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to live with him after Tom's death. It was at this time that the impossible plan was tried of writing a partnership tragedy. Brown furnished the incidents and Keats made the verses. Under these circumstances “ Otho the Great” was written. The managers did not show a lack of wisdom in declining to produce it. There are beautiful passages in the tragedy, and Keats had great hopes of it, thinking that it would give him a better standing with the “ literary fashionables," but as a play it is almost devoid of dramatic power. “ King Stephen " was begun later, but he did not go far enough with it to justify a judgment as to what its merits might have been.
It was very soon after his brother's second departure for America that the crisis in John Keats's life came. In February of 1820, at about eleven o'clock at night, he appeared at the house of his friend Mr. Brown, in what, had that gentleman not known Keats well, he would have supposed was a most violent state of intoxication. Keats explained to Mr. Brown that he had been riding on the outside of a stage coach and had become very much chilled, adding, “ I do not feel it now. I am a little feverish.” Brown persuaded him to go to bed. After getting into bed he coughed a little and said: “Bring me a candle; I must see that blood.” He looked long at the stain, he remembered his brother Tom's affliction, he recalled his knowledge as a surgeon, and gazing steadily at his friend's face, added : “I know the colour of that blood; it is arterial blood; I cannot be deceived in that colour. That drop is my death warrant; I must die.” When the surgeon
came later Keats was asleep. After an examina-
Keats appears to have met Fanny Brawne, for
be well. It was in the summer of 1819 that he wrote the first of the published letters to her, the one addressed to “My dearest lady,” from Shanklin, in July, 1819.
The spring brought better health to Keats, but his thoughts were given much more to Miss Brawne than to any literary work. He only prepared for the press “ Lamia,” “Isabella,” “The Eve of St. Agnes," and the fragment of “Hyperion.” Some of his friends urged him to more constant application to literary work, but he replied that he was as obstinate as a robin, and would not sing in a cage. He gave up so entirely to his love that his friend Brown appears to have remonstrated with him, and several allusions to this interference on the part of Brown can be found in his letters to Miss Brawne. This occasioned no break in his friendship with Brown, but Keats unquestionably felt worried about it.
Keats, after his first attack, was confined to his bed for only about a week, but it was fully three months before he got of the house. His health was too feeble to permit him to accompany Brown on a second tour in Scotland; but he was strong enough on the 7th of May to go as far as Gravesend to see Brown off. And this was the last time these faithful friends ever met. No one who loves the memory of Keats can do else than have reverence for the rare devotion displayed by Charles Brown for John Keats. It was to Charles Brown that Lord Houghton was indebted for the material used in his inestimable work, “The Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Keats.” Mr. Brown
had gathered these materials for the purpose of vindicating the character and advancing the fame of his honored friend; but, as related by Lord Houghton, “the accident of attending a meeting on the subject of colonization of New Zealand altered all Mr. Brown's plans, and determined him to transfer his fortunes and the closing years of his life to the Antipodes." Before leaving, however, he transferred to Lord Houghton all his materials, and surely he could not have left them in better hands.
During the summer of 1820, Keats had another attack of spitting of blood, and returned to Wentworth Place, where he was nursed by Fanny Brawne and her mother. He grew worse, however, and was advised to go to Italy. Severn agreed to go with him, and in September they set out on their journey, Keats thoroughly despondent and hopeless, as may be seen from his letter to Brown, written on the 28th, “Off Yarmouth, Isle of Wight." He says he was glad of an opportunity to write, "for time seems to press." He sees and feels the end approaching; he “eternally sees her figure eternally vanishing." "Land and sea, weakness and decline, are great separators; but Death is the great divorcer for ever."
Mr. Severn's journal furnishes the best account of the sad trip to Italy, the months of sickness and painful ending. This journal relates that after a storm Keats read the shipwreck scene in “Don Juan," and throwing the book in disgust upon the floor, exclaimed: “How horrible an example of human nature is this man, who has no pleasure left him but to gloat over and jeer at the most VOL. II.
awful incidents of life. Oh! this is a paltry originality, which consists in making solemn things gay, and gay things solemn; and yet it will fascinate thousands by the very diabolical outrage of their sympathies. Byron's perverted education makes him assume to feel and try to impart to others those depraved sensations which the want of any education excites in many."
At Naples, Keats got a letter from Shelley inviting him to Pisa, but the invitation was not accepted. The two friends went on to Rome, where Keats was put under the care of Dr. (afterward Sir James) Clark. Dr. Clark procured a lodging for his patient in the Piazza di Spagna, in the first house on the right as you ascend the steps of the “Trinita del Monte.” Dr. Clark was most kind, but his skill was unavailing, and Keats died on the 23d of February, 1821. In the volume containing Keats's letters Severn's journal will be found, and in it is a most tender and pathetic record of the last few weeks of the young poet's life. He was buried in the Protestant cemetery at Rome. During his illness, he one day said that one of his intensest pleasures had been to watch the growth of flowers; and on another occasion he said: “I feel the flowers growing over me." Ten weeks after Keats's death, Severn wrote from Rome : “ 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 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.