He was often in the subject and out of it, in a dreamy way. He never attached much consequence to his own studies in medicine, and indeed looked upon the medical career as the career by which to live in a workaday world, without being certain that he could keep up the strain of it. He nevertheless had a consciousness of his own powers, and even of his own greatness, though it might never be recognised Poetry was to his mind the zenith of all his aspirations: the only thing worthy the attention of superior minds: so he thought: all other pursuits were mean and tame.
He had no idea of fame or greatness but as it was connected with the pursuits of poetry, or the attainment of poetical excellence. The greatest men in the world were the poets and to rank among them was the chief object of his ambition. It may readily be imagined that this feeling was accompanied with a good deal of pride and conceit, and that amongst mere medical students he would walk and talk as one of the Gods might be supposed to do when mingling with mortals. This pride exposed him, as may be readily imagined, to occasional ridicule, and some mortification.
Having a taste and liking for poetry myself, though at that time but little cultivated, he regarded me as something a little superior to the rest, and would gratify himself frequently by showing me some lines of his writing, or some new idea which he had struck out. We had frequent conversation on the merits of particular poets, but our tastes did not agree. He was a great admirer of Spenser, his Faerie Queene was a great favourite with him. Byron was also in favour, Pope he maintained was no poet, only a versifier. He was fond of imagery, the most trifling similes appeared to please him.
Sometimes I ventured to show him some lines which I had written, but I always had the mortification of hearing them condemned, indeed he seemed to think it presumption in me to attempt to tread along the same pathway as himself at however humble a distance. He had two brothers, who visited him frequently, and they worshipped him. They seemed to think their brother John 32 was to be exalted, and to exalt the family name.
Newmarsh or Newmarch I forget which was his name was a classical scholar, as was Keats, and therefore they scanned freely the respective merits of the Poets of Greece and Rome. Whenever Keats showed Newmarch any of his poetry it was sure to be ridiculed and severely handled. Newmarch was a light-hearted and merry fellow, but I thought he was rather too fond of mortifying Keats, but more particularly his brothers, as their praise of their brother John amounted almost to idolatry, and Newmarch and they frequently quarrelled.
In my syllabus of chemical lectures he scribbled many lines on the paper cover.
the parables Manual
This cover has been long torn off, except one small piece on which is the following fragment of doggrel rhyme:—. This is all that remains, and is the only piece of his writing which is now in my possession. He was gentlemanly in his manners and when he condescended to talk upon other subjects he was agreeable and intelligent.
He was quick and apt at learning, when he chose to give his attention to any subject. He was a steady quiet and well behaved person, never inclined to pursuits of a low or vicious character. The last words need to be read in the light of the convivial snatch of verse quoted just above. Keats in these days was no rake, indeed, but neither was he a puritan: his passions were strong in proportion to the general intensity of his being: and his ardent absorption in poetry and study did not save him from the risks and slips incident to appetite and hot blood.
And here is a quaint fragment which he one evening 33 scribbled in our presence, while the precepts of Sir Astley Cooper fell unheeded on his ear. Way, who turns the tale in couplets of this style:—.
Indie Book of The Day Award
Beginning from both ends, he has made notes of an anatomical and also of a surgical course, which are not those of a lax or inaccurate student, but full and close as far as they go; only squeezed into the margins of one or two pages there are signs of flagging attention in the shape of sketches, rather prettily touched, of a pansy and other flowers.
After the first weeks of autumn gloom spent in solitary 34 lodgings in the dingiest part of London, Keats expresses, in a rimed epistle to Felton Mathew, the fear lest his present studies and surroundings should stifle the poetic faculty in him altogether. About the same time he takes pains to get into touch again with Cowden Clarke, who had by this time left Enfield and was living with a brother-in-law in Clerkenwell. At all events, let me hear from you soon: I say, at all events, not excepting the gout in your fingers.
Some of the sonnets recorded to have belonged to the year , as Woman, when I behold thee, Happy is England , may have been written in London at the close of that year: a number of others, showing a gradually strengthening touch, belong, we know, to the spring and early summer of the next.
Cowden Clarke had kept up his acquaintance with 35 Leigh Hunt, and was in the habit of going up to visit him at the cottage where he was now living at Hampstead, in the Vale of Health. Both Clarke and Hunt have told the story, both writing at a considerable, and Clarke at a very long, interval after the event. In their main substance the two accounts agree, but both are in some points confused, telescoping together, as memory is apt to do, circumstances really separated by an interval of months.
