200 years ago Keats described the forerunner to the bicycle

The nothing of the day is a machine called the velocipede. It is a wheel carriage to ride cock-horse upon, sitting astride and pushing it along with the toes, a rudder-wheel in hand—they will go seven miles an hour. A handsome gelding will come to eight guineas; however they will soon be cheaper, unless the army takes to them.

I look back upon the last month, and find nothing to write about; indeed, I do not recollect any thing particular in it. It’s all alike; we keep on breathing. The only amusement is a little scandal, of however fine a shape, a laugh at a pun—and then after all we wonder how we could enjoy the scandal or laugh at the pun.

I have been at different times turning it in my head whether I should go to Edinburgh and study for a physician; I am afraid I should not take kindly to it; I am sure I could not take fees—and yet I should like to do so; it’s not worse than writing poems, and hanging them up to be fly-blown on the Review shambles.

[Professor Richard Marggraf-Turley demonstrates the technique of riding a velocipede at Keats House.]

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