Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keats, John
KEATS, JOHN (1795–1821), poet, was born in London, at the sign of the Swan and Hoop, 24 The Pavement, Moorfields. These premises were occupied as a livery stable by one John Jennings, into whose service the father of the poet, Thomas Keats, had entered as a lad. Families of the name of Keats are found settled in Devonshire both north and south, and of the origin of Thomas Keats nothing is known except that he came either from that county or from Cornwall. Before he was twenty he had risen to be head ostler in Mr. Jennings's stable, and seems to have been little over that age when he married his employer's daughter, Frances Jennings. Of this marriage John Keats was the eldest offspring. He was a seven months' child, and was born on 31 Oct. 1795, according to a note in the parish register of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, where he was baptised on 18 Dec. of the same year; but family tradition, and apparently his own belief, dated his birth two days earlier, 29 Oct. Other children of the marriage who grew up were George (1797-1842), Thomas (1799-1818), and Frances Mary or Fanny, afterwards Mrs. Llanos (1803-1889). Much of our knowledge of the poet's life and character is derived from his correspondence with his brothers and sister just named.
About the time of his daughter's marriage to Thomas Keats, John Jennings, who was a man of means, retired to live in the country, leaving the business in the hands of his son-in-law. For several years the home of the young couple was at the stable in Finsbury Pavement, but by the autumn of 1801 they had removed to Craven Street, City Road. They seem to have been people of no everyday character. Thomas Keats is deseribed as a man of 'lively energetic countenance,' esteemed for his 'remarkably fine common sense and native respectability;' his wife as a woman 'of uncommon talents,' lively, impulsive, imprudent, 'passionately fond of amusement,' and oddly withal 'of a somewhat saturnine demeanour.' She was a devoted and indulgent mother, especially to her eldest child, and anecdotes are told of the passionate attachment with which he requited her. Both parents were ambitious for their sons, and John was put, apparently in his eighth year, to a school of excellent repute kept by John Clarke at Enfield, whither he was in due course followed by his younger brothers George and Tom. Very soon afterwards he lost his father, who was killed by a fall from his horse on the night of 15-16 April 1804. Within a year the widow took a second husband, one William Rawlings, described as 'of Moorgate, in the city of London, stablekeeper,' presumably therefore the successor of Thomas Keats in the management of her father's business. This marriage, which was without issue, turned out unhappily, and was quickly followed by a separation. Of William Rawlings nothing more is heard. Mrs. Rawlings went with the children of her first marriage to live at Edmonton with her mother, Mrs. Jennings, who had lately been left a widow and was comfortably off (John Jennings died on 8 March 1805, leaving a fortune of about 13,000l.) The boyhood of Keats, from his tenth to his fifteenth year, was accordingly spent in circumstances of sufficient ease and pleasantness between his grandmother's house in Church Street, Edmonton, and the school at Enfield. He was fortunate in securing the friendship of the master's son, Charles Cowden Clarke [q.v.], who was an usher in the school, and has left a vivid account of Keats's boyish character and ways. Other witnesses of his school life are his younger brother George (who was from childhood the bigger, stronger, and sedater of the two) and his schoolfellow, Edward Holmes [q.v.], author of the 'Life of Mozart.' He is described with one consent as a lad of extraordinary mettle, vivacity, and promise. Cowden Clarke says he was the favourite of all, 'like a pet prize-fighter, for his terrier courage,' and no less for 'his high-mindedness, his utter unconsciousness of a mean motive, his placability, his generosity.' Holmes dwells on 'the generosity and daring of his character, with the extreme beauty and animation of his face.' George Keats adds, what we know also from his own confession, that he was nevertheless subject from a child to secret moods of groundless suspicion and self-torment, from which he used to find relief by unbosoming himself to his brothers, but to no one else. During the first three or four years of his life at school his bent was all towards fighting and frolic; but during the following two years the love of study seized him, and he could hardly be torn from his books, not only winning all the literature prizes of the school, but devouring during play hours everything he could lay his hands on in the shape of literature, criticism, and especially of classical mythology. The acquirements which he carried away from school were a fair working knowledge of Latin and general history, with apparently some acquaintance with French, which he afterwards improved. His insight into the Greek spirit came by nature, not by learning, and he knew nothing of the language.
When Keats was about fourteen his mother, who had long suffered from chronic rheumatism, was attacked in the lungs and went into a rapid decline. The boy nursed her on her deathbed with extreme devotion. She died in February 1810, and in the July following Mrs. Jennings, then aged 74, executed a deed putting her orphan grandchildren under the care of two guardians, Mr. Rowland Sandell, merchant, and Mr. Richard Abbey, tea-dealer, to whom she made over a sum of approximately 8,000l. to be held in trust for their use. Mr. Abbey seems to have taken up from the beginning the entire responsibility of the trust. Under his authority John Keats was withdrawn from school at the completion of his fifteenth year (i, e. the end of 1810), and articled apprentice for five years to a surgeon named Hammond at Edmonton. This employment left him leisure to pay frequent visits, especially on summer afternoons, to his old school at Enfield. Here he was always warmly welcomed by young Cowden Clarke, who continued to encourage and direct the lad's studies in English literature, especially in the Elizabethan dramatists and poets. It was Spenser's 'Faery Queene' that above all roused the boyish enthusiasm of Keats, and fired him, as it has fired others at his age, with the ambition of writing poetry himself. His lines 'in imitation of Spenser' (really rather of Spenser's later imitators, such as Beattie and the more recently fashionable Mrs. Tighe) are said to have been the first he wrote, and are variously ascribed to his sixteenth or his eighteenth year. Other efforts followed, some apparently inspired by Gray, others by Tom Moore, but none showing much taste or promise. Many poets much less gifted than Keats have begun both earlier and better. 'An idle, loafing fellow, always writing poetry,' is the account of him at this time given in after-life by a fellow-student under Hammond who had never deviated into the paths of literature. Whether his rhyming propensities really interfered with his industry, or whether his sensitive pride resented some slight put upon him, the pupil and his master by-and-by quarrelled, the indentures were broken by consent, and Keats went to live by himself in London. This was late in the autumn of 1814, more than a year before his term of apprenticeship would naturally have expired. Shortly afterwards (December 1814) his grandmother, Mrs. Jennings, died. A maternal uncle, Captain Jennings of the royal navy, had died previously, in 1808. The three Keats brothers and their sister were thus left without near relations, dependent solely on the narrow-minded and (as it afterwards proved) muddling guardianship of Mr. Abbey. The orphans were bound together by an intense feeling both of family affection and family pride; John being regarded as the gifted brother who was destined to make the name famous, George as the cool-headed and practical member of the family who was to raise its worldly fortunes; while Tom was an invalid already threatened with consumption, and Fanny still a child at school (from which she was soon withdrawn to live with the family of Mr. Abbey at Walthamstow).
