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INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR.

THERE is no one of the poets who lived at the beginning of this century,--the greatest era of lyrical and narrative poetry in England, as the Elizabethan age was of dramatic-of whom we still find it so difficult to speak without bias or prejudice, for or against, as Keats. Even fifty years of celebrity, silently growing up for the poet himself and the verdict passed condemnatory of his opponents, has not yet made it possible to hold the balance even, when reciting the story of his few years of active life. At the present day though several of our leaders in politics are literary in a high degree, partypolitics has no influence whatever in literature : the malignant Tory has ceased to exist, and has been succeeded by the mildest amateur conservatism, so that we cannot make the necessary allowances for the bitter spirit of the past, nor forgive men for sacrificing genius and poetry to opinions and party.

The present writer is himself old enough to remember as a boy the end of that period of violent reviewing and social blackballing as it existed in Edinburgh, and very often formed the theme of talk among his elders. All the men who had established the leading and opposing periodicals were still supporting them with all their might; and the present writer as he grew up determined with a kind of spe able joy to enter the arena as soon as possible, and deal a blow with his childish fist in favour of extreme licence and extreme radicalism. Among these party writers, it happened that the one who enjoyed the evil credit of being editor of the offensive Magazine took the kindest and most generous interest in his literary welfare, and impressed him with the most ardent admiration of his large, powerful, and healthy personality. It is, therefore, a great satisfaction to him, now that writing these notices of Keats, Shelley, and Coleridge, has come in his way, to know that Professor Wilson, or, as even his daughter chooses to call him, “ Christopher North,” was never editor of the unclean Blackwood's Magazine, and was not the writer of the offensive attacks on poets. “The public have made up their minds on the subject of Keats' poetry," says Leigh Hunt, “and such of his first opponents as were men of genius themselves, have long agreed with or anticipated the verdict. It would have been strange indeed when the heat of the battle was over, had not Christopher North stretched out his large and warm hand to his memory. Times arrive, under the hallowing influences of thought and trouble, when genius is as sure to acknowledge genius, as it is to feel its own wants, and to be willing to share its glory.” It is very magnanimous to hear Hunt thus speak of Wilson's "genius," and really we believe, were it not that the London literary world holds so lightly this name of Kit North, the creation of the character of “ The Shepherd ” in the Noctes Ambrosianæ, would be generally acknowledged as a work of genius. But for all his more important productions, and for all the productions of all the other offenders against justice and good feeling belonging to the same party, what can be said ? It seems now inexplicable that the writers of such commonplace should have been allowed to crow so loud and so long

The real culprits, those who died in their sins because too stupid to repent, were Gifford the first editor of the Quarterly, and Lockhart the second, in his younger days while he was Blackwood's hack and one of the briefless idling about the "Parliament-house" in Edinburgh, and making wretched caricature portraits of the habitués of the place to pass the time. Associated with him, was his paymaster, the man who was really the leading caitiff, a man below history, the bookseller himself, who was always his own editor, greedy for any amount of violent writing that would bring money into his till by circulating his magazine. It is not worth while now to analyse the papers that first attracted notice to Blackwood's Magazine, by calling Coleridge's Biographia Literaria a “most execrable performance," and the amiable, passive, lotuseating author, " a compound of egotism and malignity," and accusing Leigh Hunt, the most moral of men in practice, of profligacy and so forth, but I fancy we should find them nearly all written by Lockhart, who rejoiced in

the euphuistic, though very inaccurate title, seeing the heel and not the face can only be reached by the creature, “the Scorpion who loveth to sting the faces of men,” as Wilson did in being called “the Leopard from the land of Palms." It is pleasant to find that Lockhart did not quite escape ignominy even then, Wilson suffering with him. Jeffrey had asked the latter to write in the Edinburgh, he afterwards rescinds his request as follows: “You are said to be a principal writer in, and a great director and active supporter of Blackwood. In the last number of that work there is an attack upon my excellent friend, Mr. Playfair, and I really cannot consent either to ask or accept of favours from any one who is aiding or assisting in such a publication. It appears to me that the imputations it contains are as malignant as they are false.” This was plain speaking, and under the pressure of a pamphlet called " Hypocricy unveiled, &c." the two writers wriggled in a ludicrous manner.

They tried indeed to find out who the writer of the pamphlet was, and talked of the “honour of gentlemen" of course, but the anonymous answered both in the same terms :-“If you be not a principal conductor or supporter of that magazine, you have no reason for addressing me; if you be not the author of a most abusive, attack on your friend Mr. Wordsworth, if you be not the secret traducer of Mr. Playfair, Mr. Hazlitt, and Mr. Coleridge, if you be not the writer of the letters in the name of Z. to Mr. Leigh Hunt, then you have nothing to say to me. But if all or any of these things apply to you, in that case

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