A narrative of Keats' final journey to Italy from the perspective of Joseph Severn, his friend and travelling companion.
He was my friend. We travelled together across England. He would sit on the bank of a river, or lean against a tree, with his notebook open while I stood close by with my pallet and brush, or sat with my sketchbook. We visited Charles in Scotland, dined with Fanny, rode out with Taylor, and many other things before he fell ill. Even then, whenever I visited he would give me the same smile, notebook in hand and tea sitting on the bedside table with a portrait of Fanny standing behind it. I never thought it would get worse. Not until I was called to visit his bedside in September.
The doctors had diagnosed his illness as consumption; a sickness that seemed to run in John’s family with tragic results, but still I had hope. It was this early September visit that started our journey together. I remember it clearly. Fanny was sitting at his bedside, fussing over him with a damp cloth to wipe his pale brow, as John stared at her lovingly.
“Joseph! I’m so glad you could make it!” He said weakly in delight as I subtly coughed to announce my presence, the lovers swiftly breaking apart at my entry. Fanny took the water to change it, nodding to me respectfully as she passed; a nod I warmly returned before walking over to the bed and sitting on the edge without invitation. I never needed invitation from John.
“Your letter sounded urgent, so I took the first carriage that passed; I even forgot my sketch book I was in such a hurry.” I added sheepishly with a slight grin, John returning the smile in amusement. He knew how I loathed to be without a pen and paper, and knowing such I found a book and pencil immediately pushed into my lap. He always had been good at anticipating my needs. “I hear you’re worse…” I added expectantly as I flipped open the book and began sketching John, who flushed slightly as he watched my hands.
“Must you sketch me now? I look simply terrible.” He exclaimed lethargically, trying to glare but not quite managing. His scowl, if anything, made him look more sweet and childish than usual; even feminine.
“Nonsense! Now to return to your illness.” I said dismissively, continuing my idle sketching carefully.
“I have a problem dear friend, one which you might help me with. You see, I am to go to Rome for a time to recover from this illness; however I need a friend by my side. I thought perhaps of Charles, but he is in Scotland and has no way of making it here in time to leave…My departure is quite sudden; the sooner the better.” He explained, and from what he was saying I had already deduced what his request would be. No one had a talent for dancing around a subject quite like John, and from the smirk on my face he must have realized his rambling.
“If it is a travelling companion you need John, then I am your man. What better place for an artist than Rome? I would be delighted to travel with you.” I replied, lifting my eyes from John’s kindly donated sketch book to take in the relieved and grateful smile upon his delicate features. “When would it please you to leave?” I asked, snapping the book shut and handing him the pencil.
“Tomorrow morning.” He replied awkwardly, looking a little sheepish at my widened eyes. I had only a few hours to ready my things, and even I was unsure whether I would be ready in time. “I know it’s sudden; sorry to inconvenience you.” He added apologetically as I got to my feet.
“Not at all John; it shall be like old times! We’ll travel; me with my sketch book and you with your pocket book and fine pen, and we’ll both return here within a year of our departure with tales of mischief and folly to tell!” I replied assuringly, John nodding his enthusiastic agreement. It had been a while since we had last travelled anywhere together, and I missed the calmness I always felt when working beside him.
On the voyage there was a worsening of John’s condition, though on the ship it hardly surprised me with all the rocking. The bunks were cramped and coffin-like, and John often opted to sit on the long seat instead of the bed, which didn’t help his condition. I noticed on the voyage that he didn’t write a word; he’d just sit there, or up on deck, with a strange almost melancholic expression that I’d never seen on his face before. He’d look off into the distance for hours, his eyes focused on nothing, his body swaying slightly with the ship, and I could only think that he was giving up.
Barely two days later my thoughts became a startling reality, as if I had put brush to canvas and painted the scene myself. I entered the cabin one afternoon after a stroll on deck, where I had started a sketch when my pen ran out, forcing me below. I caught him. He was just about to drink a full bottle of laudanum; a death sentence if ever I saw one. He looked at me with surprised brown eyes before smiling almost sheepishly.
“Joseph! I wasn’t expecting you back so soon. How was your walk up top?” He asked innocently, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He was lounging back on the long seat, a light sheen sweat coating his pale brow from the exertion of any and all movement, his white shirt open the first three buttons from the cramped heat. I clenched my fist and gritted my teeth in anger. I had never been angry with him before this, but before I could stop myself I was standing in front of him and my hand had connected sharply with his cheek.
