Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends, by John Keats

72. — To James Augustus Hessey.

My dear Hessey — You are very good in sending me the letters from the Chronicle — and I am very bad in not acknowledging such a kindness sooner — pray forgive me. It has so chanced that I have had that paper every day — I have seen to-day’s. I cannot but feel indebted to those Gentlemen who have taken my part — As for the rest, I begin to get a little acquainted with my own strength and weakness. — Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own Works. My own domestic criticism has given me pain without comparison beyond what Blackwood or the Quarterly could possibly inflict — and also when I feel I am right, no external praise can give me such a glow as my own solitary reperception and ratification of what is fine. J. S. is perfectly right in regard to the slip-shod Endymion.81 That it is so is no fault of mine. No! — though it may sound a little paradoxical. It is as good as I had power to make it — by myself — Had I been nervous about its being a perfect piece, and with that view asked advice, and trembled over every page, it would not have been written; for it is not in my nature to fumble — I will write independently. — I have written independently without Judgment. I may write independently, and with Judgment, hereafter. The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself — That which is creative must create itself — In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest — But I am nigh getting into a rant. So, with remembrances to Taylor and Woodhouse etc. I am

Yours very sincerely

John Keats.

81 Referring to these words in John Scott’s letter in his defence, Morning Chronicle, October 3, 1818:—“That there are also many, very many passages indicating both haste and carelessness I will not deny; nay, I will go further, and assert that a real friend of the author would have dissuaded him from immediate publication.”


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