  Abbey, Mr., 52 and note, 58, 119, 123, 161, 162, 182, 185, 216, 218,
        232, 268, 271, 273, 274, 284, 290, 294, 297, 311, 313, 315, 318,
        331, 336, 347, 350, 354, 356, 359.
    Referred to as "my guardian," 267

  Abbey, Mrs., 51, 123, 197, 262, 271, 359

  Abbeys, the, 363

  Abbot, 231

  Abelard, Sandt, like a young, 300

  Academy, the Royal, 329

  Achievement, a man of, needs negative capability, 48

  Achilles, 21, 80, 180

  Adam's dream (_Paradise Lost_, Bk. viii.), compared to imagination, 41,
        42

  _Adonais_, xix.

  Adonis, 263

  _Adonis, Venus and_, quoted, 45

  _Agnes, St., Eve of_, 217, 221, 280, 288, 333, 362 note;
    an alteration in it censured, 360

  Agriculture, influence of, 287 _seq._

  "A haunting Music sole perhaps and lone," etc., 289

  "Ah, ken ye what I met the day," etc., 127

  Aladdin, 223

  Alcibiades, 95

  Alexander, the emperor, 174

  Alfred (Exeter Paper), the, 171

  Alfred, King, 15, 80

  Alice Fell, 249

  "All gentle folks who owe a grudge," etc., 137

  _All's Well that ends Well_, quoted, 33 and note

  Alston's "Uriel," 76

  _Altam and his Wife_, by Ollier, 197

  Amena (and Wells), 239, 245

  America, George K. goes to, 109

  Americans distrusted, 312

  _Anatomy of Melancholy_, quoted, 296, 297

  Andrew, Sir [Aguecheek], misquoted, 103 and note

  Andrews, Miss, 341

  _Annals of Fine Arts_, contributed to, 272, note

  Ann or Anne, the maid, 209, 310

  Anthony, St., 309

  Anthony, Mark, compared to Buonaparte, 17

  _Anthony and Cleopatra_, 95;
    quoted, 16, 17

  Apollo, 74, 82

  Apuleius, the Platonist, 259

  Archer, 190, 208

  Archimage, 249

  Archimago, 18

  Archimedes, 20

  Aretino, 313

  Ariadne, 223

  Ariosto, 95 note, 289, 313, 333

  Art, the excellence of, its intensity, 47

  Arthur's Seat, 136

  "As Hermes once took to his feathers light," 246

  Athenæum, Dilke connected with, xviii.

  A[ubrey], Mrs. M[ary], verses to, by Mrs. Philips, 29

  Audubon, 291, 312, 341

  Audubon, Mrs., 341, 344

  Augustan age, 259

  Aunt, J. K.'s, 274. _See_ Mrs. Jennings

  Autograph originals of J. K.'s letters, xii. xiii.

  _Autumn, Ode to_, 320 and note

  Ayr described, 133


  B., Miss. _See_ Brown, Miss

  Babel, the tower of, 23, 29

  Bacchus, 223

  Bacon, Lord, 174

  Bagpipe, effect of, 138

  *Bailey, Benjamin, xii., 26, 32, 44, 52, 53, 84, 97, 102, 109, 132, 135,
        146, 164, 190, 355;
    his character, 27, 54;
    his curacy, 36;
    his appreciation of _Endymion_, 31;
    his love affairs, 224 _seq._;
    K.'s visit to him at Oxford, 19 and note

  Bailey, Mrs., 281

  Barbara Lewthwaite, 249

  "Bards of passion and of mirth," 206

  Barley, Rigs of, by Burns, 133

  Barnes, 111

  Barnes, Miss, 231

  Bartolozzi, 195, 196

  _Basil, Pot of_, 113, 166, 171, 221, 280;
    few stanzas of, written in folio Shakspeare, 101

  "Bathsheba," by Wilkie, 76

  Beattie, 201

  Beaumont, Sir George, 329, 330 note

  Beaumont and Fletcher, 228

  Bedhampton, visit to, 216, 219, 221

  _Beggar of Cumberland_, 31

  Bellaston, Lady, 302

  Benjamin, Mr., 317

  Bensley, 10

  Bentley (J. K.'s landlord), 33 note, 153, 194, 219, 337

  Bentley, Mrs., 33, 153, 194, 219, 239, 337, 365

  Bentley children, the, 33, 103 note, 188

  Bertrand, General, 17 note

  Betty Foy, 249

  Bewick [J.], 56, 58, 96, 240

  Bible, the, 177, 225, 226

  Birkbeck, 175, 188, 194, 217, 226, 238, 257, 268, 342

  Birkbeck, the Misses, 247

  Blackwood, 60, 164, 167, 171, 194, 234, 323

  Boccaccio, 101;
    tales from, 280

  Bonchurch described, 276, 279

  "Book, my" (the vol. containing _Lamia_, _Isabella_, _The Eve of St.
        Agnes_, _Hyperion_, and the _Odes_), 362, 363, 368, 370

  Boxer (Mrs. Dilke's dog), 26

  Box Hill ascended, 45

  Boys, the. _See_ Brown's brothers

  Bradshaw, Richard, 119

  Braggadochio, 340

  Brawne, Fanny, 191 and note, 218, 244;
    described, 196;
    K.'s feelings towards, 371, 372, 373, 374;
    letters to, xii. note;
    reasons for their being omitted, xvii.

  *Brawne, Mrs., 191, 202, 219, 224, 239, 244, 349, 365

  [Brawne], Sam, 373

  Briggs, 341

  Brigs of Ayr, 133

  Britain, Little. _See_ Reynoldses, the

  British Gallery seen, 76

  British Museum, 329

  Brothers. _See_ Keats, George and Tom

  *Brown, Charles Armitage, xviii., 26, 33, 35, 48, 56, 58, 76, 82, 98,
        119, 123, 128, 133, 136, 138, 139, 141, 145, 148, 165, 177, 191,
        194, 195 note, 196, 198, 200, 209, 218, 219, 221, 240, 243, 244,
        245, 264, 272, 273, 279, 281, 284, 286, 289, 292, 301, 306, 307,
        309, 314, 319, 323, 325, 328, 332, 333 note, 334, 336, 344, 345,
        347 and note, 348, 352, 356, 357, 358, 359, 360 note, 363, 369;
    anecdote of, 295, 296;
    as a draughtsman, 274, 351;
    and Jenny Jacobs, 279;
    a joke on, 316, 320;
    his kindness, 234;
    lends K. money, 274, 290;
    lives with K., 187 note, 188, 331 note;
    his odd dislikes, 324;
    a story by, 219, 220, 224;
    tour to Scotland with K., 110 [114-161];
    writes a tragedy with K. _See Otho the Great_

  Brown's brothers, 239 note, 245

  Brown, John, 245

  Brown, Mrs. Septimus, 218

  B[rown], Miss, 196

  Bucke, Mr. (dramatic author), 241

  Buffon, 233, 346

  Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_, 21;
    his _Emblems_, 309

  Buonaparte, 20, 173, 219;
    compared to Mark Anthony, 17

  Burdett, Sir F., 174

  Burford Bridge visited, 40-45

  Burleigh, Lord, 361

  Burns, 130, 131, 132, 234;
    spoilt by the Kirk, 124;
    lines after visiting his country, 146;
    after visiting his tomb, 117;
    his misery, 134;
    his native place described, 133

  Burns, Mrs., 118

  Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_ quoted, 296, 297

  Butler, 76, 102, 202

  Butler, Sarah, 102

  Byron, 33, 106, 163, 173, 198, 221, 226, 231, 240;
    his _Don Juan_, 297;
    Fourth canto of _Childe Harold_ expected, 76;
    _Don Giovanni_ expected, 218


  Cæsar, Julius, 80

  _Caleb Williams_, 205

  Caliban, 7 note, 58, 245 note

  Cameron, Mrs., 155 _seq._

  Canning, 345

  Canterbury, a visit to, projected, 18

  _Cap and Bells_, 331 note, 333 and note, 362 note

  Capital letters, peculiar use of, xiv.

  Capper, 178, 181, 294

  Carisbrooke visited, 6 _seq._

  Carlisle, Deist bookseller, 220, 299

  Carlisle visited, 117

  Cary's _Dante_, 113

  "Castle, The Enchanted," by Claude, 91 and note

  Castlereagh, 90, 345;
    An Ode to, 335

  _Cave of Despair_, Spenser's, a picture by Severn, 334 and note, 355

  Ceres, 142

  Chambers of Life--the infant or thoughtless Chamber, and the Chamber of
        Maiden thought, 107, 108;
    the third Chamber, 109

  _Champion_, The, a number written by K., 47, 49, 52;
    a sonnet by K. printed in, 8

  Chapman's _Homer_, 363 and note

  Charlemagne, 118

  Charles. _See_ Wylie, Charles

  Charles I., 7

  Charles II., 90

  Charles Stuart, a "Jacobin" song on, 148

  Charlotte, Princess, 192

  "Charmian," 165 note, 172, 173.
    _See_ Cox, Miss Charlotte

  Chatterton, _Endymion_, dedicated to, 97;
    Hazlitt on, 76;
    writes the purest English, 313, 321

  Chaucer, 18, 103, 228, 333;
    his Gallicisms, 313, 321

  Chesterfield, Lord, 355

  Chichester visited, 212, 217, 218

  "Chief of Organic Numbers!" etc., 62

  Christ Rejected (Haydon's picture), 47, 94

  Christianity v. _The Examiner_, 10;
    Shakspeare's, 11

  Christians, a query concerning, 10

  Christie, 44

  _Chronicle_, The, 46, 171, 247;
    John Scott's defence of K. in, 167

  Cinderella, 21, 232

  Circe (in _Endymion_), 99

  Claret, a rhapsody concerning, 222, 223

  Clark, Dr., 370, 376

  *Clarke, C. C., xvii., 10, 219;
    his influence on K., xviii.

