The Letters of John Keats

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

one is sure to get into some mess before evening. Have these hot days I brag of so much been well or ill for your health? Let me hear soon--

Your affectionate Brother
John -----


147. To JOHN TAYLOR. Tuesday 31 Aug. 1819.

Address: John Taylor Esqre ∣ Taylor ∣ Hessey ∣ Fleet Street ∣ London1

Postmark: WINCHESTER 31 AU 1819

Winchester Septr 1st

My dear Taylor,

Brown and I have been employed for these three weeks past from time to time in writing to our different friends: a dead silence is our ownly answer: we wait morning after morning and nothing: tuesday is the day for the Examiner to arrive, this is the second tuesday which has been barren even of a news paper--Men should be in imitation of Spirits 'responsive to each others note'2--Instead of that I pipe and no one hath danced--We have been cursing this morning like Mandeville and Lisle3--With this I shall send by the same Post a third Letter to a friend of mine--who though it is of consequence has neither answered right or

____________________
1
This letter is redirected in another handwriting to 'Mr Taylor ∣ Market Place ∣ Retford'.
2
Cf. "'Paradise Lost'", iv. 683.
3
Godwin "'Mandeville--a Tale of the Seventeenth Century in England'" ( 3 volumes, 1817). The allusion is to Mandeville's account of his Oxford life, and of young Lisle, with whom he formed a friendship at the University:

'Sometimes we would sit silent together for hours, like what I have heard of a Quakers' meeting; and then, suddenly seized with that passion for change which is never utterly extinguished in the human mind, would cry out as by mutual impulse, Come, now let us curse a little! In the art of cursing we were certainly no ordinary proficients; and if an indifferent person could have heard us, he would probably have been considerably struck, with the solemnity, the fervour, the eloquence, the richness of style and imagination, with which we discharged the function. The fulminations of Lisle were directed against Cromwel, his assistants and abettors, against Bradshaw and the regicides, and against the whole body of the Republican and King- killing party. The favourite object of my comminations were the pope, and the cardinals, and the jesuits, and all those, who, from the twelfth century downwards, had devoted the reformers, and the preachers of the pure religion of Christ, to massacre and the flames. . . . While we were thus engaged, we seemed to ourselves to be discharging an indispensible duty; and our eyes sparkled, and our hearts attained a higher degree of complacency, in proportion as we thus proceeded, to "unpack our hearts with curses".'

-377-

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