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Her daughter, tempered with a milder ray,
Like summer clouds all silvery, smooth, and fair,
Till slowly charged with thunder, they display
But, overwrought with passion and despair,
Where late he trod her beautiful, her own; Thus much she viewed an instant and no more
Her struggles ceased with one convulsive groan; On her sire's arm, which until now scarce held Her writhing, fell she like a cedar felled.
A vein had burst, and her sweet lips' pure dyes
Their lady to her couch with gushing eyes;
Of herbs and cordials they produced their store: But she defied all means they could employ, Like one life could not hold nor death destroy.
Days lay she in that state unchanged, though chill-
All hope to look upon her sweet face bred New thoughts of life, for it seemed full of soulShe had so much, earth could not claim the whole. The ruling passion, such as marble shows
When exquisitely chiselled, still lay there, But fixed as marble's unchanged aspect throws O'er the fair Venus, but for ever fair; O'er the Laocoon's all eternal throes, And ever-dying gladiator's air, Their energy like life forms all their fame, Yet looks not life, for they are still the same. She woke at length, but not as sleepers wake, Rather the dead, for life seemed something new; A strange sensation which she must partake
Perforce, since whatsoever met her view Struck not on memory, though a heavy ache
Lay at her heart, whose earliest beat still true For, for a while, the furies made a pause. Brought back the sense of pain without the cause
She looked on many a face with vacant eye,
On many a token, without knowing what; She saw them watch her without asking why,
And recked not who around her pillow sat: Not speechless, though she spoke not; not a sigh
Relieved her thoughts; dull silence and quick chat Were tried in vain by those who served; she gave No sign, save breath, of having left the grave. Her handmaids tended, but she heeded not;
Her father watched, she turned her eyes away; She recognised no being, and no spot,
However dear or cherished in their day;
They changed from room to room, but all forgot; Gentle, but without memory, she lay ;
At length those eyes, which they would fain be weaning Back to old thoughts, waxed full of fearful meaning.
Anon her thin wan fingers beat the wall
In time to his old tune; he changed the theme, And sung of Love; the fierce name struck through all Her recollection; on her flashed the dream Of what she was, and is, if ye could call
To be so being in a gushing stream
The tears rushed forth from her o'erclouded brain, Like mountain mists at length dissolved in rain. Short solace, vain relief! thought came too quick, And whirled her brain to madness; she arose As one who ne'er had dwelt among the sick,
And flew at all she met, as on her foes; But no one ever heard her speak or shriek,
Although her paroxysm drew towards its close; Hers was a frenzy which disdained to rave, Even when they smote her, in the hope to save. Twelve days and nights she witnered thus; at last, Without a groan, or sigh, or glance, to show A parting pang, the spirit from her passed:
And they who watched her nearest could not know The very instant, till the change that cast
Her sweet face into shadow, dull and slow, Glazed o'er her eyes-the beautiful, the blackOh to possess such lustre, and then lack!
With these feelings and predilections Shelley went to Oxford. He studied hard, but irregularly, and spent much of his leisure in chemical experiments. He incessantly speculated, thought, and read, as he himself has stated. At the age of fifteen he wrote two short prose romances. He had also great facility in versification, and threw off various effusions. The 'forbidden mines of lore' which had captivated his boyish mind at Eton were also diligently explored, and he was soon an avowed republican and sceptic. He published a volume of political rhymes, entitled Margaret Nicholson's Remains, the said Margaret being the unhappy maniac who attempted to stab George III.; and he issued a syllabus from Hume's Essays, at the same time challenging the authorities of Oxford to a public controversy on the subject. Shelley was at this time just seventeen years of age! The consequence of his conduct was, that he was expelled the university, and his friends being disgusted with him, he was cast on the world, a prey to the undisciplined ardour of youth and passion. His subsequent life was truly a warfare upon earth. Mrs Shelley, widow of the poet, has thus traced the early bias of his mind, and its predisposing causes :- Refusing to fag at Eton, he was treated with revolting cruelty by masters and boys; this roused instead of taming his spirit, and he rejected the duty of obedience when it was enforced PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY was the son and heir of by menaces and punishment. To aversion to the a wealthy English baronet, Sir Timothy Shelley of society of his fellow-creatures-such as he found Castle Goring, in Sussex, and was born at Field them when collected together into societies, where Place, in that county, on the 4th of August 1792. one egged on the other to acts of tyranny-was In worldly prospects and distinction the poet there-joined the deepest sympathy and compassion; while fore surpassed most of his tuneful brethren; yet the attachment he felt for individuals, and the adthis only served to render his unhappy and strange miration with which he regarded their powers and destiny the more conspicuously wretched. He was their virtues, led him to entertain a high opinion of first educated at Eton, and afterwards at Oxford. the perfectibility of human nature; and he believed His resistance to all established authority and that all could reach the highest grade of moral imopinion displayed itself while at school, and in the provement, did not the customs and prejudices of introduction to his Revolt of Islam, he has portrayed society foster evil passions and excuse evil actions. his early impressions in some sweet and touching The oppression which, trembling at every nerve, yet stanzas resolute to heroism, it was his ill fortune to encounter at school and at college, led him to dissent in many things from those whose arguments were blows, whose faith appeared to engender blame and exe