After breaking off his apprenticeship Keats went to live in London, and continued his surgical studies at the hospitals (then for teaching purposes united) of St. Thomas's and Guy's. For the first winter and spring he lodged alone at 8 Dean Street, Borough, and from the summer of 1814 to that of 1815 over a tallow-chandler's shop in St. Thomas's Street, with two other students, Wilson Henry Mackereth and Henry Stephens. The latter has left some interesting reminiscences of the time (manuscripts in the possession of Lord Houghton), and others (ib.) are due to George Felton Mathew, afterwards an official of the poor-law board. Keats attended the hospital lectures, went through the usual routine (one of his note-books used in class is now in the possession of Sir Charles Dilke), and proved himself to be a capable, if fitful, student of his profession. But poetry was the only thing for which he really cared. 'All other pursuits,' says Mr. Stephens, 'were to his mind mean and tame.' 'His absolute devotion to poetry prevented his having any other tastes or indulging in any vice.' The address 'To Hope' and the 'Sonnet written on the day that Mr. Leigh Hunt left prison,' both published in the collection of 1817, were written in February 1815: the posthumous sonnets to Byron and Chatterton, and the series beginning 'Woman, when I behold thee, flippant, vain,' about the same date or earlier. The famous sonnet, 'On first reading Chapman's Homer,' in which Keats's true poetical power first declared itself, was composed about midsummer of the same year, after a night's reading in the company of Cowden Clarke, who had by this time left his father's school and come to live in lodgings at Clerkenwell. To November of the same year belongs the rhymed epistle to Felton Mathew; to February 1816 the first draft of the valentine, 'Hadst thou lived in days of old,' written for Miss Georgiana Wylie, a young lady to whom George Keats was attached and whom he afterwards married. A little later in the same spring Cowden Clarke introduced Keats to Leigh Hunt. The acquaintance quickly ripened into a friendship of which the effect on Keats's mind and art was partly favourable, while that on his fortunes was wholly adverse. In Hunt's gushing yet acute appreciation of the beauties of literature, art, and nature; in his predilection for the Italian romantic and the English Elizabethan poets; in his vein of sentimental and optimistic liberalism; and in his ready kindness towards fellow-enthusiasts and fellow-aspirants in letters, there was much to attract and stimulate the younger man, if little to correct the defects or excesses natural to his temperament and training. On the other hand, inasmuch as Hunt had earned the especial hatred of official and old-fashioned critics, to be attached to or associated with him was to be assured beforehand of whatever obloquy was in the power of those gentlemen to confer.
On 3 March 1816 Keats was appointed a dresser at Guy's under Mr. Lucas, and on 25 July of the same year he passed with credit his examination as licentiate at Apothecaries' Hall. Meantime he had made his first appearance in print with the sonnet beginning 'O Solitude, if I with thee must dwell,' which Leigh Hunt printed in the 'Examiner' for 5 May of the same year. In the social and intellectual atmosphere of Hunt's home he found the encouragement towards a literary life for which he was thirsting. Among the acquaintances he made there were Horace Smith, Shelley, and John Hamilton Reynolds [q. v.] To Shelley Keats did not take quite as kindly as Shelley took to him; partly, it would seem, from some natural incompatibility of mind, partly from an undue sensitiveness on the score of their difference of birth. To Reynolds, his junior by twelve months, he on the other hand immediately attached himself, and the friendship became one of the closest and most fruitful of his life. With Reynolds's sisters, Jane (afterwards Mrs. Tom Hood), Mariane (afterwards Mrs. Green), and Charlotte, he was also before long on terms of almost brotherly intimacy. About midsummer of this year (1816) Keats left his lodgings near the hospital, and moved to others in the Poultry, in order to live with his brothers, who were at this time employed in the counting-house of Mr. Abbey; a service which they soon afterwards left. But he spent a great part of his time in Hunt's cottage in the Vale of Health at Hampstead, where a bed was always ready for him in the library. This is the
poet's house who keeps the keys
Of pleasure's temple,
celebrated in the verses entitled 'Sleep and Poetry' (published in the collection of 1817). Both this piece and that beginning 'I stood tiptoe upon a little hill' (intended as the exordium of a projected poem on the myth of Endymion) were conceived, and the former completed, at Hampstead during this summer. The fragment on Calidore, with its Induction, belongs to the same period. The sonnet 'As late I rambled in the happy fields' records an intimacy with a lad much younger than himself, Charles Wells [q. v.], afterwards author of 'Joseph and his Brethren.' This was presently broken off in consequence of a hoax which Wells played on the invalid Tom Keats (who had been his schoolfellow), and which the poet fiercely resented on his brother's behalf. During part of August and September Keats was away at Margate, where he wrote the rhymed epistles to his brother George and to Charles Cowden Clarke, with the sonnet to the former beginning 'Many the wonders I this day have seen.' The sonnet 'To my Brother,' and that beginning 'Keen fitful gusts are whispering here and there,' record his return in the autumn to the city lodging and the society of Hunt at Hampstead. From about this date commences the series of Keats's familiar letters to his friends and relations, which furnish so full and on the whole so attractive a record of his character and doings until a few months before his death. Their unique interest lies in the complete openness and sincerity with which they reflect every phase of his manifold moods and speculations, all his flaws of training with all his gifts of genius. They are written in a prose style of great facility and resource, but with no attempt at studied composition, and abound in passages of admirable beauty and insight, side by side with others of headlong nonsense and high spirits, and some that justify the taunts of those who called him 'cockney.'
Some time in November Leigh Hunt introduced Keats to the painter Haydon, to whom he presently addressed the sonnet 'Great Spirits now on earth are sojourning.' Haydon conceived an ardent admiration and affection for the young poet, which was not less ardently returned. His influence on Keats now became as great as that of Hunt, and partly antagonistic to it. The two men were on familiar but not cordial terms. Haydon's flaming egotism and ambition were accompanied by sentiments of orthodox piety, which made him look askance at the airy scepticism of Hunt, and he was constantly warning Keats against the other's vanity and light-mindedness. On 1 Dec. 1816 Hunt published in the 'Examiner' Keats's sonnet on Chapman's Homer, accompanied by an article on the poetical promise of the author, whose name he coupled with those of Shelley and J. H. Reynolds. Four others of his sonnets followed in the same periodical, 16 and 23 Feb. and 9 and 16 March 1817. From about the beginning of this winter (1816-17) his poetical vocation seems to have been sealed. He determined, not without remonstrance from Mr. Abbey, to abandon the profession of surgery, for which, in spite of some operations successfully performed, he declared that he felt himself unfitted, and to bring out a volume of his verses. Shelley, having first advised him to keep them back for the present, afterwards helped him to find a publisher. The brothers Ollier undertook this office, and the book appeared under the title 'Poems by John Keats,' with a dedication to Leigh Hunt, early in March 1817. It is full of immaturities, but also of buoyancy and promise; striking the note of rebellion against the poetical methods and conventions of the eighteenth century more vigorously than it had been struck since the publication of the 'Lyrical Ballads' twenty years before, and with this difference, that Keats, with all his crudities, shows himself instinctively more of an Elizabethan than either Coleridge or Wordsworth. His experiments in metre and diction, sometimes happy, sometimes the reverse, recall constantly the examples of Chapman (especially in the translations of Homer's hymns), of Fletcher, and of William Browne; and he is essentially akin to the poets of that age by the richness and freshness of his imaginative delight in classic fable, in romance, and in the beauties of nature. Among recent writers he shows himself most influenced by Leigh Hunt. One of Hunt's foibles was a trick of jaunty colloquialism in verse, which he mistook tor poetic ease, and this Keats unluckily caught from him for a time along with better things. On the appearance of Keats's volume Hunt proved nevertheless the most judicious as well as friendly of its critics (Examiner, 1 June and 6 and 13 July 1817). But readers in general remained quite indifferent: the book had no sale: and the publishers and author (or rather, it would seem, his brothers for him) were for the time mutually disgusted.
