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thing at Eton, and made himself acquainted with the French and German languages.

He could compose Latin verses with ease, and once sent up a prose exercise, in which there was a great many verses. His master observed it, and asked him why he had introduced them. He answered, he did not know they were there, which however was only partly the truth. He would sometimes open at hazard his Livy or Sallust, and transmute several sentences from prose into heroic or elegiac verse, with surprizing quickness and facility. Tho Shelley made few intimacies at Eton, his school fellows, according to custom, on his quitting it presented him with a great number of books, and his parting breakfast cost fifty pounds. While there his greatest delight was in boating; and his literary recreation, scribbling verses about the Wandering Jew.

In 1809, being then about seventeen years of age, Shelley had fallen in love with a young lady named Grove, and with her assistance prepared and published a novel, entitled · Zastrozzi.' This was shortly followed by another, bearing the title of “St. Irwynn; or the Rosicrusian.' Authorship seems now to have become with him a determined pursuit. While at Oxford, he published a volume of Poems under the title of the ‘Posthumous Works of my aunt Margaret Nicholson. The work, tho consisting of only a few pages, was published as a noble quarto, and printed in large unusual types, upon the thickest, smoothest drawing paper. The title was derived from the famous Peg Nicholson, an insane washerwoman, who tried to stab George III. with a carving knife; and the poem sung of liberty in incoherent strains, and recommended stabbing of all who were not sufficiently attached to the right cause. It was, in fact, a satire upon the senti. mental and revolutionary literature of the times. A bolder poetical attempt the poem

of Queen Mab—was begun in 1809, but not completed until 1812. It may be regarded as the crude frenzy of an ardent but distempered mind, exhibiting many flashes of true poetic genius, a profound adoration of the beautiful, and an invincible love and courage in the cause of what he considered truth ;-but disfigured by a most preposterous violation of all the proprieties and conventional graces which a more matured intellect would have esteemed worthy of being respected. As an expression of one of the inevitable phases of the mind of an enthusiastic youth, judicious critics will treat it with candor, not severity of judgment; for the writer really loved Truth, and counted it as precious beyond the pearls and rubies of the earth. He saw around him Cant and Formality installed in the name of Religion, and by the quick instinct of genius discerned the character of their pretensions, and in the spirit of a vehement denouncer of lies, and true martyr for the Truth, he spoke the earnest word which his soul could not restrain, and submitted meekly to the buffetings and contumely of the world, as the reward for his sincerity. What the mass of mankind were secretly and at heart, Shelley had the audacity to be openly before the world. That he embraced many grave and prejudicial errors was natural to his position; but that he was sincere in his convictions, no one, knowing what he endured on account of them can consistently deny. With respect to the doctrines advocated in ‘Queen Mab,' he himself was not longere he perceived their shallowness and folly. In speaking of the poem in after life, he expressed himself in terms sufficiently condemnatory, showing that few of its readers can ever have had a worse opinion of it than its author had. - He says in a letter to the Editor of The Examiner, written in 1821,


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'I have not seen this production for several years. I doubt not that it is perfectly worthless in point of literary composition; that in all that concerns moral and political speculations, as well as the subtler discrimination of metaplıysical and religious doctrine, it is still more crude and immature. am a devoted enemy to religious, political, and domestic oppression, and I regret this publication, not so much from literary vanity, as because I fear it is better fitted to injure than to serve the cause of freedom.' Shelley tried repeatedly to suppress the sale of this poem, but, as happened in the case of Mr. Southey’s ‘Wat Tyler,' utterly without success.

His studies at Oxford were various, but for the most part desultory. It has been doubted whether he ever really mastered any science or special branch of knowlege. It may indeed be questioned whether he possessed an intellect adapted to rigorous investigation. Yet, whatever greatly interested him, that he sedulously pursued, with a determination and enthusiasm which have seldom been exceeded. His devotion to books was excessive: he would sit for ten or eleven hours a day reading--abstemious as a hermit, living almost entirely on dry bread. He entered occasionally into discussions with some of his fellow students, on the doctrines of Plato, Locke, Hume, and other of his favorite writers, but beyond this he had little active intercourse with living minds. He dwelt alone, among the thoughts and recollections of the Departed—an earnest visionary, to whom the power of thinking, and the communion of the gifted, were a delight and sufificient satisfaction.