  Claude's "Enchanted Castle," 91 and note

  Cleopatra, 125, 173

  Clinker, Humphrey, 52

  Cobbett, 208, 218, 222, 355

  Cockney school, 39, 60 and note

  Cockney, the young, xvi.

  Coleridge, 38, 72;
    his limitations, 48;
    his talk, 244

  Collins, Hazlitt on, 76

  Colnaghi, 300

  Colvin, S., allowed H. Buxton Forman to use autographs in his
        possession, xii. note;
    his life of K. in _Men of Letters_, xi., 331 note, 347 note

  Commonplace people, Hazlitt on, 37

  _Comus_, 89, 108

  Constable, the bookseller, 60

  Continent, K.'s thoughts of visiting the, 18

  Cook, Captain, 346

  Cordelia, 80

  _Coriolanus_, Hazlitt on, 229

  Corneille, 95 and note

  C[ornwall] B[arry], Mr., 353, 354

  Country, the, K.'s opinion of, 209;
    K. thinks of settling in, 4

  Covent Garden Tragedy [_Retribution, or the Chieftain's Daughter_], an
        article on, 49 and note

  Cowes visited, 7

  Cowper, 72;
    as a letter-writer, xiv.

  Cox, Miss Charlotte, 165 and note, 172 and note, 173.
    _See_ "Charmian"

  Crabbe, 72, 232

  Cripps, 32, 37, 40, 41, 44, 52, 56, 62, 71;
    introductions to Haydon, 32, 53

  Criticism, K.'s independence of, 167

  Croft, Dr., 72

  Cromwell, 174

  _Crusoe, Robinson_, 26, 338

  "Crystalline Brother of the belt of Heaven," etc., 46

  _Cumberland Beggar_, the, 31


  Dance, a Highland, described, 116

  Dante, 95 note, 113, 145, 214, 246, 313

  Davenports, the, 220, 231, 239, 348

  David, 25, 325

  "Dear Reynolds! as last night I lay in bed," etc., 91

  Death, K.'s thoughts of, when alone, 112

  _Deist, The_, 299

  Dennet, Miss, a Columbine, 51

  "Dentatus," Haydon's picture, 87

  Devereux, 362

  Devon, Duke of, 72

  Devonshire described, 75, 79, 80, 83, 85, 91, 95, 97, 98, 101;
    like Lydia Languish, 83

  Dewint, 114

  Dewint, Mrs., 114

  *Dilke, Charles Wentworth, xii. note, 9, 26, 31, 47, 48, 56, 59, 76, 81,
        128, 146, 158, 195 note, 200, 202, 203, 208, 239, 245, 266, 269,
        292, 296, 327, 340, 343, 372, 374;
    a capital friend, 51;
    takes the _Champion_, 51, 58;
    his character, 314;
    his devotion to his son, 222, 240, 241, 295;
    editor follows his dates, xiii.;
    a "Godwin Methodist," 314;
    a "Godwin perfectibility Man," 175;
    ill, 170, 348;
    neighbour to K., 187 note

  Dilke, Charley, 222, 224, 240, 241, 264, 279, 292, 295, 314, 360

  Dilke, Mrs., 4, 8, 9, 26, 31, 51, 164, 170, 183, 189, 198, 202, 209,
        210, 213, 217, 223, 224, 240, 262, 264, 269, 274, 292, 325, 328,
        332, 336, 340, 349, 354, 357, 359, 360, 365, 374;
    her brother, 359

  Dilke, William, 26 and note

  Dinah, Aunt, 6

  Diocletian, 174

  Diomed, 80

  Dolabella (in _Anthony and Cleopatra_), 16

  Don Juan, 297

  Drawing of K., a, 2 and note

  Drewe family, the, 197

  Drewe, George, 198

  Drury Lane Pantomime [_Don Giovanni_], 49 and note, 55

  Dryope (in _Endymion_), 78

  Du Bois, 47, 198

  Dunghill, Duchess of, 126

  Duns, besieged by, 19, 28

  Dürer, Albert, 330


  _Edinburgh Review_, the, 37, 39, 40, 113, 190, 301, 302, 326

  Edmund Ironside, 80

  Elements, the, regarded as comforters, 25

  _Elizabeth, Queen_, Holinshed's, 333;
    her Latin exercises, 355

  Elizabethans, compared with moderns, 68

  Ellenborough, Lord, 47

  Ellipsis, recommended by Haydon, 2

  Elliston, 335, 336

  Elmes, James, 272 note, 274

  _Emblems_, the, of Bunyan, 309

  _Endymion_ ["I stood tiptoe upon a little hill"], 3 note

  _Endymion_, 27, 34, 35, 161, 302, 366.
      _First book_ begun, 17;
      prospects of, 57;
      in the press, 63;
      readings in, 64:
      _second book_ copied, 71;
      proofs of, 72:
      _third book_, progressing, 31;
      finished, 33:
      _third and fourth books_, copied, 78:
      _fourth book_, quoted, 84;
      finished, 88.
    Alterations suggested by Taylor, 77;
    anxiety to get it printed, 78;
    appreciated by Bailey, 31;
    dedicated to Chatterton, 97;
    described, 168;
    cheque sent to author of it, 192, 199;
    engravings by Haydon for it, 57;
    referred to by K. as a pioneer, 77;
    admired by the Miss Porters, 192, 193;
    the preface to it, 88, 96, 97, 98;
    readings in, 99;
    called slipshod, 167 and note;
    the story of it told to Fanny K., 22

  Enfield, school at, xviii.

  English, Chatterton's is the purest, 313

  Enobarb (in _Anthony and Cleopatra_), 16

  Erasmus, 10, 17

  Esau, 68

  Euclid, 29, 177

  Eustace, 163

  _Evadné_, by Sheil, 231, 232

  Evans, Sir Hugh (in _Merry Wives_), 104 and note

  Eve, 103, 255

  "Ever let the Fancy roam," etc., 203

  _Examiner_, The, 17, 40, 44, 47, 51, 194, 208, 219, 234, 328;
    its defence of K., 171;
    K.'s notice of Reynolds' _Peter Bell_ in it, 248, 249;
    v. Christianity, 10

  _Excursion_, Wordsworth's, one of the three good things of the age, 53,
        54


  Fagging at schools, 178

  _Fairies, Chorus of_, 251

  Falstaff, 77, 351

  Fame, sonnets on, 258

  "Fame like a wayward girl will still be coy," etc., 258

  Family letters, xi.

  Fanny. _See_ Keats, Fanny

  "Far, far around shall those dark-crested trees," etc., 115

  Fazio, 72

  Fenbank, Mr. P., 199

  Fielding, 52, 200

  Fingal's Cave described, 150

  Fitzgerald, Miss, 193

  Fladgate, Frank, 133

  Flageolet, not admired, 161, 162

  Fleet Street household (_i.e._ Taylor's. _See_ p. 286), 54

  Fletcher, Mrs. Philips, compared to, 31

  Fletcher and Beaumont, 228

  Flirting, 173

  _Florence, A Garden of_, by Reynolds, 67 and note

  Florimel, 248, 249

  _Foliage_, by Leigh Hunt, 11 note;
    reviewed in the Quarterly, 113

  Forman, H. Buxton, his edition, xii.;
    letters to Fanny K. printed in this volume by his permission, xii.
        note

  Fortunatus's purse, 32

  "Four Seasons fill the measure of the year," etc., 81

  Framptons, the, 238

  Francesca, 58, 246

  Franklin, Benjamin, 175

  French dramatists, 95 and note

  French language inferior to English, 23

  Frogley, Miss, 192

  Fry, 290

  Fuseli, 306, 330


  G. minor (_see_ Wylie, Georgiana), 192

  Gaelic talked, 140

  Gattie, 197

  Gay, 106

  Genesis, 26

  Genius, of K. in prose writing, xi.;
    men of, have not individuality, 41

  George. _See_ Keats, George

  George, little (_see_ Wylie, Georgiana), 200, 201

  George II., 362

  _Gertrude of Wyoming_, 342

  Ghosts, 44

  Gibbon, 76

  Gifford, 220, 226 _seq._, 229;
    his attack on K., 192

  _Giovanni, Don_, by Byron, expected, 218

  Gipsies, 37

  _Gipsy, The_, of Wordsworth, 37

  Glasgow visited, 131, 132

  Glaucus (in _Endymion_), 99

  Gleig, xix., 35, 36, 44, 63, 82, 113;
    described, 35 note

  Gleig, Miss, 225

  Gliddon, 290

  Godwin, 175, 205, 206, 314;
    his _Mandeville_, 51, 286;
    his _Caleb Williams_ and _St. Leon_, 205

  Gray, 106;
    as a letter writer, xiv.;
    Hazlitt on, 76

  "Great spirits now on earth are sojourning," etc., 2

  Greek, K. determines to learn, 101

  Green, Mr., 244

  Griselda, 245

  Grover, Miss, 339

  Guido, 201

  Gyges's ring, 32


  H., Miss, 231, 232

  _Hamlet_, 80, 106

  Hammond, 309

  Handwriting of K., xiv.

