Chapter IV

Excursion to the Isle of Wight
As soon as Keats reached the Isle of Wight, on April 16, 1817, he went to see Shanklin and Carisbrooke, and after some hesitation between the two, decided on a lodging at the latter place. The next day he writes to Reynolds that he has spent the morning arranging the books and prints he had brought with him, adding to the latter one of Shakspere which he had found in the passage and which had particularly pleased him. He speaks with enthusiasm of the beauties of Shanklin, but in a postscript written the following day, mentions that he has been nervous from want of sleep, and much haunted by the passage in Lear, 'Do you not hear the sea?'- adding without farther preface his own famous sea-sonnet.

Margate and Canterbury
The Isle of Wight, however, Keats presently found did not suit him, and Haydon's prescription of solitude proved too trying. He fell into a kind of fever of thought and sleeplessness, which he thought it wisest to try and shake off by flight. Early in May we find him writing to Leigh Hunt from Margate, where he had already stayed the year before, and explaining the reasons of his change of abode. Later in the same letter, endeavouring to measure his own powers against the magnitude of the task to which he has committed himself, he falls into a vein like that which we have seen recurring once and again in his verses during the preceding year, the vein of awed self-questioning, and tragic presentiment uttered half in earnest and half in jest. The next day we find him writing a long and intimate, very characteristic letter to Haydon, signed 'your everlasting friend,' and showing the first signs of the growing influence which Haydon was beginning to exercise over him in antagonism to the influence of Leigh Hunt. Keats was quite shrewd enough to feel for himself after a little while the touches of vanity, fuss, and affectation, the lack of depth and strength, in the kind and charming nature of Hunt, and quite loyal enough to value his excellences none the less, and hold him in grateful and undiminished friendship. [...]
Among other interesting confessions to be found in Keats's letter to Haydon from Margate, is that of the fancy - almost the sense - which often haunted him of dependence on the tutelary genius of Shakspere:-
"I remember your saying that you had notions of a good Genius presiding over you. I have lately had the same thought, for things which I do half at random, are afterwards confirmed by my judgment in a dozen features of propriety. Is is too daring to fancy Shakspeare this presider? When in the Isle of Wight I met with a Shakspeare in the passage of the house at which I lodged. It comes nearer to my idea of him than any I have seen; I was but there a week, yet the old woman made me take it with me, though I went off in a hurry. Do you not think this ominous of good?"
Next he lays his finger on the great secret flaw in his own nature, describing it in words which the after issue of his life will keep but too vividly and constantly before our minds: -
"truth is, I have a horrid Morbidity of Temperament, which has shown itself at intervals; it is, I have no doubt, the greatest Enemy and stumling-block I have to fear; I may even say, it is likely to be the cause of my disappointment."
Was it that, in this seven-months' child of a consumptive mother, some unhealth of mind as well as body was congenital?- or was it that, along with what seems his Celtic intensity of feeling and imagination, he had inherited a special share of that inward gloom which the reverses of their history have stamped, according to some, on the mind of the Celtic race? We cannot tell, but certain it is that along with the spirit of delight, ever creating and multiplying images of beauty and joy, there dwelt in Keats's bosom an almost equally busy and inventive spirit of self-torment.
The fit of dejection which led to the remark above quoted had its immediate cause in apprehension of money difficulties conveyed to Keats in a letter from his brother George. The trust funds of which Mr Abbey had the disposal for the benefit of the orphans, under the deed executed by Mrs Jennings, amounted approximately to £8,000, of which the capital was divisible among them on their coming of age, and the interest was to be applied to their maintenance in the meantime. But the interest of John's share had been insufficient for his professional and other expenses during his term of medical study at Edmonton and London, and much of his capital had been anticipated to meet them; presumably in the form of loans raised on the security of his expectant share. Similar advances had also been for some time necessary to the invalid Tom for his support, and latterly - since he left employment of Mr Abbey - to George as well. It is clear that the arrangements for obtaining these advances were made both wastefully and grudgingly. It is further plain that the brothers were very insufficiently informed on the state of their affairs. In the meantime John Keats was already beginning to discount his expectations from literature. Before or about the time of his rupture with the Olliers, he had made the acquaintance of those excellent men, Messrs Taylor and Hessey, who were shortly, as publishers of the London Magazine, to gather about them on terms of cordial friendship a group of contributors comprising more than half the choicest spirits of the day. With them, especially with Mr Taylor, who was himself a student and writer of independent, somewhat eccentric ability and research, Keats's relations were excellent from first to last, generous on their part, and affectionate and confidential on his. He had made arrangements with them, apparently before leaving London, for the eventual publication of Endymion, and from Margate we find him acknowledging a first payment received in advance. Now and again afterwards he turns to the same friends for help at a pinch, adding once, "I am sure you are confident of my responsibility, and of the sense of squareness that is always in me;" nor did they at any time belie his expectation.
