The Letters of John Keats

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

137. To JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS. Sunday 11 July 1819.

Address and postmark not recorded.

Shanklin nr. Ryde Isle of Wight. Sunday 12 July 1819.1

My dear Reynolds,

* * * * * *

You will be glad to hear under my own hand (tho' Rice says we are like Sauntering Jack & Idle Joe) how diligent I have been, & am being. I have finish'd the Act,2 and in the interval of beginning the 2d have proceeded pretty well with Lamia, finishing the 1st part which consists of about 400 lines. * * * I have great hopes of success, because I make use of my Judgment more deliberately than I yet have done; but in case of failure with the world, I shall find my content. And here (as I know you have my good at heart as much as a Brother), I can only repeat to you what I have said to George--that however I shod like to enjoy what the competences of life procure, I am in no wise dashed at a different prospect.3 I have spent too many thoughtful days & moralized thro' too many nights for that, and fruitless wod they be indeed, if they did not by degrees make me look upon the affairs of the world with a healthy deliberation. I have of late been moulting: not for fresh feathers and wings: they are gone, and in their stead I hope to have a pair of patient sublunary legs. I have altered, not from a Chrysalis into a butterfly, but the Contrary, having two little loopholes, whence I may look out into the stage of the world: and that world on our coming here I almost forgot. The first time I sat down to write, I cod scarcely believe in the necessity of so doing. It struck me as a great oddity. Yet the very corn which is now so beautiful, as if it had only took to ripening yesterday, is for the market: so, why shod I be delicate4--

____________________
1
The 12th of July 1819 was a Monday.
2
Act 1 of 'Otho the Great'.
3
See Letter 135 to Fanny, not George, Keats.
4
Lord Houghton says at this point--'Sir James Mackintosh, who had openly protested against the mode of criticism employed against "Endymion", and had said, in a letter still extant, that "such attacks will interest every liberal mind in the author's success", writing to Messrs. Taylor, on the 19th of July in this year, enquires, "Have you any other literary novelties in verse? I very much admire your young poet, with all his singularities. Where is he? and what high design does he meditate?"'

-358-

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