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“the impious name of king” might be stamped into the dust ; and, wherever the people rose against oppression, or to secure to themselves an ampler share of liberty and power, Shelley's prompt and ardent sympathies were with them. He looked on political freedom,” says Mrs. Shelley, “ as the direct agent to effect the happiness of mankind.” He “loved and respected the people," and he worshiped the idea of equality. Yet he was fully sensible, as several passages in his writings prove, the difficulties and dangers which would attend a sudden transfer of power to the hands of the masses, ground down by oppression, and unprepared for self-government. He especially deprecated anything like retaliation-any perpetuation of wrong and violence by the lately oppressed, uncontrolled, and in their turn oppressors. There is, indeed, in a letter of Shelley's dated ist September 1820, one ruthless passage. “At Naples the constitutional party have declared to the Austrian minister that, if the Emperor should make war on them, their first action would be to put to death all the members of the royal family-a necessary and most just measure, where the forces of the combatants, as well as the merits of their respective causes, are so unequal. That kings should be everywhere the hostages for liberty were admirable.” This, it will be observed, is advocated as a measure of self-defence, not of retaliation ; but, even in the former aspect, it is quite contrary to the permanent and true bent of Shelley's feelings, and must fairly be regarded as the expression of excitement and impassioned perturbation, not of deliberate judgment. Medwin, speaking of the last year or so of Shelley's life, goes so far as to say that the poet quoted (and the biographer evidently means that he quoted with acquiescence] the sentiment of the amiable Rousseau, that he had rather behold the then state of things than the shedding of a single drop” of blood.
I am satisfied, however, that Medwin lets down Shelley's republicanism too easy. He does indeed allow that“Shelley used to say that a republic was the best form of government, with disinterestedness, abnegation of self, and a Spartan virtue ; but to produce which required the black bread and soup of the Lacedæmonians, an equality of fortunes unattainable in the present factitious state of society, and only to be brought about by an agrarian law, and a consequent baptism of blood.” But to say that “the poet was not so great a republican at heart as Mrs. Shelley makes him out,” and “and did not love a democracy," is rash ; and “that he was in some respects as aristocratic as Byron, and was far from despising the advantages of birth and station,” may be safely pronounced incorrect inferentially, if not literally. “No one was a truer admirer of our triune constitution” is really a puerile assertion : there must be a very large number of admirers of our triune constitution-or else the latter is in a bad way-truer than the man who denounced the kingly office, and the House of Commons as it existed in his own time, and who, amid a miscellany of writings bearing on political matters, found no word of praise to indite* concerning that constitution either in its essence or in its actual development. Besides, the reader has already seen, from Shelley himself and from Hogg,t that the poet's interest in English history was extremely feeble, and that he “knew little and cared nothing" about the British constitution.
XXXIII.- MINOR WRITINGS OF SHELLEY. The most important of Shelley's compositions, whether in poetry or in prose, have already been notified in this memoir; and, as for poetry, our edition contains (practically) everything of his that can be traced out. A few particulars, however, may not be unwelcome here as to his less known writings : I shall name such only as have not been specified in the memoir, or elsewhere in this edition, and of these I shall set down all that I can find a record of.
Towards the beginning of 1809. A wild and extravagant romance about a witch, entitled The Nightmare. Shelley and Medwin, in alternate chapters, began this performance, but afterwards laid it aside for The Wandering Jew.
1810. According to Medwin, Shelley translated in this year a volume of German tales. There is strong reason, however, for believing that Shelley did not as yet read German, and that his cousin's statement is therefore delusive. At the end of the year he was projecting a novel, to be a deathblow to intolerance; apparently the same novel which we find him soon afterwards
* I know of none; but am free to confess that the pamphlet on Reform, by “The Hermit of Marlow," is unknown to me save by a few republished extracts. There was also a later and longer book on Reform written by Shelley, about the end of 1819, but never yet published—which it ought to have been ere now.
Pp. clvui., cix.
writing in conjunction with Hogg, in the form of letters. It was never completed.
1811. Shelley intended to include in the Fragments of Margaret Nicholson an apostrophe to the dagger of Brutus, and wrote it, but not in time ; its composition may perhaps belong to 1811. He began an Oxford prize poem, but left the University before it was finished. He published under the signature of “A Master of Arts of Oxford,” probably in the Morning Chronicle, a letter upholding the candidateship of Lord Grenville as Chancellor of the University. His introduction to Leigh Hunt arose from his offering to Mr. Rowland Hunter (a connexion of Mrs. Hunt), for publication, a poem which his friend speaks of as unsuited to the firm : I find no further notice of this. He translated a treatise by Buffon. An Essay on Love, a short poem which he mentions in a letter of 1812 to Godwin, may perhaps also belong to the year 1811,
1812. He wrote and printed, but did not strictly publish, an indignant letter of some length to Lord Ellenborough, the judge who had sentenced a bookseller, Mr. Eaton, for publishing the Third Part of Paine's Age of Reason: some portions of this letter are inserted into the notes to Queen Mab, and the rest is in the Shelley Memorials. He projected translating the Système de la Nature written by Baron d'Holbach, under the name of Mirabaud (whom he had also quoted in the same notes); but this idea was probably never put into execution, even by way of beginning. He compiled, and sent to Mr. Hookham, with a view to publication, a work termed Biblical Extracts : its precise quality is not revealed, but I should presume it to be a collection of passages from the Scriptures such as Shelley considered damaging to the Christian or Jewish religion, with appropriate comments.
