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[310] pleasant to be ridiculous, even if you are a lord; but to be ridiculous and an apothecary at the same time is almost as bad as it was formerly to be excommunicated. A priori, there was something absurd in poetry written by the son of an assistant in the livery-stables of Mr. Jennings, even though they were an establishment, and a large establishment, and nearly opposite Finsbury Circus. Mr. Gifford, the ex-cobbler, thought so in the Quarterly, and Mr. Terry, the actor,1 thought so even more distinctly in Blackwood, bidding the young apothecary ‘back to his gallipots!’ It is not pleasant to be talked down upon by your inferiors who happen to have the advantage of position, nor to be drenched with ditchwater, though you know it to be thrown by a scullion in a garret.

Keats, as his was a temperament in which sensibility was excessive, could not but be galled by this treatment. He was galled the more that he was also a man of strong sense, and capable of understanding clearly how hard it is to make men acknowledge solid value in a person whom they have once heartily laughed at. Reputation is in itself only a farthing-candle, of wavering and uncertain flame, and easily blown out, but it is the light by which the world looks for and finds merit. Keats longed for fame, but longed above all to deserve it. To his friend Taylor he writes, ‘There is but one way for me. The road lies through study, application, and thought.’ Thrilling with the electric touch of sacred leaves, he saw in vision, like Dante, that small procession of the elder poets to which only elect centuries can add another laurelled head. Might he, too, deserve from posterity the love and reverence which he paid to those antique glories? It was no unworthy ambition, but

1 Haydon (Autobiography, Vol. I. p. 379) says that he ‘strongly suspects’ Terry to have written the articles in Blackwood.

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