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eat darkness, without knowing the bearing of any one assertion,
any one opinion-yet, in this may I not be free from sin ? lay there not be superior beings, amused with any graceful, nough instinctive, attitude my mind may fall into, as I am enterained with the alertness of the stoat, or the anxiety of the deer ? Chough a quarrel in the street is a thing to be hated, the energies
isplayed in it are fine; the commonest man shows a grace in his quarrel. By a superior Being our reasonings may take the same one; though erroneous, they may be fine. This is the very ching in which consists Poetry, and if so, it is not so fine a thing as Philosophy, for the same reason that an eagle is not so fine a thing as truth. Give me this credit, do you not think I strive to know myself? Give me this credit, and you will not think, that on my own account I repeat the lines of Milton :
“ How charming is divine philosophy,
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
No, not for myself, feeling grateful, as I do, to have got into a state of mind to relish them properly. Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced; even a proverb is no proverb to you till life has illustrated it.
I am afraid that your anxiety for me leads you to fear for the violence of my temperameni, continually smothered down : for that reason, I did not intend to have sent you the following Sonnet; but look over the two last pages, and ask yourself if I have not that in mne which will bear the buffets of the world. It will be the best comment on my Sonnet; it will show you that it was written with no agony but that of ignorance, with no thirst but that of knowledge, when pushed to the point; though the first steps to it were through my human passions, they went away, and I wrote with my mind, and, perhaps, I must confess, a little bit of my heart.
“Why did I laugh to-night? No voice will tell,” &c.*
I went to bed and enjoyed uninterrupted sleep: sane I went to bed, and sane I arose.
* See the “ Literary Remains."
15th April.—You see what a time it is since I wrote; all that time I have been, day after day, expecting letters from you. I write quite in the dark. In hopes of a letter to-day I deferred till night, that I might write in the light. It looks so much like rain, I shall not go to town to-day, but put it off till to-morrow. Brown, this morning, is writing some Spenserian stanzas against Miss B— and me : so I shall amuse myself with him a little, in the manner of Spenser.
“ He is to weet a melancholy carle :
Thin in the waist, with bushy head of hair,
“ Ne cared he for wine or half-and-half;
Panted, and all his food was woodland air ;
“ The slang of cities in no wise he knew,
Tipping the wink to him was heathen Greek;
For curled Jewesses, with ankles neat,
This character would insure him a situation in the establishment of the patient Griselda. Brown is gone to bed, and I am tired of writing ; there is a north wind playing green-gooseberry with the rees, it blows so keen. I don't care, so it helps, even with a sidevind, a letter to me.
The fifth canto of Dante pleases me more and more ; it is hat one in which he meets with Paulo and Francesca. I had passed many days in rather a low state of mind, and in the midst of them I dreamt of being in that region of Hell. The dream was one of the most delightful enjoyments I ever had in my life; I floated about the wheeling atmosphere, as it is described, with a beautiful figure, to whose lips mine were joined, it seemed for an age ; and in the midst of all this cold and darkness I was warm ; ever-flowery tree-tops sprung up, and we rested on them, sometimes with the lightness of a cloud, till the wind blew us away again. I tried a Sonnet on it: there are fourteen lines in it, but nothing of what I felt. Oh! that I could dream it every night.
I want very much a little of your wit, my dear sister—a letter of yours just to bandy back a pun or two across the Atlantic, and send a quibble over the Floridas. Now, by this time you have crumpled up your large bonnet, what do you wear ?—a cap! Do you put your hair in paper of nights? Do you pay the Misses Birkbeck a morning visit ? Have you any tea, or do you milk-and-water with them? What place of worship do you go to—the Quakers, Moravians, the Unitarians, or the Methodists? Are there any flowers in bloom you like? Any beautiful heaths ? Any streets full of corset-makers ? What sort of shoes have you to put those pretty feet of yours in ? Do you desire compliments to one another ? Do you ride on horseback? What do you have for breakfast, dinner, and supper, without mentioning lunch and bite, and wet and snack, and a bit to stay one's stomach? Do you get any spirits ? Now you might easily distil some whisky, and, going into the woods, set up a whisky-shop for the monkeys! Do you and the other ladies get groggy on any thing? A little so-so-ish, so as to be seen home with a lanthorn ? You may perhaps have a game at Puss-in-the-corner : ladies are warranted to play at this game, though they have not whiskers. Have you a fiddle in the Settlement, or, at any rate, a Jew's-harp which will play in spite of one's teeth? When you have nothing else to do for a whole day, I'll tell you how you may employ it: first get up, and when you are dressed, as it would be pretty early, with a high wind in the woods, give George a cold pig, with my compliments, then you may saunter into the nearest coffeehouse, and after taking a dram and a look at the “ Chronicle," go and frighten the wild bears on the strength of it. You may as well bring one home for breakfast, serving up the hoofs, garnished with bristles, and a grunt or two, to accompany the singing of the kettle. Then, if George is not up, give him a colder pig, always with my compliments. After you have eaten your breakfast, keep your eye upon dinner, it is the safest way; you should keep a hawk's eye over your dinner, and keep hovering over it till due time, then pounce upon it, taking care not to break any plates. While you are hovering with your dinner in prospect, you may do a thousand things—put a hedge-hog into George's hat, pour a little water into his rifle, soak his boots in a pail of water, cut his jacket round into shreds, like a Roman kilt, or the back of my grandmother's stays, tear off his buttons
* See the “ Literary Remains."
The following poem, the last I have written, is the first and only one with which I have taken even moderate pains; I have, for the most part, dashed off my lines in a hurry; this one I have done leisurely ; I think it reads the more richly for it, and it will I hope encourage me to write other things in even a more peaceable and healthy spirit. You must recollect that Psyche was not embodied as a goddess before the time of Apuleius the Platonist, who lived after the Augustan age, and consequently the goddess was never worshipped or sacrificed to with any of the ancient fervor, and perhaps never thought of in the old religion: I am more orthodox than to let a heathen goddess be neglected.
I have been endeavoring to discover a better Sonnet stanza than we have. The legitimate does not suit the language well, from the pouncing rhymes; the other appears too elegiac, and
the couplet at the end of it has seldom a pleasing effect. I do not pretend to have succeeded. It will explain itself:
This is the third of May, and every thing is in delightful forwardness: the violets are not withered before the peeping of the first rose. You must let me know every thing, now parcels go and come—what papers you have, and what newspapers you want, and other things. God bless you, my dear brother and sister,
Your ever affectionate brother,
The family of George Keats in America possess a Dante covered with his brother's marginal notes and observations, and these annotations on “ Paradise Lost," appeared in an American periodical of much literary and philosophical merit, entitled “ The Dial;" they were written in the fly-leaves of the book, and are in the tone of thought that generated “Hyperion.”
NOTES ON MILTON.
“ THE genius of Milton, more particularly in respect to its span in immensity, calculated him by a sort of birth-right for such an argument as the ó Paradise Lost.' He had an exquisite passion for what is properly, in the sense of ease and pleasure, poeti. cal luxury; and with that, it appears to me, he would fain have been content, if he could, so doing, preserve his self-respect and feeling of duty performed; but there was working in him, as it were, that same sort of thing which operates in the great world to the end of a prophecy's being accomplished. Therefore he devoted himself rather to the ardors than the pleasures of song, solacing himself, at intervals, with cups of old wine; and those are, with some exceptions, the finest parts of the poem. With some exceptions; for the spirit of mounting and adventure can never be unfruitful nor unrewarded. Had he not broken through
* See the “ Literary Remaing."