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◈ Letters Of John Keats To His Family And Friends (존 키츠의 편지) ◈

◇ 8. (1819년 하반기) ◇

해설목차  서문  1권  2권  3권  4권  5권  6권  7권  8권 9권  May 1891.
John Keats

1. CVII.—TO FANNY KEATS.

1.1. Shanklin, Isle of Wight, Tuesday, July 6.

 
1
My dear Fanny—I have just received another Letter from George—full of as good news as we can expect. I cannot inclose it to you as I could wish because it contains matters of Business to which I must for a Week to come have an immediate reference. I think I told you the purpose for which I retired to this place—to try the fortune of my Pen once more, and indeed I have some confidence in my success: but in every event, believe me my dear sister, I shall be sufficiently comfortable, as, if I cannot lead that life of competence and society I should wish, I have enough knowledge of my gallipots to ensure me an employment and maintenance. The Place I am in now I visited once before and a very pretty place it is were it not for the bad weather. Our window looks over house-tops and Cliffs onto the Sea, so that when the Ships sail past the Cottage chimneys you may take them for weathercocks. We have Hill and Dale, forest and Mead, and plenty of Lobsters. I was on the Portsmouth Coach the Sunday before last in that heavy shower—and I may say I went to Portsmouth by water—I got a little cold, and as it always flies to my throat I am a little out of sorts that way. There were on the Coach with me some common French people but very well behaved—there was a woman amongst them to whom the poor Men in ragged coats were more gallant than ever I saw gentleman to Lady at a Ball. When we got down to walk up hill—one of them pick’d a rose, and on remounting gave it to the woman with “Ma’mselle voila une belle rose!” I am so hard at work that perhaps I should not have written to you for a day or two if George’s Letter had not diverted my attention to the interests and pleasure of those I love—and ever believe that when I do not behave punctually it is from a very necessary occupation, and that my silence is no proof of my not thinking of you, or that I want more than a gentle fillip to bring your image with every claim before me. You have never seen mountains, or I might tell you that the hill at Steephill is I think almost of as much consequence as Mount Rydal on Lake Winander. Bonchurch too is a very delightful Place—as I can see by the Cottages, all romantic—covered with creepers and honeysuckles, with roses and eglantines peeping in at the windows. Fit abodes for the People I guess live in them, romantic old maids fond of novels, or soldiers’ widows with a pretty jointure—or any body’s widows or aunts or anythings given to Poetry and a Piano-forte—as far as in ’em lies—as people say. If I could play upon the Guitar I might make my fortune with an old song—and get two blessings at once—a Lady’s heart and the Rheumatism. But I am almost afraid to peep at those little windows—for a pretty window should show a pretty face, and as the world goes chances are against me. I am living with a very good fellow indeed, a Mr. Rice.—He is unfortunately labouring under a complaint which has for some years been a burthen to him. This is a pain to me. He has a greater tact in speaking to people of the village than I have, and in those matters is a great amusement as well as good friend to me. He bought a ham the other day for says he “Keats, I don’t think a Ham is a wrong thing to have in a house.” Write to me, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, as soon as you can; for a Letter is a great treat to me here—believing me ever,
 
2
Your affectionate Brother
3
John ——.
 

 

2. CVIII.—TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.

2.1. Extract from a letter dated Shanklin, nr Ryde, Isle of Wight, Sunday, 12th [for 11th] July, 1819.

 
1
· · · · · · · ·
 
2
You will be glad to hear, under my own hand (though Rice says we are like Sauntering Jack and Idle Joe), how diligent I have been, and am being. I have finished the Act, and in the interval of beginning the 2d have proceeded pretty well with Lamia, finishing the 1st part which consists of about 400 lines. I have great hopes of success, because I make use of my Judgment more deliberately than I have yet done; but in case of failure with the world, I shall find my content. And here (as I know you have my good at heart as much as a Brother), I can only repeat to you what I have said to George—that however I should like to enjoy what the competencies of life procure, I am in no wise dashed at a different prospect. I have spent too many thoughtful days and moralised through too many nights for that, and fruitless would they be indeed, if they did not by degrees make me look upon the affairs of the world with a healthy deliberation. I have of late been moulting: not for fresh feathers and wings: they are gone, and in their stead I hope to have a pair of patient sublunary legs. I have altered, not from a Chrysalis into a butterfly, but the contrary; having two little loopholes, whence I may look out into the stage of the world: and that world on our coming here I almost forgot. The first time I sat down to write, I could scarcely believe in the necessity for so doing. It struck me as a great oddity—Yet the very corn which is now so beautiful, as if it had only took to ripening yesterday, is for the market; so, why should I be delicate?
 
3
· · · · · · · ·
 

 

3. CIX.—TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.

3.1. Shanklin, Saturday Evening [July 31, 1819].

 
1
My dear Dilke—I will not make my diligence an excuse for not writing to you sooner—because I consider idleness a much better plea. A Man in the hurry of business of any sort is expected and ought to be expected to look to everything—his mind is in a whirl, and what matters it what whirl? But to require a Letter of a Man lost in idleness is the utmost cruelty; you cut the thread of his existence, you beat, you pummel him, you sell his goods and chattels, you put him in prison; you impale him; you crucify him. If I had not put pen to paper since I saw you this would be to me a vi et armis taking up before the Judge; but having got over my darling lounging habits a little, it is with scarcely any pain I come to this dating from Shanklin and Dear Dilke. The Isle of Wight is but so so, etc. Rice and I passed rather a dull time of it. I hope he will not repent coming with me. He was unwell, and I was not in very good health: and I am afraid we made each other worse by acting upon each other’s spirits. We would grow as melancholy as need be. I confess I cannot bear a sick person in a House, especially alone—it weighs upon me day and night—and more so when perhaps the Case is irretrievable. Indeed I think Rice is in a dangerous state. I have had a Letter from him which speaks favourably of his health at present. Brown and I are pretty well harnessed again to our dog-cart. I mean the Tragedy, which goes on sinkingly. We are thinking of introducing an Elephant, but have not historical reference within reach to determine us as to Otho’s Menagerie. When Brown first mentioned this I took it for a joke; however he brings such plausible reasons, and discourses so eloquently on the dramatic effect that I am giving it a serious consideration. The Art of Poetry is not sufficient for us, and if we get on in that as well as we do in painting, we shall by next winter crush the Reviews and the Royal Academy. Indeed, if Brown would take a little of my advice, he could not fail to be first palette of his day. But odd as it may appear, he says plainly that he cannot see any force in my plea of putting skies in the background, and leaving Indian ink out of an ash tree. The other day he was sketching Shanklin Church, and as I saw how the business was going on, I challenged him to a trial of skill—he lent me Pencil and Paper—we keep the Sketches to contend for the Prize at the Gallery. I will not say whose I think best—but really I do not think Brown’s done to the top of the Art.
 
2
A word or two on the Isle of Wight. I have been no further than Steephill. If I may guess, I should say that there is no finer part in the Island than from this Place to Steephill. I do not hesitate to say it is fine. Bonchurch is the best. But I have been so many finer walks, with a background of lake and mountain instead of the sea, that I am not much touch’d with it, though I credit it for all the Surprise I should have felt if it had taken my cockney maidenhead. But I may call myself an old Stager in the picturesque, and unless it be something very large and overpowering, I cannot receive any extraordinary relish.
 
3
I am sorry to hear that Charles is so much oppress’d at Westminster, though I am sure it will be the finest touchstone for his Metal in the world. His troubles will grow day by day less, as his age and strength increase. The very first Battle he wins will lift him from the Tribe of Manasseh. I do not know how I should feel were I a Father—but I hope I should strive with all my Power not to let the present trouble me. When your Boy shall be twenty, ask him about his childish troubles and he will have no more memory of them than you have of yours. Brown tells me Mrs. Dilke sets off to-day for Chichester. I am glad—I was going to say she had a fine day—but there has been a great Thunder cloud muttering over Hampshire all day—I hope she is now at supper with a good appetite.
 
4
So Reynolds’s Piece succeeded—that is all well. Papers have with thanks been duly received. We leave this place on the 13th, and will let you know where we may be a few days after—Brown says he will write when the fit comes on him. If you will stand law expenses I’ll beat him into one before his time. When I come to town I shall have a little talk with you about Brown and one Jenny Jacobs. Open daylight! he don’t care. I am afraid there will be some more feet for little stockings—[of Keats’s making. (I mean the feet.)[103]] Brown here tried at a piece of Wit but it failed him, as you see, though long a brewing.—[this is a 2d lie.] Men should never despair—you see he has tried again and succeeded to a miracle.—He wants to try again, but as I have a right to an inside place in my own Letter—I take possession.
 
5
Your sincere friend
6
John Keats.
 

 

4. CX.—TO BENJAMIN BAILEY.

4.1. [Fragment (outside sheet) of a letter addressed to Bailey at St. Andrews. Winchester, August 15, 1819.]

 
1
· · · · · · · ·
 
2
We removed to Winchester for the convenience of a library, and find it an exceeding pleasant town, enriched with a beautiful Cathedral, and surrounded by a fresh-looking country. We are in tolerably good and cheap lodgings—Within these two months I have written 1500 lines, most of which, besides many more of prior composition, you will probably see by next winter. I have written 2 tales, one from Boccaccio, called the Pot of Basil, and another called St. Agnes’s Eve, on a popular Superstition, and a 3rd called Lamia (half finished). I have also been writing parts of my “Hyperion,” and completed 4 Acts of a tragedy. It was the opinion of most of my friends that I should never be able to write a scene. I will endeavour to wipe away the prejudice—I sincerely hope you will be pleased when my labours, since we last saw each other, shall reach you. One of my Ambitions is to make as great a revolution in modern dramatic writing as Kean has done in acting. Another to upset the drawling of the blue-stocking literary world—if in the Course of a few years I do these two things, I ought to die content, and my friends should drink a dozen of claret on my tomb. I am convinced more and more every day that (excepting the human friend philosopher), a fine writer is the most genuine being in the world. Shakspeare and the Paradise lost every day become greater wonders to me. I look upon fine phrases like a lover. I was glad to see by a passage of one of Brown’s letters, some time ago, from the North that you were in such good spirits. Since that you have been married, and in congratulating you I wish you every continuance of them. Present my respects to Mrs. Bailey. This sounds oddly to me, and I daresay I do it awkwardly enough: but I suppose by this time it is nothing new to you. Brown’s remembrances to you. As far as I know, we shall remain at Winchester for a goodish while.
 
3
Ever your sincere friend
4
John Keats.
 

 

5. CXI.—TO JOHN TAYLOR.

5.1. Winchester, Monday morn [August 23, 1819].

 
1
My dear Taylor— ... Brown and I have together been engaged (this I should wish to remain secret) on a Tragedy which I have just finished and from which we hope to share moderate profits.... I feel every confidence that, if I choose, I may be a popular writer. That I will never be; but for all that I will get a livelihood. I equally dislike the favour of the public with the love of a woman. They are both a cloying treacle to the wings of Independence. I shall ever consider them (People) as debtors to me for verses, not myself to them for admiration—which I can do without. I have of late been indulging my spleen by composing a preface AT them: after all resolving never to write a preface at all. “There are so many verses,” would I have said to them, “give so much means for me to buy pleasure with, as a relief to my hours of labour”—You will observe at the end of this if you put down the letter, “How a solitary life engenders pride and egotism!” True—I know it does: but this pride and egotism will enable me to write finer things than anything else could—so I will indulge it. Just so much as I am humbled by the genius above my grasp am I exalted and look with hate and contempt upon the literary world.—A drummer-boy who holds out his hand familiarly to a field Marshal,—that drummer-boy with me is the good word and favour of the public. Who could wish to be among the common-place crowd of the little famous—who are each individually lost in a throng made up of themselves? Is this worth louting or playing the hypocrite for? To beg suffrages for a seat on the benches of a myriad-aristocracy in letters? This is not wise.—I am not a wise man—’Tis pride—I will give you a definition of a proud man—He is a man who has neither Vanity nor Wisdom—One filled with hatreds cannot be vain, neither can he be wise. Pardon me for hammering instead of writing. Remember me to Woodhouse Hessey and all in Percy Street.
 
