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that blood-it is arterial blood-I cannot be deceived in that colour That drop is my death warrant; I must die.”
By the ensuing spring, however, a marked improvement was noticed in his health, amounting almost to an actual recovery, and the doctor even recommended another walking tour in Scotland, which, however, the poet never undertook.
As the winter approached he seems to have had a relapse, and it was not only deemed advisable that he should winter abroad, but thought absolutely necessary.
It was in the year 1807 that Keats made the acquaintance of a young and rising artist named Severn. This generous-hearted friend had no sooner heard that Keats had come to the decision of going abroad than he volunteered to accompany him, nor could any pressure of persuasion induce him to forego his offer.
So in the autumn of 1820 the poet and the artist set out on their voyage to Naples, the one destined to keep many a weary vigil at the bedside of his dying friend, the other never to return.
From Naples, bitterly indignant at the tyranny of the Neapolitan government, he proceeded to Rome, where he placed himself under the care of the eminent physician Dr. (afterwards Sir James) Clark.
At Rome the distinct shadow of the valley of death began to be felt. The closing scene of the poet's life is amongst the most melancholy ever recorded in biographical history, and nothing can be more touching than the simple, unaffected story told by Severn, who tended his afflicted friend with all the devotion and constancy of a woman. A prisoner in a cheerless lodging in Rome, known to no one except his devoted friend Severn and his solicitous physician and his lady, the malady from which he suffered rapidly overcoming his mental and physical strength, the poor sufferer seems to have reached the lowest depths of human misery and distress. In a strange land, with the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death ever before him, dreading equally to recover or to pass away, the victim of intense physical suffering and a much more acute mental agony, the youthful poet presents a melancholy illustration of the excessive torture which the human frame and intellect are permitted to endure without the relief of actual extinction.
Towards the end, however, he seemed to pass from the zone of intense suffering and reached a table-land of quiet and repose. On the 14th of February Severn writes: "Little or no change has taken place except 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; he fell at last into a pleasant sleep. He seems to have happy dreams. Among the many things he has requested of me to-night, this is the principal—that on his gravestone shall be this inscription :
«HERE LIES ONE WHOSE NAME WAS WRIT IN WATER.'
On the 23rd of February, about eleven o'clock, he passed away so peacefully that he who watched by his bedside thought he had fallen asleep.
Thus the record of a brief and uneventful career comes to a close, and many men who were unable to perceive any evidence of genius in his poems, becamé, when the poet had passed beyond the influence of worldly appreciation, his greatest eulogists.
Much has been said about the gross and unjust attack made upou Keats by the reviews already alluded to, and it is even supposed by some that this venomous attempt to destroy in its first essay at development the genius of the young poet so preyed upon his mind as to be the prominent cause of his premature death. We confess we think otherwise. After a careful perusal of his life and letters, it seems to us that he took little notice of the baseness and injustice of this attack, and every one must have known that, whatever ability for criticism the writer of the article in question possessed, he must have utterly resigned it upon this particular occasion.
The select circle of friends amongst whom the poet moved during his life missed the cheerful stimulant of his society: and those who pride themselves upon the completion of a poetic literature in the English language which shall surpass that of any other nation, must regret that one who held out no mean promise of fulfilling his part in so exalted a mission should have fallen so early a prey to honourable passion and deadly disease. Gifted in person as well as in mind, and possessing singular beauty and brightness of feature, with a face which is described as having an “expression as if he had been gazing upon some glorious sight,” bis companionship was rendered attractive in more than one particular. Bright, genial, and fascinating in manner, he charmed all who came within the influence of his society, and, though characteristically gentle, he was at times, at the mention of oppression or wrong, aroused into uncontrollable indignation ; as when, upon hearing some calumny against his friend Severn, he abruptly left the room, declaring “he should be ashamed to sit with men who could utter and believe such things.” The possessor of a deeply affectionate nature, he became the victim of a pure and noble, though fatally intense passion, which, more than the virulence of unprincipled reviewers, hastened the final consummation.
Warm-hearted and generous, but without the means to put in VOL, XXXVIII.
exercise these noble qualities, he never attained to the paradise which Shelley conceived when he wrote the lines,
“For when the power of doing good is equal to the will
The soul desires no other heaven." The smiles of good fortune at no period of his life ever dwelt upon him; and though never entirely free from the pressure of adversity, the only written words of his bearing upon the subject which we can call to mind, are these : “Oh that something fortunate had ever occurred to my brother or myself!"
Like all men of originality and genius, he had many enemies, but he possessed also many friends, amongst whom may be found the names of some of the most distinguished men of letters of the time. His life seems to have been one perpetual conflict, and it is almost a matter of relief that he has passed into that rest of which the quiet and beauty of the Protestant cemetery at Rome, in which his grave is to be found, is so emblematical.