A few weeks after the publication of the 'Poems,' Keats, following the advice of his brothers and of Haydon, who had pointed out' how necessary it was that he should be alone to improve himself,' started without companions to the Isle of Wight (15 April 1817). He took up his quarters at Shanklin, whence he wrote the sonnet 'On the Sea' (first printed in the 'Champion,' edited by John Scott, 17 Aug. 1817), and began to work on the long poem which he had planned (abandoning the former exordium) on Endymion. According to Medwin, Keats undertook this task in friendly rivalry with Shelley, who began his 'Laon and Cythna' about the same time; but the statement wants confirmation. Messrs. Taylor & Hessey (well known as the publishers of the 'London Magazine') had agreed to bring out 'Endymion' on its completion, and in the meantime allowed Keats to draw upon them in advance, showing themselves warmly and generously his friends in this as in all their subsequent dealings with him. Finding himself nervous and sleepless at Shanklin, he moved early in May to Margate, where he was soon joined by his brother Tom. Hence the two went to spend some weeks at Canterbury, and before midsummer all three brothers were living together again, this time at Hampstead, in the house of the village postman, Bentley, in Well Walk. Here Keats soon made fast friends with two young men of literary tastes and occupations, both older than himself, Charles Wentworth Dilke [q. v.] and Charles Armitage Brown [q. v.], who had built and were occupying together a block of two houses called Wentworth Place (now Lawn Bank), at the bottom of John Street near the foot of the heath. Other frequent companions of Keats at this time were James Rice, a witty young solicitor in ill-health, the bosom friend of J. H. Reynolds; the young painter, Joseph Severn [q. v.]; William Haslam, of whom we know nothing except as a close friend of the Keats family and of Severn; and an undergraduate of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, named Benjamin Bailey, afterwards archdeacon of Colombo. The ardent and sympathetic temper of the young poet, as full of spirit as of gentleness, with the charm and promise of his genius, bound all these companions to him on terms of warm and admiring affection. In walks about the heath and neighbourhood he was accustomed to recite to them, in a voice said to have been peculiarly moving, low, and rich, his favourite passages in 'Endymion,' with which he continued to make steady progress. He declined an invitation from Shelley to visit him at Great Marlow, 'in order,' as he said. 'that he might have his own unfettered scope,' but went for the month of September and beginning of October to stay with Bailey at Oxford. From the date of this visit begins the series of the poet's letters to his young sister Fanny, to whom he was tenderly attached; but he saw little of her owing to the scruples of Mr. Abbey, who kept his youngest ward close at home at Walthamstow, disapproving of her brother's friends and occupations.
The Oxford visit passed off with extreme pleasure both to guest and host, but during its course we hear for the first time of Keats's health being in some way shaken. He had grown up broad-shouldered and well knit, though small in stature, and signalised himself (either this summer or the next) by thrashing a young butcher at Hampstead in a stand-up fight (according to George Keats, his antagonist was 'a scoundrel in livery'). Returning from Oxford early in October, he was disturbed by the unpleasant relations which he found existing between Haydon and Hunt, who were now neighbours in Marylebone, and also by some want of cordiality, exaggerated by tale-bearers, on the part of Hunt about 'Endymion.' He at the same time notices with indignation the furious attack made on Hunt in 'Blackwood's Magazine,' being the first of a series on the 'Cockney School.' The last part of November Keats spent by himself at Burford Bridge, near Dorking, where he finished 'Endymion' punctually according to the plan he had laid down for himself in the spring, and made a special study of Shakespeare's minor poems and sonnets. Returning in December to Hampstead, he was soon left alone in his lodgings, George and Tom Keats having gone to winter at Teignmouth for the sake of the latter's health. About Christmas he undertook the theatrical department of the 'Champion' during Reynolds's absence, and wrote three short articles (27 Dec. 1817, 4 Jan. 1818), of which one only, that on Kean in 'Richard III,' is remarkable. In the early part of the winter (1817-18) Keats did little work beyond seeing the sheets of 'Endymion' through the press, but enjoyed himself pretty freely in the society of his friends; not, it appears, without a certain amount of youthful excess and 'racket.' Through Haydon he became acquainted with Wordsworth, for much of whose work his admiration was enthusiastic, but who is said to have chilled him, when he had been induced to recite the 'Hymn to Pan' from 'Endymion,' by the remark, 'A pretty piece of paganism.' Godwin, Charles Lamb, and Hazlitt (whose lectures he attended regularly) were other literary acquaintances that he formed in the circle of Haydon and Leigh Hunt. Through Messrs. Taylor & Hessey he was on friendly terms with the painters Hilton and De Wint, and especially intimate with Richard Woodhouse, a young barrister of literary tastes, who seems to have acted as Taylor & Hessey's reader. In the last half of January and February he wrote a number of minor pieces, including the sonnet beginning 'O golden-tongue Romance with serene lute,' 'Time's sea has been five years at its slow ebb,' that on the Nile, written (4 Feb.) in competition with Leigh Hunt and Shelley, and the lines 'On seeing a lock of Milton's Hair,' 'To Apollo,' and 'To Robin Hood.' About the same time he agreed with Reynolds that they should each write some metrical tales from Boccaccio, and publish them in a joint volume, and himself made a beginning with 'Isabella or the Pot of Basil.' George Keats having now come to London, bent on a scheme of marriage and emigration, John determined to go and take his place in nursing their brother Tom at Teignmouth. He started in the second week of March, and stayed till near the middle of May. His chief occupations were in writing 'Isabella,' a poem which marks a great advance in maturity and self-discipline on any of his previous work; seeing the last sheets of 'Endymion' through the press, and writing for it, first a laboured preface which was cancelled at Reynolds's advice, and afterwards the admirable short one with which it finally appeared; studying the style and metre of 'Paradise Lost,' with a view to a new classical poem he had already in his mind on the subject of 'Hyperion;' and writing charming letters to his friends, including the metrical epistle to Reynolds suggested by Claude's picture of the 'Enchanted Castle.'
