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A ghastly life without a sound; His servant-maids and dogs grew dull;
. To Peter's soul the spell is boundHis kitten late a sportive elf,
How should it ever pass away?
NOTE ON PETER BELL THE All grew dull as Peter's self.
THIRD, BY MRS. SHELLEY
In this new edition I have added Peter XIX
Bell the Third. A critique on Words The earth under his feet-the springs. worth's Peter Bell reached us at Leghorn. Which lived within it a quick lise,
which amused Shelley exceedingly, and The air, the winds of many wings,
suggested this poem. That fan it with new murmurings,
I need scarcely observe that nothing
personal to the author of Peter Bell is Were dead to their harmonious strise.
intended in this poem. No man ere
admired Wordsworth's poetry more:-he XX
read it perpetually, and taught others to The birds and beasts within the wood, appreciate its beauties. This poem is,
The insects, and each creeping thing, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. Were now a silent multitude;
He conceived the idealism of a poet-a Love's work was left unwrought - no
man of lofty and creative genius-quitting
the glorious calling of discovering and brood
announcing the beautiful and good, to Near Peter's house took wing:
support and propagate ignorant prejudices
and pernicious errors; imparting to the XXI
unenlightened, not that ardour for truth And every neighbouring cottager and spirit of toleration which Shelley
Stupidly yawned upon the other: looked on as the sources of the moral imNo jack-ass brayed ; no little cur
provement and happiness of mankind, but Cocked up his ears;--no man would
false and injurious opinions, that evil was
good, and that ignorance and force were stir
the best allies of purity and virtue. His To save a dying mother.
idea was that a man gifted, even as trans.
cendently as the author of Peter Bell, with XXII
the highest qualities of genius, must, it Yet all from that charmed district went he fostered such errors, be infected with
But some half-idiot and half-knave, dulness. This poem was written as a Who rather than pay any rent,
warning---not as a narration of the reality. Would live with marvellous content,
He was unacquainted personally with Over his father's grave.
Wordsworth, or with Coleridge (to whom he alludes in the fifth part of the poem).
and therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely XXIII
ideal; --it contains something of criticism No bailiff dared within that space, on the compositions of those great poets,
For fear of the dull charm, to enter; but nothing injurious to the men themA man would bear upon his face, selves. For fifteen months in any case,
No poem contains more of Shelley's The yawn of such a venture.
peculiar views with regard to the errors
into which many of the wisest have fallen, XXIV
and the pernicious effects of certain
opinions on society. Much of it is beau. Seven miles above-below --around.- tifully written: and, though, like the bur
This pest of dulness holds its sway; lesque drama of Swellfoot, it must be
looked on as a plaything, it has so much To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic, merit and poetry—so much of himself in it Or those in philanthropic council met,
- that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and who thought to pay some interest for by right belongs to the world for whose
the debt instruction and benefit it was written.
They owed to Jesus Christ for their
By giving a faint foretaste of damnation LETTER TO MARIA
To Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and GISBORNE
the rest LEGHORN, July 1, 1820.
Who made our land an island of the The spider spreads her webs, whether When
When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes she be
her fire In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree;
tee: On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with The silk-worm in the dark green mul
Empire :berry leaves
With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth His winding sheet and cradle ever
and spike and jag, weaves;
| Which fishers found under the utmost So I, a thing whom moralists call worm,
crag Sit spinning still round this decaying form, of cornu
of Cornwall and the storm-encompassed From the fine threads of rare and subtle
isles, thoughtNo net of words in garish colours
Where to the sky the rude sea rarely
Unless in treacherous wrath, as on the To catch the idle buzzers of the day
morn But a soft cell, where when that fades
When the exulting elements in scorn away,
| Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay Memory may clothe in wings my living Sleeping
Sleeping in beauty on their mangled name And feed it with the asphodels of fame, | As panthers sleep;—and other strange
prey, Which in those hearts which must | and dread remember me
Magical forms the brick floor overGrow, making love an immortality.
