Memoir of John Keats, Page 2|
by Cyrus Redding (1829).
He was never to see his honorable fame: this preyed upon his spirit and hastened his end, as has been already noticed. The third and last of his works was the little volume (his best works) containing "Lamia," "Isabella," "The Eve of St. Agnes," and "Hyperion."—That he was not a finished writer, must be conceded; that, like Koerner in Germany, he gave rich promise rather than matured fruit, may be granted; but they must indeed be ill judges of genius who are not delighted with what he left, and do not see that, had he lived, he might have worn a wreath of renown which time would not easily have withered. His was indeed an "untoward fate," as Byron observes of him in the eleventh canto of "Don Juan."This Grave
For several years before his death, Keats had felt that the disease which preyed upon him was mortal,—that the agents of decay were at work upon a body too imperfectly organized, or too feebly constructed to sustain long the fire of existence. He had neglected his own health to attend a brother on his death-bed, when it would have been far more prudent that he had recollected it was necessary he should take care of himself. Under the bereavement of this brother he was combating his keen feelings, when the Zoilus of the Quarterly so ferociously attacked him. The excitement of spirit was too much for his frame to sustain; and a blow from another quarter, coming about the same time, shook him so much, that he told a friend with tears "his heart was breaking."—He was now persuaded to try the climate of Italy, the refuge of those who have no more to hope for in their own; but which is commonly delayed until the removal only leads the traveller to the tomb. Thither he went to die. He was accompanied by Mr. Severn, an artist of considerable talent, well known since in Rome. Mr. Severn was a valuable and attached friend of the poet; and they went first to Naples, and thence journeyed to Rome,—where Keats closed his eyes on the world on the 24th of February, 1821. He wished ardently for death before it came. The springs of vitality were left nearly dry long before; his lingering as he did astonished his medical attendants. His sufferings were great, but he was all resignation. He said, not long before he died, that he "felt the flowers growing over him."
On the examination of his body, post morten, by his physicians, they found that life rarely so long tenanted a body shattered as his was: his lungs were well-nigh annihilated.—His remains were deposited in the cemetery of the Protestants at Rome, at the foot of the pyramid of Caius Cestius, near the Porta San Paolo, where a white marble tombstone, bearing the following inscription, surmounted by a lyre in basso relievo, has been erected to his memory:—
contains all that was mortal
YOUNG ENGLISH POET,
on his death-bed,
in the bitterness of his heart
at the malicious power of his enemies,
these words to be engraved on his tombstone—
HERE LIES ONE
WHOSE NAME WAS WRIT IN WATER.
Feb. 24th, 1821.
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