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s o the Poet, if to any man, it may justly be con
ceded to be estimated by what he has written rather than by what he has done, and to be
judged by the productions of his genius rather than by the circumstances of his outward life. For although the choice and treatment of a subject may enable us to contemplate the mind of the Historian, the Novelist, or the Philosopher, yet our observation will be more or less limited and obscured by the sequence of events, the forms of manners, or the exigencies of theory, and the personality of the writer must be frequently lost; while the Poet, if his utterances be deep and true, can hardly hide himself even beneath the epic or dramatic veil, and often makes of the rough public ear a confessional into which to pour the richest treasures and holiest secrets of his soul. His Life is in his Writings, and his Poems are his Works indeed. The Biography, therefore, of a Poet can be little better VOL. I.
story of Ká life parallels the story abr his poetry in the wild waters are Just beloning to be tamed D LETTERS OF U He asuinaldoy ems, even when his life is of long see alu pl whill, sags in wering Channes worn sition of three small volumes of
el meiri, says
th rare and various adventures : ne whose whole story may be
...nusnips, one passion, and a premature death. As men die, so they walk among posterity; and our impression of Keats can only be that of a noble nature perseveringly testing its own powers, of a manly heart bravely surmounting its first hard experience, and of an imagination ready to inundate the world, yet learning to
flow within regulated channels, and abating its violence luite restaurks wens ning its strength.
no more than the beginning of a Life which has already .
written, . and nothing but a conviction of the ALAUd nuchot and greatness of the fragment would justify any Denal chain, pting to draw general attention to its shape and
The interest however of the Poems of Keats has
red much of a personal character : and his early anxiety about
of Chatterton, (of whom he ever speaks with a
ient sympathy) has, in some degree, stood him Others inf;?! Pino
fulfilled poetical existence. Ever improving in prodite a l i save no reason to believe that his marvellous
anything in common with that lyrical facility with many men have manifested in boyhood or in youth, but which has grown torpid, or disappeared altogether, with the advance of mature life; in him no one doubts that a true genius was suddenly arrested, and they who will not allow him to have won his place in the first ranks of English poets will not deny the promise of his candidature. When a man has had a fair field of existence before him and free
scope for the exhibition of his energies, it becomes a superfluous and generally an unprofitable task to collect together the unimportant incidents of his career and hoard up the scattered remnants of his mind, most of which he would probably have himself wished to be forgotten. But in the instance of Keats, it is a natural feeling in those who knew and loved, and not extravagant in those who merely admire, him, to desire to repair, as far as may be, the injustice of destiny, and to glean whatever relics they may find of a harvest of which so few full sheaves were permitted to be garnered.
The interest which attaches to the family of every remarkable individual has failed to discover in that of Keats anything more than that the influences with which his childhood was surrounded were virtuous and honourable. His father, who was employed in the establishment of Mr. Jennings, a proprietor of large livery-stables on the Pavement in Moorfields, nearly opposite the entrance into Finsbury Circus, became his master's son-in-law, and is still remembered as a man of excellent natural sense, lively and energetic countenance, and entire freedom from any vulgarity or assumption on account of his prosperous alliance. He was killed by a fall from his horse in 1804, at the early age of thirty-six. The mother, a lively intelligent woman, was supposed to have prematurely hastened the birth of John by her passionate love of amusement, though his constitution gave no signs of the peculiar debility of a seventh months child. He was born on the 29th of October, 1795.*
* This point, which has been disputed, (Mr. Leigh Hunt making him a year younger,) is decided by the proceedings in Chancery,