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to animal food, living upon pseudo-victuals, Brown says I have picked up a little flesh lately. If I can keep off inflammation for the next six weeks, I trust I shall do very well. Reynolds is going to sail on the salt seas. Brown has been mightily progressing with his Hogarth. 'A damn'd melancholy picture it is, and during the first week of my illness it gave me a psalm-singing nightmare that made me almost faint away in my sleep. I know I am better, for I can bear the picture. I have experienced a specimen of great politeness from Mr. Barry Cornwall. He has sent me his books. Some time ago he had given his published book to Hunt, for me; Hunt forgot to give it, and Barry Cornwall, thinking I had received it, must have thought me a very neglectful fellow. Notwithstanding, he sent me his second book, and on my explaining that I had not received his first, he sent me that also. I shall not expect Mrs. Dilke at Hampstead next week unless the weather changes for the warmer. It is better to run no chance of a supernumerary cold in March. As for you, you must come. You must improve in your penmanship ; your writing is like the speaking of a child of three years old—very understandable to its father, but to no one else. The worst is, it looks well—no, that is not the worst—the worst is, it is worse than Bailey's. Bailey's looks illegible and may perchance be read; yours looks very legible, and may perchance not be read. I would endeavor to give you a fac-simile of your word « Thistlewood” if I were not minded on the instant that Lord Chesterfield has done some such thing to his son. Now I would not bathe in the same river with Lord C., though I had the upper hand of the stream. I am grieved that in writing and speaking it is necessary to make use of the same particles as he did. Cobbett is expected to come in. O! that I had two double plumpers for him. The ministry is not so inimical to him, but it would like to put him into Coventry. Casting my eye on the other side I see a long word written in a most vile manner, unbecoming a critic.
You must recollect I have served no apprenticeship to old plays. If the only copies of the Greek and Latin authors had been made by you, Bailey, and Haydon, they were as good as lost. It has been said that the character of a man may be known by his handwriting; if the character of the age
may be known by the average goodness of ours, what a slovenly age we live in. Look at Queen Elizabeth's Latin exercises and blush. Look at Milton's hand : I can't say a word for Shak. speare.
Your sincere friend,
Towards the end of the spring Keats's outward health was so much better that the physician recommended him to take another tour in Scotland. Mr. Brown, however, thinking him quite unfit to cope with the chance hardships of such an expedition, generously dissuaded him, though he was so far from anticipating any rapid change in Keats's constitution that he determined to go alone and return to his friend in a few weeks. On the seventh of May the two friends parted at Gravesend, and never met again.
Keats went to lodge at Kentish Town to be near his friend Leigh Hunt, but soon returned to Hampstead, where he remained with the family of the lady to whom he was attached. In these latter letters the catastrophe of mortal sickness, accompanied by the dread of poverty, is seen gradually coming on, and the publication of his new volume hardly relieves the general gloom of the picture.
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,
June 11. MY DEAR TAYLOR,
In reading over the proof of “St. Agnes' 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.
“ her maiden eyes incline
'Twas originally written
“her maiden eyes divine
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,
MY DEAR BROWN,
I have only been to — 's once since you left, when could not find your letters. Now 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 soci
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
* “ Lamia, Isabella, and other Poems."
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 hav. ing 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 kind. nesses 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 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 ones.
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 saveall, 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 favorite, 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.” 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,
MY DEAR BROWN,
or in any way, that an attack of spitting of blood, and all its weakening
consequences, has prevented me from writing for so long a time. I have matter now for a very long letter, but not news; so I must cut every thing short. I shall make some confession, which you will be the only person, for many reasons, I shall trust with. A winter in England would, I have not a doubt, kill me; so I have resolved to go to Italy, either by sea or land. Not that I have any great hopes of that, for, I think, there is a core of disease in me not easy to pull out. I shall be obliged to set off in less than a month. Do not, my dear Brown, tease yourself about me. You must fill up your time as well as you can, and as happily. You must think of my faults as lightly as you can. When I have health I will bring up the long arrears of letters I owe you. My book has had good success among the literary people, and I believe has a moderate sale. I have seen very few people we know. has visited me more than any one. I would
to and make some inquiries after you, if I could with any bearable sensation ; but a person
I am not quite used to causes an oppression on my chest. Last week I received a letter from Shelley, at Pisa, of a very kind nature, asking me to pass the winter with him. Hunt has behaved very kindly to me.
You shall hear from me again shortly.
Your affectionate friend,
HAMPSTEAD, Mrs. -'s, Wentworth Place. MY DEAR HAYDON,
I am much better this morning than I was when I wrote you the note; that is, my hopes and spirits are better, which are generally at a very low ebb, from such a protracted illness. I shall be here for a little time, and at home all every day. A journey to Italy is recommended me, which I have resolved upon, and am beginning to prepare for. Hoping to see you shortly,
I remain your affectionate friend,
Mr. Haydon has recorded in his journal the terrible impression of this visit : the very coloring of the scene struck forcibly on