Here is his story of what happened. I took with me two or three of the poems I had received from Keats. I could not but anticipate that Hunt would speak encouragingly, and indeed approvingly, of the compositions—written, too, by a youth under age; but my partial spirit was not prepared for the unhesitating and prompt admiration which broke forth before he had read twenty lines of the first poem.
Horace Smith happened to be there on the occasion, and he was not less demonstrative in his appreciation of their merits After making numerous and eager inquiries about him personally, and with reference to any peculiarities of mind and manner, the visit ended in my being requested to bring him over to the Vale of Health. As we approached the Heath, there was the rising and accelerated step, with the gradual subsidence of all talk.
To Mr Clarke I was indebted for my acquaintance with him. I shall never forget the impression made upon me by the exuberant specimens of genuine though young poetry that were laid before me, and the promise of which was seconded by the fine fervid countenance of the writer. We read and walked together, and used to write verses of an evening on a given subject.
I think it is quite clear, on the contrary, that Clarke had taken Keats up to Hampstead by the end of May or some time in June. Unmistakeable impressions of summer strolls there occur in his poetry of the next few months. For part of August and September he had been away at Margate, apparently alone.
A couple of rimed epistles addressed during this holiday to his brother George and to Cowden Clarke breathe just such a heightened joy of life and happiness of anticipation as would be natural in one who had lately felt the first glow of new and inspiriting personal sympathies.
To George, besides the epistle, he addressed a pleasant sonnet on the wonders he has seen, the sea, the sunsets, and the world of poetic glories and mysteries vaguely evoked by them in his mind. The sharp, the rapier-pointed epigram? Some of these lines are merely feeble and boyish, but some show a fast ripening, nay an almost fully ripened, critical feeling for the poetry of the past.
This experience, as every reader knows, was instantly celebrated by him in a sonnet, classical now almost to triteness, which is his first high achievement, and one of the masterpieces of our language in this form. It was the property of Mr. Alsager, the gentleman who for years had contributed no small share of celebrity to the great reputation of the Times newspaper by the masterly manner in which he conducted the money-market department of that journal One scene I could not fail to introduce to him—the shipwreck of Ulysses, in the fifth book of the Odysseis , and I had the 40 reward of one of his delighted stares, upon reading the following lines:—.
The whole of the above is a typical case of what I have called the telescoping action of memory. Recollections not of one, but of many, Homer readings are here compressed into a couple of paragraphs. I quote his words for the sake of the excellent concluding phrase. This intimacy was really the opening of a new chapter both in his intellectual and social life. A few years later he came into notice as a theatrical critic, being then a clerk in the War Office: an occupation which he abandoned at twenty-four in in order to take part in the conduct of the Examiner newspaper, then just founded by his brother John Hunt.
For nearly five years the brothers Hunt, as manager and editor of that journal, helped to fight the losing battle of liberalism, in those days of tense grapple with the Corsican ogre abroad and stiff re-action and repression at home, with a dexterous brisk audacity and an unflinching sincerity of conviction.
Susan Schreyer, Author of The Thea Campbell Mysteries
So far they had escaped the usual penalty of such courage. Several prosecutions directed against them failed, but at last, late in , they were caught tripping. To go as far as was safely possible in satire of the follies and vices of the Prince Regent was a tempting exercise to the reforming spirits of the time.
Leigh Hunt bore himself in his captivity with cheerful fortitude, suffering severely in health but flagging little in spirits or industry. He decorated his apartment in Horsemonger Lane Gaol with a rose-trellis paper and a ceiling to imitate a 43 summer sky, so that it looked, said Charles Lamb, like a room in a fairy tale, and spent money which he had not got in converting its backyard into a garden of shrubs and flowers. Very early in life Hunt had been received into a family called Kent at the instance of an elder daughter who greatly admired him.
Not long afterwards he engaged himself to her younger sister, then almost a child, and married her soon after the Examiner was started. She proved a prolific, thriftless woman and ill housekeeper, but through all the rubs and pinches of his after years he was ever an affectionate husband and father.
His wife was allowed to be with him in prison, and there they received the visits of many friends old and new. Liberal statesmen, philosophers, and writers, including characters so divers as Bentham and Byron, Brougham and Hazlitt, James Mill and Miss Edgeworth, Tom Moore and Wilkie the painter, pressed to offer this victim of political persecution their sympathy and society.
Charles Lamb and his sister were the most constant of all his visitors. Tom Moore, who both before and after the sentence on the brothers Hunt managed in his series of verse skits, The Twopenny Post Bag , to go on playing with impunity the game of Prince-Regent-baiting,—the light-hearted Tom Moore joined in deepest earnest the chorus of sympathy with the prisoners:—.