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY,
cration. "During my existence," he wrote to a friend in 1812, "I have incessantly speculated, thought, and read." His readings were not always well chosen; among them were the works of the French philosophers: as far as metaphysical argument went, he temporarily became a convert. At the same time it was the cardinal article of his faith, that, if men were but taught and induced to treat their fellows with love, charity, and equal rights, this earth would realise Paradise. He looked upon religion as it was professed, and, above all, practised, as hostile, instead of friendly, to the cultivation of those virtues which would make men brothers.' Mrs Shelley conceives that, in the peculiar circumstances, this was not to be wondered at. At the age of seventeen, fragile in health and frame, of the purest habits in morals, full of devoted generosity and universal kindness, glowing with ardour to attain wisdom, resolved, at every personal sacrifice, to do right, burning with a desire for affection and sympathy, he was treated as a reprobate, cast forth as a criminal. The cause was, that he was sincere, that he believed the opinions which he entertained to be true, and he loved truth with a martyr's love: he was ready to sacrifice station, and fortune, and his dearest affections, at its shrine. The sacrifice was demanded from, and made by, a youth of seventeen.'
It appears that in his youth Shelley was equally inclined to poetry and metaphysics, and hesitated to which he should devote himself. He ended in unit
She died, but not alone; she held within
Thus lived-thus died she; never more on her
Brief, but delightful-such as had not stayed
That isle is now all desolate and bare,
Its dwellings down, its tenants passed away; None but her own and father's grave is there,
And nothing outward tells of human clay; Ye could not know where lies a thing so fair;
No one is there to show, no tongue to say What was; no dirge except the hollow seas Mourns o'er the beauty of the Cyclades.
Thoughts of great deeds were mine, dear friend,
I do remember well the hour which burst
And then I clasped my hands and looked around,
So, without shame, I spake 'I will be wise,
And from that hour did I with earnest thought
Within me, till there came upon my mind ▲ sense of loneliness, a thirst with which I pined.
ing them, by no means to the advantage of his
By all the happy see in children's growth,
That undeveloped flower of budding years, Sweetness and sadness interwoven both,
with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of this drama. No change of scene, however, could permanently affect the nature of Shelley's speculations, and his 'Prometheus' is as mystical and metaphysical, and as daringly sceptical, as any of his previous works. The cardinal point of his system is described by Mrs Shelley as a belief that man could be so perfectionised as to be able to expel evil from his own nature, and from the greater part of the creation; and the subject he Source of the sweetest hopes and saddest fears! loved best to dwell on, was the image of one warring Shelley contracted a second marriage with the with the evil principle, oppressed not only by it, but daughter of Mr Godwin, author of Caleb Williams, by all, even the good, who were deluded into conand established himself at Marlow, in Buckingham-sidering evil a necessary portion of humanity. His shire. Here he composed the Revolt of Islam,' a next work was The Cenci, a tragedy, published in poem more energetic than 'Alastor,' yet containing 1819, and dedicated to Mr Leigh Hunt. Those the same allegorical features and peculiarities of writings,' he remarks in the dedication, which I thought and style, and rendered more tedious by have hitherto published, have been little else than the want of human interest. It is honourable to visions which impersonate my own apprehensions Shelley that, during his residence at Marlow, he of the beautiful and the just. I can also perceive in was indefatigable in his attentions to the poor; his them the literary defects incidental to youth and widow relates that, in the winter, while bringing impatience; they are dreams of what ought to be, out his poem, he had a severe attack of ophthalmia, or may be. The drama which I now present to you caught while visiting the poor cottages. This cer- is a sad reality. I lay aside the presumptuous attitainly stamps with reality his pleadings for the tude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with human race, though the nature of his philosophy such colours as my own heart furnishes, that which and opinions would have deprived them of the highest has been.' The painting is dark and gloomy; but, of earthly consolations. The poet now prepared to in spite of a revolting plot, and the insane unnatural go abroad. A strong sense of injury, and a burning character