About the middle of May Keats brought his brother Tom back to Well Walk, Hampstead, and stayed there for five weeks. In this interval the poem of 'Endymion' appeared, and beyond a few friendly notices from sympathetic hands, including one by Bailey in the 'Oxford Review' (10 June), attracted little attention at first. The poem shows no advance on the work of the earlier volume in point of restraint and knowledge of what to avoid. Intricate profusion of invention, a cloying exuberance of detail, and the overlaying of the fable with a fantastic luxuriance of episodes, make of 'Endymion,' what Leigh Hunt justly called it,' 'a wilderness of sweets;' and the diction and versification are fuller of strained archaisms and fanciful liberties even than those of the 'Poems' of the year before. But the faults are such as arise not from defect, but from superabundance and youthful ferment, of poetical ideas and emotions; and the vital beauty of many passages and felicity of many phrases, together with the singular modesty and justice of the writer's own estimate of his work as expressed in his preface, ought to have convinced any candid reader of his gifts and promise.
Soon after the publication of 'Endymion' Keats lost for good the society of his brother George, who had determined to emigrate to America, hoping there to push the family fortunes, and taking out the chief part of the capital remaining to him under his grandmother's will. He married Miss Wylie in June, and the young couple immediately afterwards (22 June) started for Liverpool. John Keats and Brown, who had determined to go for a summer walking tour in the English lakes and Scotland, accompanied them as far as Lancaster on their way. Thence the poet and his friend started on foot, walking by Windermere to Ambleside, thence by way of Helvellyn to Derwentwater, and from Keswick by Treby and Wigton to Carlisle. Keats's unrivalled gift of intuition for the poetry of nature had hitherto been nourished, at first only on the scenery of Middlesex and Margate, and latterly on that of the Isle of Wight and Devonshire. The first sight of mountains had a great effect on him. 'Scenery is fine,' he says, however, 'but human nature is finer,' and his letters on his tour show quite as keen an eye for humanity as for landscape. The earlier part of the tour was a source of unmixed enjoyment both to him and his companion. From Carlisle they took coach to Dumfries, where Keats wrote a bad sonnet in the house of Burns, and from Dumfries walked by the Galloway coast to Portpatrick, whence they took packet to Donaghadee, but, abandoning the idea of a trip to the Giant's Causeway, came quickly back to Scotland, and walked by the Ayrshire coast and Burns's country to Glasgow: thence by Loch Lomond, Inverary, and Loch Awe to the coast again at Loch Craignish, and so to Oban, whence they made a fatiguing tramp across the island of Mull, and took boat to Staffa and Iona. Having gone from Oban to Fort William and made the ascent of Ben Nevis, they pushed on to Inverness, which they reached 6 Aug. On the course of this tour Keats kept up an active correspondence with his brother Tom, Bailey, Reynolds, and other friends, sending them the verses which he composed by the way. Some of these are mere playful doggerel, others show signs of effort and fatigue; two only, the lines on 'Meg Merrilies' and on 'Fingal's Cave,' are touched with real felicity and vigour. unfortunately, the fatigue and exposure of west highland travel as it was in those days had tried Keats's strength too much, and brought on a throat trouble from which he was never afterwards free. The doctor whom he consulted at Inverness thought badly of his symptoms, and ordered him home at once. He took sail from the port of Cromarty, and after a nine days' passage to London reached Hampstead on 18 Aug. In the meantime letters had been sent to Scotland to recall him on account of the state of his brother Tom's health, which had been fast growing worse during his absence. For the next three months and a half his chief occupation was that of a sick-nurse beside Tom's deathbed. To the strain, intense for one of his strong affections, of watching one brother die, while the other had lately been removed from him by distance, was added the annoyance caused by the insulting criticisms on his work which now appeared, first in 'Blackwood's Magazine' (August 1818), and next in the 'Quarterly Review' (April 1818, not published till September). Bailey had taken occasion to deprecate such treatment of his friend in conversation with Lockhart earlier in the summer; and Taylor is said to have called on Gifford, as editor of the 'Quarterly,' to try and propitiate him before the appearance of 'Endymion.' Such efforts were quite vain against the promptings of party rancour and a natural dislike for the poetical parts of poetry. Both articles, when they appeared, were remarkable even in those days for contemptuous virulence. That in 'Blackwood' (being the fourth of the 'Cockney School Series') has been generally supposed (on grounds of probability not amounting to proof) to be the work of Lockhart; that in the 'Quarterly' was by J. W. Croker (see Smiles, Memoir and Correspondence of John Murray, i. 481). Much has been said and written as to the effect of these reviews on the poet's mind and fate. We know from Woodhouse that at the first sting he expressed a momentary purpose of giving up literature and 'trying what good he could do to the world in some other way.' But he very quickly recovered himself, and in his letters gives the attack its true place as 'a mere matter of the moment,' adding, 'I think I shall be among the English poets after my death,' and saying that his own domestic criticism had given him pain without comparison beyond what 'Blackwood' or the 'Quarterly' could inflict. In this manly and dignified temper he remained as long as he was at all himself; but later, after experience of the injury done to his material prospects by such attacks, and when the combined effects of disease, passion, and ill-fortune had unnerved him, there is no doubt that the injustice of the critics must be counted among the other causes of trouble that rankled with cruel effect in his mind. Meantime they procured him in various quarters a good deal of sympathy privately and publicly expressed, including an anonymous present of 25ɭ. from an admirer in the west of England.
From this date (October 1818) begins the series of long journal-letters addressed by Keats jointly to his brother and sister-in-law in America. Writing as the humour seized him, and making up his packet at intervals sometimes of two or three weeks and sometimes of as many months, he strives with affectionate eagerness to prevent their fraternal intimacy being impaired by distance. He did not for any length of time abstain from verse, owning to Woodhouse that almost at the same moment when he declared his intention of giving up poetry he had been meditating on the characters of Saturn and Ops for 'Hyperion.' He began to write that poem in September as a relief from the preoccupations of the sick-room. At the same time he had a presentiment of coming agitations of another kind: 'I never was in love, yet the voice and shape of a woman has haunted me these two days; at such a time when the relief, the feverous relief, of poetry seems a much less crime. This morning poetry has conquered; I have relapsed into those abstractions which are my only life; I feel escaped from a new, strange, and threatening sorrow, and I am thankful for it. There is an awful warmth about my heart, like a load of immortality.' The attraction towards the lady here alluded to, a friend of the Reynolds's named Miss Charlotte Cox, proved merely transitory, but before many weeks had passed Keats had found his real enslaver in the person of Miss Fanny Brawne, a lively fair-haired girl of seventeen, the eldest daughter of a widow lady who had rented Brown's house at Hampstead during its owner's summer tour in Scotland, and was now living in Downshire Street close by. His first mention of her is when he writes to George in December that he thinks her 'beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable, and strange. We have a little tiff now and then, and she behaves better, or I must have sheered off.' This sentiment of mixed attraction and dislike turned during the winter into engrossing and jealous passion, which brought the poet little joy and much torment during the remainder of his days. The young lady, with her mother's reluctant consent, engaged herself to him, but seems to have had little real appreciation of his gifts, or consideration for his circumstances and temperament, and allowed herself to enter freely into social pleasures and amusements from which his occupations, and presently his health, debarred him. 'She was very fond of admiration . . . she was a flirt . . . she did not seem to care for him,' is the evidence of one who used to frequent her mother's house as a schoolboy during the engagement (see New York Herald, London edit., 12 April 1889). On all other things the most unreserved and intimate of correspondents, Keats says nothing of his love affair in writing either to America or to friends at home.
