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ENGLISH MEN OF LETTERS.
EDITED BY JOHN Morley.
A. W. Ward.
.H. D. Traill.
. Leslie Stephen. | LOCKE
..J. C. Morison. WORDSWORTH...
R. H. Hutton.
.J. A. Symonds.
.R. W. Church. GRAY.
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NOV 24 1959
WITH the name of Keats that of his first biographer, the late Lord Houghton, must always justly remain associated. But while the sympathetic charm of Lord Houghton's work will keep it fresh, as a record of the poet's life it can no longer be said to be sufficient. Since the revised edition of the Life and Letters appeared in 1867, other students and lovers of Keats have been busy, and much new information concerning him been brought to light, while of the old information some has been proved mistaken. No connected account of Keats's life and work, in accordance with the present state of knowledge, exists, and I have been asked to contribute such an account to the present series. I regret that lack of strength and leisure has so long delayed the execution of the task entrusted to me. The chief authorities and printed texts which I have consulted (besides the original editions of the Poems) are the following:
1. Lord Byron and some of his Contemporaries. By Leigh Iunt. London, 1828.
2. The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley. By Thomas Medwin. 2 vols., London, 1847.
3. Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Keats. Edited by Richard Monckton Milnes. 2 vols., London, 1848.
4. Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon. Edited and compiled by Tom Taylor. Second Edition. 3 vols., London, 1853.
5. The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt, with Reminiscences of Friends and Contemporaries. 3 vols., London, 1850.
6. The Poetical Works of John Keats. With a Memoir by Richard Monckton Milnes. London, 1854.
7. The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt.
[Revised edition, edited
by Thornton Hunt.] London, 1860.
8. The Vicissitudes of Keats's Fame: an article by Joseph Severn in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine for 1863 (vol. xi., p. 401).
9. The Life and Letters of John Keats. By Lord Houghton. New Edition, London, 1867.
10. Recollections of John Keats: an article by Charles Cowden Clarke in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1874 (N.S., vol. xii., p. 177). Afterwards reprinted with modifications in Recollections of Writers, by Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke. London, 1878.
11. The Papers of a Critic. Selected from the writings of the late Charles Wentworth Dilke. With a biographical notice by Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, Bart., M.P. 2 vols., London, 1875.
12. Benjamin Robert Haydon: Correspondence and Table-Talk. With a Memoir by Frederic Wordsworth Haydon. 2 vols., London, 1876.
13. The Poetical Works of John Keats, chronologically arranged and edited, with a memoir, by Lord Houghton [Aldine edition of the British Poets]. London, 1876.
14. Letters of John Keats to Fanny Brawne, with Introduction and Notes by Harry Buxton Forman. London, 1878.
A biographer cannot ignore these letters now that they are published; but their publication must be regretted by all who hold that human respect and delicacy are due to the dead no less than to the living, and to genius no less that to obscurity.
15. The Poetical Works and other Writings of John Keats. Edited, with notes and appendices, by Harry Buxton Forman. 4 vols., London, 1883.
In this edition, besides the texts reprinted from the first editions, all the genuine letters and additional poems published in 3, 6, 9, 13, and 14 of the above are brought together, as well as most of the biographical notices contained in 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, and 12; also a series of previously unpublished letters of Keats to his sister; with a great amount of valuable illustrative and critical material besides. Except for a few errors, which I shall have occasion to point out, Mr. Forman's work might for the purpose of the student be final, and I have necessarily been indebted to it at every turn.
16. The Letters and Poems of John Keats. Edited by John Gilmer Speed. 3 vols., New York, 1883.
17. The Poetical Works of John Keats. Arnold. London, 1884.
Edited by William T.
The Introduction to this edition contains the only attempt with which I am acquainted at an analysis of the formal elements of Keats's style.
18. An Esculapian Poet - John Keats: an article by Dr. B. W. Richardson in the Asclepiad for 1884 (vol. i., p. 134).
19. Notices and correspondence concerning Keats which have appeared at intervals during a number of years in the Athenæum.