From Margate, where he had already made good progress with Endymion, Keats went with his brother Tom to spend some time at Canterbury. Thence they moved early in the summer to lodgings kept by a Mr and Mrs Bentley in Well Walk, Hampstead, where the three brothers had decided to take up their abode together. Here he continued through the summer to work steadily at Endymion, being now well advanced with the second book; and some of his friends, as Haydon, Cowden Clarke, and Severn, remembered all their lives afterwards the occasions when they walked with him on the heath, while he repeated to them, in his rich and tremulous, half-chanting tone, the newly-written passages which best pleased him. From his poetical absoprtion and Elysian dreams they were accustomed to see him at a touch come back to daily life; sometimes to sympathize heart and soul with their affairs, sometimes in a burst of laughter, nonsense, and puns, (it was a punning age, and the Keats's were a very punning family), sometimes with a sudden flash of his old schoolboy pugnacity and fierceness of rigtheous indignation. To this summer or the following winter, it is not quite certain which, belongs the well-known story of his thrashing in stand-up fight a stalwart young butcher whom he had found tormenting a cat (a 'ruffian in livery' according to one account, but the butcher version is the best attested).
For the rest, the choice of Hampstead as a place of residence had much to recommend it to Keats: the freshness of the air for the benefit of the invalid Tom: for his own walks and meditations those beauties of heath, field, and wood, interspersed with picturesque embosomed habitations, which his imagination could transmute at will into the landscapes of Arcadia, or into those, 'with high romances blent,' of an earlier England or of fable-land. For society there was the convenient proximity to, and yet seclusion from, London, together with the immediate neighbourhood of one or two intimate friends. Among these, Keats frequented as familiarly as ever the cottage in the Vale of Health where Leigh Hunt was still living - a kind of self-appointed poet-laureate of Hampstead, the features of which he was for ever celebrating, now in sonnets, and now in the cheerful singsong of his familiar Epistles-:
"And yet how can I touch, and not linger awhile
On the spot that has haunted my youth like a smile?
On its fine breathing prospects, its clump-wooded glades,
Dark pines, and white houses, and long-alley'd shades,
With fields going down, where the bard lies and sees
The hills up above him with roofs in the trees."
Several effusions of this kind, with three sonnets addressed to Keats himself, some translations from the Greek, and a not ungraceful mythological poem, the Nymphs, were published early in the following year by Leigh Hunt in a volume called Foliage, which helped to draw down on him and his friends the lash of Tory criticism.
Near the foot of the heath, in the opposite direction from Hunt's cottage, lived two new friends of Keats who had been introduced to him by Reynolds, and with whom he was soon to become extremely intimate. These were Charles Wentworth Dilke and Charles Armitage Brown[...].

New friends: Dilke,...
Dilke was a young man of twenty-nine, [...] a clerk in the Navy Pay office [...]. He soon gave himself up altogether to literary and antiquarian studies, and lived, as every one knows, to be one of the most accomplished and influential of English critics and journalists, and for many years editor and chief owner of the Athenĉum. No two men could well be more unlike in mind than Dilke and Keats: Dilke positive, bent on certainty, and unable, as Keats says, "to feel he has a personal identity unless he has made up his mind about everything:" while Keats on his part held that "the only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing - to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts." Nevertheless the two took to each other and became fast friends. Dilke had married young, and built himself, a year or two before Keats knew him, a modest semi-detached house in a good-sized garden near the lower end of Hampstead Heath, at the bottom of what is now John Street; the other part of the same block being built and inhabited by his friend Charles Brown.

