« НазадПродовжити »
I had not the original by me when I wrote it, and did not recollect the purport of the last lines.
I should have seen Rice ere this, but I am confined by Sawney's mandate in the house now, and have, as yet, only gone out in fear of the damp night. I shall soon be quite recovered, Your offer I shall remember as though it had even now taken place in fact. I think it cannot be. Tom is not up yet-I cannot say he is better. I have not heard from George.
Your affectionate friend,
It may be as well at once to state that the lady alluded to in the above pages inspired Keats with the passion that only ceased with his existence. Where personal feelings of so profound a character are concerned, it does not become the biographer, in any case, to do more than to indicate their effect on the life of his hero, and where the memoir so nearly approaches the times of its subject that the persons in question, or, at any rate, their near relations, may be still alive, it will at once be felt how indecorous would be any conjectural analysis of such sentiments, or, indeed, any more intrusive record of them than is absolutely necessary for the comprehension of the real man. True, a poet's love is, above all other things, his life ; true, a nature, such as that of Keats, in which the sensuous and the ideal were so interpenetrated that he might be said to think because he felt, cannot be understood without its affections; but no comment, least of all that of one personally a stranger, can add to the force of the glowing and solemn expressions that appear here and there in his corre
Comme vu tresor cherement sous ces ailles,
spondence. However sincerely the devotion of Keats may have been requited, it will be seen that his outward circumstances soon became such as to render a union very difficult, if not impossible.
Thus these years were passed in a conflict in which plain poverty and mortal sickness met a radiant imagination and a redundant heart. Hope was there, with Genius, his everlasting sustainer, and Fear never approached but as the companion of Necessity.
The strong power conquered the physical man, and made the very intensity of his passion, in a certain sense, accessory to his death : he might have lived longer if he had lived less. But this should be no matter of self-reproach to the object of his love, for the same may be said of the very exercise of his poetic faculty, and of all that made him what he was. It is enough that she has preserved his memory with a sacred honor, and it is no vain assumption, that to have inspired and sustained the one passion of this noble being has been a source of grave delight and earnest thankfulness, through the changes and chances of her earthly pilgrimage.
When Keats was left alone by his brother's death, which took place early in December, Mr. Brown pressed on him to leave his lodgings and reside entirely in his house : this he consented to, and the cheerful society of his friend seemed to bring back his spirits, and at the same time to excite him to fresh poetical exertions. It was then he began “Hyperion;" that poem full of the “large utterance of the early Gods,” of which Shelley said, that the scenery and drawing of Saturn dethroned by the fallen Titans supassed those of Satan and his rebellious angels, in “ Paradise Lost.” He afterwards published it as a fragment, and still later re-cast it into the shape of a Vision, which remains equally unfinished. Shorter poems were scrawled, as they happened to sug. gest themselves, on the first scrap of paper at hand, which was afterwards used as a mark for a book, or thrown any where aside. It seemed as if, when his imagination was once relieved, by writing down its effusions, he cared so little about them that it required a friend at hand to prevent them from being utterly lost. The admirable "Ode to a Nightingale” was suggested by the continual song of the bird that, in the spring of 1819, had built her nest close to the house, and which often threw Keats into a sort of trance of tranquil pleasure. One morning he took his chair from the breakfast-table, placed it upon the grass-plot under a plum-tree, and sat there for two or three hours with some scraps of paper in his hands. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Brown saw him thrusting them away, as waste paper, behind some books, and had considerable difficulty in putting together and arranging the stanzas of the Ode. Other poems as literally “ fugitive” were rescued in much the same way—for he permitted Mr. Brown to copy whatever he could pick up, and sometimes assisted him.
The odes “ To the Nightingale” and “ To a Grecian Urn” were first published in a periodical entitled the “ Annals of Fine Arts.” Soon after he had composed them, he repeated, or rather chanted, them to Mr. Haydon, in a sort of recitative that so well suited his deep grave voice, as they strolled together through Kilburn meadows, leaving an indelible impression on the mind of his surviving friend.
