Imágenes de páginas



Shelley married at an early age a Miss Har- ment against it, until developed in the « Nairs, riel Westbrooke, a very beautiful girl, much viž. prostitution both legal and illegal. younger than himself, daughter of a coffeehouse- «I am a young man, not of age, and have been keeper, retired from business. By this marriage married a year to a woman younger than myself. he so irritated his father, that he was entirely Love seems inclined to stay in the prison, and abandoned by him; but the lady's father allowed my only reason for putting bim in chains, whilst them 200l. per annum, and they resided some convinced of the unholiness of the act, was a time in Edinburgh and then in Ireland. The knowledge, that in the present state of society, match was a Gretna-green one, and did not if love is not thus villainously treated, she, who turn out happily. By this connection he had is most loved, will be treated worse by a mistwo children, the youngest of whom, born in judging world. In short, seduction, which term 18,5, is since dead. Consistent with his own could have no meaning in a rational society, has views of marriage and its institution, Shelley paid now a most tremendous one; the fictitious merit his addresses to another lady, Miss Godwin, with attached to chastity has made that a forerunner whom, in July, 1814, he fled, accompanied by to the most terrible ruins, which in Malabar Miss Jane Claremont, her sister-in-law, to Uri, would be a pledge of honour and homage. If in Switzerland, from whence, after a few days' there is any enormous and desolating crime of residence, they suddenly quitted suspecting they which I should shudder to be accused, it is sewere watched by another fodger; they departed duction. I need not say how I admire « Love,» for Paris on foot, and there found that the person and little as a British public seems to appreciate to whom they had confided a large trunk of its merit, in not permitting it to emerge from a clothes, had abscouded with them: this hastened first edition, it is with satisfaction I find, that justheir return to England. A child was the fruit tice had conceded abroad what bigotry has denied of this expedition. Shortly after they again quitted at home. I shall take the liberty of sending you England and went to Geneva, Como and Venice. any little publication I may give to the world, In a few months they revisited England, and took Mrs S. joins with myself in hoping, if we come up their abode in Bath, from whence Shelley was to London this winter, we may be favoured with suddenly called by the unexpected suicide of his the personal friendship of one whose writings wife, who destroyed herself on the 10th Novem- we have learnt to esteem. ber, 1816. Her fate hung heavy on the mind of «Yours, very truly, Percy Bysshe SHELLEY. her husband, who felt deep self-reproach that he had not selected a female of a higher order of in- A circumstance arose out of his first martellect, who could appreciate better the feelings riage which attracted a good deal of notice of one constitnted as he was. Both were entitled from the public. As we have already mento compassion, and both were sufferers by this tioned, there were two children left, whoin the unfortunate alliance. Shortly after the death Lord Chancellor Eldon took away from their of his first wife, Shelley, at the solicitation of father by one of his own arbitrary decrees, beher father, married Mary Wolstonecraft God cause the religious sentiments of Shelley were win, daughter of the celebrated authoress of the avowedly heterodox. No immorality of life, no Rights of Woman; and went to reside at Great breach of parental duty was attempted to be Marlow in Buckinghamshire. That this second proved; it was sufficient that the father did not hymen was diametrically opposed to his own give credit to religion as established by act of sentiments will be apparent from the following parliament, to cause the closest ties of nature to letter, addressed to Sir James Lawrence, on the be rent asunder, and the connection of father and perusal of one of that gentleman's works :- child to be for ever broken. This despotism of

Lymouth, Barnstaple, Devon, August 17, 1812. a law-officer has since been displayed in another

« Sir, I feel peculiar satisfaction in seizing the case, where immorality of the parent was the opportunity which your politeness places in my alleged cause. Had the same law-officer, unpower, of expressing to you personally (as I may happily for England, continued to preside, no say) a high acknowleilgement of my sense of your doubt the political sentiments of ile parent would tal nts and principles, which, before I conceived by and by furnish an excuse for such a monstrous it possible that I should ever kuow you, I sincerely tyranny over the rights of nature. entertained. Your « Empire of the Nairs," which Shelley for ever songht to make mankind and I read this spring, succeeded in making me a things around him in harmony with a better perfect convert to its doctrines. I then retained state of moral existence. He was too young and no doubts of the evils of marriage; Mrs Wolstone. inexperienced when be first acted upon this craft reasons too well for that; but I had been principle too perceive the obstacles which opposed dull enough not to perceive the greatest argu- the progress of his views, arising out of the