Meanwhile his time of watching had come to an end. Tom Keats died on 1 Dec. 1818, and immediately afterwards Brown proposed that John, quitting the solitude and melancholy associations of Well Walk, should come and keep house with him at Wentworth Place. This he did, and 'as soon as the consolations of nature and friendship had in some measure alleviated his grief, 'became again immersed in poetry. In December and the first half of January his main work was on 'Hyperion.' On 30 Dec. he copies for his relations in America the two lyrics, 'Bards of Passion and of Mirth,' and 'Ever let the Fancy roam.' In the second half of January he went with Brown for a fortnight's visit in Sussex, first to the house of Dilke's father at Chichester, next to that of Mr. John Snook (Dilke's uncle) at Bedhampton, close by. Here Keats wrote out his famous romantic poem 'The Eve of St. Agnes,' which had apparently been partly composed already, and began the fragmentary 'Eve of St. Mark.' Returning to Wentworth Place early in February, he was idle for a while, and then did not resume work on any long poem, but fell into a new vein, and composed, with no sanguine belief in their success or care for their preservation, several of those meditative odes which have done as much as anything else to give him his high place among English poets. The odes 'On Indolence,' 'On a Grecian Urn,' 'To Psyche,' and 'On a Nightingale' belong certainly, and that 'To Melancholy' in all probability, to the months of March, April, and May in this year. The mood which suggested the first is recorded in prose, under date 19 March, in one of the poet's long journal-letters to his brother and sister-in-law; he transcribes the ode 'To Psyche' for the same correspondents on 30 April; and Brown has told how, in the month of May, he found the poet putting carelessly out of sight behind some books the scraps of paper on which he had been composing the 'Ode to a Nightingale' as he sat in the garden the same morning. This ode was printed, doubtless at the suggestion of Haydon, to whom the poet had recited it as they walked together in the Kilburn meadows, in the 'Annals of the Fine Arts' (edited by J. Elmes) for the following July (1819). Among other literary work of these months was a short review of Reynolds's anticipatory parody of Peter Bell (Examiner, 26 April 1819); the ballad, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci,' one of the most perfect of his poems, which he copies with a laughing comment, as if it were nothing at all, for his brother on 28 April; the 'Chorus of Fairies,' for a projected mask or opera, copied in like manner some days later; the sonnet beginning 'Why did I laugh tonight?' (copied 19 March), that beginning 'As Hermes once took to his feathers light' (18 or 19 April), the two on 'Fame,' and that 'To Sleep,' with that beginning 'If by dull rhymes our English must be chained' (all copied 30 April). 'La Belle Dame sans Merci,' with the signature 'Canone,' was printed with slight alterations by Leigh Hunt a year after its composition, in the 'Indicator,' 20 May 1820.
During this interval Keats's health and spirits had both been flagging. His throat was never well; he was distractedly in love, with prospects the reverse of hopeful; the critics had brought his name into contempt with all except a small minority of independent judges: and money troubles were beginning to press hard upon him. Of the small fortune which Mr. Abbey held in trust for the orphans, a great part both of his own and his brother Tom's shares had necessarily been anticipated, and difficulties were made about dividing what remained of Tom's share after his death. Another resource, that of certain not inconsiderable legacies left to them direct under their grandfather's will, was untouched, but had to all appearance been forgotten (when these legacies were divided a few years later, they amounted to upwards of 4,500ɭ.) Keats, who had no extravagances of his own, was open-handed to his friends, and had lent upwards of 200ɭ. in various quarters, the latest borrower being the insatiable Haydon; and early in the summer his supplies from Mr. Abbey (whose own affairs a few years later proved to be in disorder) were for the time being stopped altogether in consequence of a lawsuit threatened against that gentleman by the widow of Captain Jennings. Under these circumstances, he thought sometimes of taking lodgings in London and trying to live by journalism, sometimes of giving up literature and either going to practise as a physician in Edinburgh, or else looking out for a berth as surgeon on board an East Indiaman. But Brown, who like all the poet's friends was not less impressed by his gifts, and confident of his future, than affectionately attached to his person, dissuaded him from these ideas, and advanced him means to employ the coming summer at any rate in literature. Keats accordingly went to join his friend Rice at Shanklin, where Brown soon joined them. Brown and Keats now got to work conjointly on a tragedy on the subject of Otho the Great; Brown, who had some previous experience of writing for the stage, undertaking the plot and construction, Keats the dialogue. At the same time Keats began upon a new narrative poem of his own, 'Lamia.' Finding the air of Shanklin too relaxing, the two friends, after five weeks' stay, moved (12 Aug.) to Winchester. Here Keats stayed for two months, during which (the season being peculiarly fine) he was better in health, quieter in mind, and steadier in industry than he had been for long previously, or was destined ever to be again. His letters to Fanny Brawne from Shanklin and Winchester show how great a strain his passion put on him, but in the absence of its object he was able to control himself, and to find pleasure both in outdoor nature and in work. He finished 'Otho the Great' with Brown, began by himself a new tragedy on the subject of King Stephen, finished 'Lamia,' added to the fragment of the 'Eve of St. Mark,' which had been begun at Chichester, and composed the beautiful ode 'To Autumn.' 'Hyperion' he had not touched since the preceding April, probably not since January, and now he finally made up his mind to break it off, as being too artificial and Miltonic in style. He was at the same time busy studying Italian, and writing at great length to his brother and sister-in-law in America. His letters of the end of September and beginning of October are full of manly spirit and of the determination to cease fretting, and face life bravely and sanely. He again formed a plan of living by himself in London and making a livelihood, pending some success with plays or poems, by writing for the press. 'I will write, on the liberal side of the question, for whoever will pay me. I purpose living in town in a cheap lodging, and endeavouring, for a beginning, to get the theatricals of some paper.' Dilke, who had at this time left Hampstead, and was living in Westminster, at Keats's request accordingly took for him a lodging in his own neighbourhood, at 25 College Street. Hither Keats moved about 10 Oct. But the resolutions formed with the manly and voluntary part of his nature were instantly sapped by the sources of consumptive and hypochondriac disease within him. He paid a visit to the Brawnes at Wentworth Place, and fell more hopelessly than ever under the spell of passion. To be near his love he left his lodgings at Westminster, and settled again (16 Oct.) with Brown next door to her; and from this time forth he knew neither peace of mind nor health of body again.
