« AnteriorContinua »
liable to in visiting you. Mr. Brown goes on Saturday, and by that time I shall have settled in my new lodging, when I will certainly venture to you. You will forgive me I hope when I confess that I endeavour to think of you as little as possible and to let George dwell upon my mind but slightly. The reason being that I am afraid to ruminate on anything which has the shade of difficulty or melancholy in it, as that sort of cogitation is so pernicious to health, and it is only by health that I can be enabled to alleviate your situation in future. For some time you must do what you can of yourself for relief; and bear your mind up with the consciousness that your situation cannot last for ever, and that for the present you may console yourself against the reproaches of Mrs. Abbey. Whatever obligations you may have had to her you have none now, as she has reproached you. I do not know what property you have, but I will enquire into it: be sure however that beyond the obligation that a lodger may have to a landlord you have none to Mrs. Abbey. Let the surety of this make you laugh at Mrs. A.'s foolish tattle. Mrs. Dilke's Brother has got your Dog. She is now very well—still liable to Illness. I will get her to come and see you if I can make up my mind on the propriety of introducing a stranger into Abbey's house.
Be careful to let no fretting injure your health as I have suffered it—health is the greatest of blessings—with health and hope we should be content to live, and so you will find as you grow older. I am, my dear Fanny, your affectionate Brother
CXLVII. –TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE.
[Hampstead, May 1820). My dear Dilke—As Brown is not to be a fixture at Hampstead, I have at last made up my mind to send home all lent books. I should have seen you before this, but my mind has been at work all over the world to find out what to do. I have my choice of three things, or at least two,-South America, or Surgeon to an Indiaman; which last, I think, will be my fate. I shall resolve in a few days. Remember me to Mrs. D. and Charles, and your father and mother. Ever truly yours
CXLVIII. –TO JOAN TAYLOR.
[Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town]'
June 11 (1820). My dear Taylor-In reading over the proof of St. Agnes's Eve since I left Fleet Street, I was struck with what appears to me an alteration in the seventh stanza very much for the worse.
The passage I mean stands thus
her maiden eyes incline Still on the floor, while many a sweeping train
Pass by. 'Twas originally written
her maiden eyes divine Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
Pass by. My meaning is quite destroyed in the alteration. I do not use train for concourse of passers by, but for skirts sweeping along the floor. In the first stanza my copy reads, second line
bitter chill it was, to avoid the echo cold in the second line. Ever yours sincerely
CXLIX.-TO CHARLES BROWN.
[Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town, June 1820.] My dear Brown—I have only been to -'s once since you left, when
could not find your letters. Now 1 Brown having let his house (Wentworth Place) when he started for fresh Scotch to on May 7, Keats moved to lodgings at the above address in order to be near Leigh Hunt, who was then living in Mortimer Terrace, Kentish Town.
this is bad of me. I should, in this instance, conquer the great aversion to breaking up my regular habits, which grows upon me more and more. True, I have an excuse in the weather, which drives one from shelter to shelter in any little excursion. I have not heard from George. My book is coming out with very low hopes, though not spirits, on my part. This shall be my last trial ; not succeeding, I shall try what I can do in the apothecary line. When you hear from or see it is probable you will hear some complaints against me, which this notice is not intended to forestall. The fact is, I did behave badly;
but it is to be attributed to my health, spirits, and the disadvantageous ground I stand on in society. I could go and accommodate matters if I were not too weary of the world. I know that they are more happy and comfortable than I am ; therefore why should I trouble myself about it? I foresee I shall know very few people in the course of a year or two. Men get such different habits that they become as oil and vinegar to one another. Thus far I have a consciousness of having been pretty dull and heavy, both in subject and phrase; I might add, enigmatical. I am in the wrong, and the world is in the right, I have no doubt. Fact is, I have had so many kindnesses done me by so many people, that I am cheveaux-de-frised with benefits, which I must jump over or break down. I met in town, a few days ago, who invited me to supper to meet Wordsworth, Southey, Lamb, Haydon, and some more; I was too careful of my health to risk being out at night. Talking of that, I continue to improve slowly, but I think surely. There is a famous exhibition in Pall-Mall of the old English portraits by Vandyck and Holbein, Sir Peter Lely, and the great Sir Godfrey. Pleasant countenances predominate; so I will mention two or three unpleasant
There is James the First, whose appearance would disgrace a “Society for the Suppression of Women ;” so very squalid and subdued to nothing he looks. Then, there is old Lord Burleigh, the high-priest of economy,
the political save-all, who has the appearance of a Pharisee just rebuffed by a Gospel bon-mot. Then, there is George the Second, very like an unintellectual Voltaire, troubled with the gout and a bad temper. Then, there is young Devereux, the favourite, with every appearance of as slang a boxer as any in the Court; his face is cast in the mould of blackguardism with jockey-plaster. I shall soon begin upon "Lucy Vaughan Lloyd." 1 I do not begin composition yet, being willing, in case of a relapse, to have nothing to reproach myself with. I hope the weather will give you the slip; let it show itself and steal out of your company. When I have sent off this, I shall write another to some place about fifty miles in advance of you. Good morning to you.
Yours ever sincerely
CL. -TO FANNY KEATS.
Friday Morn (Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town,
June 26, 1820.] My dear Fanny—I had intended to delay seeing you till a Book which I am now publishing was out,2 expecting that to be the end of this week when I would have brought it to Walthamstow : on receiving your Letter of course I set myself to come to town, but was not able, for just as I was setting out yesterday morning a slight spitting of blood came on which returned rather more copiously at night. I have slept well and they tell me there is nothing material to fear. I will send my Book soon with a Letter which I have had from George who is with his family quite well. Your affectionate Brother
JOHN 1 The Cap and Bells was to have appeared under this pseudonym. By “ begin " Keats means begin again (compare above, CXXXVIII.): he did not, however, do so, and the eightyeight stanzas of the poem which are left all belong to the previous year (end of October—beginning of December 1819).
2 The volume containing Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, Hyperion, and the Odes.
CLI. —TO FANNY KEATS.
Mortimer Terrace," Wednesday (July 5, 1820). My dear Fanny—I have had no return of the spitting of blood, and for two or three days have been getting a little stronger. I have no hopes of an entire re-establishment of my health under some months of patience. My Physician tells me I must contrive to pass the Winter in Italy. This is all very unfortunate for us—we have no recourse but patience, which I am now practising better than ever I thought it possible for me. I have this moment received a Letter from Mr. Brown, dated Dunvegan Castle, Island of Skye. He is very well in health and spirits. My new publication has been out for some days and I have directed a Copy to be bound for you, which you will receive shortly. No one can regret Mr. Hodgkinson's ill fortune : I must own illness has not made such a Saint of me as to prevent my rejoicing at his reverse. Keep yourself in as good hopes as possible; in case my illness should continue an unreasonable time many of my friends would I trust for my sake do all in their power to console and amuse you, at the least word from me— You may depend upon it that in case my strength returns I will do all in my power to extricate you from the Abbeys. Be above all things careful of your health which is the corner stone of all pleasure. Your affectionate Brother
CLII. –TO BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON.
[Mortimer Terrace, July 1820.] My dear Haydon—I am sorry to be abliged to try your patience a few more days when you will have the Book 2 sent from Town. I am glad to hear you are in
1 After the attack last mentioned, Keats went to be taken care of in Hunt's house, and stayed there till August 12.
2 Chapman's Homer.