“What in God’s name do you think you’re doing?” I shouted, tears of frustration pricking my eyes as I looked at his stunned form, his head snapped to the side with the force of my strike. I watched as he slowly raised a hand to his cheek, looking up at me like an injured puppy. “Don’t look at me like that! Do you only think of yourself? What would I tell Charles if you died like that? What would I tell Fanny? Don’t even think about dying on me God damn it! We’ll reach Italy in just a few more days, and then you’ll get better, so don’t give up!” I cried, catching his shoulders in a gentle grip, but I wasn’t sure he’d heard me. He was too busy looking at my face, which must have been a sight to behold.
I could feel my heart pounding in my chest at the thought of what he’d almost done to himself. I’d been so close to losing him that I could barely contemplate what I would have done had I not run out of ink. For this one and only time I say thank God for cheap pens that devour ink as a parched man drinks water!
“Joseph…Are you…crying?” He asked shamefully, my own eyes widening at the statement. So that was why my vision was blurred; that was what I felt trickling down my cheek; that was why my throat ached so much. Lost in dark thoughts as I was I hadn’t noticed. I released him and wiped my eyes quickly, turning away from him as I did so. I couldn’t bear to let him see; I was supposed to be the eldest, like a brother, and older brothers don’t cry.
“Of course not! Grown men don’t cry!” I exclaimed, glancing over my shoulder to see John looking more helpless than I’d ever seen him. He’d slumped back in the long seat, his eyes filled with guilt and looking at the small bottle in his lap shamefully while he nibbled his trembling lower lip.
“Sorry…It just hurts…so much…” He said in a small trembling voice. Forcing a smile I turned back to him, my eyes still slightly red, but otherwise unchanged. I took the bottle from his frail hands, looking at him assuringly. I sat beside him on the long seat and pulled his frail form into my arms, noticing the difference since the last time. When we had embraced last it was in farewell when he’d been in good health. His shoulders, his arms, his chest, everything seemed so much smaller now.
“It’s alright…Just bear with it a few more days…Once we get to Italy you’ll feel better. We’ll go to the theatre, eat at fine restaurants, and then; once you’re better; we’ll take the first ship back to England and you can make an honest woman of Fanny, yes?” I replied with all the confidence and cheer I could muster. At the mention of Fanny’s name I saw a slight flush brighten his pale cheeks, and he managed a weak smile as he looked up at me.
“Yes.” He agreed, but there was still that glean in his eyes, that haunting look that told me he didn’t really mean or believe it, but at least I’d stopped him for now. Just a little longer and we’d be there.
A few days later and we reached Naples. We had to wait ten days to be cleared due to John’s illness, but ultimately they let us through. We didn’t stay in Naples long, and nothing really happened there, so I will move on to Rome. It took us a week of travel, but finally we arrived, and I found a nice little place in a quiet part of town. We took rooms on the top floor of a three storey house, and I made sure John had the best view.
It was a good sized room with a large bed, a window seat, a desk with a wooden chair, a cosy chair; very comfortable on the whole. John was so tired he just went straight to bed, and in the next room I began to worry as I listened to him cough. It was almost continuous for an hour before it finally faltered, and it had been getting worse since we left Naples. At the time I’d hoped he’d get better; little did I know that in three months he’d be dead.
The first night after our arrival we discovered a problem with our accommodation. The food. It was absolutely disgusting! I wouldn’t have served it to my own pet dog, and I was loathe to watch John force it down his throat, especially in his condition. It was the first real amusement we had on this trip when John got to his feet and threw his meal out of the window while the maid of the house looked on in shock.
“Now we shall eat some real food.” He declared, and as the maid bustled from the room with her shocked looks and flushed cheeks I couldn’t help but laugh, and John joined me, interrupted suddenly by a vicious coughing fit. I hurried to his side, but he held up a hand and forced an unconvincing smile. “I’m alright Joseph.” He insisted in a small choked voice before breaking into coughs again, blood dripping through his fingers.
“John!” I exclaimed in alarm as I leaned over his shoulder, but he merely smiled as he wiped it away from the corner of his mouth.
“It’s alright; it’s not unexpected.” He replied, and in his eyes I saw it. This had happened before now.
