#OnThisDay, 200 years ago, after a long journey of four weeks and three days, aboard The Maria Crowther, John Keats and Joseph Severn finally reached the bay of Naples.
Unfortunately, news of a typhus outbreak in London had reached the Neapolitan shores prior to their arrival, and Keats and Severn were forced to quarantine inside the ship for another ten days before disembarking on 31 October, Keats's twenty-fifth, and final, birthday.
Severn later recalled the vivid details of that day in his memoirs:
"At last, at the end of six weeks, we entered the beautiful Bay of Naples. It would be difficult to depict in words the first sight of this Paradise as it appears from the sea. The white houses were lit up with the rising sun, which had just begun to touch them, and being tier above tier upon the hill-slopes, they had a lovely appearance, with so much green verdure and the many vineyards and olive grounds about them. Vesuvius had an immense line of smoke-clouds built up, which every now and then opened and changed with the sun's golden light, edging and composing all kinds of groups and shapes in lengths and masses for miles. Then the mountains of Sorrento to the right seemed like lapis lazuli and gold ; the sea between being of a very deep blue such as we had not seen elsewhere, and so rich and beautiful that it gave great splendour to all the objects on shore. So lovely was the ever-changing scene that we were not so bitterly chagrined as we would otherwise have been when we were informed that we were placed in quarantine for ten days, owing to the fact that there was then an epidemic of typhus in London, and it was feared that we might have brought the contagion. Keats was simply entranced with the unsurpassable beauty of the panorama, and looked longingly at the splendid city of Naples and her terraced gardens and vineyards, upon the long range of the Apennines, with majestic Vesuvius emitting strange writhing columns of smoke, golden at their sunlit fringes, and upon the azure foreground covered with ships and all manner of white-sailed small craft. It was a relief to me that he was so taken out of himself, for he was often so distraught, with so sad a look in his eyes, with, moreover, sometimes, a starved, haunting expression that bewildered me. Yet at that time I never fully understood how terrible were his mental sufferings, for so excruciating was the grief that was eating away his life that he could speak of it to no one. He was profoundly depressed the day we went ashore at Naples, though he had been so eager to leave the ship and explore the beautiful city; indeed, I was more alarmed on his behalf that night than even during that wretched three days' storm in the Bay of Biscay."