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Early in our acquaintance,” says Hogg [i.e., in 1811 or 1812), “the good Harriett asked me “What do you think of suicide?' She often discoursed of her purpose of killing herself, some day or other, and at great length, in a calm resolute manner. She told me that at school, where she was very unhappy, as she said, (but I could never discover why she was so, for she was treated with much kindness, and exceedingly well instructed) she had conceived and contrived sundry attempts and purposes of destroying herself. . . . She got up in the night, she said, sometimes, with a fixed intention of making away with herself. ... She spoke of self-murder serenely before strangers; and at a dinner party I have heard her describe her feelings, opinions, and intentions, with respect to suicide, with prolix earnestness. ... The poor girl's monomania of self-destruction (which we long looked upon as a vain fancy, a baseless delusion, an inconsequent hallucination of the mind) amused us occasion. ally for some years; eventually it proved a sad reality, and drew forth many bitter tears.” Again, about the middle of 1813, we find :-“She had not renounced her eternal purpose of suicide ; and she still discoursed of some scheme of self-destruction as coolly as another lady would arrange a visit to an exhibition or a theatre." All this requires to be well pondered, as raising a strong presumption that Harriett was a person likely enough to commit suicide, even without being urged thereto by any great degree of unhappiness, or other forcible motive. At the same time, it is true that there may be a deal of talk about selfdestruction, with very little intention of it; and Harriett may have caught the trick of such talk from Shelley himself-who (as Mr. Hogg says) “ frequently discoursed poetically, pathetically, and with fervid melancholy fancies, of suicide ; but I do not believe that he ever contemplated seriously and practically the perpetration of the crime.”* This last conclusion of Hogg's, however, will be considerably modified in the minds of readers of Trelawny, who find that Shelley wrote on 18th June 1822, asking that devoted friend to procure him, if possible, a small quantity of the strongest prussic acid. “ You remember we talked of it the other night, and we both expressed a wish to possess it : my wish was serious, and sprung from the desire of avoiding needless suffering. I need not tell you I have no intention of suicide at present; but I confess it would be a comfort to me to hold in my possession that golden key to the chamber of perpetual rest."

* Mr. Furnivall, son of the surgeon at Egham who attended the second Mrs. Shelley in her confinement in 1817, and in whom (as Mr. Peacock reports) the poet had great confidence, tells me an amusing anecdote bearing on this point. The surgeon, after attending a post mortem examination, arrived at Shelley's house, and there found Leigh Hnnt. The two friends, especially Hunt, were talking rather big about the expediency and attractions of suicide, when Mr. Furnivall proffered his case of surgical instruments for immediate use-but without result.

Shelley, on receiving the news of his wife's suicide, hurried up to London; and now began his more special intimacy with Leigh Hunt and his family. All authorities agree in testifying to the painful severity with which the poet felt the shock, and the permanence of the impression. Leigh Hunt says that Shelley never forgot it; it tore him to pieces for a time, and he felt remorse at having brought Harriett, in the first instance, into an atmosphere of thought and life for which her strength of mind had not qualified her. Thornton Hunt speaks in the same strain : “I am well aware that he had suffered severely, and that he continued to be haunted by certain recollections, partly rcal and partly imaginative, which pursued him like an Orestes.” Medwin says that the sorrow ever after threw a cloud over Shelley : indeed he goes so far as to speak of its having brought on temporary derangement—which may probably be true in only a limited sense. Peacock says that “Harriett's untimely fate occasioned him deep agony of mind, which he felt the more because for a long time he kept the feeling to himself.” Mr. Trelawny tells me that even at the late period when he knew Shelley-1822—the impression of extreme pain which the end of Harriett had caused to the poet was still vividly present and operative. Mr. Garnett adverts to a series of letters, not yet given to the world, written by Shelley about the middle of December, and therefore under the immediate pressure of his misfortune, which “afford the most unequivocal testimony of the grief and horror occasioned by the tragical incident. Yet self-reproach formed no element of his sorrow, in the midst of which he could proudly say


(mentioning two dry unbiased men of business) ' every one does me full justice, bears testimony to the uprightness and liberality of my conduct to her.'” Mr. Garnett, indeed, concludes that, if Shelley, soon after the suicide of Harriett, appeared calm and unmoved to Peacock (as that writer affirms), this was presumably a symptom of his want of full expansive confidence in Peacock, rather than of his actual self-possession. I think, however, that such an argument may be pushed too far. The feelings of a strong but variously impressible character like Shelley's under such a conjuncture of circumstances are of a very mixed description : what is called “sentiment” does not cover the whole area. “Sentimentalism” is of course a very different thing from sentiment: but I may here take occasion to quote the noticeable statement of De Quincey, in allusion to a description he had heard of Shelley's personal appearance :—“ This gave to the chance observer an impression that he was tainted, even in his external deportment, by some excess of sickly sentimentalism; from which I believe that in all stages of his life he was remarkably free.” For my part I can imagine that he was not only, in a certain way, calm enough at times immediately after Harriett's death, whether to the eyes of Peacock or of other friends, but even that he could (as I am assured * he did some few months later) apply to her the emphatic term “a frantic idiot.” He must no doubt have regarded her later career as one marked by great want of self-respect, and may have both felt and expressed himself strongly now and again, without derogating from the substantial rectitude and tenderness of his nature-qualities disputable only by creatures of the type of those Quarterly Reviewers who, at the same time that they represented Shelley's life as a compound of “low pride, cold selfishness, and unmanly cruelty,” discerned also that “ the predominating characteristic of his poetry was its frequent and total want of meaning," and that the Prometheus was “in sober sadness drivelling prose run mad,” and “looked upon the question of Mr. Shelley's poetical merits as at an end.”+ And so indeed it was after the spawning of that opprobrium of the British and modern Muse, the Prometheus Unbound. “ These be thy gods, O Israel !”

