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by the Review in question.” This astounding epistle in a spirit of humility too uncalled-for, and containing statements entirely gratuitous and false ; flattering too, to the “ beaten hound,” which was happily never sent, requires explanation.* It appears certain that the review had no such effect on Keats, no one who knew him intimately ever attributed such an effect to it, or observed that it had any result whatever, and these assertions of Shelley's are, we must suppose, another instance of delusion to be added to those already tasking the ingenuity of his biographers.

Byron's witticism, too, about the soul's so fiery particle, that let itself be snuffed out by an article, was entirely unfounded. Hunt indeed told Lord Byron so, when listening to the reading of Don Juan in manuscript, but the jeu d'esprit was not to be thrown away! And a little before the publication of Hyperion and the Eve of St. Agnes volume we find his lordship writing, in letters to Murray the bookseller and others, as brutally as Gifford in the offensive article, regarding Keats. At that moment a review of Keats, by Jeffrey (afterwards Lord Jeffrey), appeared in the Whig Review, the Edinburgh, defending and praising the poems of course, as“ being at least as full of genius as of absurdity," and asserting that any one who does not find in Endymion much to admire and give delight, cannot really enjoy or under

* Some sentences of this letter are quoted without comment in Mr. W. M. Rosetti's “Memoir of Shelley,” p. cxxxiv. Not, lowever, the above assertion about suicide.

stand Shakespeare or Milton, Ben Jonson or Fletcher. On this Byron became savage ;-“Nobody could be

;- . prouder of the praise of the Edinburgh than I was, or more alive to their censure, as I showed in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. At present all the men they have ever praised are degraded by that insane article.” He then writes to the kindred spirit Gifford, “Flay him alive,—if some of you don't, I must skin him myself. There is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the manikin.” Happily this brutal threat was not carried out; Hyperion appeared, Keats died, and he writes, “His fragment of Hyperion seems actually inspired by the Titans, and is as sublime as Æschylus.” Equally violent and extreme in blame or praise, he speaks like a fool whose opinion is not worth taking. A year later the flippant egotist writes, “I knew by experience that a savage review is hemlock to a sucking author : and the one on me (that which caused him to write English Bards, &c.) “knocked me down, but I got up again. Instead of breaking a blood vessel (?) I drank three bottles of claret* and began an answer, However I would not be the person who wrote that homicidal article for all the honour and glory in the world.” Strange this just after offering to do the same again for nothing !

* * *

* Now that inevitable criticism must be allowed to have its say on the words of men occupying so large a place in English literature as Lord Byron, we fear we must acknowledge there is a slightly trumpery air in this. Lord Houghton says he does not think Keats needed even the claret to enable him to bear the critics. I hope if his courage wanted keeping up he would require something stronger.

Other men, we regret to think, were also disagreeably affected towards Keats by these reviews of Endymion. Haydon who had his own losing battle to fight, and was always struggling to be among the successful, before the poem appeared was to do a portrait of Keats with all his might,” which must do him good as the painter “would put his name to it !” He would also paint a finished picture from some incident in the poem. We do not find he ever did so, however, and time has in this brought about ample justice, as much greater painters have done what he promised but failed to do, Holman Hunt, Maclise, Millais, and Hughes, have all done noble pictures from the Eve of St. Agnes, and La Belle Dame sans Merci.

But the only important question in relation to these reviews is, what impression did they really make on Keats? And now with all his letters before us, and the various accounts of his friends supplementing them, we are constrained to say they must have had little or none. In the first place the general verdict of the press was favourable ; one kind and apparently wealthy enthusiast sent him a laudatory sonnet, with “turn over” at the bottom of the page, which being complied with, the poet found a twenty-five pound bank-note; the Chronicle protested against the Quarterly; and on the whole the book was, as a publication, benefited. In the second place he never ceased for a day to write, nor was his enthusiasm for poetry abated. He writes thus to his publisher Hessey, of Messrs. Taylor and Hessey, “I cannot but feel indebted to those gentlemen who have taken my part. But praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on himself. My own domestic criticism has given me pain without comparison, beyond what Blackwood or the Quarterly could inflict. Also, when I feel that I am right, no external praise can give me such a glow as my own solitary re-perception and ratification of what is fine. I. S. is perfectly right in regard to the slip-shod Endymion.' That it is so is no fault of mine! No, though it may sound a little paradoxical it is as good as I had power to make it myself. Had I been nervous about it being a perfect piece, asked advice, and trembled over every page, it would not have been written. I will write independently. I have written independently without judgment. I will write independently with judgment hereafter. The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man. It cannot be matured by law or precept. That which is creative must create itself. In Endymion, I leapt headlong into the sea, and have become better acquainted with soundings, quicksands, and rocks, than if I had stayed at home, piped a safe pipe, taken tea and comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not (try to) be among the greatest "

This sounds very like a sober and undamaged judgment. In another letter he says, "Reynolds persuades me to



publish my Pot of Basil as an answer to the attack made on me in the Edinburgh magazine and the Quarterly. I don't know who wrote the letters in the Chronicle. This is a mere matter of the moment : I think I shall be among the English poets after my death.

Even as a matter of present interest, the attempt to crush me has only brought me more into notice, and it is a common expression among book-men,-I wonder the Quarterly should cut its own throat. It does me not the least harm in society. I know when a man is superior to me, and give him all due respect, he is the last to laugh at me.” Leigh Hunt again in his autobiography, says he did not know at the moment that Keats took the adverse reviews so much to heart, as he finds from Lord Houghton's memoir that he did. “I was in the habit,” he says, “ though a public man, of living in a world of abstractions of my own ; and I regarded him as of a nature still more abstracted and sure of renown." And he was undoubtedly right in so thinking, though in truth Keats was still as of old pugnacious, and might have wished to see offence returned. On reading the letter of Z. on Leigh Hunt in the Edinburgh Mag. he says, “ If he should go to the same lengths with me, I must infallibly call him to account, if he be a human being, and appear in squares and theatres, where we might 'possibly meet.'” One more quotation from his letters relative to his mental position, and view of himself and the public. Regarding his first preface to Endymion, which he abandoned on the remonstrances of


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