This Brown was the son of a Scotch stockbroker living in Lambeth. He was born in 1786, and while almost a boy went out to join one of his brothers in a merchant's business at St Petersburg; but the business failing, he returned to England in 1808, and lived as he could for the next few years, until the death of another brother put him in possession of a small competency. He had a taste, and some degree of talent for literature, and held strongly Radical opinion. In 1810 he wrote an opera on a Russian subject, called Narensky, which was brought out at the Lyceum with Braham in the principal part; and at intervals during the next twenty years many criticisms, tales, and translations from the Italian, chiefly printed in the various periodicals edited by Leigh Hunt. When Keats first knew him, Brown was a young man already of somewhat middle-aged appearance, stout, bald, and spectacled,- a kindly companion, and jovial, somewhat free liver, with a good measure both of obstinacy and caution lying in reserve, more Scotio, under his pleasant and convivial outside. It is clear, by his relations with Keats that his heart was warm, and that when once attached, he was capable not only of appreciation but of devotion.[...]

Yet another friend of Reynold's who in these months attached himself with a warm affection to Keats was Benjamin Bailey, an Oxford undergraduate reading for the Church, afterwards Archdeacon of Colombo. Bailey was a great lover of books, devoted especially to Milton among past and to Wordsworth among present poets. For his earnestness and integrity of character Keats conceived a strong respect, and a hearty liking for his person, and much of what was best in his own nature, and deepest in his mind and cogitations, was called out in the intercourse that ensued between them. In the course of this summer, 1817, Keats had been invited by Shelley to stay with him at Great Marlow, and Hunt, ever anxious that the two young poets should be friends, pressed him strongly to accept the invitation. It is said by Medwin, but the statement is not confirmed by other evidence, that Shelley and Keats had set about their respective 'summer tasks,' the composition of Laon and Cythna and of Endymion, by mutual agreement and in a spririt of friendly rivalry. Keats at any rate declined his brother poet's invitation, in order, as he said, that he might have his own unfettered scope.

With Bailey at Oxford
Later in the same summer, while his brothers were away on a trip to Paris, he accepted an invitation of Bailey to come to Oxford, and stayed there during the last five or six weeks of the Long Vacation. Here he wrote the third book of Endymion, working steadily every morning, and composing with great facility his regular average of fifty lines a day. The afternoons they would spend in walking or boating on the Isis, and Bailey has feelingly recorded the pleasantness of their days, and of their discussions on life, literature, and the mysteries of things. He tells of the sweetness of Keats's temper and charm of his conversation, and of the gentleness and respect with which the hot young liberal and free-thinker would listen to his host's exposition of his own orthodox convictions: describes his enthusiasm in quoting Chatterton and in dwelling on passages of Wordsworth's poetry, particularly from the Tintern Abbey and the Ode on Immortality: and recalls his disquisitions on the harmony of numbers and other technicalities of his art, the power of his thrilling looks and low-voiced recitations, his vividness of inner life, and intensity of quiet enjoyment during their field and river rambles and excursions. One special occasion of pleasure was a pilgrimage they made together to Stratford-on-Avon. From Oxford are some of the letters written by Keats in his happiest vein; to Reynolds and his sister Miss Jane Reynolds, afterwards Mrs Tom hood; to Haydon; and to his young sister Frances Mary, or Fanny as she was always called. [...] George Keats, writing to this sister after John's death, speaks of the times "when we lived with our grandmother at Edmonton, and John, Tom, and myself were alwys devising plans to amuse you, jealous lest you shold prefer either of us to the others." Since those times Keats had seen little of her, Mr Abbey having put her to a boarding-school before her grandmother's death, and afterwards taken her into his own house at Walthamstow, where the visits of her poet brother were not encouraged. "He often," writes Bailey, "spoke to me of his sister, who was somehow withholden from him, with great delicacy and tenderness of affection:" and from this time forward we find him maintaining with her a correspondence which shows his character in its most attractive light. He bids her keep all his letters and he will keep hers- "and thus in the course of time we shall each of us have a good bundle - which hereafter, when things may have strangely altered and God knows what happended, we may read over together and look with pleasure on times past - that now are to come." He tells her about Oxford and about his work, and gives her a sketch of the story of Endymion "but I daresay you have read this and all other beautiful tales which have come down to us from the ancient times of that beautiful Greece."

