with intolerance, even though it helped so valuable a life to fall into a hereditary consumption. The fact of the matter is that, somehow or other, an Oriental as well as a Greek strain had passed into the child of Finsbury parents; and if we have the supreme advantage of a romantic colour and warmth throughout a great part of the poetry left by this wondrously gifted youth, we must be content to take with it the prevalent temperament of the lovers in oriental romances and tales, who faint as a matter of course under due provocation, very much to the surprise of a northerly reader not previously acquainted with their customs. Strange and occult things happen now and again in the building up of men of genius; but I do not know that the presence, in a London child of unremarkable parents, of clear emanations from the spirit of Greek mythology and the spirit of Eastern romance is more wonderful than the transfusion of the sublimated essence of the French revolution into the veins of Shelley, the scion of a long line of Sussex squires, or the perfect intuition of medieval romance life displayed by Thomas Chatterton, the descendant of a line of Bristol sextons.

For want of a better opportunity, I am fain to add here some stray items gathered in the course of enquiries among Keats's friends. Miss Charlotte Reynolds tells me that he was passionately fond of music, and would sit for hours while she played the piano to him. It was to a Spanish air which she used to play that the song

"Hush, hush! tread softly!" was composed; and so sensitive was he to proper execution, that, when a wrong note has been played in a public performance, he has been known to say that he would like to "go down into the orchestra and smash all the fiddles."

One of Mr. Dilke's reminiscences of Keats, the tradition of which has been kept alive by Mr. John Snook of Belmont Castle, has a curious bearing on the poet's faith in immortality, and indicates a belief at one time even in metempsychosis. After the death of Thomas Keats, a white rabbit came into the garden of Mr. Dilke, who shot the creature. Keats declared that the poor thing was his brother Tom's spirit; and so earnest was he in this view, impressing it upon others of the circle, that when the rabbit was put on table, no one could look at it, and it was immediately ordered to be removed.

The following document is said to have been sent by Keats to a friend in August 1820, just before his departure for Italy, with the intention that, in the worst event, it should have effect as his last will and testament. I find it transcribed among the papers of Sir Charles Dilke, but without any indication of the source, or of the authority on which it rests; but it has an air of genuineness; and Sir Charles Dilke does not doubt its authenticity.

"My share of books divide amongst my friends. In case of my death this scrap of paper may be serviceable in your possession.

"All my estate real and personal consists in the hopes of the sale of books, published or unpublished. Now I

wish and you to be the first paid Creditors—the rest is in nubibus; but in case it should shower, paythe few pounds I owe him."

It only remains to record my acknowledgments for help of all kinds received during the progress of my work. Not only have I been very largely assisted with the loan and use of original documents by and about Keats, and with free permissions to avail myself of various copyright works both principal and related; but I have found all those who knew Keats or who are related to members of his circle willing to render assistance by corresponding with me on moot points; and several friends and correspondents have given me material help by making references, copies, and enquiries for me during occasional absences from town,-by reading proofs, and even in some instances by making translations from various languages by way of illustration. Numerous instances of help in one or another of the afore-mentioned kinds will be found named in their particular places in these volumes; but it is fitting to set down here my hearty sense of the kindnesses I have experienced; and I beg that if, through mischance, any kind friend or correspondent is omitted from the list, he will believe that he has my cordial thanks none the less. Those, then, to whom I desire to record my obligations are, Señora Fanny Keats de Llanos and her son Señor

[ocr errors]

Juan Keats y Llanos, the late Joseph Severn, the Right Honourable Sir Charles Dilke, Baronet, M.P., the Right Honourable Lord Houghton, the late Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frank Scott Haydon, Esq., Frederick Wordsworth Haydon, Esq., John Taylor, Esq., John Metivier, Esq., of the British Museum, Richard Garnett, Esq., Frederick Locker, Esq., John Payne, Esq., Messrs. Henry Sotheran & Co., William Dilke, Esq., of Chichester, John Snook, Esq., of Belmont Castle, Miss Charlotte Reynolds, Mrs. Charles Cowden Clarke, Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., R. C. Day, Esq., J. Dykes Campbell, Esq., Captain Clark, of Holland House, my brother Alfred Forman, Philip Bourke Marston, Esq., R. F. Sketchley, Esq., the Venerable Archdeacon Hessey, the Rev. G. R. Gleig, late Chaplain General of the Forces, Alexander Ireland, Esq., Dr. Reinhold Köhler, R. A. Potts, Esq., W. B. Scott, Esq., J. George Wilmot, Esq., Miss Violet Paget, and Miss Emma Lazarus.



October 1883.



THE portraits of Keats reproduced in the present edition have been chosen as characteristic and valuable representations of the poet in different aspects, done from the life. The number here given does not exhaust the list of portraits for which Keats actually sat, nor does it include any of the reminiscent compositions of which so many were produced after his death.

The most important of the portraits is unquestionably the miniature painted by Severn and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819. This Severn repeated several times; and Sir Charles Dilke has had no less than three examples of the miniature, of which he still possesses two. The first, that for which Keats actually sat, was given by the poet to Fanny Brawne before his departure for Italy, and eventually passed into the hands of Sir Charles Dilke's grandfather. This is to all intents and purposes the portrait which appeared in the Life, Letters &c. of 1848, which forms the frontispiece to more than one of Lord Houghton's editions of Keats's poetry, and which is given in Volume I of the present edition. The plate used by Lord Houghton was actually engraved from a copy which Severn made for Mr. Dilke; and the plate used for the present edition has been done by the photo-intaglio process from a miniature in my own pos



« 上一页继续 »