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[308] is more wonderful than this miracle of Spenser's, transforming a surgeon's apprentice into a great poet. Keats learned at once the secret of his birth, and henceforward his indentures ran to Apollo instead of Mr. Hammond. Thus could the Muse defend her son. It is the old story, —the lost heir discovered by his aptitude for what is gentle and knightly. Haydon tells us ‘that he used sometimes to say to his brother he feared he should never be a poet, and if he was not he would destroy himself.’ This was perhaps a half-conscious reminiscence of Chatterton, with whose genius and fate he had an intense sympathy, it may be from an inward foreboding of the shortness of his own career.1

Before long we find him studying Chaucer, then Shakespeare, and afterward Milton. But Chapman's translations had a more abiding influence on his style both for good and evil. That he read wisely, his comments on the ‘Paradise Lost’ are enough to prove. He now also commenced poet himself, but does not appear to have neglected the study of his profession. He was a youth of energy and purpose, and though he no doubt penned many a stanza when he should have been anatomizing, and walked the hospitals accompanied by the early gods, nevertheless passed a very creditable examination in 1817. In the spring of this year, also, he prepared to take his first degree as poet, and accordingly published a small volume containing a selection of his earlier essays in verse. It attracted little attention, and the rest of this year seems to have been occupied with a journey on foot in Scotland, and the composition of ‘Endymion,’ which was published in 1818. Milton's

1 ‘I never saw the poet Keats but once, but he then read some lines from (I think) the “Bristowe tragedy” with an enthusiasm of admiration such as could be felt only by a poet, and which true poetry only could have excited.’—J. H. C., in Notes & Queries, 4th s. x. 157.

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