of the Cenci, Shelley's tragedy is one of desire to redress what he termed the wrongs of the best of modern times. As an effort of intellecsociety, rendered him miserable in England, and he tual strength, and an embodiment of human passion, hoped also that his health would be improved by a it may challenge a comparison with any dramatic milder climate. Accordingly, on the 12th of March work since Otway; and it is incomparably the best 1818, he quitted this country, never to return. He of the poet's productions. His remaining works are went direct to Italy, and whilst residing at Rome, Hellas; The Witch of Atlas; Adonais; Rosalind and composed his classic drama of Prometheus Unbound. Helen; and a variety of shorter productions, with This poem,' he says, was chiefly written upon the scenes translated from Calderon and the Faust of mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among Goëthe. In Italy Shelley renewed his acquaintance the flowery glades and thickets of odoriferous blos- with Lord Byron, who thought his philosophy 'too
spiritual and romantic.' He was temperate in his habits, gentle, affectionate, and generous; so that even those who most deeply deplored or detested his opinions, were charmed with the intellectual purity and benevolence of his life. His favourite amusement was boating and sailing; and whilst returning one day, the 8th of July 1822, from Leghorn (whither he had gone to welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy), the boat in which he sailed, accompanied by Mr Williams, formerly of the 8th dragoons, and a single seaman, went down in the bay of Spezia, and all perished. A volume of Keats's poetry was found open in Shelley's coat pocket when his body was washed ashore. The remains of the poet were reduced to ashes by fire, and being taken to Rome, were deposited in the Protestant burial ground, near those of a child he had lost in that city. A complete edition of Shelley's Poetical Works, with notes by his widow, has been published in four volumes; and the same accomplished lady has given to the world two volumes of his prose Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments. Shelley's life was a dream of romance-a tale of mystery and grief. That he was sincere in his opinions, and benevolent in his intentions, is now undoubted. He i looked upon the world with the eyes of a visionary, bent on unattainable schemes of intellectual excellence and supremacy. His delusion led to misery, and made him, for a time, unjust to others. It alienated him from his family and friends, blasted his prospects in life, and distempered all his views and opinions. It is probable that, had he lived to a riper age, he might have modified some of those extreme speculative and pernicious tenets, and we have no doubt that he would have risen into a purer atmosphere of poetical imagination. The troubled and stormy dawn was fast yielding to the calm noonday brightness. He had worn out some of his fierce antipathies and morbid affections; a happy domestic circle was gathered around him; and the refined simplicity of his tastes and habits, joined to wider and juster views of human life, would imperceptibly have given a new tone to his thoughts and studies. He had a high idea of the art to which he devoted
'Poetry,' he says in one of his essays, 'is the record of the best and happiest moments of the hap: piest and best minds. We are aware of evanescent visitations of thought and feeling, sometimes associated with place or person, sometimes regarding our own mind alone, and always arising unforeseen and departing unbidden, but elevating and delightful beyond all expression; so that, even in the desire and the regret they leave, there cannot but be pleasure, participating as it does in the nature of its object. It is, as it were, the interpenetration of a diviner nature through our own; but its footsteps are like those of a wind over the sea, which the morning calm erases, and whose traces remain only, as on the wrinkled sand which paves it. These and corresponding conditions of being are experienced principally by those of the most delicate sensibility and the most enlarged imagination; and the state of mind produced by them is at war with every base desire. The enthusiasm of virtue, love, patriotism, and friendship, is essentially linked with such emotions; and whilst they last, self appears as what it is, an atom to a universe. Poets are not only subject to these experiences as spirits of the most refined organisation, but they can colour all that they combine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world; a word, a trait in the representation of a scene or passion, will touch the enchanted chord, and reanimate, in those who have ever experienced those emotions, the sleeping, the cold, the buried image of