2
Ever yours sincerely
3
John Keats.
 

 

6. CXII.—TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.

6.1. Winchester, August 25 [1819].

 
1
My dear Reynolds—By this post I write to Rice, who will tell you why we have left Shanklin; and how we like this place. I have indeed scarcely anything else to say, leading so monotonous a life, except I was to give you a history of sensations, and day-nightmares. You would not find me at all unhappy in it, as all my thoughts and feelings which are of the selfish nature, home speculations, every day continue to make me more iron—I am convinced more and more, every day, that fine writing is, next to fine doing, the top thing in the world; the Paradise Lost becomes a greater wonder. The more I know what my diligence may in time probably effect, the more does my heart distend with Pride and Obstinacy—I feel it in my power to become a popular writer—I feel it in my power to refuse the poisonous suffrage of a public. My own being which I know to be becomes of more consequence to me than the crowds of Shadows in the shape of men and women that inhabit a kingdom. The soul is a world of itself, and has enough to do in its own home. Those whom I know already, and who have grown as it were a part of myself, I could not do without: but for the rest of mankind, they are as much a dream to me as Milton’s Hierarchies. I think if I had a free and healthy and lasting organisation of heart, and lungs as strong as an ox’s so as to be able to bear unhurt the shock of extreme thought and sensation without weariness, I could pass my life very nearly alone though it should last eighty years. But I feel my body too weak to support me to the height, I am obliged continually to check myself, and be nothing. It would be vain for me to endeavour after a more reasonable manner of writing to you. I have nothing to speak of but myself, and what can I say but what I feel? If you should have any reason to regret this state of excitement in me, I will turn the tide of your feelings in the right Channel, by mentioning that it is the only state for the best sort of Poetry—that is all I care for, all I live for. Forgive me for not filling up the whole sheet; Letters become so irksome to me, that the next time I leave London I shall petition them all to be spared me. To give me credit for constancy, and at the same time waive letter writing will be the highest indulgence I can think of.
 
2
Ever your affectionate friend
3
John Keats.
 

 

7. CXIII.—TO FANNY KEATS.

7.1. Winchester, August 28 [1819].

 
1
My dear Fanny—You must forgive me for suffering so long a space to elapse between the dates of my letters. It is more than a fortnight since I left Shanklin chiefly for the purpose of being near a tolerable Library, which after all is not to be found in this place. However we like it very much: it is the pleasantest Town I ever was in, and has the most recommendations of any. There is a fine Cathedral which to me is always a source of amusement, part of it built 1400 years ago; and the more modern by a magnificent Man, you may have read of in our History, called William of Wickham. The whole town is beautifully wooded. From the Hill at the eastern extremity you see a prospect of Streets, and old Buildings mixed up with Trees. Then there are the most beautiful streams about I ever saw—full of Trout. There is the Foundation of St. Croix about half a mile in the fields—a charity greatly abused. We have a Collegiate School, a Roman catholic School; a chapel ditto and a Nunnery! And what improves it all is, the fashionable inhabitants are all gone to Southampton. We are quiet—except a fiddle that now and then goes like a gimlet through my Ears—our Landlady’s son not being quite a Proficient. I have still been hard at work, having completed a Tragedy I think I spoke of to you. But there I fear all my labour will be thrown away for the present, as I hear Mr. Kean is going to America. For all I can guess I shall remain here till the middle of October—when Mr. Brown will return to his house at Hampstead; whither I shall return with him. I some time since sent the Letter I told you I had received from George to Haslam with a request to let you and Mrs. Wylie see it: he sent it back to me for very insufficient reasons without doing so; and I was so irritated by it that I would not send it travelling about by the post any more: besides the postage is very expensive. I know Mrs. Wylie will think this a great neglect. I am sorry to say my temper gets the better of me—I will not send it again. Some correspondence I have had with Mr. Abbey about George’s affairs—and I must confess he has behaved very kindly to me as far as the wording of his Letter went. Have you heard any further mention of his retiring from Business? I am anxious to hear whether Hodgkinson, whose name I cannot bear to write, will in any likelihood be thrown upon himself. The delightful Weather we have had for two Months is the highest gratification I could receive—no chill’d red noses—no shivering—but fair atmosphere to think in—a clean towel mark’d with the mangle and a basin of clear Water to drench one’s face with ten times a day: no need of much exercise—a Mile a day being quite sufficient. My greatest regret is that I have not been well enough to bathe though I have been two Months by the seaside and live now close to delicious bathing—Still I enjoy the Weather—I adore fine Weather as the greatest blessing I can have. Give me Books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by somebody I do not know—not pay the price of one’s time for a jig—but a little chance music: and I can pass a summer very quietly without caring much about Fat Louis, fat Regent or the Duke of Wellington. Why have you not written to me? Because you were in expectation of George’s Letter and so waited? Mr. Brown is copying out our Tragedy of Otho the Great in a superb style—better than it deserves—there as I said is labour in vain for the present. I had hoped to give Kean another opportunity to shine. What can we do now? There is not another actor of Tragedy in all London or Europe. The Covent Garden Company is execrable. Young is the best among them and he is a ranting coxcombical tasteless Actor—a Disgust, a Nausea—and yet the very best after Kean. What a set of barren asses are actors! I should like now to promenade round your Gardens—apple-tasting—pear-tasting—plum-judging—apricot-nibbling—peach-scrunching—nectarine-sucking and Melon-carving. I have also a great feeling for antiquated cherries full of sugar cracks—and a white currant tree kept for company. I admire lolling on a lawn by a water lilied pond to eat white currants and see gold-fish: and go to the Fair in the Evening if I’m good. There is not hope for that—one is sure to get into some mess before evening. Have these hot days I brag of so much been well or ill for your health? Let me hear soon.
 
2
Your affectionate Brother
3
John ——.
 

 

8. CXIV.—TO JOHN TAYLOR.

8.1. Winchester, September 1, 1819.

 
1
My dear Taylor—Brown and I have been employed for these 3 weeks past from time to time in writing to our different friends—a dead silence is our only answer—we wait morning after morning. Tuesday is the day for the Examiner to arrive, this is the 2d Tuesday which has been barren even of a newspaper—Men should be in imitation of spirits “responsive to each other’s note.” Instead of that I pipe and no one hath danced. We have been cursing like Mandeville and Lisle—With this I shall send by the same post a 3d letter to a friend of mine, who though it is of consequence has neither answered right or left. We have been much in want of news from the Theatres, having heard that Kean is going to America—but no—not a word. Why I should come on you with all these complaints I cannot explain to myself, especially as I suspect you must be in the country. Do answer me soon for I really must know something. I must steer myself by the rudder of Information....
 
2
Ever yours sincerely
3
John Keats.
 

 

9. CXV.—TO JOHN TAYLOR.

9.1. Winchester, September 5 [1819].

 
1
My dear Taylor—This morning I received yours of the 2d, and with it a letter from Hessey enclosing a Bank post Bill of £30, an ample sum I assure you—more I had no thought of.—You should not have delayed so long in Fleet St.—leading an inactive life as you did was breathing poison: you will find the country air do more for you than you expect. But it must be proper country air. You must choose a spot. What sort of a place is Retford? You should have a dry, gravelly, barren, elevated country, open to the currents of air, and such a place is generally furnished with the finest springs—The neighbourhood of a rich enclosed fulsome manured arable land, especially in a valley and almost as bad on a flat, would be almost as bad as the smoke of Fleet St.—Such a place as this was Shanklin, only open to the south-east, and surrounded by hills in every other direction. From this south-east came the damps of the sea; which, having no egress, the air would for days together take on an unhealthy idiosyncrasy altogether enervating and weakening as a city smoke—I felt it very much. Since I have been here at Winchester I have been improving in health—it is not so confined—and there is on one side of the City a dry chalky down, where the air is worth Sixpence a pint. So if you do not get better at Retford, do not impute it to your own weakness before you have well considered the Nature of the air and soil—especially as Autumn is encroaching—for the Autumn fog over a rich land is like the steam from cabbage water. What makes the great difference between valesmen, flatlandmen and mountaineers? The cultivation of the earth in a great measure—Our health temperament and disposition are taken more (notwithstanding the contradiction of the history of Cain and Abel) from the air we breathe, than is generally imagined. See the difference between a Peasant and a Butcher.—I am convinced a great cause of it is the difference of the air they breathe: the one takes his mingled with the fume of slaughter, the other from the dank exhalement from the glebe; the teeming damp that comes up from the plough-furrow is of great effect in taming the fierceness of a strong man—more than his labour—Let him be mowing furze upon a mountain, and at the day’s end his thoughts will run upon a..axe[104] if he ever had handled one; let him leave the plough, and he will think quietly of his supper. Agriculture is the tamer of men—the steam from the earth is like drinking their Mother’s milk—it enervates their nature—this appears a great cause of the imbecility of the Chinese: and if this sort of atmosphere is a mitigation to the energy of a strong man, how much more must it injure a weak one unoccupied unexercised—For what is the cause of so many men maintaining a good state in Cities, but occupation—An idle man, a man who is not sensitively alive to self-interest in a city cannot continue long in good health. This is easily explained—If you were to walk leisurely through an unwholesome path in the fens, with a little horror of them, you would be sure to have your ague. But let Macbeth cross the same path, with the dagger in the air leading him on, and he would never have an ague or anything like it—You should give these things a serious consideration. Notts, I believe, is a flat county—You should be on the slope of one of the dry barren hills in Somersetshire. I am convinced there is as harmful air to be breathed in the country as in town. I am greatly obliged to you for your letter. Perhaps, if you had had strength and spirits enough, you would have felt offended by my offering a note of hand, or rather expressed it. However, I am sure you will give me credit for not in anywise mistrusting you: or imagining that you would take advantage of any power I might give you over me. No—It proceeded from my serious resolve not to be a gratuitous borrower, from a great desire to be correct in money matters, to have in my desk the Chronicles of them to refer to, and know my worldly non-estate: besides in case of my death such documents would be but just, if merely as memorials of the friendly turns I had done to me—Had I known of your illness I should not have written in such fiery phrase in my first letter. I hope that shortly you will be able to bear six times as much. Brown likes the tragedy very much: But he is not a fit judge of it, as I have only acted as midwife to his plot; and of course he will be fond of his child. I do not think I can make you any extracts without spoiling the effect of the whole when you come to read it—I hope you will then not think my labour mis-spent. Since I finished it, I have finished Lamia, and am now occupied in revising St. Agnes’s Eve, and studying Italian. Ariosto I find as diffuse, in parts, as Spenser—I understand completely the difference between them. I will cross the letter with some lines from Lamia. Brown’s kindest remembrances to you—and I am ever your most sincere friend
 
2
John Keats.
 
3
A haunting Music sole perhaps and lone
4
Supportress of the fairy roof made moan
5
Throughout as fearful the whole charm might fade.
6
Fresh Carved Cedar mimicking a glade
7
Of Palm and Plantain met from either side
8
In the high midst in honour of the Bride—
9
Two Palms, and then two plantains and so on
10
From either side their stems branch’d one to one
11
All down the aisled place—and beneath all
12
There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.
13
So canopied lay an untasted feast
14
Teeming a perfume. Lamia regal drest
15
Silverly paced about and as she went
16
Mission’d her viewless servants to enrich
17
The splendid finish of each nook and niche—
18
Between the tree stems wainscoated at first
19
Came jasper panels—then anon there burst
20
Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees
21
And with the larger wove in small intricacies—
22
And so till she was sated—then came down
23
Soft lighting on her head a brilliant crown
24
Wreath’d turban-wise of tender wannish fire
25
And sprinkled o’er with stars like Ariadne’s tiar,
26
Approving all—she faded at self will
27
And shut the Chamber up close hush’d and still;
28
Complete, and ready, for the revels rude
29
When dreadful Guests would come to spoil her solitude
30
The day came soon and all the gossip-rout—
31
O senseless Lycius[105] ...
 
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33
This is a good sample of the story. Brown is gone to Chichester a-visiting—I shall be alone here for 3 weeks, expecting accounts of your health.
 

