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establishment of our national honesty. There is, of a truth, nothing manly or sterling in any part of the Government. There are many madmen in the country, I have no doubt, who would like to be beheaded on Tower-hill, merely because of the sake of éclat ; there are many men, who, like Hunt, from a principle of taste, would like to see things go on better; there are many, like Sir F. Burdett, who like to sit at the head of political dinners;– but there are none prepared to suffer in obscurity for their country. The motives of our worst men are interest, and of our best vanity; we have no Milton, or Algernon Sidney. Governors, in these days, lose the title of man, in exchange for that of Diplomate or Minister. We breathe a sort of official atmosphere. All the departments of Government have strayed far from simplicity, which is the greatest of strength. There is as much difference in this, between the present Government and Oliver Cromwell’s, as there is between the Twelve Tables of Rome and the volumes of Civil Law which were digested by Justinian. A man now entitled Chancelor has the same honor paid him, whether he be a hog or a Lord Bacon. No sensation is created by greatness, but by the number of Orders a man has at his button-hole. Notwithstanding the noise the Liberals make in favor of the cause of Napoleon, I cannot but think he has done more harm to the life of Liberty than any one else could have done. Not that the Divine Right gentlemen have done, or intend to do, any good—no, they have taken a lesson of him, and will do all the further harm he would have done, without any of the good. The worst thing he has taught them is, how to organize their monstrous armies. The Emperor Alexander, it is said, intends to divide his Empire, as did Dioclesian, creating two Czars besides himself, and continuing supreme monarch of the whole. Should he so do, and they, for a series of years, keep peaceable among themselves, Russia may spread her conquest even to China. I think it a very likely thing that China may fall of itself: Turkey certainly will. Meanwhile European North Russia will hold its horn against the rest of Europe, intriguing constantly with France. Dilke, whom you know to be a Godwinperfectibility man, pleases himself with the idea that America will be the country to take up the human intellect where Eng
land leaves off. I differ there with him greatly: a country like the United States, whose greatest men are Franklins and Washingtons, will never do that: they are great men doubtless; but how are they to be compared to those, our countrymen, Milton and the two Sidneys 2 The one is a philosophical Quaker, full of mean and thrifty maxims ; the other sold the very charger who had taken him through all his battles. Those Americans are great, but they are not sublime men; the humanity of the United States can never reach the sublime. Birkbeck’s mind is
too much in the American style; you must endeavor to enforce a little spirit of another sort into the settlement, always with
great caution ; for thereby you may do your descendants more
good than you may imagine. If I had a prayer to make for any
great good, next to Tom's recovery, it should be that one of your children should be the first American poet. I have a great mind to make a prophecy; and they say that prophecies work out their own fulfillment.
'Tis the witching hour of night,
Orbed is the moon and bright,
And the stars they glisten, glisten,
Seeming with bright eyes to listen—
* For a song and for a charm,
See they glisten in alarm.
And the moon is waxing warm
Moon keep wide thy golden ears—
o, Hearken, stars and hearken, spheres 1– - a Hearken, thou eternal sky
* I sing an infant's lullaby,
N - A pretty lullaby.
Listen, listen, listen, listen, - Glisten, glisten, glisten, glisten, * . And hear my lullaby! - Though the rushes that will make Its cradle still are in the lake— Though the linen that will be Its swathe, is on the cotton tree— Though the woolen that will keep It warm, is on the silly sheep—
Listen, starlight, listen, listen,
Notwithstanding your happiness and your recommendations, I hope I shall never marry; though the most beautiful creature were waiting for me at the end of a journey or a walk; though the carpet were of silk, and the curtains of the morning clouds, the chairs and sofas stuffed with cygnet's down, the food manna, the wine beyond claret, the window opening on Winandermere, I should not feel, or rather my happiness should not be, so fine ; my solitude is sublime—for, instead of what I have described, there is a sublimity to welcome me home; the roaring of the wind is my wife; and the stars through my window-panes are my children; the mighty abstract Idea of Beauty in all things, I have, stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness. An amiable wife and sweet children I contemplate as part of that Beauty, but I must have a thousand of those beautiful particles to fill up my heart. I feel more and more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do not live in this world alone, but in a thousand worlds. No sooner am I alone, than shapes of epic greatness are stationed around me, and serve my spirit the office which is equivalent to a King's Bodyguard: “then Tragedy with scepter'd pall comes sweeping by :” according to my state of mind, I am with Achilles shouting in the trenches, or with Theocritus in the vales of Sicily; or throw my whole being into Troilus, and, repeating those lines, “I wander like a lost soul upon the Stygian bank, staying for wastage,” I melt into the air with a voluptuousness so delicate, that I am content to be alone. Those things, combined with the opinion I have formed of the generality of women, who appear to me as children to whom I would rather give a sugar-plum than my time, form a barrier against matrimomy which I rejoice in. I have written this that you might see that I have my share of the highest pleasures of life, and that, though I may choose to pass my days alone, I shall be no solitary; you see there is nothing splenetic in all this. The only thing that can ever affect me personally for more than one short passing day, is any doubt about my powers for poetry: I seldom have any; and I look with hope to the nighing time when I shall have none. I am as happy as a man can be—that is, in myself; I should be happier if Tom were well, and if I knew you were passing pleasant days. Then I should be most enviable—with the yearning passion I have for the beautiful, connected and made one with the the ambition of my intellect. Think of my pleasure in solitude in comparison with my commerce with the world: there I am a child, there they do not know me, not even my most intimate acquaintance; I give into their feelings as though I were refraining from imitating a little child. Some think me middling, others silly, others foolish: every one thinks he sees my weak side against my will, when, in truth, it is with my will. I am content to be thought all this, because I have in my own breast so great a resource. This is one great reason why they like me so, because they can all show to advantage in a room, and eclipse (from a certain tact) one who is reckoned to be a good poet. I hope I am not here playing tricks “to make the angels weep.” I think not; for I have not the least contempt for my species; and, though it may sound parodoxical, my greatest elevations of soul leave me every time more humbled. Enough of this, though, in your love for me, you will not think it enough.
Tom is rather more easy than he has been, but is still so nervous that I cannot speak to him of you ;—indeed it is the care I have had to keep his mind aloof from feelings too acute, that has made this letter so rambling. I did not like to write before him a letter he knew was to reach your hands; I cannot even now ask him for any message ; his heart speaks to you.
Be as happy as you can, and believe me, dear Brother and Sister, your anxious and affectionate Brother,
John. This is my birth-day.
WELL WALK, Nov. 24th, 1818. My DEAR RICE,
Your amende honorable I must call “un surcroit d’amitié,” for I am not at all sensible of any thing but that you were unfortunately engaged, and I was unfortunately in a hurry. I completely understand your feeling in this mistake, and find in it that balance of comfort which remains after regretting your uneasimess. I have long made up my mind to take for granted the genuine-heartedness of my friends, notwithstanding any temporary ambiguousness in their behavior or their tongues—nothing of which, however, I had the least scent of this morning. I say completely understand; for I am everlastingly getting my mind into such like painful trammels—and am even at this moment suffering under them in the case of a friend of ours. I will tell you two most unfortunate and parallel slips—it seems downright pre-intention : A friend says to me, “Keats, I shall go and see Severn this week.”—“Ah! (says I) you want him to take your portrait.” And again, “Keats,” says a friend, “when will you