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me like a whale's back in the sea of
I ought to have said a word on Shakspeare's Christianity. There are two (passages) which I have not looked over with you, touching the thing; the one for, the other against; that in favour is in Measure for Measure, Act. ii. Scene 2.
That against is in “Twelfth Night,” Act. iii. Scene 2.
Maria. “ For there is no Christian that means to be saved
by believing rightly, can ever believe such impossible passages of grossness.”
Before I come to the Nymphs, I must get through all disagreeables. I went to the Isle of Wight, thought so much about poetry, so long together, that I could not get to sleep at night; and, moreover, I know not how it is, I could not get wholesome food. By this means, in a week or so, I became not over capable in my upper stories, and set off pellmell for Margate, at least a hundred and fifty miles, because, forsooth, I fancied I should like my old lodgings here, and could contrive to do without trees. Another thing, I was too much in solitude, and consequently was obliged to be in continual burning of thought, as an only resource. However, Tom is with me at present, and we are very comfortable. We intend, though, to get among some trees. How have you got on among them? How are the Nymphs ? I suppose they have led you a fine dance. Where are you now ?-_in Judea, Cappadocia, or the parts of Lydia about Cyrene?
I wager you have given several new turns to the old saying, “ Now the maid was fair and pleasant to look on,” as well as made a little variation in “ Once upon a time.” Perhaps, too, you have rather varied, “ Here endeth the first lesson.” I have asked myself so often why I should be a poet more than other men, seeing how great a thing it is,-how great things are to be gained by it, what a thing to be in the mouth of Fame, that at last the idea has grown so monstrously beyond my seeming power of attainment, that the other day I nearly consented with myself to drop into a Phaeton. Yet 'tis a disgrace to fail, even in a huge attempt; and at this moment I drive the thought from
I began my poem about a fortnight since, and have done some every day, except travelling ones. Perhaps I may have done a good deal for the time; but it appears such a pin's point to me, that I will not copy any out. When I consider that so many of these pinpoints go to form a bodkin-point, [God send I end not my life with a bare bodkin, in its modern sense !] and that it requires a thousand bodkins to make a spear bright enough to throw any light to posterity, I see nothing but continual up-hill journeying. Now, is there any thing more unpleasant (it may come among the thousand and one) than to be so journeying and to miss the goal at last ? But I intend to whistle all these cogitations into the sea, where I hope they will breed storms violent enough to block up all exit from Russia. Does Shelley go on telling strange stories of
the death of kings ?* Tell him, there are strange stories of the death of poets. Some have died before they were conceived. « How do
you make that out, Master Vellum ?” Does Mrs. S. cut bread and butter as neatly as ever ? Tell her to procure some fatal scissors, and cut the thread of life of all to-be-disappointed poets. Does Mrs. Hunt tear linen as straight as ever ? Tell her to tear from the book of
* Mr. Shelley was fond of quoting the passage here alluded to in Shakspeare, and of applying it in the most unexpected manner.
“ For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell strange stories of the deaths of kings.
Going with me to town once in the Hampstead stage, in which our only companion was an old lady, who sat silent and stiff after the English fashion, he startled her into a look of the most ludicrous astonishment by saying abruptly; “Hunt,
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,'” &c.
The old lady looked on the coach-floor, as if she expected to see us take our seats accordingly.
The reader who has perused the preceding notice of Mr. Keats, will be touched by the melancholy anticipations that follow, and that are made in so good-humoured a manner.
life all blank leaves. Remember me to them all; to Miss K. and the little ones all.
Your sincere friend,
You shall hear where we move.
* An appellation that was given him in play upon his name, and in allusion to his friends of Fairy-land.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
Dorset Street, Fleet Sureet.