 

10. CXVI.—TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS.

10.1. Winchester, September [17, 1819], Friday.

 
1
My dear George—I was closely employed in reading and composition in this place, whither I had come from Shanklin for the convenience of a library, when I received your last dated 24th July. You will have seen by the short letter I wrote from Shanklin how matters stand between us and Mr. Jennings. They had not at all moved, and I knew no way of overcoming the inveterate obstinacy of our affairs. On receiving your last, I immediately took a place in the same night’s coach for London. Mr. Abbey behaved extremely well to me, appointed Monday evening at seven to meet me, and observed that he should drink tea at that hour. I gave him the enclosed note and showed him the last leaf of yours to me. He really appeared anxious about it, and promised he would forward your money as quickly as possible. I think I mentioned that Walton was dead.... He will apply to Mr. Gliddon the partner, endeavour to get rid of Mrs. Jennings’ claim, and be expeditious. He has received an answer from my letter to Fry. That is something. We are certainly in a very low estate—I say we, for I am in such a situation, that were it not for the assistance of Brown and Taylor, I must be as badly off as a man can be. I could not raise any sum by the promise of any poem, no, not by the mortgage of my intellect. We must wait a little while. I really have hopes of success. I have finished a tragedy, which if it succeeds will enable me to sell what I may have in manuscript to a good advantage. I have passed my time in reading, writing, and fretting—the last I intend to give up, and stick to the other two. They are the only chances of benefit to us. Your wants will be a fresh spur to me. I assure you you shall more than share what I can get whilst I am still young. The time may come when age will make me more selfish. I have not been well treated by the world, and yet I have, capitally well. I do not know a person to whom so many purse-strings would fly open as to me, if I could possibly take advantage of them, which I cannot do, for none of the owners of these purses are rich. Your present situation I will not suffer myself to dwell upon. When misfortunes are so real, we are glad enough to escape them and the thought of them. I cannot help thinking Mr. Audubon a dishonest man. Why did he make you believe that he was a man of property? How is it that his circumstances have altered so suddenly? In truth, I do not believe you fit to deal with the world, or at least the American world. But, good God! who can avoid these chances? You have done your best. Take matters as coolly as you can; and confidently expecting help from England, act as if no help were nigh. Mine, I am sure, is a tolerable tragedy; it would have been a bank to me, if just as I had finished it, I had not heard of Kean’s resolution to go to America. That was the worst news I could have had. There is no actor can do the principal character besides Kean. At Covent Garden there is a great chance of its being damm’d. Were it to succeed even there it would lift me out of the mire; I mean the mire of a bad reputation which is continually rising against me. My name with the literary fashionables is vulgar. I am a weaver-boy to them. A tragedy would lift me out of this mess, and mess it is as far as regards our pockets. But be not cast down any more than I am; I feel that I can bear real ills better than imaginary ones. Whenever I find myself growing vapourish, I rouse myself, wash, and put on a clean shirt, brush my hair and clothes, tie my shoestrings neatly, and in fact adonise as I were going out. Then, all clean and comfortable, I sit down to write. This I find the greatest relief. Besides I am becoming accustomed to the privations of the pleasures of sense. In the midst of the world I live like a hermit. I have forgot how to lay plans for the enjoyment of any pleasure. I feel I can bear anything,—any misery, even imprisonment, so long as I have neither wife nor child. Perhaps you will say yours are your only comfort; they must be. I returned to Winchester the day before yesterday, and am now here alone, for Brown, some days before I left, went to Bedhampton, and there he will be for the next fortnight. The term of his house will be up in the middle of next month when we shall return to Hampstead. On Sunday, I dined with your mother and Hen and Charles in Henrietta Street. Mrs. and Miss Millar were in the country. Charles had been but a few days returned from Paris. I daresay you will have letters expressing the motives of his journey. Mrs. Wylie and Miss Waldegrave seem as quiet as two mice there alone. I did not show your last. I thought it better not, for better times will certainly come, and why should they be unhappy in the meantime? On Monday morning I went to Walthamstow. Fanny looked better than I had seen her for some time. She complains of not hearing from you, appealing to me as if it were half my fault. I had been so long in retirement that London appeared a very odd place. I could not make out I had so many acquaintances, and it was a whole day before I could feel among men. I had another strange sensation. There was not one house I felt any pleasure to call at. Reynolds was in the country, and, saving himself, I am prejudiced against all that family. Dilke and his wife and child were in the country. Taylor was at Nottingham. I was out, and everybody was out. I walked about the streets as in a strange land. Rice was the only one at home. I passed some time with him. I know him better since we have lived a month together in the Isle of Wight. He is the most sensible and even wise man I know. He has a few John Bull prejudices, but they improve him. His illness is at times alarming. We are great friends, and there is no one I like to pass a day with better. Martin called in to bid him good-bye before he set out for Dublin. If you would like to hear one of his jokes, here is one which, at the time, we laughed at a good deal: A Miss ——, with three young ladies, one of them Martin’s sister, had come a-gadding in the Isle of Wight and took for a few days a cottage opposite ours. We dined with them one day, and as I was saying they had fish. Miss —— said she thought they tasted of the boat. “No” says Martin, very seriously, “they haven’t been kept long enough.” I saw Haslam. He is very much occupied with love and business, being one of Mr. Saunders’ executors and lover to a young woman. He showed me her picture by Severn. I think she is, though not very cunning, too cunning for him. Nothing strikes me so forcibly with a sense of the ridiculous as love. A man in love I do think cuts the sorriest figure in the world; queer, when I know a poor fool to be really in pain about it, I could burst out laughing in his face. His pathetic visage becomes irresistible. Not that I take Haslam as a pattern for lovers; he is a very worthy man and a good friend. His love is very amusing. Somewhere in the Spectator is related an account of a man inviting a party of stutterers and squinters to his table. It would please me more to scrape together a party of lovers—not to dinner, but to tea. There would be no fighting as among knights of old.
 
2
Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes,
3
Nibble their toast and cool their tea with sighs;
4
Or else forget the purpose of the night,
5
Forget their tea, forget their appetite.
6
See, with cross’d arms they sit—Ah! hapless crew,
7
The fire is going out and no one rings
8
For coals, and therefore no coals Betty brings.
9
A fly is in the milk-pot. Must he die
10
Circled by a humane society?
11
No, no; there, Mr. Werter takes his spoon,
12
Inserts it, dips the handle, and lo! soon
13
The little straggler, sav’d from perils dark,
14
Across the tea-board draws a long wet mark.
15
Romeo! Arise take snuffers by the handle,
16
There’s a large cauliflower in each candle.
17
A winding sheet—ah, me! I must away
18
To No. 7, just beyond the circus gay.
19
Alas, my friend, your coat sits very well;
20
Where may your Taylor live? I may not tell.
21
O pardon me. I’m absent now and then.
22
Where might my Taylor live? I say again
23
I cannot tell. Let me no more be teased;
24
He lives in Wapping, might live where he pleased.
 
25
You see, I cannot get on without writing, as boys do at school, a few nonsense verses. I begin them, and before I have written six the whim has passed—if there is anything deserving so respectable a name in them. I shall put in a bit of information anywhere, just as it strikes me. Mr. Abbey is to write to me as soon as he can bring matters to bear, and then I am to go to town and tell him the means of forwarding to you through Capper and Hazlewood. I wonder I did not put this before. I shall go on to-morrow; it is so fine now I must take a bit of a walk.
 

10.2. Saturday [September 18].

 
1
With my inconstant disposition it is no wonder that this morning, amid all our bad times and misfortunes, I should feel so alert and well-spirited. At this moment you are perhaps in a very different state of mind. It is because my hopes are ever paramount to my despair. I have been reading over a part of a short poem I have composed lately, called Lamia, and I am certain there is that sort of fire in it that must take hold of people some way. Give them either pleasant or unpleasant sensation—what they want is a sensation of some sort. I wish I could pitch the key of your spirits as high as mine is; but your organ-loft is beyond the reach of my voice.
 
2
I admire the exact admeasurement of my niece in your mother’s letter—O! the little span-long elf. I am not in the least a judge of the proper weight and size of an infant. Never trouble yourselves about that. She is sure to be a fine woman. Let her have only delicate nails both on hands and feet, and both as small as a May-fly’s, who will live you his life on a 3 square inch of oak-leaf; and nails she must have, quite different from the market-women here, who plough into butter and make a quarter pound taste of it. I intend to write a letter to your wife, and there I may say more on this little plump subject—I hope she’s plump. Still harping on my daughter. This Winchester is a place tolerably well suited to me. There is a fine cathedral, a college, a Roman Catholic chapel, a Methodist do., and Independent do.; and there is not one loom, or anything like manufacturing beyond bread and butter, in the whole city. There are a number of rich Catholics in the place. It is a respectable, ancient, aristocratic place, and moreover it contains a nunnery. Our set are by no means so hail fellow well met on literary subjects as we were wont to be. Reynolds has turn’d to the law. By the bye, he brought out a little piece at the Lyceum call’d One, Two, Three, Four: by Advertisement. It met with complete success. The meaning of this odd title is explained when I tell you the principal actor is a mimic, who takes off four of our best performers in the course of the farce. Our stage is loaded with mimics. I did not see the piece, being out of town the whole time it was in progress. Dilke is entirely swallowed up in his boy. It is really lamentable to what a pitch he carries a sort of parental mania. I had a letter from him at Shanklin. He went on, a word or two about the Isle of Wight, which is a bit of hobby horse of his, but he soon deviated to his boy. “I am sitting,” says he, “at the window expecting my boy from ——.” I suppose I told you somewhere that he lives in Westminster, and his boy goes to school there, where he gets beaten, and every bruise he has, and I daresay deserves, is very bitter to Dilke. The place I am speaking of puts me in mind of a circumstance which occurred lately at Dilke’s. I think it very rich and dramatic and quite illustrative of the little quiet fun that he will enjoy sometimes. First I must tell you that their house is at the corner of Great Smith Street, so that some of the windows look into one street, and the back windows into another round the corner. Dilke had some old people to dinner—I know not who, but there were two old ladies among them. Brown was there—they had known him from a child. Brown is very pleasant with old women, and on that day it seems behaved himself so winningly that they became hand and glove together, and a little complimentary. Brown was obliged to depart early. He bid them good-bye and passed into the passage. No sooner was his back turned than the old women began lauding him. When Brown had reached the street door, and was just going, Dilke threw up the window and called: “Brown! Brown! They say you look younger than ever you did!” Brown went on, and had just turned the corner into the other street when Dilke appeared at the back window, crying: “Brown! Brown! By God, they say you’re handsome!” You see what a many words it requires to give any identity to a thing I could have told you in half a minute.
 
3
I have been reading lately Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and I think you will be very much amused with a page I here copy for you. I call it a Feu de Joie round the batteries of Fort St. Hyphen-de-Phrase on the birthday of the Digamma. The whole alphabet was drawn up in a phalanx on the corner of an old dictionary, band playing, “Amo, amas,” etc.
 
4
“Every lover admires his mistriss, though she be very deformed of herself, ill-favoured, wrinkled, pimpled, pale, red, yellow, tan’d, tallow-faced, have a swoln juglers platter face, or a thin, lean, chitty face, have clouds in her face, be crooked, dry, bald, goggle-ey’d, blear-ey’d or with staring eys, she looks like a squis’d cat, hold her head still awry, heavy, dull, hollow-mouthed, Persean hook-nosed, have a sharp Jose nose, a red nose, China flat, great nose, nare simo patuloque, a nose like a promontory, gubber-tushed, rotten teeth, black, uneven, brown teeth, beetle browed, a witches beard, her breath stink all over the room, her nose drop winter and summer with a Bavarian poke under her chin, a sharp chin, lave eared, with a long cranes neck, which stands awry too, pendulis mammis, her dugs like two double jugs, or else no dugs in the other extream, bloody faln fingers, she have filthy long unpaired nails, scabbed hands or wrists, a tan’d skin, a rotten carkass, crooked back, she stoops, is lame, splea-footed, as slender in the middle as a cow in the waste, gowty legs, her ankles hang over her shooes, her feet stink, she breed lice, a mere changeling, a very monster, an aufe imperfect, her whole complexion savours, an harsh voyce, incondite gesture, vile gait, a vast virago, or an ugly tit, a slug, a fat fustilugs, a truss, a long lean rawbone, a skeleton, a sneaker (sí qua latent meliora puta), and to thy judgment looks like a Mard in a lanthorn, whom thou couldst not fancy for a world, but hatest, lothest, and wouldst have spit in her face, or blow thy nose in her bosome, remedium amoris to another man, a dowdy, a slut, a scold, a nasty, rank, rammy, filthy, beastly quean, dishonest peradventure, obscene, base, beggerly, rude, foolish, untaught, peevish, Irus’ daughter, Thersite’s sister, Grobian’s schollar; if he love her once, he admires her for all this, he takes no notice of any such errors, or imperfections of body or minde.”
 