“How long?” I asked, my limbs frozen as I awaited his answer. He looked down at the table so I could no longer see his eyes, his bloodied hand shaking slightly as he used the napkin to wipe it clean.
“Since the quarantine.” He replied as he looked up apologetically. “Sorry; I know I should have told you but…” He trailed off sheepishly.
“You didn’t want to worry me.” I concluded as I returned to my seat. His fit was over for now, though it had left him fatigued to no end; I could see it as he leaned back in his chair panting slightly. “Have some claret…I even made sure to bring the cayenne pepper.” I added with a small smile as I took the small glass bottle from my pocket and tossed it to him, watching his weak hand catch it as always. I took it as a good sign that at least his reflexes were still sharp.
“Thank you; I was just thinking how nice a glass of wine would be right now.” He replied as he opened the pepper while I poured red wine into his glass. I watched with the same mixture of curiosity and disgust as always as he dabbed the pepper on his tongue before sipping a little wine. His features relaxed and he seemed content, until he looked across at me, a fit of laughter breaking over him. “Joseph! You look almost as if you’re watching a hanging!” He managed through his laughter, coughing and grimacing occasionally, but there was no more blood for now.
“Perhaps I am; an execution of the wine! You kill it with that pepper of yours!” I exclaimed as I poured myself a glass. He fell quiet after that and new food was soon brought, food that I would expect of a fine restaurant in fact. It seemed John’s display had left its mark.
We went walking a little in the first month, though John would always need his cane while going out and my shoulder upon our return. We visited a theatre to watch an afternoon performance, and a concert, where John sat with a look of contentment as he listened to the steady hum of the violins. At other times we sat in cafes or out of the way places where we could be alone, and there I would sketch, occasionally stopping to watch John looking up at the sky or across the landscape with that same melancholic countenance. It seemed he was saying farewell to the world, taking one last look at everything within his sight so that he wouldn’t forget it.
In his room I would often find him sitting in the window seat looking out over the town with a notebook in hand as he wrote his letters, hands shaking slightly the whole time. Perhaps I knew then that he was dying, perhaps I just didn’t want to admit it; I still don’t want to admit it even now that he’s gone. When he paused in his writings he would give that same melancholic look at the rooftops outside, until he realized I was watching. Then he’d be all smiles and greetings.
During this time I knew he’d coughed blood often, but he left no evidence of it. He would always hide the napkins and handkerchiefs from my sight; giving them to the nursemaid secretly when she paid her weekly visit. She would dispose of them without a word and bring fresh ones.
Upon December 10th he took a definite turn for the worst. Never had I seen him cough so much blood, and I nursed him the whole day, his worsening condition and need of my help the only thing keeping my own despair at bay. He rambled about his life, about Fanny, Charles; even me occasionally, calling me his dearest friend as he weakly stroked my cheek. At these times I would take his hand and press it to my lips, gripping it gently as I looked down at him, afraid that he would fade away if I released my hold. Over the next nine days he had similar attacks, begging me to kill him or to let him kill himself. At these times I would take him in my arms and remind him of our promise on the ship. Even if he was going to die I wouldn’t let him risk his soul by suicide.
After Christmas came, and despite my constant hopes and prayers, I secretly knew he wouldn’t get better. He couldn’t even go outside anymore, he just didn’t have the energy; in fact he could barely leave his bed for days, and his appetite had lessened considerably. He was eating just under a quarter of what was put on his plate, complaining that his throat and chest were too sore to eat and he had no appetite anyway. He only forced the few morsels that he did because I was watching, otherwise I doubt he would have eaten at all.
It was at the start of that last month that I finally knew, that I truly allowed myself to realise, he was going to die. I knew because he told me with his own lips. I came in that night to say goodnight and found him asleep in the window seat, half leaning out of the open window and slipping. I ran over as fast as my legs could carry me and grabbed his arm, tugging him upright and watching his eyes open slowly.
“What are you doing you foolish boy? Don’t fall asleep next to the open window! You’ll fall, or at least worsen your condition! You shouldn’t be out of bed!” I chided in exasperation, deciding it would be best to get him back into the bed, where he belonged. He looked up at me with a humourless smile, even forcing an ironic chuckle.
“Worsen my condition? My condition can get no worse now.” He retorted, not looking at me as he pulled his arm away, leaning heavily on the wall as he looked out across the darkened rooftops, only a few windows showing light now. I felt my heart skip a beat at those words and my throat went dry.
