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that letter tore him to pieces; the effects were on him for many days. He did not read it—he could not—but requested me to place it in his coffin, together with a purse and a letter (unopened) of his sister's ;* since then he has told me not to place that letter in his coffin, only his sister's purse and letter, and some hair. I however persuaded him to think otherwise on this point. In his most irritable state he sees a friendless world about him, with every thing that his life presents, and especially the kindness of others, tending to his melancholy death. “I have got an English nurse to come two hours every
other day, so that I am quite recovering my health. Keats seems to like her, but she has been taken ill to-day and cannot come. a little back-room I get chalking out a picture; this, with swallowing a little Italian every day, helps to keep me up. The Doctor is delighted with your kindness to Keats ; † he thinks him worse ; his lungs are in a dreadful state ; his stomach has lost all its power. Keats knew from the first little drop of blood that he must die; no common chance of living was left him.
“ Feb. 22nd.-0! how anxious I am to hear from you! [Mr. Haslam.] I have nothing to break this dreadful solitude but letters. Day after day, night after night, here I am by our poor dying friend. My spirits, my intellect, and my health are breaking down. I can get no one to change with me—no one to relieve
All run away, and even if they did not, Keats would not do without me.
“Last night I thought he was going ; I could hear the phlegm in his throat ; he bade me lift him up in the bed or he would die with pain. I watched him all night, expecting him to be suffo. cated at every cough. This morning, by the pale daylight, the change in him frightened me: he has sunk in the last three days to a most ghastly look. Though Dr. Clark has prepared me for
* Miss Keats shorıly after married Señor Llanos, a Spanish gentleman of liberal politics and much accomplishment, the author of “ Don Esteban,“ Sandoval the Freemason,” and other spirited illustrations of the modern history of the Peninsula.
† Probably alluding to pecuniary assistance afforded by Mr. Brown. But before this the friends were helped out of their immediate difficulty by the generosity of Mr. Taylor.
the worst, I shall be ill able to bear it. I cannot bear to be set free even from this my horrible situation by the loss of him.
“I am still quite precluded from painting : which may be of consequence to me. Poor Keats has me ever by him, and shadows out the form of one solitary friend : he
his great doubt and horror, but when they fall upon me, they close gently, open quietly and close again, till he sinks to sleep. This thought alone would keep me by him till he dies : and why did I say I was losing my time? The advantages I have gained by knowing John Keats are double and treble any I could have won by any other occupation. Farewell.
“ Feb. 27th.-He is gone ; he died with the most perfect ease -he seemed to go to sleep. On the twenty-third, about four, the approaches of death came on. Severn-1-lift me up-I am dying-I shall die easy ; don't be frightened-be firm, and thank God it has come. I lifted him up in my arms. The phlegm seemed boiling in his throat, and increased until eleven, when he gradually sunk into death, so quiet, that I still thought he slept. I cannot say more now. I am broken down by four nights' watching, no sleep since, and my poor Keats gone. Three days since the body was opened: the lungs were completely gone. The doctors could not imagine how he had lived these two months. I followed his dear body to the grave on Monday, with many English. They take much care of me here-I must else have gone into a fever. I am better now, but still quite disabled.
“ The police have been. The furniture, the walls, the floor, must all be destroyed and changed, but this is well looked to by Dr. Clark.
“ The letters I placed in the coffin with my own hand.
“ This goes by the first post. Some of my kind friends would else have written before.”
After the death of Keats, Mr. Severn received the following letter from Mr. Leigh Hunt, in the belief that he was still alive, and that it might be communicated to him. But even while these warm words were being written in his own old home, he
had already been committed to that distant grave, which has now become a place of pilgrimage to those fellow-countrymen who then knew not what they had lost, and who are ready, too late, to lavish on his name the love and admiration that might once have been very welcome.