[ocr errors]

usages and customs which rule mankind, and suspense and anguish of their friends need not be which, from the nature of things, it takes a long dwelt upon. A dreadful interval took place of time to overcome. Ardent in the pursuit of the more than a week, during which every inquiry good he sought, he was always ready to meet the and every fond hope were exhausted. At the end cousequences of his actions; and if any covdemn of that period our worst fears were confirined. them for their mistaken views, they ought to feel 1 he following narrative of the parưiculars is from that charity should forbid their arraigning mo- the pen of Mr Trelawney, a friend of Lord Bytives, when such proofs of sincerity were before ron's, who had not long been acquainted with them. The vermin who, under the specious title Mr Shelley, but entertained the deepest regard of « reviewers,» seek in England to crush every for him :bud of genius that appears out of the pale of "Mr Shelley, Mr Williams (formerly of the 8th their own party, fell mercilessly upon the works Dragroons), and one seamen, Charles Vivian, left of Shelley. The beauty and profundity which Villa Magni near Lerici, a small town situate in none but the furious zealots of a faction could the Bay of Spezia, on the 30th of June, at twelve deny- these were passed over in a sweeping tor-o'clock, and arrived the same night at Leghorn. rent of vulgar vituperation by the servile and Their boat had been built for Mr Shelley at Genoa venal Quarterly.

by a captain in the navy. It was twenty-four feet During his residence at Great Marlow, he com- long, eight in the beam, schooner-rigged, with posed his Revolt of Islam. In 1817 he left gaft topsails, etc. and drew four feet water. On England, never to retaru to it, and directed his Monday, the 8th of July, at the same

ne hour, they steps to Italy, where he resided parıly at Venice, got under weigh to return home, having on board partly at Pisa near his friend Byron, and on the a quantity' of household articles, four hundred neighbouring coast. In the month of June 1822 he dollars, a small canoe, and some books and mawas temporarily a resident in a house situated on nuscripts. At half past twelve they made all sail the Gulf of Lerici. Being much attached to sea-ex- out of the harbour with a light and favourable cursions, he kept a boat, in which he was in the breeze, steering direct for Spezia. I had likewise habit of cruising along the coast. On the 7th of weighed anchor to accompany them a few miles July, he set sail from Leghorn, where he had out in Lord Byron's schooner, the Bolivar; but been to meet Mr Leigh Hunt, who had just then there was some demur about papers from the arrived in Italy, intending to return to Lerici guard-boat; and they, fearful of losing the But he never reached that place; the boat in breeze, sailed without me. I re-anchored, and which he set sail was lost in a violent storm, and watched my frieuds, till their boat became a speck all on board perished. The following particulars on the horizon, which was growing thick and of that melancholy event are extracted from the dark, with beavy clouds moving rapidly, and gawork of Mr Leigh Hunt, entitled, « Lord Byron thering in the south-west quarter, I then retired and some of his Contemporaries.»

to the cabin, where I had not been half an hour,

before a man on deck told me a heavy squall had In June 1822, I arrived in Italy, in consequence come on. We let go another anchor. The boats of the invitation to set up a work with my friend and vessels in the roads were sçudding past us in and Lord Byron. Mr Shelley was passing the sum- all directions to get into harbour; and in a momer season at a house he had taken for that pur-ment, it blew a hard gale from the south-west, pose on the Gulf of Lerici; and on hearing of my the sea, from excessive smoothness, foaming, arrival at Leghorn, came thither, accompanied breaking, and getting up into a very heavy swell. by Mr Williams, formerly of the 8th Dragoons, The wind, having shisted, was now directly who was then on a visit to him. He came to wel- against my friends. I felt confident they would come his friend and family, and see us comfort- be obliged to bear off for Leghoru ; and being ably settled at Pisa. He accordingly went with us anxious to hear of their safety, stayed on board to that city, and after remaining in it a few days, till a late hour, but saw nothing of them. The took leave on the night of the 7th July, to return violence of the wind did not continue above an with Mr Williams to Lerici, meaning to come hour; it then gradually subsided; and at eight back to us shortly. In a day or two the voyagers o'clock, when I went on shore, it was almost a were missed. The afternoon of the 8th had been calm. It, however, blew hard at intervals during stormy, with violent squalls from the southwest. the night, with rain, and thunder and lightning. A night succeeded, broken up with that tremen- The lightning struck the mast of a vessel close to dous thunder and lightning, which appals the us, shivering it to splinters, killing two men, and stoutest seaman in the Mediterranean, dropping wounding others. From these circumstances, beits bolts in all directions more like melted brass, coming greatly alarmed for the safety of the or liquid pillars of fire, than any thing we con- voyagers, a note was despatched to Mr Shelley's ceive of lightning in our northern climate. The house at Lerici, the reply to which stated that




