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charm of bewildering sweetness before the force of this temptation. which is an enchantment beyond Young Shelley contradicted all his reason, an irresistable magic and own hot convictions to save the spell.
girl who trusted him, from the conBut these are not discussions sequences of her own rashness, into which it is here necessary to sacrificing himself and his interests enter. It is the story of Shelley's by the way. life rather than of his poetry which The second chapter of the tale Professor Dowden tells us, and he —the flight with Mary and abantells it like the romance it is. A donment of poor Harriet, though tale so full of tragic incident, so the passion in it has thrown glasadly complete and incomplete, so mour in the eyes of the world, overflowing with all the contradic- is a very different matter. Here tions of humanity, is seldom put again, so far as regards the facts before the world. Professor Dow- of the elopement, there is little den has had access to all the col- new to tell; but the life which lections, both of the poet's family followed, the joint narrative of and other authorities: and we may the little party of three who esconclude that we have here the caped together from all the bonds last word on the subject; but and prejudices of life, with its there is new revelation in piteous youthfulness, reading like respect to the largely discussed the story of some new hapless Babes events of Shelley's life. The in the Wood, or rather in the Wild, two marriages, if we may use the desert of this world—most inthe word, which followed each appropriate of all shelters for their other with so short an interval, in infinite helplessness, waywardness, no way change their aspect from and inexperience – is curiously what he tells us, except that it touching, and would disarm the becomes more evident than before severest moralist. Nothing could be that on Shelley's side there was more ruinous than what they were nothing that could be called love, doing to every law and instinct of no passion such as one feels to be orilerly life: yet the wild infantile necessary to justify such a step, expedition, with all its raptures and in the mad recklessness of the adventures, its settlements that poet's marriage at nineteen. That are to be for ever, and last a day, Shelley's motive was entirely chiv- its sudden resolves and re-resolves, alrous and noble, if overwhelm- has a sort of perverted innocence ingly foolish, there can be no fur- in it which confuses the judgment. ther doubt. The girl to whom he That wonderful flight and return, had been teaching the finest of and the few months that followed sentiments, when she confessed in London, when Shelley roamed her love to him (as well as that about from money-lender to moneytyranny of home which she was lender, endeavouring to raise the determined to resist, a determina- wind, and hide from his creditors, tion which enlisted his warmest coming home by stealth on the sympathies), made no stipulations, sacred Sunday mornings, when he but threw herself upon his protec- was safe: supremely miserable tion with a folly, but at the same and supremely happy – without time with a trust, which the youth, a penny, yet ready to take any notwithstanding his theories, could other adventurer he came across on not take advantage of. All hon- his shoulders,—are all new to us, our to Shelley ! Many a man and full of interest, and pathos, without theories would have fallen and amusement. Were it not for the unhappy shadow of Harriet arose from a second desertion by behind, the story of this young some one else, "upon whose gratipair playing at life, talking so tude she had a claim," is skilfully splendidly, suffering and enjoying disposed, in the haze which surso passionately, with such reck- rounds her miserable end, to withless innocence and ignorance in all draw our thoughts from the possitheir ways, would be as pretty and bility that both misery and death amusing a picture (with all its were to be attributed to Shelley. despairs and destitutions) as could In this Professor Dowden follows be found in literature. And such several of his predecessors in the is the extraordinary absence of all Shelley story, and there may or perception of wrong in the high- may not be truth in the suggestion. minded young culprits that the But justice requires a more even moralist, as we have said, finds balance than is here attempted. himself altogether out of place Her husband had seen her after his between them. The same thing return with Mary. He had suggestmay be said of both Shelley's be- ed, in his inconceivable way, that ginnings: it is a pair of children they should all live together. He playing at matrimony, playing at had borrowed money even, as it is existence, with a proud sense that asserted, from his forsaken wife. they are not as others, and pleas- That he should have lost sight of her ure in defying the world, who are altogether, meant of course that he set before us. The tale in both also must have lost sight of the two cases is equally astounding, amus- children who were in her hands, and ing, pathetic. Poor children of about whom, so far as can be seen, heaven astray, playing such pranks he never asked a question untii as make the angels weep, bewil- the moment when they were torn dered in the midst of an alien from his arms (according to the universe, "moving about in worlds cant of the biographers) by the not realised.” The double tale is Court of Chancery. Surely it at once piteous and laughable, with would be worth while to ascertain differences which make it more what really was this poor young comic in one case, more sad in the woman's life up to the moment other. We know nothing like it when she plunged into the dark either in fiction or life.