  Happiness not expected, 38

  "Happy happy glowing fire," etc., 251

  _Harold, Childe_, 68

  Harris, Bob, 51, 58

  Hart, 340

  Haslam, 51, 56, 159, 178, 181, 187, 188, 189, 195, 197, 200, 202, 209,
        210, 219, 224, 228, 235, 264, 270, 284, 307, 342, 344, 369, 373,
        375;
    his father's death, 238, 266;
    a kind friend, 269, 339;
    his "lady and family," 340;
    in love, 293;
    "is very Beadle to an amorous sigh," 333;
    a message to, 377

  Hastings, Lady, met at, 179, 223

  *Haydon, xii. note, 2 and note, 5, 8, 9, 39, 41, 47, 54, 58, 195, 197,
        198, 201, 240, 272, 340, 343, 355, 356, 361;
    his autobiography, 50 and note;
    his "Christ" contained a portrait of K., 16;
    and is "tinted into immortality," 94;
    his "Dentatus," 87;
    on Elgin marbles, 75;
    his eyes weak, 219;
    on French dramatists, etc., 95 and note;
    his "Life and Love," 330 and note;
    loved as a brother, 15;
    his pictures one of the three glories of the age, 53, 54;
    his portrait, 6;
    quarrels with Hunt, 33, 34, 35, 56, 61;
    and with Reynolds, 55, 56;
    discovers a seal of Shakspeare, 85;
    "this glorious Haydon and all his creation," 1;
    his "Solomon," 214

  Hazlewood, 178, 181, 294

  Hazlitt, 3, 96, 101, 106, 107, 109, 111, 179, 191, 197, 205, 218, 326;
    his prosecution of Blackwood, 164;
    his essay on commonplace people, 37;
    the only good damner, 87;
    his lectures, 64, 72, 76, 332;
    his letter to Gifford quoted, 226 _seq._, 229;
    on Shakspeare, 16, 56, 58;
    his review of Southey, 10 and note, 16;
    his depth of taste, 53, 54;
    his _Round Table_, 31 and note

  Hazlitt, Mrs., 218

  _Heart of Midlothian_ (an opera), 249

  Heart's affections and beauty of Imagination the only certain things, 41

  Hebrew, the study of, advised, 24

  "He is to weet a melancholy Carle," etc., 244

  Helen, 125

  "Hence Burgundy, Claret, and Port," etc., 65

  Hengist, 90

  Henrietta Street. _See_ Wylies, the

  Henry. _See_ Wylie, Henry

  Herculaneum, a piece of, 83

  "Here all the summer could I stay," etc., 85

  Hermes, 223

  "Hermia and Helena," by Severn, 265

  Hesketh, Lady, xv.

  *Hessey, xi., 53, 100, 114, 164, 177, 184 note, 199, 282, 286

  Hessey, Mrs., 88

  Hesseys, the. _See_ Percy Street

  Hill, 47

  Hilton, 114, 240

  Hindoos, 257

  Hobhouse, 208

  Hodgkinson, 271, 284, 297, 363

  Hogarth, 107, 200, 351

  Hogg, 234

  Holbein, 361

  Holinshed's _Queen Elizabeth_, 333

  Holts, one of the, 218

  _Homer_, 80, 95 note, 101, 134, 144;
    Pope's, 13, 14;
    Chapman's, 363 and note

  Hone, 47, 51, 220

  Honeycomb, Mr., 28

  Hook, 309

  Hooker, Bishop, 173

  Hopkinses, the, 38

  Hoppner, 189, 190

  Horace, 353

  Houghton, Lord, xix., 289 note, 347 note;
    his Life of K., xii.

  "How fever'd is that Man who cannot look," etc., 258

  Howard, John, 173

  Hubbard, Mother, 177

  Hugh, Parson, 104 and note

  Humour superior to wit, 47

  Hunger and sleepiness, 122

  Hunt, Henry, his triumphal entry into London, 299, 329

  Hunt, John, 17, 28, 58, 67 note, 72, 191

  *Hunt, Leigh, xviii., 2 note, 3, 9, 49, 51, 63, 68, 72, 76, 96, 174,
        177, 179, 191, 232, 239, 240, 248, 249, 307, 343, 353, 354, 365,
        366, 374;
    attacked, 39, 113;
    "Cockney school articles" thought to be by Scott, 60 and note;
    criticises _Endymion_, 57, 58;
    his _Foliage_, 11 note;
    damned Hampstead, 87;
    his influence on K., xviii.;
    K. his _élève_, 35;
    K. moves near to him, 360 note;
    K. stays in his house, 363 note, 364;
    his kindness, 368;
    his lock of Milton's hair, 62;
    his money difficulties, 218;
    his _Nymphs_, 11;
    his sonnet on the Nile, 72;
    his paper on Preternatural History, 234;
    his _Literary Pocket-book_, 190, 197;
    his quarrel with Haydon, 33, 34, 35, 56, 61;
    his self-delusions, 15

  Hunt, Mrs., 13, 51, 55

  _Hyperion_, 331 note, 362 note;
    begun, 194, 195;
    not continued, 221;
    continued, 280;
    given up because of its Miltonic inversions, 321


  Iago, 184

  Idleness, 278

  "If by dull rhymes our English must be chained," etc., 261

  "I had a dove and the sweet dove died," 207

  "I have examin'd and do find," etc., by Mrs. Philips, 29

  Imagination, 41, 42, 43, 108;
    the rudder of Poetry, 34;
    its beauty and the heart's affections alone certain, 41;
    compared to Adam's dream (_Paradise Lost_, Book viii.), 41, 42

  Imogen, 24, 184

  _Indolence, Ode on_, 235 and note;
    _The Castle of_, by Thomson, 234

  Invention, the Polar Star of Poetry, 34

  Iona [Iconkill] visited, 148, 149

  Ireby, 117;
    country dancing school at, 116

  Ireland visited, 124

  Irish and Scotch compared, 126, 129

  _Isabella_, or _The Pot of Basil_, 109, 113, 362 note

  Isis, K.'s boating on the, 28

  Italian, studied, 101, 289;
    the language full of poetry, 23

  Italy, xix.

  "It keeps eternal whisperings around," etc., 8


  Jacobs, Jenny, and Brown, 279

  Jacques, 68

  James I., 361

  Jane, St. _See_ Reynolds, Jane

  Jean, Burns', 134

  Jeffrey, xii., xix.

  Jemmy, Master. _See_ Rice, James

  Jennings, Mrs., 290, 318;
    referred to as "my aunt," 274

  _Jessy of Dumblane_, 160

  Jesus and Socrates, 236

  _Joanna, To_, by Wordsworth, 116 note

  John (_see_ Reynolds), 27, 33, 162

  John, St., 325

  Jonson, Ben, 247 note

  Journal-letters, xii.

  Jove better than Mercury, 75, 97

  Judea, 11

  Juliet, 24, 135

  Junkets, _i.e._ John Keats, 13


  Kean, 46, 48, 84, 131, 191, 226, 241, 280, 284, 285, 286, 291, 319, 336,
        340

  Keasle, 189

  Keasle, Miss, 170, 189, 308

  Keasle, Mrs., 189

  Keats, Emily (daughter of George K.), 294, 319, 339, 344, 347;
    her birth announced, 273

  Keats family, letters to, xi.

  *Keats, Fanny, xii. note, 6, 51, 58, 153, 158, 169, 177, 197, 223, 228,
        292, 371, 375, 377;
    she is kept from K. by the Abbeys, 145, 218;
    the story of _Endymion_ is related to her, 22

  Keats, Frances. _See_ Keats, Fanny

  *Keats, George, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 23, 34, 38, 49, 52, 84,
        101, 109, 112, 114, 119, 132, 142, 152, 153, 161, 166, 187, 213,
        217, 263, 265, 268, 270, 273, 275, 277, 284, 285, 320, 337, 340,
        341, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 349, 358, 359, 361, 362, 369, 375,
        376, 377;
    his affairs troublesome, 324, 331, 336;
    he goes to America, 109, 182;
    he visits England, 328 and note;
    he returns to America, 358;
    he is more than a brother to John K., 158;
    he copies John K.'s verses, 342;
    he is devoted to his little girl, 339;
    bad news from him, 321, 322, 332;
    J. K.'s sonnet to him, 72

