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to me-however, I will not speak of that subject. I must have been at Bedhampton nearly at the time you were writing to me from Chichester-how unfortunate—and to pass on the river too ! There was my star predominant! I cannot answer any thing in your letter, which followed me from Naples to Rome, because I am afraid to look it over again. I am so weak in mind) that I cannot bear the sight of any handwriting of a friend I love so much as I do you.
Yet I ride the little horse, and, at my worst, even in quarantine, summoned up more puns, in a sort of desperation, in one week than in any year of my life. There is one thought enough to kill me; I have been well, healthy, alert, &c., walking with her, and now—the knowledge of contrast, feeling for light and shade, all that information (primitive sense) necessary for a poem, are great enemies to the recovery of the stomach. There, you rogue, I put you to the torture; but you must bring your philosophy to bear, as I do mine, really, or how should I be able to live ? Dr. Clark is very attentive to me; he
there is very
little the matter with my lungs, but my stomach, he says, is very bad. I am well disappointed in hearing good news from George, for it runs in my head we shall all die young. I have not written to Reynolds yet, which he must think very neglectful; being anxious to send him a good account of my health, I have delayed it from week to week. If I recoyer, I will do all in my power to correct the mistakes made during sickness; and if I should not, all my faults will be forgiven. Severn is very well, though he leads so dull a life with me. Remember me to all friends, and tell Haslam I should not have left London without taking leave of him, but from being so low in body and mind. Write to George as soon as you receive this, and tell him how I um, as far as you can guess: and also a note to my sister-who walks about my imagination like a ghost-she is so like Tom. I can scarcely bid you good-bye, even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow.
God bless you!
After such words as these, the comments or the description of any mere biographer must indeed jar upon every mind duly im
pressed with the reality of this sad history. The voice, which we have followed so long in all its varying, yet ever-true, modulations of mirth and melancholy, of wonder and of wit, of activity and anguish, and which has conferred on these volumes whatever value they may possess, is now silent, and will not be heard on earth again. The earnest utterances of the devoted friend, who transmitted to other listening affections the details of those weary hours, and who followed to the very last the ebb and flow of that wave of fickle life, remain the fittest substitute for those sincere revelations which can come to us no more. from the letters of Mr. Severn to express in their energetic sim. plicity the final accidents of the hard catastrophe of so much that only asked for healthy life to be fruitful, useful, powerful, and happy. Mr. Severn wrote from Rome :
It is left to passages
“ Dec. 14th.—I fear poor Keats is at his worst. A most unlooked-for relapse has confined him to his bed with
chance against him. It has been so sudden upon what I thought convalescence, and without any seeming cause, that I cannot calculate on the next change. I dread it, for his suffering is so great, so continued, and his fortitude so completely gone, that any further change must make him delirious. This is the fifth day, and I see him get worse.
“ Dec. 17th, 4 A. M.-Not a moment can I be from him. I sit by his bed and read all day, and at night I humor him in all his wanderings. He has just fallen asleep, the first sleep for eight nights, and now from mere exhaustion. I hope he will not wake till I have written, for I am anxious you should know the truth; yet I dare not let him see I think his state dangerous. On the morning of this attack he was going on in good spirits, quite merrily, when, in an instant, a cough seized him, and he vomited two cupfulls of blood. In a moment I got Dr. Clark, who took eight ounces of blood from his arm—it was black and thick. Keats was much alarmed and dejected. What a sorrowful day I had with him! He rushed out of bed and said, “This day shall be my last;' and but for me most certainly it would. The blood broke forth in similar quantity the next morning, and he was bled again. I was afterwards so fortunate as to talk him into a little
calmness, and he soon became quite patient. Now the blood has come up in coughing five times. Not a single thing will he digest, yet he keeps on craving for food. Every day he raves he will die from hunger, and I've been obliged to give him more than was allowed. His imagination and memory present every thought to him in horror; the recollection of his good friend Brown,' of
his four happy weeks spent under her care,' of his sister and bro. ther. O! he will mourn over all to me whilst I cool his burning forehead, till I tremble for his intellects. How can he be · Keats' again after all this? Yet I may see it too gloomily, since each coming night I sit up adds its dismal contents to my mind.