Return: Old friends at odds
Early in October Keats returened to Hampstead, whence he writes to Bailey noticing with natural indignation the ruffinaly first article of the Cockney Schools series, which had just appeared in Blackwood's Magazine for that month. In this the special object of attack was Leigh Hunt, but there were allustions to Keats which seemed to indicate that his own turn was coming. What made him more seriously uneasy were signs of discord springing up among his friends, and of attempts on the part of some of them to set him against others. Haydon had now given up his studio in Great Marlborough Street for one in Lisson Grove; and Hunt, having left the Vale of Health, was living close by him at a lodging in the same street. "I know nothing of anything in this part of the world," writes Keats: "everybody seems at loggerheads." And he goes on to say how Hunt and Haydon are on uncomfortable terms, and "live, pour ainsi dire, jealous neighbours. Haydon says to me, 'Keats, don't show your lines to Hunt on any account, or he will have done half for you'- so it appears Hunt wishes it to be thought." With more accounts of warnings he had received from common friends that Hunt was not feeling or speaking cordially about Endymion. "Now is not all this a most paltry thing to think about? ... This is, to be sure, but the vexation of a day, nor would I say so much about it to any but those whom I know to have my welfare and reputation at heart." When three months later Keats showed Hunt the first book of his poem in proof, the latter found many faults. It is clear he was to some extent honestly disappointed in the work itself. He may also have been chagrined at not having been taken more fully into confidence during its composition; and what he said to others was probably due partly to such chagrin, partly to nervousness on behalf of his friend's reputation: for of double-facedness or insincerity in friendship we know by a hundred evidences that Hunt was incapable. Keats, however, after what he had heard, was by no means without excuse when he wrote to his brothers concerning Hunt,- not unkindly, or making much of the matter,- "the fact is, he and Shelley are hurt, and perhaps justly, at my not having showed them the affair officiously; and from several hints I have had, they appear much disposed to dissect and anatomize any trip or slip I may have made. But who's afraid?" Keats was not the man to let this kind of thing disturb seriously his relations with a friend: and writing about the same time to Bailey, still concerning the dissensions in the circle, he expounds the practical philosophy of friendship with truly admirable good sense and feeling:-
"Things have happened lately of great perplexity; you must have heard of them; Reynolds and Haydon retorting and recriminating, and parting for ever. The same thing has happened between Haydon and Hunt. It is unfortunate: men should bear with each other; there lives not the man who may not be cut up, aye, lashed to pieces, on his weakest side. The best of men have but a portion of good in them - a kind of spiritual yeast in their frames, which creates the ferment of existence - by which a man is propelled to act, and strive, and buffet with circumstance. The sure way, Bailey, is first to know a man's faults, and then be passive. If after that he insensibly draws you towards him, then you have no power to break the link. Before I felt interest in either Reynolds or Haydon, I was well-read in their faults; yet knowing them both I have been cementing gradually with both. I have an affection for them both, for reasons almost opposite; and to both must I of necessity cling, supported always by the hope that when a little time, a few years, shall have tried me more fully in their esteem, I may be able to bring them together. This time must come, because they have both hearts; and they will recollect the best parts of each other when this gust is overblown."
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Burford Bridge
Keats had in the meantime been away on another autumn excursion into the country: this time to Burford Bridge near Dorking. Here he passed pleasantly the latter part of November, much absorbed in the study of Shakspere's minor poems and sonnets, and in the task of finishing Endymion. He had thus all but succeeded in carrying out the hope which he had expressed in the opening passage of the poem.

