1899 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hamilton Reynolds

Rowland E. Prothero, in Byron, Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 3:45-46n.



Safie, an Eastern Tale (1814), had been sent to Byron by the author, John Hamilton Reynolds, the friend, collaborateur, and correspondent of Keats, and the brother of Miss Charlotte Reynolds and of Jane Reynolds, who married Tom Hood. The poem bears the following dedication: "This Tale is inscribed with every sentiment of gratitude and respect, to the Right Honourable Lord Byron." It was to Reynolds, and in answer to his sonnets on Robin Hood, which were published in The Garden of Florence (1821), that Keats wrote the lines—

Gone, the merry morris din;
Gone, the song of Gamelyn;
Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
Idling in the "grene shawe;"
All are gone away and past!"

To him also Keats wrote several sonnets and epistles. Many of his most interesting letters are addressed to Reynolds, with whom he projected a series of translations from Boccaccio. Two of the proposed set of tales were published in The Garden of Florence, a third was Keats's Pot of Basil. A bright and sparkling writer, a wit of no mean pretensions, Reynolds not only wrote charming verse, but achieved some success with his play of One, Two, Three, Four, Five; By Advertisement (1819). Reynolds became a solicitor, serving his articles with a Mr. Fladgate, and afterwards practising, first in Golden Square, and then in Adam Street, Adelphi. Some political services rendered by him to the Liberal cause gave him a claim upon Lord John Russell, who, in 1847, appointed him assistant clerk of the newly established County Court at Newport, in the Isle of Wight. In Newport Reynolds lived for the five years that elapsed before his death in 1852. He was buried in the churchyard of the town, — a broken-down, discontented man, whose great literary abilities had brought him no success in life. Few, probably, of the islanders were aware that the assistant County-Court clerk, who professed himself an Unitarian and a bitter Radical, and whose drunken habits placed him beyond the pale of society, had promised to be one of the stars of English literature at the period of its poetic revival.