The journal-letters to his brother and sister in America are the best records of his outer existence. I give them in their simplicity, being assured that thus they are the best. They are full of a genial life which will be understood and valued by all to whom a book of this nature presents any interest whatever: and, when it is remembered how carelessly they are written, how little the writer ever dreamt of their being redeemed from the far West or exposed to any other eyes than those of the most familiar affection, they become a mirror in which the individual character is shown with indisputable truth, and from which the fairest judgment of his very self can be drawn.
[1818–19.] MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER,
You will have been prepared, before this reaches you, for the worst news you could have, nay, if Haslam's letter arrived in proper time, I have a consolation in thinking the first shock will be passed before you receive this. The last days of poor Tom were of the most distressing nature; but his last moments were not so painful, and his very last was without a a pang. I will not enter into any parsonic comments on death. Yet the
commonest observations of the commonest people on death are true as their proverbs. I have a firm belief in immortality, and so had Tom,
During poor Tom's illness I was not able to write, and since his death the task of beginning has been a hinderance to me. W ithin this last week I have been every where, and I will tell you, as nearly as possible, how I go on. I am going to domesticate with Brown, that is, we shall keep house together. I shall have the front-parlor, and he the back one, by which I shall avoid the noise of Bentley's children, and be able to go on with my studies, which have been greatly interrupted lately, so that I have not the shadow of an idea of a book in my head, and my pen seems to have grown gouty for verse. How are you going on now? The going on of the world makes me dizzy. There you are with Birkbeck, here I am with Brown; sometimes I imagine an immense separation, and sometimes, as at present, a direct communication of spirit with you. That will be one of the grandeurs of immortality. There will be no space, and consequently the only commerce between spirits will be by their intelligence of each other—when they will completely understand each other, while we, in this world, merely comprehend each other in different degrees; the higher the degree of good, so higher is our Love and Friendship. I have been so little used to writing lately that I am afraid you will not smoke my meaning, so I will give you an example. Suppose Brown, or Haslam, or any one else, whom I understand in the next degree to what I do you, were in America, they would be so much the further from me in proportion as their identity was more impressed upon me. Now the reason why I do not feel, at the present moment, so far from you, is that I remember your ways, and manners, and actions; I know your manner of thinking, your manner of feeling; I know what shape your joy or your sorrow would take; I know the manner of your walking, standing, sauntering, sitting down, laughing, punning, and every action, so truly that you seem near to me. You will remember me in the same manner, and the more when I tell you that I shall read a page of Shakspeare every Sunday at ten o'clock; you read one at the same time, and we shall be as near each other as blind bodies can be in the same room.
Thursday.—This morning is very fine. What are you doing this morning? Have you a clear hard frost, as we have? How do you come on with the gun? Have you shot a Buffalo ? Have you met with any Pheasants ? My thoughts are very frequently in a foreign country. I live more out of England than in it. The mountains of Tartary are a favorite lounge, if I happen to miss the Alleghany ridge, or have no whim for Savoy. There must be great pleasure in pursuing game-pointing your gun—no, it won't do-now-no-rabbit it-now, bang-smoke and featherswhere is it? Shall you be able to get a good pointer or so ? Now I am not addressing myself to G. Minor—and yet I am, for you are one. Have you some warm furs? By your next letter I shall expect to hear exactly how you get on; smother nothing; let us have all—fair and foul-all plain. Will the little bairn have made his entrance before you have this? Kiss it for me, and when it can first know a cheese from a caterpillar show it my picture twice a week. You will be glad to hear that Gifford's attack upon me has done me service—it has got my book among several sets, nor must I forget to mention, once more, what I sup. pose Haslam has told you, the present of a 251. note I had anonymously sent me. Another pleasing circumstance I may mention, on the authority of Mr. Neville, to whom I had sent a copy of “ Endymion.” It was lying on his cousin's table, where it had been seen by one of the Misses Porter, (of Romance celebrity,) who expressed a wish to read it; after having dipped into it, in a day or two she returned it, accompanied by the following let. ter:
66 DEAR SIR,
“As my brother is sending a messenger to Esher, I cannot but make the same the bearer of my regrets for not hav. ing had the pleasure of seeing you the morning you called at the gate. I had given orders to be denied, I was so very unwell with my still adhesive cold; but had I known it was you, I should have broken off the interdict for a few minutes, to say how very much I am delighted with · Endymion. I had just finished the