200 years ago Keats found dealing with money matters worse than Dante’s Inferno.

Around 7 January 1819, Keats replied to Haydon’s request for a loan (from his share of Tom’s inheritance):

“My dear Haydon — We are very unlucky — I should have stopped to dine with you, but I knew I should not have been able to leave you in time for my plaguy sore throat; which is getting well.

“I shall have a little trouble in procuring the Money and a great ordeal to go through — no trouble indeed to any one else — or ordeal either. I mean I shall have to go to town some thrice, and stand in the Bank an hour or two — to me worse than anything in Dante — I should have less chance with the people around me than Orpheus had with the Stones. I have been writing a little now and then lately: but nothing to speak of — being discontented and as it were moulting. Yet I do not think I shall ever come to the rope or the Pistol, for after a day or two’s melancholy, although I smoke more and more my own insufficiency — I see by little and little more of what is to be done, and how it is to be done, should I ever be able to do it. On my soul, there should be some reward for that continual agonie ennuyeuse. I was thinking of going into Hampshire for a few days.”

On Monday 14th January 2019 at 6pm Matthew Coulton will give a reading of Keats’s ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ at The Art Gallery, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HH. Admission free.

The Keats bicentenary diary 1819/2019 is on sale at Keats House, Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR, price £15.

200 years ago Keats had “a battle with celery stalks”

On Monday 4 January 1819 Keats wrote:
“Mrs. Dilke is knocking at the wall for Tea is ready — I will tell you what sort of a tea it is and then bid you Good-bye.”

It was the following day when he continued:
“nothing particular happened yesterday evening, except that when the tray came up Mrs. Dilke and I had a battle with celery stalks”.

On Monday 14th January 2019 at 6pm Matthew Coulton will give a reading of Keats’s ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ at The Art Gallery, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HH.

The Keats bicentenary diary 1819/2019 is on sale at Keats House, Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR, price £15.

200 years ago Keats wrote about his neighbour’s cat

On Sunday 3 January 1819 Keats continued his journal letter to George and Georgiana Keats in America:
“There is another thing I must mention of the momentous kind… Mrs. Dilke [Keats’s next-door neighbour at Wentworth Place] has two Cats — a Mother and a Daughter — now the Mother is a tabby and the daughter a black and white like the spotted child. Now it appears to me, for the doors of both houses are opened frequently, so that there is a complete thoroughfare for both Cats (there being no board up to the contrary), they may one and several of them come into my room ad libitum. But no — the Tabby only comes — whether from sympathy for Ann the Maid or me I cannot tell — or whether Brown has left behind him any atmospheric spirit of Maidenhood I cannot tell. The Cat is not an old Maid herself — her daughter is a proof of it — I have questioned her — I have look’d at the lines of her paw — I have felt her pulse — to no purpose. Why should the old Cat come to me? I ask myself — and myself has not a word to answer. It may come to light some day; if it does you shall hear of it.”

On Monday 14th January 2019 at 6pm
Matthew Coulton will give a reading of
Keats’s ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ at:
The Art Gallery,
Guildhall,
Gresham Street,
London EC2V 7HH

 

200 years ago Keats had given up snuff — very nearly quite (!)

On Saturday 2 January 1819, Keats continued his journal letter to George and Georgiana:
“I never forget you except after seeing now and then some beautiful woman — but that is a fever — the thought of you both is a passion with me, but for the most part a calm one. …
“I have given up snuff very nearly quite — Dilke has promised to sit with me this evening, I wish he would come this minute for I want a pinch of snuff very much just now — I have none though in my own snuff box. My sore throat is much better to-day — I think I might venture on a pinch.”

The Keats bicentenary diary 1819/2019 is on sale at Keats House, Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR, price £15.

200 years ago Keats dined with Mrs Brawne (and her daughter Fanny)

On Friday 1 January 1819 Keats dined at Elm Cottage. In his letter to George and Georgiana Keats he seems to be trying to persuade them (or himself) how immune he was to Fanny Brawne’s charms:
“Mr. and Mrs. D[ilke] and myself dined at Mrs. Brawne’s — nothing particular passed. I never intend hereafter to spend any time with ladies unless they are handsome — you lose time to no purpose.”

1 January 2019 — have you got your John Keats Bicentenary Diary? Copies are still available at Keats House in Hampstead. Price £15.

‘A little thing I wrote off to some music as it was playing’

From around 200 years ago, Keats’s ‘little thing I wrote off to some music as it was playing’:

I had a dove and the sweeet dove died,
And I have thought it died of grieving.
Oh, what could it grieve for? Its feet were tied
With a silken thread of my own hand’s weaving.
Sweet little red feet! Why should you die—
Why would you leave me, sweet dove! Why?
You lived alone on the forest-tree,
Why, pretty thing, could you not live with me?
I kissed you oft and gave you white peas;
Why not live sweetly, as in the green trees?

(From Keats’s journal letter to George and Georgiana Keats, section dated 3 January 1819.)

On Monday 14 January 2019 the Keats Foundation will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Keats’s poem ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ with a reading at The Art Gallery, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7HH, starting at 6pm.

 

200 years ago Keats was ‘confined at Hampstead’ with a sore throat

On Wednesday 30 December 1818 Keats wrote to his sister Fanny:
“My dear Fanny — I am confined at Hampstead with a sore throat; but I do not expect it will keep me above two or three days. I intended to have been in Town yesterday but feel obliged to be careful a little while. I am in general so careless of these trifles, that they tease me for Months, when a few days’ care is all that is necessary. I shall not neglect any chance of an endeavour to let you return to School — nor to procure you a Visit to Mrs. Dilke’s which I have great fears about. Write me if you can find time — and also get a few lines ready for George as the Post sails next Wednesday.
Your affectionate Brother
John ——.”

200 years ago Keats was inspired by images which were ‘full of romance’

On Sunday 27 December 1818, Keats dined with the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon at Lisson Grove, and handed over £30 (which he had borrowed from his publisher for the purpose). Haydon was expecting rather more.
Keats wrote to his brother George: ‘I looked over a Book of Prints taken from the fresco of the Church at Milan, the name of which I forget — in it are comprised Specimens of the first and second age of art in Italy. I do not think I ever had a greater treat out of Shakspeare. Full of Romance and the most tender feeling — magnificence of draperies beyond any I ever saw, not excepting Raphael’s. But Grotesque to a curious pitch — yet still making up a fine whole — even finer to me than more accomplish’d works — as there was left so much room for Imagination.’

[The prints were actually of the fresco at the Camposanto at Pisa. Images from them would appear throughout the next poem he wrote: ‘The Eve of St Agnes’.]