See! his lithe, fragile form is bending over a book, that is spread open on his knees, his head drooping towards it like a plucked flower. The pale face is resting on the clasped hand, over which, and all around the small exquisitely modelled head, fall heavy waves of auburn hair, concealing all but one pale cheek--pale and cold marble, but smooth and soft as a girl's. Dead to all the brilliant nothings that are passing around him, the boy-poet has fallen upon some passage of his (just at present) sole idol in the temple of poetry, Milton.
PETER GEORGE PATMORE has left us this somewhat romanticised portrait of Coventry as he was at this period. Perhaps Gosse's presentation of the young poet's appearance is nearer the truth:
Very tall and thin, his small bright head poised lightly on his shoulders, a look of admirable candour in the broad forehead, prominent mobile lips, and sparkling eyes. These latter, doubtless, as we see them in Brett's admirable drawing of a few years later, were what gave positive charm to the features--these dark, liquid, vivid eyes, and the silky rolling hair.
Such was the outward appearance of the young poet when, at the age of twenty-one, he found the doors of literary London thrown open to welcome him. He possessed none of the easy social graces of his father. He was still awkward in company, and had inherited the reserved and outwardly cold manner of his mother, as well as her religious fervour. But he must have possessed a shy charm, and his conversation, when he did speak, was unusually brilliant.
His father had dedicated him to the Muses. We can only surmise that the austere Scotch mother had secretly dedicated him to the service of God. Although they were joined together