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fully by the horrors of his own lingering death. If I did not feel fully persuaded that my motive was to acquire an independence to support us all in case of necessity, I never should forgive my. self for leaving him. Some extraordinary exertion was necessary to retrieve our affairs from the gradual decline they were suffering. That exertion I made, whether wisely or not, future events had to decide. After all, Blackwood and the Quarterly, associated with our family disease, consumption, were ministers of death sufficiently venomous, cruel, and deadly, to have consigned one of less sensibility to a premature grave. I have consumed many hours in devising means to punish those literary gladiators, but am always brought to the vexing conclusion that they are invulnerable to one of my prowess. Has much been said in John's defence against those libelers both of his character and writings? His writings were fair game, and liable to be assailed by a sneaking poacher, but his character as represented by Blackwood was not. A good cudgeling should have been his reward if he had been within my reach. John was the very soul of courage and manliness, and as much like the Holy Ghost as Johnny Keats. I am much indebted for the interest you have taken in my vindication, and will observe further for your satisfaction, that Mr. Abbey, who had the management of our money concerns, in a letter lately received, expressed himself satisfied that my statement of the acccount between John and me was correct.' He is the only person who is in possession of data to refute or confirm my story. My not having written to you seems to have been advanced as a proof of my worthlessness. If it prove any thing, it proves my humility, for I can assure you, if I had known you felt one-half the interest in my fate unconnected with my brother it appears you did, the explanation would have been made when I first became acquainted there was a necessity for it.—I should never have given up a communication with the only spirits in existence who are congenial to me, and at the same time know me. Understand me, when I failed to write, it was not from a diminished respect or friendliness towards you, but under the impression that I had moved out of your circle, leaving but faint traces that I had ever existed within it."
Soon after George's departure, Keats wrote to his sister-in-law, and there is certainly nothing in the letter betokening any dimi. nution of his liveliness or sense of enjoyment. He seems, on the contrary, to regard his brother's voyage in no serious light-probably anticipating a speedy reunion, and with pleasant plans for a future that never was to come. But these loving brothers had now met and parted for the last time, and this gay letter remains the last record of a cheerful and hopeful nature that was about to be plunged into the darkness of pain and death, and of an affection which space could not diminish, and which time preserved, till after many years of honest, useful, and laborious life, he who remained, also past away, transmitting to other generations a name that genius has illustrated above the blazon of ordinary nobilities.
My Dear Sister,
By the time you receive this your troubles will be over, and George have returned to you. On Henry's marriage there was a piece of bride's cake sent me, but as it missed its way, I suppose the bearer was a conjurer, and wanted it for his own private use. Last Sunday George and 1 dined at — Your mother, with Charles, were there, and fool L- , who sent the sly disinterested shawl to Miss M- , with his own heathen name engraved in the middle of it. The evening before last we had a pianoforte dance at Mrs. Dilke's; there was little amusement in the room, but a Scotchman to hate : some persons you must have observed have a most unpleasant effect on you, when speaking in profile : this Scot is the most accomplished fellow in this way I ever met with : the effect was complete; it went down like a dose of bitters, and I hope will improve my digestion. At Taylor's too there was a Scotchman, but he was not so bad, for he was as clean as he could get himself. George has introduced an American to us: I like him in a moderate way. I told him I hated Englishmen, as they were the only men I knew. He does not understand this. Who would be Braggadocio to Johnny Bull ? Johnny's house is his castle, and a precious dull castle it is: how many dull castles there are in so-and-so crescent! I never wish myself a general visitor and newsmonger, but when I write to you-I should then, for a day or two, like to have the knowledge of that
L--, for instance; of all the people of a wide acquaintance to tell you about, only let me have his knowledge of family affairs, and I would set them in a proper light, but bless me, I never go any where.