5
There’s a dose for you. Fire!! I would give my favourite leg to have written this as a speech in a play. With what effect could Matthews pop-gun it at the pit! This I think will amuse you more than so much poetry. Of that I do not like to copy any, as I am afraid it is too mal à propos for you at present; and yet I will send you some, for by the time you receive it, things in England may have taken a different turn. When I left Mr. Abbey on Monday evening, I walked up Cheapside, but returned to put some letters in the post, and met him again in Bucklesbury. We walked together through the Poultry as far as the baker’s shop he has some concern in—He spoke of it in such a way to me, I thought he wanted me to make an offer to assist him in it. I do believe if I could be a hatter I might be one. He seems anxious about me. He began blowing up Lord Byron while I was sitting with him: “However, may be the fellow says true now and then,” at which he took up a magazine, and read me some extracts from Don Juan (Lord Byron’s last flash poem), and particularly one against literary ambition. I do think I must be well spoken of among sets, for Hodgkinson is more than polite, and the coffee German endeavoured to be very close to me the other night at Covent Garden, where I went at half price before I tumbled into bed. Every one, however distant an acquaintance, behaves in the most conciliating manner to me. You will see I speak of this as a matter of interest. On the next sheet I will give you a little politics.
 
6
In every age there has been in England, for two or three centuries, subjects of great popular interest on the carpet, so that however great the uproar, one can scarcely prophecy any material change in the Government, for as loud disturbances have agitated the country many times. All civilised countries become gradually more enlightened, and there should be a continual change for the better. Look at this country at present, and remember it when it was even thought impious to doubt the justice of a trial by combat. From that time there has been a gradual change. Three great changes have been in progress: first for the better, next for the worse, and a third for the better once more. The first was the gradual annihilation of the tyranny of the nobles, when kings found it their interest to conciliate the common people, elevate them, and be just to them. Just when baronial power ceased, and before standing armies were so dangerous, taxes were few, kings were lifted by the people over the heads of their nobles, and those people held a rod over kings. The change for the worse in Europe was again this: the obligation of kings to the multitude began to be forgotten. Custom had made noblemen the humble servants of kings. Then kings turned to the nobles as the adorners of their power, the slaves of it, and from the people as creatures continually endeavouring to check them. Then in every kingdom there was a long struggle of kings to destroy all popular privileges. The English were the only people in Europe who made a grand kick at this. They were slaves to Henry VIII, but were freemen under William III at the time the French were abject slaves under Louis XIV. The example of England, and the liberal writers of France and England, sowed the seed of opposition to this tyranny, and it was swelling in the ground till it burst out in the French Revolution. That has had an unlucky termination. It put a stop to the rapid progress of free sentiments in England, and gave our Court hopes of turning back to the despotism of the eighteenth century. They have made a handle of this event in every way to undermine our freedom. They spread a horrid superstition against all innovation and improvement. The present struggle in England of the people is to destroy this superstition. What has roused them to do it is their distresses. Perhaps, on this account, the present distresses of this nation are a fortunate thing though so horrid in their experience. You will see I mean that the French Revolution put a temporary stop to this third change—the change for the better—Now it is in progress again, and I think it is an effectual one. This is no contest between Whig and Tory, but between right and wrong. There is scarcely a grain of party spirit now in England. Right and wrong considered by each man abstractedly, is the fashion. I know very little of these things. I am convinced, however, that apparently small causes make great alterations. There are little signs whereby we may know how matters are going on. This makes the business of Carlisle the bookseller of great amount in my mind. He has been selling deistical pamphlets, republished Tom Paine, and many other works held in superstitious horror. He even has been selling, for some time, immense numbers of a work called The Deist, which comes out in weekly numbers. For this conduct he, I think, has had about a dozen indictments issued against him, for which he has found bail to the amount of many thousand pounds. After all, they are afraid to prosecute. They are afraid of his defence; it would be published in all the papers all over the empire. They shudder at this. The trials would light a flame they could not extinguish. Do you not think this of great import? You will hear by the papers of the proceedings at Manchester, and Hunt’s triumphal entry into London. It would take me a whole day and a quire of paper to give you anything like detail. I will merely mention that it is calculated that 30,000 people were in the streets waiting for him. The whole distance from the Angel at Islington to the Crown and Anchor was lined with multitudes.
 
7
As I passed Colnaghi’s window I saw a profile portrait of Sandt, the destroyer of Kotzebue. His very look must interest every one in his favour. I suppose they have represented him in his college dress. He seems to me like a young Abelard—a fine mouth, cheek bones (and this is no joke) full of sentiment, a fine, unvulgar nose, and plump temples.
 
8
On looking over some letters I found the one I wrote, intended for you, from the foot of Helvellyn to Liverpool; but you had sailed, and therefore it was returned to me. It contained, among other nonsense, an acrostic of my sister’s name—and a pretty long name it is. I wrote it in a great hurry which you will see. Indeed I would not copy it if I thought it would ever be seen by any but yourselves.
 
9
Give me your patience, sister, while I frame
10
Exact in capitals your golden name,
11
Or sue the fair Apollo, and he will
12
Rouse from his heavy slumber and instil
13
Great love in me for thee and Poesy.
14
Imagine not that greatest mastery
15
And kingdom over all the realms of verse
16
Nears more to Heaven in aught than when we nurse
17
And surety give to love and brotherhood.
 
18
Anthropopagi in Othello’s mood;
19
Ulysses storm’d, and his enchanted belt
20
Glowed with the Muse: but they are never felt
21
Unbosom’d so, and so eternal made,
22
Such tender incense in their laurel shade
23
To all the recent sisters of the Nine,
24
As this poor offering to you, sister mine.
 
25
Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;
26
Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where;
27
And may its taste to you, like good old wine,
28
Take you to real happiness, and give
29
Sons, daughters, and a home like honied hive.
 
30
Foot of Helvellyn, June 27.
 
31
I sent you in my first packet some of my Scotch letters. I find I have one kept back, which was written in the most interesting part of our tour, and will copy part of it in the hope you will not find it unamusing. I would give now anything for Richardson’s power of making mountains of molehills.
 
32
Incipit epistola caledoniensa—
 

10.3. “Dunancullen.”

 
1
(I did not know the day of the month, for I find I have not added it. Brown must have been asleep). “Just after my last had gone to the post” (before I go any further, I must premise that I would send the identical letter, instead of taking the trouble to copy it; I do not do so, for it would spoil my notion of the neat manner in which I intend to fold these three genteel sheets. The original is written on coarse paper, and the soft one would ride in the post bag very uneasy. Perhaps there might be a quarrel)[106]
 
2
· · · · · · · ·
 
3
I ought to make a large “?” here, but I had better take the opportunity of telling you I have got rid of my haunting sore throat, and conduct myself in a manner not to catch another.
 
4
You speak of Lord Byron and me. There is this great difference between us: he describes what he sees—I describe what I imagine. Mine is the hardest task; now see the immense difference. The Edinburgh Reviewers are afraid to touch upon my poem. They do not know what to make of it; they do not like to condemn it, and they will not praise it for fear. They are as shy of it as I should be of wearing a Quaker’s hat. The fact is, they have no real taste. They dare not compromise their judgments on so puzzling a question. If on my next publication they should praise me, and so lug in Endymion, I will address them in a manner they will not at all relish. The cowardliness of the Edinburgh is more than the abuse of the Quarterly.
 

10.4. Monday [September 20].

 
1
This day is a grand day for Winchester. They elect the mayor. It was indeed high time the place should have some sort of excitement. There was nothing going on—all asleep. Not an old maid’s sedan returning from a card party; and if any old women have got tipsy at christenings, they have not exposed themselves in the street. The first night, though, of our arrival here there was a slight uproar took place at about ten of the clock. We heard distinctly a noise patting down the street, as of a walking-cane of the good old dowager breed; and a little minute after we heard a less voice observe, “What a noise the ferril made—it must be loose.” Brown wanted to call the constables, but I observed it was only a little breeze, and would soon pass over. The side streets here are excessively maiden-lady-like; the door-steps always fresh from the flannel. The knockers have a very staid, serious, nay almost awful quietness about them. I never saw so quiet a collection of lions’ and rams’ heads. The doors most part black, with a little brass handle just above the keyhole, so that you may easily shut yourself out of your own house. He! He! There is none of your Lady Bellaston ringing and rapping here; no thundering Jupiter-footmen, no opera-treble tattoos, but a modest lifting up of the knocker by a set of little wee old fingers that peep through the gray mittens, and a dying fall thereof. The great beauty of poetry is that it makes everything in every place interesting. The palatine Venice and the abbotine Winchester are equally interesting. Some time since I began a poem called “The Eve of St. Mark,” quite in the spirit of town quietude. I think I will give you the sensation of walking about an old country town in a coolish evening. I know not whether I shall ever finish it; I will give it as far as I have gone. Ut tibi placeat—
 
2
THE EVE OF ST. MARK.
 
3
Upon a Sabbath-day it fell;
4
Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell,
5
That call’d the folk to evening prayer;
6
The city streets were clean and fair
7
From wholesome drench of April rains;
8
And, when on western window panes,
9
The chilly sunset faintly told
10
Of unmatured green vallies cold,
11
Of the green thorny bloomless hedge,
12
Of rivers new with spring-tide sedge,
13
Of primroses by shelter’d rills,
14
And daisies on the aguish hills.
15
Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell:
16
The silent streets were crowded well
17
With staid and pious companies,
18
Warm from their fireside orat’ries;
19
And moving, with demurest air,
20
To even-song, and vesper prayer.
21
Each arched porch, and entry low,
22
Was fill’d with patient folk and slow,
23
With whispers hush, and shuffling feet,
24
While play’d the organ loud and sweet.
 
25
The bells had ceas’d, the prayers begun,
26
And Bertha had not yet half done
27
A curious volume, patch’d and torn,
28
That all day long, from earliest morn,
29
Had taken captive her two eyes,
30
Among its golden broideries;
31
Perplex’d her with a thousand things,—
32
The stars of Heaven, and angels’ wings,
33
Martyrs in a fiery blaze,
34
Azure saints and silver rays,
35
Moses’ breastplate, and the seven
36
Candlesticks John saw in Heaven,
37
The winged Lion of St. Mark,
38
And the Covenantal Ark,
39
With its many mysteries,
40
Cherubim and golden mice.
41
Bertha was a maiden fair,
42
Dwelling in the old Minster-square;
43
From her fireside she could see,
44
Sidelong, its rich antiquity,
45
Far as the Bishop’s garden-wall,
46
Where sycamores and elm-trees tall,
47
Full-leav’d the forest had outstript,
48
By no sharp north-wind ever nipt,
49
So shelter’d by the mighty pile.
50
Bertha arose, and read awhile,
51
With forehead ’gainst the window-pane.
52
Again she try’d, and then again,
53
Until the dusk eve left her dark
54
Upon the legend of St. Mark.
55
From plaited lawn-frill, fine and thin,
56
She lifted up her soft warm chin,
57
With aching neck and swimming eyes,
58
And dazed with saintly imageries.
 
59
All was gloom, and silent all,
60
Save now and then the still footfall
61
Of one returning homewards late,
62
Past the echoing minster-gate.
63
The clamorous daws, that all the day
64
Above tree-tops and towers play,
65
Pair by pair had gone to rest,
66
Each in ancient belfry-nest,
67
Where asleep they fall betimes,
68
To music and the drowsy chimes.
 
