The Letters of John Keats

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

81. To THOMAS KEATS. Monday 3 August 1818. Address: Mr Thos Keats ∣ Well Walk ∣ Hampstead ∣ Middx-- Postmarks: INVERNESS 6 AUG 1818; TOO LATE; AUG 9 1818 and 10 O'CLOCK AU 12 1818.

Letter Findlay, August 3rd.

Ah mio Ben.

My dear Tom,

We have made but poor progress Lately, chiefly from bad weather, for my throat is in a fair way of getting quite well, so I have had nothing of consequence to tell you till yesterday when we went up Ben Nevis, the highest Mountain in Great Britain--On that account I will never ascend another in this empire--Skiddaw is nothing to it either in height or in difficulty. It is above 4300 feet from the Sea level and Fortwilliam stands at the head of a Salt water Lake, consequently we took it completely from that level. I am heartily glad it is done--it is almost like a fly crawling up a wainscoat--Imagine the task of mounting 10 Saint Pauls without the convenience of Stair cases. We set out about five in the morning with a Guide in the Tartan and Cap and soon arrived at the foot of the first ascent which we immediately began upon--after much fag and tug and a rest and a glass of whiskey apiece we gained the top of the first rise and saw then a tremendous chap above us which the guide said was still far from the top--After the first Rise our way lay along a heath valley in which there was a Loch--after about a Mile in this Valley we began upon the next ascent--more formidable by far than the last and kept mounting with short intervals of rest untill we got above all vegetation, among nothing but loose Stones which lasted us to the very top--the Guide said we had three Miles of a stony ascent--we gained the first tolerable level after the valley to the height of what in the Valley we had thought the top and saw still above us another huge crag which still the Guide said was not the

81. If Keats's date is right, the interval between the beginning of this letter and its consignment to the Post Office was three days; in the meantime the sore throat appears to have held its own even by Keats's own admission at the close; and a day later Brown wrote very seriously of it, both to Mr. Dilke of Chichester and to Henry Snook. Letterfinlay is about twelve miles (as the crow flies) from Ben Nevis, in the direct line for Inverness, and is close to the banks of Loch Lochy.--H.B.F.

-203-

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