spread, Whoever should behold me now, I Proteus transformed to metal did not
make Would think I were a mighty mechanist, More figures, or more strange; nor did Bent with sublime Archimedean art
he take To breathe a soul into the iron heart | Such shapes of unintelligible brass, Of some machine portentous, or strange Or heap himself in such a horrid mass gin,
Of tin and iron not to be understood ; Which by the force of figured spelis And forms of unimaginable wood, might win
To puzzle Tubal Cain and all his Its way over the sea, and sport therein ; brood : For round the walls are hung dread Great screws, and cones, and wheels, engines, such
and grooved blocks, As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to The elements of what will stand the clutch
shocks Ixion or the Titan :-or the quick Of wave and wind and time.—Upon Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic, , the table
More knacks and quips there be than I With ink in it;-a china cup that wa am able
What it will never be again, I think, To catalogise in this verse of mine :- A thing from which sweet lips we A pretty bowl of wood---not full of wine,
wont to drink But quicksilver; that dew which the The liquor doctors rail at—and whic! gnomes drink
| Will quaff in spite of them-and wil When at their subterranean toil they we die swink,
We'll toss up who died first of drinki Pledging the demons of the earthquake, tea, who
And cry out,- heads or tails? wherd Reply to them in lava-cry halloo!
we be. And call out to the cities o'er their Near that a dusty paint box, some o head,
hooks, Roofs, towers, and shrines, the dying A half-burnt match, an ivory blod and the dead,
three books, Crash through the chinks of earth—and Where conic sections, spherics, log then all quaff
ithms, Another rouse, and hold their sides and To great Laplace, from Saunderson a laugh.
Sims, This quicksilver no gnome has drunk- Lie heaped in their harmonious disan within
| Or figures, -disentangle them who m: The walnut bowl it lies, veined and thin, Baron de Tott's Memoirs beside them 1 In colour like the wake of light that And some odd volumes of old chemist stains
Near those a most inexplicable thing, The Tuscan deep, when from the moist With lead in the middle- I'm conject moon rains
ing The inmost shower of its white fire- | How to make Ilenry understand; the breeze
noIs still--blue heaven smiles over the I'll leave, as Spenser says, with ma pale seas.
mo, And in this bowl of quicksilver-for I This secret in the pregnant womb ostin Yield to the impulse of an infancy Too vast a matter for so weak a rhyn Outlasting manhood - I have made to float
And here like some weird Archim A rude idealism of a paper boat:
sit I, A hollow screw with cogs-llenry will Plotting dark spells, and devil know
enginery, The thing I mean and laugh at me, --if so The self-impelling steam-wheels of I lle fears not I should do more mischief. ---Next
| Which pump up oaths from clergymd Lie bills and calculations much perplext, and grind With steam - boats, frigates, and | The gentle spirit of our meek reviews machinery quaint
Into a powdery foam of salt abuse, Traced over them in blue and yellow Ruslling the ocean of their self-content; paint.
I sit-and smile or sigh as is my bent Then comes a range of mathematical | | But not for them--Libeccio rushes roul Instruments, for plans nautical and With an inconstant and an idle sound statical;
I hced him more than them-0 A heap of rosin, a queer broken glass
Is gathering on the mountains, like a We watched the ocean and the sky cloak
together, Folded athwart their shoulders broad Under the roof of blue Italian weather ; and bare;
| How I ran home through last year's The ripe corn under the undulating air
thunder-storm, Undulates like an ocean ;-and the vines And felt the transverse lightning linger Are trembling wide in all their trellised
Upon my cheek -- and how we often The murmur of the awakening sea doth made fill
| Feasts for each other, where good will The empty pauses of the blast ;-the outweighed hill
The frugal luxury of our country cheer, Looks hoary through the white electric | As well it might, were it less firm and rain,
clear And from the glens beyond, in sullen Than ours must ever be;—and how we strain,
spun The interrupted thunder howls; above A shroud of talk to hide us from the sun One chasm of heaven smiles, like the Of this familiar life, which seems to be eye of Love
But is not,-or is but quaint mockery On the unquiet world; — while such Of all we would believe, and sadly blame things are,
The jarring and inexplicable frame How could one worth your friendship of this wrong world :—and then anatoheed the war
mise Of worms? the shriek of the world's | The purposes and thoughts of men carrion jays,
whose eyes Their censure, or their wonder, or their Were closed in distant years ;-or widely praise ?
