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Chapters VII. VIII. IX. and . ..........
Chapters XI. XII. and XIII. . .... .... ...... 426
MACLAREN ....... 35
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THE LIFE AND POETRY OF KEATS.
BY THE EDITOR.
KEATS was born in Moorfields, London, At school, Keats, according to the recolin October, 1795, the son of a livery- lections of Mr. Clarke and others of his stable keeper of some wealth, who had schoolfellows, was at first a perfect little attained that position by marrying his terrier for resoluteness and pugnacity, master's daughter and so succeeding him but very placable and frolicsome, very in the business. There were five chil- much liked, and, though not particularly dren, four sons and a daughter, of whom studious, very quick at learning. There John was the third. The father, who is would seem to have been more of pleadescribed as an active, energetic little sant sociability between the family of the man of much natural talent, was killed master and the scholars in the school at by 'a fall from a horse at the age of Enfield, and more of literary talk at thirty-six, when Keats was in his ninth bye-hours, than was then common at year; and the care of the children de- private English schools. At all events, volved upon the mother, a tall, large-, when, by the death of his mother, of featured woman, of considerable force of lingering consumption, in 1810, the character. There was also a maternal guardianship of Keats, his two surviving uncle, a very tall, strong, and courageous brothers, and his only sister, devolved man, who had been in the navy, had on a Mr. · Abbey, a London merchant served under Duncan at Camperdown, who had known the family, and when and had done extraordinary feats in the Mr. Abbey thought it best to take two way of fighting. Partly in emulation of of the boys from school and apprentice this uncle, partly from constitutional them to professions, it was felt by Keats inclination, the boys were always fight to be a very happy arrangement that he ing too_in the house, about the stables, was apprenticed to a surgeon-apothecary or out in the adjacent streets, with each at Edmonton, so near to Enfield, that other, or with anybody else. John, he could still go over when he liked to though the shortest for his years, and see the Clarkes. He was then fifteen the most like his father, was the most years of age. The share of the family pugnacious of the lot; but with his property held for him by his guardian pugnacity he combined, it is said, a till he came of age, was about 2,0001. ; remarkable sensibility, and a great love and his apprenticeship was to last five of fun. This character he took with years. him to a boarding-school at Enfield, From Edmonton, Keats was continear London, kept by the father of Mr. nually walking over to Enfield to see Charles Cowden Clarke, then also a boy, his young friend, Cowden Clarke, and not much older than Keats, receiving to borrow books. It was some time in his education under his father's roof. 1812 that he borrowed Spenser's “Faery
No. 13.-VOL. III.
Queene.” The effect was immediate and in the minor poems of Milton, Shakeextraordinary. “He ramped ” says Mr. speare and Chaucer, and in Spenser Clarke, “through the scenes of the throughout, and that he rarely seemed romance ;" he would talk of nothing to dwell with the same enthusiasm on but Spenser; he had whole passages by passages of fervid feeling, of severe heart, which he would repeat; and he reference to life, or of powerful human would dwell with an ecstacy of delight interest. At this time, in fact, his feelon fine particular phrases, such as that ing for poetry was very much that of of the “sea-shouldering whale.” His an artist in language, observing effects first known poetical composition (he was which particularly delighted him, and then seventeen), was a piece expressly studying them with a professional admi. entitled “In Imitation of Spenser.” ration of the exquisite. He brooded "Now Morning from her orient chamber came,
over fine phrases like a lover; and often, And her first footsteps touch'd a verdant hill, when he met a quaint or delicious word Crowning its lawny crest with amber flame, in the course of his reading, he would Silvering the untainted gushes of its rill;
take pains to make it his own by using Which, pure from mossy beds," &c.
it, as speedily as possible, in some poem From that moment it seemed as if he was writing. Ah! those days of Keats lived only to read poetry and to genial, enjoying youth, when, over the write it. From Spenser he went to fire, with a book in one's hand, one gets Chaucer, from Chaucer to Milton, and fine passages by heart, and, in walks so on and on, with ever-widening range, with one or two choice companions, through all our sweeter and greater there is an opening of the common poets. He luxuriated in them by him- stock, and hours and miles are whiled self; he talked about them, and read away with tit-bits of recent reading from parts of them aloud to his friends ; he a round of favourite poets! These are became a critic of their thoughts, their the days when books are books ; and it words, their rhymes, their cadences. is a fact to be remembered, as regards His chief partner in these tastes was literature, that one half of the human Mr. Cowden Clarke, with whom he race is always under the age of twentywould take walks, or sit up whole even- one. ings, discoursing of poets and poetry; Before Keats's apprenticeship was and he acknowledges, in one of his over, it was pretty clear to himself and metrical epistles, the influence which his friends that he would not persevere in Mr. Clarke bad in forming his literary becoming a surgeon. In the year 1816, likings. Above all, it was Mr. Clarke when he came from Edmonton to Lonthat first introduced him to any know- don, at the age of twenty, he did indeed ledge of ancient Greek poetry. This enter himself as a student at the hoswas effected by lending him Chap- pitals; but he very soon gave up attendman's Homer, his first acquaintance with ing them, and found more agreeable which, and its effects on him, are cele- employment in the society of Leigh brated in one of the finest and best Hunt, Shelley, Godwin, Dilke, Ollier, known of his sonnets. Thenceforward the painter Haydon, Hazlitt, Charles Greek poetry, so far as it was accessible Armitage Brown, and others whose to him in translation, had peculiar fasci- . names are less remembered. In this nations for him. By similar means he society of artists and men of letters became fondly familiar with some of the forming, so far as the literary ingredient softer Italian poets, and with the stories was concerned, the so-called “Cockney. of Boccaccio. It was noted by one of School," as distinct from the “ Lakists” his friends that his preferences at this of the North of England, and from the time, whether in English or in other Edinburgh men who gave both of them poetry, were still for passages of sweet, their names-Keats at once took a prosensuous description, or of sensuous- minent place, less on account of what ideal beauty, such as are to be found he had actually done, than on the pro