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Letter to Fanny Keats, December 20, 1819

Address: Miss Keats / Rd Abbey’s Esqre / Walthamstow

Postmarks: TwoPyPost Unpaid SOHampstead; 7 o’Clock DE 20 1819 NT


Wentworth Place

Monday Morn –

My dear Fanny,

When I saw you last, you ask’d me whether you should see me again before Christmas – You would have seen me if I had been quite well. I have not, though not unwell enough to have prevented me – not indeed at all – but fearful le[s]t the weather should affect my throat which on exertion or cold continually threatens me – By the advice of my Doctor I have had a wa[r]m great Coat made and have ordered some thick shoes – so furnish’d I shall be with you if it holds a little fine before Christmas day – I have been very busy since I saw you especially the last Week and shall be for some time, in preparing some Poems to come out in the Sp[r]ing and also in hightening the interest of our Tragedy – Of the Tragedy I can give you but news semigood. It is accepted at Drury Lane with a promise of coming out next season: as that will be too long a delay we have determined to get Elliston to bring it out this Season or to transfer it to Covent Garden. This Elliston will not like, as we have every motive to believe that Kean has perceived how suitable the principal Character will be for him. My hopes of success in the literary world are now better than ever – Mr Abbey, on my calling on him lately, appeared anxious that I should apply myself to something else – He mentioned Tea Brokerage. I supposed he might perhaps mean to give me the Brokerage of his concern, which might be executed with little trouble and a good profit’ and therefore said I should have no objection to it especially as at the same time it occurred to me that I might make over the business to George – I questioned him about it a few days after. His mind takes odd turns. When I became a Suitor he became coy. He did not seem so much inclined to serve me. He described what I should have to do in the progress of business. It will not suit me. I have given it up. I have not heard again from George which rather disappoints me, as I wish to hear before I make any fresh remittance of his property. I receved a note from Mrs Dilke a few days ago inviting me to dine with her on Xmas day, which I shall do. Mr Brown and I go on in our old dog trot of Breakfast, dinner (Not tea for we have left that off) supper Sleep, Confab, stirring the fire and reading. Whilst I was in the Country last summer Mrs Bentley tells me a woman in mour[n]ing call’d on me, – and talk’d something of an aunt of ours – I am so careless a fellow I did not enquire, but will particularly. On Tuesday I am going to hear some Schoolboys Speechify on breaking up day – I’ll lay you a pocket pi[e]ce we<e> shall have “My name is norval” I have not yet look’d for the Letter you mention’d as it is mix’d up in a box full of papers – you must tell me, if you can recollect, the subject of it. This moment Bentley brought a Letter from George for me to deliver to Mrs Wylie – I shall see her and it before I see you. The direction was in his best hand, written with a good Pen and sealed with a Tassi’s Shakspeare such as I gave you – We judge of peoples hearts by their Countenances; may we not judge of Letters in the same way? if so, the Letter does not contain unpleasant news – Good or bad spirits have an effect on the handwriting. This direction is at least unnervous and healthy. Our Sister is also well, or George would have made strange <wok> work with Ks and Ws. The little Baby is well o{r} he would have formed precious vowels and Consonants – He sent off the Letter in a hurry, or the mail bag was rather a wa[r]m birth, or he has worn out his Seal, for the Shakespeare’s head is flattened a little. This is close muggy weather as they say at the Ale Houses –

I am, ever, my dear Sister

Yours affectionately

John Keats