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him, and an open voiture drawn by another mule replaced the former animal. The route disclosed much horrible devastation perpetrated by the Cossacks and other invaders upon lately reBourbonized France. The Alps came into view soon before the tourists reached Neufchâtel : “their immensity” (writes Mrs. Shelley, in her History of a Six Weeks' Tour, the authority for all these details)“ staggers the imagination, and so far surpasses all conception that it requires an effort of the understanding to believe that they indeed form a part of the earth.” A cottage by the Lake of Uri was the desired termination of the tour; but want of money now dictated a return to England, and from Brunen, a village by that lake, the travellers set their faces homewards with all dispatch. They took the Diligence par Eau along the Reuss to Loffenberg. “After having landed for refreshment in the middle of the day, we found, on our return to the boat, that our former seats were occupied. We took others; when the original possessors angrily, and almost with violence, insisted upon our leaving them. Their brutal rudeness to us, who did not understand their language, provoked Shelley to knock one of the foremost down. He did not return the blow; but continued his vociferations until the boatmen interfered, and provided us with other seats.” Shelley was a man of most eminent physical as well as moral courage ; and this small anecdote deserves to be remembered accordingly. From Loffenberg a leaky canoe took the trio on to Mumph : “ It was a sight of some dread to see our frail boat winding among the eddies of the rocks, which it was death to touch, and when the slightest inclination on one side would instantly have overset it." No doubt these experiences were utilized in Alastor. Returning by Basle, Mayence, and Cologne finding some Germans “ disgusting,” and the Rhine a “paradise”—thence to Cleves, posting on to Rotterdam, and expending their last guinea at Marsluys—the travellers landed at Gravesend, after a rough passage, on the 13th of September.
The only literary result of this tour, on the part of Shelley, was the wild unfinished tale of The Assassins, which almost looks like a grave burlesque, but was no doubt written in all seriousness. He began it at Brunen, after reading aloud, on a rude pier on the lake, the account of the siege of Jerusalem in Tacitus.
XII.—DOMESTIC LIFE WITH MARY :--ALASTOR. Soon after his return to London, and at the close of an interval of much pecuniary depression, a great improvement took place in Shelley's worldly position. His grandfather Sir Bysshe died on the 6th of January 1815 ; his father became Sir Timothy Shelley ; Percy was the next heir to the baronetcy and the entailed estate. The result was a new arrangement whereby, in consideration of his giving up some expectations, a clear annual income of £1000 a year from his father was secured to him, and he immediately set aside a portion for Harriett's use.* He had been peculiarly solitary in these last few months. The Godwins ignored him and Mary ; some of his friends of the preceding year had fallen away; and Hogg and Peacock were perhaps his only habitual companions.
In the winter which began 1815 he walked a London hospital, in order to acquire some knowledge of surgery which might enable him to be of service to the poor. It has been said, indeed, that he had now a sort of idea of studying medicine professionally ; feeling that it might be necessary for him to adopt some definite calling in life, and having more inclination for this than for any other. He had entertained the project as far back as the summer of 1811, prior to his marriage with Harriett, and had even studied medicine then for a short while under a celebrated surgeon. His own health, however, was very delicate in 1815; and in the Spring an eminent physician pronounced him to be in a rapid consumption. This passed away : his lungs suddenly righted in 1818, but the other forms of ill-health from which he suffered remained. A tour along the south coast of Devonshire, and to Clifton, was made in the summer.
He next rented a house at Bishopgate Heath, near Windsor Forest; and passed here several months of comparative health and tranquillity, spending whole days under the oaks of Windsor Great Park. At the end of August, Shelley, with Mary (always named Mrs Shelley), Peacock, and Charles Clairmont, went in a wherry towards the source of the Thames beyond Lechlade in Gloucestershire. The beautiful Lines in Lechlade Church
* Shelley was not at once placed beyond embarrassment in consequence of his grandfather's death. Mr. Locker possesses an unpublished letter from the poet, dated 14th April 1815, saying that he had "the most urgent necessity for the advance of such a sum" as £500. The statement in the text as to Harriett may be relied upon, though not derived from any printed source.