Winter at Hampstead
Returning to Hampstead, Keats spent the first part of the winter in comparative rest from literary work. His chief occupation was in revising and seeing Endymion through the press, with much help from the publisher, Mr Taylor, varied by occasional essays in dramatic criticism, and as the spring began, by the composition of a number of minor incidental poems. In December he lost the companionship of his brothers, who went to winter in Devonshire for the sake of Tom's health. But in other company he was at this time mixing freely. The convivial gatherings of the young men of his own circle were frequent, the fun high, the discussions on art and literature boisterous, and varied with a moderate, evidently never a very serious, amount of card-playing, drinking, and dissipation. From these gatherings Keats was indispensable, and more than welcome in the sedater literary circle of his publishers, Messrs Taylor and Hessey, men as strict in conduct and opinion as they were good-hearted. His social relations began, indeed, in the course of this winter to extend themselves more than he much cared about, or thought consistent with proper industry. We find him dining with Horace Smith in company with some fashionable wits, concerning whom he reflects:- "They only served to convince me how superior humor is to wit, in respect to enjoyment. These men say things which make one start, without making one feel; they are all alike; their manners are alike; they all know fashionables; they have all a mannerism in their very eating and drining, in their mere handling a decanter. They talked of Kean and his low company. 'Would I were with that company instead of yours', said I to myself." Men of ardent and deep natures, whether absorbed in the realities of experience, or in the ideals of art and imagination, are apt to be affected in this way by the conventional social sparkle which is only struck from and only illuminates the surface. Hear, on the other hand, with what pleasure and insight, what sympathy of genius for genius, Keats writes after seeing the great tragedian last mentioned interpret the inner and true passions of the soul:-
"The sensual life of verse springs warm from the lips of Kean ... his tongue must seem to have robbed the Hybla bees and left them honeyless! There is an indescribable gusto in his voice, by which we feel that the utterer in thinking of the past and future while speaking of the instant. When he says in Othello, 'Put up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them,' we feel that his throat had commanded where swords were as thick as reeds. From eternal risk, he speaks as though his body were unassailable. Again, his exclamation of 'blood! blood! blood!' is direful and slaughterous to the last degree; the very words appear stained and gory. His nature hangs over them, mading a prophetic repast. The voice is loosed on them, like the wild dogs on the savage relics of an eastern conflict; and we can distinctly hear it 'gorging and growling o'er the carcase and limb.' In Richard, 'Be stirring with the lark to-morrow, gentle Norfolk!' came from him, as through the morning atmosphere towards which he yearns."

Wordsworth: Lamb: Hazlitt
It was in the Christmas weeks of 1817-18 that Keats undertook the ofice of theatrical critic for the Champion newspaper in place of Reynolds, who was away at Exeter. Early in January he writes to his brothers of the pleasure he has had in seeing their sister, who had been brought to London for the Christmas holidays; and tells them how he has called on and been asked to dine by Wordsworth, whom he had met on the 28th of December at a supper given by Haydon. This is the famous Sunday supper, or 'immortal dinner' as Haydon calls it, which is described at length in one of the most characteristic passages of the painters's Autobiography Besides Wordworth and Keats and the host, there were present Charles Lamb and Monkhouse. "Wordsworth's fine intonation as he quoted Milton and Virgil, Keats's eager inspired look, Lamb's quaint sparkle of lambent humour, so speeded the stream of conversation," says Haydon, "that I never passed a more delightful time." Later in the evening came in Richtchie the African traveller, just about to start on the journey to Fezzan on which he died, besides a self-invited guest in the person of one Kingston, Comptroller of Stamps, a foolish good-natured gentleman, recommended only by his admiration for Wordsworth. Presently Lamb getting fuddled, lost patience with the platitudes of Mr Kingston and began making fun of him, with pranks and personalities which to Haydon appeared hugely funny, but which Keats in his letter to his brothers mentions with less relish, saying, "Lamb got tipsy and blew up Kingston, proceeding so far as to take the candle across the room, hold it to his face, and show us what a soft fellow he was." Keats saw Wordsworth often in the next few weeks after their introduction at Haydon's, but has left us no personal impressions of the elder poet, except a passing one of surprise at finding him one day preparing to dine, in a stiff collar and his smartest clothes, with his aforesaid unlucky admirer Mr Comptroller Kingston. We know from other sources that he was once persuaded to recite to Wordsworth the Hymn to Pan from Endymion. "A pretty piece of Paganism," remarked Wordsworth, according to his usual encouraging way with a brother poet; and Keats was thought to have winced under the frigidity. Independently of their personal relations, the letters of Keats show that Wordsworth's poetry continued to be much in his thoughts throughout these months; what he has to say of it varying according to the frame of mind in which he writes. In the enthusiastic mood he declares, and within a few days again insists, that there are three things to rejoice at in the present age, "The Excursion, Haydon's Pictures, and Hazlitt's depth of taste." This mention of the name of Hazlitt brings us to another intellectual influence which somewhat powerfully affected Keats at this time. On the liberal side in politics and criticism there was no more effective or more uncertain free lance than that eloquent and splenetic writer, with his rich, singular, contradictory gifts, his intellect equally acute and fervid, his temperament both enthusiastic and morose, his style at once rich and incisive. The reader acquainted with Hazlitt's manner will easily recognize its influence on Keats in the fragment of stage criticism above quoted. Hazlitt was at this time delivering his course of lectures on the English poets at the Surrey Institution, and Keats was among his regular attendants. With Hazlitt personally, as with Lamb, his intercourse at Haydon's and elsewhere seems to have been frequent and friendly, but not intimate: and Haydon complains that it was only after the death of Keats that he could get Hazlitt to acknowledge his genius.
