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incredible. I seldom think of my brother and sister in America; the thought of leaving Miss is beyond every thing horrible
-the sense of darkness coming over me-I eternally see her figure eternally vanishing; some of the phrases she was in the habit of using during my last nursing at Wentworth Place ring in my ears. Is there another life? Shall I awake and find all this a dream? There must be, we cannot be created for this sort of suffering. The receiving this letter is to be one of yours-I will say nothing about our friendship, or rather yours to me, more than that, as you deserve to escape, you will never be so unhappy as I am. I should think of you in my last moments. I shall endeavor to write to Miss if possible, to-day. A sudden stop to my life in the middle of one of these letters would be no bad thing, for it keeps one in a sort of fever awhile; though fatigued with a letter longer than any I have written for a long while, it would be better to go on for ever than awake to a sense of contrary winds. We expect to put into Portland Roads to-night. The captain, the crew, and the passengers, are all illtempered and weary. I shall write to Dilke. I feel as if I was closing my last letter to you, my dear Brown.
Your affectionate friend,
A violent storm in the Bay of Biscay lasted for thirty hours, and exposed the voyagers to considerable danger. "What awful music!" cried Severn, as the waves raged against the vessel. "Yes," said Keats, as a sudden lurch inundated the cabin, "Water parted from the sea." After the tempest had subsided, Keats was reading the description of the storm in "Don Juan," and cast the book on the floor in a transport of indignation. "How horrible an example of human nature," he cried, "is this man, who has no pleasure left him but to gloat over and jeer at the most awful incidents of life. Oh! this is a paltry originality, which consists in making solemn things gay, and gay things solemn, and yet it will fascinate thousands, by the very diabolical outrage of their sympathies. Byron's perverted education makes him assume to feel, and try to impart to others, those depraved sensations which the want of any education excites in many.”
The invalid's sufferings increased during the latter part of the voyage and a ten-days' miserable quarantine at Naples. But, when once fairly landed in comfortable quarters, his spirits appeared somewhat to revive, and the glorious scenery to bring back, at moments, his old sense of delight. But these transitory gleams, which the hopeful heart of Severn caught and stored up, were in truth only remarkable as contrasted with the chronic gloom that overcame all things, even his love. What other words can tell the story like his own? What fiction could color more deeply this picture of all that is most precious in existence becoming most painful and destructive? What profounder pathos can the world of tragedy exhibit than this expression of all that is good and great in nature writhing impotent in the grasp of an implacable destiny?
NAPLES, Nov. 1, [1820.]
MY DEAR BROWN,
Yesterday we were let out of quarantine, during which my health suffered more from bad air and the stifled cabin than it had done the whole voyage. The fresh air revived me a little, and I hope I am well enough this morning to write to you a short calm letter;-if that can be called one, in which I am afraid to speak of what I would fainest dwell upon. As I have gone thus far into it, I must go on a little ;-perhaps it may relieve the load of wretchedness which presses upon me. The persuasion that I shall see her no more will kill me. My dear Brown, I should have had her when I was in health, and I should have remained well. I can bear to die-I cannot bear to leave her. Oh, God! God! God! Every thing I have in my trunks that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear. The silk lining she put in my traveling cap scalds my head. My imagination is horribly vivid about her-I see her I hear her. There is nothing in the world of sufficient interest to divert me from her a moment. This was the case when I was in England; I cannot recollect, without shuddering, the time that I was a prisoner at Hunt's, and used to keep my eyes fixed on Hampstead all day. Then there was a good hope of seeing her again-Now!-O that I could be buried near where she lives! I am afraid to write to her to receive a
letter from her to see her handwriting would break my hearteven to hear of her anyhow, to see her name written, would be more than I can bear. My dear Brown, what am I to do? Where can I look for consolation or ease? covery, this passion would kill me. my illness, both at your house and has never ceased wearing me out. you will do immediately, write to Rome (poste restante)—if she is well and happy, put a mark thus +; if
If I had any chance of reIndeed, through the whole of at Kentish Town, this fever When you write to me, which
Remember me to all. I will endeavor to bear my miseries patiently. A person in my state of health should not have such miseries to bear. Write a short note to my sister, saying you have heard from me. Severn is very well. If I were in better health I would urge your coming to Rome. I fear there is no one can give me any comfort. Is there any news of George? 0, that something fortunate had ever happened to me or my brothers! -then I might hope,—but despair is forced upon me as a habit. My dear Brown, for my sake, be her advocate for ever. I cannot say a word about Naples; I do not feel at all concerned in the thousand novelties around me. I am afraid to write to her. I should like her to know that I do not forget her. Oh, Brown, I have coals of fire in my breast. It surprises me that the human heart is capable of containing and bearing so much misery. Was I born for this end? God bless her, and her mother, and my sister, and George, and his wife, and you, and all!
