Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

more now.

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

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."

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

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 fellowcountrymen 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 but 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 honour, 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 sceptical 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 everything 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,

LEIGH HUNT.

It is a grassy

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. 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 Tribune 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

[blocks in formation]

growth of flowers;" and another time, after lying a while still and peaceful, he said, "I feel the flowers growing over me.' And there they do grow, even all the winter long-violets and daisies 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 be 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

« AnteriorContinuar »