“Don’t be so stubborn; just rest and I’m sure you’ll get better.” I replied as assuringly as I could. He smiled a smile that was both grateful and sympathetic, then leaned back to look up at me.
“Who are you trying to convince Joseph, me? Or yourself?” He asked with a trace of sympathy in his voice. I couldn’t stand that. I couldn’t stand it! How could he feel sorry for me? He was the one dying! I didn’t even realise I’d thought it until it was too late.
“But!” I began, but the touch of his cold frail hand on my cheek halted my words, and my voice caught in my throat as I looked down into his soft understanding eyes. He looked so different from the time we’d set sail. His pale skin had grown even paler, his touch was now cold even while his eyes were warm, and his weak eyes had dark circles beneath them. He had a drop of blood at the corner of his mouth, which I wiped away with my thumb, a very slight colouring of his cheek the only reaction to this tender action. His lips had lost some of their fullness and colour; even his hair seemed less vibrant than ever.
“I was a medical man once Joseph…I know the gravity of my condition…The blood coming from my lungs is arterial…The insides are ripping apart, and the burning is constant…I know I don’t have much time left. You don’t need to worry Joseph…You don’t need to cheer me up or keep me from worrying…I know my own strength, and my weakness…Nothing can be done.” He said, unknowingly delivering a fatal blow. I acted as if he hadn’t said anything, forcing a smile to my face. In his eyes I could see guilt at what he’d said, but also fatigue, a great pressing fatigue as he fell forward to my shoulder in his attempt to step away from the wall.
“Come; let’s get you to bed.” I said as cheerfully as I could, hooking his arm over my shoulder and half carrying him to the large comfortable bed. I lay him down and tucked the blanket up to his shoulders before closing the window. When I returned to his side he was already asleep, his gentle breath sounding raspy as he slept. Leaning down I hesitated, hovering above his deathly pale face before pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead, which he seemed to feel as a small smile crossed his lips in response. I bit the inside of my lip as I stood looking down at his helpless form and left the room, closing the door quietly before hurrying out of the house.
I walked where we had walked a few weeks earlier; to a quiet part of town where I could let out my frustrations unheard. I could feel my breath hitch as tears fell down my cheeks, walking faster and faster until there was a house before me, blocking my way.
“Damn it all!” I shouted as I put my fist through the thin glass window, glass shards cutting and digging into my skin. My whole arm shook as I withdrew it, falling to my knees and bracing my fists on the ground before me. There was nothing I could do! He was dying and I couldn’t do anything! I was helpless, useless; powerless!
“You have a problem friend?” An old voice asked with a weak Italian accent. Through my frustrated tears I looked up to see a fairly well dressed dark haired man looking down at me. I got to my feet and turned away from him.
“No.” I replied simply and stubbornly, hoping that he would simply pass by. Alas my hopes were in vain.
“This hole in my window suggests otherwise.” He retorted, still wearing a friendly smile as he laid a hand on my shoulder. “And your arm requires attention.” He added, slowly steering me towards the house. I felt powerless to resist the friendly hand on my shoulder, the kind smile he wore as I looked at him again, and the comforting feel of the house as he led me inside.
“I’ll pay for the damages.” I said tonelessly as he sat me down, my eyes focusing on nothing as the knowledge that my friend was truly dying sank in. The kind man, who was closer to middle aged than old, seemed to be an Englishman, who’d perhaps moved to the area just a few years ago. He smiled again and waved it off as he crossed to a small box, returning with some medical supplies.
“There is no need. For the price of my service, and my window, I would much rather hear your story.” He replied, and before I knew it I was telling him everything. I spoke about John’s illness from the very start to this very point as he picked the glass from my arm, rubbed in some alcohol and bandaged it up firmly. The whole time he remained silent, nodding and humming only occasionally to show I still held his attention.
“You must have a friendship indeed to come out here and nurse him with such feeling.” The man said as he tidied up, and I sat staring at my hand, the silver cross around his neck coming to my attention as he leaned forward.
“But there’s nothing I can do. I’m powerless.” I said helplessly, looking up with a scowl as the man chuckled, closing his wooden box once more.
“My dear fellow, are we not all powerless against God? It is your friend’s time; it is not for you to argue; you must accept it.” He advised as he sat in the chair opposite. I felt my faith shake a little at his words. What kind of God would cut a man’s life short in this way? John was Twenty-five! We had celebrated his birthday the very day we came out of quarantine! It wasn’t fair!
