The Letters of John Keats

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

Boys and the frogs: though he prefers the tongues and the Bones.1 You shall hear from me again the day after tomorrow--

Your affectionate Brother
John Keats


176. To FANNY BRAWNE. 〈Thursday w Feb. 1820?〉

Address: Miss Brawne.

No postmark.

My dearest Girl,

If illness makes such an agreeable variety in the manner of your eyes I should wish you sometimes to be ill. I wish I had read your note before you went last night that I might have assured you how far I was from suspecting any coldness. You had a just right to be a little silent to one who speaks so plainly to you. You must believe--you shall, you will--that I can do nothing, say nothing, think nothing of you but what has its spring in the Love which has so long been my pleasure and torment. On the night I was taken ill--when so violent a rush of blood came to my Lungs that I felt nearly suffocated--I assure you I felt it possible I might not survive, and at that moment though〈t〉 of nothing but you. When I said to Brown 'this is unfortunate'2 I thought of you. 'Tis true that since the first two or three days other subjects have entered my head.3 I shall be looking forward to Health and the Spring and a regular routine of our old Walks.

Your affectionate
J.K.

____________________
1
Cf. "'A Midsummer-Night's Dream'", IV. i. 33: Bottom, 'let us have the tongs and the bones.'
2
It may be that consideration for his correspondent induced this moderation of speech: presumably the scene here referred to is that so graphically given by Lord Houghton who records, not that he merely 'felt it possible' he 'might not survive', but that he said to his friend, 'I know the colour of that blood,--it is arterial blood--I cannot be deceived in that colour; that drop is my death-warrant. I must die.'-- H.B.F.
3
This sentence indicates the lapse of perhaps about a week from the 3rd of February 1820.--H.B.F.

-460-

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