The Letters of John Keats

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

239. To MRS. BRAWNE. Tuesday 24 Oct. 1820. Address: Mrs Brawne ∣ Wentworth Place ∣ Hampstead Middx ∣ England Postmark: F.P.O. 11 NO 1820

Octr 24 Naples Harbour-- care Giovanni

My dear Mrs Brawne,

A few words will tell you what sort of a Passage we had, and what situation we are in, and few they must be on account of the Quarantine, our Letters being liable to be opened for the purpose of fumigation at the Health Office.1 We have to remain in the vessel ten days and are, at present shut in a tier of ships. The sea air has been beneficial to me about to as great an extent as squally weather and bad accommodations and provisions has done harm-- So I am about as I was--Give my Love to Fanny and tell her, if I were well there is enough in this Port of Naples to fill a quire of Paper--but it looks like a dream-- every man who can row his boat and walk and talk seems a different being from myself. I do not feel in the world. It has been unfortunate for me that one of the Passengers is a young Lady in a Consumption--her imprudence has vexed me very much--the knowledge of her complaint-- the flushings in her face, all her bad symptoms have preyed upon me--they would have done so had I been in good health.2 Severn now is a very good fellow but his nerves are too strong to be hurt by other peoples illnesses-- I remember poor Rice wore me in the same way in the isle of Wight3--I shall feel a load off me when the Lady vanishes out of my sight. It is impossible to describe exactly in what state of health I am--at this moment I am suffering from indigestion very much, which makes such stuff of this Letter. I would always wish you to think me a little worse than I really am; not being of a sanguine disposition I am likely to succeed. If I do not recover your regret will be softened if I do your pleasure will be doubled--I dare not fix my Mind upon Fanny, I have not dared to think of her. The only comfort I have had that way has been in thinking for hours together of having

____________________
1
The original letter, in the Dilke Collection, is very much discoloured, perhaps through the operations of the Health Office.
2
Before this letter was published Medwin quoted a few lines from this part of it, altered to suit his purpose, in his 'Life of Shelley', 1847, ii. 96; 1913 ed. H. B.F., pp. 299, 300.
3
Cf. pp. 356, 364.

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