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[London] Tuesday Morn [July 8, 1817]. MY DEAR SIRS - I must endeavour to lose my maidenhead with respect to money Matters as soon as possible - And I will
So, here goes ! A couple of Duns that I thought would be silent till the beginning, at least, of next month (when I am certain to be on my legs, for certain sure), have opened upon me with a cry most 'untuneable;' never did you hear such un-'gallant chiding.' Now you must know, I am not desolate, but have, thank God, 25 good notes in my fob. But then, yon know, I laid them by to write with and would stand at bay a fortnight ere they should grab me. In a month's time I must pay, but it would relieve my mind if I owed you, instead of these Pelican duns. I am afraid will say I have wound about with circumstance,' when I should have asked plainly however as I said I am a little maidenish or so, and I feel my virginity come strong upon me, the while I request the loan of a £20 and a £10, which, if you would enclose to me, I would acknowledge and save myself a hot forehead. I am sure you are confident of my responsibility, and in the sense of squareness that is always in me. Your obliged friend
the other night at Little Britain. I hope found them good. There you are among sands, stones, Pebbles, Beeches, Cliffs, Rocks, Deeps, Shallows, weeds, ships, Boats (at a distance), Carrots, Turnips, sun, moon, and stars and all those sort of things – here am I among Colleges, halls, Stalls, Plenty of Trees, thank God Plenty of water, thank heaven Plenty of Books, thank the Muses- Plenty of Snuff, thank Sir Walter Raleigh Plenty of segars, Ditto Plenty of flat country, thank Tellus's rolling-pin. I'm on the sofa- - Buonaparte is on the snuff-box- But you are by the seaside argal, you bathe - you walk you say 'how beautiful' out resemblances between waves and camels. -rocks and dancing-masters fireshovels and telescopes - Dolphins and Madonas which word, by the way, I must acquaint you was derived from the Syriac, and came down in a way which neither of you I am sorry to say are at all capable of comprehending. But as a time may come when by your occasional converse with me you may arrive at 'something like prophetic strain,' I will unbar the gates of my pride and let my condescension stalk forth like a ghost at the Circus. - The word Ma-don-a, my dear Ladies- or the word Mad - Onaso I say! I am not mad — Howsumever when that aged Tamer Kewthon sold a certain camel called Peter to the overseer of the Babel Sky-works, he thus spake, adjusting his cravat round the tip of his. chin 'My dear Ten-story-up-in-air! this here Beast, though I say it as should n't say 't, not only has the power of subsisting 40 days and 40 nights without fire and candle but he can sing. Here I have in my Pocket a Certificate from Signor Nicolini of the King's Theatre; a Certificate to this effect 'I have had dinner since I left that effect upon you, and feel too heavy in mentibus to display all the Profundity of the Polygon - so you had better each of you take a glass of cherry Brandy and drink to the health of Archimedes, who was
of so benign a disposition that he never would leave Syracuse in his life So kept himself out of all Knight-Errantry. — This I know to be a fact; for it is written in the 45th book of Winkine's treatise on gardenrollers, that he trod on a fishwoman's toe in Liverpool, and never begged her pardon. Now the long and short is this — that is by comparison — for a long day may be a short year A long Pole may be a very stupid fellow as a man. But let us refresh ourself from this depth of thinking, and turn to some innocent jocularity -the Bow cannot always be bent- - nor the gun always loaded, if you ever let it off- and the life of man is like a great Mountain - his breath is like a Shrewsbury cake - he comes into the world like a shoeblack, and goes out of it like a cobbler he eats like a chimneysweeper, drinks like a gingerbread baker - and breathes like Achilles so it being that we are such sublunary creatures, let us endeavour to correct all our bad spelling
this transmitted to me every now and then will procure you full sheets of Writing from me pretty frequently. This I feel as a necessity for we ought to become intimately acquainted, in order that I may not only, as you grow up love you as my only Sister, but confide in you as my dearest friend. When I saw you last I told you of my intention of going to Oxford and 't is now a Week since I disembark'd from his Whipship's Coach the Defiance in this place. I am living in Magdalen Hall on a visit to a young Man with whom I have not been long acquainted, but whom I like very much we lead very industrious lives he in general Studies and I in proceeding at a pretty good rate with a Poem which I hope you will see early in the next year.Perhaps you might like to know what I am writing about. I will tell you. Many Years ago there was a young handsome Shepherd who fed his flocks on a Mountain's Side called Latmus- he was a very contemplative sort of Person and lived solitary among the trees and Plains little thinking that such a beautiful Creature as the Moon was growing mad in Love with him. - However so it was; and when he was asleep on the Grass she used to come down from heaven and admire him excessively for a long time; and at last could not refrain from carrying him away in her arms to the top of that high Mountain Latmus while he was a dreaming - but I daresay you have read this and all the other beautiful Tales which have come down from the ancient times of that beautiful Greece. If you have not let me know and I will tell you more at large of others quite as delightful. This Oxford I have no doubt is the finest City in the world — it is full of old Gothic buildings — Spires towers
Quadrangles CloisGroves, etc., and is surrounded with more clear streams than ever I saw together. I take a Walk by the Side of one of them every Evening and, thank God, we have not had a drop of rain these many days. I had a long and interesting Letter
from George, cross lines by a short one from Tom yesterday dated Paris. They both send their loves to you. Like most Englishmen they feel a mighty preference for everything English - the French Meadows, the trees, the People, the Towns, the Churches, the Books, the everything — although they may be in themselves good: yet when put in comparison with our green Island they all vanish like Swallows in October. They have seen Cathedrals, Manuscripts, Fountains, Pictures, Tragedy, Comedy, with other things you may by chance meet with in this Country such as Washerwomen, Lamplighters, Turnpikemen, Fishkettles, Dancing Masters, Kettle drums, Sentry Boxes, Rocking Horses, etc. -and, now they have taken them over a set of boxing-gloves.
