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any more than from its taste for the bright one, because they both end in speculation. A poet is the most unpoetical of any thing 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? 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 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 to let you see that no dependence is to be placed on what I said that day.
In the second 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 future 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 labors 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
MY DEAR GEORGE,
Yours most sincerely,
Oct. 29, 1818.
There was a part in your letter which gave me great 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 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 did 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 careless and restless life with which you are well acquainted. I am grieved to say that 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, my dear brother and sister, take example from me, and bear up against any calamity, for my sake, as I do for yours. Ours are ties, which, independent of their own sentiment, are sent us by Providence, to prevent the 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 cheerful
Your welfare 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 that you are 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, my dear brother, I have never made any acquaintance of my own-nearly all through your medium; 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 behavior 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. I intend to write you such columns 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.
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 into 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 natural pride to all the ignorant 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. Reynolds has returned from a six-weeks' enjoyment in Devonshire; he is well, and persuades
me to publish my "Pot of Basil," in answer to the attack 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 Exeter paper, and written by Reynolds. I don't know who wrote those in the Chronicle. This is a mere matter of 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.
The Misses 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. to take asylum in her house. She is an East-Indian, and At the time I called, Mrs.
ought to be her grandfather's heir.
was in conference with her up stairs, and the young ladies were warm in her praise down stairs, calling her genteel, interesting, and a thousand pretty things, to which I gave no heed, not being partial to nine 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 claims hate her. She is not a Cleopatra, but is, at least, a Charmian: she has a rich Eastern look; she has fine eyes, and fine manners. When she comes into the room she makes the same impression 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 at ease with such a woman: the picture before me always gives me a life and animation which I cannot possibly feel with any thing 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 life is to me a banquet. I don't cry to take the moon home with me in my pocket, not do I fret to leave her behind me. I like her, and her like, because one has no sensation: 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 Misses
on the look out. They think I don't admire her because I don't 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 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, Bonaparte, 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 of 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.
"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 for politics, they are, in my opinion, only sleepy, because they will soon be wide awake. Perhaps not; for the long-continued peace of England has given us notions of personal safety which are likely to prevent the re