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This report is taken from PN Review 140, Volume 27 Number 6, July - August 2001.

Under the Eye of Apollo Lawrence Sail

'... the truth is, it is a splashy, rainy, misty snowy, foggy, haily floody, muddy, slipshod County - the hills are very beautiful, when you get a sight of 'em - the Primroses are out, but then you are in - the Cliffs are of a fine deep Colour, but then the Clouds are continually vieing with them ... ' Reading this 138 years to the month after it was penned, it seems to embody a recurrent if not a permanent truth. For Keats, waterlogged in Teignmouth with his brother Tom, the Devon climate was a continuing source of amazement. The letter to Benjamin Bailey already quoted (13 March 1818) develops the theme: '... I think it well for the honor of Brittain that Julius Cæsar did not first land in this County - A Devonshirer standing on his native hills is not a distinct object - he does not show against the light - a wolf or two would dispossess him.' The next day, in a letter to his friend John Reynolds, the lightness of tone has become the frustration of being cooped indoors. 'Being agog to see some Devonshire, I would have taken a walk the first day, but the rain wod not let me; and the second, but the rain wod not let me; and the third; but the rain forbade it - Ditto 4 ditto 5 - So I made up my Mind to stop in doors, ... mais! but alas! the flowers here wait ...


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