200 years ago Keats sent Charles Wentworth Dilke an update about his health

On Saturday 4 March Keats wrote:
“My dear Dilke — Since I saw you I have been gradually, too gradually perhaps, improving; and though under an interdict with respect to animal food, living upon pseudo victuals, Brown says I have pick’d up a little flesh lately. If I can keep off inflammation for the next six weeks I trust I shall do very well.”

He went on to tease Dilke about his handwriting:
“You must improve in your penmanship; your writing is like the speaking of a child of three years old, very understandable to its father but to no one else. The worst is it looks well — no, that is not the worst — the worst is, it is worse than Bailey’s. Bailey’s looks illegible and may perchance be read; yours looks very legible and may perchance not be read…”
“It has been said that the Character of a Man may be known by his handwriting — if the Character of the age may be known by the average goodness of said, what a slovenly age we live in. Look at Queen Elizabeth’s Latin exercises and blush. Look at Milton’s hand. I can’t say a word for Shakspeare’s.”

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