“I don’t want…It’s not…He’s so young!” I stammered, and the man again seemed to understand me completely. It was like sitting in a room with myself, only he was older, wiser, more experienced in the ways of the world; and, it seemed, in the ways of God.
“Many good men die young, and many bad men die old. It is the way of this world my friend.” He replied, and I could only nod at his wisdom, as I had been doing throughout our meeting.
“But what can I do? I can’t help him, I can’t ease his pain; there is nothing I can do for him!” I repeated, slamming my injured fist on the table top in frustration, words of my powerlessness echoing through my mind as a constant reminder of how truly useless I was, the feeling even blotting out the pan that ran up my arm from the impact.
“That’s not true at all. You can be there. That is all he needs, all he wants, all he expects of you. He knows he cannot be helped, cannot be saved, but he has you to see him through. You must see him through.” The man repeated, and with this new purpose I swore that I wouldn’t leave my friend until his dying breath. I thanked the man and left, returning as fast as my feet could carry me to our little house. John was still sleeping soundly upon my return, so I too retired for the night.
From then on I barely left his side, except when he insisted I go for a break. For the next two weeks he remained in bed, too weak to get up, too tired to write, barely able to speak or eat. At the end of those two weeks, when I feared he was lost, he seemed to perk up. He smiled and talked almost as if it were a cold keeping him in bed. The only gruesome reminder of his delicate state was the arterial blood that now came with each and every cough.
One night I found him in the window seat once more, half asleep as he stared out over the rooftops with a look of tired contentment. I walked over quietly, knowing he could hear my footsteps so I wouldn’t startle him. He looked up gently as I laid a hand on his frail shoulder.
“You’re not supposed to be out of bed.” I reminded him softly, both of us knowing I didn’t mean it. We’d both accepted that he was going soon, it wouldn’t make much difference whether he was out of the bed or in it; he was still going to die.
“I know.” He replied, allowing me to help him up, though he put more weight on me than usual, and we ended up tripping onto the bed. Lying there we both laughed; laughs that almost turned to cries until John fell into a coughing fit, blood coating his hand. He fell silent after that. His whole body seemed to quiver as he lay there, slightly curled up with his hair across his face. “Joseph…I’m glad you came with me.” He said quietly, a small trail of blood running down from the corner of his mouth.
“What’s brought this on so suddenly?” I asked, my heart quickening as I thought the worst. I reached out gently and brushed his chestnut locks away from his pale clammy skin, watching fresh tears spill from his eyes as he looked up at me, my thumb once again wiping away the blood.
“I don’t know when…I might not have another chance to say it.” He replied, my own eyes darkening slightly at those words. We’d felt it these past few days, both of us could feel the end coming. There was nothing I could say. I sat up slowly before feeling a weak hand grab my shirt, leaving an imprint of blood. “Wait! Don’t go!” He cried in a pleading tone, his head leaning on my shoulder as he heaved himself up.
“John, are you…” I began, realising the foolishness of the question I had been about to ask. Of course he wasn’t alright. How could he possibly be alright?
“I don’t want to be alone…I’m afraid Joseph…I can feel it coming closer…like an unstoppable tide…Leave me by day, but not by night; not by night!” He begged as he threw himself against my chest and I lay beside him. I wrapped my arms around him and held him as he cried in terror, whispering the same words. “I’m so afraid!” Over and over in my ear.
“Don’t worry…I’ll stay with you.” Was the only response I could give, so there I stayed, his hand gripping the front of my shirt as he cried, my hands rubbing small circles on his back to calm him, and I occasionally kissed the top of his head as I whispered assurances in his ear. I think we were up the whole night like that; it was dawn by the time his grip loosened.
From then on I wouldn’t leave him, barely an hour by day and not even a minute at night. The maid brought food as usual, and all the belongings I would need were brought to me. By day I would sometimes sleep in his room on the floor or the unused side of the bed. I would talk to him, read to him, and help him write his last letters by holding the weight of his arm while he moved his wrist. The writing was barely legible, but still he chose to write.
By night I would watch him sleep, feed him, help him change his clothes and all sorts of other things. The nursemaid would come and check on his condition, but there was really nothing to be done now but wait. I wrote my own letters to William and occasionally John Taylor while he slept to express my fears, but I never let him see those. I wanted to remain a positive presence for him, and so my tears fell at night too, smudging the ink as I worked.
