The singularity of his appearance, by which he was distinguished through life, and which, together with the shortness of his stature, (possibly attributable in some measure to his premature birth,) had a marked influence on the formation of his character, was apparent from the first...
|Hartley Coleridge - possessed of a |
"singularity of appearance"
For John Keats, too, this sensitivity about his short stature was self-consciously bound up with his anxieties regarding women. As he wrote in July 1818,
I am certain I have not a right feeling towards Women--at this moment I am striving to be just to them but I cannot--Is it because they fall so far beneath my Boyish imagination? When I was a Schoolboy I thought a fair Woman a pure Goddess, my mind was a soft nest in which some one of them slept though she knew it not--I have no right to expect more than their reality. I thought them etherial above Men--I find them perhaps equal.... I do not like to think insults in a Lady's Company--I commit a Crime with her which absence would have not known--Is it not extraordinary? When among Men I have no evil thoughts, no malice, no spleen--I feel free to speak or to be silent--I can listen and from every one I can learn--my hands are in my pockets I am free from all suspicion and comfortable. When I am among Women I have evil thoughts, malice spleen--I cannot speak or be silent--I am full of Suspicions and therefore listen to no thing--I am in a hurry to be gone--You must be charitable and put all this perversity to my being disappointed since Boyhood–. . . I could say a good deal about this but I will leave it in hopes of better and more worthy dispositions--and also content that I am wronging no one, for after all I do think better of Womankind than to suppose they care whether Mister John Keats five feet hight likes them or not.
|John Keats: just "five feet hight"|
Fortunately, perhaps, for those short people who long for an extra few inches, neither of these men are remembered predominantly for being short, just as Byron is not remembered for his height. It is those other connotations of brevity which are far more damaging. Hartley's complaints of his shortness are from a rather long essay entitled "On Brevity", which Hartley cuts short from an awareness that he has already exceeded his point. It is a playful essay, and indicates the extent to which this creative or professional "brevity" lies entirely in the writer's hands to solve.
(Brevity of money, on the other hand, he provides no answers for. Sorry.)