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With dyke and ditch
And the hollow tree
For the buzzing bee
And 0, and O
The daisies blow
And the violets white
Sit in silver plight,
and the tenth day from that (when he was writing to Haydon) would be the 14th, which was a Saturday. Keats describes these verses as “some doggrel.” If he had gathered all their local details in the three fine days, he had not been idle ; for he had been exploring both sides of the Estuary of the Teign. Starting from Teignmouth along the right-hand bank he would come to Bishop's Teignton about three miles distant, and King's Teignton or Teignton Regis about five miles distant; and crossing the ferry at Teignmouth to get to the left-hand bank he would go through Shaldon and Ringmore to get to the village of Coomb-in-TeignHead-perhaps three or four miles from his lodgings. He could not have had his cream and barley bread close to the stream in the village proper ; but twenty or thirty years later, and onwards, there was certainly every accommodation of that kind in a group of curious old cottages perched up over the mud-banks, and known as Coomb Cellars-a favourite place for pic-nics, not so celebrated for cream as for cockles, raked out of the mud bottom of the Estuary at low tide. There were two brooks in and near Teignmouthone in Brimley Vale and the other in Coomb Vale (nothing to do with Coomb-in-Teign-Head on the Shaldon bank); but I never heard these called Arch Brook and Larch Brook. The “Wild
Then who would go
Into dark Soho,
When he can stay
For the new-mown hay,
wood” of stanza 3 answers to any of the thick plantations of Little Haldon on the Exeter road,
,-a down such as Keats describesfurze and all. Newton Abbot or Newton Bushel, about six miles from Teignmouth, lies in a marshy situation enough, though the name of “the Marsh” has been appropriated to a spot near the Railway station. The town still has, like most country towns of any consequence, a Market Street. Of the dykes, ditches &c. of “the Barton ” I can give no account, as I do not know to what particular manor-house and demesne the term was ever applied at Teignmouth. There is a touch of “local colour" in the white violets of stanza 6; for though primroses and violets are found in almost all parts of the country, white violets are not quite common about Teignmouth, but are to be found at Bishop's Teignton. It is a pity that this choice little bit of trifling should be disfigured by the false rhyme critics and Prickets. Keats does not seem to have been quite certain when he despatched his letter whether his “doggerel” had been written seriously or not ; for he resumes prose with—“I know not if this rhyming fit has done anything ; it will be safe with you, if worthy to put among my Lyrics.” We must consider these trifles worthy to go among his lyrics, in virtue of their fine sense of rhythm and their keen relish for out of door life. It is clearly to the present poem, and not to the Epistle to Reynolds, that the title Teignmouth belongs of right; and I have therefore headed it accordingly. The text has been very copiously amended from the original letter quite clearly written; and I need not detain the reader with the details of the absurd perversion of it by Mr. Taylor. But I must mention that“ Barton" as a place-name instead of “the Barton” was suspicious on the face of it, as there is no such place there; that the critics are clearly described, not as dark-haird. or as dank-haird, but as dack'd haird (=shock-headed); and that the dappled creatures are certainly not crickets but Prickets, or two-year-old deer.
THE DEVON MAID:
SENT IN A LETTER TO B. R. HAYDON.
Where be ye going, you Devon Maid?
And what have ye there in the Basket ?
Will ye give me some cream if I ask it?
I love your Meads, and I love your flowers,
And I love your junkets mainly,
O look not so disdainly.
In the letter of Saturday the 14th of March 1818, embodying the preceding verses headed "Teignmouth," this song also occurs after a prose break consisting merely of the words which Mr. Taylor printed as “There's a bit of doggrel ; you would like a bit of botheral.” What Keats wrote was no such nonsense, but “Here's some doggrel for you-Perhaps you would like a bit of B-hrell”—which is more witty than elegant, and need scarcely be translated. The first line of the song is not of the most authentic Devonian diction, though have ye and Will ye are, essentially; but these forms are always pronounced by the indigenous Devon maid have 'e and will 'e. Ye in the first and third lines is bad Devonian : it should be You ; but as u in Devonshire is pronounced as in tu (French) or übel (German) Keats may at first have taken You for Ye: indeed, in a letter to his brother Tom written from Dumfries in July 1818 (see Letters) he says—“In
And I love your flocks a-bleating-
With both our hearts a-beating !
Your shawl I hang up on the willow,
And kiss on a grass green pillow.
Devonshire they say, 'Well, where be ye going ?'”-an inaccuracy leading almost certainly to this conclusion. The late Dante Gabriel Rossetti pointed out in one of his letters to me that the first verse “is undoubtedly a reminiscence from one of the songs in Ælla beginning
* As Eleanor by the green lessell was sitting '— which again (as shown by Editors) is a reminiscence from a passage in Tom d'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy.” The stanza of Chatterton referred to is as follows :
Mie husbande, Lorde Thomas, a forrester boulde,
As ever clove pynne, or the baskette,
I have ytte as soone as I aske ytte. The parallelism lends a strong literary interest to Keats's little jeu d'esprit, seeing that within five days of the time when The Devon Maid (as I have ventured to call the song) was written, he was inscribing Endymion “to the memory of the most English of poets except Shakspeare, Thomas Chatterton",-a dedication, by the bye, which Rossetti was very anxious to see retained : it will be found along with the cancelled Preface in Volume I (page 117). Lord Houghton omits stanza 2. The text of The Devon Maid has been restored, like that of Teignmouth, from the letter : there is no doubt about any one word; and I am at a loss to understand Mr. Taylor's changes, especially divinely for disdainly, which makes good sense and good rhyme, though a licentious form.
JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.
Dear Reynolds! as last night I lay in bed,
This epistle with a few lines of introduction in prose was written at Teignmouth, and is dated the 25th of March 1818 in the Life, Letters &c., where it first appeared. Keats says to his friend“In hopes of cheering you through a minute or two, I was determined, will be nill he, to send you some lines, so you will excuse the unconnected subject and careless verse. You know, I am sure, Claude's 'Enchanted Castle,' and I wish you may be pleased with my remembrance of it.” Some thirty years ago this picture emerged from Lord Overstone's collection at Wickham Park, Bromley, and was exhibited at the British Institution. It was a favourite in Keats's circle : Hunt, in Imagination and Fancy, says of the “perilous seas in faery lands forlorn” passage in the Ode to a Nightingale, “This beats Claude's Enchanted Castle, and the story of King Beder in the Arabian Nights."