The issue of the earth's great business, You are not here! the quaint witch When we shall be as we no longer are-Memory sees
Like babbling gossips safe, who hear In vacant chairs, your absent images,
the war And points where once you sat, and now Of winds, and sigh, but tremble not;should be
or how But are not.--I demand if ever we You listened to some interrupted flow Shall meet as then we met;—and she Of visionary rhyme,-in joy and pain replies,
Struck from the inmost fountains of my Veiling in awe her second-sighted eyes;
brain, “I know the past alone--but summon with little skill perhaps ;-or how we
sought My sister Hope,-she speaks of all to Those deepest wells of passion or of come.”
thought But I, an old diviner, who knew well Wrought by wise poets in the waste of Every false verse of that sweet oracle,
years, Turned to the sad enchantress once again, Staining their sacred waters with our And sought a respite from my gentle tears; pain,
Quenching a thirst ever to be renewed ! In citing every passage o'er and o'er Or how I, wisest lady! then indued or our communion--how on the sea. The language of a land which now is
And winged with thoughts of truth and Flags wearily through darkness and majesty,
despairFlits round the tyrant's sceptre like a A cloud-encircled meteor of the air, cloud,
A hooded eagle among blinking owls.And bursts the peopled prisons, and you will see Hunt-one of those happy cries aloud,
souls “My name is Legion !"—that majestic Which are the salt of the earth, and tongue
without whom Which Calderon over the desert flung | This world would smell like what it is Of ages and of nations; and which found
-a tomb; An echo in our hearts, and with the Who is, what others seem; his room sound
no doubt Startled oblivion; — thou wert then to Is still adorned by many a cast from me
Shout, As is a nurse—when inarticulately With graceful flowers tastefully placed A child would talk as its grown parents about; do.
And coronals of bay from ribbons hung, If living winds the rapid clouds pursue, And brighter wreaths in neat disorder If hawks chase doves through the flung ; ethereal way,
The gifts of the most learn'd among Huntsmen the innocent deer, and beasts some dozens their prey,
of female friends, sisters-in-law, and Why should not we rouse with the
cousins. spirit's blast
And there is he with his eternal puns, Out of the forest of the pathless past which beat the dullest brain for smiles, These recollected pleasures ?
You are now Thundering for money at a poet's door; In London, that great sea, whose ebb Alas! it is no use to say, “ I'm poor!” and flow
Or oft in graver mood, when he will At once is deaf and loud, and on the look shore
| Things wiser than were ever read in Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on
book, for more.
Except in Shakespeare's wisest tenderYet in its depth what treasures! You
ness. — will see
You will see Hogg,—and I cannot exThat which was Godwin,-greater none press than he
His virtues,—though I know that they Though fallen-and fallen on evil times
are great, - to stand
Because he locks, then barricades the Among the spirits of our age and land,
gate Before the dread tribunal of to come Within which they inhabit ;-of his wit The foremost, — while Rebuke cowers And wisdom, you'll cry out when you pale and dumb.
are bit. You will see Coleridge-he who sits He is a pearl within an oyster shell, obscure
One of the richest of the deep;-and In the exceeding lustre, and the pure
there Intense irradiation of a mind,
| Is English Peacock with his mountain Which, with its own internal lightning fair blind,
| Turned into a Flamingo ;-that shy bird