69
All was silent, all was gloom,
70
Abroad and in the homely room:
71
Down she sat, poor cheated soul!
72
And struck a lamp from the dismal coal;
73
Lean’d forward, with bright drooping hair
74
And slant book, full against the glare.
75
Her shadow, in uneasy guise,
76
Hover’d about, a giant size,
77
On ceiling-beam and old oak chair,
78
The parrot’s cage, and panel square;
79
And the warm angled winter-screen,
80
On which were many monsters seen,
81
Call’d doves of Siam, Lima mice,
82
And legless birds of Paradise,
83
Macaw and tender Avadavat,
84
And silken-furr’d Angora cat.
85
Untir’d she read, her shadow still
86
Glower’d about, as it would fill
87
The room with wildest forms and shades,
88
As though some ghostly queen of spades
89
Had come to mock behind her back,
90
And dance, and ruffle her garments black,
91
Untir’d she read the legend page,
92
Of holy Mark, from youth to age,
93
On land, on sea, in pagan chains,
94
Rejoicing for his many pains.
95
Sometimes the learned eremite,
96
With golden star, or dagger bright,
97
Referr’d to pious poesies
98
Written in smallest crow-quill size
99
Beneath the text; and thus the rhyme
100
Was parcelled out from time to time:
101
“... Als writith he of swevenis,
102
Man han beforne they wake in bliss,
103
Whanne that hir friendes thinke him bound
104
In crimped shroude farre under grounde;
105
And how a litling child mote be
106
A saint er its nativitie,
107
Gif that the modre (God her blesse!)
108
Kepen in solitarinesse,
109
And kissen devoute the holy croce.
110
Of Goddes love, and Sathan’s force,—
111
He writith; and thinges many mo
112
Of swiche thinges I may not show
113
Bot I must tellen verilie
114
Somdel of Saintè Cicilie,
115
And chieflie what he auctorethe
116
Of Saintè Markis life and dethe;”
 
117
At length her constant eyelids come
118
Upon the fervent martyrdom;
119
Then lastly to his holy shrine,
120
Exalt amid the tapers’ shine
121
At Venice,—
 
122
I hope you will like this for all its carelessness. I must take an opportunity here to observe that though I am writing to you, I am all the while writing at your wife. This explanation will account for my speaking sometimes hoity-toity-ishly, whereas if you were alone, I should sport a little more sober sadness. I am like a squinty gentleman, who, saying soft things to one lady ogles another, or what is as bad, in arguing with a person on his left hand, appeals with his eyes to one on the right. His vision is elastic; he bends it to a certain object, but having a patent spring it flies off. Writing has this disadvantage of speaking—one cannot write a wink, or a nod, or a grin, or a purse of the lips, or a smile—O law! One cannot put one’s finger to one’s nose, or yerk ye in the ribs, or lay hold of your button in writing; but in all the most lively and titterly parts of my letter you must not fail to imagine me, as the epic poets say, now here, now there; now with one foot pointed at the ceiling, now with another; now with my pen on my ear, now with my elbow in my mouth. O, my friends, you lose the action, and attitude is everything, as Fuseli said when he took up his leg like a musket to shoot a swallow just darting behind his shoulder. And yet does not the word “mum” go for one’s finger beside the nose? I hope it does. I have to make use of the word “mum” before I tell you that Severn has got a little baby—all his own, let us hope. He told Brown he had given up painting, and had turned modeller. I hope sincerely ’tis not a party concern—that no Mr. —— or —— is the real Pinxit and Severn the poor Sculpsit to this work of art. You know he has long studied in the life Academy. “Haydon—yes,” your wife will say, “Here is a sum total account of Haydon again. I wonder your brother don’t put a monthly bulletin in the Philadelphia papers about him. I won’t hear—no. Skip down to the bottom, and there are some more of his verses—skip (lullaby-by) them too.”—“No, let’s go regularly through.”—“I won’t hear a word about Haydon—bless the child, how rioty she is—there, go on there.”
 
123
Now, pray go on here, for I have a few words to say about Haydon. Before this chancery threat had cut off every legitimate supply of cash from me, I had a little at my disposal. Haydon being very much in want, I lent him £30 of it. Now in this see-saw game of life, I got nearest to the ground, and this chancery business rivetted me there, so that I was sitting in that uneasy position where the seat slants so abominably. I applied to him for payment. He could not. That was no wonder; but Goodman Delver, where was the wonder then? Why marry in this: he did not seem to care much about it, and let me go without my money with almost nonchalance, when he ought to have sold his drawings to supply me. I shall perhaps still be acquainted with him, but for friendship, that is at an end. Brown has been my friend in this. He got him to sign a bond, payable at three months. Haslam has assisted me with the return of part of the money you lent him.
 
124
Hunt—“there,” says your wife, “there’s another of those dull folk! Not a syllable about my friends? Well, Hunt—What about Hunt? You little thing, see how she bites my finger! My! is not this a tooth?” Well when you have done with the tooth, read on. Not a syllable about your friends! Here are some syllables. As far as I could smoke things on the Sunday before last, thus matters stood in Henrietta Street. Henry was a greater blade then ever I remember to have seen him. He had on a very nice coat, a becoming waistcoat, and buff trousers. I think his face has lost a little of the Spanish-brown, but no flesh. He carved some beef exactly to suit my appetite, as if I had been measured for it. As I stood looking out of the window with Charles, after dinner, quizzing the passengers,—at which I am sorry to say he is too apt,—I observed that this young son of a gun’s whiskers had begun to curl and curl, little twists and twists, all down the sides of his face, getting properly thickest on the angles of the visage. He certainly will have a notable pair of whiskers. “How shiny your gown is in front,” says Charles. “Why don’t you see? ’tis an apron,” says Henry; whereat I scrutinised, and behold your mother had a purple stuff gown on, and over it an apron of the same colour, being the same cloth that was used for the lining. And furthermore to account for the shining, it was the first day of wearing. I guessed as much of the gown—but that is entre nous. Charles likes England better than France. They’ve got a fat, smiling, fair cook as ever you saw; she is a little lame, but that improves her; it makes her go more swimmingly. When I asked “Is Mrs. Wylie within?” she gave me such a large five-and-thirty-year-old smile, it made me look round upon the fourth stair—it might have been the fifth; but that’s a puzzle. I shall never be able, if I were to set myself a recollecting for a year, to recollect. I think I remember two or three specks in her teeth, but I really can’t say exactly. Your mother said something about Miss Keasle—what that was is quite a riddle to me now, whether she had got fatter or thinner, or broader or longer, straiter, or had taken to the zigzags—whether she had taken to or had left off asses’ milk. That, by the bye, she ought never to touch. How much better it would be to put her out to nurse with the wise woman of Brentford. I can say no more on so spare a subject. Miss Millar now is a different morsel, if one knew how to divide and subdivide, theme her out into sections and subsections, lay a little on every part of her body as it is divided, in common with all her fellow-creatures, in Moor’s Almanack. But, alas, I have not heard a word about her, no cue to begin upon: there was indeed a buzz about her and her mother’s being at old Mrs. So and So’s, who was like to die, as the Jews say. But I dare say, keeping up their dialect, she was not like to die. I must tell you a good thing Reynolds did. ’Twas the best thing he ever said. You know at taking leave of a party at a doorway, sometimes a man dallies and foolishes and gets awkward, and does not know how to make off to advantage. Good-bye—well, good-bye—and yet he does not go; good-bye, and so on,—well, good bless you—you know what I mean. Now Reynolds was in this predicament, and got out of it in a very witty way. He was leaving us at Hampstead. He delayed, and we were pressing at him, and even said “be off,” at which he put the tails of his coat between his legs and sneak’d off as nigh like a spaniel as could be. He went with flying colours. This is very clever. I must, being upon the subject, tell you another good thing of him. He began, for the service it might be of to him in the law, to learn French; he had lessons at the cheap rate of 2s. 6d. per fag, and observed to Brown, “Gad,” says he, “the man sells his lessons so cheap he must have stolen ’em.” You have heard of Hook, the farce writer. Horace Smith said to one who asked him if he knew Hook, “Oh yes, Hook and I are very intimate.” There’s a page of wit for you, to put John Bunyan’s emblems out of countenance.
 

10.5. Tuesday [September 21].

 
1
You see I keep adding a sheet daily till I send the packet off, which I shall not do for a few days, as I am inclined to write a good deal; for there can be nothing so remembrancing and enchaining as a good long letter, be it composed of what it may. From the time you left me our friends say I have altered completely—am not the same person. Perhaps in this letter I am, for in a letter one takes up one’s existence from the time we last met. I daresay you have altered also—every man does—our bodies every seven years are completely material’d. Seven years ago it was not this hand that clinched itself against Hammond. We are like the relict garments of a saint—the same and not the same, for the careful monks patch it and patch it till there’s not a thread of the original garment left, and still they show it for St. Anthony’s shirt. This is the reason why men who have been bosom friends, on being separated for any number of years meet coldly, neither of them knowing why. The fact is they are both altered.
 
2
Men who live together have a silent moulding and influencing power over each other. They interassimilate. ’Tis an uneasy thought, that in seven years the same hands cannot greet each other again. All this may be obviated by a wilful and dramatic exercise of our minds towards each other. Some think I have lost that poetic ardour and fire ’tis said I once had—the fact is, perhaps I have; but, instead of that, I hope I shall substitute a more thoughtful and quiet power. I am more frequently now contented to read and think, but now and then haunted with ambitious thoughts. Quieter in my pulse, improved in my digestion, exerting myself against vexing speculations, scarcely content to write the best verses for the fever they leave behind. I want to compose without this fever. I hope I one day shall. You would scarcely imagine I could live alone so comfortably. “Kepen in solitarinesse.” I told Anne, the servant here, the other day, to say I was not at home if any one should call. I am not certain how I should endure loneliness and bad weather together. Now the time is beautiful. I take a walk every day for an hour before dinner, and this is generally my walk: I go out the back gate, across one street into the cathedral yard, which is always interesting; there I pass under the trees along a paved path, pass the beautiful front of the cathedral, turn to the left under a stone doorway,—then I am on the other side of the building,—which leaving behind me, I pass on through two college-like squares, seemingly built for the dwelling-place of deans and prebendaries, garnished with grass and shaded with trees; then I pass through one of the old city gates, and then you are in one college street, through which I pass, and at the end thereof crossing some meadows, and at last a country alley of gardens, I arrive, that is my worship arrives, at the foundation of St. Cross, which is a very interesting old place, both for its gothic tower and alms square and for the appropriation of its rich rents to a relation of the Bishop of Winchester. Then I pass across St. Cross meadows till you come to the most beautifully clear river—now this is only one mile of my walk. I will spare you the other two till after supper, when they would do you more good. You must avoid going the first mile best after dinner—
 

10.6. [Wednesday, September 22.]

 
1
I could almost advise you to put by this nonsense until you are lifted out of your difficulties; but when you come to this part, feel with confidence what I now feel, that though there can be no stop put to troubles we are inheritors of, there can be, and must be, an end to immediate difficulties. Rest in the confidence that I will not omit any exertion to benefit you by some means or other—If I cannot remit you hundreds, I will tens, and if not that, ones. Let the next year be managed by you as well as possible—the next month, I mean, for I trust you will soon receive Abbey’s remittance. What he can send you will not be a sufficient capital to ensure you any command in America. What he has of mine I have nearly anticipated by debts, so I would advise you not to sink it, but to live upon it, in hopes of my being able to increase it. To this end I will devote whatever I may gain for a few years to come, at which period I must begin to think of a security of my own comforts, when quiet will become more pleasant to me than the world. Still, I would have you doubt my success. ’Tis at present the cast of a die with me. You say, “These things will be a great torment to me.” I shall not suffer them to be so. I shall only exert myself the more, while the seriousness of their nature will prevent me from nursing up imaginary griefs. I have not had the blue devils once since I received your last. I am advised not to publish till it is seen whether the tragedy will or not succeed. Should it, a few months may see me in the way of acquiring property. Should it not, it will be a drawback, and I shall have to perform a longer literary pilgrimage. You will perceive that it is quite out of my interest to come to America. What could I do there? How could I employ myself out of reach of libraries? You do not mention the name of the gentleman who assists you. ’Tis an extraordinary thing. How could you do without that assistance? I will not trust myself with brooding over this. The following is an extract from a letter of Reynolds to me:—
 
2
“I am glad to hear you are getting on so well with your writings. I hope you are not neglecting the revision of your poems for the press, from which I expect more than you do.”
 
3
The first thought that struck me on reading your last was to mortgage a poem to Murray, but on more consideration, I made up my mind not to do so; my reputation is very low; he would not have negotiated my bill of intellect, or given me a very small sum. I should have bound myself down for some time. ’Tis best to meet present misfortunes; not for a momentary good to sacrifice great benefits which one’s own untrammell’d and free industry may bring one in the end. In all this do never think of me as in any way unhappy: I shall not be so. I have a great pleasure in thinking of my responsibility to you, and shall do myself the greatest luxury if I can succeed in any way so as to be of assistance to you. We shall look back upon these times, even before our eyes are at all dim—I am convinced of it. But be careful of those Americans. I could almost advise you to come, whenever you have the sum of £500, to England. Those Americans will, I am afraid, still fleece you. If ever you think of such a thing, you must bear in mind the very different state of society here,—the immense difficulties of the times, the great sum required per annum to maintain yourself in any decency. In fact the whole is with Providence. I know not how to advise you but by advising you to advise with yourself. In your next tell me at large your thoughts about America—what chance there is of succeeding there, for it appears to me you have as yet been somehow deceived. I cannot help thinking Mr. Audubon has deceived you. I shall not like the sight of him. I shall endeavour to avoid seeing him. You see how puzzled I am. I have no meridian to fix you to, being the slave of what is to happen. I think I may bid you finally remain in good hopes, and not tease yourself with my changes and variations of mind. If I say nothing decisive in any one particular part of my letter, you may glean the truth from the whole pretty correctly. You may wonder why I had not put your affairs with Abbey in train on receiving your letter before last, to which there will reach you a short answer dated from Shanklin. I did write and speak to Abbey, but to no purpose. Your last, with the enclosed note, has appealed home to him. He will not see the necessity of a thing till he is hit in the mouth. ’Twill be effectual.
 