nothing had been heard of him and his friend, taining, by the means used to recover sunken which augmented our fears to such a degree, vessels, the place in which my friend's boat had that couriers were despatched on the whole line foundered. They bad on board the captain of a of coast from Leghorn to Nice, to ascertain if fishing-boat, who, having been overtaken in the they had put in any where, or if there had been same squall, had witnessed the sinking of the any wreck, or indication of losses by sea. I im- boat, without ( as he says ) the possibility of asmediately started for Via Reggio, having lost sisting her. After dragging the bottom, in the sight of the boat in that direction. My worst place which he indicated, for six days without fears were almost confirmed on my arrival there, finding her, 1 sent them back to Leghorn, and by news that a small canoe, two empty water went on shore. The major commanding the barrels, and a bottle, had been found on the town, with the captain of the port, accompanied shore, which things I recognised as belonging to me to the governor. He received us very courthe boat. I had still, however, warm hopes that teously, and did not object to the removal of our these articles had been thrown overboard to clear friend's remains, but to burning them, as the them from useless lumber in the storm; and it latter was not specified in the order. However, seemed a general opinion that they had missed after some little explanation, he assented, and we Leghorn, and put into Elba or Corsica, as nothing gave the necessary directions for making every more was heard for eight days. This state of preparation to commence our painful undertaksuspense becoming intolerable, I returned from ing next morning.'» Spezia to Via Reggio, where my worst fears were · It was thought that the whole of these melanconfirmed by the information that two bodies choly operations might have been performed in had been washed on shore, one on that night one day: but the calculation turned out to be er. very near the town, which, by the dress and sta- roneous. Mr Williams's remains were commenced ture, I knew to be Mr Shelley's. Mr Keats's last with. Mr Trelawney and Captain Shenley were volume of « Lamia,» « Isabella,» etc. being open at the tower by noon, with proper persons to asin the jacket pocket, confirmed it beyond a doubt. sist, and were joined shortly by Lord Byron and The body of Mr Williams was subsequently found myself. A portable furnace and a tent had been near a tower on the Tuscan shore, about four prepared. «Wood,» continues Mr Trelawney, miles from his companion. Both the bodies were « we found in abundance on the beach, old trees greatly decomposed by the sea, but identified be- and parts of wrecks. Within a few paces of the yond i doubt. The seaman, Charles Vivian, was spot where the body lay, there was a rude-built not found for nearly three weeks afterwards :- shed of straw, forming a temporary shelter for his boly was interred on the spot on which a soldiers at night, when performing the coastwave washed it, in the vicinity of Massa. patrole duty. The grave was at high-water mark,

«"After a variety of applications to the Luc- some eighteen paces from the surf, as it was then chese and Tuscan governments, and our ambas breaking, the distance about four miles and a sador at Florence, I obtained, from the kindness half from Via Reggio. The magnificent bay of and exertions of Mr Dawkins, an order to the of- Spezia is on the right of this spot, Leghorn on ficer commanding the tower of Migliarino (near the left, at equal distances of about twenty-two to which Lieutenant Williams had been cast, and miles. The headlands. projecting boldly and far buried in the sand), that the body should be at into the sea, form a deep and dangerous gulf, my disposal. I likewise obtained an order to the with a heavy swell and a strong current generally same effect to the commandant at Via Reggio, to running right into it. A vessel embayed in this deliver up the remains of Mr Shelley, it having gulf, and overtaken by one of the squalls so combeen decided by the friends of the parties that mon upon the coast of it, is almost certain to be the bodies should be reduced to ashes by fire, as wrecked. The loss of small craft is great ; and the readiest mode of conveying them to the the shallowness of the water, and breaking of the places where the deceased would have wished to surf, preventing approach to the shore, or boats repose, as well as of removing all objections re- going out to assist, the loss of lives is in proporspecting the quarantine laws, which had been tion. It was in the centre of this bay, about four urged against disinterment. Every thing or five miles at sea, in fifteen or sixteen fathom being prepared for the requisite purposes, I em- water, with a light breeze under a crowd of sail, barked on board Lord Byron's schooner with my that the boat of our friends was suddenly taken friend Captain Shenley, and sailed on the 13th clap aback by a sudden and very violent squall; of August. After a tedious passage of eleven and it is supposed that in attempting to bear up hours, we anchored off Via Reggio, and fell in ander such a press of canvas, all the sheets fast, with two small vessels, which I had hired at Leg- the hands unprepared, and only three persons on horn some days before for the purpose of ascer- board, the boat filled to leeward, and having two

