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should receive some sort of excitement. There was nothing going on-all asleep-not an old maid's sedan returning from a cardparty; and if any old women got tipsy at christenings they did not expose it in the streets.
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 stubblefield 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,*
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness," &c.
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 humor. 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 1, 2, 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, 1
* See the fine lines, "To Autumn," in the collected works.
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 it must be in such a scrap-like way. you 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 Babbicomb 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 any 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-doeswhat-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 sixteen-miler too. "You'll pardon me for being jocular."
Ever your affectionate friend,
Sept. 23, 1819.
TO MR. BROWN.
"Now I am going to enter on the subject itself. 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, 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 endeavoring, 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 succ icceed,—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, be
lieve 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, untrammeled, 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 sit at the theatres. If you have any thing to gainsay, I shall be even as the deaf adder which stoppeth her ears."
On the same day he wrote another letter, having received one from Mr. Brown in the interval. He again spoke of his purpose.
"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 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 you this. I felt, however, compelled to make a rejoinder to yours. I had written to 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."
The gloomy tone of this correspondence soon brought Mr. Brown to Winchester. Up to that period Keats had always expressed himself most averse to writing for any periodical publication. The short contributions to the “ Champion were rather acts of friendship than literary labors. But now Mr. Brown, knowing what his pecuniary circumstances were, and painfully conscious that the time spent in the creation of those works which were destined to be the delight and solace of thousands of his fellow creatures, must be unprofitable to him in procuring the necessities of life, and, above all, estimating at its due value that spirit of independence which shrinks from materializing the obligations of friendship into daily bread, gave every encouragement to these designs, and only remonstrated against the project of the following note, both on account of the pain he would himself suffer from the privation of Keats's society, but from the belief that the scheme of life would not be successful.
WINCHESTER, Oct. 1st, [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 favor, 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 sittingroom and bed-room for myself alone) in Westminster. Quietness