[London, late summer 1820]
My Dear Brown,
You may not have heard from ______, or, _______, or in any way, that an attack of spitting blood and all its weakening consequences, has prevented me from writing for so long a time. I have matter for a very long letter, but not news; so I must cut every thing short. I shall make some confession, which you will be the only person, for many reasons, I shall trust with. A winter in England would, I have not a doubt, kill me; so I have resolved to go to Italy, either by sea or land. Not that I have any great hopes of that, for, I think, there is a core of disease in me not easy to pull out. I shall be obliged to set off in less than a month. Do not, my dear Brown, tease yourself about me. You must fill up your time as well as you can, and as happily. You must think of my faults as lightly as you can. When I have health I shall bring up the long arrears of letters I owe you. My book* has good success among the literary people, and I believe has a moderate sale. I have seen very few people we know. _________ has visited me more than any one. I would go to ________ and make some inquiries after you, if I could with any bearable sensation, but a person I am not quite used to causes an oppression on my chest. Last week I received a letter from Shelley, at Pisa, of a very kind nature, asking me to pass the winter with him. Hunt has behaved very kindly to me. You shall hear from me again shortly.
Your affectionate friend,
*Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (London: Taylor and Hessey, 1820.)
-from Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Keats edited by R. Monckton Milnes (London: New York: 1848)