the past. Poetry thus makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world; it arrests the vanishing apparitions which haunt the interlunations of life, and veiling them, or in language or in form, sends them forth among mankind, bearing sweet news of kindred joy to those with whom their sisters abide-abide, because there is no portal of expression from the caverns of the spirit which they inhabit into the universe of things. Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man.' The remote abstract character of Shelley's poetry, and its general want of anything real or tangible, by which the sympathies of the heart are awakened, must always prevent its becoming popular. His mystic idealism renders him obscure, and his imagery is sometimes accumulated, till both precision and effect are lost, and the poet becomes harsh and involved in expression. He sought to reason high in verse-not like Dryden, Pope, or Johnson, but in cold and glittering metaphysics, where the idealism of Berkeley stood in the place of the moral truths and passions of actual life. There is no melancholy grandeur in his pictures, or simple unity in his designs. Another fault is his partiality for painting ghastly and repulsive scenes. He had, however, many great and shining qualities—a rich and fertile imagination, a passionate love of nature, and a diction singularly classical and imposing in sound and structure. The descriptive passages in 'Alastor,' and the river-voyage at the conclusion of the Revolt of Islam,' are among the most finished of his productions. His morbid ghastliness is there laid aside, and his better genius leads him to the pure waters and the depth of forest shades, which none of his contemporaries knew better how to describe. Some of the minor poems are also imbued with a true poetical spirit, and speak the genuine feelings of nature. One striking peculiarity of his style is his constant personification of inanimate objects. In the 'Cenci' we have a strong and almost terrible illustration of this original feature of his poetry :I remember, Two miles on this side of the fort, the road Crosses a deep ravine; 'tis rough and narrow, And winds with short turns down the precipice; Which has from unimaginable years And in its depth there is a mighty rock Sustained itself with terror and with toil Over a gulf, and with the agony With which it clings, seems slowly coming down; Even as a wretched soul, hour after hour, Clings to the mass of life, yet clinging, leans, And leaning, makes more dark the dread abyss In which it fears to fall-beneath this crag, Huge as despair, as if in weariness, The melancholy mountain yawns; below You hear, but see not, an impetuous torrent Raging among the caverns, and a bridge Crosses the chasm; and high above there grow, With intersecting trunks, from crag to crag, Cedars and yews, and pines, whose tangled hait Is matted in one solid roof of shade By the dark ivy's twine. At noonday here 'Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest night. The Flight of the Hours in 'Promethus' is equally vivid, and touched with a higher grace
Behold! The rocks are cloven, and through the purple night I see cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds, Which trample the dim winds: in each there stands A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight. Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there, And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars: Others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and drink
Hath then the gloomy Power, Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres, Seized on her sinless soul?
Must then that peerless form
As breathing marble, perish?
Leave nothing of this heavenly sight
Spare nothing but a gloomy theme
On which the lightest heart might moralise?
Which the breath of roseate morning
Chaseth into darkness?
Will Ianthe wake again,
And give that faithful bosom joy
Her dewy eyes are closed,
And on their lids, whose texture fine
Hark! whence that rushing sound? 'Tis like the wondrous strain That round a lonely ruin swells, Which, wandering on the echoing shore, The enthusiast hears at evening: 'Tis softer than the west wind's sigh; "Tis wilder than the unmeasured notes Of that strange lyre whose strings The genii of the breezes sweep:
Those lines of rainbow light Are like the moonbeams when they fall Through some cathedral window, but the teints Are such as may not find Comparison on earth.
Behold the chariot of the fairy queen! Celestial coursers paw the unyielding air; Their filmy pennons at her word they furl, And stop obedient to the reins of light:
These the queen of spells drew in; She spread a charm around the spot, And leaning graceful from the ethereal car, Long did she gaze, and silently,
Upon the slumbering maid.
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves, remains; And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile, Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
When the morning star shines dead.
Which an earthquake rocks and swings, An eagle alit, one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings;
And when sunset may breathe from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of heaven above,
With wings folded I rest on mine airy nest, As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent, Till the calm river, lakes, and seas,
*The odes to the Skylark and the Cloud, in the opinion of many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his productions. They were written as his mind prompted, listening to the carolling of the bird aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or marking the cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated in his boat on the Thames. No poet was ever warmed by a more genuine and unforced inspiration. His extreme sensibility gave the intensity of passion to his intellectual pursuits, and rendered his mind keenly alive to every perception of outward objects, as well as to his internal sensations. Such a gift is, among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the disappointments we meet, and the galling sense of our own mistakes and errors, fraught with pain; to escape from such he delivered up his soul to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself from the influence of human sympathies in the wildest regions of fancy.'-Mrs Shelley, Pref. to Poet. Works.