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


tons of ballast, and not being decked, went down Shelley was thirty years old when he died. on the instant; not giving them a moment to pre- He was tall and slender in his figure, and stooped pare themselves by even taking off their boots, or a little in the shoulders, though perfectly wellsejzing an oar. Mr Williams was the only one made. The expression of his features was mild who conld swim, and he but indifferently. The and good. His complexion was fair, and his spot where Mr Williams's body lay was well ad- cheeks coloured. His eyes were large and lively; apted for a man of his imaginative cast of mind, and the whole turn of his face, which was small, and I wished his remains to rest undisturbed ; was graceful and full of sensibility. He was subbut it was willed otherwise. Before us was the ject to attacks of a disorder which forced him to sea, with islands ; behind us the Apennines; be- lic down (if in the open air, upon the ground) side us, a large tract of thick wood, stupted and until they were over; yet be bore them kindly twisted into fantastic shapes by the sea-breeze. - and without a

His disposition was The heat was intense, the sand being so scorched amiable, and even the word « pious» has been apas to render standing on it painful.»

plied to his conduct as regarded others, to his Mr Trelawney proceeds to describe the disin- love of nature, and to his ideas of that power terment and burning of Mr Williams's remains. which pervades all things. He was very fond of Calumny, which never shows itself grosser than music; frugal in all but his charities, often to in its charges of want of refinement, did not spare considerable self-denial, and loved to do acts of even these melancholy ceremonies. The friends generosity and kindness. He was a first-rate of the deceased, though they took no pains 10 scholar; and besides the languages of antiquity, publish the proceeding, were accused of wishing well understood the German, Italian and French to make a sensation; of doing a horrible and un- tongues. He was an excellent metaphysician, and feeling thing, etc. The truth was, that the near- was no slight adept in natural philosophy. He est connexions, both of Mr Shelley apd Mr Wil-loved to study in the open air, in the shadow of liams, wished to have their remains interred in the wood, or by the side of the water-fall. In regular places of burial; and that for this purpose short, he was a singular illustration of the force they could be removed in no other manner. Such of natural genius, bursting the bonds of birth and seing the case, it is admitted that the mourners habit, and the conventional ties of the circle in did not refuse themselves the little comfort of which he was born, and soaring bigh, under the supposing that lovers of books and antiquity, like direction of his own spirit, chartless and alone. Mr Shelley and his friend, would not have been He steered by his own ideas of justice; hence he sorry to foresee this part of their fate. Among was ever at war with things which reason and the materials for burring, as many of the grace. right had no hand in establishing, --radically fuller and more classical articles as could be pro- wrong in themselves perhaps, or to be changed cured, -- frankincense, wine, etc. -- were not for- for the better, but by usage become second naGotten.

ture to society, or at least to that far larger pro• The proceedings of the next day, with MrShel. portion of it which lives by custom alone. He ley's remains, exactly resembled those of the fore- had no value for what the mass of men estimate going, with the exception of there being two as- as desirable; a seat in the senate he declined, sistants less.

On both days, the extraordinary though he might have enriched himself by its beauty of the flame arising from the funeral pile acceptance. He seemed to commit the mistake of was noticed.

Mr Shelley's remains were taken others before him, in dreaming of the perfectito Rome, and deposited in the Protestant burial- bility of man. An anecdote is related of bim ground, near those of a child he had lost in that that, at a ball of fashion where he was a leading city, and of Mr Keats. It is the cemetery he character, and the most elegant ladies of the speaks of in the preface to his Elegy on the death crowd expected the honour of being led out by of his young friend, as calculated to « make one him, he selected a friendless girl for a partner in love with death, to thiok that one should be who was scorned by her companions, having lain buried in so sweet a place.”—The generous reader under the imputation of an unlucky mishap will be glad to hear, that the remains of Mr Shel- some time preceding. Jey were attended to their final abode by some of The books in which he commonly read were the most respectable English residents in Rome. the Greek writers; in tlie tragedians particularly, He was sure to awaken the sympathy of gallant he was deeply versed. The Bible was a work of and accomplished spirits wherever he went, alive great admiration with him, and his frequent or dead. The remains of Mr Williams were taken study: For the character of Christ and his docto England. Mr Williams was a very intelligent, trines he had great reverence, the axiom of the good-hearted man, and his death was deplored by founder of Christianity being that by which he friends worthy of him.--,