  Keats, Georgiana. _See_ Wylie, Georgiana

  Keats, John, his genius in prose-writing, xi.;
    his Life by Colvin, xi., 331 note;
    and by Lord Houghton, xi.;
    the characteristics of his letters, xiv. xv.;
    his character, "the young Cockney," Shakspeare in his blood, xvi., 14;
    his reticence about Fanny Brawne, xvi.;
    the influence of Haydon, Leigh Hunt, and Charles Cowden Clarke over
        him, xviii.;
    his school at Enfield, xviii.;
    his portrait, 2;
    his thoughts of settling in the country, 4;
    he writes in the _Champion_, 8, 47, 49;
    he cannot exist without poetry, 9, 165;
    "why I should be a poet," 12;
    his money troubles, 14, 19, 28;
    he reads and writes eight hours a day, but cannot compose when
        "fevered in a contrary direction," 14;
    his morbidity, 15, 38, 110, 111;
    his excitement during composition, 18;
    his thoughts of visiting the country, 18;
    he writes with energy, 23;
    he regards the elements as comforters, 25;
    he projects a romance, 32;
    he expects to be called Hunt's _élève_, 35;
    he does not expect happiness, 38;
    his article on "Covent Garden," 49 and note;
    his views of religion, 81, 256;
    his plan of life, 94;
    he regards the public as an enemy but does not write under its shadow,
        96;
    he studies Italian, 101, 289;
    he determines to learn Greek, 101;
    his thoughts of death when alone, 112;
    is noticed in the _Edinburgh_ and _Quarterly_, 113;
    his ill-health, 122, 347-377;
    his independence of criticism, 167;
    he expects to be among the English poet after his death, 171;
    his defence by Reynolds, 171;
    his declamations against matrimony, 180;
    his pleasure in solitude, 181;
    he talks of giving up writing, 184;
    a sonnet and cheque to him, 192, 199;
    his notion of a rondeau, 207;
    his thoughts of the country, 209;
    his notice of Reynolds' _Peter Bell_, 248, 249;
    he feels himself the protector of Fanny K., 216;
    "he is quite the little poet," 219;
    his rhapsody about claret, 222, 223;
    his scorn of parsons, 221 _seq._, 233, 268;
    he talks of turning physician, 233;
    his portrait by Severn, 274;
    his change of character, 309;
    his distrust of Americans, 312;
    his feelings towards Fanny Brawne during his last illness, 371, 372

  *Keats, Tom, 8, 9, 11, 44, 47 note, 79, 82, 84, 85, 87, 94, 100, 112,
        135, 158, 159, 165, 169, 175, 177, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 185,
        215, 301 note, 349;
    his death, 187 and note;
    his illness, 43, 49, 63, 103, 161, 162, 164, 168, 186, 187;
    his belief in immortality, 188;
    his likeness to Fanny K., 397;
    his low spirits, 98;
    Wells' treatment of him, 239, 245

  Kelly, Mr., 124

  Kemble, 198

  Kent, Miss, 13, 51

  Keswick visited, 114, 115

  Kingston, 47, 50 and note, 53, 95, 196;
    his criticisms, 98

  Kirkman, 190, 208, 209;
    his uncle William, 208

  Kneller, Sir G., 361

  Knox, John, 220

  Kotzebue, 241, 300


  _La Belle Dame sans Merci_, 250

  Lacon, Fool, 339

  _Lady of the Lake_, 136

  Lakes, the, described, 114, 115

  Lamb, Charles, 39, 191, 316, 361;
    his practical jokes, 50

  _Lamia_, 277, 280, 294, 362 note;
    finished, 288;
    quoted, 289 and note

  Landseer, 50, 58

  _Laon and Cythna_, by Shelley, 48 and note

  Launce (in _Two Gentlemen of Verona_), 4

  _Lear, King_, 47, 58, 63, 80;
    a sonnet on, 59

  _Leech-gatherer_, the, 31

  Leicester, Sir John, 240

  Lely, Sir Peter, 361

  _Leon, St._, by Godwin, 205

  Letters, those to Fanny Brawne omitted, xvii.;
    frivolous classification of, 106, 163;
    characteristics of K.'s, xv.;
    Dated from, Burford Bridge, 40-44;
    Carisbrooke, 6;
    Carlisle, 116;
    Donaghadee, 124;
    Featherstone Buildings, 48;
    Fleet Street (Wells'), 71;
    Hampstead (Well Walk), 33-40, 46, 53-67, 71-78, 109-114, 161-187;
    Hampstead (Wentworth Place), 187-273, 331-359;
    Keswick, 114;
    London, 1-4, 19, 39;
    Margate, 10-17;
    the _Maria Crowther_, 370;
    Mortimer Terrace (Leigh Hunt's), 363;
    Naples, 372-374;
    Oxford, 19-32;
    Rome, 376;
    Scotland, 118-123, 125-158
      Auchen-cairn, 119, 123;
      Ballantrae, 127;
      Cairndow, 136;
      Dumfries, 118;
      Girvan, 129;
      Glasgow, 131;
      Inverness, 158;
      Inverary, 138, 142;
      Island of Mull, 144-147;
      Kilmelfort, 139;
      Kingswells, 130, 133;
      Kirkcudbright, 120;
      Kirkoswald, 129;
      Letter Findlay, 153;
      Maybole, 130;
      Newton-Stewart, 122, 123;
      Oban, 141, 148;
      Stranraer, 125;
    Shanklin, 275-277;
    Southampton, 4;
    Teignmouth, 78-103;
    Wentworth Place (Mrs. Brawne's), 364-370;
    Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town, 360-362;
    Winchester, 280-328.
    To Bailey, Benjamin, 33, 36, 39, 40, 61, 78, 109, 111, 142, 280;
    Brawne, Mrs., 372;
    Brown, Charles, 325, 327, 360, 368, 370, 374, 376;
    Clarke, Charles Cowden, 1, 2;
    Dilke, Charles Wentworth, 40, 163, 277, 322, 328, 354, 359;
    Elmes, James, 272;
    Haydon, Benjamin Robert, 1, 2, 13, 32, 53, 85, 94, 211, 213, 214, 215,
        267, 274, 328, 363, 367;
    Hessey, James Augustus, 167;
    Hunt, Leigh, 10;
    Keats, Fanny, 21, 118, 161, 162, 166, 182, 183, 185, 187, 213, 215,
        216, 262, 263, 264, 265, 268, 270, 271, 272, 273, 275, 283, 331,
        334, 335, 337, 347, 348, 350, 352, 353, 355, 356, 357, 358, 362,
        363, 364, 368;
    Keats, George and Georgiana, 168, 187, 217, 290;
    Keats, George and Thomas, 4, 46, 48, 54, 57, 71, 75;
    Keats, Georgiana, 338;
    Keats, Thomas, 114, 123, 127, 136, 147, 153;
    Reynolds, Jane, 24, 162;
    Reynolds, John Hamilton, 3, 4, 6, 28, 44, 65, 67, 73, 82, 90, 96, 98,
        100, 103, 132, 165, 276, 282, 319, 352;
    Reynolds, Mariane and Jane, 19;
    Reynolds, Mrs., 211;
    Rice, James, 88, 186, 335, 350;
    Severn, Joseph, 265, 332, 334;
    Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 365;
    Taylor, John, 53, 58, 64, 71, 77, 99, 114, 212, 281, 286, 333, 360,
        367;
    Messrs. Taylor and Hessey, 17, 19, 78, 88;
    Woodhouse, Richard, 210;
    Wylie, Mrs., 158

  Lewis, 177, 189, 197, 219, 222

  Lewis, David, 349

  Life, a palace with chambers, 107, 109;
    a pleasant life, 73;
    that projected by J. K., 94;
    of a man worth anything is an allegory, 226

  Lisle, 286

  Listen, 198

  Little, 106

  Little Britain. _See_ Reynoldses, the

  Llanos, Señor, xix.

  "Lloyd, Lacy Vaughan," _i.e._ J. K., 362 and note

  _Lord of the Isles_, 136

  Lover, the, a ridiculous person, 293

  Lucifer, 25

  Lucius, Sir, 210

  Ludolph (in _Otho the Great_), 319, 335

  Lyceum, 295

  Lycidas, 89

  Lydia Languish, 83


  Macbeth, 288

  Machiavelli, 313

  Mackenzie, 201

  _Macmillan's Magazine_, xii. note

  Macready, 335

  Magdalen Hall visited, 19 note, 22;
    a beautiful name, 84

  Mahomet, 159

  Maiden-Thought, the second chamber of life, 107

  _Maid's Tragedy_, by Beaumont and Fletcher, 228

  Man is like a hawk, 236;
    is a poor forked creature, 254-257

  Mancur or Manker, 208, 245

  _Mandeville_, by Godwin, 51, 286

  Margate visited, 10-17

  _Maria Crowther_ (the ship in which K. went to Naples), 370, 371 note

  Mariane. _See_ Reynolds, Mariane

  _Mark, St., Eve of_, 221;
    quoted, 302, 303

  Marlowe, 247 note

  Martin, 31, 44, 53, 194, 245, 249, 292, 293, 354

  Martin, Miss, 225, 293

  Mary Queen of Scots, 6, 32

  Massinger, 324

  Mathew, Caroline, 208

  Mathew, Mrs., 208

  _Matthew_ (Wordsworth's), 68

  Matthews, the comedian, 297

  Matrimony, K. declaims against, 180

  Maw the apostate, 219

  _Measure for Measure_ quoted, 11

  Medicine, the study of, 104

  Meg Merrilies's country, 119, 123

  Mercury, 75, 344

  Mermaid lines, 70, 71 and note

  _Merry Wives of Windsor_ quoted, 104 and note

  Methodists exposed by Horace Smith, 72

  Millar, 339

  Millar, Mary, 191, 218, 219, 248, 308, 339;
    her suitors, 189, 210

  Millar, Mrs., 170, 176, 178, 248

  Milman, 87

  Milton, 101, 106, 142, 174, 175, 263, 355;
    anecdote of, 88, 89, 90;
    his Hierarchies, 283;
    his influence shown in _Hyperion_, 321;
    his Latinised language, 313, 314;
    a picture of him, 6;
    his philosophy, 108;
    quoted, 42, 237;
    K.'s verses on his hair, 62;
    compared to Wordsworth, 105

  Minerva, 344;
    her Ægis, 2

  Monkhouse, 50, 229, 274

  Montague, Lady M. W., 29

  Moore, Thomas, 109, 193, 202, 232;
    his _Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress_, 228

  Moore's Almanack, 21, 80, 346

  Morbidity of temperament, 15

  Morley, John, xi.