Of Haydon himself, and of his powers as a painter, we see by the words above quoted that Keats continued to think as highliy as ever. He had, as Severn assures us, a keen natural instinct for the arts both of painting and music. Cowden Clarke's piano-playing had been a delight to him at school, and he tells us himself how from a boy he had in his mind's eye visions of pictures:- "when a schoolboy the abstract idea I had of an heroic painting was what I cannot describe. I saw it somewhat sideways, large, prominent, round, and coloured with magnificence - somewhat like the feel I have of Anthony and Cleopatra. Or of Alcibiades leaning on his crimson couch in his galley, his broad shoulders imperceptibly heaving with the sea." In Haydon's pictures Keats continued to see, as the friends and companions of every ardent and persuasive worker in the arts are apt to see, not so much the actual performance, as the idea he had pre-conceived of it in the light of his friend's intentions and enthusiasm. At this time Haydon, who had already made several drawings of Keats's head in order to introduce it in his pictrure of Christ entering Jerusalem, proposed to make another more finished, "to be engraved," writes Keats, "in the first style, and put at the head of my poem, saying, at the same time, he had never done the thing for any human being, and that it must have considerable effect, as he will put his name to it." But poet and publisher were delighted with this condescension of the part of the sublime Haydon; who failed, however, to carry out his promise. "My neglect," said Haydon long afterwards, "really gave him a pang, as it now does me."

Poetical activity
With Hunt also Keats's intercourse continued frequent, while with Reynolds his intimady grew daily closer. Both of these friendships had a stimulation influence on his poetic powers. "The Wednesday before last Shelley, Hunt, and I, wrote each a sonnet on the river Nile," he tells his brothers on the 14th of February, 1818. "I have been writing, at intervals, many songs and sonnets, and I long to be at Teignmouth to read them over to you." With the help of Keats's manuscripts or of the transcripts made from them by his friends, it is possible to retrace the actual order of many of these fugitive pieces. On the 16th of January was written the humorous sonnet on Mrs Reynolds's cat; on the 21st, after seeing in Leigh Hunt's possession a lock of hair reputed to be Milton's, the address to that poet beginning 'Chief of organic numbers!' - and on the 22nd the sonnet, 'O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute,' in which Keats describes himself as laying aside (apparently his Spenser, in order to read again the more rousing and human-passionate pages of Lear. On the 31st he sends in a letter to Reynolds the lines to Apollo beginning 'Hence Burgundy, Claret, and Port,' and in the same letter the sonnet beginning 'When I have fears that I may cease to be,' which he calls his last. On the 3rd of February he wrote the spirited lines to Robin Hood, suggested by a set of sonnets by Reynolds on Sherwood Forest; on the 4th, the sonnet beginning 'Time's sea has been five years at its slow ebb,' in which he recalls the memory of an old, otherwise unrecorded love-fancy, and also the well-known sonnet to the Nile, written at Hunt's in competition with that friend and with Shelley; on the 5th, another sonnet postponing compliance for the present with an invitation of Leigh Hunt's to compose something in honour, or in emulation of Spenser; and on the 8th, the sonnet in praise of the color blue composed by way of protest against one of Reynolds. About the same time Keats agreed with Reynolds that they should each write some metrical tales from Boccaccio, and publish them in a joint volume; and began at once for his own part with Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil. A little later in this so prolific month of February we find him rejoicing in the song of the thrush and blackbird, and melted into feelings of indolent pleasure and receptivity under the influence of spring winds and dissolving rain. He theorizes pleasantly in a letter to Reynolds on the virtues and benefits of ths state of mind, translating the thrush's music into some blank-verse lines of a singular and haunting melody. In the course of the next fortnight we find him in correspondence with Taylor about the corrections to Endymion; and soon afterwards making a clearance of borrowed books, and otherwise preparing to flit.