Brooding too intently over forbidden and perplexing lore, he becomes, however gradually possessed of a fixed idea; and, like a bold adventurer, seeks to propagate his convictions by an unwonted process of logical knight-errantry. In conjunction with an associate, Mr. Hogg, he issued a syllabus of indifferent metaphysics, drawn chiefly from Hume’s Essays, and challenged the authorities of Oxford to a public controversy thercupon; little doubting, as it appeared, that he should be able to demonstrate, and scientifically establish, the truth and excellencies of Atheism! For this picce of presumption, Shelley and his friend were both summarily expelled from college. Both their fathers subsequently disinherited them. Shelley was thenceforth a branded man; and he clung with the inveteracy of a persecuted one to the unhappy delusions which time would otherwise have rectified. Bravely, nevertheless, did he bear the scorn and indignities of his persecutors. What more did any martyr of a better faith, in olden or in modern times ? His sincere adherence to his convictions had lost him his father, his family, and his home; he was henceforth an outcast and an exile among men; reputation, the fair reward of literary diligence, the charms of social life, the testimony and consolations of those who might have known his worth, and honored him in spite of his eccentricities, were all irrevocably sacrificed to his fanatical and distorted faith. Had no approving voice of conscience, under all that baneful aberration, in some inexplicable manner sustained and strengthened him, he must have maddened, and rushed headlong, as he would have thought, into the arms of annihilation. Something of the 'infinite significance of Duty'must have shone in upon him thrö all that bewildering and darkened atmosphere whereby his pure soul was overshadowed and oppressed; for it is not in the nature of wickedness so to consummate the painful, distressing sacrifice of Self.



Shelley's unfortunate opinions cost him also the loss of his first love. The family of Miss Grove, and the young lady herself, repudiated an alliance with an Atheist. He alludes to this calamity in one of his poems :

* Her voice did quiver as we parted,
Yet knew I not that heart was broken
From which it camc-—and I departed,
Heeding not the word then spoken;

Misery, O Misery!

The world is far too wide for thee.' Poor Shelley came now to live literally a life of dreams. The excitement of his mind, the feverishness of his nerves, and the habit of reverie which he encouraged developed his old disease of somnambulism. One morning at five o'clock, Captain Medwin saw a group of boys round a well-dressed person lying near the rails in Leicester Square. On approaching more closely to the spot, he discovered the sleeper to be Shelley.

It is said his father would have pardoned lis escapade against religion, if he would have devoted himself to politics, and succeeded him as member for the county. But Shelley scorned a career of selfishness and parade. He was, moreover, ambitious of a more heroic enterprize—that of extirpating superstition and conventionality. It has been affirmed that he actually wrote to the Rev. Rowland Hill, requesting the loan of bis pulpit, for the purpose of inculcating his notions in a more public and effectual manner than he could otherwise proclaim them. One can believe almost any thing of such a youth as Shelley, considering his position with the world, and the mood of mind he was in, at the time; so that this singular story may probably have some truth in it. Fancy worthy old Rowland's consternation at the audacity of the young sceptic!

Wearied by the loneliness of his condition, it was perfectly natural that the imaginative and impassioned youth of twenty should fall in love again, with the first bright eyed maiden whom he met, and, if necessary, run away with her across the border. Accordingly, towards the end of August 1811, he eloped with Harriet Westbrook from a boarding school. She was about sixteen years of age, the school fellow of one of his sisters, and the daughter of a London hotel-keeper. After marriage they lived for some time in lodgings in the neighborhood of the Lakes. De Quincey tells an anecdote of the girlish bride, amusingly illustrative of her still childish simplicity. Southey, and some of his family, and, if we recollect rightly, Mrs. De Quincey, one day paid a visit to the young poet and his

and one of the party, asking Mrs. Shelley if the garden in which they were walking had been let with their part of the house, received for answer: 'Oh no, the garden is not ours; but the people let us run about in it when Percy and I are tired of sitting in the house.'

Pleasant and satisfactory as seemed the earlier days of wedlock, Shelley was not long in perceiving that his hasty marriage was an inconsiderate and uncongenial one. His wife appeared to him incapable of duly estimating his talents, or understanding his feelings, or entering into his purposes for life. In less than two years they had agreed to separate. Their two children were assigned by the Lord Chancellor to the custody of their maternal grandfather, on the grounds of


their father's reputed atheism. The unhappy wife subsequently, in 1916, committed suicide; an event which so deeply affected Shelley as to produce in him a fit of insanity. One cannot justify his conduct towards this innocent and unprotected woman, whose chicf fault seems to have been that she was not sufliciently intellectual for him; it must stand for what it is, a stain upon his otherwise so amiable character.

Two years prior to this catastrophe, Shelley had gone abroad, accompanied by the daughter of William Godwin, and another lady who was her friend and companion. At Genoa they became acquainted with Lord Byron, between whom and Miss Godwin's friend an intimacy sprung up, which, in its results, was any thing but creditable to the noble poet. After the death of his first wife, Shelley immediately married Miss Godwin. Some person once wrote to him, asking, why he who had repeatedly written against marriage, had himself married twice;His answer substantially was, that he could not inflict upon any woman he loved the evils consequent upon a disregard of the institution. Ilis practice in this and many other instances profoundly refutes his own theories.

