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In other of her poems there is a most delicate fancy of the Fletcher kind—which we will con over together.
So Haydon is in town. I had a letter from him yesterday. We will contrive as the winter comes on—but that is neither here nor there.
Have you heard from Rice ? Has Martin met with the Cumberland Beggar, or been wondering at the old Leechgatherer ? Has he a turn for fossils ? that is, is he capable of sinking up to his middle in a morass? How is Hazlitt ? We were reading his Table (Round Table) last night. I know he thinks himself not estimated by ten people in the world. I wish he knew he is. I am getting on famous with my third bookhave written 800 lines thereof, and hope to finish it next week. Bailey likes what I have done very much. Believe me, my dear Reynolds, one of my chief layings-up is the pleasure I shall have in showing it to you, I may now say, in a few days.
I have heard twice from my brothers; they are going on very well, and send their remembrances to you. We expected to have had notices from little Hampton this morning—we must wait till Tuesday. I am glad of their days with the Dilkes. You are, I know, very much teased in that precious London, and want all the rest possible; so [I] shall be contented with as brief a scrawl -a word or two, till there comes a pat hour.
Send us a few of your stanzas to read in “Reynolds' Cove.” Give my love and respects to your mother, and remember me kindly to all at home.
I have left the doublings for Bailey, who is going to say that he will write to you to-morrow.
From a letter to Haydon.
“ You will be glad to hear that within these last three weeks I have written 1000 lines, which are the third book of my Poem. My ideas of it, I assure you, are very low, and I would write the subject thoroughly again, but I am tired of it, and think the time would be better spent in writing a new romance, which I have in
my eye for next summer. Rome was not built in a day, and all the good I expect from my employment this summer is the fruit of experience, which I hope to gather in my next Poem.
“ Yours eternally,
“ John Keats.”
The three first books of “Endymion” were finished in September, and portions of the Poem had come to be seen and canvassed by literary friends. With a singular anticipation of the injustice and calumny he should be subject to as belonging to “the Cockney School,” Keats stood up most stoutly for the independence of all personal association with which the poem has been composed, and admiring as he did the talents and spirit of his friend Hunt, he expresses himself almost indignantly, in his correspondence, at the thought that his originality, whatever it was, should be suffered to have been marred by the assistance, influence, or counsel of Hunt, or any one else. “I refused,” he writes to Mr. Bailey, (Oct. 8th,) "to visit Shelley, that I might have my own unfettered scope ;” and proceeds to transcribe some reflections on his undertaking, which he says he wrote to his brother George in the spring, and which are well worth the repetition.
“As to what you say about my being a Poet, I can return no answer but by saying that the high idea I have of poetical fame makes me think I see it towering too high above me. rate I have no right to talk until • Endymion' is finished. It will be a test, a trial of my powers of imagination, and chiefly of my invention—which is a rare thing indeed—by which I must make 4000 lines of one bare circumstance, and fill them with poetry. And when I consider that this is a great task, and that when done it will take me but a dozen paces towards the Temple of Fameit makes me say—God forbid that I should be without such a task ! I have heard Hunt say, and [I] may be asked, "Why endeavor after a long poem ?' To which I should answer, “Do not the lovers of poetry like to have a little region to wander in, where they may pick and choose, and in which the images are so numerous that many are forgotten and found new in a second reading which may be food for a week's stroll in the summer ?'
Do not they like this better than what they can read through before Mrs. Williams comes down stairs ?-a morning's work at most.
“Besides, a long poem is a test of invention, which I take to be the polar star of poetry, as Fancy is the sails, and Imagination the rudder. Did our great poets ever write short pieces? I mean, in the shape of Tales. This same invention seems indeed of late years to have been forgotten in a partial excellence. But enough of this—I put on no laurels till I shall have finished • Endymion,' and I hope Apollo is not enraged at my having made mockery of him at Hunt's.”
The conclusion of this letter has now a more melancholy meaning than it had when written. “ The little mercury I have taken has corrected the poison and improved my health-though I feel from my employment that I shall never again be secure in robustness. Would that you were as well as “Your sincere friend and brother,
66 John Keats.”
“Brothers” they were in affection and in thought-brothers also in destiny. Mr. Bailey died soon after Keats.
