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step." He should wish their affections to be a “constant delight among lesser pleasures rather than a resource from irritations and cares.' Sometimes he is conscious “ that he has the most discontented and restless mind ever placed in a body too small for it;" but he can repose on her, and her alone, in complete and disin. terested enjoyment, and “when she is there his senses are concentrated, and his thoughts never fly out of the window."
George Keats paid a short visit to this country in the beginning of this winter, and he has been unjustly reproached with leaving his brother in sickness and destitution, while he had the means of assisting and comforting him. But this was
He and his child-wife had drifted down the then lonely stream of the Ohio to Cincinnati, where he had engaged in business, but had not prospered ; and he came to England to receive his share of the money left by his brother Thomas, towards the expenses of whose illness he had largely contributed. He certainly was not aware that John was at that time almost wholly dependent on his friends for subsistence, and he tried to buoy him up with the hope that he should soon earn enough to place both at ease.
His voluntary payment of his brother's debts, after his death, including what had been advanced by Mr. Brown, certainly showed no niggard spirit; and in America he bore the highest character for uprightness and generosity.
It was early in the following January that the crisis came.
Keats was at that time, very much against Mr. Brown's desire and advice, living alone in London, and he appeared one night about eleven o'clock, at his friend's house, in a condition which, had he not known that Keats
was free from such vice, he might at first have taken for violent intoxication. Keats said he had been outside the stage-coach that bitter day and had caught a chill, adding, “I do not feel it
I am a little feverish.” He was easily persuaded to go to bed, and as he leaped into the cold sheets he slightly coughed, and said, “ Bring me a candle ; I must see that blood." He gazed for some moments on the ruddy stain, and looking steadily in his friend's face, he added : “ I know the colour—it is arterial blood. I must die." When the surgeon arrived he was asleep, and on examination the rupture was declared to be unimportant; but he was not to be persuaded out of his forebodings. Still the love of life was instinctive in his active nature, and he said to Mr. Brown: “Flatter me with a hope of happiness when I shall be well; I am now so weak that I can be flattered into hope.”
The spring brought with it a renewal of health and strength; and in March he wrote that he was picking up flesh, and, if he could keep off inflammation for the next six weeks, he thought he should do well. But nothing seems to have been attempted in the way of writing beyond preparing for the press the volume containing Lamia," “Isabella," “ The Eve of St. Agnes," and the frag. ment of “ Hyperion” remodelled into a narrative. His friends did not regard the change of the latter poem as an improvement; but, as it is, it so conquered the prejudice of Byron that he has described it as “inspired by the Titans and as sublime as Æschylus.” Keats told some one, who at that time urged him to literary exertion, that “ he was as obstinate as a robin, and would not sing in a cage,” and he did not even desire to write any preface to the new volume.
As he grew
During this sad year his relations with Miss Brawn were his constant thought and occupation, and left him in an alternation of “happy misery or miserable misery.” When he became betterand at one moment he was so much so that there was a question of his accompanying Mr. Brown on a pedestrian tour,—he could write to her cheerfully enough, and draw comparisons between himself and Rousseau's hero, and wonder “ how their correspondence would look if published by Murray." But gloom predominated, sometimes leading him into the most foolish jealousy even of his best friends, without whom he said “ he would now be penniless," and into anger that she should take any part in “ the brute world which he would never see again," feeling towards her “as Hamlet to Ophelia.” Such emotions were often followed by remorse and desire of death. worse she attended him with personal care, but the excitement of her presence was often preju. dicial, and the sense of the agony of losing her overcame all source of comfort in her ministra. tions. With her too, he felt he had lost his fame. If he had lived, and with her, what might he not have written! what might he not have done!
It was in this state of mind that he embarked for Italy in September, 1820, and it is needless to say how sadly the mental condition must have aggravated the physical evil. Mr. Brown had gone to Scotland, but Keats, to whom friends seemed to come by a natural affinity, had found a companion exactly suited to the occasion, in Mr. Joseph Severn, a young artist, who, having won the gold medal of the Royal Academy by his picture of Spenser's “ Cave of Despair," was entitled to have his expenses paid for a visit to Italy
und three years' study there.' ?! junction with Haydon, had been :s world of pictorial art, which he expertly to adapt to language in tu ve Titian's “Bacchus and Ariadne,” in. book of “ Endymion,” and in other imorable passages. He was besides an excellent i
sician and a most sympathetic admirer of Ats's genius. Of the deeper qualities of the birt his letters, descriptive of the last days of t., unfortunate poet, have become a most faithfu. testimony, and will remain among the most interesting records in our literary history.
On the 16th of September Keats made over the copyright of “ Endymion” to Messrs. Taylor and Hessey for £100.2 On the 28th he wrote to Mr. Brown, “Off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, having been a fortnight at sea, but glad of this opportunity, for time seems to press.” The sense of darkness is coming over him ; "he eternally sees her figure eternally vanishing.”
Land and sea, weakness and decline, are great separators, but Death is the great divorcer for ever."
After a storm he read the famous shipwreck soene in “ Don Juan,” and threw it down, in anger and disgust at its cynicism. He derived no improvement from the voyage, and had no enjoyment of Naples. While there he received a second invitation from Shelley, at Pisa, which he would probably have accepted had it not been for the circumstance that he had a letter of introduction to the excellent physician, Dr. (afterwards Sir James) Clark, then resident in Rome. Had he been in health, how delightful would
il have the picture at present in my possession.
2. The original assignment was given to me by Mr. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia, in 1875., Keats's double signature is clear and strong.
The witnesses are Mr. Haslam and Mr. Woodhouse.
During this sp the guidance and interpretation Brawn were hiand more scholarly poet in the and left him i associations of the classic and or miserah. land! Dr. Clark engaged for him a
i dat: o in the first house on the right hand lodging
o ascend the steps of the Trinità del More in the Piazza di Spagna, opposite to his Ow; and there for three miserable months he p.uggled with his fatal malady, amid strange und unkindly faces, but attended with sedulous care and the soundest medical advice. In his condition, indeed, no further relief was possible, and wealth and luxury would have ministered in vain.
His last letter on record is dated the 30th of November. He is still haunted with the same dreadful thought of all he had won and all he had lost; but yet he thinks of others—of his brother, of whom he has heard good news—" but it runs in my head we shall all die young,” and of his sister, “ who walks about my imagination like a ghost,-she is so like Tom." There were intervals of rest, even of cheerfulness, but these were followed by fits of depression, and even of anger, that made Severn fear for his intellect. In a gentler mood he said his intensest pleasure had been to watch the growth of flowers, and after lying quiet one day he whispered “I feel the flowers growing over me.” On the 19th of February he desired that the words “ Here lies one whose name was writ in water,” should be in. scribed on his gravestone (as was done), and on the 23rd he asked Severn to lift him up. I shall die easy-don't be frightened-be firm, and thank God it has come.” For sone time he had opened no letters, and the last that came were placed in the coffin ; but one from Leigh Hunt to Severn,