The Influence of Horace on the Chief English Poets of the Nineteenth Century

By Mary Rebecca Thayer | Go to book overview

JOHN KEATS

I. Unquestionable traces of Horace
Nowhere in the poems of Keats can there be found a direct quotation or even a definite echo from Horace. There are, however, a few reminiscences in his letters, which I append.
1. From a letter to B. R. Haydon (probably of December, 1818):

'I will be with you to-morrow morning and stop all day--we will
hate the profane vulgar and make us wings.'

See Carm. 3. 1. 1:

Odi profanum volgus.

2. From a letter to Thomas Keats, July 11, 1818:

'As to the profanum vulgus, I must incline to the Scotch.'

See the foregoing citation from Horace.

3. From a letter to Richard Woodhouse, October 27, 1818:

'Your letter gave me great satisfaction, more on account of its
friendliness than any relish of that matter in it which is accounted
so acceptable in the genus irritabile.'

See Epist. 2. 2. 102:

Genus irritabile vatum.


II. Probable traces of Horace
1. From a letter to George and Georgiana Keats, December, 1818:

'I am in daily expectation of letters--Nil desperandum.'

The quotation may be found in Horace ( Carm. 1. 7. 27); but it is so very familiar a catchword that one cannot feel positive of its precise derivation.

2. From The Cap and Bells 61. 3-5:

'Behold, your Majesty, upon the brow
Of yonder hill, what crowds of people!' 'Whew!
The monster's always after something new.'

The use of monster to describe the populace recalls Horace belua multorum capitum ( Epist. 1. 1. 76); but see above, reference to Shelley's probable use of the same passage, p. 88.

-93-

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The Influence of Horace on the Chief English Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Table of Contents 9
  • Introduction 11
  • William Wordsworth 53
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge 65
  • Lord Byron 69
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley 85
  • John Keats 93
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson 94
  • Robert Browning 102
  • Index of Passages from Horace 115
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