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John Keats: A Literary Biography, Page 40
by Albert Elmer Hancock (1908).

"They kickit and jumpit with mettle extraordinary; and whiskit and friskit and toed it and go'd it and twirl'd it and whirl'd it and stamp'd it and sweated it, tattooing the floor like mad. The difference between our country dance and these Scottish figures is about the same as leisurely stirring a cup of tea and beating up a batter pudding." One instance must suffice, the description of a Scottish dance:—

Naturally, with a poet's unstable imagination, he often had fits of the blues. He got rid of them, sometimes, in a unique fashion. He took a bath, put on a clean shirt, brushed his clothes and hair, tied his shoestrings neatly; then, clean and refreshed, he sat down to write.

He once took a walk with Coleridge. The account of the monologue has not yet found its due place among the anecdotes of great men. "I walked with him at his alderman-after-dinner pace for nearly two miles, I suppose. In these two miles, he broached a thousand things—let me see if I can give you the list—Nightingales—Poetry—on Poetical Sensation—Metaphysics—Different genera and species of dreams—Nightmare—First and second consciousness—the difference explained between Will and Volition—Monsters—The Kraken—Mermaids—Southey believes in them—Southey's belief too much diluted—a Ghost story—Good-morning—I heard his voice as he came toward me—I head it as he moved away—I had heard it all the interval. He was civil enough to ask me to call on him at Highgate." What a contrast this report is to Carlyle's in the "Life of Sterling," with its "unintelligible flood of utterance" like water pumped into a bucket. Carlyle was a genius impatient to talk himself. Keats was a genius content to listen.

No wonder, then, he was always welcome in a company. He received and he gave. A genius with no affectations, no vanity. He had that magnanimity of spirit which is undisturbed by petty rivalries and jealousies. He held his friends by assuming their good will and by ignoring those slights and meaningless offenses which set Hunt, Haydon and Reynolds a-jangling. His moods, to be sure, were fitful. He was talkative, brilliant, when the talk was to his liking; when it was not, he sat silent. In the intimate circle the window seat was reserved for Keats. There we may best fix a picture of him in the characteristic attitude of one foot on the other knee and the hand clasping the instep. The sitting posture obscures the fact that he was only five feet high. Broad shoulders, depth of chest suggest the stature of a larger man. The profile invites affection; brown curling hair; forehead receding; nose slightly tilted; a finely rounded chin; an upper lip rather thick, as if stung by a bee and in need of some gentle unguent. The full face, as he turns to speak, shows the distinction and the consciousness of the high calling. The hazel eyes glow with some inward light as his words issue in a low musical voice. There is a self-assurance in his modesty; at times he is petulant, fiercely assertive.


PAGE 40 OF 81.

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AUTHOR: Albert Elmer Hancock (1908).
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