Shelley lived six years after his second marriage, 'an abstemious and studious life, filling his mind with pictures of the most beautiful scenery, and the most exquisite works of art; writing and publishing poems which the domineering critics of the time denounced, and the public did not buy;' loved, nevertheless, exceedingly by his wife and children and friends; longing for the dawning of the day when social and religious liberty, and constitutional government, should be established, and peace and good will among men become the recognized basis of society; living in many different places, at home and abroad, and being uniformly, where he was truly knowi, admired and respected.

It has been wisely said, that it is of less importance to judge Shelley, than it is to understand him. It is not as a perfect character that he can be regarded; but rather as an irregular, many ways distorted, character; virtuous, however, to a degree beyond the common admission and belief. The gift of genius had been granted him, and it cannot be fairly said that it was altogether abused. Still, he never realized the idea of his own capabilities; never attained to spiritual manhood, or that clear unfolding of himself whereby the realization might have become possible. He was physically, morally, and intellectually diseased; as his sleep-walking, his fanatical atheism, and puerile metaphysical speculations, afford sufficient evidences. Moreover, it is as the life and performance of a Youth, that what he was, and what he did, are to be estimated. A youth of fine endowment, earnest, amiable, but nevertheless a youth to tlie last; with all the incomplete development of a youth, and with all the waywardness and undiciplined impulses incident to that imperfect stage of life. False culture, a contaminated moral element enveloping his whole existence, perverted in him one of the gentlest and purest of natures, formed only to love the beautiful and the true. He came into life amidst precepts and examples of the most selfish profligacy, and breathed, from his earliest years, an atmosphere of spiritual indifference. What wonder that his carnest and impetuous soul should scorn and indignantly denounce the smooth respectabilities' which, so far as he had witnessed, cloaked only lies and abominations ? Let this fact also be well noted that with all his erratic intellectual scepticism, his personal life was unexceptionable. Such few vices as he




can be charged with, were, when we have made the worst of them, uniformly the vices of a diseased, perverted, embittered, and persecuted boy. He was never a sensualist-never unjust--save perhaps to some extent in his dissatisfaction with his first wife, and even for this he suffered the most intense remorse, and 'when he arose in his right inind, he sinned no more.' As he approached more nearly towards manhood his character became settled, and in all the later years of his life he lived in luis affections and his duties. Nay, was he not even religiousworshiping the glorious and omnipotent God under the name of the Spirit of Intellectual Beauty ?

The manner of Shelley's death, and his peculiar obsequies, cannot be left unnoticed. On the 22nd of June 1822, he heard of the arrival of Leigh Hunt at Genoa. Boating habits having made him familiar with the sea, he arranged with his friend Williams to go in his own boat to Leghorn, from his residence at Lerici. They left on the first of July, and made the run to Leghorn in seven hours and a half. Leigh Hunt's affairs detained them here for some days; in the course of which Shelley, writing to Mrs. Williams, and alluding to his wife, whom he had left confined to her room from illness, expressed what has been considered a presentiment of his coming fate. “I figure to myself,' said he, “the countenance which has been the source of such consolation to me, shadowed by a veil of sorrow. How soon those hours passed, and how slowly they return to pass so soon away, perliaps for ever, in which we have lived together so intimately, so happily.' Shelley and Williams were sailing on the 8th of July for St Arenzo, when all at once the wind changed, and the squall drove blackly over the water. Captain Medwin says, he saw from the vessel he was in, an English pleasure boat hugging the wind under a press of sail. As he was looking at the boat thrö his glass, the skipper beside him said 'She will soon have it ! and almost immediately the vessel was swept out of their sight. Captain Roberts, who had watched the skiff with his glass from the lighthouse at Leghorn, observed that when the cloud had passed, he saw every vessel he had seen before it came, except the little schooner. She bad

gone down with all her sails full set. Shelley had been reading to the last moment, Keat’s ‘Eve of St. Agnes,' and the open volume was found with his hand, in the breast of his waistcoat. Williams, being an expert swimmer, tried to undress himself and save his life. Fourteen days after the squall, the bodies were found—the widows up to that time having remained in the most agonizing suspense.

By the Italian quarantine laws, every thing which is washed ashore must be burnt. Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt have both described the scene of the burning of the bodies. Byron swam ashore from his yacht in the offing. He notes the extraordinary effect of such a funeral pyre on a desert shore, with mountains in the back ground, and a sea before—the singular effect which the salt and frankincense gave to the flames. Leigh Hunt lay back in his carriage in which he had come to the spot, Byron standing meantime with some soldiers of the coast guard near the pyre. As the flame rose to heaven with vigorous amplitude, Hunt says, 'One might have expected a sun bright countenance to look out of it -coming once more before it departed, to thank the friends who had done their duty. The ashes of the bodies were collected and interred in the protestant's burial-ground at Rome.

J. L.

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