My pen is no more garrulous than my tongue. Any third person would think I was addressing myself to a lover of scandal, but I know you do not like scandal, but you love fun ; and if scandal happen to be fun, that is no fault of ours. The best thing I have heard is your shooting, for it seems you follow the gun. I like your brothers the more I know of them, but I dislike mankind in general. Whatever people on the other side of the question may say, they cannot deny that they are always surprised at a good action, and never at a bad one. I am glad you have doves in America. “Gertrude of Wyoming,” and Birk. beck's book, should be bound together as a couple of decoy. duck;; one is almost as practical as the other. I have been sitting in the sun while I wrote this, until it is become quite oppressive: the Vulcan heat is the natural heat for January. Our Irish servant has very much piqued me this morning, by saying her father is very much like my Shakspeare, only he has more color than the engraving. If you were in England, I dare say you would be able to pick out more amusement from society than I am able to do. To me it is all as dull here as Louisville is to you. I am tired of theatres; almost all parties I chance to fall into, I know by heart; I know the different styles of talk in different places, what subjects will be started; and how it will proceed ; like an acted play, from the first to the last act. I know three witty people, all distinct in their excellence-Rice, Reynolds, and Richard—Rice is the wisest-Reynolds the playfulest-Richards the out-of-the-wayest. The first makes you laugh and think ; the second makes you laugh and not think; the third puzzles your head; I admire the first, I enjoy the second, and I stare at the third ; the first is claret, the second ginger-beer, the third is crême de Byrapymdrag ; the first is inspired by Minerva, the second by Mercury, the third by Harlequin Epigram, Esq.; the first is neat in his dress, the second careless, the third uncomfortable ; the first speaks adagio, the second allegretto, and the third both together; the first is Swiftean, the second Tom Cribean, the third is Shandean. I know three people of no wit at all, each distinct in his excellence, A., B. and C. A. is the foolishest, B. is the sulkiest, and C. is the negative; A. makes you yawn, B. makes you hate, and as for C. you never see him at all, though he were six feet high ; I bear the first, I forbear the second, I am not certain that the third is; the first is gruel, the second ditch-water, and the third is spilt and ought to be wiped up; A. is inspired by Jack of the Clock, B. has been drilled by a Russian serjeant, C. they say is not his mother's true child, but she bought [him) of the man who cries “ young lambs to sell.” * I will send you a close written sheet on the first of next month; but, for fear of missing the mail, I must finish here. God bless you, my dear sister.
Your affectionate brother,
The study of Italian, to which Keats had been latterly much addicted, had included Ariosto, and the humorous fairy poem on which he was engaged about this time apears to me to have originated in that occupation. He has stated, in a previous passage, that he still kept enough of his old tastes to prefer reading Chaucer to Ariosto, and the delightful vagaries of the master of Italian fancy would probably not have had so much effect on him but for Mr. Brown's intimate acquaintance with, and intense enjoyment of, those frailer charms of southern song. When, in after-times, Mr. Brown himself retired to Italy, he hardly ever passed a day without translating some portion of that school of Italian poetry, and he has left behind him a complete and admirable version of the first five cantos of Bojardo's “ Orlando Innamorato.”
Keats had a notion to publish this fanciful poem under a feigned name, and that of “ Lucy Vaughan Lloyd” suggested itself to him from some untraceable association. He never had even made up his mind what title to give it; the “ Cap and Bells" and “ Jealousies” were two he spoke of: I give here all that was written, not only because it exhibits his versatility of talent, but because it presents him, almost for the first time, in the light of a humorous writer, just at the moment of his existence when real anxieties were pressing most threateningly upon him, when the
struggle between his ever-growing passion and the miserable circumstances of his daily life was beating down his spirit, and when disease was advancing with stealthy, but not altogether unperceived, advances, to consummate by a cruel and lingering death the hard conditions of his mortal being. There is nothing in this combination which will surprise those who understand the poetic, or even the literary, nature, but I know few stronger instances of a moral phenomenon which the Hamlets of the world are for ever exhibiting to an audience that can only resolve the problem by doubting the reality of the one or the other feeling, of the mirth or of the misery.
I am unwilling to leave this, the last of Keats's literary labors, without a word of defence against the objection that might with some reason be raised against the originality of his genius, from the circumstance that it is easy to refer almost every poem he wrote to some suggestion of style and manner derived from preceding writers. From the Spenserian “ Endymion,” to those Ariosto-like stanzas, you can always see reflected in the mirror of his intellect the great works he is studying at the time. This is so generally the case with verse-writers, and the test has been so severely and successfully applied to many of the most noted authors of our time, that I should not have alluded to it had I not been desirous to claim for Keats an access to that inmost penetralium of Fame which is solely consecrated to original genius. The early English chronicle-dramas supplied Shakspeare with many materials and outlines for his historical plays, and the “ Adamo" of Andreini has indisputably a great effect on the frame-work of “ Paradise Lost ;' but every one feels that these accidents rather resemble the suggestions of nature which every mind, however independent, receives and assimilates, than what is ordinarily meant by plagiarism or imitation. In the case of Keats, his literary studies were apparently the sources of his productions, and his variety and facility of composition certainly increases very much in proportion to his reading, thus clearly showing how much he owed to those who had preceded him. But let us not omit two considerations :—first, that these resemblances of form or spirit are a reproduction, not an imitation, and that while they often are what those great masters might themselves have con