* By Mr. Furnivall, who heard it repeatedly from his father.

+ These expressions are accurately quoted from the Quarterly Review of April 1819 and October 1821 ; critiques of Laon and Cythna, the Revolt of Islam, and Rosalind and Helen, in the former article, and of Prometheus Unbound in the latter.

Even these phrases fall short of what we find in the Literary. Gazette of 1820, critiques of The Cenci and Prometheus. The Conci, we are told, is the most abominable work of the time, and seems to be the production of some fiend: the reviewer hopes never again to see a book “so stamped with pollution, impiousness, and infamy:" Prometheus is "little else but absolute raving: and, were we not assured to the contrary, we should take it for granted that the author was lunatic, as his principles are ludicrously wicked, and his poetry a mélange of nonsense, cockneyism, poverty, and pedantry.” Further on we find the critic speak of "the stupid trash of this delirious dreamer," and "this tissue of insufferable buffoonery."

XV.—MARRIAGE AND MARRIED LIFE WITH MARY. On the 30th of December 1816 Shelley married his dearlyloved Mary. It has been said that Byron persuaded him to take this step ; that Godwin made it an express condition of his continuing further intercourse with Shelley : and again that one reason which influenced the latter was that he thought he should thus be more secure of getting and retaining the custody of his children by his former marriage. The first statement does not seem very likely : the third, if true, would indicate that litigation for the custody of the children was already begun or clearly in prospect, as otherwise it can hardly be supposed that the idea of so exceptional a legal process would have occurred to the father. The second reason assigned, which concerns Godwin, may probably be true, as far as it goes; though he and Shelley had not all this while remained wholly estranged-some communication between them having recommenced as early at least as November 1815. But we shall probably come much nearer to the truth if we infer that Shelley and Mary, while perfectly at one in regarding mutual love, and not any religious or social formality, as the truly sacred and valid marital tie, recognized also that it was for the practical advantage of themselves and their offspring to place their affection under the same sanction as that of other people ; and, if so, the supposition of any extraneous pressure upon them becomes a futility.

They soon afterwards entered upon their residence at Marlow, Miss Clairmont and her brother Charles, with the infant Allegra, being along with them. Mr Peacock was close by, and they saw something also of their next neighbour Mr Maddocks (not the landlord and friend of the Tanyrallt days): of other mere neighbours they knew little or nothing. “I am not wretch enough to tolerate an acquaintance," was Shelley's phrase. The house was a large one, situated away from the river, with extensive gardens and numerous rooms, well furnished by Shelley, and taken on a lease for twenty-one years. It is still standing, but partly converted into a beershop. Shelley lived here like a country gentleman on a small scale, and probably (considering the lavish generosity he was continually exercising in other ways) beyond his means, though he was not either wasteful or unreckoning : friends were continually with him, and he almost kept open house. There were three servants, if not a fourth

assistant; including a Swiss nursemaid for the infant William, named Elise. Shelley kept a well-sized boat for either sailing or rowing, but no horse or carriage. The boat had been named by him the Vaga, and so lettered : some humourist added the final syllable bond. It is said that he would frequently go to the woods of Bisham at midnight, and repeat his old process of conjuring the devil—who never came : but it seems more probable that he laughed bores to scorn by saying he had done this in his nocturnal rambles than that he really did it. His daily routine of life at Marlow has been thus sketched by Leigh Hunt in a passage frequently quoted. “He rose early in the morning; walked and read before breakfast ; took that meal sparingly; wrote and studied the greater part of the morning ; walked and read again ; dined on vegetables (for he took neither mcat nor wine); conversed with his friends, to whom his house was ever open; again walked out; and usually finished with reading to his wife till ten o'clock, when he went to bed. This was his daily existence. His book was generally Plato or Homer, or one of the Greek tragedians, or the Bible, in which last he took a great (though peculiar) and often admiring interest."

."* Shelley's charity at Marlow (as it had before been at Tanyrallt) was exemplary. He had a list of weekly pensioners, and exerted himself in all sorts of ways, equally with purse and person, to relieve the distress of the lacemakers and others in his neighbourhood. In attending some of the poor in their cottages, reckless of infection, he caught a bad attack of ophthalmia. This not only troubled him at the time; but he had a relapse of the malady at the end of the same year, 1817, severe enough to prevent his reading, and again as late as January 1821.

About March 1817, at Hunt's house in Hampstead, Shelley met Keats, and also the brothers James and Horatio Smith, wealthy city men, and authors of the Rejected Addresses and various other witty writings. He became intimate with Horatio, whom he esteemed very highly, and who, when Shelley was at a later date in Italy, transacted many money-matters for him, whether of business or liberality. “ Keats did not take to Shelley as kindly as Shelley did to him : being a little too sensitive

* Mr. Trelawny tells me that such was Shelley's interest in the Bible-the Old Testament in especial--that he said on one occasion that, if he could save only one book from a general catastrophe of letters, he would select the Bible. What he particularly valued was its historic and poetic antiquity.

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