'Otho the Great' was about this time offered to and provisionally accepted by Elliston, the manager of Drury Lane. Crude as the play is in character and construction, it is written with great splendour and vitality of poetic imagery and diction, and the part of Ludolf might have given opportunities to Kean, for whom it was designed. But Elliston proposing to keep it over until the next year, the authors took back the manuscript, and submitted it to the management of Covent Garden, by whom it was presently returned unopened. 'The writing a few fine plays,' says Keats in a letter to his publisher 17 Nov. 1819, 'is still my greatest ambition, when I do feel ambitious, which is very seldom.' Illness and despondency were in the meantime growing on him fast. One or two piteous love-plaints in verse were addressed at this time to Fanny Brawne, and have been posthumously published. At other poetical work also be laboured for a while hard, but to little purpose. The success of Byron with 'Beppo' and 'Don Juan,' together with his own studies in Italian literature, had suggested to him the idea of writing a fairy poem with satirical touches on the events of the day. This he planned and began accordingly, under the name of the 'Cap and Bells' and the feigned authorship of 'Lucy Vaughan Lloyd,' continuing with great facility to the length of eighty-eight stanzas (in the Spenserian metre); but the work bears few marks of his genius. He at the same time took up 'Hyperion' again, and began amplifying and recasting it with an elaborate allegoric preamble in the form of a 'Vision.' The chief interest of this recast (wrongly given in nearly all editions as a first version) lies in its great inferiority to the original poem, and in the bitterness of despondency concerning the vocation and destiny of poets to which it gives expression. During these weeks he went little abroad, and the friends who came to see him began to perceive that he had 'lost his cheerfulness.' His genial house-mate Brown was especially distressed by the signs of 'rooted misery' which he observed and could do nothing to alleviate. That Keats at this time sought relief to some extent in dissipation, with a consequent aggravation of his maladies, seems certain, although Haydon's tale that 'for six weeks he was scarcely ever sober' is scouted by better witnesses. Brown testifies to the poet's occasional use of laudanum, but also to his prompt abandonment of the drug in deference to remonstrance. By Christmas 1819 Keats, having given up work both on the 'Cap and Bells' and the 'Vision,' was writing nothing, and confined almost entirely at home by ill-health. In January 1820 George Keats, whose first speculations in America had failed, paid a flying visit to England in order to extract from Mr. Abbey some of the funds divisible under his grandmother's will after Tom's death. He found John, as he afterwards recorded, 'not the same being; although his reception of me was as warm as heart could wish, he did not speak with his former openness and unreserve; he had lost the reviving custom of venting his griefs.' George left again for Liverpool, 28 Jan., taking with him 700ɭ., of which he undertook to remit to John 200ɭ. as soon as the state of his affairs allowed. On 3 Feb. Keats was seized with the first overt symptoms of consumption, in the shape of an attack of hemorrhage from the lungs, after a cold night-ride outside the coach from London to Hampstead. The scene is vividly described in Brown's manuscript sketch of the poet's life, which has been quoted in Lord Houghton's and other biographies. Extreme nervous prostration followed the attack, and Keats remained a prisoner for six or seven weeks, affectionately nursed by Brown, but forbidden at first to see any one else. With Fanny Brawne, who was still living with her family next door, he kept up a constant interchange of notes during his illness. To his sister, still living under the care of the Abbeys at Walthamstow, and to several friends he wrote also pleasantly and tenderly from his sick bed. By the end of March he began to get about again, and his friends were full of hope for his recovery. Brown started early in May for a second walking tour in Scotland, and Keats having accompanied him as far as Gravesend, returned, not to Hampstead, but to a lodging in Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town, which he had chosen for the sake of being near the Leigh Hunts, who were living in the same district, in Mortimer Street. Here he was able to work a little at seeing through the press the volume of his poems written since 'Endymion,' which he had been persuaded to bring out, and which was published by Messrs. Taylor & Hessey in the beginning of July (1820), under the title 'Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems, by John Keats, Author of "Endymion."'
By the contents of this volume Keats lives as one of the great English poets. They had all been composed in the space of little over a year and a half (March 1818 to October 1819), after the experimental stage of 'Endymion' had been passed through, and before illness and trouble had yet quite unmanned him. Their imaginative range is wide, from the pathos and grimness of 'Isabella' to the elemental majesty of 'Hyperion,' from the glowing romance colour of the 'Eve of St. Agnes' to the classical enchantments of 'Lamia,' and from these to the brooding inwardness of the meditative odes. 'I have loved,' says Keats, 'the principle of beauty in all things,' and again, 'I feel assured I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the beautiful, even if my night's labours should be burnt every morning, and no eye ever rest upon them.' 'To load every rift of the subject with ore' was his critical advice to Shelley. Charged, even loaded, with beauty as is his mature poetry, it is also singularly free from the sense of strain or effort, and seems to come as naturally (and this again is one of his own critical requirements) 'as the leaves to a tree.' For easy and assured poetic mastery much of his work in this volume stands next in English literature to that of the great Elizabethans from whom he seems lineally descended. Or if, as in 'Hyperion,' he writes rather in the key of Milton, or, as in 'Lamia,' in measures recalling those of Dryden, still it is not as an imitator, but rather as one of a kindred strain and gifts with these classics of the language. The chief English poets after him have been foremost to do him honour. Almost immediately on the appearance of the volume its true value was recognised by such judges as Lamb and Shelley. Leigh Hunt was of course, as usual, cordial and discriminating in its praise. Within a few weeks there appeared also a laudatory article (chiefly on 'Endymion') by Jeffrey in the 'Edinburgh Review.'