4
I am sorry to mix up foolish and serious things together, but in writing so much I am obliged to do so, and I hope sincerely the tenor of your mind will maintain itself better. In the course of a few months I shall be as good an Italian scholar as I am a French one. I am reading Ariosto at present, not managing more than six or eight stanzas at a time. When I have done this language, so as to be able to read it tolerably well, I shall set myself to get complete in Latin, and there my learning must stop. I do not think of returning upon Greek. I would not go even so far if I were not persuaded of the power the knowledge of any language gives one. The fact is I like to be acquainted with foreign languages. It is, besides, a nice way of filling up intervals, etc. Also the reading of Dante is well worth the while; and in Latin there is a fund of curious literature of the Middle Ages, the works of many great men—Aretino and Sannazaro and Machiavelli. I shall never become attached to a foreign idiom, so as to put it into my writings. The Paradise Lost, though so fine in itself, is a corruption of our language. It should be kept as it is—unique, a curiosity, a beautiful and grand curiosity, the most remarkable production of the world; a northern dialect accommodating itself to Greek and Latin inversions and intonations. The purest English, I think—or what ought to be purest—is Chatterton’s. The language had existed long enough to be entirely uncorrupted of Chaucer’s Gallicisms, and still the old words are used. Chatterton’s language is entirely northern. I prefer the native music of it to Milton’s, cut by feet. I have but lately stood on my guard against Milton. Life to him would be death to me. Miltonic verse cannot be written, but is the verse of art. I wish to devote myself to another verse alone.
 

10.7. Friday [September 24].

 
1
I have been obliged to intermit your letter for two days (this being Friday morning), from having had to attend to other correspondence. Brown, who was at Bedhampton, went thence to Chichester, and I am still directing my letters Bedhampton. There arose a misunderstanding about them. I began to suspect my letters had been stopped from curiosity. However, yesterday Brown had four letters from me all in a lump, and the matter is cleared up. Brown complained very much in his letter to me of yesterday of the great alteration the disposition of Dilke has undergone. He thinks of nothing but political justice and his boy. Now, the first political duty a man ought to have a mind to is the happiness of his friends. I wrote Brown a comment on the subject, wherein I explained what I thought of Dilke’s character, which resolved itself into this conclusion, that Dilke was a man who cannot feel he has a personal identity unless he has made up his mind about everything. The only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing—to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts, not a select party. The genus is not scarce in population; all the stubborn arguers you meet with are of the same brood. They never begin upon a subject they have not pre-resolved on. They want to hammer their nail into you, and if you have the point, still they think you wrong. Dilke will never come at a truth as long as he lives, because he is always trying at it. He is a Godwin Methodist.
 
2
I must not forget to mention that your mother show’d me the lock of hair—’tis of a very dark colour for so young a creature. Then it is two feet in length. I shall not stand a barley corn higher. That’s not fair; one ought to go on growing as well as others. At the end of this sheet I shall stop for the present and send it off. You may expect another letter immediately after it. As I never know the day of the month but by chance, I put here that this is the 24th September.
 
3
I would wish you here to stop your ears, for I have a word or two to say to your wife.
 
4
My dear Sister—In the first place I must quarrel with you for sending me such a shabby piece of paper, though that is in some degree made up for by the beautiful impression of the seal. You should like to know what I was doing the first of May. Let me see—I cannot recollect. I have all the Examiners ready to send—they will be a great treat to you when they reach you. I shall pack them up when my business with Abbey has come to a good conclusion, and the remittance is on the road to you. I have dealt round your best wishes like a pack of cards, but being always given to cheat myself, I have turned up ace. You see I am making game of you. I see you are not all happy in that America. England, however, would not be over happy for you if you were here. Perhaps ’twould be better to be teased here than there. I must preach patience to you both. No step hasty or injurious to you must be taken. You say let one large sheet be all to me. You will find more than that in different parts of this packet for you. Certainly, I have been caught in rains. A catch in the rain occasioned my last sore throat; but as for red-haired girls, upon my word, I do not recollect ever having seen one. Are you quizzing me or Miss Waldegrave when you talk of promenading? As for pun-making, I wish it was as good a trade as pin-making. There is very little business of that sort going on now. We struck for wages, like the Manchester weavers, but to no purpose. So we are all out of employ. I am more lucky than some, you see, by having an opportunity of exporting a few—getting into a little foreign trade, which is a comfortable thing. I wish one could get change for a pun in silver currency. I would give three and a half any night to get into Drury pit, but they won’t ring at all. No more will notes you will say; but notes are different things, though they make together a pun-note as the term goes. If I were your son, I shouldn’t mind you, though you rapt me with the scissors. But, Lord! I should be out of favour when the little un be comm’d. You have made an uncle of me, you have, and I don’t know what to make of myself. I suppose next there will be a nevey. You say in my last, write directly. I have not received your letter above ten days. The thought of your little girl puts me in mind of a thing I heard a Mr. Lamb say. A child in arms was passing by towards its mother, in the nurse’s arms. Lamb took hold of the long clothes, saying: “Where, God bless me, where does it leave off?”
 

10.8. Saturday [September 25].

 
1
If you would prefer a joke or two to anything else, I have two for you, fresh hatched, just ris, as the bakers’ wives say by the rolls. The first I played off on Brown; the second I played on myself. Brown, when he left me, “Keats,” says he, “my good fellow” (staggering upon his left heel and fetching an irregular pirouette with his right); “Keats,” says he (depressing his left eyebrow and elevating his right one), though by the way at the moment I did not know which was the right one; “Keats,” says he (still in the same posture, but furthermore both his hands in his waistcoat pockets and putting out his stomach), “Keats—my—go-o-ood fell-o-o-ooh,” says he (interlarding his exclamation with certain ventriloquial parentheses),—no, this is all a lie—He was as sober as a judge, when a judge happens to be sober, and said: “Keats, if any letters come for me, do not forward them, but open them and give me the marrow of them in a few words.” At the time I wrote my first to him no letter had arrived. I thought I would invent one, and as I had not time to manufacture a long one, I dabbed off a short one, and that was the reason of the joke succeeding beyond my expectations. Brown let his house to a Mr. Benjamin—a Jew. Now, the water which furnishes the house is in a tank, sided with a composition of lime, and the lime impregnates the water unpleasantly. Taking advantage of this circumstance, I pretended that Mr. Benjamin had written the following short note—
 
2
Sir—By drinking your damn’d tank water I have got the gravel. What reparation can you make to me and my family?
 
3
Nathan Benjamin.
 
4
By a fortunate hit, I hit upon his right—heathen name—his right pronomen. Brown in consequence, it appears, wrote to the surprised Mr. Benjamin the following—
 
5
Sir—I cannot offer you any remuneration until your gravel shall have formed itself into a stone—when I will cut you with pleasure.
 
6
C. Brown.
 
7
This of Brown’s Mr. Benjamin has answered, insisting on an explanation of this singular circumstance. B. says: “When I read your letter and his following, I roared; and in came Mr. Snook, who on reading them seem’d likely to burst the hoops of his fat sides.” So the joke has told well.
 
8
Now for the one I played on myself. I must first give you the scene and the dramatis personæ. There are an old major and his youngish wife here in the next apartments to me. His bedroom door opens at an angle with my sitting-room door. Yesterday I was reading as demurely as a parish clerk, when I heard a rap at the door. I got up and opened it; no one was to be seen. I listened, and heard some one in the major’s room. Not content with this, I went upstairs and down, looked in the cupboards and watch’d. At last I set myself to read again, not quite so demurely, when there came a louder rap. I was determined to find out who it was. I looked out; the staircases were all silent. “This must be the major’s wife,” said I. “At all events I will see the truth.” So I rapt me at the major’s door and went in, to the utter surprise and confusion of the lady, who was in reality there. After a little explanation, which I can no more describe than fly, I made my retreat from her, convinced of my mistake. She is to all appearance a silly body, and is really surprised about it. She must have been, for I have discovered that a little girl in the house was the rapper. I assure you she has nearly made me sneeze. If the lady tells tits, I shall put a very grave and moral face on the matter with the old gentleman, and make his little boy a present of a humming top.
 

10.9. [Monday, September 27.]

 
1
My dear George—This Monday morning, the 27th, I have received your last, dated 12th July. You say you have not heard from England for three months. Then my letter from Shanklin, written, I think, at the end of June, has not reach’d you. You shall not have cause to think I neglect you. I have kept this back a little time in expectation of hearing from Mr. Abbey. You will say I might have remained in town to be Abbey’s messenger in these affairs. That I offered him, but he in his answer convinced me that he was anxious to bring the business to an issue. He observed, that by being himself the agent in the whole, people might be more expeditious. You say you have not heard for three months, and yet your letters have the tone of knowing how our affairs are situated, by which I conjecture I acquainted you with them in a letter previous to the Shanklin one. That I may not have done. To be certain, I will here state that it is in consequence of Mrs. Jennings threatening a chancery suit that you have been kept from the receipt of monies, and myself deprived of any help from Abbey. I am glad you say you keep up your spirits. I hope you make a true statement on that score. Still keep them up, for we are all young. I can only repeat here that you shall hear from me again immediately. Notwithstanding this bad intelligence, I have experienced some pleasure in receiving so correctly two letters from you, as it gives me, if I may so say, a distant idea of proximity. This last improves upon my little niece—kiss her for me. Do not fret yourself about the delay of money on account of my immediate opportunity being lost, for in a new country whoever has money must have an opportunity of employing it in many ways. The report runs now more in favour of Kean stopping in England. If he should, I have confident hopes of our tragedy. If he invokes the hot-blooded character of Ludolph,—and he is the only actor that can do it,—he will add to his own fame and improve my fortune. I will give you a half-dozen lines of it before I part as a specimen—
 
2
Not as a swordsman would I pardon crave,
3
But as a son: the bronz’d Centurion,
4
Long-toil’d in foreign wars, and whose high deeds
5
Are shaded in a forest of tall spears,
6
Known only to his troop, hath greater plea
7
Of favour with my sire than I can have.
 
8
Believe me, my dear brother and sister, your affectionate and anxious Brother
9
John Keats.
 

 

11. CXVII.—TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS.

11.1. Winchester, September 22, 1819.

 
1
My dear Reynolds—I was very glad to hear from Woodhouse that you would meet in the country. I hope you will pass some pleasant time together. Which I wish to make pleasanter by a brace of letters, very highly to be estimated, as really I have had very bad luck with this sort of game this season. I “kepen in solitarinesse,” for Brown has gone a-visiting. I am surprised myself at the pleasure I live alone in. I can give you no news of the place here, or any other idea of it but what I have to this effect written to George. Yesterday I say to him was a grand day for Winchester. They elected a Mayor. It was indeed high time the place should receive some sort of excitement. There was nothing going on: all asleep: not an old maid’s sedan returning from a card party: and if any old woman got tipsy at Christenings they did not expose it in the streets. The first night though of our arrival here, there was a slight uproar took place at about 10 o’ the Clock. We heard distinctly a noise pattering down the High Street as of a walking cane of the good old Dowager breed; and a little minute after we heard a less voice observe “What a noise the ferril made—it must be loose.” Brown wanted to call the constables, but I observed ’twas only a little breeze and would soon pass over.—The side streets here are excessively maiden-lady-like: the door-steps always fresh from the flannel. The knockers have a staid serious, nay almost awful quietness about them. I never saw so quiet a collection of Lions’ and Rams’ heads. The doors are most part black, with a little brass handle just above the keyhole, so that in Winchester a man may very quietly shut himself out of his own house. How beautiful the season is now—How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather—Dian skies—I never liked stubble-fields so much as now—Aye better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow, a stubble-field looks warm—in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it.[107]
 
2
I hope you are better employed than in gaping after weather. I have been at different times so happy as not to know what weather it was—No I will not copy a parcel of verses. I always somehow associate Chatterton with autumn. He is the purest writer in the English Language. He has no French idiom or particles, like Chaucer—’tis genuine English Idiom in English words. I have given up Hyperion—there were too many Miltonic inversions in it—Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful, or, rather, artist’s humour. I wish to give myself up to other sensations. English ought to be kept up. It may be interesting to you to pick out some lines from Hyperion, and put a mark × to the false beauty proceeding from art, and one || to the true voice of feeling. Upon my soul ’twas imagination—I cannot make the distinction—Every now and then there is a Miltonic intonation—But I cannot make the division properly. The fact is, I must take a walk: for I am writing a long letter to George: and have been employed at it all the morning. You will ask, have I heard from George. I am sorry to say not the best news—I hope for better. This is the reason, among others, that if I write to you it must be in such a scrap-like way. I have no meridian to date interests from, or measure circumstances—To-night I am all in a mist; I scarcely know what’s what—But you knowing my unsteady and vagarish disposition, will guess that all this turmoil will be settled by to-morrow morning. It strikes me to-night that I have led a very odd sort of life for the two or three last years—Here and there—no anchor—I am glad of it.—If you can get a peep at Babbicombe before you leave the country, do.—I think it the finest place I have seen, or is to be seen, in the South. There is a Cottage there I took warm water at, that made up for the tea. I have lately shirk’d some friends of ours, and I advise you to do the same, I mean the blue-devils—I am never at home to them. You need not fear them while you remain in Devonshire—there will be some of the family waiting for you at the Coach office—but go by another Coach.
 
