The second letter for today is to Horace Smith, about whom we’ve heard a bit before. Back at the end of January, he was making fun of another Horace (Twiss) with some bawdy lines Keats shared with Tom and George. Arden Hegele had a great reading of the letter and Keats’s ambiguous feelings about masculinity, the body, and sex. We also heard about Smith in the 14 February letter to George and Tom, in which Keats mentions Smith’s poem “Nehemiah Muggs” and shares some extracts from it. (See also the latest This Week on Keats for a shallow dive into early nineteenth-century attitudes toward Methodism, among other topics). And now we have a letter to Smith himself, with Keats mildly praising “Nehemiah Muggs” as having “a full leven of Wit and imaginative fun.” (Remember that back in the negative capability letter Keats’s disdain for wit and preference for humour was formulated after a dinner with Smith as host.)
But we’ll cut things short here and let you get to Anne McCarthy’s wonderful response, which situates Smith as a minor but nonetheless significant figure in 2nd-generation Romantic circles, even if Keats never warmed to him in the way he did with some other folks.
The letter can be read in Harry Buxton Forman’s updated 1901 edition of the complete works (we believe this edition was the letter’s first time in print). And it’s short, so here’s an image of the letter as well.