Your ever affectionate friend,
Thursday. I was a day too early for the Courier.
out now. I have been more calm to-day, though in a half dread of not continuing so. I said nothing of my health; I know nothing of it; you will hear Severn's account, from
You bring my thoughts too near to
I must leave
God bless you!
Little things, that at other times might have been well passed over, now struck his susceptible imagination with intense disgust. He could not bear to go to the opera, on account of the sentinels
who stood constantly on the stage, and whom he at first took for parts of the scenic effect. "We will go at once to Rome," he said; "I know my end approaches, and the continual visible tyranny of this government prevents me from having any peace of mind. I could not lie quietly here. I will not leave even my bones in the midst of this despotism."
He had received at Naples a most kind letter from Mr. Shelley, anxiously inquiring about his health, offering him advice as to the adaptation of diet to the climate, and concluding with an urgent invitation to Pisa, where he could insure him every comfort and attention. But for one circumstance, it is unfortunate that this offer was not accepted, as it might have spared at least some annoyances to the sufferer, and much painful responsibility, extreme anxiety, and unrelieved distress to his friend.
On arriving at Rome, he delivered the letter of introduction already mentioned, to Dr. (now Sir James) Clark, at that time rising into high repute as a physician. The circumstances of the
young patient were such as to insure compassion from any person of feeling, and perhaps sympathy and attention from superior minds. But the attention he here received was that of all the skill and knowledge that science could confer, and the sympathy was of the kind which discharges the weight of obligation for gratuitous service, and substitutes affection for benevolence and gratitude. All that wise solicitude and delicate thoughtfulness could do to light up the dark passages of mortal sickness and soothe the pillow of the forlorn stranger was done, and, if that was little, the effort was not the less. In the history of most professional men this incident might be remarkable, but it is an ordinary sample of the daily life of this distinguished physician, who seems to have felt it a moral duty to make his own scientific eminence the measure of his devotion to the relief and solace of all men of intellectual pursuits, and to have applied his beneficence the most effectually to those whose nervous susceptibility renders them the least fit to endure that physical suffering to which, above all men, they are constantly exposed.
The only other introduction Keats had with him, was from Sir T. Lawrence to Canova, but the time was gone by when even Art could please, and his shattered nerves refused to convey to
his intelligence the impressions by which a few months before he would have been rapt into ecstasy. Dr. Clark procured Keats a lodging in the Piazza di Spagna, opposite to his own abode; it was in the first house on your right hand as you ascend the steps of the "Trinitá del Monte." Rome, at that time, was far from affording the comforts to the stranger that are now so abundant, and the violent Italian superstitions respecting the infection of all dangerous disease, rendered the circumstances of an invalid most harassing and painful. Suspicion tracked him as he grew worse, and countenances darkened round as the world narrowed about him: ill-will increased just when sympathy was most wanted, and the essential loneliness of the death-bed was increased by the alienation of all other men; the last grasp of the swimmer for life was ruthlessly cast off by his stronger comrade, and the affections that are wont to survive the body were crushed down in one common dissolution. At least from this desolation Keats was saved by the love and care of Mr. Severn and Dr. Clark.
I have now to give the last letter of Keats in my possession: probably the last he wrote. One phrase in the commencement of it became frequent with him; he would continually ask Dr. Clark, “When will this posthumous life of mine come to an end ?" Yet when this was written, hope was evidently not extinguished within him, and it does appear not unlikely that if the soothing influences of climate had been sooner brought to bear on his constitution, and his nervous irritability from other causes been diminished, his life might have been saved, or at least, considerably prolonged.
MY DEAR BROWN,
ROME, 30th November, 1820.
'Tis the most difficult thing in the world to me to write a letter. My stomach continues so bad, that I feel it worse on opening any book, yet I am much better than I was in quarantine. Then I am afraid to encounter the pro-ing and con-ing of any thing interesting to me in England. I have an habitual feeling of my real life having passed, and that I am leading a posthumous existence. God knows how it would have been-but it appears