3
I shall beg leave to have a third opinion in the first discussion you have with Woodhouse—just half-way, between both. You know I will not give up my argument—In my walk to-day I stoop’d under a railing that lay across my path, and asked myself “Why I did not get over.” “Because,” answered I, “no one wanted to force you under.” I would give a guinea to be a reasonable man—good sound sense—a says what he thinks and does what he says man—and did not take snuff. They say men near death, however mad they may have been, come to their senses—I hope I shall here in this letter—there is a decent space to be very sensible in—many a good proverb has been in less—nay, I have heard of the statutes at large being changed into the Statutes at Small and printed for a watch paper.
 
4
Your sisters, by this time, must have got the Devonshire “ees”—short ees—you know ’em—they are the prettiest ees in the language. O how I admire the middle-sized delicate Devonshire girls of about fifteen. There was one at an Inn door holding a quartern of brandy—the very thought of her kept me warm a whole stage—and a 16 miler too—“You’ll pardon me for being jocular.”
 
5
Ever your affectionate friend
6
John Keats.
 

 

12. CXVIII.—TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.

12.1. Winchester, Wednesday Eve. [September 22, 1819.]

 
1
My dear Dilke—Whatever I take to for the time I cannot leave off in a hurry; letter writing is the go now; I have consumed a quire at least. You must give me credit, now, for a free Letter when it is in reality an interested one, on two points, the one requestive, the other verging to the pros and cons. As I expect they will lead me to seeing and conferring with you in a short time, I shall not enter at all upon a letter I have lately received from George, of not the most comfortable intelligence: but proceed to these two points, which if you can theme out into sections and subsections, for my edification, you will oblige me. The first I shall begin upon, the other will follow like a tail to a Comet. I have written to Brown on the subject, and can but go over the same ground with you in a very short time, it not being more in length than the ordinary paces between the Wickets. It concerns a resolution I have taken to endeavour to acquire something by temporary writing in periodical works. You must agree with me how unwise it is to keep feeding upon hopes, which depending so much on the state of temper and imagination, appear gloomy or bright, near or afar off, just as it happens. Now an act has three parts—to act, to do, and to perform—I mean I should do something for my immediate welfare. Even if I am swept away like a spider from a drawing-room, I am determined to spin—homespun anything for sale. Yea, I will traffic. Anything but Mortgage my Brain to Blackwood. I am determined not to lie like a dead lump. If Reynolds had not taken to the law, would he not be earning something? Why cannot I. You may say I want tact—that is easily acquired. You may be up to the slang of a cock pit in three battles. It is fortunate I have not before this been tempted to venture on the common. I should a year or two ago have spoken my mind on every subject with the utmost simplicity. I hope I have learned a little better and am confident I shall be able to cheat as well as any literary Jew of the Market and shine up an article on anything without much knowledge of the subject, aye like an orange. I would willingly have recourse to other means. I cannot; I am fit for nothing but literature. Wait for the issue of this Tragedy? No—there cannot be greater uncertainties east, west, north, and south than concerning dramatic composition. How many months must I wait! Had I not better begin to look about me now? If better events supersede this necessity what harm will be done? I have no trust whatever on Poetry. I don’t wonder at it—the marvel is to me how people read so much of it. I think you will see the reasonableness of my plan. To forward it I purpose living in cheap Lodging in Town, that I may be in the reach of books and information, of which there is here a plentiful lack. If I can find any place tolerably comfortable I will settle myself and fag till I can afford to buy Pleasure—which if I never can afford I must go without. Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine—good God how fine. It went down soft, pulpy, slushy, oozy—all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beatified Strawberry. I shall certainly breed. Now I come to my request. Should you like me for a neighbour again? Come, plump it out, I won’t blush. I should also be in the neighbourhood of Mrs. Wylie, which I should be glad of, though that of course does not influence me. Therefore will you look about Marsham, or Rodney Street for a couple of rooms for me. Rooms like the gallant’s legs in Massinger’s time, “as good as the times allow, Sir.” I have written to-day to Reynolds, and to Woodhouse. Do you know him? He is a Friend of Taylor’s at whom Brown has taken one of his funny odd dislikes. I’m sure he’s wrong, because Woodhouse likes my Poetry—conclusive. I ask your opinion and yet I must say to you as to him, Brown, that if you have anything to say against it I shall be as obstinate and heady as a Radical. By the Examiner coming in your handwriting you must be in Town. They have put me into spirits. Notwithstanding my aristocratic temper I cannot help being very much pleased with the present public proceedings. I hope sincerely I shall be able to put a Mite of help to the Liberal side of the Question before I die. If you should have left Town again (for your Holidays cannot be up yet) let me know when this is forwarded to you. A most extraordinary mischance has befallen two letters I wrote Brown—one from London whither I was obliged to go on business for George; the other from this place since my return. I can’t make it out. I am excessively sorry for it. I shall hear from Brown and from you almost together, for I have sent him a Letter to-day: you must positively agree with me or by the delicate toe nails of the virgin I will not open your Letters. If they are as David says “suspicious looking letters” I won’t open them. If St. John had been half as cunning he might have seen the revelations comfortably in his own room, without giving angels the trouble of breaking open seals. Remember me to Mrs. D. and the West-monasteranian and believe me
 
2
Ever your sincere friend
3
John Keats.
 

 

13. CXIX.—TO CHARLES BROWN.

13.1. Winchester, September 23, 1819.

 
1
· · · · · · · ·
 
2
Now I am going to enter on the subject of self. It is quite time I should set myself doing something, and live no longer upon hopes. I have never yet exerted myself. I am getting into an idle-minded, vicious way of life, almost content to live upon others. In no period of my life have I acted with any self-will but in throwing up the apothecary profession. That I do not repent of. Look at Reynolds, if he was not in the law, he would be acquiring, by his abilities, something towards his support. My occupation is entirely literary: I will do so, too. I will write, on the liberal side of the question, for whoever will pay me. I have not known yet what it is to be diligent. I purpose living in town in a cheap lodging, and endeavouring, for a beginning, to get the theatricals of some paper. When I can afford to compose deliberate poems, I will. I shall be in expectation of an answer to this. Look on my side of the question. I am convinced I am right. Suppose the tragedy should succeed,—there will be no harm done. And here I will take an opportunity of making a remark or two on our friendship, and on all your good offices to me. I have a natural timidity of mind in these matters; liking better to take the feeling between us for granted, than to speak of it. But, good God! what a short while you have known me! I feel it a sort of duty thus to recapitulate, however unpleasant it may be to you. You have been living for others more than any man I know. This is a vexation to me, because it has been depriving you, in the very prime of your life, of pleasures which it was your duty to procure. As I am speaking in general terms, this may appear nonsense; you perhaps will not understand it; but if you can go over, day by day, any month of the last year, you will know what I mean. On the whole however this is a subject that I cannot express myself upon—I speculate upon it frequently; and believe me the end of my speculations is always an anxiety for your happiness. This anxiety will not be one of the least incitements to the plan I purpose pursuing. I had got into a habit of mind of looking towards you as a help in all difficulties—This very habit would be the parent of idleness and difficulties. You will see it is a duty I owe myself to break the neck of it. I do nothing for my subsistence—make no exertion—At the end of another year you shall applaud me, not for verses, but for conduct. While I have some immediate cash, I had better settle myself quietly, and fag on as others do. I shall apply to Hazlitt, who knows the market as well as any one, for something to bring me in a few pounds as soon as possible. I shall not suffer my pride to hinder me. The whisper may go round; I shall not hear it. If I can get an article in the Edinburgh, I will. One must not be delicate—Nor let this disturb you longer than a moment. I look forward with a good hope that we shall one day be passing free, untrammelled, unanxious time together. That can never be if I continue a dead lump. I shall be expecting anxiously an answer from you. If it does not arrive in a few days this will have miscarried, and I shall come straight to —— before I go to town, which you I am sure will agree had better be done while I still have some ready cash. By the middle of October I shall expect you in London. We will then set at the theatres. If you have anything to gainsay, I shall be even as the deaf adder which stoppeth her ears.
 
3
· · · · · · · ·
 

 

14. CXX.—TO CHARLES BROWN.

14.1. Winchester, September 23, 1819.

 
1
· · · · · · · ·
 
2
Do not suffer me to disturb you unpleasantly: I do not mean that you should not suffer me to occupy your thoughts, but to occupy them pleasantly; for I assure you I am as far from being unhappy as possible. Imaginary grievances have always been more my torment than real ones—You know this well—Real ones will never have any other effect upon me than to stimulate me to get out of or avoid them. This is easily accounted for—Our imaginary woes are conjured up by our passions, and are fostered by passionate feeling: our real ones come of themselves, and are opposed by an abstract exertion of mind. Real grievances are displacers of passion. The imaginary nail a man down for a sufferer, as on a cross; the real spur him up into an agent. I wish, at one view, you would see my heart towards you. ’Tis only from a high tone of feeling that I can put that word upon paper—out of poetry. I ought to have waited for your answer to my last before I wrote this. I felt however compelled to make a rejoinder to yours. I had written to Dilke on the subject of my last, I scarcely know whether I shall send my letter now. I think he would approve of my plan; it is so evident. Nay, I am convinced, out and out, that by prosing for a while in periodical works I may maintain myself decently.
 
3
· · · · · · · ·
 

 

15. CXXI.—TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.

15.1. Winchester, Friday, October 1 [1819].

 
1
My dear Dilke—For sundry reasons, which I will explain to you when I come to Town, I have to request you will do me a great favour as I must call it knowing how great a Bore it is. That your imagination may not have time to take too great an alarm I state immediately that I want you to hire me a couple of rooms (a Sitting Room and bed room for myself alone) in Westminster. Quietness and cheapness are the essentials: but as I shall with Brown be returned by next Friday you cannot in that space have sufficient time to make any choice selection, and need not be very particular as I can when on the spot suit myself at leisure. Brown bids me remind you not to send the Examiners after the third. Tell Mrs. D. I am obliged to her for the late ones which I see are directed in her hand. Excuse this mere business letter for I assure you I have not a syllable at hand on any subject in the world.
 
