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He soon hurried from Naples to Rome, still suffering by a most strange and melancholy fate, the deepest depression of spirits, although dying of a complaint, characterized beyond every other by buoyancy of feeling. The accounts given by Severn are truly mournful :
• Dec. 17th, 4 A.M.-Not a moment can I be from him. I sit by his bed and read all day, and at night I humour him in all his wanderngs. He has just fallen asleep, the first sleep for eight nights, and now from mere exhaustion. I hope he will not awake till I have written, for I am anxious you should know the truth; yet I dare not let him see I think his state dangerous. On the morning of this attack he was going on in good spirits, quite merrily, when, in an instant, a cough seized him, and he vomited two cupfulls of blood. In a moment I got Dr. Clark, who took eight ounces of blood from his arm-it was black and thick. Keats was much alarmed and dejected. What a sorrowful day I had with him! He rushed out of bed and said, “This day shall be my last ; ' and but for me most certainly it would. The blood broke forth in similar quantity the next morning, and he was bled again. I was afterwards so fortunate as to talk him into a little calmness, and he soon became quite patient. Now the blood has come up in coughing five times. Not a single thing will he digest, yet he keeps on craving for food. Every day he raves he will die from hunger, and I've been obliged to give him more than was allowed. His imagination and memory present every thought to him in horror; the recollection of ‘his good friend Brown,' of his four happy weeks spent under her care,' of his sister and brother. O! he will mourn over all to me whilst I cool his burning forehead, till I tremble for his intellects. How can he be · Keats' again after all this? Yet I may see it too gloomily, since each coming night I sit up adds its dismal contents to my mind.'— Ib. p. 85.
To the kindness of Dr.-now Sir James-Clark, and the more than sisterly attentions of Mr. Severn, poor Keats owed the lengthening out of a life which, we may hope, was pro. longed in mercy ; but the details are most painful. The beautiful disinterestedness of the poor young artist, watching over the death-bed of his friend, is touching :
Torlonia, the banker, has refused us any more money; the bill is returned unaccepted, and to-morrow I must pay my last crown for this cursed lodging-place : and what is more, if he dies, all the beds and furniture will be burnt and the walls scraped, and they will come on me for a hundred pounds or more! But, above all, this noble fellow lying on the bed, and without the common spiritual comforts that many a rogue and fool has in his last moments! If I do break down it will be under this; but I pray that some angel of goodness may yet lead him through this dark wilderness.
If I could leave Keats every day for a time I could soon raise money by my painting, but he will not let me out of his sight, he will not bear VOL. XXIV.
the face of a stranger. I would rather cut my tongue out than tell him J must get the money—that would kill him at a word. You see my hopes of being kept by the Royal Academy will be cut off, unless I send a picture by the spring. I have written to Sir T. Lawrence. I have got a volume of Jeremy Taylor's works, which Keats has heard me read to-night. This is a treasure indeed, and came when I should have thought it hopeless. Why may not other good things come? I will keep myself up with such hopes.'-Ib. p. 88.
The volume of Jeremy Taylor's works must, indeed, have been a boon to the imaginative, but dying poet, who might probably have turned away from addresses of equal power, but less distinguished by rich and gorgeous eloquence. Another month passed away. The kindness of their friends in England swiftly relieved them from pecuniary embarrassments, but the mental wretchedness of Keats remained almost the same. It was then that he requested Severn to inscribe on his grave, 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water. A letter from the lady on whom his mind dwelt so anxiously, came; but 'a glance at it tore him to pieces ;' he would not read it, but requested it to be placed in his coffin, with another, from his sister, and a purse. After most severe suffering in body and mind, opening his eyes in great doubt and horror,' but closing them peacefully when they fell upon Severn keeping patient watch beside him, on the 23rd of February, the last struggle came on, and he gradually sunk into death. Thus closed the life of John Keats, at the early age of little more than twenty-five years. Just after his death, Mr. Severn received a letter from Leigh Hunt, a portion of which is worth extracting, as a specimen of the 'cold consolation' which a most attached friend with sceptical principles could offer to a dying poet, agonized in body and mind. After expressing hopes of his recovery, he goes on :
• If he cannot bear this, tell him—tell that great poet and noblehearted 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.'-Ib. p. 96.
Alas! 'the faith enough in the high things that nature puts into our heads,' was altogether unavailing in the case of poor Keats.
We have thus gone over at some length, the circumstances of this young poet's death, since, as religion has been often reproached for surrounding the death-bed of Cowper with horrors, it is important to show that Keats, without one religious impression-until, as we earnestly hope, just at the last, could lie a prey to agonizing thoughts, not so lengthened out, yet more fierce than Cowper's. These, it may be said, arose from disappointment; but, although disappointed, still, Keats, as to his worldly prospects, was never irretrievably disappointed. His lot had never been, like Johnson's, or Goldsmith's, an actual struggle for bread; he had never, like Milton, ‘fallen on evil tongues and evil days ;' nor, like Byron, and many a kindred poet, had he been disappointed in his first love. Emolument, either literary or otherwise, awaited him, though distantly, and the lady to whom he was attached, never withdrew her preference. It was patience, 'patient on waiting,' that alone was required. But the feverish mind that busied itself with passionate questionings as to the evil around us, could not calmly await the reward which, though distant, was sure. And this, we think, is 'the moral of the tale;' for, while we agree with Mr. Milnes, that the poetic faculty did much in the case before us, as it unquestionably did also in the case of Cowper, to sustain in vigour and delight a temperament naturally melancholy,' still, it had no power to dissipate the gloom of adverse circumstances, still less of a death-bed.
