The Letters of John Keats

By Maurice Buxton Forman; John Keats | Go to book overview

142. To BENJAMIN BAILEY. Saturday 14 Aug. 1819.

Address: To the, Revd B. Bailey St. Andrews N.B.

Postmarks: WINCHESTER and 14 AU 1819.

We removed to Winchester for the convenience of a Library and find it an exceeding pleasant Town, enriched with a beautiful Cathedrall and surrounded by a fresh- looking country. We are in tolerably good and cheap Lodgings. Within these two Months I have written 1500 Lines, most of which besides many more of prior composition you will probably see by next Winter. I have written two Tales, one from Boccac〈c〉io call'd the Pot of Basil; and another call'd St. Agnes' Eve on a popular superstition; and a third call'd Lamia--half finished--I have also been writing parts of my Hyperion and completed 4 Acts of a Tragedy. It was the opinion of most of my friends that I should never be able to write a scene. I will endeavour to wipe away the prejudice--I sincerely hope you will be pleased when my Labours since we last saw each other shall reach you. One of my Ambitions is to make as great a revolution in modern dramatic writing as Kean has done in acting--another to upset the drawling of the blue stocking literary world--if in the course of a few years I do these two things I ought to die content --and my friends should drink a dozen of Claret on my Tomb--I am convinced more and more every day that (excepting the human friend Philosopher) a fine writer is the most genuine Being in the World. Shakspeare and the paradise Lost every day become greater wonders to me.1 I look upon fine Phrases like a Lover. I was glad to see, by a Passage in one of Brown's Letters some time ago from the north that you were in such good Spirits.2 Since that you have been married and in congra〈tu〉lating you I wish you every continuance of them. Present my Respects to Mrs Bailey. This sounds oddly to me, and I dare say I do it awkwardly enough: but I suppose by this time

____________________
1
Cf. Letter 145, p. 374.
2
C. W. Dilke makes the following note against this passage:--'As before mentioned Bailey made an offer to Marianne Reynolds which was declined. He entreated her to take time and think over his proposal. Meanwhile he went to Scotland, fell in love with Gleig's sister, and married; much to the surprise of the Reynolds family, who thought he had behaved ill, and it led to a discussion and a quarrel.'-- H.B.F.

-368-

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