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Reynolds with the imagination and delicacy of a Cypriani, and the flowing pencil of a Rubens. I noticed a Jewish high-priest, whom I saw in the synagogue last year, and two other gentlemen of London, who had sat at her request. With all these accomplishments, she discovers a modesty and humility which, united with a strong understanding and a devout heart, set her as far above the common level of mortals as the summit of the Alps rises superior to the vales below.
“Miss Caroline is remarkable for nothing but an amazing vivacity and continual flow of spirits, unless it be those accomplishments which are common to the family—a fluency in the French language, and an elegant touch of the harpsichord and organ. The third female is a cousin; but I was not enough in her company to ascertain much of her character. The last thing she talked to me about was the wish she had to enter a nunnery, and take the veil. Her disposition seems naturally recluse, though not unamiable."
To this pleasing insight into the family of the Tighes, in which the poetess, with the roses in her hair, and her husband, with his noble Roman aspect, constitute the chief figures, Mr. Pierce adds a mention of the private tutor of the youngest son, and the curate of the parish, who had a house in the corner of the orchard. He also informs us of the benevolence of the elder Mrs. Tighe, her schools for poor children, and of her pressing desire that he should come and settle near Rosanna
We come now to one whose home and haunts on the earth were brief,
“Who sparkled, was exhaled, and went to heaven.” John Keats was one of those sweet and glorious spirits who descend like the angel messengers of old, to discharge some divine command, not to dwell here. Pure, ethereal, glowing with the fervency of inward life, the bodily vehicle appears but assumed for the occasion, and as a mist, as a shadow, is ready to dissolve the instant that occasion is served. They speak and pass away into the higher light from whence they came ; but their words remain-themselves life, and spirit, and power-like the electric element in the veins of the earth, quickening and vitalizing the souls of men to the end of time. They become part and parcel of our nature; they are as essential to the aliment and the progress of our intellectual being as the light, the morning dew of summer, the morning and the evening star, or any of those great components of nature, the sky, the sea, or the mountain, from which we draw the daily spirit of beauty; and live -live, not as mere material machines; not as animal existences, as brutes –
" Which graze the mountain-top with faces prone,
And eyes intent upon the scanty herb
not mere men of the world, money-getting, house-building, landpurchasing creatures, but souls of God and of eternity. “Man lives not by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God," and which descends to earth by his prophets, whether of prose or of poetry. It is by the mediation of such pure and seraphic intelligences, that our true psychological frame and constitution are built up. For, created to take our places in the great future of the universe, amid the spiritual revelation of all things spiritual, we must be raised substantially from the mere germ of immortality within us into “spirits of just men made perfect.” We must be composed of the spiritual elements of beauty, thought, sensation and seizure of all intellectual things, growing by the daily absorption of divine essences into spiritual bodies, incorporate of love, of light, of lofty aspirations and tenderest desires ; of thoughts that comprehend the world, and hearts that embrace it with a divine capacity of affection. As we walk on our daily way, and along the muddiest paths of life, amid our own cares and loneliness, we do not and cannot walk unblest. The shower of God's benedictions falls on us; the sunshine of his ceaseless gifts surrounds us. From his own appointed men, whether living or dead, “ the refreshments from his presence” reach us, melt into us, and sustain us. Words spoken thousands of years ago steal, like the whisper of a breeze, into our bosoms, and become bright guests there; music, full of deep movings, heard but yesterday from the lips of the inspired, touches the spring of happiness within us. The thoughts and sentiments of poets and philosophers, “beautiful exceedingly,” stand around us like the trees and the flowers of our wayside ; and from every point of heaven and earth are reflected upon us the flowing waters, the cool forest shades, the bright and glittering stars of that mind, which has been poured through a myriad of vehicles and a host of ages down upon us here. The light and colour and warmth which mature our very corn and fruits come from the sun. They are no more inherent in this nether earth than our own life is. All that we have and enjoy must come from other worlds to us. Our material aliments are sustained by the strength and life issuing from the infinite heavens ; and thence too descend, in still more ethereal actuality, all that our souls are made of.