Spring at Teignmouth
His brother George, who had been taking care of Tom at Teignmouth since December, was now obliged to come to town, bent on a scheme of marriage and emigration; and Tom's health having made a momentary rally, Keats was unwilling that he should leave Teighnmouth, and determined to join him there. He started in the second week of March, and stayed almost two months. It was an unlucky season for weather - the soft-buffeting sheets and misty drifts of Devonshire rain renewing themselves, in the inexhaustible way all lovers of that country know, throughout almost the whole spring, and preventing him from getting more than occasional tantalizing snatches of enjoyment in the beauty of the scenery, the walks, and flowers. His letters are full of objurgations against the climate, conceived in a spirit which seems hardly compatible, in one of his strong family feeling, with the tradition which represents his father to have been a Devonshire man:-
"You say what you will of Devonshire: the truth is, it is a splashy, rainy, misty, snowy, foggy, haily, floody, muddy, slipshod county. The hills are very beautiful, when you get a sight of 'em; the primroses are out, -but then you are in; the cliffs are of a fine deep colour, but then the clouds are continually vieing with them. [...] I fancy the very air of a deteriorating quality. I fancy the flowers, all precocious, have an Acrasian spell about them; I feel able to beat off the Devonshire waves like soap-froth. I think it well for the honour of Britain, that Julius Caesar did not first land in this county: A Devonshirer, standing on his native hills is not a distinct object; he does not show against the light; a wolf or two would dispossess him."

Studies and Anxieties
Besides his constant occupation in watching and cheering his invalid brother, who had a relapse just after he came down, Keats was busy during these Devonshire days seeing through the press the last sheets of Endymion. He also composed, with the exception of the few verses he had begun at Hampstead, the whole of Isabella, the first of his longer poems written with real maturity of art and certainty of touch. At the same time he was reading and appreciating Milton as he had never done before. With the minor poems he had been familiar from a boy, but had not been attracted by Paradise Lost, until first Severn, and then more energetically Bailey, had insisted that this was a reproach to him: and he now turned to that poem, and penetrated with the grasp and swiftness of genius, as his marginal criticisms show, into the very essence of its power and beauty. His correspondence with his friends, particularly Bailey and Reynolds, is during this same time unusually sustained and full. It was in all senses manifestly a time with Keats of rapidly maturing power, an in some degree also of threatening gloom. The mysteries of existence and of suffering, and the 'deeps of good and evil,' were beginning for the first time to press habitually on his thoughts. In that beautiful and interesting letter to Reynolds, in which he makes the comparison of human life to a mansion of many apartments, it is his own present state which he thus describes:-
"We no sooner get into the second chamber, which I shall call the Chamber of Maiden-thought, than we become intoxicated with the light and the atmosphere. We see nothing but pleasant wonders, and think of delying there for ever in delight. However, among the effects this breathing is father of, is that tremendous one of sharpening one's vision into the heart and nature of man, of convincing one's nerves that the world is full of misery and heartbreak, pain, sickness, and oppression; whereby this Chamber of Maidenthought becomes graually darkened, and at the same time, on all sides of it, many doors are set open - but all dark - all leading to dark passages. We see not the balance of good and evil; we are in a mist. We are now in that state, we feel the 'Burden of the Mystery.'"
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A few weeks earlier, addressing to the same friend the last of his rhymed Epistles, Keats had thus expressed the mood which came upon him as he sat taking the beauty of the evening on a rock at the sea's edge:-
'twas a quiet eve,
The rocks were silent, the wide sea did weave
An untumultous fringe of silver foam
Along the flat brown sand; I was at home
And should have been most happy, - but I saw
Too far into the sea, where every maw
The greater on the less feeds evermore. -
But I saw too distinct into the core
Of an eternal fierce destruction,
And so from happiness I far was gone.
