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startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow were 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 any thing 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 the “Examiner,” if possible. My best regards to Gleig, my brothers, to you, and Mrs. Bentley.
Your affectionate friend,
I want to say much more to you—a few hints will set one going.
LEATHERHEAD, 22nd November, 1817. MY DEAR REYNOLDS,
There are two things which tease me hereone of them
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 neighbor-now, is not this virtuous On returning to town I'll damn all idlenessindeed, 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
I'll tell you
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
You know how poorly
I do not think it was all corporeal, —bodily pain was not used to keep him silent. what; he was hurt at what your sisters said about his joking with your mother. It will all blow over. God knows, my dear Reynolds, I should not talk any sorrow to you-you must have enough vexation, so I won't say more. If I ever start a rueful subject in a letter to you-blow me! Why don't you ?-Now I was going to ask you a very silly question, (which] neither you nor any body else could answer, under a folio, or at least a pamphletyou 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,
He has left nothing to say about nothing or any thing : 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,
He overwhelms a genuine lover of poetry with all manner of abuse, talking about
“ A poet's rage And stretched metre of an antique song.”
Which, by the by, 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.
Chrystalline Brother of the belt of Heaven,
I see there is an advertisement in the “ Chronicle” to Poetshe is so overloaded with poems on the “late Princess.” pose 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 any thing.
Your affectionate friend,
Give my love to both houses-hinc atque illinc.
“Endymion” was finished at Burford Bridge, on the 28th of November, 1817; so records the still existing manuscript, written fairly in a book, with many corrections of phrases and some of lines, but with few of sentences or of arrangement. It betrays the leading fault of the composition, namely, the dependence of the matter on the rhyme, but shows the confidence of the poet in his own profusion of diction, the strongest and most emphatic words being generally taken as those to which the continuing verse was to be adapted. There was no doubt a pleasure to him in this very victory over the limited harmonies of our language, and the result, when fortunate, is very impressive ; yet the following criticism of his friend, Mr. Leigh Hunt, is also just :
“He had a just contempt for the monotonous termination of every-day couplets ; he broke up his lines in order to distribute the rhyme properly; but, going only upon the ground of his contempt, and not having yet settled with himself any principle of versification, the very exuberance of his ideas led him to make use of the first rhymes that offered; so that, by a new meeting of extremes, the effect was as artificial, and much more obtrusive, than one under the old system. Dryden modestly confessed that a rhyme had often helped him to a thought. Mr. Keats, in the tyranny of his wealth, forced his rhymes to help him, whether they would or not, and they obeyed him, in the most singular manner, with equal promptitude and ingeniousness; though occasionally in the MS., when the second line of the couplet could not be made to rhyme, the sense of the first is arbitrarily altered, and its sense cramped into a new and less appropriate form.”
Keats passed the winter of 1817–18 at Hampstead, gayly enough among his friends; his society was much sought after, from the delightful combination of earnestness and pleasantry which distinguished his intercourse with all men. There was no effort about him to say fine things, but he did say them most effectively, and they gained considerably by his happy transition of
He joked well or ill, as it happened, and with a laugh which still echoes sweetly in many ears ; but at the mention of oppression or wrong, or at any calumny against those he loved, he rose into grave manliness at once, and seemed like a tall man. His habitual gentleness made his occasional looks of indignation
almost terrible : on one occasion, when a gross falsehood respecting the young artist, Severn, was repeated and dwelt upon, he left the room, declaring " he should be ashamed to sit with men who could utter and believe such things.” On another occasion, hearing of some unworthy conduct, he burst out—"Is there no human dust-hole into which we can sweep such fellows ?”
Display of all kinds was especially disagreeable to him, and he complains, in a note to Haydon, that “conversation is not a search after knowledge, but an endeavor at effect—if Lord Bacon were alive, and to make a remark in the present day in company, the conversation would stop on a sudden. I am convinced of this."
His health does not seem to have prevented him from indulging somewhat in that dissipation which is the natural outlet for the young energies of ardent temperaments, unconscious how scanty a portion of vital strength had been allotted to him ; but a strictly regulated and abstinent life would have appeared to him pedantic and sentimental. He did not, however, to any extent, allow wine to usurp on his intellect, or games of chance to impair his means, for, in his letters to his brothers, he speaks of having drunk too much as a rare piece of joviality, and of having won £10 at cards as a great hit. His bodily vigor, too, must at this time have been considerable, as he signalized himself, at Hampstead, by giving a severe drubbing to a butcher, whom he saw beating a little boy, to the enthusiastic admiration of a crowd of bystanders. Plain, manly, practical life, on the one hand, and a free exercise of his rich imagination, on the other, were the ideal of his existence : his poetry never weakened his action, and his simple, every day habits never coarsened the beauty of the world within him.
The following letters of this time are preserved :
“ Jan. 23, 1818. MY DEAR TAYLOR,
I have spoke 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 this to me; but I must tell you, first, he in. tends painting a finished Picture from the Poem. Thus he