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and no one has set eyes on it since. One can but speculate on the question whether Shelley was himself in fault in this matter, or whether he had been duped by his coadjutor. There was certainly some tendency to secretiveness in his early literary attempts; and it may be doubted whether the Etonian scatterbrain would have seen much harm in appropriating stanzas or whole compositions from Lewis if they fell in with his notionsor indeed whether he had ever perceived or pondered the meaning of the word copyright. Stockdale, at any rate, does not seem to have considered himself aggrieved by Shelley, as he soon after undertook the publishing of St Irvyne; in fact, after some serious rows during their business connexion, and in the face of an unpaid bill, he continued enthusiastic as to the young author's character and honour,
V.-SHELLEY AT OXFORD. Meagre indeed must be our account of Shelley at Oxford in comparison with the inimitable treasury of anecdote which Mr. Hogg wrote under the same title, and finally incorporated in his Life of Shelley.*
Towards the middle or end of October 1810 Shelley went to University College, Oxford, where his father also had been cducated; and he at once became acquainted, at the College dinner-table, with Mr. Thomas Jefferson Hogg, a fellow-student in the same College, and of much the same age. This gentleman belonged to a family of high tories living at Norton near Stockton-on-Tees, and was destined for the conveyancing branch of law, having besides the prospect of a competent fortune. We can trace in his book the character of a robust bon vivant and man of society, with a great contempt for bores and crotchet-mongers of all sorts, and a generally sardonic or cynical turn, the antipodes of anything “gushing" or any revolutionary idealism, tempered however by a deep respect for the forms and monuments of intellect consecrated by experience. That an acute mind of this calibre should at once have accepted
* The aroma of personal knowledge and affection, along with the keen zest of a racontour who enjoys every oddity, and reinforces it in the telling, impart a peculiar charm to those Oxford reminiscences-and indeed, spite of its many flaws and perversities, to the whole Life, the suppression of whose concluding portion defrauds the admirers of Shelley of their just perquisites. That the conclusion exists in MS. has been affirmed to me as a known fact. The worst flaw of all is that letters of Shelley given in Hogg's Life are garbled and misdated.
Even apart from special information, one can discern that they are jumbled together without any care or guidance to the reader.
Shelley as a beautiful soul and heaven-born genius, and should have been inspired with a warm enthusiasm for him, such as neither radical divergences of view, nor early and final separation, nor subsequent long lapse of time, could avail to bedim, speaks as strongly as anything for the poet's intellectual and personal fascination. It is difficult to say why the author of Zastrossi should have been a considerable figure in the eyes of a young Oxford tory of a literary turn, or rather it can only be accounted for on the ground of his admirable qualities, ascertained by immediate experience : such at any rate he was, and the event proved how thoroughly well Mr. Hogg had succeeded in reading between the lines.
Shelley, now growing up towards man's estate, was strong, active, and tall (nearly 5 feet 11), though slight, narrow-chested, and with a kind of stoop :* his bones, joints, and extremities, were large ; his complexion red and white, but easily tanned and freckled by exposure ; his features small, not regular save the mouth, and in some sort feminine-but with a certain seraphic look, and infinite play of expression. The side-face was not strong, and the nose very slightly turned up.t His head was quite uncommonly small, covered with abundant wavy hair, dark brown and of a wild growth ; his eyes were prominent, very open and fixed, hardly ever so much as winking, and very near-sighted. I He looked "preternaturally intelligent," or (as Lieutenant Williams said at a later date) “ of most astonishing genius."Ş His gestures were abrupt, yet often graceful; his clothes good but carelessly worn. He was a finished gentleman, and, as Mr. Hogg emphatically puts it, "a ladies' man ”--the elect of dames and damsels. And certainly Shelley repaid this preference without stint; for nothing
*"Less a stoop," says Mr. Thornton Hunt, “than a peculiar mode of holding the head and shoulders; the face thrown a little forward, and the shoulders slightly elevated."
Ir. Peacock Fraser's Magazine, 1860, P. 103 points out that, in this respect, the ordinary portraits are not correct. A head of the painter Antonio Leisman, in the l'hizi Gallery at Florence, reminds him of Shelley. This is a dark-complexioned face, disking out, with a vivid and rather startled look, from under a broad-leaved hat. Mr. Trelawny Recollections, p. viii.) considers that the portrait of which he gives a lithograph and this edition an engraving), and which was painted by Clint from a water-colour by Lieutenant Williams now lost, is the only likeness of any decided value. According to Mr. Thornton Hunt, the portraits are particularly imperfect; and the ordinarily received miniature resembles Shelley about as much as a lady in a book of fashions resembles real women." This gentleman says, however, that the features in the miniature are not unlike,
1 Medwin says this last, and I suppose truly ; Trelawny does not now remember it. $Trelawny, Recollections, p. 12.
is more manifest throughout his life and writings than the intense love he entertained for the feminine nature in its ideal, and in many approximate realizations of that ideal, and the delight with which he hailed any symptoms of superiority of intellect or fauclty in women. I think he stands next to Shakspeare among great poets in love of the female character. His voice was peculiar, and Mr. Hogg found it at first “excruciating ;” Mr. Peacock, “discordant ;" Captain Medwin, “a cracked soprano ;” Mr. Thornton Hunt, “a high natural counter-tenor, comparable to the Lancashire tone of speech. Its unpleasant quality, however, is ignored altogether by some authorities : and others, while admitting it, say that, although disagreeable when the poet was excited, the voice was of varied modulation, and, in reading poetry, not only good but wonderfully effective. His dominant passion at this time was argument, and his favourite recreation a country ramble. He was also now and henceforward an insatiable reader, occupying himself with books sometimes as much as sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, and under all circumstances of locality or environment. His diet was of the simplest, tending already strongly towards vegetarianism, which in the sequel (from the beginning of March 1812) he adopted absolutely, and persevered in for long periods of time together, though not without breaks now and then. Bread was his staple food ; with water and tea to drink, and occasionally wine—but he could scarcely be reckoned among wine-drinkers at all, and sometimes totally rejected that beverage, and spirits (it may be said) invariably.
