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writes-"When I do any thing for your Poem it must be effectual-an honor 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."
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What think you of this? Let me hear. I shall have my second Book in readiness forthwith. Yours most sincerely,
MY DEAR BAILEY,
Twelve days have passed 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.
"Jan. 23, 1818.
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; retorting and recriminating, and parting for ever. The same thing has happened between and 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 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 C. 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. C▬▬ 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 twenty, with a look and a speech the most 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,
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 was 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
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.
The assumption, in the above lines, of Beauty being "the kernel" of Milton's love, rather accords with the opinion of many of Keats's friends, that at this time he had not studied "Paradise Lost," as he did afterwards. His taste would naturally have rather attracted him to those poems which Milton had drawn out of the heart of old mythology, "Lycidas" and "Comus ;" and those "two exquisite jewels, hung, as it were, in the ears of antiquity," the "Penseroso" and " Allegro," had no doubt been well enjoyed; but his full appreciation of the great Poem was reserved for the period which produced "Hyperion" as clearly under Miltonic influence, as "Endymion" is imbued with the spirit of Spenser, Fletcher, and Ben Jonson.
From a letter to Mr. Reynolds.
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:
cause mieux 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," &c. Yet I cannot write in prose; it is a sunshiny day and I cannot, so here goes.
A terrible division;
And leaves a gulf austere
To be fill'd with worldly fear.
Aye, when the soul is fled
Through sights I scarce can bear:
O let me, let me share
With the hot lyre and thee,