Imágenes de páginas

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. The Isle of Wight is but so-so, &c. 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 cause is irretrievable. Indeed, I think Rice is in a dangerous state. I have had a letter from him which speaks favorably 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 We are thinking of introducing an elephant, but have not historical reference within reach to determine us as to Otho's menagerie.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 pallette 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 back-ground, 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 back-ground of lake and moun

tain, instead of the sea, that I am not much touched with it, though I credit it for all the surprise I should have felt if it had taken my cockney maiden-head. 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 oppressed 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.

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.

Your sincere friend,


In August, the friends removed to Winchester, where Mr. Brown, however, soon left him alone. This was always a favorite residence of Keats: the noble cathedral and its quiet closethe green-sward and elm-tree walks, were especially agreeable to him. He wrote thence the following letters and extracts:


I came here in the hopes of getting a library, but there is none: the High Street is as quiet as a lamb. At Mr. Cross's is a very interesting picture of Albert Durer, who, being alive in such warlike times, was perhaps forced to paint in his gauntlets, so we must make all allowances.

[blocks in formation]

I have done nothing, except for the amusement of a few people who refine upon their feelings till any thing in the un-understandable way will go down with them. I have no cause to complain, because I am certain any thing really fine will in these days be felt. I have no doubt that if I had written "Othello" I should have been cheered. I shall go on with patience.


We removed to Winchester for the convenience of a library, and find it an exceedingly 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 fifteen hundred lines, most of which, besides many more of prior composition, you will probably see by next winter. I have written two tales, one from Boccacio, called the "Pot of Basil," and another called "St. Agnes' Eve," on a popular superstition, and a third called "Lamia" (half-finished). I have also been writing parts of my "Hyperion," and completed four 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 endeavor to wipe away the prejudice. I sincerely hope you will be pleased when my labors, 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


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 dare say 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.


WINCHESTER, 23d August, 1819.




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 favor of the public with the love of a woman. They are both a cloying treacle to the wings of independence. I shall now consider them (the 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 labor." 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 any thing 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 favor 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 hatred cannot be vain, neither can he be wise. Pardon me for hammering instead of

writing. Remember me to Woodhouse, Hessey, and all in Percy


Ever yours sincerely,


MY DEAR REynolds,

WINCHESTER, August 25, [1819.]

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 any thing else to say, leading so monotonous a life, unless 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 Those whom I know already,

enough to do in its own home. 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 organization of heart, and lungs as strong as an ox, 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 this height; I am obliged continually to check myself, and be nothing.

It would be vain for me to endeavor 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

« AnteriorContinuar »