CHAPTER XIV
George's Departure and the Walking-Tour (May--August, 1818)

GEORGE was to be married at the end of May and to start in the middle of June on his long, hazardous journey to Louisville, Kentucky, in the backwoods of America; going equipped with more enthusiasm than experience and risking one thousand one hundred pounds, most of his available capital. He took with him, however, letters of introduction from Taylor who had a cousin in Philadelphia.

It would seem dangerous enough for an untravelled youth of twenty- one without, so far as we know, any experience of farming, to go alone as settler into a strange country, but sheer madness to take with him a wife of sixteen. Most of the mutual friends of the Keatses and Wylies regarded the scheme as, to say the least of it, highly imprudent. Mrs. Reynolds was definite in her disapproval. Dilke, who looked hopefully towards the New World as a future home of 'Godwin-perfectibility,' was the only one to applaud the enterprise of the young couple. Mrs. Wylie was very naturally blamed for allowing her young daughter to go. But these were times when men took risks in the new lands and it was the duty of their women to share them. Perhaps Mrs. Wylie made her private protest.

Georgiana was a high-spirited girl and may well have taken the law in her own hands. Youth does not see difficulties and dangers in adventure; but one would like to know something of the young girl's feelings when she bore her first child within a year of marriage far away from her mother and friends. At first Georgiana was not happy among the people of her adoption and does not seem ever to have felt quite at home in America. However, she settled down and lived to bear eight children, take a second husband and to enjoy a lively old age.1 Miss Alice Keats, her grand-daughter, has told us that she was 'rather severe with little children whom she liked to behave properly.' Somewhere about the middle of the century Georgiana wrote to Mrs. Dilke advising her not to let her son marry too soon as 'it is so unpleasant to be called Grandmamma. I have a perfect horror of it, and am as much disposed to gaiety as ever.'

Keats was willing that George, who had been 'more than a brother to him,' who was 'his greatest friend,' should go temporarily out of his

____________________
1
She died at Lexington, Kentucky, April 5th, 1879.

-188-

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