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sensibility, sharpened by mortal illness, tended to a morbid excess. His region is “a wilderness of sweets,"

-flowers of all hue, and “weeds of glorious feature,”– where, as he says, the luxuriant soil brings

The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth.

But there also is the “rain-scented eglantine," and bushes of May-flowers, with bees, and myrtle, and bay, -and endless paths into forests haunted with the loveliest as well as gentlest beings; and the gods live in the distance, amid notes of majestic thunder. I do not say that no "surfeit" is ever there; but I do, that there is no end of the “nectared sweets." In what other English poet (however superior to him in other respects) are you so certain of never opening a page without lighting upon the loveliest imagery and the most eloquent expressions? Name one. Compare any succession of their pages at random, and see if the young poet is not sure to present his stock of beauty; crude it may be, in many instances; too indiscriminate in general ; never, perhaps, thoroughly perfect in cultivation ; but there it is, exquisite of its kind, and filling envy with despair. He died at five-andtwenty ; he had not revised his earlier works, nor, given his genius its last pruning. His Endymion in resolving to be free from all critical trammels, had no versification ; and his last noble fragment, Hyperion, is not faultless,but it is nearly so. The Eve of St. Agnes betrays morbidity only in one instance (noticed in the comment). Even in his earliest productions, which are to be considered as those of youth just emerging from boyhood, are to be found passages of as masculine a beauty as ever were written. Witness the Sonnet on reading Chapman's Homer,-epical in the splendour and dignity of its images, and terminating with the noblest Greek sim

plicity. Among his finished productions, however, of any length, the Eve of St. Agnes still appears to me the most delightful and complete specimen of his genius. It stands mid-way between his most sensitive ones (which, though of rare beauty, occasionally sink into feebleness) and the less generally characteristic majesty of the fragment of Hyperion. Doubtless his greatest poetry is to be found in Hyperion; and had he lived, there is as little doubt he would have written chiefly in that strain; rising superior to those languishments of love which made the critics so angry, and which they might so easily have pardoned at his time of life. But the Eve of St. Agnes had already bid most of them adieu,-exquisitely loving as it is. It is young, but full-grown poetry of the rarest description ; graceful as the beardless Apollo; glowing and gorgeous with the colours of romance. I have therefore reprinted the whole of it in the present volume, together with the comment alluded to in the Preface ;' especially as, in addition to felicity of treatment, its subject is in every respect a happy one, and helps to "paint” this our bower of “poetry with delight.” Melancholy, it is true, will “break in " when the reader thinks of the early death of such a writer ; but it is one of the benevolent provisions of nature, that all good things tend to pleasure in the recollection, when the bitterness of their loss is past, their own sweetness embalms them.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. While writing this paragraph, a hand-organ out-ofdoors has been playing one of the mournfullest and loveliest of the airs of Bellini-another genius who died

1 The comment is that given in this edition in the form of footnotes. The allusion in Hunt's Preface is to the original appearance of the comment in his London Journal,

young. The sound of music always gives a feeling either of triumph or tenderness to the state of mind in which it is heard ; in this instance it seemed like one departed spirit come to bear testimony to another, and to say how true indeed may be the union of sorrowful and sweet recollections.

Keats knew the youthful faults of his poetry as well as any man, as the reader may see by the preface to Endymion, and its touching though manly acknowledgment of them to critical candour. I have this moment read it again, after a lapse of years, and have been astonished to think how any body could answer such an appeal to the mercy of strength, with the cruelty of weakness. All the good for which Mr. Gifford pretended to be zealous, he might have effected with pain to no one, and glory to himself; and therefore all the evil he mixed with it was of his own making. But the secret at the bottom of such unprovoked censure is exasperated inferiority. Young poets, upon the whole, -at least very young poets,—had better not publish at all. They are pretty sure to have faults; and jealousy and envy are as sure to find them out, and wreak upon them their own disappointments. The critic is often an unsuccessful author, almost always an inferior one to a man of genius, and possesses his sensibility neither to beauty nor to pain. If he does,-if by any chance he is a man of genius himself (and such things have been), sure and certain will be his regret, some day, for having given pains which he might have turned into noble pleasures; and nothing will console him but that very charity towards himself, the grace of which can only be secured to us by our having denied it to no one.'

Allusion, of course, is not here made to all the critics of the

Let the student of poetry observe, that in all the luxury of the Eve of St. Agnes there is nothing of the conventional craft of artificial writers; no heaping up of words or similes for their own sakes or the rhyme's sake; no gaudy common-places; no borrowed airs of earnestness; no tricks of inversion ; no substitution of reading or of ingenious thoughts for feeling or spontaneity; no irrelevancy or unfitness of any sort. All flows out of sincerity and passion. The writer is as much in love with the heroine as his hero is; his description of the painted window, however gorgeous, has not an untrue or superfluous word; and the only speck of a fault in the whole poem arises from an excess of emotion.

time, but only to such reigning reviewers as took earliest and most frequent notice of Keats. The Edinburgh Review, though not quick to speak of him, did so before he died, with a fervour of eulogy at least equal to its objections; and I think I may add, that its then distinguished Editor (now a revered ornament of the Scottish bench) has since felt his admiration of the young poet increase, instead of diminish. [HUNT'S NOTE.]


(11 Decamerone, Giornata iv, novella 5)

done into English


THE ARGUMENT.- Isabella's brothers slay her lover, who appears

to her in a dream and shows her where he is buried; whereupon she privily disenters his head and sets it in a pot of basil. Thereover making moan a great while every day, her brothers

take it from her and she for grief dies a little thereafterward. ELIZA'S tale being ended and somedele commended of the King, Philomena was bidden to discourse, who, full of compassion for the wretched Gerbino and his mistress, after a piteous sigh, began thus—“My story, gracious ladies, will not treat of folk of so high condition as were those of whom Eliza has told, yet peradventure it will be no less pitiful ; and what brought me in mind of it was the mention, a little before, of Messina, where the case befell.

There were then in Messina three young brothers, merchants and left very rich by their father, who was a man of San Gimignano, and they had a sister, Isabella by name, a right fair and well-mannered maiden, whom, for whatever reason, they had not yet married. Now these brothers had in one of their warehouses a youth of Pisa, called Lorenzo, who did and ordered all their

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