[Post-mark, 22 Nov. 1817. LEATHERHEAD.] MY DEAR BAILEY,
I will get over the first part of this (unpaid) letter as soon as possible, for it relates to the affairs of poor
To a man of your nature, such a letter as 's must have been extremely cutting. What occasions the greater part of the world's quarrels? Simply this : two minds meet, and do not understand each other time enough to prevent any shock or surprise at the conduct of either party. As soon as I had known three days, I had got enough of his character not to have been surprised at such a letter as he has hurt you with. Nor, when I knew it, was it a principle with me to drop his acquaintance; although with you it would have been an imperious feeling. I wish you knew all that I think about Genius and the Heart. And yet I think that
you are thoroughly acquainted with my innermost breast, in that respect, or you would not have known me even thus long, and still hold me to be worthy to be your dear friend. In passing, however, I must say of one thing that has pressed upon me lately, and increased my humility and capability of submission--and that is this truth—Men of genius are great as certain ethereal chemicals operating on the mas of neutral intellect—but they have not any individuality, any determined character. I would call the top and head of those who have a proper self, Men of Power.
But I am running my head into a subject which I am certain I could not do justice to under five years' study, and three vols. octavo—and moreover [I] long to be talking about the Imagination : so, my dear Bailey, do not think of this unpleasant affair, if possible do not—I defy any harm to come of it. I shall write to
this week, and request him to tell me all his goings-on, from time to time, by letter, wherever I may be. It will go on wellso don't, because you have discovered a coldness in suffer yourself to be teased. Do not, my dear fellow. O! I wish I was as certain of the end of all your troubles as that of your momentary start about the authenticity of the Imagination. I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the heart's affections, and the truth of Imagination. What the Imagination seizes as Beauty must be Truth, whether it existed before or not;—for I have the same idea of all our passions as of Love; they are all, in their sublime, creative of essential Beauty. In a word, you may know my favorite speculation by my first book, and the little song I sent in my last, which is a representation from the fancy of the probable mode of operating in these matters. The Imagination may be compared to Adam's dream; he awoke and found it truth. I am more zealous in this affair, because I have never yet been able to perceive how any thing can be known for truth by consecutive reasoning,—and yet (so] it must be. Can it be that even the greatest philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections? However it may be, O for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts? It is “a Vision in the form of Youth,” a shadow of reality to come—and this consideration has further convinced me,—for it has come as auxiliary to another favorite speculation of mine,-that we shall enjoy our
selves hereafter by having what we call happiness on earth repeated in a finer tone. And yet such a fate can only befall those who delight in Sensation, rather than hunger, as you do, after Truth. Adam's dream will do here, and seems to be a conviction that Imagination and its empyreal reflection is the same as human life and its spiritual repetition. But, as I was saying, the simple imaginative mind may have its rewards in the repetition of its own silent working coming continually on the spirit with a fine suddenness. To compare great things with small, have you never, by being surprised with an old melody, in a delicious place, by a delicious voice, felt over again your very speculations and surmises at the time it first operated on your soul ? Do you not remember forming to yourself the singer's face-more beautiful than it was possible, and yet, with the elevation of the moment, you did not think so ? Even then you were mounted on the wings of Imagi. nation, so high that the prototype must be hereafter-that delicious face you will see. Sure this cannot be exactly the case with a complex mind—one that is imaginative, and at the same time careful of its fruits,—who would exist partly on sensation, partly on thought—to whom it is necessary that “years should bring the philosophic mind ? ” Such a one I consider yours, and therefore it is necessary to your eternal happiness that you not only drink this old wine of heaven, which I shall call the redigestion of our most ethereal musings upon earth, but also increase in knowledge, and know all things.
I am glad to hear that you are in a fair way for Easter. You will soon get though your unpleasant reading, and then !—but the world is full of troubles, and I have not much reason to think my. self pestered with many. I think
has a better opinion of me than I deserve; for, really and truly, I do not think my brother's illness connected with mine. You know more of the real cause than they do; nor have I any chance of being rack'd as you have been. You perhaps, at one time, thought there was such a thing as worldly happiness to be arrived at, at certain periods of time marked out. You have of necessity, from your disposition, been thus led away. I scarcely remember counting upon any happi
I look not for it if it be not in the present hour. Nothing