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LONDON 1 BRADBURY AND IVANS. PRINTERS, WHITBFRIAKS.

LIFE AND LETTERS

JOHN KEATS.

THE greater part of this summer [1819] was passed at Shanklin, in the Isle of Wight, in company with Mr. Brown, who earnestly encouraged the full development of the genius of his friend. A combination of intellectual effort was here attempted which could hardly have been expected to be very successful. They were to write a play between them—Brown to supply the fable, characters, and dramatic conduct— Keats, the diction and the verse. The two composers sat opposite at a table, and as Mr. Brown sketched out the incidents of each scene, Keats translated them into his rich and ready language. As a literary diversion, this process was probably both amusing and instructive, but it does not require any profound aesthetic pretensions to pronounce that a work of art thus created could hardly be worthy of the name. Joint compositions, except of a humorous character, are always dangerous attempts, and it is doubtful whether such a transference of faculties as they presuppose, is possible at all; at any rate, the unity of form and feeling must receive an injury hard to be compensated by any apparent improvement of the several parts. Nay, it is quite conceivable that two men, either of whom would have separately produced an effective work, should give an incomplete and hybrid character to a common production, sufficient to neutralise every excellence and annihilate every charm. A poem or a drama is not a picture, in which one artist may paint the landscape, and another the figures; and a certain imperfection and inferiority of parts is often more agreeable than an attempt at that entire completeness which it is only given to the very highest to attain. The incidents, as suggested by Mr. Brown, after some time struck Keats as too melo-dramatic, and he completed the fifth act alone. This tragedy, "Otho the Great," was sent to Drury Lane, and accepted by Elliston, with a promise to bring it forward the same season. Kean seems to have been pleased with the principal character, and to have expressed a desire to act it. The manager, however, from some unknown cause, declared himself

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