Of the class of swift but resplendent messengers by whom these ministrations are performed, neither ours nor any other history can furnish a specimen more beautiful than John Keats. He was of feeling and" imagination all compact." His nature was one pure mass of the living light of poetry. On this world and its concerns he could take no hoid, and they could take none on him. The worldly and the worldly wise could not comprehend him, could not sympathise with him. To them his vivid orgasm of the intellect was madness; his exuberance of celestial gifts was extravagance ; his unworldliness was effeminacy ; his love of the universal man, and not of gross distinctions of pride and party, was treason. As of the highest and divinest of God's messengers to earth, they cried “Away with him, he is not fit to live ;” and the body, that mere mist-like, that mere shadow-like body, already failing before the fervency of his spiritual functions, fell, “ faded away, dissolved," and disappeared before the bitter frost-wind of base criticism,
It was a dark and wretched time when Keats made his appearance amongst us. War, and party, and peculation on the one side, and resentment and discontent on the other; the necessity for the gainer maintaining his craft at all costs, and the equal necessity for the loser dragging this ruinous craft to the ground, had infused into literature an atrocious spirit. From this foul spirit, genius, in every fresh incarnation, suffered the most ruthless and inhuman assaults. The stronger possessor of it stood; the weaker or more sensitive fell. Keats was one of the latter. He had soul enough for anything, but his physique was feeble, and sunk. It will be one of the “damning spots" which will for ever cling, not to the country, but to the age. But it is to the everlasting honour of Leigh Hunt, that, himself a critic as well as a poet, he never dipped his hand in the blood of the innocents. He never slew one of those martyrs whose glorious tombs we now build with adamantine stones of admiration, tempering the cement with the tears of our love. Himself assailed, and shot at, and cruelly wounded by the archers, he not only turned and manfully defended himself, but spread the shield of his heart to protect those who were rising up to become formidable rivals in the public regard. It is a glory that is peculiar, and peculiarly beautiful, that amid that iron age of a murderous criticism, he was for ever found in close union and communion with the morning stars of poetry. They truly “sang together.” They seemed by an instinct of life to flock to him, and by an instinct equally sure and unselfish he felt at once their claims, and with open hand and heart maintained them. It was in the pages of the Examiner that, amid specimens of young poets, I first made acquaintance with the magnificent sonnet of Keats on reading Chapman's Homer, and with Shelley's Hymn to Intellectual Beauty. From that hour there could be no question but that great men were come amongst us ; those men who, in fact, “ turn the world upside down," and by which turning upside down, the only process, the asps and scorpions of malice are shook out of it, and all its strong-rooted fabrics of prejudice and pride are toppled into the dust. Till death, the souls of these men never ceased to maintain that brave union thus begun, but amid abuse, misrepresentation, and the vilest onslaughts from the army of the aliens, went on blessing the world with those emanations of splendid and unshackled thought, which are now recognised as amongst the most precious of the national property. Who in future days will not pray that he might have been as one of these ?
It is to the account by Leigh Hunt, in his " Byron and some of his Contemporaries," that we owe almost all that we know of the life and haunts of Keats. From this we learn that “Mr. Keats's origin was of the humblest description. He was born October 29, 1796, at a livery stables in Moorfields, of which his grandfather was proprietor. He never spoke of it-perhaps out of a personal soreness which the world had exasperated. After receiving the rudiments of a classical education at Mr. Clarke's school at Enfield, he was bound apprentice to Mr. Hammond, a surgeon, in Church-street, Edmonton; and his enemies having made a jest even of this, he did not like to be reminded of it; at once disdaining them for their meanness, and bimself for being weak enough to be moved by them. Mr. Clarke, jun., his schoolmaster's son, a reader of genuine discernment, had encouraged with great warmth the genius that he saw in the young poet; and it was to Mr. Clarke I was indebted for my acquaintance with him."
Mr. Hunt, in his warm-hearted way, lost no time in introducing his poetry to the best judges of poetry, amongst them to Godwin, Hazlitt, Basil Montagu, Charles Lamb, and others. He read to them, amongst others, that fine sonnet already mentioned,
"OX PIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S HOMER.
" Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen,
Round many western islands have I been,
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
When a new pianet swims into his ken,
le stared at the Pacitic-and all his men
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
The two poets became speedily familiar and almost inseparable. They read, walked, and talked together continually; and Mr. Hunt gives us various particulars of Keats's haunts at this period which are nowhere else to be obtained. “The volume containing the above sonnet," he says, “was published in 1817, when the author was in his twenty-first year. The poem with which it begins was suggested to him by a delightful summer day, as he stood beside the gate that leads from the battery on Hampstead Heath into a field by Caen Wood; and the last poem, the one on Sleep and Poetry, was occasigned by his sleeping in one of the cottages in the Vale of Health, the first one that fronts to the valley, beginning from the same quarter. I mention these things, which now look trivial, because his readers will not think them so twenty years hence. It was in the beautiful lane running from the road between Hampstead and Highgate to the foot of Highgate Hill, that meeting me one day he first gave me the volume. If the admirer of Mr. Keats's poetry does not know the lane in question, he ought to become acquainted with it, both on his author's account and its own. It has been also paced by Mr. Iamb and Mr. Hazlitt, and frequently, like the rest of the beautiful neighbourhood, by Mr. Coleridge; so that instead of Millfield-lane, which is the name it is known by 'on earth,' it has sometimes been called Poet's-lane, which is an appellation it richly deserves. It divides the grounds of Lords Mansfield and Southampton, running through trees and sloping meadows, and being rich