As to the place which Keats claims among our poets, we should assign him one only below our first. His descriptive powers are wonderful ; and, to the imaginative artist, his works are a treasure. Mr. Milnes speaks of Keats's want of moral purpose; this we are inclined to consider partly as owing to his strong sympathy with the external, and partly to his wavering scepticism. Unlike Byron, whose fierce and scoffing spirit tracks, Mephistopheles-like, his every path, and whose loose morality forms the ground-work of every tale; unlike Shelley, who seems to have felt it a solemn duty to stand forth as the high-priest of doubt; Keats conceals, especially in his chief poems, the sceptical views to which, in his letters, he gives utterance, and seems to turn to poetry as an actual relief. Happily, if deficient in high purpose, his poems offer little that is exceptionable; and when we remember that he may almost be considered as poet-father to some of our later poets,—to Tennyson, and, we think, to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, we feel some debt of gratitude is his due. Wonderful poems are these ! all written before the poet had completed his twenty-fifth year, so rich, so abundant in imagery, so magnificent in diction. Like his nymphs sacrificing to Pan, he has given us a heaped. up basket of finest flowers, exquisite in form, in scent, in colour; but, alas! there is no fruit. He has taken us into a fairy land, bright, and lovely as the gardens of Hesperus, or the bowers of Armida, and we wander on--in joyous mood, well pleased; but in more solemn mood, not without a sigh, that all these pleasant paths should lead to nothing,—that all this affluence of genius should have been purposeless and vain.
ART. III. - Posthumous Works of Dr. Chalmers — Daily Scripture
Readings. In 3 vols. 8vo. WE resume, as we promised, the notice of Dr. Chalmers's posthumous publications. These volumes were produced under circumstances peculiarly calculated to excite interest. They are not only the thoughts of a mind, powerful and full of vivacity, but of that mind disciplined to various inquiry, and in its maturest state. Nor were these pages written merely at a period of great intellectual vigour, and ripeness of religious experience; they were composed more as helps to private reflection, than for the public eye. They have, accordingly, the charm and the force of unbiassed expressions of sentiment and feeling. We see the real workings of the inner man, and get at the first and purest reflection of a mind spiritually illuminated. Not that they are the most splendid of the author's productions; far from it; but they are impressive and valuable, being carefully written, and very closely scriptural. He used the pen,' says Dr. Hanna, in his preface, 'in this instance, for his own private use alone. Seeking to bring his mind into as close and full contact as possible with the passage of the Bible, which was before him at the time, he recorded the thoughts suggested, the moral or emotional effects produced, that these thoughts might the less readily slip out of his memory, that these effects might be more pervading and more permanent. His great desire was to take off from the sacred page as quick, as fresh, as vivid, and as complete an impression as he couldand in using his pen to aid in this, his object was far more to secure thereby a faithful transcript of that impression, than either critically to examine or minutely to describe the mould that made it. His own description of these · Horæ Biblicæ
Quotidiana' was, that they consisted of his first and readiest thoughts, and he clothed these thoughts in what, to him, at least, were the first and readiest words. Traces of his own peculiar phraseology do constantly occur, and yet in such a form as to demonstrate of that phraseology, that it was as capable of condensation as of expansion—that it could be brief and aphoristic, or ample and many-volumed, as the time or the object might require. And yet, though as to thought and expression of such instant, and easy, and natural growth, we have here the mature fruits of a whole life-time's study of the Divine oracles, conducted by one who tells us more than once, that the verse in all the Bible most descriptive of his own experience, is the utterance of David, “My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments, at all times.'
It is not, however, the exclusive prerogative of genius to be able to instruct by this means. Truth is susceptible of illustration from such a variety of points, and is so inexhaustible by the researches of every individual mind, that almost any one, even of the commonest understanding, would he take the pains to record his independent impressions, might be an instructor to others ; at least, he might be, and this is no mean consideration, an instructor to himself. We do not peruse the same chapter of Holy Writ, nor, indeed, the same verse or phrase, always with the same sense of its meaning and importance. At one time, we see it in one light, at another, in a different aspect; taking diverse views of the significance or bearing of particular passages and, moreover we have, at different times, our predilections for one course of reflection rather than another,-choosing to pursue the prophetic, historical, argumentative, experimental, or the general subject of the writer, and the application of it to these or any of its practical intentions or possible combinations.
Now, if every person, or if a great number of persons, were to adopt the method pursued by Dr. Chalmers, of committing to writing his first as well as his more deliberate thoughts on the passages of scripture read from time to time, is it not certain that a vast amount of valuable materials might be collected for future reflection, and for future mental enjoyment? Who would not be specially interested in looking back upon his own states of mind, and his own impressions of biblical subjects, as they were presented, from the period of his earliest reading of the word of God, and then through the successive stages of his life? The fervour and the peculiarity of his primitive ideas might thus be made usefully to intermingle with his after judg. ment and feelings, and while many things would be corrected, other conceptions would be justified, and sentiments essential
different af particular pations for one che prophetic: et of the