  "Mother, your" (in K.'s American letters). _See_ Wylie, Mrs.

  "Mother of Hermes! and still youthful Maia!" etc., 105

  Mountains, effect of, 144

  Mozart, 193, 194

  Muggs, Nehemiah, by Horace Smith, 72

  Mulgrave, Lord, 330 and note

  Murray, 312


  Naples Harbour, 372 _seq._

  Napoleon, 174

  "Nature withheld Cassandra in the skies," etc., 166

  Negative capability needed by men of achievement, 48

  Nelson, 98

  Neville, Henry, 192, 193

  Nevis, Ben, described, 153

  Newport visited, 7, 8

  Newton, Rev. John, xv.

  Nicolini, the singer, 20

  Niece. _See_ Keats, Emily

  _Nightingale, Ode to_, 91 note, 272 note, 342

  Nile, sonnets on, 72

  Nimrod, 26

  Niobe, 38

  Northcote, 240

  Norval, 337

  "No! those days are gone away," etc., 69

  "Not Aladdin magian," 150

  "Not as a swordsman would I pardon crave," etc., 319

  Novello, 191, 193, 195

  Novello, Mrs., 197

  _Nymphs, The_, by Leigh Hunt, 11


  Odes, the, 362 note

  "Of late two dainties were before me placed," etc., 139

  "O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung," etc., 259

  "O golden-tongued Romance with serene Lute!" etc., 59

  "Old Meg she was a gipsy," etc., 120

  Ollier, 1, 87, 179, 197, 219;
    published K.'s _Poems_, 72;
    his _Altam and his Wife_, 197

  _One, Two, Three, Four_, by Reynolds, 295

  "Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams," etc., 25

  Ophelia, 80

  Opie, Mrs., 72

  Ops, 184

  _Original Poems_, by Miss Taylor, 23

  Orinda, the matchless. _See_ Philips, Mrs.

  Orpheus, 214

  "O soft embalmer of the still midnight," etc., 259

  _Othello_, 329

  _Otho the Great_, 277, 279, 280, 281, 284, 285, 323, 325, 335, 336, 340
        (sometimes referred to as the, or our, tragedy)

  "O those whose face hath felt the winter's wind," etc., 74

  "Over the hill and over the dale," etc., 90

  "O what can ail thee knight-at-arms," etc., 250

  Oxford described, 20, 22;
    visited, 19-32

  _Oxford Herald_, The, 112 and note


  Paine, Tom, 299

  Paolo, 246

  _Paradise Lost_, 42, 89, 108, 281, 282, 313

  Park, Mungo, 50

  Parsons, 221 _seq._, 233, 268

  Patmore, 106

  Payne, Howard, 191

  Peachey, 192, 217, 226

  Peachey family, 49

  Peacock, 87

  "Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes," etc., 293

  Peona, 38

  Pepin, King, the History of, 21

  Percy Street (_i.e._ the Hesseys), 54, 78, 88, 100, 114, 282

  _Peter Bell_, by Wordsworth, and the parody by Reynolds, 240, 248, 249

  Petzelians, 10

  Phaethon, 12

  Philips, Mrs., her verses to Mrs. M[ary] A[ubrey], 29

  Phillips, old, 26

  Philosopher's stone, 32

  Philosopher's back-garden, 89

  Physician, K.'s thoughts of becoming a, 233

  _Pilgrim's Progress_, 21

  Pindar, Peter, 49, 72, 348

  Pistol (in _Henry IV._), 84 and note

  Pizarro, 254

  Pliny, 233

  _Plutarch's Lives_, 14

  _Pocket-book, The Literary_, by Leigh Hunt, 190, 197

  Poems of 1817, 2 note

  Poems, original, by Miss Taylor, 23

  "Poet, he is quite the little," said of K., 219

  Poet, the Northern, _i.e._ Wordsworth, 28

  "Poet, why I should be a," 12

  Poets, advertisement to, in the _Chronicle_, 46

  Poets, the English, K. expects to be among, after death, 171

  Poets, the vices of, 211, 212

  Poetry, axioms of, 77;
    genius of, 167, 168;
    effect of writing on K., 18;
    K. cannot exist without, 9, 165;
    K. cannot write when "fevered in a contrary direction," 14;
    invention the Polar Star of, 34;
    a Jack o'Lantern, 81;
    other things necessary, 101;
    not written under the shadow of public thought, 96;
    should be retiring, unobtrusive, 68

  Politics, 298

  Pope's _Homer_, 13, 14

  Popularity, 281

  Porter, Jane, 219

  Porter, the Misses, 192, 193

  _Pot of Basil_, 101, 113

  Present, an anonymous, 192, 199

  Primrose Island, the Isle of Wight, 7

  Proserpine, 142

  Prose writing, genius of K. in, xi.

  Protector of Fanny K., 216

  Protestantism discussed, 108

  _Psyche, Ode to_, 115 note, 259

  Public, the, an enemy to K., 96

  Punctuation peculiar, preserved, xiv.

  Pythagoras, 89


  _Quarterly Review_, the, 37, 113, 167, 171, 224, 302

  _Queen Mab_, 48


  R.'s, the Miss. _See_ Reynolds, Misses

  Rabelais, 76

  Radcliffe, Mrs., 83, 221

  Rakehell, 44

  Raleigh, Sir W., 20

  Raphael, 17, 201

  "Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud," etc., 158

  Red Riding Hood, 177

  Redhall, 52, 195, 202

  Reformation, effects of, 108

  Religion, K. on, 81, 256

  _Revolt of Islam_, 48 note

  *Reynolds, Jane, xii., 8, 27, 33, 43;
    as St. Jane, 39;
    a translator, 24

  *Reynolds, John Hamilton, xi., 2, 5, 6, 17, 18, 27, 33, 34, 35, 36, 46,
        48, 54, 57, 62, 71, 130, 142, 162, 164, 179, 198, 218, 223, 245,
        311, 324, 335, 352, 354, 376 (sometimes as John);
    anecdote of, 308;
    two articles by, 72;
    his character, 344;
    defends K., 171;
    writes for the _Edinburgh Review_, 60, 190, 198;
    poetical epistle by K. to, 91;
    his farce, 295;
    his _Garden of Florence_, 67 and note;
    his illness, 76, 90, 97, 100, 111, 113;
    he takes up law, 323, 325;
    his quarrel with Haydon, 55, 61;
    his _Peter Bell_, 240, 248, 249;
    his sonnets, 3 note, 67 and note, 69;
    his Spenserian, 103, 104

  *Reynolds, Mariane, xii., 26, 27, 33, 43;
    her attitude towards Bailey, 225

  Reynolds, the Misses, 6, 9, 44, 102, 135, 172, 173, 190, 218, 225
        (sometimes as sisters of J. H. R.)

  *Reynolds, Mrs., 36, 44, 102, 114, 135, 172, 225, 264, 348 (mother of
        J. H. R.)

  Reynoldses, the, 19, 44, 49, 97, 111, 142, 164, 165 note, 198, 225, 322
        (sometimes as Little Britain)

  "Reynolds's Cove," a spot so called by K., 28, 31

  _Rhyme, Essays in_, by Miss Taylor, 23

  *Rice, James, xii., 9, 31, 36, 50, 52, 64, 84, 102, 104, 111, 135, 164,
        166, 177, 198, 219, 223, 225, 249, 282, 292, 345, 354, 373;
    (once as Master Jemmy) and the barmaids, 90;
    his character, 344;
    his ill health, 33, 44, 58, 273, 276, 277

  Richards, 3, 72, 219, 241, 344

  Richardson, 301, 330

  _Rimini, The Story of_, by Hunt, 10, 58

  Ritchie, 50, 198

  Robertson's _America_, 254

  Robin Hood, 125;
    sonnets to, by Reynolds, 67 note;
    J. K. answers above, 68, 69 and note

  Robinson, Crabb, 72 and note

  Robinson, Miss, 196

  Rodwell, 53

  Rogers, 218, 232

  Romance, a fine thing, 88;
    projected by K., 32

  Rome visited, 376, 377

  Romeo, 25

  Rondeau, K.'s notion of, 207

  Ronsard translated by K., 165, 166

  Ross, Captain, 189

  _Round Table_, by Hazlitt, 31 and note

  Ruth, 125


  Salmasius, 88, 89

  Salmon, Mr., 212

  Sam [Brawne], 373

  Sancho, 67

  Sandt, 300

  Sannazaro, 313

  Sappho, 29

  Saturn, 184

  Saunders, 293

  Sawrey, Dr., 49, 166

  Sawrey, Mrs., 238, 239

  Scenery, 80

  Schoolmaster of K., xviii.