Omitting a host of other details (without which, however, no true picture can be given of Shelley in his supreme capacities, varied traits, and numerous peculiarities), a few words must here be said regarding his health. He considered himself a permanent and grievous invalid, of a consumptive habit, and afflicted by nervous and spasmodic attacks; he said also that he had ruined his health at Eton by swallowing in a fit of amorous dejection * arsenic or some mineral poison. Another account (which I find in no Shelleyan writer save Mr. Thornton Hunt t) is that “Shelley himself ascribed the injury from which he suffered to a pressure of the assassin's knee upon him in the struggle " which he had had to wage with a mysterious assailant at Tanyrallt in 1813, and of which more anon. At one time, towards the end of that same year, Shelley had a fancy, no doubt a baseless one, that he was about to be visited with elephantiasis. Hogg, in his caustic way, makes light of all these statements and alarms; but it is, I think, only too abundantly clear from the evidence that such of them as related to facts, not inferences, to an actual and not a prospective state of body, were perfectly true. Mrs. Shelley speaks of her husband as a martyr to ill health all his life, and suffering constant pain ; and other eye-witnesses testify to spasms which made him roll on the ground in agony, though without losing his gentleness of temper, which induced a deleterious use of opium (especially towards 1812), and which continually threatened to end fatally. Medwin, who thinks the disease must eventually have thus ended, speaks of it as nephritis, and of lithotomy as a dangerous remedy that might have been, but never was, tried ; Trelawny regards “occasional spasms” as the only complaint, but without discussing their origin or extenuating their severity, and he intimates that the poet's long fasts brought on the attacks. The usual remedies adopted on the exigency of the moment were cold water and friction with the hand. Nothing is clearer from Shelley's own correspondence than that he was often tantalized by intervals of what he considered improved health, and perpetually thrown back again, and that he “suffered much of many physicians.” Hogg, who was only in the way of seeing Shelley in his very early manhood, may not unnaturally have thought his complaints of ill health belied by the buoyant energies and activities of youth ; but we shall surely have a very false conception of Shelley's life, in its course from week to week and from year to year, if we believe that Hogg came to a right conclusion, and that the poet, spite of his own repeated assertions, and those of persons who were constantly about him, lived in a condition of moderate physical comfort, instead of ever-recurring and often poignant suffering. The shadow of death was upon him oftener than once or twice, and the blight of pain, even when it dispersed, was ever in prospect. Mr. Trelawny, however, informs me that Shelley's health had, within the last few months of his life, during which he was less solitary than for some years preceding, improved so conspicuously that there was a good prospect of his living to an advanced age. The physician Vaccà, whom he consulted on the subject after the poet's death, did not confirm the notion that the malady was of a nephritic character.
* Hogg gives this detail in one passage (vol. 1. p. 332). Miss Shelley says that her brother used to speak of the arsenic-swallowing as an accident, and Hogg himself says the same elsewhere.
† Atlantic Monthly, p. 185.
When he first went to Oxford, Shelley's tastes were chiefly for metaphysics, poetry, and chemistry; the latter he gradually slackened in, and at last dropped, and for mathematics he never showed any aptitude, though we find that he and his second wife were proposing to engage in this study together in 1820, and perhaps did so. As regards chemistry also, his taste still so far lingered that, at the end of 1811, in Keswick, he excited remark by experiments with hydrogen in his garden. A vivid flame was seen which alarmed the villagers; and his landlord gave Shelley notice to quit. “ As his love of intellectual pursuits was vehement, and the vigour of his genius almost celestial, so were the purity and sanctity of his life most conspicuous.” This is the testimony of Mr. Hogg; and, as he and Shelley became at once, and continued during their joint residence in Oxford, inseparable companions, no better evidence on the point can be attained or desired. It is true that Mr. Hogg, reporting a conversation with Mr. Shelley senior which took place very soon after the young men had left Oxford, * sets forth that he acquiesced in the paternal suspicion that Percy must be “rather wild," and the context is such as would naturally suggest that “wild” here signifies “rakish ;" but, looking to Mr. Hogg's other statements on that subject, we must conclude that he only meant “harebrained” or “unmanageable.” Mrs. Shelley speaks of Percy in the same strain, but with much less authority, as being “ of the purest habits in morals” when he left Oxford ; and so say other biographers, expressly or tacitly. But here again Mr. Thornton Huntf is an exception. “Accident has made me aware of facts which give me to understand
* Life of Shelley, vol. i., P. 306. + This gentleman, being then a mere child, was known to Shelley in England ; and when a boy, saw him for two or three days in Italy. His reminiscences are interesting, and should be read by all Shelleyites; but of course, on such a question as Shelley's morals at Oxford, he has no personal testimony to give. The phrase which he uses, “ Accident has made me aware of facts” &c., seems to point to some real discovery: if such there be, it needed not to be bolstered up by going to the passage in Epipsychidion (vol. ii., p. 83) which begins--
“There, one whose voice was venomed melody," an interpretation in accordance with this supposed discovery. The interpretation appears to me both servilely literal and forced ; and though I have felt bound not to suppress Mr. Hunt's statement, I cannot profess to attach, as the case stands, much weight to it.