Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am piqu’d

There was one Mrs. Cameron of 50 years of age, and the fattest woman in all Inverness-shire, who got up this Mountain some few years ago — true, she had her servants — but then she had her self. She ought to have hired Sisyphus, — Up the high hill he heaves a huge round — Mrs. Cameron. ’Tis said a little conversation took place between the mountain and the Lady. After taking a glass of Whiskey, as she was tolerably seated at ease, she thus began —

A Dialogue.

[Persons: Mrs. Cameron and Ben Nevis]

  • MRS. C —
  • Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am pique’d 
  • That I have so far panted, tugg’d, and reek’d
  • To do an honour to your old bald pate
  • And now am sitting on you just to bate,
  • Without your paying me one compliment.
  • Alas, ‘tis so with all, when our intent
  • Is plain, and in the eye of all mankind
  • We fair ones show a preference, too blind!
  • You gentlemen immediately turn tail — 
  • O let me then my hapless fate bewail!
  • Ungrateful baldpate, have I not disdain’d
  • The pleasant valleys — have I not, mad brain’d,
  • Deserted all my pickles and preserves,
  • My china closet too — with wretched nerves
  • To boot — say, wretched ingrate, have I not
  • Left my soft cushion chair and caudle pot?
  • ‘Tis true I had no corns — no! thank the fates,
  • My Shoemaker was always Mr. Bates.
  • And if not Mr. Bates, why I’m not old!
  • Still dumb, ungrateful Nevis — still so cold!

(Here the Lady took some more whiskey and was putting even more to her lips when she dashed it to the ground, for the mountain began to grumble; which continued for a few minutes before he thus began,) 

  • What whining bit of tongue and mouth thus dares
  • Disturb my slumber of a thousand years?
  • Even so long my sleep has been secure,
  • And to be so awaked I’ll not endure.
  • Oh pain — for since the eagle’s earliest scream
  • I’ve had a damn’d confounded ugly dream,
  • A nightmare sure — What, madam, was it you?
  • It cannot be! My old eyes are not true!
  • Red-Crag, my spectacles! Now let me see!
  • Good heavens, lady, how the gemini
  • Did you get here? O I shall split my sides!
  • I shall earthquake——
  • MRS. C —
  • Sweet Nevis, do not quake, for though I love
  • Your honest countenance all things above,
  • Truly I should not like to be convey’d 
  • So far into your bosom — gentle maid 
  • Loves not too rough a treatment, gentle sir;
  • Pray thee be calm and do not quake nor stir,
  • No, not a stone or I shall go in fits —
  • I must—I shall—I meet not such tid bits,
  • I meet not such sweet creatures every day.
  • By my old night cap, night cap night and day,
  • I must have one sweet buss — I must and shall!
  • Red-Crag! — What, madam, can you then repent
  • Of all the toil and vigour you have spent
  • To see Ben Nevis and to touch his nose?
  • Red-Crag I say! O I must have you close!
  • Red-Crag, there lies beneath my farthest toe
  • A vein of Sulphur — go, dear Red-Crag, go —
  • And rub your flinty back against it — budge!
  • Dear madam, I must kiss you, faith I must!
  • I must embrace you with my dearest gust!
  • Blockhead, d’ye hear — Blockhead, I’ll make her feel.
  • There lies beneath my east leg’s northern heel
  • A cave of young earth dragons — well, my boy, 
  • Go thither quick and so complete my joy.
  • Take you a bundle of the largest pines,
  • And when the sun on fiercest phosphor shines
  • Fire them and ram them in the dragon’s nest; 
  • Then will the dragons fry and fizz their best,
  • Until ten thousand now no bigger than
  • Poor alligators, poor things of one span,
  • Will each one swell to twice ten times the size
  • Of northern whale; then for the tender prize — 
  • The moment then — for then will Red-Crag rub
  • His flinty back — and I shall kiss and snub
  • And press my dainty morsel to my breast.
  • Blockhead make haste!
  • O Muses, weep the rest —
  • The lady fainted and he thought her dead,
  • So pulled the clouds again about his head
  • And went to sleep again. Soon she was rous’d
  • By her affrighted servants. Next day, hous’d
  • Safe on the lowly ground, she bless’d her fate
  • That fainting fit was not delayed too late.

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MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am piqu’d.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.26 , University of Victoria, 12 July 2023.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am piqu’d,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.26 , last modified 12th July 2023.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am piqu’d.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.26 , last modified 12th July 2023.