  Scotch, the, 118, 124, 126

  Scotland visited, 110, 118-158

  Scott, John (editor of the _Champion_), 8 note, 50, 167 note

  Scott, Mrs., 72

  Scott, Sir W., 76, 198;
    author of "Cockney" articles, 60
    and note; compared to Smollett, 51, 52

  Sea, a sonnet on the, 8

  Serjeant, the, of Fielding or Smollett, 52

  *Severn, Joseph, xix., 3, 49, 186, 231, 293, 306;
    orders for drawing from Emperor of Russia, 52;
    his illness, 171;
    his "Hermia and Helena," 265;
    draws a head of K., 274;
    his "Cave of Despair," 334 and note, 335;
    is with K. during his last illness and death, 373, 375, 377 note

  Shakspeare, xvi., xviii., 1 note, 5 note, 7 note, 8, 9, 16, 17, 25, 47,
        48, 72, 77, 80, 81, 84, 95 note, 101, 106, 107, 131, 177, 189,
        201, 221, 226, 228, 229, 263, 281, 337, 343, 355;
    his Christianity, 11;
    a presiding genius to K., 14;
    his seal, 85;
    his sonnets, 45

  Shandy, Tristram, 344

  Shanklin described, 6 _seq._;
    visited, 275-280

  Sheil's play, 231, 232

  *Shelley, 12 and note, 33, 35, 76, 365;
    captious about _Endymion_, 58;
    his _Laon and Cythna_ and _Queen Mab_ objected to, 48;
    as a letter-writer, xv.;
    his sonnet on the Nile, 72

  Shelley, Mrs., 12, 366

  Shipton, Mother, 232

  _Sibylline Leaves_, 18, 40

  Sidney, Algernon, 174, 175

  Sidney, Sir Philip, 10

  Silenus, 223

  Simon Pure, 248, 249

  Simple (in _Merry Wives_), 95 note

  Sister or sister-in-law (in K.'s American letters). _See_ Wylie,
        Georgiana

  Skinner, 245

  Slang of the Rice set, 50

  Sleep, sonnet on, 259

  Slips of the pen, not preserved in this edition, xiv.

  Smith, Horace, 33, 47, 72, 75

  Smith, Sidney, 309

  Smith, William, Southey's letter to, 10 note

  Smithfield, the burnings at, 108

  Smollett compared to Scott, 51, 52

  Snook, 26, 195 and note, 219, 317, 371 note;
    visited by K., 217

  Socrates, 255;
    and Jesus, 236

  Solitude, K.'s pleasure in, 181

  Solomon, 100

  "Solomon," by Haydon, 214

  Songs, many written by K., 72

  Sonnet to Keats, a, 199

  Sonnets by K., 2, 8, 59, 66, 81, 117, 139, 158, 238, 246, 258, 259;
    a new form, 261;
    many written, 72;
    one on the Nile, 72 and note

  Sophocles, 142

  "Souls of Poets dead and gone," etc., 70

  Southampton, road to, described, 4 _seq._

  Southcote, Joanna, 220

  Southey, 232, 244, 361;
    Hazlitt on, 10 and note, 16

  _Spectator_, The, 293

  Speed's edition of K., xiii. and note

  Spelling tricks, K.'s, not followed in this edition, xiv.

  Spenser, 9;
    his _Cave of Despair_ subject of a picture by Severn, 334 note, 335

  Staffa described, 150

  Stark (the artist), 76

  "Star of high promise!--not to this dark age," etc. (sonnet to K.), 199

  Stephens, 49

  Stevenson (Rice's nickname for Thornton), 345

  Susan Gale, 249

  Swift, 76, 344


  T., Mr., 18. _See_ Taylor

  Tam o' Shanter, 130, 133

  Tarpeian Rock, 38

  Tasso, 95 note

  Taste, Hazlitt's depth of, 53, 54

  *Taylor, xi., 18, 44, 53, 56, 76, 97, 111, 135, 168, 177, 199, 221, 236,
        238, 248, 250, 292, 324, 340;
    he helps K., 290;
    he is pleased with _Endymion_, 57;
    and suggests changes, 77

  Taylor, Jeremy, 225

  Taylor, Miss (author of _Essays in Rhyme_ and _Original Poems_), 23

  Taylors, the (as Fleet Street), 54

  Teignmouth visited, 78-109

  _Tempest_ quoted, 5 note, 7 note, 9, 245

  Tertullian, 10

  Text of this edition, xiv.

  Theatricals, private, described, 59

  Theocritus, 180

  "There is a charm in footing slow across a silent plain," etc., 146

  "There was a naughty Boy," etc., 121

  "The sun from meridian height," etc., 25

  "The Town, the churchyard, and the setting sun," etc., 117

  Thomson, 72, 234

  Thornton, 163, 345

  Thought, the centre of the intellectual world, 82

  Tighe, Mrs., 201

  Timotheus, 25

  _Tintern Abbey_, by Wordsworth, 108

  "'Tis the witching time of night," etc., 175

  Tom. _See_ Keats, Tom

  _Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress_, by Moore, 228, 344

  Tootts, 373

  Tournament, suggested by mountains, 116

  Towers, Mr., 218

  Tragedy. _See_ _Otho the Great_

  Trimmer, Mr., 192

  Troilus, 180

  Trojan horse, 96

  Turton, Dr., 101

  _Twelfth Night_, quoted 11

  Twisse, Horace, 198

  "Two or three Posies," etc., 269


  Unreserve of K.'s letters, xiv.

  "Upon a Sabbath-day it fell," etc., 303

  "Upon my Life Sir Nevis I am pique'd," 156

  Urganda, 18

  "Uriel," by Alston, 76


  Vandyck, 361

  Vathek, Caliph, 134

  Velocipede, 233

  Venery, the philosophy of, 106

  _Venus and Adonis_, quoted, 45

  Verse and other quotations in letters given in full in this edition,
        xiii.

  _Virgil_, 18

  Voltaire, 76, 231, 254, 362


  Waldegrave, Miss, 170, 191, 219, 248, 292, 315

  Wallace, 329

  Walpole's Letters, 208

  Walton, 290

  Warder, 181

  Warner Street, 3

  Washington, 175

  Way, 221

  Webb, Cornelius, 39

  Webb, Mrs., 218

  Wellington, Duke of, 17, 345

  Well Walk (where the brothers K. lodged), 152, 183

  Wells, Charles, 47 and note, 48 note, 49, 50, 52, 55, 58, 59;
    his treatment of George K., 239, 245

  Wells, Mrs., 52

  Wentworth Place (occupied by Dilke and Brown), 142, 163, (K. moves to),
        187

  Wentworthians, the, 223

  "Were they unhappy then?--It cannot be," etc., 102

  West, 87;
    his "Death on the Pale Horse," 47

  "When I have fears that I may cease to be," etc., 66

  "When they were come into the Faery's Court," etc., 241

  "Where be ye going, you Devon Maid?" etc., 66

  "Wherein lies Happiness! In that which becks," etc., 64

  Whitehead, 63, 82

  "Why did I laugh to-night? No voice will tell," etc., 238

  Wight, Isle of, "the Primrose Island," 7;
    visited, 6-9, 275-279, 370

  Wilkie, 76, 111

  Wilkinson, 6

  William of Wickham, 284

  Williams, Dominie, 218

  Williams, Mrs., 34

  Winchester described, 283 _seq._, 302, 320;
    visited, 280-328

  Winkine (author of treatise on garden-rollers), 20

  Winter, Miss, 231

  Women, the influence of, 143;
    classed with "roses and sweetmeats," 370;
    why should they suffer? 61

  Wood, 10

  *Woodhouse, Richard, 100, 114, 168, 218, 248, 250, 282, 287 note, 289
        note, 320 note, 322, 324;
    copied letters, xi.;
    a letter from him introducing Miss Porter, 192, 193

  Wooler, 47

  Wordsworth, 2 and note, 17, 28, 33, 39, 50, 54, 55, 58, 79, 81, 95,
        114, 232, 236, 249, 361 (as the Northern Poet, 28);
    his character, 76;
    his genius, 105-108;
    his _Gipsy_, 37;
    his house, 116;
    damned the Lakes, 87;
    his _Peter Bell_, 240;
    his philosophy illustrated by his _Matthew_, 67, 68;
    his portrait in Haydon's "Christ," 16 and note;
    he is read by K., 28;
    his _Tintern Abbey_, 108;
    the "Wordsworthian or egotistical Sublime style of poetry," 184

  Wordsworth, Mrs. and Miss (as W. W.'s wife and sister), 87

  Wylie, Charles, 165, 170, 178, 189, 292, 307, 339, 341, 342, 344
        (sometimes as Charles)

  *Wylie, Georgiana, 75 and note, 117, 119, 192, 200, 201, 305, 306, 372
        (sometimes as sister, sister-in-law, G. minor, or little George);
    an acrostic on her name, 300;
    admired by K., 113, 169, 173;
    married to George K., xix.

