200 years ago Keats enjoyed a nectarine

On Wednesday 22 September 1819, Keats wrote to his friend Charles Wentworth Dilke:

Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine—good God how fine. It went down soft pulpy, slushy, oozy—all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beatified Strawberry. I shall certainly breed.

In the same letter he told Dilke:

[I will] endeavour to acquire something by temporary writing in periodical works. You must agree with me how unwise it is to keep feeding upon hopes, which depending so much on the temper and imagination, appear gloomy or bright, near or afar off, just as it happens…

Even if I am swept away like a spider from a drawing room, I am determined to spin—homespun any thing for sale. Yea, I will traffic. Any thing but Mortgage my Brain to Blackwood. I am determined not to lie like a dead lump… [I] am confident I shall be able to… shine up an article on any thing without much knowledge of the subject, aye like an orange. I would willingly have recourse to other means. I cannot; I am fit for nothing but literature. Wait for the issue of this Tragedy? No—there cannot be greater uncertainties east, west, north, and south than concerning dramatic composition. How many months must I wait! Had I not better begin to look about me now? If better events supersede this necessity what harm will be done? I have no trust whatever on Poetry. I don’t wonder at it—the marvel is to me how people read so much of it. I think you will see the reasonableness of my plan.
To forward it I purpose living in cheap Lodging in Town, that I may be in the reach of books and information, of which there is here a plentiful lack. If I can find any place tolerably comfortable I will settle myself and fag till I can afford to buy Pleasure—which if I never can afford I must go without…

Now I come to my request. Should you like me for a neighbour again? Come, plump it out, I won’t blush. I should also be in the neighbourhood of Mrs. Wylie, which I should be glad of, though that of course does not influence me. Therefore will you look about Marsham or Romney street for a couple of rooms for me… I have written to-day to Reynolds, and to Woodhouse. Do you know him? He is a Friend of Taylor’s at whom Brown has taken one of his funny odd dislikes. I’m sure he’s wrong, because Woodhouse likes my Poetry—conclusive. I ask your opinion and yet I must say to you as to him, Brown, that if you have any thing to say against it I shall be as obstinate and heady as a Radical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *