there are few poets whose works contain slighter hints of their personal history than those of Keats
; yet there are, perhaps, even fewer whose real lives, or rather the conditions upon which they lived, are more clearly traceable in what they have written.
To write the life of a man was formerly understood to mean the cataloguing and placing of circumstances, of those things which stood about the life and were more or less related to it, but were not the life itself.
But Biography from day to day holds dates cheaper and facts dearer.
A man's life, so far as its outward events are concerned, may be made for him, as his clothes are by the tailor, of this cut or that, of finer or coarser material; but the gait and gesture show through, and give to trappings, in themselves characterless, an individuality that belongs to the man himself.
It is those essential facts which underlie the life and make the individual man that are of importance, and it is the cropping out of these upon the surface that gives us indications by which to judge of the true nature hidden below.
Every man has his block given him, and the figure he cuts will depend very much upon the shape of that,— upon the knots and twists which existed in it from the beginning.
We were designed in the cradle, perhaps earlier, and it is in finding out this design, and shaping ourselves to it, that our years are spent wisely.