I have written to George and requested him, as you wish I should, to write to you. I have been writing very hard lately, even till an utter incapacity came on, and I feel it now about my head: 1: so you must not mind a little out-of-the-way sayings - though by the bye were my brain as clear as a bell I think I should have a little propensity thereto. I shall stop here till I have finished the 3d Book of my Story; which I hope will be accomplish'd in at most three Weeks from to-day about which time you shall see me. How do you like Miss Taylor's essays in Rhyme 12 - I just look'd into the Book and it appeared to me suitable to you especially since I remember your liking for those pleasant little things the Original Poems the essays are the more mature production of the same hand. While I was speaking about France it occurred to me to speak a few Words on their Language — it is perhaps the poorest one ever spoken since the jabbering in the Tower of Babel, and when you come to know that the real use and greatness of a Tongue is to be referred to its Literature - you will be astonished to find how very inferior it is to our native Speech. I wish the Italian would supersede French in every school throughout the
a most lamentable mistake indeed. Italian indeed would sound most musically from Lips which had began to pronounce it as early as French is crammed down our Mouths, as if we were young Jackdaws at the mercy of an overfeeding Schoolboy. Now Fanny you must write soon and write all you think about, never mind what-only let me have a good deal of your writing — You need not do it all at once- - be two or three or four days about it, and let it be a diary of your little Life. You will preserve all my Letters and I will secure yours and thus in the course of time we shall each of us have a good Bundle which, hereafter, when things may have strangely altered and God knows what happened, we may read over together and look with pleasure on times past-that now are to come. Give my Respects to the Ladies and so my dear Fanny I am ever
Your most affectionate Brother JOHN. If you direct-Post Office, Oxford your Letter will be brought to me.
13. TO JANE REYNOLDS
Oxford, Sunday Evg. [September 14, 1817]. MY DEAR JANE - You are such a literal translator, that I shall some day amuse myself with looking over some foreign sentences, and imagining how you would render them into English. This is an age for typical Curiosities; and I would advise you, as a good speculation, to study Hebrew, and astonish the world with a figurative version in our native tongue. The Mountains skipping like rams, and the little hills like lambs, you will leave as far behind as the hare did the tortoise. It must be so or you would never have thought that I really
and superb when
'The sun from meridian height
I sincerely and gorgeous, when the fair planet hastens
meant you would like to pro and con about those Honeycombs no, I had no such idea, or, if I had, 't would be only to tease you a little for love. So now let me put down in black and white briefly my sentiments thereon. Imprimis I sincerely believe that Imogen is the finest creature, and that I should have been disappointed Item Yet at hearing you prefer Juliet I feel such a yearning towards Juliet that I would rather follow her into Pandemonium than Imogen into Paradise — heartily wishing myself a Romeo to be worthy of her, and to hear the Devils quote the old proverb, 'Birds of a feather flock together' Amen.
Now let us turn to the Seashore. Believe me, my dear Jane, it is a great happiness to see that you are in this finest part of the year winning a little enjoyment from the hard world. In truth, the great Elements we know of, are no mean comforters: the open sky sits upon our senses like a sapphire crown -the Air is our robe of state. - the Earth is our throne, and the Sea a mighty minstrel playing before it able, like David's harp, to make such a one as you forget almost the tempest cares of life. I have found in the ocean's music, -varying (tho self-same) more than the passion of Timotheus, an enjoyment not to be put into words; and, though inland far I be,' I now hear the voice most audibly while pleasing myself in the idea of your sensations.
is getting well apace, and if you have a few trees, and a little harvesting about I'll you, snap my fingers in Lucifer's eye. I hope you bathe too - if you do not, I earnestly recommend it. Bathe thrice a week, and let us have no more sitting up next winter. Which is the best of Shakspeare's plays? I mean in what mood and with what accompaniment do you like the sea best? It is very fine in the morning, when the sun,
'Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams, Turns into yellow gold his salt sea streams,'
'To his home
Within the Western foam.'
