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PREFACE

To the name and work of Keats our best critics and scholars have in recent years paid ever closer attention and warmer homage. But their studies have for the most part been specialized and scattered, and there does not yet exist any one book giving a full and connected account of his life and poetry together in the light of our present knowledge and with help of all the available material. Ever since it was my part, some thirty years ago, to contribute the volume on Keats to the series of short studies edited by Lord Morley, (the English Men of Letters series), I have hoped one day to return to the subject and do my best to supply this want. Once released from official duties, I began to prepare for the task, and through the last soul-shaking years, being over age for any effectual war-service, have found solace and occupation in carrying it through.

The following pages, timed to appear in the hundredth year after the publication of Keats's first volume, are the result. I have sought in them to combine two aims not always easy to be reconciled, those of holding the interest of the general reader and at the same time of satisfying, and perhaps on some points even informing, the special student. I have tried to set forth consecutively and fully the history of a life outwardly

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remarkable for nothing but its tragic brevity, but inwardly as crowded with imaginative and emotional experience as any on record, and moreover, owing to the open-heartedness of the man and to the preservation and unreserved publication of his letters, lying bare almost more than any other to our knowledge. Further, considering for how much friendship counted in Keats's life, I have tried to call up the group of his friends about him in their human lineaments and relations, so far as these can be recovered, more fully than has been attempted before. I believe also that I have been able to trace more closely than has yet been done some of the chief sources, both in literature and in works of art, of his inspiration. I have endeavoured at the same time to make felt the critical and poetical atmosphere, with its various and strongly conflicting currents, amid which he lived, and to show how his genius, almost ignored in its own day beyond the circle of his private friends, was a focus in which many vital streams of poetic tendency from the past centred and from which many radiated into the future. To illustrate this last point it has been necessary, by way of epilogue, to sketch, however briefly, the story of his posthumous fame, his after life in the minds and hearts of English writers and readers until to-day. By English I mean all those whose mother language is English. To follow the extension of Keats's fame to the Continent is outside my aim. He has not yet, by means of translation and comment in foreign languages, become in any full sense a world-poet. But during the last thirty years the process has begun, and there would be a good deal to say, did my scheme admit it, of work upon Keats done abroad, especially

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in France, where our literature has during the last generation been studied with such admirable intelligence and care.

In an attempt of this scope, I have necessarily had to repeat matters of common knowledge and to say again things that others have said well and sufficiently already. But working from materials hitherto in part untouched, and taking notice of such new lights as have appeared while my task was in progress, I have drawn from them some conclusions, both biographical and critical, which I believe to be my own and which I hope may stand. I have not shrunk from quoting in full poems and portions of poems which everybody knows, in cases where I wanted the reader to have their text not merely in memory but actually before him, for re-studying with a fresh comment or in some new connexion. I have also quoted very largely from the poet's letters, even now not nearly as much read as things so full of genius should be, both in order that some of his story may be told in his own words and for the sake of that part of his mind-a great and most interesting partwhich is expressed in them but has not found its way into his poems. It must be added that when I found things in

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former small book which I did not see my way to better and which seemed to fit into the expanded scale of this one, I have not hesitated sometimes to incorporate them—to the amount perhaps of forty or fifty pages in all.

I wish I could hope that my work will be found such as to justify the amount and variety of friendly help I have had in its preparation. Thanks for such help are due in more quarters than I can well call to mind.

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First and foremost, to Lord Crewe for letting me have free and constant access to his unrivalled collection of original documents connected with the subject, both those inherited from his father (referred to in the notes as 'Houghton MSS.') and those acquired in recent years by himself (referred to as 'Crewe MSS.'). Speaking generally, it may be assumed that new matter for which no authority is quoted is taken from these sources. To Miss Henrietta Woodhouse of Weston Lea, Albury, I am indebted for valuable documentary and other information concerning her uncle Richard Woodhouse. Next in importance among collections of Keats documents to that of Lord Crewe is that of Mr J. P. Morgan in New York, the chief contents of which have by his leave been transcribed for me with the kindliest diligence by his librarian Miss Greene. For other illustrative documents existing in America, I believe of value, I should like to be able to thank their owners, Mr Day and Mr Louis Holman of Boston: but these gentlemen made a condition of their help the issue of a limited edition de luxe of the book specially illustrated from their material, a condition the publishers judged it impossible to carry out, at any rate in war-time.

Foremost among my scholarly helpers at home has been my friend Professor W. P. Ker, who has done me the great kindness of reading through my proofs. For information and suggestions in answer to enquiries of one kind or another I am indebted to Professor Israel Gollancz and Mr Henry Bradley; to Professor Ernest Weekley, the best living authority on surnames; to Mr A. H. Bullen; to Mr Falconer Madan and Mr J. W. Mackail; to Mr Thomas J. Wise; and to my former pupil and colleague Mr A. H. Smith, Keeper of Greek and Roman

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Antiquities at the British Museum. Mr George Whale supplied me with full copies of and comments on the entries concerning Keats in the books of Guy's Hospital. Dr Hambley Rowe of Bradford put at my disposal the results, unfortunately not yet conclusive, of the researches made by him as a zealous Cornishman on Keats's possible Cornish descent. I must not omit thanks to Mr Emery Walker for his skill and pains in preparing the illustrations for my book. With reference to these, I may note that the head from the portrait painted by Severn in 1859 and now in Lord Crewe's possession was chosen for colour reproduction as frontispiece because it is the fullest in colouring and, though done from memory so long after the poet's death, to my mind the most satisfying and convincing in general air of any of the extant portraits. Of the miniature done by Severn from life in 1818, copied and recopied by himself, Charles Brown and others, and made familiar by numberless reproductions in black and white, the original, now deposited by the Dilke Trustees in the National Portrait Gallery, has the character of a monochrome touched with sharp notes or suggestions of colour in the hair, lips, hands, book, etc. I have preferred not to repeat either this or the equally well known—nay, hackneyed—and very distressing deathbed drawing made by Severn at Rome. The profile from Haydon's life-mask of the poet is taken, not, like most versions of the same mask, from the plaster, but from an electrotype made many years ago when the cast was fresh and showing the structure and modellings of the head more subtly, in my judgment, than the original cast itself in its present state. Both cast and electrotype are in the National Portrait Gallery. So is

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