1813. He “translated an essay or treatise of some French philosopher on the Perfectibility of the Human Species"; and the two essays of Plutarch περί της σαρκοφαγιας. .
In this year, or perhaps earlier, he commenced a sort of variation of Göthe's Werther, from which Hogg gives an extract. An accomplished Shelleyite has suggested to me that this excerpt (a letter purporting to be written to Werther by the husband of Charlotte) may be less merely Wertherian, and more directly personal to Shelley himself, than Hogg allows the reader to infer. Without adopting this view of the matter, I recognize it as admissible ; if it is correct, the fragment probably belongs to the end of 1811, or beginning of 1812.
1814. From 28th July 1814 Shelley began keeping a diary. Mr. Garnett says
it accounts for every day of his life" thenceforward ; which is only an apparent inconsistency with a statement made by Shelley himself in a letter of 26th January 1819 to Mr. Peacock, “ I keep no journal.” The reconciling explanation is that Shelley sometimes intermitted his journalizing, and then his wife kept it up.
1815. To this year we may perhaps roughly assign some of the prose compositions printed by Mrs. Shelley-On Love, On the Punishment of Death, and Speculations on Morals; the Essay on Christianity published in the Shelley Memorials; and that On the Revival of Literature, and A System of Government by Furies (a singular speculation), in the Shelley Papers. Mr. Trelawny tells me that Shelley said he had wished to write a Life of Christ, revoking the hasty after thought (expressed in a note to Queen Mab, p. 76) “ that Jesus was an ambitious man who aspired to the throne of Judea”; but he added that he found the materials too deficient for reconstructing a Life having some solidity and authority. The Essay on Christianity may derive from this project, though what remains of it is doctrinal rather than biographical.
1816. Remarks on Mandeville and Mr. Godwin.
1817. Some observations On Frankenstein. Both these two last-mentioned productions are in the Shelley Papers, and had probably not been published elsewhere, though apparently written with a defined object.
1818. A criticism of Peacock's poem of Rhododaphne—now perhaps lost. The minor translations from Plato-Ion, Menerenus, and from The Republic—and the note On a Passage in Crito, may pertain to this year.
1819. The rhapsodic fragmentary tale named The Coliseum might, from its tone, be supposed a rather youthful production ; but it cannot be that, as Mrs. Shelley says that The Assassins, written in 1814, was composed many years before.” Probably then The Coliseum was a result of Shelley's stay in Rome in 1819; as well as the brief remarks on the Laocoon, and Bacchus and Ampelus, published by Medwin. The notes on sculptures in Florence given in the Essays and Letters belong to a later date in the same year; and in November we find that Shelley had
“just finished a letter of five sheets on Carlile's affair" (Richard Carlile the publisher). The “affair” was a prosecution for selling irreligious books, and some circumstances in the way it had been got up were peculiarly open to animadversion. The letter was intended for the Examiner, but was not, I understand, actually published.
1820. In March of this year Shelley was dictating a translation of Spinoza to his wife: the Essay on Prophecy, which Mr. Middleton gives as a very early original writing of Shelley's, is in fact, so Mr. Garnett has traced out, done into English from the Tractatus Theologico-politicus,-and this may probably be what Shelley was dictating in 1820. A letter of the poet, dated 20th January 1821, says: “I was immeasurably amused by the quotation (in a paper by Archdeacon Hare) from Schlegel, about the way in which the popular faith is destroyed -first the Devil, then the Holy Ghost, then God the Father. I had written a Lucianic essay to prove the same thing.” This must be the performance which Mrs. Shelley mentions by the title of The Essay on Devils, and of which Mr. Garnett says : " This amusing fragment was prepared for publication in 1839, with the rest of Shelley's prose works, but withdrawn." Whether its date was shortly before 1821, or some considerable while before, is not specified.
XXXIV.-AUTHORITIES. A very brief reference to the principal authorities for the life of Shelley will close my notice. These I shall set forth in something like a descending scale of their practical importance for the biographer's purpose, irrespectively of their deservings in other regards.
1. The Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations, and Fragments, edited by Mrs. Shelley.
2. The notices by Mrs. Shelley in her collected edition of the Poems, included in our issue.
3. Hogg's Life of Shelley, 2 vols., reaching only to the beginning of the year 1814. Some casual remarks have already been made on this truncated book, in the course of the present memoir. With all its defects, it is simply invaluable as the authority for the early career of Shelley, as a record of his tone of mind and character from a particular point of view, and as a masterly though eccentric sample of biography,