200 years ago Keats wrote a last-minute letter to his sister-in-law



On Friday 28 January 1820 Keats added a few lines to his letter to his sister-in-law Georgiana Wylie Keats, as he had forgotten to hand them to George before he left London to return to her in America:

‘I wish you would call me names: I deserve them so much. I have only written two sheets for you, to carry by George, and those I forgot to bring to town and have therefore to forward them to Liverpool. George went this morning at 6 o’clock by the Liverpool coach. His being on his journey to you prevents my regretting his short stay. I have no news of any sort to tell you. Henry [Wylie, her brother] is wife bound in Camden Town; there is no getting him out. I am sorry he has not a prettier wife: indeed ’tis a shame: she is not half a wife. I think I could find some of her relations in Buffon, or Captn Cook’s voyages or the hierogueglyphics in Moor’s Almanack, or upon a Chinese clock door, the shepherdesses on her own mantelpiece, or in a cruel sampler in which she may find herself worsted, or in a Dutch toyshop window, or one of the daughters in the ark, or any picture shop window. As I intend to retire into the country where there will be no sort of news, I shall not be able to write you very long letters. Besides I am afraid the postage comes to too much; which till now I have not been aware of.
People in military bands are generally seriously occupied. None may or can laugh at their work but the Kettle Drum, Long Drum, Do. Triangle and Cymbals. Thinking you might want a rat-catcher I put your mother’s old quaker-colour’d cat into the top of your bonnet. She’s wi’ kitten, so you may expect to find a whole family. I hope the family will not grow too large for its lodging. I shall send you a close written sheet on the first of next month, but for fear of missing the Liverpool Post I must finish here. God bless you and your little girl.
Your affectionate Brother
John Keats.’

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