Back on 18 March, Keats received a letter from George, who’d now been back in London for a week or so. George informed John that the publishers of Endymion, John Taylor and James Augustus Hessey, had made good progress in printing the poem. According to George, Charles Brown had also conveyed the message that they needed more fair copy to keep up their progress: “Brown has I understand written to you and given you the pleasant information that the printer’s are in immediate want of the Fourth book and preface–By the time you have received this I have no doubt but T & H will have received them.” George wasn’t quite correct with that last prediction, even though Keats had finished copying Book IV by at least 14 March, and he had written his preface on 19 March. It seems George’s letter was the final prod he needed to get his act together.
So it was that the MS of Keats’s fourth book of Endymion traveled by mail coach from Teignmouth to Exeter and on to London. If you’d like a sense of the route it may have taken, there’s lots of good information in Richard Marggraf Turley’s piece from last April, “Keats Underway.” If you really want to get in the weeds, you can study Cary’s New Itinerary (1819), which provides, as its title page says, “An Accurate Delineation of the Great Roads, Both Direct and Cross throughout England and Wales.” The images below come from a similar guide, A New and Accurate Description of all the Direct and Principal Cross Roads in England and Wales, by Daniel Paterson. They give some sense of the general path Endymion followed. Good thing the coach arrived safely with its precious cargo!
As usual, the letter can be read from Forman’s 1895 edition of the letters. The manuscript is owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum. No images as of yet–sorry ’bout that!