The Letters of John Keats

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

149. To JOHN TAYLOR. Sunday 5 Sept. 1819.

Address: John Taylor, Esqre ∣ Mr James Taylor's ∣ Retford ∣ Notts.

Postmark: WINCHESTER 5 SE 1819

Winchester Septr 5th

My dear Taylor,

This morning I received yours of the 2nd and with it a Letter from Hessey enclosing a Bank post Bill of 30£-- an ample sum I assure you: more I had no thought of. You should no〈t〉 have delay'd so long in fleet Street; leading an inactive life as you did was breathing poison: you will find the country air do more for you than you expect. But it must be proper country air; you must choose a spot. What sort of a place is Retford? You should live in a dry, gravelly, barren, elevated country open to the currents of air, and such a place is generally furnish'd with the finest springs. The neighbourhood of a rich inclosed fulsome manured arrable Land especially in a valley and almost as bad on a flat, would be almost as bad as the smoke of fleetstreet. Such a place as this was shanklin only open to the south east and surrounded by hills in every other direction. From this south east came the damps from the sea which having no egress the air would for days together take on an unhealthy idiosyncrasy altogether enervating and weakening as a city Smoke--I felt it very much--Since I have been at Winchester I have been improving in health--it is not so confined--and there is on one side of the city a dry chalky down where the air is worth sixpence a pint. So if you do not get better at Retford do not impute it to your own weakness before you have well considered the nature of the air and soil-- especially as Autumn is encroaching: for the autum〈n〉 fogs over a rich land is like the steam from cabbage water-- What makes the great difference between valemen flatland men, and Mountaineers? The cultivation of the earth in a great measure. Our health temperament and dispositions are taken more (notwithstanding the contradiction of the history of cain and abel) from the air we breathe than is generally imagined. See the difference between a Peasant and a Butcher. I am convinced a great cause of it is the difference of the air they breathe--The one takes his mingled with the fume of slaughter the other with the damp exhalement from the glebe. The teeming damp that

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