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

69. — To Charles Wentworth Dilke.

My dear Dilke — According to the Wentworth place Bulletin you have left Brighton much improved: therefore now a few lines will be more of a pleasure than a bore. I have things to say to you, and would fain begin upon them in this fourth line: but I have a Mind too well regulated to proceed upon anything without due preliminary remarks. — You may perhaps have observed that in the simple process of eating radishes I never begin at the root but constantly dip the little green head in the salt — that in the Game of Whist if I have an ace I constantly play it first. So how can I with any face begin without a dissertation on letter-writing? Yet when I consider that a sheet of paper contains room only for three pages and a half, how can I do justice to such a pregnant subject? However, as you have seen the history of the world stamped as it were by a diminishing glass in the form of a chronological Map, so will I “with retractile claws” draw this into the form of a table — whereby it will occupy merely the remainder of this first page —

Folio — Parsons, Lawyers, Statesmen, Physicians out of place — ut — Eustace — Thornton — out of practice or on their travels.

Foolscap — 1. Superfine — Rich or noble poets — ut Byron. 2. common ut egomet.

Quarto — Projectors, Patentees, Presidents, Potato growers.

Bath — Boarding schools, and suburbans in general.

Gilt edge — Dandies in general, male, female, and literary.

Octavo or tears — All who make use of a lascivious seal.

Duodec. — May be found for the most part on Milliners’ and Dressmakers’ Parlour tables.

Strip — At the Playhouse-doors, or anywhere.

Slip — Being but a variation.

Snip — So called from its size being disguised by a twist.

I suppose you will have heard that Hazlitt has on foot a prosecution against Blackwood. I dined with him a few days since at Hessey’s — there was not a word said about it, though I understand he is excessively vexed. Reynolds, by what I hear, is almost over-happy, and Rice is in town. I have not seen him, nor shall I for some time, as my throat has become worse after getting well, and I am determined to stop at home till I am quite well. I was going to Town to-morrow with Mrs. D. but I thought it best to ask her excuse this morning. I wish I could say Tom was any better. His identity presses upon me so all day that I am obliged to go out — and although I intended to have given some time to study alone, I am obliged to write and plunge into abstract images to ease myself of his countenance, his voice, and feebleness — so that I live now in a continual fever. It must be poisonous to life, although I feel well. Imagine “the hateful siege of contraries”— if I think of fame, of poetry, it seems a crime to me, and yet I must do so or suffer. I am sorry to give you pain — I am almost resolved to burn this — but I really have not self-possession and magnanimity enough to manage the thing otherwise — after all it may be a nervousness proceeding from the Mercury.

Bailey I hear is gaining his spirits, and he will yet be what I once thought impossible, a cheerful Man — I think he is not quite so much spoken of in Little Britain. I forgot to ask Mrs. Dilke if she had anything she wanted to say immediately to you. This morning look’d so unpromising that I did not think she would have gone — but I find she has, on sending for some volumes of Gibbon. I was in a little funk yesterday, for I sent in an unseal’d note of sham abuse, until I recollected, from what I heard Charles say, that the servant could neither read nor write — not even to her Mother as Charles observed. I have just had a Letter from Reynolds — he is going on gloriously. The following is a translation of a line of Ronsard —

Love pour’d her beauty into my warm veins.

You have passed your Romance, and I never gave in to it, or else I think this line a feast for one of your Lovers. How goes it with Brown?

Your sincere friend

John Keats.


Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52