But such recognition came too late to give the poet comfort. Fresh hemorrhages occurring on 22 and 23 June gave proof of the progress of his disease, and were followed by an acute aggravation of nervous despondency and weakness. The Hunts took him into their house and nursed him kindly. His unhappy condition is testified by their accounts and that of their visitors, as well as his own despairing letters to Fanny Brawne. In some of these his jealous misery breaks out in suspicions against friends for whom his affection never varied, and of whose loyalty he would never have dreamed of doubting, except in such passing moments of frenzy. The delivery of a letter of Fanny Brawne's two days late and with the seal broken caused him to leave the Hunts' house suddenly on 12 Aug. He was taken in and nursed by Mrs. Brawne and her daughter at Wentworth Place. Here he passed a period of relative tranquillity, during which he made up his mind, on medical advice, to try the effect of a winter in Italy, 'as a soldier marches against a battery.' From Shelley, who had heard of his condition through the Gisbornes, he received an invitation in the kindest possible terms to Pisa. But Keats preferred the society of one of his more intimate friends, and, failing that of Brown (whom the news of his relapse had failed to reach in the highlands), determined to go with Severn, who had won the gold medal of the Royal Academy the year before, and was now about to start for Rome. Keats and Severn accordingly took passage for Naples on board the ship Maria Crowther, which sailed from London on 18 Sept. 1820. Brown had in the meantime come back from Scotland, and the friends just missed each other at Gravesend. The Maria Crowther was delayed by adverse winds in the Channel, but the voyage at first seemed to do Keats good, and landing one day on the Dorset coast, he composed in a relatively peaceful temper the sonnet 'Bright Star, would I were stedfast as thou art.' This was his last attempt in poetry, although during the remainder of the passage he spoke much of a projected poem on the subject of Sabrina. Fresh storms retarded the voyage, and it was after a month at sea that Keats reached Naples. There he was detained ten days in quarantine, during which, he says, he summoned up 'in a kind of desperation' more puns than ever in his life before. For about a fortnight after landing Keats stayed at Naples, whence he unbosomed himself of his sufferings in an agonised letter to Brown; and having declined a second invitation from Shelley to Pisa, started with Severn for Rome about 12 Nov. Dr. (afterwards Sir James) Clark had taken lodgings for them in the Piazza di Spagna, in the corner house on the right going up the steps of Sta. Trinità de' Monti. Here the remaining three months of Keats's life were spent. A delusive rally, during which his thoughts turned again to the subject of Sabrina, was followed on 10 Dec. by a violent relapse, with attendant symptoms of fever and anguish of mind bordering on delirium. Similar attacks recurred at intervals, and during one such crisis Keats entreated to be given the bottle of laudanum he had entrusted to Severn, in order that he might put an end to his own sufferings and his friend's watching. After a while becoming calmer, he lingered through January and the greater part of February, peacefully on the whole, though with intervals when Severn was almost exhausted, 'beating about in the tempest of his mind.' Severn nursed him with assiduous devotion, and has recorded the invincible sweetness of nature which he showed through all his sufferings. His chief comfort was in listening to Severn's reading and music, the book he preferred being Jeremy Taylor's 'Holy Living and Dying,' the music, Haydn's sonatas. 'When will this posthumous life of mine come to an end?' was the question with which he would habitually turn to the doctor. 'I feel,' he used to say, 'the flowers growing over me.' He asked that if any epitaph were placed over his grave, it might be in the words 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water.' On 23 Feb. 1821 the approaches of death came on about four o'clock in the morning, and at about eleven he passed away peacefully in Severn's arms.
Three days later his remains were buried in the old protestant cemetery, near the pyramid of Gaius Cestius. Through Severn's care the spot was marked by a tombstone, carved with a lyre and inscribed with the poet's name and an epitaph, including his own words above quoted. In 1875 a committee of Englishmen and Americans, headed by Sir Vincent Eyre, provided for the repair of the monument and the placing on an adjacent wall of a medallion portrait of the poet presented by its sculptor, Mr. Warrington Wood. In 1881 the remains of Severn were laid in a tomb of similar design beside those of his friend.
Miss Brawne is recorded to have been 'very much affected' by the news of Keats's death; 'because she had treated him so badly,' adds the witness above quoted. Her own words about him, as given in Medwin's 'Life of Shelley,' are kind and feeling enough. After his death she remained on intimate terms with his sister Fanny. She afterwards married a Mr. Lindo, who changed his name to Lindon, and was one of the secretaries of the Great Exhibition of 1851. She died in 1865. Her mother was burnt to death from 'her dress having caught fire at her own front door while they were still living at Wentworth Place.
Fanny Keats on reaching her majority had to put the law in motion (with the help of Dilke) in order to get from Mr. Abbey the inheritance due to her. She married in 1826 a Spanish gentleman, Señor Llanos, well known as a writer and liberal politician, and had by him two sons, one of whom followed the profession of painting, and two daughters. She died at Madrid in December 1889 (see Athenæum, 1890, p. 16).
George Keats having made, and in his latter days again lost, a good competence in business, died at Louisville, Ohio, in 1842, leaving several sons and daughters. His widow married a Mr. Jeffrey, who communicated to Monckton Milnes (afterwards Lord Houghton) an important part of the materials for his life of the poet. George Keats was esteemed by his fellow-citizens as a man of high character and intelligence. His failure to send help to his brother out of the money which he had taken from England in January 1820 was very harshly interpreted by some of the latter's friends, including Severn and Brown, who would hold no terms with him thereafter. Dilke, on the other hand, was entirely satisfied with George's explanations, and took his side. The quarrel thus arising was one of the causes which delayed the appearance of any authorised biography of the poet. Brown long purposed to bring out a 'Life,' but George Keats would not help, and even obtained, or endeavoured to obtain, an injunction to prevent him, and finally Brown emigrated to New Zealand in 1841, leaving his materials in the hands of R. M. Milnes. Taylor, Woodhouse, and J. H. Reynolds also severally entertained and abandoned the idea of writing a life of their friend. (For the character of George Keats see communication of the Rev. J. F. Clarke to 'The Dial,' April 1843, reprinted, with a selection from the letters of G. K., in Forman's 'Poetical Works of J. K.,' iv. 382. Brown's accusations against him, and the consequent quarrels and estrangements, are recorded at length in Sharp's 'Life and Letters of Joseph Severn,' chaps. iv. v. and viii. From George Keats's prompt action in paying his brother's debts after his death, from the general character he bore, from the tenor of his letters, and from the positive conclusion of Dilke as a practical man of business, the rights of the case seem certainly to be on his side against Brown, who moreover was prone to vehement prejudices.) Between the period of the poet's death and the publication of Lord Houghton's 'Life and Letters' (1821-1848) there came to prevail a one-sided view of his character, founded partly on what was known of his last sufferings, partly on the signs of excessive emotional sensibility in some of his work, partly on the language of Byron in 'Don Juan,' and most of all on the impassioned expression of Shelley's pity and indignation in 'Adonais.' The truth is that an over-sensitive and hypochondriac strain was in Keats's nature from the first, but was manfully kept under as long as health lasted. He speaks in an early letter to Leigh Hunt of his own 'horrid morbidity of temperament,' but even his most intimate friends saw nothing of it until disease, passion, and misfortune had sapped his power of self-control. When his brother George declares 'John was the soul of manliness and courage, and as like the Holy Ghost as Johnny Keats' (the puling Johnny Keats of Byron's epigrams and of public sympathy), he expresses in a nutshell a view which is confirmed by the testimony alike of Bailey, Reynolds, Brown, and all those who were his daily companions before his breakdown. 'Noble integrity,' 'conspicuous common-sense,' eager unselfishness, and sympathy for others are the qualities with which they credit him with one consent. His letters show him to have been privately critical enough, in certain moods, of the foibles of his friends, but to his unfailing sweetness and generosity in his practical behaviour to them their testimony is unanimous.