2
Your sincere friend
3
John Keats.
 

 

16. CXXII.—TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.

16.1. Winchester, Sunday Morn [October 3, 1819].

 
1
My dear Haydon—Certainly I might: but a few Months pass away before we are aware. I have a great aversion to letter writing, which grows more and more upon me; and a greater to summon up circumstances before me of an unpleasant nature. I was not willing to trouble you with them. Could I have dated from my Palace of Milan you would have heard from me. Not even now will I mention a word of my affairs—only that “I Rab am here” but shall not be here more than a Week more, as I purpose to settle in Town and work my way with the rest. I hope I shall never be so silly as to injure my health and industry for the future by speaking, writing or fretting about my non-estate. I have no quarrel, I assure you, of so weighty a nature, with the world, on my own account as I have on yours. I have done nothing—except for the amusement of a few people who refine upon their feelings till anything in the un-understandable way will go down with them—people predisposed for sentiment. I have no cause to complain because I am certain anything really fine will in these days be felt. I have no doubt that if I had written Othello I should have been cheered by as good a mob as Hunt. So would you be now if the operation of painting was as universal as that of Writing. It is not: and therefore it did behove men I could mention among whom I must place Sir George Beaumont to have lifted you up above sordid cares. That this has not been done is a disgrace to the country. I know very little of Painting, yet your pictures follow me into the Country. When I am tired of reading I often think them over and as often condemn the spirit of modern Connoisseurs. Upon the whole, indeed, you have no complaint to make, being able to say what so few Men can, “I have succeeded.” On sitting down to write a few lines to you these are the uppermost in my mind, and, however I may be beating about the arctic while your spirit has passed the line, you may lay to a minute and consider I am earnest as far as I can see. Though at this present “I have great dispositions to write” I feel every day more and more content to read. Books are becoming more interesting and valuable to me. I may say I could not live without them. If in the course of a fortnight you can procure me a ticket to the British Museum I will make a better use of it than I did in the first instance. I shall go on with patience in the confidence that if I ever do anything worth remembering the Reviewers will no more be able to stumble-block me than the Royal Academy could you. They have the same quarrel with you that the Scotch nobles had with Wallace. The fame they have lost through you is no joke to them. Had it not been for you Fuseli would have been not as he is major but maximus domo. What Reviewers can put a hindrance to must be—a nothing—or mediocre which is worse. I am sorry to say that since I saw you I have been guilty of a practical joke upon Brown which has had all the success of an innocent Wildfire among people. Some day in the next week you shall hear it from me by word of Mouth. I have not seen the portentous Book which was skummer’d at you just as I left town. It may be light enough to serve you as a Cork Jacket and save you for a while the trouble of swimming. I heard the Man went raking and rummaging about like any Richardson. That and the Memoirs of Menage are the first I shall be at. From Sr. G. B.’s, Lord Ms[108] and particularly Sr. John Leicesters good lord deliver us. I shall expect to see your Picture plumped out like a ripe Peach—you would not be very willing to give me a slice of it. I came to this place in the hopes of meeting with a Library but was disappointed. The High Street is as quiet as a Lamb. The knockers are dieted to three raps per diem. The walks about are interesting from the many old Buildings and archways. The view of the High Street through the Gate of the City in the beautiful September evening light has amused me frequently. The bad singing of the Cathedral I do not care to smoke—being by myself I am not very coy in my taste. At St. Cross there is an interesting picture of Albert Dürer’s—who living in such war-like times perhaps was forced to paint in his Gauntlets—so we must make all allowances.
 
2
I am, my dear Haydon, Yours ever
3
John Keats.
 
4
Brown has a few words to say to you and will cross this.
 

 

17. CXXIII.—TO FANNY KEATS.

17.1. Wentworth Place[109] [October 16, 1819].

 
1
My dear Fanny—My Conscience is always reproaching me for neglecting you for so long a time. I have been returned from Winchester this fortnight, and as yet I have not seen you. I have no excuse to offer—I should have no excuse. I shall expect to see you the next time I call on Mr. A. about George’s affairs which perplex me a great deal—I should have to-day gone to see if you were in town—but as I am in an industrious humour (which is so necessary to my livelihood for the future) I am loath to break through it though it be merely for one day, for when I am inclined I can do a great deal in a day—I am more fond of pleasure than study (many men have prefer’d the latter) but I have become resolved to know something which you will credit when I tell you I have left off animal food that my brains may never henceforth be in a greater mist than is theirs by nature—I took lodgings in Westminster for the purpose of being in the reach of Books, but am now returned to Hampstead being induced to it by the habit I have acquired in this room I am now in and also from the pleasure of being free from paying any petty attentions to a diminutive house-keeping. Mr. Brown has been my great friend for some time—without him I should have been in, perhaps, personal distress—as I know you love me though I do not deserve it, I am sure you will take pleasure in being a friend to Mr. Brown even before you know him.—My lodgings for two or three days were close in the neighbourhood of Mrs. Dilke who never sees me but she enquires after you—I have had letters from George lately which do not contain, as I think I told you in my last, the best news—I have hopes for the best—I trust in a good termination to his affairs which you please God will soon hear of—It is better you should not be teased with the particulars. The whole amount of the ill news is that his mercantile speculations have not had success in consequence of the general depression of trade in the whole province of Kentucky and indeed all America.—I have a couple of shells for you you will call pretty.
 
2
Your affectionate Brother
3
John ——.
 

 

18. CXXIV.—TO JOSEPH SEVERN.

18.1. Wentworth Place, Wednesday [October 27? 1819].

 
1
Dear Severn—Either your joke about staying at home is a very old one or I really call’d. I don’t remember doing so. I am glad to hear you have finish’d the Picture and am more anxious to see it than I have time to spare: for I have been so very lax, unemployed, unmeridian’d, and objectless these two months that I even grudge indulging (and that is no great indulgence considering the Lecture is not over till 9 and the lecture room seven miles from Wentworth Place) myself by going to Hazlitt’s Lecture. If you have hours to the amount of a brace of dozens to throw away you may sleep nine of them here in your little Crib and chat the rest. When your Picture is up and in a good light I shall make a point of meeting you at the Academy if you will let me know when. If you should be at the Lecture to-morrow evening I shall see you—and congratulate you heartily—Haslam I know “is very Beadle to an amorous sigh.”
 
2
Your sincere friend
3
John Keats.
 

 

19. CXXV.—TO JOHN TAYLOR.

19.1. Wentworth Place, Hampstead, November 17 [1819].

 
1
My dear Taylor—I have come to a determination not to publish anything I have now ready written: but, for all that, to publish a poem before long, and that I hope to make a fine one. As the marvellous is the most enticing, and the surest guarantee of harmonious numbers, I have been endeavouring to persuade myself to untether Fancy, and to let her manage for herself.[110] I and myself cannot agree about this at all. Wonders are no wonders to me. I am more at home amongst men and women. I would rather read Chaucer than Ariosto. The little dramatic skill I may as yet have, however badly it might show in a drama, would, I think, be sufficient for a poem. I wish to diffuse the colouring of St. Agnes’s Eve throughout a poem in which character and sentiment would be the figures to such drapery. Two or three such poems, if God should spare me, written in the course of the next six years, would be a famous Gradus ad Parnassum altissimum—I mean they would nerve me up to the writing of a few fine plays—my greatest ambition, when I do feel ambitious. I am sorry to say that is very seldom. The subject we have once or twice talked of appears a promising one—The Earl of Leicester’s history. I am this morning reading Holinshed’s “Elizabeth.” You had some books a while ago, you promised to send me, illustrative of my subject. If you can lay hold of them, or any others which may be serviceable to me, I know you will encourage my low-spirited muse by sending them, or rather by letting me know where our errand-cart man shall call with my little box. I will endeavour to set myself selfishly at work on this poem that is to be.
 
2
Your sincere friend
3
John Keats.
 

 

20. CXXVI.—TO FANNY KEATS.

20.1. Wednesday Morn—[November 17, 1819].

 
1
My dear Fanny—I received your letter yesterday Evening and will obey it to-morrow. I would come to-day—but I have been to Town so frequently on George’s Business it makes me wish to employ to-day at Hampstead. So I say Thursday without fail. I have no news at all entertaining—and if I had I should not have time to tell them as I wish to send this by the morning Post.
 
2
Your affectionate Brother
3
John.
 

 

21. CXXVII.—TO JOSEPH SEVERN.

21.1. Wentworth Place, Monday Morn—[December 6? 1819].

 
1
My dear Severn—I am very sorry that on Tuesday I have an appointment in the City of an undeferable nature; and Brown on the same day has some business at Guildhall. I have not been able to figure your manner of executing the Cave of despair,[111] therefore it will be at any rate a novelty and surprise to me—I trust on the right side. I shall call upon you some morning shortly, early enough to catch you before you can get out—when we will proceed to the Academy. I think you must be suited with a good painting light in your Bay window. I wish you to return the Compliment by going with me to see a Poem I have hung up for the Prize in the Lecture Room of the Surry Institution. I have many Rivals, the most threatening are An Ode to Lord Castlereagh, and a new series of Hymns for the New, new Jerusalem Chapel. (You had best put me into your Cave of despair.)
 
2
Ever yours sincerely
3
John Keats.
 

 

22. CXXVIII.—TO JAMES RICE.

22.1. Wentworth Place [December 1819].

 
1
My dear Rice—As I want the coat on my back mended, I would be obliged if you would send me the one Brown left at your house by the Bearer—During your late contest I had regular reports of you, how that your time was completely taken up and your health improving—I shall call in the course of a few days, and see whether your promotion has made any difference in your Behaviour to us. I suppose Reynolds has given you an account of Brown and Elliston. As he has not rejected our Tragedy, I shall not venture to call him directly a fool; but as he wishes to put it off till next season, I cannot help thinking him little better than a knave.—That it will not be acted this season is yet uncertain. Perhaps we may give it another furbish and try it at Covent Garden. ’Twould do one’s heart good to see Macready in Ludolph. If you do not see me soon it will be from the humour of writing, which I have had for three days continuing. I must say to the Muses what the maid says to the Man—“Take me while the fit is on me.”...
 
2
Ever yours sincerely
3
John Keats.
 

 

23. CXXIX.—TO FANNY KEATS.

23.1. Wentworth Place, Monday Morn—[December 20, 1819.]

 
1
My dear Fanny—When I saw you last, you ask’d me whether you should see me again before Christmas. You would have seen me if I had been quite well. I have not, though not unwell enough to have prevented me—not indeed at all—but fearful lest the weather should affect my throat which on exertion or cold continually threatens me.—By the advice of my Doctor I have had a warm great Coat made and have ordered some thick shoes—so furnish’d I shall be with you if it holds a little fine before Christmas day.—I have been very busy since I saw you, especially the last Week, and shall be for some time, in preparing some Poems to come out in the Spring, and also in brightening the interest of our Tragedy.—Of the Tragedy I can give you but news semigood. It is accepted at Drury Lane with a promise of coming out next season: as that will be too long a delay we have determined to get Elliston to bring it out this Season or to transfer it to Covent Garden. This Elliston will not like, as we have every motive to believe that Kean has perceived how suitable the principal Character will be for him. My hopes of success in the literary world are now better than ever. Mr. Abbey, on my calling on him lately, appeared anxious that I should apply myself to something else—He mentioned Tea Brokerage. I supposed he might perhaps mean to give me the Brokerage of his concern which might be executed with little trouble and a good profit; and therefore said I should have no objection to it, especially as at the same time it occurred to me that I might make over the business to George—I questioned him about it a few days after. His mind takes odd turns. When I became a Suitor he became coy. He did not seem so much inclined to serve me. He described what I should have to do in the progress of business. It will not suit me. I have given it up. I have not heard again from George, which rather disappoints me, as I wish to hear before I make any fresh remittance of his property. I received a note from Mrs. Dilke a few days ago inviting me to dine with her on Xmas day which I shall do. Mr. Brown and I go on in our old dog trot of Breakfast, dinner (not tea, for we have left that off), supper, Sleep, Confab, stirring the fire and reading. Whilst I was in the Country last Summer, Mrs. Bentley tells me, a woman in mourning call’d on me,—and talk’d something of an aunt of ours—I am so careless a fellow I did not enquire, but will particularly: On Tuesday I am going to hear some Schoolboys Speechify on breaking up day—I’ll lay you a pocket piece we shall have “My name is Norval.” I have not yet look’d for the Letter you mention’d as it is mix’d up in a box full of papers—you must tell me, if you can recollect, the subject of it. This moment Bentley brought a Letter from George for me to deliver to Mrs. Wylie—I shall see her and it before I see you. The Direction was in his best hand written with a good Pen and sealed with a Tassie’s Shakspeare such as I gave you—We judge of people’s hearts by their Countenances; may we not judge of Letters in the same way?—if so, the Letter does not contain unpleasant news—Good or bad spirits have an effect on the handwriting. This direction is at least unnervous and healthy. Our Sister is also well, or George would have made strange work with Ks and Ws. The little Baby is well or he would have formed precious vowels and Consonants—He sent off the Letter in a hurry, or the mail bag was rather a warm berth, or he has worn out his Seal, for the Shakspeare’s head is flattened a little. This is close muggy weather as they say at the Ale houses.
 
2
I am ever, my dear Sister, yours affectionately
3
John Keats.
 

 

24. CXXX.—TO FANNY KEATS.

24.1. Wentworth Place, Wednesday. [December 22, 1819.]

 
1
My dear Fanny—I wrote to you a Letter directed Walthamstow the day before yesterday wherein I promised to see you before Christmas day. I am sorry to say I have been and continue rather unwell, and therefore shall not be able to promise certainly. I have not seen Mrs. Wylie’s Letter. Excuse my dear Fanny this very shabby note.
 
2
Your affectionate Brother
3
John.
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