yard were the result. Another possible result, in Mr. Peacock's estimation, may have been the great taste for boating which Shelley ever afterwards retained. This, however, is one of the small points on which much difference of opinion has been expressed. An Eton schoolfellow, Mr. W. S. Halliday (quoted by Hogg), affirms that Shelley never boated at Eton; whereas Medwin says that Shelley not only spoke of boating as having been his greatest delight at Eton, but had also, within the biographer's own knowledge, shown the same taste in still earlier boyhood at the Brentford school, and Mr. Middleton speaks to the same effect as regards Eton, naming Mr. Amos as Shelley's boating companion there. Hogg says nothing about boating by his friend as coming under his own observation at Oxford or afterwards ; but relates as symptomatic a prank with washingtubs played by the poet on a rill at Bracknell. Perhaps we should conclude that Shelley did a good deal of boating in boyhood, but little afterwards until this Lechlade trip revived the fancy. Mr. Peacock thinks that the excessive hobby which Shelley had for floating paper boats may also have been derived from his example: it was not a Shelleyan habit at Oxford. It has been said that on one occasion, having no other paper at hand, he launched a £50 bank-post bill on the pond in Kensington Gardens, and, with greater good luck than he deserved, succeeded in recovering it on the opposite bank. This Hogg denies; but Medwin will have it that such an incident did really occur with a £10 note on the Serpentine. Once, when Shelley was playing with paper boats, he jestingly said that he could wish to be shipwrecked in one of them-he would like death by drowning best. It is curious to note how many times, before the final catastrophe, something occurred to associate the idea of drowning with Shelley—now merely by way of joke, now by some passage in his writings, now by calamities in his family circle, now by premonitory danger to himself. One salient instance is pointed out by Lady Shelley, from an allusion made by the poet to an article in the Quarterly Review comparing him to Pharaoh in the Red Sea. “It describes the result of my battle with their Omnipotent God; his pulling me under the sea by the hair of my head, like Pharaoh ; my ... entreating everybody to drown themselves ; pretending not to be drowned myself, when I am drowned; and lastly being drowned.”
Alastor, written in 1815 at some time after the Lechlade excursion, was published in the succeeding year in a small volume containing also the bulk of the short pieces classed in our edition as Early Poems. In Alastor we at last have the genuine, the immortal Shelley. It may indeed be said that the poem, though singularly lovely and full-charged with meaning, has a certain morbid vagueness of tone, a want of firm human body : and this is true enough. Nevertheless, Alastor is proportionately worthy of the author of Prometheus Unbound and The Cenci, the greatest Englishman of his age; which cannot fully be said even of Queen Mab, and must be peremptorily denied of any preceding attempts. It may well be supposed that the genial atmosphere of domestic love and intellectual sympathy in which Shelley was now living with Mary contributed to the kindly development of his poetic power.
XIII.-SECOND CONTINENTAL TRIP :-BYRON. At the beginning of May 1816 Shelley and Mary, with her infant son William, born on the 24th of January, and Miss Clairmont, again went abroad, reaching Paris on the 8th of the month. The practical reason for the trip was probably the obvious one-that they felt inclined for it: but Shelley somehow conceived that there was a more abstruse reason- viz., that his father and uncle (meaning, no doubt, Sir John Shelley-Sidney, pot Captain Pilfold) were laying a trap for him with the view of locking him up, and that Mr. Williams, the agent of Mr. Madocks of Tanyrallt, had come down to Bishopgate, and given him warning of this plot, which the poet believed to be only one out of many that his father had schemed for the same purpose. That Shelley made such an allegation is certain from the testimony of Mr. Peacock; and that the allegation was untrue is convincingly represented on the same testimony. How this new delusion got into Shelley's head it is difficult to conceive—the objectlessness of inventing such a tale for Mr. Peacock's sole behoof being patent, not to speak of the lofty veracity of Shelley's character in essentials. We must remember that a poet is “ of imagination all compact;" and, as no one had a better right than Shelley to the name of poet, none consequently had a readier store of imaginations which he propounded as realities. But even this was not the last mysterious transaction which beset his departing footsteps. The very night before his leaving London for the continent, a married lady of fashion, young, handsome, rich, and nobly connected, called upon him, and avowed that the author of Queen Mab, hitherto personally unknown to her, was her ideal of everything exalted in man, and that she had come to be the partner of his life. Shelley could do no other than explain that he was already provided in that line; and, with much effusion and magnanimity on both sides, they parted. But the lady followed him to the continent, and many a time watched him, herself unseen, on the Lake of Geneva. The sequel of this story belongs to a later date. Such is the narrative which Shelley, not very long before his death, detailed to Medwin and Byron, and which the former has handed down to us with no lack of embellishing touches. Byron disbelieved the story, attributing all to “an overwrought imagination”; and everybody since seems to have agreed with him-Lady Shelley, for instance, saying that no sort of confirmatory evidence appears in the family papers. Medwin, however, is a believer.
The tourists reached Sécheron, near Geneva, on the 17th of May. On the 25th Lord Byron, with his travelling physician Dr. Polidori, arrived at the same hotel; and the two parties encountered on the 27th, if not before. Byron and Shelley had not previously met : they now found themselves in daily and intimate intercourse. One of the Shelley party, however, Miss Clairmont, was already known to Byron, for she had not long before called upon him as connected with the management of Drury Lane Theatre, and had sought an engagement on the stage, which did not take effect. Byron possibly-indeed, probably-had then admired her : if not then, he did so now. The result was the birth, in the following January, of the daughter known to Byronic biographers as Allegra, or Alba.* Shelley and Mary knew nothing of this fleeting outburst of passion at the time, and were by no means pleased when its results became apparent. But they acted with perfect good feeling, and did everything for Allegra and her mother. For the latter, Byron, from first to last, did nothing; a shameful blot on his honour, unless indeed we surmise that neither Miss Clairmont nor her friends would accede to any proffer on his part.
The feelings of Shelley for Byron were at all periods of a • For some reason which I do not find explained, Mrs. Shelley applied the name Albe to Byron.