“Dr. Clark will not say much ; although there are no bounds to his attention, yet he can with little success administer to a mind diseased. All that can be done he does most kindly, while his lady, like himself in refined feeling, prepares all that poor Keats takes, for in this wilderness of a place, for an invalid, there was no alternative. Yesterday Dr. Clark went all over Rome for a certain kind of fish, and just as I received it carefully dressed, Keats was taken with spitting of blood. We have the best opinion of Dr. Clark's skill : he comes over four or five times a-day, and he has left word for us to call him up, at any moment, in case of danger. My spirits have been quite pulled down. These wretched Romans have no idea of comfort. I am obliged to do every thing for him. I wish you were here.
“ I have just looked at him. This will be a good night.
“Jan. 15th, 1821, half-past Eleven-Poor Keats has just fallen asleep. I have watched him and read to him to his very last wink; he has been saying to me— Severn, I can see under your quiet look immense contention—you don't know what you are reading. You are enduring for me more than I would have you. O! that my last hour was come!' He is sinking daily; perhaps another three weeks may lose him to me for ever! I made sure of his recovery when we set out. I was selfish; I thought of his value to me; I made my own public success to depend on his candor to me.
“ Torlonia, the banker, has refused us any more money ; the bill is returned unaccepted, and to-morrow I must pay my last crown for this cursed lodging-place : and what is more, if he dies
all the beds and furniture will be burnt and the walls scraped, and they will come on me for a hundred pounds or more! But, above all, this noble fellow lying on the bed and without the common spiritual comforts that many a rogue and fool has in his last moments! If I do break down it will be under this; but I pray that some angel of goodness may yet lead him through this dark wilderness.
“If I could leave Keats every day for a time I could soon raise money by my painting, but he will not let me out of his sight, he will not bear the face of a stranger. I would rather cut my tongue out than tell him I must get the money—that would kill him at a word. You see my hopes of being kept by the Royal Academy will be cut off, unless I send a picture by the spring. I have written to Sir T. Lawrence. I have got a volume of Jeremy Taylor's works, which Keats has heard me read to-night. This is a treasure indeed, and came when I should have thought it hopeless. Why may not other good things come? I will keep myself up with such hopes. Dr. Clark is still the same, though he knows about the bill : he is afraid the next change will be to diarrhæa. Keats sees all this—his knowledge of anatomy makes every change tenfold worse: every way he is unfortunate, yet every one offers me assistance on his account. He cannot read any letters, he has made me put them by him unopened. They tear him to pieces—he dare not look on the outside of any more : make this known.
Feb. 18th.—I have just got your letter of Jan. 15th. The contrast of your quiet friendly Hampstead with this lonely place and our poor suffering Keats, brings the tears into my eyes. I wish, many, many times, that he had never left you.
His recovery would have been impossible in England; but his excessive grief has made it equally so here. In your care he seemed to me like an infant in its mother's arms; you would have smoothed down his pain by variety of interests, and his death would have been eased by the presence of many friends. Here, with one solitary friend, in a place savage for an invalid, he has one more pang added to his many—for I have had the hardest task in keeping from him my painful situation. I have kept him alive week after week. He has refused all food, and I have prepared his
meals six times a day, till he had no excuse left. I have only dared to leave him while he slept. It is impossible to conceive what his sufferings have been : he might, in his anguish, have plunged into the grave in secret, and not a syllable been known about him : this reflection alone repays me for all I have done. Now, he is still alive and calm. He would not hear that he was better: the thought of recovery is beyond every thing dreadful to him; we now dare not perceive any improvement, for the hope of death seems his only comfort. He talks of the quiet grave as the first rest he can ever have.
“ In the last week a great desire for books came across his mind. I got him all I could, and three days this charm lasted, but now it has gone. Yet he is very tranquil. He is more and more reconciled to his horrible misfortunes.
“Feb. 14th.-Little or no change has taken place, excepting this beautiful one, that his mind is growing to great quietness and peace. I find this change has to do with the increasing weakness of his body, but to me it seems like a delightful sleep; I have been beating about in the tempest of his mind so long. To-night he has talked very much, but so easily, that he fell at last into a pleasant sleep. He seems to have happy dreams. This will bring on some change,-it cannot be worse—it may be better. Among the many things he has requested of me to-night, this is the principal—that on his grave-stone shall be this inscription :
*HERE LIES ONE WHOSE NAME WAS WRIT IN WATER.'
You will understand this so well that I need not say a word about it.
“ When he first came here he purchased a copy of · Alfieri,' but put it down at the second page—being much affected at the lines
• Misera me ! sollievo a me non resta,
Now that I know so much of his grief, I do not wonder at it. " Such a letter has come ! I
it to Keats supposing it to be one of yours, but it proved sadly otherwise. The glance at