In personal appearance Keats was very striking, notwithstanding his small stature. 'The character and expression of his features,' it is said, 'would arrest even the casual passenger in the street.' The head was small and well-shaped, the hair of a golden-brown colour, very thick and curling. 'Every feature,' says Leigh Hunt, 'was at once strongly cut and delicately alive. His face was rather long than otherwise, the upper lip projected a little over the under, the chin was bold, the cheeks sunken, the eyes mellow and glowing, large, dark, and sensitive.' 'Like the hazel eyes,' says Severn, ' of a wild gipsy maid in colour, set in the face of a young god.' 'He had an eye,' says Haydon,"' that had an inward look, perfectly divine, like a Delphian priestess that saw visions.'
The principal portraits of him are as follows. Life-mask said to have been taken by Haydon, but at what date is not recorded. It may probably be alluded to in a letter of the poet to C. C. Clarke, written in December 1816 (No. iv. in Letters, &c, ed. Colvin). It is figured from several points of view in 'Poetical Works,' &c, ed. Forman, iv. p. xxxvi; see also the etching in 'Letters and Poems,' ed. Speed, vol. ii. frontispiece. Miniature painted by Severn, and exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1819. This was copied by the artist many times, both during the poet's life and afterwards. Before going to Italy he gave the original to Fanny Brawne, from whose hands it passed into those of C. W. Dilke, and is now in possession of the present baronet. Replicas belong to the same owner, to Mr. Buxton Forman, to Lord Houghton, &c. This portrait was engraved first for Lord Houghton's 'Life and Letters,' 1848, and has become the standard likeness of Keats. A life-sized version in oil, painted by Severn for the publisher Moxon, after the poet's death, is in the possession of Mr. G. P. Boyce. Another life-sized version in oil from the same type, by Hilton, is in the National Portrait Gallery. A profile drawing by Severn in charcoal is engraved in Leigh Hunt's 'Lord Byron and his Contemporaries,' 1828, and reproduced in facsimile in 'Poetical Works,' &c, ed. Forman, 1883, vol. iii., frontispiece. A chalk drawing, three-quarters length, by Hilton, was engraved by C. Watt, 1841, and published first by Taylor & Walton as frontispiece to an edition of the 'Poems' dated 1840, and again in Lord Houghton's 'Life,' 2nd edit. 1867, and in 'Poetical Works,' &c, ed. Forman, vol. ii., frontispiece; the original or a replica was lately in the hands of Mr. J. E. Taylor of 20 Palace Gardens. The pen-sketch in profile by Hay don in his 'Journal' for November 1816, intended for his picture of 'Christ's Entry into Jerusalem,' was reproduced in 'Poetical Works,' &c., ed. Forman, iii. 44. Silhouette, executed in 1818 or 1819; figured in Sharp's 'Life and Letters of Joseph Severn,' p. 34. Of the pencil drawing of Keats on his deathbed, done by Severn 28 Jan. 1821, several replicas exist: it was etched by W. Scott in 'Letters to Fanny Brawne,' ed. Forman, 1878, and again in 'Poetical Works,' &c, ed. Forman, vol. iv., frontispiece, and in 'Letters and Poems,' ed. Speed, ii. p. xxxvi. Small full-length portraits in oils were painted after his death by Severn in 1823, and are in the National Portrait Gallery. A medallion by Girometti, also posthumous, was engraved on wood for an edition of the 'Poems,' 1854; a plaster cast is in the possession of Sir Charles Dilke. An oil-painting by Hilton is in the possession of Miss Tatlock, Bramfield House, Suffolk.
The dates of publication of Keats's writings which appeared during his lifetime are given above. Those which have appeared posthumously are to be found in the 'Life and Letters' by Lord Houghton, and other authorities quoted in the following list.
[Journal of the Conversations of Lord Byron, &c, by Medwin, 1824; Lord Byron and some of his Contemporaries, by Leigh Hunt, 1828; Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, Galignani, 1829 (includes the first collected edition of Keats's Poems, with a memoir founded on the preceding); Medwin's Life of Shelley, 1847; Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Keats, edited by Richard Monckton Milnes, 1848 (the first detailed and authoritative account, compiled from information and manuscript material, original and other, furnished principally by Brown, C. C. Clarke, Taylor, Severn, and Jeffrey, including transcripts of the chief part of the poet's correspondence, and autographs or transcripts of most of tho poems unpublished during his lifetime); new and completely revised edition of the same, 1867; Autobiography of Leigh Hunt, 1850; revised edition of the same, 1860; Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, by Tom Taylor, 1853; Poetical Works of John Keats, with Memoir by R. M. Milnes (Lord Houghton), 1854; new edition of the same, 1861; Miscellanies of the Philobiblon Society, 1856-7 (first publication by Lord Houghton of the recast of Hyperion); Atlantic Monthly, 1863, p. 401 (article by Severn on the Vicissitudes of Keats's Fame); Gent. Mag. 1874 (Recollections of John Keats by C. C. Clarke, reprinted with alterations in Recollections of Writers, by C. and M. C. Clarke, 1878); Papers of a Critic (C. W. Dilke), 1875; Haydon's Correspondence and Table Talk, 1876; Poetical Works of J. K., arranged and edited with a Memoir by Lord Houghton (Aldine edition), 1876; Letters of John Keats to Fanny Brawne, with Introduction and Notes, by H. B. Forman, 1878 (the first publication of these letters); Poetical Works and other Writings of John Keats, edited, with Notes and Appendices, by H. B. Forman, 1883 (an elaborate and comprehensive work in 4 vols., including all poems, letters, and literary remains previously published, in many cases collated with the autographs, with the addition of new minor poems, the letters to Fanny Keats, letters by Severn and George Keats, and a reprint of early reviews, biographical notices, &c.); reissue of the same with the addition of new matter, 1889; Letters and Poems of John Keats, edited by J. G. Speed (an American grandnephew of the poet), 1883; Poetical Works of J. K., with notes by F. T. Palgrave (Golden Treasury Series), 1884; Poetical Works, edited by J. T. Arnold (with valuable preface on the sources of K.'s vocabulary and diction); The Asclepiad, 1884, p. 134 (article by Dr. B. W. Richardson on an Æsculapian Poet, John Keats); various articles and communications in the Athenæum; Life of Keats by W. M. Rossotti, 1887 (bibliography by J. P. Anderson); Keats, by Sidney Colvin (English Men of Letters Series), 1887; Letters of J. K. to his Family and Friends, edited by Sidney Colvin, 1891; manuscript materials used in preparing the two volumes last named, including proceedings in chancery suit, 'Rawlings v. Jennings,' 1805-25, Brown's sketch of Keats's Life, correspondence of Brown, Bailey, Severn, H. Stephen, G. F. Mathew, C. C. Clarke, and others with Lord Houghton, transcripts of Keats's Letters and Poems by Woodhouse; autographs of the chief part of the Letters to America, and Jeffrey's transcripts of the rest; private correspondence; W. Sharp's Life and Letters of Joseph Severn, 1892.]