published among his ‘Remains,’ ‘Otho the Great
,’ and all that was ever written of ‘King Stephen.’
We think he did unwisely, for a biographer is hardly called upon to show how ill his biographee
could do anything.
In the winter of 1820 he was chilled in riding on the top of a stage-coach, and came home in a state of feverish excitement.
He was persuaded to go to bed, and in getting between the cold sheets, coughed slightly.
‘That is blood in my mouth,’ he said; ‘bring me the candle; let me see this blood.’
It was of a brilliant red, and his medical knowledge enabled him to interpret the augury.
Those narcotic odors that seem to breathe seaward, and steep in repose the senses of the voyager who is drifting toward the shore of the mysterious Other World, appeared to envelop him, and, looking up with sudden calmness, he said, ‘I know the color of that blood; it is arterial blood; I cannot be deceived in that color.
That drop is my death-warrant; I must die.’
There was a slight rally during the summer of that year, but toward autumn he grew worse again, and it was decided that he should go to Italy
He was accompanied thither by his friend, Mr. Severn
, an artist.
After embarking, he wrote to his friend, Mr. Brown
We give a part of this letter, which is so deeply tragic that the sentences we take almost seem to break away from the rest with a cry of anguish, like the branches of Dante
's lamentable wood.
I wish to write on subjects that will not agitate me much.
There is one I must mention and have done with it. Even if my body would recover of itself, this would prevent it. The very thing which I want to live most for will be a great occasion of my death.
I cannot help it. Who can help it?
Were I in health it would make me ill, and how can I bear it in my state?
I dare say you will be able to guess on what subject I am harping,—you