  Wylie, Henry, 170, 176, 178, 197, 219, 231, 257, 292, 341, 346, 358
        (sometimes as Henry);
    "a greater blade than ever," 307;
    his bride cake, 339

  *Wylie, Mrs., 117, 158, 168, 169, 178, 189, 191, 197, 217, 222, 223,
        231, 239, 248, 257, 263, 270, 284, 292, 307, 314, 337, 338, 341,
        349 (sometimes as mother)

  Wylie, Mrs. Henry, 339, 346

  Wylies, the two, _i.e._ Charles and Henry, 239, 248, 266, 348, 364
        (sometimes as brothers)

  Wylies, the (as Henrietta Street), 189

  _Wyoming, Gertrude of_, 342


  _Yellow Dwarf_, the, 67 note, 72

  Young (the actor), 285


  Zoroastrians, 257


THE END


_Printed in Great Britain by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.



FOOTNOTES:

[A] A complete friend. This line sounded very oddly to me at first.

[B] Especially as I have a black eye.

[1] Macmillan's Magazine, August 1888.

[2] For the letters already printed by Lord Houghton, Mr. Forman as a rule
simply copied the text of that editor. The letters to Fanny Brawne and
Fanny Keats, on the other hand, he printed with great accuracy from the
autographs, and had autographs also before him in revising those to Dilke,
Haydon, and several besides. The correspondence with Fanny Keats he kindly
gave me leave to use for the present volume, receiving from me in return
the right to use my MS. materials for a revised issue of his own work. In
that issue, which appeared at the end of 1889, the new matter is, however,
printed separately, in the form of scraps and addenda detached from their
context; and the present edition (the appearance of which has been delayed
for two years by accidental circumstances) is the only one in which the
true text of the American and miscellaneous letters is given consecutively
and in proper order.

[3] The letters in which I have relied wholly or in part on Mr. Speed's
text are Nos. xxv. lxxx. (only for a few passages missing in the
autograph) cxvi. and cxxxi.

[4] Where the dates in my text are printed without brackets, they are
those given by Keats himself; the dates within brackets have been supplied
either from the postmarks (as was done by Woodhouse in all his
transcripts) or by inference from the text.

[5] The autographs of these letters, all except three, are now in the
British Museum.

[6] The early letters of Keats are full of these Shakspearean tags and
allusions: some of the less familiar I have thought it worth while to mark
in the footnotes.

[7] The references are of course to Wordsworth, Leigh Hunt, and Haydon. In
the sonnet as printed in the _Poems_ of 1817, and all later editions, the
last line but one breaks off at "workings," the words "in the human mart"
having been omitted by Haydon's advice.

[8] Presumably as shown in some drawing or miniature.

[9] Not the long poem published under that title in 1818, but the earlier
attempt beginning, "I stood tiptoe upon a little hill," which was printed
as a fragment in the _Poems_ of 1817.

[10] This letter, which is marked by Woodhouse in his copy "no date, sent
by hand," I take to be an answer to the commendatory sonnet addressed by
Reynolds to Keats on February 27, 1817: see _Keats_ (Men of Letters
Series), Appendix, p. 223.

[11] For Stephano's "Here's my comfort," twice in _Tempest_, II. ii.

[12]

            "I'll not show him
  Where the quick freshes are."

  Caliban in _Tempest_, III. ii.

[13] This sonnet was first published in the _Champion_ (edited by John
Scott) for August 17, 1817.

[14] Charles Cowden Clarke.

[15] For Sunday, May 4, 1817.

[16] The first part, published in the same number of the _Examiner_, of a
ferocious review by Hazlitt of Southey's _Letter to William Smith, Esq.,
M.P._

[17] The poem so entitled on which Hunt was now at work, and which was
published in the volume called _Foliage_ (1818).

[18] Alluding to the well-known story of Shelley dismaying an old lady in
a stage-coach by suddenly, _à propos_ of nothing, crying out to Leigh Hunt
in the words of Richard II., "For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,"
etc.

[19] Opening speech of the King in _Love's Labour's Lost_.

[20] _I.e._, their likenesses, as introduced by Haydon into his picture of
Christ's Entry into Jerusalem.

[21] General Bertrand, who followed Napoleon to St. Helena.

[22] On a visit to Benjamin Bailey at Magdalen Hall.

[23] Littlehampton.

[24] Reynolds's family lived in Little Britain.

[25] William Dilke, a younger brother of Charles Dilke, who had served in
the Commissariat department in the Peninsula, America, and Paris. He died
in 1885 at the age of 90.

[26] The _Round Table_: republished from the _Examiner_ of the two
preceding years.

[27] First Lord in _All's Well that Ends Well_, IV. iii.

[28] Bentley, the Hampstead postman, was Keats's landlord at the house in
Well Walk where he and his brothers had taken up their quarters the
previous June.

[29] G. R. Gleig, son of the Bishop of Stirling: born 1796, died 1888:
served in the Peninsula War and afterwards took orders: Chaplain-General
to the Forces from 1846 to 1875: author of the _Subaltern_ and many
military tales and histories.

[30] Reynolds and Rice.

[31] _Sic_: for "unpaid"?

[32]

  "She disappear'd, and left me dark: I waked
  To find her, or for ever to deplore
  Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure:
  When, out of hope, behold her not far off,
  Such as I saw her in my dream, adorn'd
  With what all Earth or Heaven could bestow
  To make her amiable."

  _Paradise Lost_, Book VIII.

[33] Charles Wells, a schoolmate of Tom Keats; afterwards author of
_Stories after Nature_ and _Joseph and his Brethren_. For Keats's
subsequent cause of quarrel with him see below, Letter XCII.

[34] An admirable phrase!--if only _penetralium_ were Latin.

[35] _Laon and Cythna_, presently changed to _The Revolt of Islam_.

[36] The family of Charles Wells lived at this address.

[37] Both in fact appeared in the number for Sunday, January 4: see
postscript below.

[38] The Hampstead doctor who attended the Keats brothers.

[39] The text of this letter is described by its American editor (who
seems to have mistaken the order of one or two passages) as written in an
evident hurry and almost illegible.

[40] Mr. Kingston was a Commissioner of Stamps, an acquaintance and
tiresome hanger-on of Wordsworth.

[41] For a more glowing account of this supper party of December 28, 1817,
compare Haydon, _Autobiography_, i. p. 384. The Mr. Ritchie referred to
started on a Government mission to Fezzan in September 1818, and died at
Morzouk the following November. An account of the expedition was published
by his travelling companion, Captain G. F. Lyon, R.N.

[42] The manager: of whom Macready in his _Reminiscences_ has so much that
is pleasant to say.

[43] Tea-merchant, of Pancras Lane and Walthamstow: guardian to the Keats
brothers and their sister.

[44] Of course a mere delusion; but Hunt and those of his circle retained
for years afterwards an impression that Scott had in some way inspired or
encouraged the _Cockney School_ articles.

[45] Alluding to two sonnets of Reynolds _On Robin Hood_, copies of which
Keats had just received from him by post. They were printed in the _Yellow
Dwarf_ (edited by John Hunt) for February 21, 1818, and again in the
collection of poems published by Reynolds in 1821 under the title _A
Garden of Florence_.

[46] Both the _Robin Hood_ and the _Mermaid_ lines as afterwards printed
vary in several places from these first drafts.

[47] Henry Crabb Robinson, author of the _Diaries_.

[48] The Olliers (Shelley's publishers) had brought out Keats's _Poems_
the previous spring, and the ill success of the volume had led to a sharp
quarrel between them and the Keats brothers.

[49] Georgiana Wylie, to whom George Keats was engaged.

[50] This letter has been hitherto erroneously printed under date
September 1818.

[51] Reading doubtful.

[52] The five lines ending here Keats afterwards re-cast, doubtless in
order to get rid of the cockney rhyme "ports" and "thoughts."

[53] "And, sweetheart, lie thou there":--Pistol (to his sword) in _Henry
IV._, Part 2, II. iv.

[54] Replying to an ecstatic note of Haydon's about a seal with a true
lover's knot and the initials W. S., lately found in a field at
Stratford-on-Avon.

[55] _Dentatus_ was the subject of Haydon's new picture.

[56] The famous picture now belonging to Lady Wantage, and exhibited at
Burlington House in 1888. Whether Keats ever saw the original is doubtful
(it was not shown at the British Institution in his time), but he must
have been familiar with the subject as engraved by Vivarès and Woollett,
and its suggestive power worked in his mind until it yielded at last the
distilled poetic essence of the "magic casement" passage in the _Ode to a
Nightingale_. It is interesting to note the theme of the Grecian Urn ode
coming in also amidst the "unconnected subject and careless verse" of this
rhymed epistle.

[57] _Sic_: probably, as suggested by Mr. Forman, for "I hope what you
achieve is not lost upon me."

[58] The English rebels against tradition in poetry and art at this time
took much the same view of the French dramatists of the _grand siècle_ as
was taken by the _romantiques_ of their own nation a few years later; and
Haydon had written to Keats in his last letter, "When I die I'll have
Shakspeare placed on my heart, with Homer in my right hand and Ariosto in
the other, Dante at my head, Tasso at my feet, and Corneille under my
----"

[59] "He hath fought with a Warrener":--Simple in _Merry Wives_, I. iv.

[60] The first draught of the proposed preface to _Endymion_.

[61] Changed in the printed version to--"His image in the dusk she seemed
to see."