In addition to printed materials I have made use of the following unprinted, viz. :
I. HOUGHTON MSS. Under this title I refer to the contents of an album from the library at Fryston Hall, in which the late Lord Houghton bound up a quantity of the materials he had used in the preparation of the Life and Letters, as well as of correspondence concerning Keats addressed to him both before and after the publication of his book. The chief contents are the manuscript memoir of Keats by Charles Brown, which was offered by the writer in vain to Galignani, and I believe other publishers; transcripts by the same hand of a few of Keats's poems; reminiscences or brief memoirs of the
poet by his friends Charles Cowden Clarke (the first draft of the paper above cited as No. 10), Henry Stephens, George Felton Matthew, Joseph Severn, and Benjamin Bailey; together with letters from all the above, from John Hamilton Reynolds, and several others. For the use of this collection, without which my work must have been attempted to little purpose, I am indebted to the kindness of its owner, the present Lord Houghton.
II. WOODHOUSE MSS. A. A common-place book, in which Richard Woodhouse, the friend of Keats and of his publishers, Messrs. Taylor & Hessey, transcribed -as would appear from internal evidence, about midsummer 1819-the chief part of Keats's poems at that date unpublished. The transcripts are in many cases made from early drafts of the poems; some contain gaps which Woodhouse has filled up in pencil from later drafts, to others are added corrections, or suggestions for corrections, some made in the hand of Mr. Taylor and some in that of Keats himself.
III. WOODHOUSE MSS. B. A note-book in which the same Woodhouse has copied-evidently for Mr. Taylor, at the time when that gentleman was meditating a biography of the poet-a number of letters addressed by Keats to Mr. Taylor himself, to the transcriber, to Reynolds and his sisters, to Rice and Bailey. Three or four of these letters, as well as portions of a few others, are unpublished.
Both the volumes last named were formerly the property of Mrs. Taylor, the widow of the publisher, and are now my own. A third manuscript volume by Woodhouse, containing personal notices and recollections of Keats, was unluckily destroyed in the fire at Messrs. Kegan Paul & Co.'s premises in 1883. A copy of Endymion, annotated by the same hand, has been used by Mr. Forman in his edition (above, No. 15).
IV. SEVERN MSS. The papers and correspondence left by the late Joseph Severn, containing materials for what should be a valuable biography, have been put into the hands of Mr. William Sharp, to be edited and published at his discretion. In the meantime Mr. Sharp has been so kind as to let me have access to such parts of them as relate to Keats. The most important single piece, an essay on "The Vicissitudes of Keats's Fame," has been printed already in the Atlantic Monthly (above, No. 8), but in the remainder I have found many interesting_details, particularly concerning Keats's voyage to Italy and life at Rome.
V. Rawlings v. Jennings. When Keats's maternal grandfather, Mr. John Jennings, died in 1805, leaving property exceeding the amount of the specific bequests under his will, it was thought necessary that his estate should be administered by the Court of Chancery, and with that intent a friendly suit was brought in the names of his daughter and her second husband (Frances Jennings, m. 1st Thomas Keats and 2d William Rawlings) against her mother and brother, who were the executors. The proceedings in this suit are referred to under the above title. They are complicated and voluminous, extending over a period of twenty years, and my best thanks are due
to Mr. Ralph Thomas, of 27 Chancery Lane, for his friendly pains in searching through and making abstracts of them.
For help and information, besides what has been above acknowledged, I am indebted first and foremost to my friend and colleague, Mr. Richard Garnett; and next to the poet's surviving sister, Mrs. Llanos; to Sir Charles Dilke, who lent me the chief part of his valuable collection of Keats's books and papers (already well turned to account by Mr. Forman); to Dr. B. W. Richardson and the Rev. R. R. Hadden. Other incidental obligations will be found acknowledged in the footnotes.
Among essays on and reviews of Keats's work I need only refer in particular to that by the late Mrs. F. M. Owen (Keats: A Study, London, 1876). In its main outlines, though not in details, I accept and have followed this lady's interpretation of Endymion. For the rest every critic of Modern English poetry is of necessity a critic of Keats. The earliest, Leigh Hunt, was one of the best; and to name only a few among the living-where Mr. Matthew Arnold, Mr. Swinburne, Mr. Lowell, Mr. Palgrave, Mr. W. M. Rossetti, Mr. W. B. Scott, Mr. Roden Noel, Mr. Theodore Watts, have gone before, for one who follows to be both original and just is not easy. In the following pages I have not attempted to avoid saying over again much that in substance has been said already, and doubtless better, by others: by Mr. Matthew Arnold and Mr. Palgrave especially. I doubt not but they will forgive me; and at the same time I hope to have contributed something of my own towards a fuller understanding both of Keats's art and life.