Still am I sick of it, and tho', to-day,
I've gather'd young spring-leaves, and flowers gay
Or periwinkle and wild strawberry,
Still do I that most fierce destruction see, -
The Shark at savage prey, - the Hawk at pounce, -
The gentle Robin, like a Pard or Ounce,
Ravening a worm, - Away, ye horrid moods!
Moods of one's mind!
[Read the lines in their context]
In a like vein, recalling to Bailey a chance saying of his "Why should woman suffer?" - "Aye, why should she?" writes Keats:
"By heavens, I'd coin my very soul, and drop my blood for drachmas.' These things are, and he who feels how incompetent the most skyey knight-errantry is to heal this brised fairness, is like a sensitive leaf on the hot hand of thought."
[Read the quote in its context]
And again,
"were it in my choice, I would reject a Patrachchal coronation - on account of my dying day, and because women have cancers. I should not by rights speak in this tone to you, for it is an incendiary spirit that would do so."
Not the general tribulations of the race only, but particular private anxieties, were pressing in these days on Keats's thoughts. The shadow of illnes, though it had hitherto scarcely touched himself, hung menacingly not only over his brother but his best friends. He speaks of it in a tone of courage and gaiety which his real aprehensions, we can feel, belie. "Banish money" - he had written in Falstaff's vein, at starting for the Isle of Wight a year ago - "Banish sofas - Banish wine - Bansh music; but right Jack Health, honest Jack Health, true Jack Health - Banish Health and banish all the world." Writing now from Teignmouth to Reynolds, who was down during these weeks with rheumatic fever, he complains laughingly, but with an undercurrent of sad foreboding, how he can go nowhere but Sickness is of the company, and says his friends will have to cut that fellow, or he must cut them.
Nearer and more pressing than such apprehensions was the pain of a family break-up now imminent.

Marriage and Emigration of George Keats
George Keats had made up his mind to emigrate to America, and embark his capital, or as much of it as he could get possession of, in business there. Besides the wish to push his own fortunes, a main motive of this resolve on George's part was the desire to be in a position as quickly as possible to help, or if need be a support, his poet-brother. He persuaded the girl to whom he had long been attached, Miss Wylie, to share his fortunes, and it was settled that they were to be married and sail early in the summer. Keats came up from Teignmouth in May to see the last of his brother, and he and Tom settled again in their old lodgings in Well Walk. He had a warm affection and regard for his new sister-in-law, and was in so far delighted for George's sake. But at the same time he felt life and its prospects overcast. He writes to Bailey, after his outburst about the sufferings of women, that he is never alone now withoug rejoicing that there is such a thing as death - without placing his ultimate in the glory of dying for a great human purpose. And after recounting his causes of depression, he recovers himself, and concludes: - "Life must be undergone; and I certainly derive some consolation from the thought of writing one or two more poems before it ceases."
With reference to his poem then just appearing, and the year's work which it represented, Keats was under no illusions whatever. From an early period in its composition he had fully realised its imperfections, and had written: "My ideas of it are very low, and I would write the subject thoroughly again, but I am tired of it, and think the time would be better spent in writing a new romance, which I have in my eye for next summer. Rome was not built in a day, and all the good I expect from my employment this summer is the fruit of experience which I hope to gather in my next poem." The habit of close self-observation and self-criticism is in most natures that possess it allied with vanity and egoism; but it was no so in Keats, who without a shadow of affection judges himself, both in his strength and weakness, as the most clear-sighted and disinterested friend might judge. He shows himself perfectly aware that in writing Endymion he has rather been working off a youthful ferment of the mind than producing a sound or satisfying work of poetry; and when the time comes to write a preface to the poem, after a first attempt lacking reticence and simplicity, and abandoned at the advice of Reynolds, he in the second quietly and beautifully says of his own work all that can justly be said in its dispraise. He warns the reader to expect "great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished," and adds most unboastfully: - "it is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live."
The apprehensions expressed in these words have not been fulfilled; and Endymion, so far from having died away, lives to illustrate the maxim conveyed in its own now proverbial opening line. Immature as the poem truly is in touch and method, superabundant and confused as are the sweets which it offers to the mind, still it is a thing of far too much beauty, or at least of too many beauties, to perish. Every reader must take pleasure in some of its single passages and episodes, while to the student of the poetic art the work is interesting almost as much in its weakness as its strength.