AND OF ITS PREFACE.
The expression of my indignation and sympathy. I will allow myself a first and last word on the subject of calumny as it relates to me. As an author I have dared and invited censure. If I understand myself, I have written neither for profit nor for fame: I have employed my poetical compositions and publications simply as the instruments of that sympathy between myself and others which the ardent and unbounded love I cherished for my kind incited me to acquire. I expected all sorts of stupidity and insolent contempt from those.... These compositions (excepting the tragedy of The Cenci, which was written rather to try my powers than to unburden my full heart) are insufficiently.... Commendation then perhaps they deserve, even from their bitterest enemies; but they have not obtained any corresponding popularity. As a man, I shrink from notice and regard: the ebb and flow of the world vexes me: I desire to be left in peace. Persecution, contumely, and calumny, have been heaped upon me in profuse measure; and domestic conspiracy and legal oppression have violated in my person the most sacred rights of nature and humanity. The bigot will say it was the recompense of my errors—the man of the world will call it the result of my imprudence: but never upon one head....
Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic. But a young spirit panting for fame, doubtful of its powers, and certain only of its aspirations, is ill-qualified to assign its true value to the sneer of this world. He knows not that such stuff as this is of the abortive and monstrous births which time consumes as fast as it produces. He sees the truth and falsehood, the merits and demerits, of his case, inextricably entangled.... No personal offence should have drawn from me this public comment upon such stuff.
The offence of this poor victim seems to have consisted solely in his intimacy with Leigh Hunt, Mr. Hazlitt, and some other enemies of despotism and superstition. My friend Hunt has a very hard skull to crack, and will take a deal of killing. I do not know much of Mr. Hazlitt, but....
I knew personally but little of Keats; but, on the news of his situation, I wrote to him, suggesting the propriety of trying the Italian climate, and inviting him to join me. Unfortunately he did not allow me.
* * * * *
And the green paradise which western waves
Embosom in their ever-wailing sweep,—
Talking of freedom to their tongueless caves,
Or to the spirits which within them keep
A record of the wrongs which, though they sleep, 5
Die not, but dream of retribution,—heard
His hymns, and echoing them from steep to steep,