endeavoured to shape his course in despite of all

[ocr errors]

obstacles. In pecuniary matters he was liberal. upon the partial diatribes of hired pens, and the
Uncharitable indeed must that man have been splenetic out-pourings of faction. It is astonish-
who doubted the excellence of his intentions, or ing how the nation of Newton and Locke is thus
charged him with wilful error: who then shall contenied to suffer itself to be deceived and mis-
judge a being of whom this may be said, save his led by literary Machiavelism.
Creator- who that lives in the

he sees others

The following preface to the author's Posthulive, without regard to the mode being right or mous Poems contains much to interest the adwrong, shall charge him with crime, who tries mirers of his genius. The circumstarice of its being to reconcile together his life and his aspirations from the pen of Mrs Shelley will still farther reafter human perfectibility? Shelley had his faults commend it :as well as other men, but on the whole it appears a It had been my wish, on presenting the public that bis deviations from the vulgar routine form with the Posthumous Poems of Mr Shelley, to the great sum of the charges made against him. have accompanied them by a biographical notice; His religious sentiments were between him and as it appeared to me, that at this moment a parhis God.

ration of the events of my husband's life would The writings of Shelley are too deep to be po- come more gracefully from other hands than mine, pular, but there is no reader possessing taste and I applied to Mr Leigh Hunt. The distinguished judgment who will not do homage to his pen. friendship that Mr Shelley felt for him, and the He was a poet of great power, he felt intensely, enthusiastic affection with which Mr Leigh Hunt and his works every where display the ethereal clings to his friend's memory, seemed to point spirit of genius of a rare order-abstract, per- him out as the person best calculated for such an haps, but not less powerful; his is the poetry of undertaking. His absence from this country, intellect, not that of the Lakers; his theme is the which prevented our mutual explanativa, has un. high one of intellectual nature and lofty feeling, fortunately rendered my scheme abortive. I do not of waggovers or idiot children. His faults in not doubt but that, on some other occasion, he writing are obvious, but equally so are his beau- will pay this tribute to his lost friend, and sinties. He is too much of a philosopher, and dwells cerely regret that the volume which I edit has not too much upon favourite images, that draw less been honoured by its insertion. upon our sympathies than those of social life. « The comparative solitude in which Mr Shelley His language lofty, and no one knows better lived, was the occasion that he was personally how to call, arrange, and manage the syllables known to few; and his fearless enthusiasm in the of his native tongne. He thoroughly understood cause, which he considered the most sacred upon metrical composition.

earth, the improvement of the moral and physical Shelley began to publish prematurely, as we state of mankind, was the chief reason why be, have already stated, at the early age of 15 ; but like other illustrious reformers, was pursued by it was not till about the year 181 or 1812 that hatred and calumny. No man was ever more he seems first to have devoted his attention to devoted than he, to the endeavour of making those poetical composition. To enumerate his poetical around him happy; no man ever possessed friends works here would be a useless task, as they will be more unfeignedly attached to him. The ungratefound in the collection of his poems appended. ful world did not feel his loss, and the gap it His « Prometheus Uubound » is a noble work; made seemed to close as quickly over his memory his « Cenci » and « Adlonais, are his principal as the murderous sea above his living frame. works in point of meril. Love was one of his fa- Hereafter men will lament that his transcendent vourite themes, as it is with all poets, and he has powers of intellect were extinguished before they ever touched it with a master-hand. The subject had bestowed on them their choicest treasures. of the « Cenci , is badly selected, but it is pobly To his friends his loss is irremediable: the wise, written, and admirably sustained. Faults it bas, the brave, the gentle, is gone for ever! He is to but they are amply redeemned by its beauties. It them as a bright vision, whose radiant track, left is only from the false clamour raised against himn behind in the memory, is worth all the realities during his life-time, thot his poems have not been that society can afford. Before the critics contramore read. No scholar, no one having the slight- dict me, let them appeal to any one who had est pretensions to true taste in poetry can be ever known him : to see him was to love him; without them. It may be boldly prophesied that and his presence, like Ithuriel's spear, was alone they will one day be more read than they have sufficient to disclose the falsehood of the tale, ever yet been, and more understood. In no na- which his enemies whispered in the ear of the tion but England do the reading public suffer ignorant world, others to judge for them, and pin their ideas of « His life was spent in the contemplation of the defects or beauties of their national writers nature, in arduous study, or in acts of kiodness

« AnteriorContinuar »