VALE OF HEALTH, HAMPSTEAD, March 8, 1821. DEAR SEVERN,
You have concluded, of course, that I have sent no letters to Rome, because I was aware of the effect they would have on Keats's mind; and this is the principal cause,-for besides what I have been told of his emotions about letters in Italy, I remember his telling me on one occasion, that, in his sick moments, he never wished to receive another letter, or ever to see another face however friendly. But still I should have written to you had I not been almost at death's-door myself. You will imagine how ill I have been when you hear that I have just begun writing again for the “ Examiner” and “Indicator,” after an interval of several months, during which my flesh wasted from me in sickness and melancholy. Judge how often I thought of Keats, and with what feelings. Mr. Brown tells me he is comparatively calm now, or rather quite so. If he can bear to hear of us, pray tell him—but he knows it all already, and can put it in better language than any man. I hear he does not like to be told that he may get better; nor is it to be wondered at, considering his firm persuasion that he shall not recover. He can only regard it as a puerile thing, and an insinuation that he cannot bear to think he shall die. But if this persuasion should happen no longer to be so strong upon him, or if he can now put up with such attempts to console him, remind him of what I have said a thousand times, and that I still (upon my honor, Severn,) think always, that I have seen too many instances of recovery from apparently desperate cases of consumption, not to indulge in hope to the very last. If he cannot bear this, tell him—tell that great poet and noble-hearted man—that we shall all bear his memory in the most precious part of our hearts, and that the world shall bow their heads to it, as our loves do. Or if this again will
trouble his spirit, tell him we shall never cease to remember and love him, and, that the most skeptical of us has faith enough in the high things that nature puts into our heads, to think that all who are of one accord in mind and heart, are journeying to one and the same place, and shall unite somehow or other again, face to face, mutually conscious, mutually delighted. Tell him he is only before us on the road, as he was in every thing else; or, whether you tell him the latter or no, tell him the former, and add that we shall never forget he was so, and that we are coming after him. The tears are again in my eyes, and I must not afford to shed them. The next letter I write shall be more to yourself, and a little more refreshing to your spirits, which we are very sensible must have been greatly taxed. But whether our friend dies or not, it will not be among the least lofty of our recollections by and by, that you helped to smooth the sick-bed of so fine a being God bless you, dear Severn. Your sincere friend,
Keats was buried in the Protestant cemetery at Rome, one of the most beautiful spots on which the eye and heart of man can rest. It is a grassy slope, amid verdurous ruins of the Honorian walls of the diminished city, and surmounted by the pyramidal tomb which Petrarch attributed to Remus, but which antiquarian truth has ascribed to the humbler name of Caius Cestius, a Tri. bune of the people, only remembered by his sepulchre. In one of those mental voyages into the past, which often precede death, Keats had told Severn that “ he thought the intensest pleasure he had received in life was in watching the growth of flowers ;” and another time, after lying a while still and peaceful, he said, “I feel the flowers growing over me.” And they do grow, even all the winter long-violets and daises mingling with the fresh herbage, and, in the words of Shelley, “making one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.”
Ten weeks after the close of his holy work of friendship and charity, Mr. Severn wrote to Mr. Haslam :-“ Poor Keats has
now his wish-his humble wish; he is at peace in the quiet grave. I walked there a few days ago, and found the daisies had grown all over it. It is in one of the most lovely retired spots in Rome. You cannot have such a place in England. I visit it with a delicious melancholy which relieves my sadness. When I recollect for how long Keats had never been one day free from ferment and torture of mind and body, and that now he lies at rest with the flowers he so desired above him, with no sound in the air but the tinkling bells of a few simple sheep and goats, I feel indeed grateful that he is here, and remember how earnestly I prayed that his sufferings might end, and that he might be removed from a world where no one grain of comfort remained for him.”
Thus too in the “ Adonäis,” that most successful imitation of the spirit of the Grecian elegy, devoted to the memory of one who had restored Grecian mythology to its domain of song, this place is consecrated.
“Go thou to Rome, at once the Paradise,
The grave, the city, and the wilderness :
Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead
“ And gray walls moulder round, on which dull Time
Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand ;
Have pitched in Heaven's smile their camp of death,
“Here pause : these graves are all too young as yet
To have outgrown the sorrow which consigued