and dreary Serpentine and made Professor Dowden has treated an end of it. Hogg's scornful banhis subject with sufficient justice ter of the young wife who rejected and sincerity so far as Shelley him- his own evil overtures, the always self is concerned. He has nothing blooming, smiling, imperturbable extenuate, nor set down aught in Harriet, with her passion for readmalice," but this is not always the ing aloud, and her equable voice, case in respect to the other per- really affords an extremely sonages of the tale. Thus we feel clever, distinct, and humerous that Harriet's life, after the separ- sketch of character, though he ation—which we must still, not. did not so intend it; a character withstanding Professor Dowden's not at all in keeping with the objections, call her desertion by suggestion of dull dissipation and Shelley—is left in a midst of un- despair which is hazarded but favourable inference, which is very never proved against this poor injurious to that unfortunate girl. victim—the victim of high-flown A supposition, or suggestion, that sentiment and false imperfectly she fell into evil ways, and that understood theory, as well as of the despair which caused her death Shelley. Such a discrepancy, if
nothing else, should secure a little of those who can feel for and unmore attention to her sad fate. derstand me. Whether from prox
And this all the more that Mary imity and the continuity of domesfor whom she was deserted— Mary, tic intercourse, Mary does not. It the object of the poet's impassioned is the curse of Tantalus that a love, the heroine of that strange person possessing such excellent idyl of wandering romance which powers and so pure a mind as hers occupied his happiest years—Mary, should not excite the sympathy too, ceased to be the ideal com- indispensable to their application panion whom his heart required, to dometic life.” Strange and and was, before many years had tragical commentary upon the impassed, found as incapable of giving passioned beginning of this life of the sympathy that was necessary disappointment and dissatisfacto him, and responding in all things tion! They had broken all laws to his capricious appeals, as Har- and cut all ties of nature to form riet had been. Her own expres- the bond which already strained sions in her journal appear to im- the nerves and tried the hearts of ply that the heaven of happiness both. Alas for Love if this were in which they began was very soon all its meaning! Professor Dowoverclouded. The two following den gives a
little explanatory extracts from her diary will show defence of both, which is curisomething of the under-current of ous as the plea of a generous Mary's thoughts; the first is writ- partisan who cannot escape from ten in the midst of deep grief for the necessities of the proverb, the loss of her children, and yet and instinctively accuses in exwould seem to imply something gising. more than bereavement :
His love for Mary had become a August 4, Leghorn.-I begin my
more substantial portion of his being journal on Shelley's birthday. We than the love of these early days of have now lived five years together; poverty in London,when he addressed and if all the events of the five years
to her his little morning and evening were blotted out I might be happy;
letters of rapturous devotion. He but to have won, and thus cruelly to
constituted himself, as far as might have lost, the associations of four be, the guardian of her tranquility : years, is not an accident to which the made less extravagant demands, dealt human mind can bend without much prudently with her peace of mind; suffering.
acknowledged the bounds of life. In " Saturday, August, 4.
Shelley's this there was loss and there was birthday. Seven years are now gone.
gain; upon the whole it was a serviceWhat changes! What a life! We able education for Shelley's symnow appear tranquil-yet who knows pathies bringing them close to realwhat wind—but I will not prognosti- ity and helping to mature his mind. cate evil: we have had enough of it. Mary's moods of dejection, the disWhen Shelley came to Italy I said,
turbance of serenity, in one whose All is well if it were permanent; it
nature was deep and strong, caused was more passing than an Italian him disturbance and pain, from which twilight. I now say the same. May
he instinctively sought protection. it be a Polar day. Yet that day too
He was at times tempted to elude has an end."
difficulties, rather than with courage
to meet and vanquish them. For his ! These are sad utterances for the own sake perhaps unwisely, and for woman beloved, and evidently
hers, he avoided topics which could mean much more than they say.
couse her agitation, or bring to the
surface any imperfections of sympathy About the same time Shelley writes that existed between them. : It to the Gisbornes : “ I feel the want is true, indeed, that such a spirit as
Shelley's can find no absolute content win household, with its extraorin mortal thing, or man or woman. dinary group of young, ardent, One who is in love with beauty, finds and undisciplined girls, was inevery incarnation of beauty unsatisfy
deed as congenial as anything ing: one who is in love with love, thirsts after he has drunk the fullest earthly could be to the Elfin and purest draught. Some of us, Knight.