The pure azure of an Italian firmament bends over his last earthly resting-place; the bright flowers of an Italian soil blossom, fade, and re-blossom upon
grave; the perfumed breath of an Italian breeze lingers and sighs like a ministering spirit over his tomb:
“ He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny, and hate, and pain,
Can touch him not and torture not again.
He is secure, and now can never mourn
Nor, when the spirit's self has ceased to burn,
"Plucked from the Burning.”
BY FLORENCE MARRYAT
I am not dying ; Heaven has been merciful to me, and I shall live to be a blessing to him (or so he fondly tells me) whose curse I had so nearly proved. Yet, weak and prostrated as I am, I cannot rest until I have written down the details of my sad story; for whilst there is a chance of their recital deterring such as would tread the paths I wellnigh stumbled in, and that chance remains unbeeded, I feel I have not made all the reparation which lies in my power.
I must begin with the beginning of my life. My father was an officer in the Bengal army, but he and my mother dying within a few months of each other, left me early to the care of guardians, who imagined that by keeping me at a respectable boarding-school from the time I could talk plainly until the age of eighteen they amply fulfilled the trust they had undertaken. From my childhood I knew that when my eighteenth birthday arrived I should be sent out again to India, not for the mere object of marriage, but because there is a shrewd condition attached to the enjoyment of the fund provided by the Bengal army for its female orphans, by which, if they are to continue to draw the allowance made for them, and which ceases upon marriage, they must take up a residence in the presidency upon attaining a marriageable age.
I had no provision to look to except that derived from the fund, and my guardians had neither the wish nor the ability to maintain me; therefore at the time appointed I set sail for India, alone.
Having no near friends to leave behind me, I had looked forward to this change in my condition as an era in the life which had been spent in school-room monotony; but the reality did not fulfil my expectations.
Arriving in Calcutta I found myself dependent on the hospitality of friends, to whose care I had been confided, if not for actual support, at least for that protection without which a young woman cannot mix in the world.
I was proud in spirit, notwithstanding the humbleness of my position, and after a while the knowledge galled me, and I felt that I could bear it no longer. Acting upon this impulse, and the advice of my friends, I made the fatal mistake, which so many of my sex have made before me, of accepting the first eligible offer which I received, and which chanced to be from Laurence Edwards, the rising partner in a large mercantile firm.
I did not love him. Whatever my heart feels for him now, I must record that here. How could I have loved him, and yet have this story to relate of myself? He was a grave, business-like man, some twelve years older than I was, and whose disapprobation of my levity was the occasion more than once of our engagement being nearly broken off. However, matters were made smooth again between us. I liked him as well or better than most of the butterflies who were hovering about me; my acquaintances congratulated me on the excellence of my prospects, and I endorsed their opinions by becoming his wife. But very shortly after my marriage I had a dangerous illness; so alarming a one indeed that the doctors recommended an immediate return home as the only means of restoring my health. My husband could not go with me; he had but lately returned from his tour of pleasure, and the other partner of the house was away, so he was compelled to let me depart by myself. He put me on board the homeward-bound steamer, was vigilant in providing all things necessary for my comfort during the passage, and full of cautions as to my behaviour on my arrival in England; but he did not express much grief at our separation. That he felt it I now know well, but he was a man who could bow himself gracefully to the inevitable ; he feared to excite my alarm by appearing to think too much of my state of health, and I attributed his reticence to want of feeling.
I returned to England then, as I left it, alone; and, for the first time, thrown on my own discretion as a guide. Legally I was no longer a child, to be looked after and directed by guardians; but in reality I was just as unfit to be my own mistress as when I left school. Having no family of my own, except the most distant connections, I first visited that of my husband, in Scotland; but I did not stay there long. His countrified and staunchly Presbyterian relatives scared me with their rigid ways and doctrines, as doubtless I horrified them by the laxity of my manners. Having been brought up entirely at school, and being very foolish and heedless, as became my youth, I had no idea of accommodating myself to the habits of those prim Scotch people, and cried myself ill before I had been a week under their roof, which set them so much against me that it was a mutual pleasure when the day for my departure was fixed. I had never lived out of London before, and every other place seemed strange to me; therefore my husband consented to my taking a house in the suburbs, where, with my small establishment of maidservants, I expected, for some time, to hear that he was on his way to rejoin me. But business interfered with his plans, and one thing after another combined to prevent his return, until we had been three years separated from each other; and although my own health was then perfectly restored, I was enjoying myself too much to have any wish to revisit Calcutta.
More than that, I had begun to regret, guilty creature that I was,