Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends, by John Keats

123. — To Fanny Keats.

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.

Your affectionate Brother

John ——.

109 In the interval between the last letter and this, Keats had tried the experiment of living alone in Westminster lodgings, and failed. After a visit to his beloved at Hampstead, he could keep none of his wise resolutions, but wrote to her, “I can think of nothing else . . . I cannot exist without you . . . you have absorb’d me . . . I shall be able to do nothing — I should like to cast the die for Love or Death — I have no patience with anything else” . . . and at the end of a week he had gone back to live next door to her with Brown at Wentworth Place. Here he quickly fell into that state of feverish despondency and recklessness to which his friends, especially Brown, have borne witness, and the signs of which are perceptible in his letters of the time, and still more in his verse, viz. the remodelled Hyperion and the Cap and Bells: see Keats (Men of Letters Series), pp. 180-190.


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