But by what strange Shelley wrote in October 1821, have magic that Will-o'-the-wisp should in a prior existence been in love with have drawn to himself and found an Antigone, and that makes us find pleasure in the witty and cynical no full content in any mortal tie,'"
Hogg, and the strange humourist
Peacock, is as inexplicable as any In short, it was scarcely worth other wonder of Shelley's life. while to have gone through that Byron was more natural and dream of passion and rapture—to fitting mate for his brother poet; have driven poor Harriet adrift on but the story of their intercourse those wild waters in which she is one of the darkest and most sank; Harriet, after all, would painful here recorded. There seems have done as well as Mary to fill no reason to connect Shelly with that always unsatisfying place, and the beginning of the shameful tale afford an excuse for the wayward of cruelty and falsehood, of which and capricious poet to snatch a the little Allegra is the innocent draught at every fountain
he heroine, and her mother the vicpassed.
tim; nor does he play in it any Of the extraordinary and in- but an honourable part, except in volved relations which made Shel- condoning by his friendship, or ley always the dominant figure in pretence at friendship, the hearta trio, with both wife and sister less baseness of the noble poet, always at his heels—and of his whose conduct, so far as we friends, so strangely chosen, and of aware, has never before been set all the odd unrealities of his life- 'in so scathing a light. the reader will find Professor Dow- There is little criticism, as den's book an admirable and in- have said, in this book; and not teresting record. Merely as a much even of that story of poetic dramatic study of character, it development, or of the growth of is well worthy attention. The Shelley's wonderful music of exstrange, wild, 'impetuous being— pression, which we might have full of unreason, yet now and then looked for. We will only pause turning a sudden unexpected side to note, as a writer seated in of good-sense and judgment to the this chamber of associations and light--full of the most elfish freaks memories is bound to do, that to and fancies, the most sudden and the little group of friends upon complete changes : yet faithful to the Italian coast, whose hearts his friends (who were men and not had been lacerated by a furious women) with a faithfulness which onslaught in the Quarterly'was unaffected by the misbeha- not only upon the
« Revolt of viour of the object of his regard : Islam," but upon the poet—there and with all the instincts of a man came balm from the kind hand born to wealth and lavish expendi- of him who then was paramount ture subsisting through the hard- in this centre of literature. "In est struggles of actual poverty, - January 1819 appeared a notice of is as unusual in his nature as in the · Revolt of Islam' from Wilhis genius.
Nor are his friends son's pen, which had been justly less worthy attention. The God- described as by far the worthiest
recognition that Shelley's genius tory before he was born.
But received in his lifetime." The perhaps no one of his contemporgenerous enthusiasm of the great aries—which is saying a good deal critic of · Blackwood' was not -has so entire a right to the recontent with one full measure of spect and admiration of his counapplause, but returned again and trymen. Lord Shaftesbury
or, again to subsequent poems, and to use the name under which did not hesitate to transfix with he won his principal triumphs, an indignant arrow his brother in Lord Ashley, may justly be called the Quarterly.' “If that critic one of the greatest philanthropists does not know that Mr Shelley is of his time. If there have been a poet almost in the very highest others whose charity has been more sense of that mysterious word,” personal, and whose praise is sweeter said our Professor, with all the au- in the common ear, there is none thority and certainty of kindred who has worked with such magnigenius," then we appeal to all ficient effect for the advantage of those whom we have enabled to thousands who never could know judge for themselves, if he be not his name or understand their obunfit to speak of poetry before the ligations to him, or who has so people of England." Such was the much influenced his country and verdict which those pages carried his kind. A serious, somewhat to the world more than sixty years downcast youth, bred in an unago; and no man will dare to deny congenial home, somewhat cold its justice now.
in temper, somewhat estranged in From poetry to the Ten Hours opinion from the majority of his Bill is a long leap, and not less class and companions, and setting wonderful is the step from Shel- out upon life with not less but ley's wild life of ill-regulated senti- more necessity of doing the best ment and wayward fancy, to that he could for himself because of of the staid and serious man, a his rank and pretentions, he was sage from his cradle, whose life suddenly seized upon in the beginwas given up to philanthropical ning of his career by one of those exertions, and who, after the strait- great impulses which shape the est sect of that religion, lived and lives of men and of nations. He died an evangelical Low Church- had fulfilled all the duties of man. The biography of Lord youth with the conscientious and Shaftesbury, however, addresses unswerving propriety which itself to a still larger class than are apt to think uninteresting, that which is interested in Shel- and had entered modestly and reley, and, take it all in all, contains spectably into official life, prepared the record of as worthy a life, to follow his party so far as his full of public virtue and domestic conscience, ever wakeful and just, excellence, as ever served for an permitted—when this impulse sudexample to generations to come. denly seized upon him. He was Proud may the family be which not an impulsive man, but a delibcan point to such a name as that erate one, thinking much, full of of the seventh Shaftesbury among scruples, taking up nothing rashly; its many records. Statesmen it has and much of the comfort of life known before him, and its name depended on him on being able to had found a place in English his- maintain his standing in politics
i The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury. By Edwin Hodder. Cassel & Co., London, Paris, New York, and Melbourne.