The Letters of John Keats

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

John for the sake of your most affectionate and alarmed Brother and Sister.

I am
Your very affectionate Brother
George.


219. To FANNY KEATS. Friday 23 June 1820.

Address: Miss Keats Rd Abbeys EsqreWalthamstow

Postmarks: KENTISH Tn and 26 JU 1820

Friday Morn--

My dear Fanny,

I had intended to delay seeing you till a Book which I am now publishing was out, expecting that to be the end of this week when I would have brought it to Walthamstow: on receiving your Letter of course I set myself to come to town, but was not able for just as I was setting out yesterday morning a slight spitting of blood came on

219. This letter would seem to have been written the morning after the attack of blood-spitting to which it refers. If so, the attack in question had taken place, like the former attack, on a Thursday. The letter must have been delayed, for the postmark is as distinctly as possible that of the 26th of June 1820, which was a Monday. On the same day that Keats was writing to his sister, Friday the 23rd of June 1820, Mrs. Gisborne wrote thus in her private journal:--'Yesterday evening we drank tea at Mr Hunt's; we found him ill, as he had been attacked with a bilious fever, soon after we last saw him, and was not yet recovered. His nephew was with him; he appears grave, and very attentive to his uncle, listening to all his words, in silence. Mr Keats was introduced to us the same evening; he had lately been ill also, and spoke but little; the Endymion was not mentioned, this person might not be its author; but on observing his countenance and his eyes I persuaded myself that he was the very person. We talked of music, and of Italian and english singing; I mentioned that Farinelli had the art of taking breath imperceptibly, while he continued to hold one single note, alternately swelling out and diminishing the power of his voice like waves. Keats observed that this must in some degree be painful to the hearer, as when a diver descends into the hidden depths of the sea you feel an apprehension lest he may never rise again. These may not be his exact words as he spoke in a low tone.' Probably the slight blood-spitting of the morning had made him careful; but to no effect. On the 28th of June Mrs. Gisborne writes:--'Returning from our visit to Coleridge on Saturday last, we called in our way at Mr. Hunts and were grieved to hear from Mrs. Hunt that the nervous pain in his head was worse, and that Mr Keatsy was also ill in the house; he had burst a blood vessel the very night after we had seen him, and in order to be well attended, he had been removed from his lodgings in the neighbourhood, to Mr Hunt's house.' The 'night after' must mean the night of the same day--the 22nd; and probably Keats moved from Wesleyan Place to Mortimer Terrace on the 23rd of June 1820.

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