The Letters of John Keats

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

79. To BENJAMIN BAILEY. Saturday 18-Wednesday 22 July 1818. Address: Mr B. Bailey ∣ T. Bailey Esqre ∣ Thorney Abbey ∣ Peterborough.1 Imperfect postmark: GLASGOW 31 JULY.

Inverary July 81th.

My dear Bailey,

The only day I have had a chance of seeing you when you were last in London I took every advantage of--some devil led you out of the way. Now I have written to Reynolds to tell me where you will be in Cumberland2-- so that I cannot miss you--and when I see you the first thing I shall do will be to read that about Milton and Ceres and Proserpine3--for though I am not going after you to John o' Grotts it will be but poetical to say so. And here Bailey I will say a few words written in a sane and sober Mind, a very scarce thing with me, for they may hereafter save you a great deal of trouble about me, which you do not deserve, and for which I ought to be bastina- doed. I carry all matters to an extreme--so that when I have any little vexation it grows in five Minutes into a theme for Sophocles--then and in that temper if I write to any friend I have so little selfpossession that I give him matter for grieving at the very time perhaps when I am laughing at a Pun. Your last Letter made me blush for the pain I had given you. I know my own disposition so well that I am certain of writing many times hereafter in the same strain to you--now you know how far to believe in them--you must allow for imagination. I know I shall not be able to help it. I am sorry you are grieved at my not continuing my visits to little Britain4--yet I think I

____________________
1
Redirected by another hand to 'Revd' Mr. B. Bailey, 'Mr. Fairbairn's, Court Square, Carlisle'.
2
Cf, Letter 76, p. 179.
3
Not that faire field

Of Enna, where Proserpin gathering flours, Her self a fairer Floure by gloomie Dis Was gatherd, which cost Ceres all that pain To seek her through the world--Paradise Lost', IV, ll. 268-72.

4
It was in Little Britain that the Reynolds family lived, Mr. Reynolds, the father of Keats's friend, being thus close to his work as Writing Master at the neighbouring school, Christ's Hospital. Dilke notes that Bailey was at this time in love with Mariane Reynolds, afterwards Mrs. Green. 'She was,' he says, 'a very beautiful girl-- somewhat cold and saturnine, and though always admired not generally liked. She was afterwards hardly tried by misfortune, and

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