But don't you think there is something extremely fine after sunset, when there are a few white clouds about and a few stars blinking — when the waters are ebbing, and the horizon a mystery? This state of things has been so fulfilling to me that I am anxious to hear whether it is a favourite with you. So when you and Marianne club your letter to me put in a word or two about it. Tell Dilke 18 that it would be perhaps as well if he left a Pheasant or Partridge alive here and there to keep up a supply of game for next season tell him to rein in if Possible all the Nimrod of his disposition, he being a mighty hunter before the Lord- of the Manor. Tell him to shoot fair, and not to have at the Poor devils in a furrow when they are flying, he may fire, and nobody will be the wiser.
Give my sincerest respects to Mrs. Dilke, saying that I have not forgiven myself for not having got her the little box of medicine I promised, and that, had I remained at Hampstead I would have made precious havoc with her house and furniture― drawn a great harrow over her garden - poisoned Boxer-eaten her clothes-pegs - fried her cabbages fricaseed (how is it spelt?) her radishes ragout'd her Onions belaboured her beat-root-outstripped her scarlet-runners parlez-vous'd with her french-beans devoured her mignon or mignionette metamorphosed her bellhandles splintered her looking-glasses — bullocked at her cups and saucers agonised her decanters put old Phillips to pickle in the brine-tub-disorganised her piano dislocated her candlesticks — emptied her wine-bins in a fit of despair
turned out her maid to grass - and astonished Brown; whose letter to her on these events I would rather see than the original Copy of the Book of Genesis. Should you see Mr. W. D. remember me to him, and to little Robinson Crusoe, and to Mr. Snook. Poor Bailey, scarcely ever well, has gone to bed, pleased that I am writing to you. To your brother John (whom henceforth I shall consider as mine) and to you, my dear friends, Marianne and Jane, I shall ever feel grateful for having made known to me so real a fellow as Bailey. He delights me in the selfish and (please God) the disinterested part of my disposition. If the old Poets have any pleasure in looking down at the enjoyers of their works, their eyes must bend with a double satisfaction upon him. I sit as at a feast when he is over them, and pray that if, after my death, any of my labours should be worth saving, they may have so 'honest a chronicler' as Bailey. Out of this, his enthusiasm in his own pursuit and for all good things is of an exalted kind-worthy a more healthful frame and an untorn spirit. He must have happy years to come 'he shall not die by God.'
A letter from John the other day was a chief happiness to me. I made a little mistake when, just now, I talked of being far inland. How can that be when Endymion and I are at the bottom of the sea? whence I hope to bring him in safety before you leave the seaside; and, if I can so contrive it, you shall be greeted by him upon the sea-sands, and he shall tell you all his adventures, which having finished, he shall thus proceed‘My dear Ladies, favourites of my gentle mistress, however my friend Keats may have teased and vexed you, believe me he loves you not the less - for instance, I am deep in his favour, and yet he has been hauling me through the earth and sea with unrelenting perseverance. I know for all this that he is mighty fond of me, by his contriving me all sorts of pleasures. Nor is this the least, fair ladies, this
one of meeting you on the desert shore, and greeting you in his name. He sends you moreover this little scroll-' My dear Girls, I send you, per favour of Endymion, the assurance of my esteem for you, and my utmost wishes for your health and pleasure, being ever,
Your affectionate Brother JOHN KEATS.
14. TO JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS Oxford, Sunday Morn [September 21, 1817].
MY DEAR REYNOLDS — So you are determined to be my mortal foe draw a Sword at me, and I will forgive - Put a Bullet in my Brain, and I will shake it out as a dewdrop from the Lion's Mane — put me on a Gridiron, and I will fry with great complacency — but - oh, horror! to come upon me in the shape of a Dun! Send me bills! as I say to my Tailor, send me Bills and I'll never employ you more. However, needs must, when the devil drives: and for fear of before and behind Mr. Honeycomb' I'll proceed. I have not time to elucidate the forms and shapes of the grass and trees; for, rot it! I forgot to bring my mathematical case with me, which unfortunately contained my triangular Prism so that the hues of the grass cannot be dissected for you
For these last five or six days, we have had regularly a Boat on the Isis, and explored all the streams about, which are more in number than your eye-lashes. sometimes skim into a Bed of rushes, and there become naturalised river-folks, there is one particularly nice nest, which we have christened 'Reynolds's Cove,' in which we have read Wordsworth and talked as may be. I think I see you and Hunt meeting in the Pit. What a very pleasant fellow he is, if he would give up the sovereignty of a Room pro bono. What Evenings we might pass with him, could we have him from Mrs. H. Failings I am always rather rejoiced to find in a man than sorry for;