Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

MEMOIR.

[graphic]

more

HE Life, Letters, and Literary Re.

mains of John Keats," published first in 1848, and in a complete form in 1867, contained

the biography of the poet, mainly conveyed in the language of his own correspon. dence. The writer had little more to do than to arrange and collect letters, freely supplied to him by kinsmen and friends, and leave them to tell as sad, and at the same time as ennobling, a tale of life as ever has engaged the pen of poetic fiction. But these volumes can scarcely be in the hands of all to whose hours of study or enjoyment the Poems of Keats may find ready access, and a brief abstract may suffice to indicate to the reader the outward circumstances that derive their interest from an association with genius and misfortune.

The publication of three small volumes of verse, some earnest friendships, one profound passion, and a premature death, are the chief incidents here to be recorded-ordinary, indeed, and common to many men whose names have passed, and are passing, away, and here only notable as illustrat. ing the wonderful nature and progress of certain. mental faculties, and as exhibiting a character which inspires the deepest human sympathy,

amidst all its claims on our admiration ; and some details of his short literary history are necessary to show that his faculty of verse had nothing in common with that lyrical facility, which is so often the pride and disappointment of youth, but that it was a rare imaginative power, which would have grown with the advance of time, and prospered by every opportunity of cultivation.

John Keats was born on the 29th of October, 1795. His maternal grandfather, of the name of Jennings, was the proprietor of a large livery. stable in Moorfields, and his father, the head servant, who had married his master's daughter, after the fashion of Hogarth's honest apprentice, was killed by a fall from his horse in 1804, leaving his widow with three boys and one girl, and with sufficient means to give them a good education. Of these John was the eldest, George the next, and Thomas the youngest. The daughter Fanny was much younger.

John resembled his father in features and stature, while the two brothers were more like their mother, who was tall, and had a large oval face and a somewhat saturnine demeanour. She must, however, have inspired her children with affection, for, on an occasion of illness, John, when between four auid five years old, placed himself as a sentinel at her door, with an old sword he had picked up, and remained there for hours, that she might not be disturbed; and at her death, which occurred when he was at school, he hid himself for several days in a nook under the master's desk, passionately inconsolable.

There had been a question of his going to Harrow, but it was thought too expensive, and he was sent to Mr. Clarke's establishment at Enfield,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »