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A POET'S FRIEND,
Dick slowly, and with evident emotion of long worked at his picture in secret. But some kind or other. " What was his at the call of friendship Severn was ready Dame ?" “ Richard Trueman." “You to risk all his new and brilliant prosknew him?"
" He was —
- wal boss pects. The medal he had gained brought be was - my father!"
with it solid advantages. On condition
of the artist sending in certain pictures P.S. Mompesson married Dorothy, at certain times, the Royal Academy, came home, and is now the vicar of a would pay his expenses for three years' small but beautiful parish between travel on the Continent. His sanguine Thames and Tweed.
temperament forbade him to doubt that Keats would recover, and that he would be able to fulfil those conditions. Indeed, after the sad frustration of his
hopes, he reproached himself, according From Temple Bar.
to the fashion of a generous mind, with
having been selfish and calculating. But JOSEPH SEVERN.
it is clear that whatever delusions he had NEVER could Solomon's saying, “ There nourished before starting, they must have is a friend that sticketh closer than a vanished very shortly after stepping on brother,” be more aptly applied than to board the Maria Crowther. Keats was in Joseph Severn! And this involves no reality already in the last stage of conreproach on brother or other friend of sumption, and in this wretched little vesKeats. Circumstances gave Severn the sel, bad accommodation and bad food opportunity denied to Keats's surviving neutralized the beneficial effect of the sea brother and to his earlier friends. When air; violent storms tried the tempers of the sudden and alarming increase of ill-captain, crew, and passengers; while conness took place in the summer of 1820, trary winds lengthened a period of misery and Keats was under sentence of death | which was yet added to by a ten days? from Dr. Lamb,” a winter in Italy was quarantine. By the time they reached advised as giving the only chance of a Naples, Keats felt despair creeping over recovery of health.
Of the poet's broth- him. “We will go at once to Rome," he ers, Tom had died the year before, and writes. “ I know my end approaches, and George had gone to seek his fortune in the visible tyranny of this government America. Cowden Clarke and others of prevents me from having any peace of his earlier friends were out of reach. mind. I could not lie quietly here, I will Charles Armitage Brown, a most kind not even leave my bones in the midst of and intimate friend, who had accompa: this despotism.” With relentless deternied Keats in his tour in Scotland, and mination the terrible disease came on. At had already nursed him through his first Naples Keats could still, at any rate, comserious attack earlier in the year, was ab. plain that he was unable to describe the sent in Scotland when he received the beauties of the glorious bay; his "intelnews that Keats had been ordered to Italy: lect was in splints,” he said in writing
He immediately hurried home, but arrived home. By the time he reached Ro he a day too late, the vessels conveying the was past even that stage “his shattered two friends actually passing a night side nerves,” says Lord Houghton, “refused to by side at Gravesend unknown to both. convey to his intelligence the impressions
Joseph Severn, when he offered to ac- by which, a few months earlier, he would company Keats to Italy, was twenty-seven have been rapt into ecstasy." He wrote years of age, therefore two years older home, but it was only to bid a last farewell than the poet. He had just attained great to the friends he had left behind and loved honor at the Royal Academy, having so dearly — adding the cry of despair, gained the gold medal for historical paint. “Oh, that something fortunate had ever ing by his picture of Spenser's “ Cave of happened to me or my brothers !” But Despair.” This medal had not been ad- neither Severn's tender care nor physijudged for twelve years for lack of merit cian's skill could avert the catastrophe ! in the pictures offered for competition. On December the 14th Severn announced When, therefore, it was bestowed on so to friends at home, “ I fear poor Keats is young and unknown a painter as Severn, at his worst.” And on February 23rd he great was the astonishment and discomfit breathed his last. Between these dates ure of the rival candidates, and great in how terrible the sufferings of the dying proportion must have been the pride and poet and his devoted friend! Keats was, satisfaction of the young painter who had from the first, a prisoner in his rooms in
the Piazza di Spagna, close to the resi- | fell, which fifty years afterwards he thus dence of Dr. Clark, the physician to whose refers to : “ Although 'tis half a century care he had been recommended. But,” since the disaster, yet I feel it most se. as Lord Houghton says, “ Rome was at verely.”. On the 23rd of February, 1821, that time far from affording the comforts the poet's glorious spirit went to "join the to the stranger, now so abundant; and the choir invisible,” his "bright falcon eyes violent Italian superstitions respecting the were dimmed in death, the “promise of infection of all dangerous disease rendered longevity given by his fine compactness the circumstances of an invalid most of person was belied, and three days harassing and painful.” Here, as his ill- later all that was mortal of John Keats was ness increased, Severn, his only compan. laid by his devoted friend in the beautiful ion and nurse, could never leave him but cemetery at Rome. for a few moments while he slept. “ Not Of that now bonored grave, Severn a moment,” Severn writes, “can I be from wrote in April, 1863:him. I sit by his bed and read all day,
It only remains for me to speak of my reand at night I humor him in all his wan. derings.
turn to Rome in 1861, after an absence of He prepared his food, lighted twenty years, and of the favorable change and the fire, performed all the offices of the enlargement during that time of Keats's fame, sick-room, and with immense labor re- not as manifested by new editions of his works, moved the sufferer from one room to or by the contests of publishers about him, or another. “ Poor Keats has just fallen by the way in which most new works are illusasleep; I have watched him and read to trated with quotations from him, or by the him to his very last wink; he has been fact that some favorite lines of his have passed saying to me: 'Severn, I can see under into proverbs, but by the touching evidence
of his silent grave. That grave, which I can your quiet look immense contention
remember as once the object of ridicule, has you don't know what you are reading
now become the poetic shrine of the world's you are enduring for me more than I would pilgrims, who care and strive to live in the
Oh, that my last hour were happy and imaginative religion of poetry.
Then came the grinding pinch The head-stone, having twice sunk, owing to of poverty! The funds, generously sup- its faulty foundation, has been twice renewed plied by Mr. Taylor the publisher, who by loving strangers, and each time, as I am had advanced £150 to Keats on account informed, these strangers were Americans. of his poems, began to fail, and the day Here they do not strew flowers, as was the came when Severn was without means to
wont of olden times, but they pluck everyprocure absolute necessaries for his dying the poet. The Custode tells me that, notwith
thing that is green and living on the grave of friend.
standing all his pains in sowing and planting, If I could leave Keats [he writes] every day Latterly, an English lady, alarmed at the rapid
he cannot “meet the great consumption. for a time, I could soon raise money by paint. disappearance of the verdure on and around ing; but he will not let me out of his sight, he the grave, actually left an annual sum to rewill not bear the face of a stranger. I would
new it. When the Custode complained to me rather cut my tongue out than tell him I niust of the continued thefts, and asked what he get the money — that would kill him at a
was to do, I replied, “Sow and plant twice word .. I have had the hardest task in keeping from him my painful situation; I have it was so scanty during his short life, surely
as much; extend the poet's domain; for, as kept hiin alive week after week. He has re- it ought to be afforded to him twofold in his fused all food, and I have prepared his meals six times a day, till he had no excuse left.
“ Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in During the night of January 28th, to their death they were not divided !” And keep himself awake, Severn drew the this, not because eight-and-fifty years deeply pathetic portrait, by far the best afterwards the aged painter was laid be. we have, of his poor friend as he lay side the youthful poet, but because they asleep – his forehead bathed in the cold will ever be named together by posterity ; dews of death. “Poor Keats has me ever and so long as the English tongue endures by him, and shadows out the form of to maintain the fame and bewail the unone solitary friend; he opens his eyes in timely loss of Keats, so long will Severn's great doubt and horror, but when they fall name be known and loved and joined with upon me they close gently, open quietly his. And we are glad to feel that even in and close again till he sinks to sleep. his lifetime Severn enjoyed the well-de. This thought alone would keep me by bim served reward which is not always granted till he dies.” At last to Keats came the to self-sacrifice and devotion. We find longed-for release, and on Severn the blow him thus writing – September ist, 1863,
to Mrs. Speed (daughter of George Severn then proceeds to describe the Keats):
happy engagement which had promised This is a line to assure you that I am the so fair, and which Keats found harder to one devoted friend until death” of your
relinquish than life itself: illustrious relative John Keats, and that it has gratified me highly to be addressed by you in
In Italy he [Keats] always shrank from consequence of your reading my essay, On
speaking in direct terms of the actual things the Vicissitudes of Keats's Fame.” As I
that were killing him. Certainly the Blackhad the happiness to meet his sister here wood attack was one of the least of his mis(Madame d’Llanos) after forty-five years, Ieries, for he never even mentioned it to me. trust it may also be my happiness to meet
The greater trouble which was ingulfing him some news of his family in Rome, where I am
he signified in a hundred ways.
He kept likely to remain all my life, and where I first continually in his hand a polished oval white came in his dear company in November, 1820, carnelian, the gift of his widowing love, and and on his account. Although on my part so
at times it seemed his only consolation, the mad a thing as it seemed at the time, and was
only thing left him in this world clearly tanpronounced so by most of my friends, yet it gible. Many letters which he was unable to was the best and perhaps the only step to read came for him. Some he allowed me to insure my artistic career, which no doubt was
read to him ; others were too worldly, for, as watched and blessed by his dear spirit, for I he said, he had already journeyed far beremained twenty years without returning to yond them.” There were two letters, I reEngland, and during that time, the patrons I member, for which he had no words, but he most valued came to me as "the friend of made me understand that I was to place them Keats.” These have remained faithful to
on his heart within his winding-sheet. me and mine, no doubt inspired by the revered
Those bright falcon eyes, which I had known name Poet. The success of my family (three only in joyous intercourse, while revelling in sons and three daughters) has turned on this books and nature, or while he was reciting his The chief of these patrons I may mention is own poetry, now beamed an unearthly brightthe present Chancellor of the Exchequer
ness and a penetrating steadfastness that could (W. E. Gladstone).
not be looked at. It was not the fear of
death- - on the contrary, he earnestly wished The essay alluded to by Severn in this to die — but it was the fear of lingering on letter as having called forth expressions of and on, that now distressed him; and this was gratitude from Keats's niece, appeared in wholly on my account. Amidst the world of the April number of the Atlantic Monthly emotions that were crowding and increasing for 1863, and is entitled On the Vicissi- as his end approached, I could always see tudes of Keats's Fame." It is a highly lated position at Rome was one of his greatest
that his generous concern for me in my isointeresting paper, though somewhat mis.
cares. From day to day, after this time, called, and as it is unknown and inacces, he would always demand of Sir James Clark, sible to most readers, some account of it “How long is this posthumous life of mine to with a few extracts may be acceptable. last?" On finding me inflexible in my purWriting to Americans, Severn congratu- pose of remaining with him, he became calm, lates them on having been more quick to and tranquilly said that he was sure why I appreciate the genius of Keats than his held up so patiently was owing to my Chrisown countrymen.
tian faith, and that he was disgusted with him
self for ever appearing before me in such It is a singular pleasure [he says] to the few savage guise; that he now felt convinced how personal friends of Keats in England (who much every human being required the supmay still have to defend him against the old port of religion, that he might die decently. and worn-out slanders) that in America he has Here am I," said he, “with desperation in always had a solid fame, independent of the death that would disgrace the commonest old English prejudices. Here, in Rome, fellow. Now, my dear Severn, I am sure, if as I write, I look back through forty years you could get some of the works of Jeremy of worldly changes, to behold Keats's dear Taylor to read to me, I might become really image again in memory. It seems as if he a Christian, and leave this world in peace. should be living with me now, inasmuch as I Most fortunately I was able to procure the never could understand his strange and con- * Holy Living and Dying." I read some tradictory death, his falling away so suddenly passages to him, and prayed with him, and I from health and strength. He had that fine could tell by the grasp of his dear hand that compactness of person which we regard as the his mind was reviving. He was a great lover promise of longevity, and no mind was ever of Jeremy Taylor, and it did not seem to remore exultant in youthful feeling. I cannot quire much effort in him to embrace the Holy summon a sufficient reason why in one short Spirit in those comforting works. year he should have been thus cut off,
Thus he gained strength of mind from day all his imperfections on his head.” Was it to day just in proportion as his poor body that he lived too soon, that the world he grew weaker and weaker. At last I had the sought was not ready for him?
consolation of finding him calm, trusting, and
more prepared for his end than I was. He the painful visit which he paid to Rome tranquilly rehearsed to me what would be the just before his death in 1832. process of his dying, what I was to do, and how I was to bear it. He was even minute in
I had been [says Severn) indirectly made his details, evidently rejoicing that his death known to him (Sir Walter Scott) by his favor. was at hand.
In all he then uttered he ite ward and protégée the late Lady Northampbreathed a simple Christian spirit; indeed, I ton (Miss Clephane), who, accustomed to always think that he died a Christian, that write to him mor often made mention of “mercy" was trembling on his dying lips, and me: for I was on terms of friendship with all that his tortured soul was received by those her family, an intimacy which in great part Blessed Hands which could alone welcome it.
arose from the delight she always had in Severn then tells of the great kindness Keats's poetry, being herself a poetess, and a and encouragement he received in Rome, most enlightened and liberal critic.
When Sir Walter arrived, he received me in the midst of persons who admired and en- like an old and attached friend; indeed he incouraged my beautiful pursuit of painting, in voluntarily tried to make me fill up the terrible which I was then but a very poor student, but void then recently created by the death of with my eyes opening and my soul awakening Lady Northampton at the age of thirty-seven to a new region :of art, and beginning to seel years. I went at his request to breakfast with the wings growing for artistic flights I had him every morning, when he invariably comalways been dreaming about. In all this, menced talking of his lost friend, of her however, there was a solitary drawback beauty, her singularly varied accomplishthere were few Englishmen at Rome who knew ments, of his growing delight in watching her Keats's works, and I could scarcely persuade from a child in the island of Mull that any one to make the effort to read them, such in his great misfortunes, in all their complicawas the prejudice against him as a poet. tions, he had looked forward to Rome and his Severn then proceeds to relate some tain hope of repose! She was to be his com
dear Lady Northampton as his last and ceranecdote too unpleasantly characteristic fort in the winding-up of life's pilgrimage; of the aged poet Samuel Rogers, who was now, on his arrival, his life and fortune almost staying in Rome the first Easter after exhausted, she was gonel gone! After these Keats's death. Dining one day with Sirpathetic outpourings he would gradually reGeorge Beaumont, Rogers was asked by cover his old cheerfulness, his expressive grey his host if he had been acquainted with eyes would sparkle even in tears, and soon Keats in England.
that wonderful power he had for description
would show itself, when he would often stand Mr. Rogers replied, that he had had more up to enact the incident of which he spoke, so acquaintance than, he liked, for the poems ardent was he, and so earnest in the recital. were tedious enough, and the author had come Each morning, at his request, I took for his upon him several times for money. This was examination some little picture or sketch that an intolerable falsehood, and I (Severn) could might interest him, and among the rest a picnot restrain myself until I had corrected him, ture of Keats (now in the National Portrait which I did with my utmost forbearance, ex Gallery of London); but this I was surprised plaining that Mr. Rogers must have mistaken to find was the only production of mine that some other person for Keats; that I was posi- seemed not to interest him — he remained tive my friend had never done such a thing in silent about it, but on all the others he was any shape, or even had occasion to do it; that ready with interesting comments and speculahe possessed a small independence in money, tions. Observing this, and wondering within and a large one in mind. The old poet re- myself at his apathy with regard to the young ceived the correction with much kindness, and lost poet, as I had reason to be proud of thanked me for so effectually setting him Keats's growing fame, I ventured to talk right. Indeed this encounter was the ground about him, and of the extraordinary caprices work of a long, and to me advantageous, of that fame, which at last had found a resting. friendship between us. I soon discovered place in the hearts of all real lovers of poetry. that it was the principle of his sarcastic wit, I soon perceived that I was touching on an not only to sacrifice all truth to it, but even embarrassing theme, and I became quite beall his friends, and that he did not care to wildered on seeing Miss Scott turn away her know any who would not allow themselves to face, already crimsoned with emotion.' Sir be abused for the purpose of lighting up his Walter then falteringly remarked, “ Yes, yes, breakfast with sparkling wit, though not quite, the world finds out these things for itself at indeed, at the expense of the persons then last," and taking my hand closed the interview present.
our last, for the following night he was The last and most remarkable instance taken seriously ill, and I never saw him again, given by Severn of the universal change from Rome.
as his physician immediately hurried him away in the estimate formed of Keats and his this scene induced me to mention it on the
The incomprehensibleness of poetry, as witnessed by him during his same day to Mr. Woodhouse, the active and long life, is that of Sir Walter Scott during | discriminating friend of Keats, who had col
lected every written record of the poet, and to figments of their own brains; this cerwhom we owe the preservation of many of the tainly looks like a chase of shadows which finest of his productions. He was astonished a sensible man may fairly let alone. at my recital, and at my being ignorant of the fact that Sir Walter Scott was a prominent
Yet this is the invitation issued by a contributor to the review which, through its group of men who at least are not idlers false and malicious criticisms, had always been or dreamers; the International Congress considered to have caused the death of Keats. of Experimental Psychology lately held in My surprise was as great as his at my having Paris under the headship of Professors lived all those seventeen years in Rome, and Charcot, Ribot, Richet, etc.; and attended been so removed from the great world, that by some scores of those physicians and this, a fact so interesting to me to know, had others who, in the various countries of never reached me.
Europe and America, interest themselves Severn concludes his
essay with an in that wide range of inquiries – from account of a picture he was then (1863) heredity to hypnotism — by which we are engaged in painting of the poet's grave: now learning to analyze with a new exact.
ness the intimate constitution of man. The classic story of Endymion being the subject of Keats's principal poem, I have in show that there is nothing paradoxical in
A few words of explanation will help to troduced a young Roman shepherd sleeping the importance now attached to halluciagainst the head-stone, with his flock about him, whilst the moon from behind the pyramid nations, and that the lessons to be learnt illuminates his figure, and serves to realize from them, already of great value, are the poet's favorite theme in the presence of likely to be rapidly extended by further his grave.
This interesting incident is not knowledge such as the census seeks. fanciful, but is what I actually saw on an Writing for a popular audience I will autumn evening at Monte Tertanio the year avoid as far as possible the use of technifollowing the poet's death.
cal terms, and must refer those who wish Mr. Walter Severn, a son of Keats's to see the subject more philosophically friend, has made a beautiful drawing for treated to Mr. Gurney's essay on hallucithe Century of the graves of Keats and nations, contained in “ Phantasms of the Severn, side by side beneath the pyramid Living," vol. i., p. 456 (Trübner). of Caius Cestius, and it is there mentioned
In the first place, we must distinguish that the stone erected to the memory of between hallucinations and illusions. By Severn, and which exactly resembles that an illusion is meant the misinterpretation to Keats with the alteration only of a of some real sensory object, as when Sir palette on the marble instead of a lyre, Walter Scott took a hat-stand with cloaks was erected by “ several American poets, upon it for Lord Byron, or the late Mr. from among whom two – Longfellow and Proctor took a surplice hanging on his Holland – have since followed into the bedroom door for a ghost with outstretched • silent land.'”
arms. Such misinterpretations are very apt to spread by suggestion from one observer to another, as a crowd of peasants have sometimes taken an odd cloud in the
sky for a fiery cross or a fiery hand. In From Murray's Magazine. fact we almost always observe objects in AN INTERNATIONAL CENSUS OF HALLU- a summary manner; we look at them just CINATIONS.
enough to recognize them, that is, to fill AMONG the countless projects, more or up our observation with memories of what less modest and reasonable, for the amel. we have observed before. Illusions, natioratior and advancement of things in urally, are extremely common, and vary in general, to which the modern reader's at degree from the very slightest mistake or tention is somewhat distractingly invited, misreading of the objects on which we hardly any scheme perhaps could sound to look to a degree of mis-sight or error most' men's ears at once more pompous which involves a good deal of actual see. and more futile than the notion of an in- ing of what is not there to be seen, or ternational census, or widely reaching hallucination, properly so called. collection, of cases where sane adults Of hallucination the best definition is, I have experienced hallucinatory sights and think, Mr. Gurney's : “A sensory hallusounds. To invite civilized mankind to cination is a percept which lacks, but record, not what they have really seen, which can only by distinct reflection be but what they fancied 'they saw; not what recognized as lacking, the objective basis they really heard, but what they fancied which ii suggests.' they beard ; not the facts of nature, but the An example will make these distinctions