Finally the last day arrived, when he was too weak to move, too weak to do anything, barely able to speak. I was right by his bed, half asleep, as his weak brown eyes opened fearfully, and he looked at me desperately.
“J-Joseph…Don’t leave…Don’t leave me.” He rasped desperately as he forced his hand to reach out for mine. I knew it just by looking at him. He was going to die. Right then and there. I climbed on the bed beside him and pulled him into my arms, holding him like a scared child, which in my eyes he was. “I’m so afraid…Don’t leave.” He gasped, tears falling down his cheeks.
“I’m not going anywhere! I’m right here!” I insisted in his ear, holding him a little tighter while trying not to hurt him. I could feel his body shaking, his grip on my arm increasing as he began choking and gasping for breath. I could feel my own tears falling as I held him, my name falling constantly from his lips. “Hush…It’s alright…I’m here.” I cried in a whisper. “Come now; you can’t have last words like those…How about ‘Severn, lift me up, I shall die easy, don’t be frightened, be firm, and thank God it has come’?” I asked with a little forced cheer.
“Sounds more like you than me dear friend.” He replied with a little light heartedness of his own. We were silent after that, for hours. The sky gradually began to darken as I held him in my arms stroking his hair and holding his hand loosely. His convulsions slowed over time until he was still, but not dead. It almost seemed to be someone else as I lowered him to see his face, fearing the worst, my eyes widening as his hand reached up to touch my cheek. “Looks like I’ll be going first…dear friend.” He said weakly. As I lay him back I could see the last of the light leaving his eyes, his hand running down my arm to grip my hand gently. “Thank…you…” Were the last words he breathed before his grip slackened and the life left his eyes. I allowed my tears to fall freely then as I leaned my head on his chest, knowing I should move and get the doctor, but two words rang in my mind. Not yet. These would be the very last moments I had with my friend so no, not yet. It must have been hours later that the door opened and the nursemaid admitted herself. What time was it? What day was it? I had no idea, and no wish to know.
I was taken to another room then while the body was removed. The body. It wasn’t a body. It was my friend! Even if he was dead he was still my friend!
The nursemaid insisted I rest, assuring me that I would be able to arrange John’s funeral as soon as I was ready, in her opinion, to get out of bed. I hadn’t been getting much sleep the past few weeks after all.
It didn’t take me long to recover. I was soon well enough to go out and visit John. I found his best suit and took it to the mortuary, where he would be dressed for death. I would be able to see him once more before the coffin was sealed, which was all I needed.
I went then to the path I had walked that night that seemed so long ago, where I’d met the man who’d bandaged my hand. Upon arriving I found the window had been replaced, and the man was waiting in the doorway as if he’d always known I would return.
“I thought you might come back.” He said in greeting as he stepped aside to let me in. The small house was exactly the same as that night, frustratingly the same. Nothing had changed since John died. The sun still rose, the birds still sang, people still walked by without a care in the world. The only thing that seemed to have changed at all was me. It felt like part of me was missing, and I’d never get it back. “Have faith. You’ll see your friend again.” The man assured, and it never failed to amaze me how so few words could raise my spirits.
Finally the day came when I buried my dear friend who’d meant so much to me. I looked in the coffin one last time, touched his cold cheek one last time, and slipped a final parting gift into his hands. A bundle of letters from dear Fanny, who’d written regularly, but never had her letters read. John hadn’t had the heart for it in life.
“Here, take these with you. May they bring you joy when you read them.” I whispered in his ear, pressing the hands resting on his chest and kissing his forehead one last time before stepping back and watching as the lid was placed and sealed. After the ceremony I met the stonemason and wrote out the inscription for the headstone.
‘This Grave contains all that was mortal of a young English poet, who on his deathbed in the bitterness of his heart at the malicious power of his enemies, desired these words to be engraved on his tomb stone. “Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water” Feb 24 1821.’
He hadn’t wanted his name on the grave. He’d told me so one night, along with his quotation, which I had taken note of secretly. He needed no name printed. I knew who he was, I knew where he was, and it would be with me to the end of my days. I would tell his dearest friends, make a note of its location and never ever forget. He was my dearest and most trusted friend, and I now lay his memory to rest here, in these few pages. I will keep them with me always.