[62] The quotation is from Slender in _Merry Wives of Windsor_, I. i.

[63] Meaning the atmosphere of the little Bentleys in Well Walk.

[64] "I will make an end of my dinner; there's pippins and cheese to
come":--Sir Hugh Evans in _Merry Wives of Windsor_, I. ii.

[65] The crossing of the letter, begun at the words "Have you not," here
_dips_ into the original writing.

[66] The _Oxford Herald_ for June 6, 1818.

[67] Referring probably to the unfortunate second marriage made by their
mother.

[68] A leaf with the name and "from the Author," notes Woodhouse.

[69] _Compare the Ode to Psyche_:--

  "Far, far around shall those dark-crested trees
  Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep."

[70] Wordsworth's lines "To Joanna" seem to have been special favourites
with Keats.

[71] Keats here repeats for his brother the Meg Merrilies piece contained
in the preceding letter to Fanny.

[72] Reading doubtful.

[73] Here follows a sketch.

[74] The Swan and Two Necks, Lad Lane, London, seems to have been the
coach office for Liverpool and the North-West; compare Lamb's _Letters_
(ed. Ainger), vol. i. p. 241.

[75] By Long Island Keats means, not of course the great chain of the
Outer Hebrides so styled, but the little island of Luing, east of Scarba
Sound. His account of the place from which he is writing, and its distance
from Oban as specified in the paragraph added there next day, seem to
identify it certainly as Kilmelfort.

[76] Cary's translation.

[77] No place so named appears on any map: but at the foot of the
Cruach-Doire-nan-Cuílean, off the road, is a house named Derrynaculan, and
a few miles farther on, at the head of Loch Seridain, an ancient fortified
site or _Dun_, with an inn on the road near by.

[78] For Loch na Keal.

[79] The six lines from "place" to "dance" were judiciously omitted by
Keats in copying these verses later.

[80] Miss Charlotte Cox, an East-Indian cousin of the Reynoldses--the
"Charmian" described more fully in Letter LXXIII.

[81] Referring to these words in John Scott's letter in his defence,
_Morning Chronicle_, October 3, 1818:--"That there are also many, very
many passages indicating both haste and carelessness I will not deny; nay,
I will go further, and assert that a real friend of the author would have
dissuaded him from immediate publication."

[82] Miss Charlotte Cox; see above, Letter LXX.

[83] This, notes Woodhouse, is in reply to a letter of protest he had
written Keats concerning "what had fallen from him, about six weeks back,
when we dined together at Mr. Hessey's, respecting his continuing to
write; which he seemed very doubtful of."

[84] On the death of his brother Tom (which took place December 1, a few
hours after the last letter was written) Brown urged Keats to leave the
lodgings where the brothers had lived together, and come and live with him
at Wentworth Place--a block of two semi-detached houses in a large garden
at the bottom of John Street, of which Dilke occupied the larger and Brown
the smaller: see _Keats_ (Men of Letters Series), p. 128. Keats complied;
and henceforth his letters dated Hampstead must be understood as written
not from Well Walk, but from Wentworth Place.

[85] A paper of the largest folio size, used by Keats in this letter only,
and containing some eight hundred words a page of his writing.

[86] This is Keats's first mention of Fanny Brawne. His sense on first
acquaintance of her power to charm and tease him must be understood, in
spite of his reticence on the subject, as having grown quickly into the
absorbing passion which tormented the remainder of his days.

[87] Of Bedhampton Castle: a connection of the Dilkes and special friend
of Brown.

[88] _I.e._ on George Keats's mother-in-law, Mrs. Wylie.

[89] The tassels were a gift from his sister-in-law.

[90] The sheet which Keats accidentally left out in making up his packet
in the spring, and which he forwarded with this supplement from Winchester
the following September, seems to have begun with the words, "On Monday we
had to dinner," etc. (p. 231), and to have ended with the words, "but as I
am" (p. 235, line 1): at least this portion of the letter is missing in
the autograph now before me. I supply it from Jeffrey's transcript.

[91] To about this date must belong the posthumously printed _Ode on
Indolence_, which describes the same mood with nearly the same imagery.
Possibly the "black eye" mentioned by Keats in his footnote, together with
the reflections on street-fighting later on, may help us to fix the date
of his famous fight with the butcher boy.

[92] Compare the repetition of the same thought and phrase in the ode _To
a Nightingale_ written two months later.

[93] Slightly misquoted from _Macbeth_ in the banquet scene.

[94] By mistake for the 19th of March.

[95] For "put together"?

[96] Brown's younger brothers: see below, p. 245.

[97]

  "Sometime am I
  All wound with adders, who with cloven tongues
  Do hiss me into madness."

  Caliban in _Tempest_, II. ii.

[98] This old word for a snack between meals is used by Marlowe and Ben
Jonson, and I believe still survives at some of the public schools.

[99] This notice of Reynolds's parody was printed, with some revision, in
the _Examiner_ for April 26, 1819.

[100] There is no other autograph copy of this famous poem except the
draft here given. It contains several erasures and corrections. In verse 3
Keats had written first, for "a lily" and "a fading rose," "death's lily"
and "death's fading rose": in verse 4, for "Meads," "Wilds": in verse 7,
for "manna dew," "honey dew": in verse 8, for "and sigh'd full sore," "and
there she sigh'd"; in verse 11, for "gaped wide," "wide agape": and in
verse 12, for "sojourn," "wither."

[101] _Sic_: obviously for "run" or "go."

[102] In all probability the _Ode to a Nightingale_, published in the July
number of the _Annals of the Fine Arts_, of which James Elmes was editor.

[103] This and the next interpolation are Brown's.

[104] So copied by Woodhouse: query "battle-axe"?

[105] Keats's quotation from his first draft of Lamia continued, says
Woodhouse, for thirty lines more: but as the text varied much from that
subsequently printed, and as Woodhouse's notes of these variations are
lost, I can only give thus much, from an autograph first draft of the
passage in the possession of Lord Houghton.

[106] Keats here copies, with slight changes and abridgments, his letter
to Tom of July 23, 1818 (see above, p. 147), ending with the lines written
after visiting Staffa: as to which he adds, "I find I must keep
memorandums of the verses I send you, for I do not remember whether I have
sent the following lines upon Staffa. I hope not; 'twould be a horrid bore
to you, especially after reading this dull specimen of description. For
myself I hate descriptions. I would not send it if it were not mine."

[107] The beautiful _Ode to Autumn_, the draft of which Keats had copied
in a letter (unluckily not preserved) written earlier in the same day to
Woodhouse.

[108] Sir George Beaumonts and Lord Mulgraves: compare Haydon's _Life_ and
_Correspondence_.

[109] In the interval between the last letter and this, Keats had tried
the experiment of living alone in Westminster lodgings, and failed. After
a visit to his beloved at Hampstead, he could keep none of his wise
resolutions, but wrote to her, "I can think of nothing else ... I cannot
exist without you ... you have absorb'd me ... I shall be able to do
nothing--I should like to cast the die for Love or Death--I have no
patience with anything else" ... and at the end of a week he had gone back
to live next door to her with Brown at Wentworth Place. Here he quickly
fell into that state of feverish despondency and recklessness to which his
friends, especially Brown, have borne witness, and the signs of which are
perceptible in his letters of the time, and still more in his verse, viz.
the remodelled _Hyperion_ and the _Cap and Bells_: see _Keats_ (Men of
Letters Series), pp. 180-190.

[110] Referring to the fairy poem of _The Cap and Bells_, the writing of
which, says Brown, was Keats's morning occupation during these weeks.

[111] Spenser's Cave of Despair was the subject of the picture (already
referred to in Letter CXXIV.) with which Severn won the Royal Academy
premium, awarded December 10 of this year.

[112] George Keats had come over for a hurried visit to England on
business.

[113] Hemorrhage from the lungs; in which Keats recognised his
death-warrant, and after which the remainder of his life was but that of a
doomed invalid. The particulars of the attack, as related by Charles
Brown, are given by Lord Houghton, and in _Keats_ (Men of Letters Series),
p. 193.

[114] Brown having let his house (Wentworth Place) when he started for a
fresh Scotch tour on May 7, Keats moved to lodgings at the above address
in order to be near Leigh Hunt, who was then living in Mortimer Terrace,
Kentish Town.

[115] The _Cap and Bells_ was to have appeared under this pseudonym. By
"begin" Keats means begin again (compare above, CXXXVIII.): he did not,
however, do so, and the eighty-eight stanzas of the poem which are left
all belong to the previous year (end of October--beginning of December
1819).

[116] The volume containing _Lamia_, _Isabella_, _The Eve of St. Agnes_,
_Hyperion_, and the _Odes_.

[117] After the attack last mentioned, Keats went to be taken care of in
Hunt's house, and stayed there till August 12.

[118] Chapman's _Homer_.

[119] The _Maria Crowther_ had in fact sailed from London September 18:
contrary winds holding her in the Channel, Keats had landed at Portsmouth
for a night's visit to the Snooks of Bedhampton.

[120] On the 10th of December following came a renewal of fever and
hemorrhage, extinguishing the last hope of recovery: and after eleven more
weeks of suffering, only alleviated by the devoted care of Severn, the
poet died in his friend's arms on the 23d of February 1821.





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