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| In the brief journal I kept in those days, I find recorded, in August 1820, Shelley “begins Swellfoot the Tyrant, suggested by the pigs at the fair of San Giuliano.” This was the period of Queen Caroline's landing in England, and the struggles made by Geo. IV. to get rid of her claims; which failing, Lord Castlereagh placed the “Green Bag” on the table of the House of Commons, demanding, in the King's name, that an inquiry should be instituted into his wife's conduct. These circumstances were the theme of all conversation among the English. We were then at the Baths of San Giuliano; a friend came to visit us on the day when a fair was held in the square, beneath our windows: Shelley read to us his Ode to Liberty; and was riotously accompanied by the grunting of a quantity of pigs brought for sale to the fair. He compared it to the “chorus of frogs” in the satiric drama of Aristophanes; and it being an hour of merriment, and one ludicrous association suggesting another, he imagined a political satirical drama on the circumstances of the day, to which the pigs would serve as chorus—and Swellfoot was begun. When finished, it was transmitted to England, printed and published anonymously ; but stifled at the very dawn of its existence by the “Society for the Suppression of Vice,” who threatened to prosecute it, if not immediately withdrawn. The friend who had taken the trouble of bringing it out, of course did not think it worth the annoyance and expense of a contest, and it was laid aside.
NOTE ON OEDIPUS TYRANNUS.
Hesitation of whether it would do honour to Shelley prevented my publishing it at first; but I cannot bring myself to keep back anything he ever wrote, for each word is fraught with the peculiar views and sentiments which he believed to be beneficial to the human race; and the bright light of poetry irradiates every thought. The world has a right to the entire compositions of such a man; for it does not live and thrive by the out-worn lesson of the dullard or the hypocrite, but by the original free thoughts of men of Genius, who aspire to pluck bright truth
“— from the pale-faced moon;
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground, And pluck up drowned— ”
truth. Even those who may dissent from his opinions will consider that he was a man of genius, and that the world will take more interest in his slightest word, than from the waters of Lethe, which are so eagerly prescribed as medicinal for all its wrongs and woes. This drama, however, must not be judged for more than was meant. It is a mere plaything of the imagination, which even may not excite smiles among many, who will not see wit in those combinations of thought which were full of the ridiculous to the author. But, like everything he wrote, it breathes that deep sympathy for the sorrows of humanity, and indignation against its oppressors, which make it worthy of his name.
PoET of Nature, thou hast wept to know
FEELINGS OF A REPUBLICAN ON THE FALL OF BONAPARTE.
I HATED thee, fallen tyrant 1 I did groan
NOTE ON THE EARLY POEMS. BY THE EDITOR.
The remainder of Shelley's Poems will be arranged in the order in which they were written. Of course, mistakes will occur in placing some of the shorter ones; for, as I have said, many of these were thrown aside, and I never saw them till I had the misery of looking over his writings, after the hand that traced them was dust; and some were in the hands of others, and I never saw them till now. The subjects of the poems are often to me an unerring guide; but on other occasions, I can only guess, by finding them in the pages of the same manuscript book that contains poems with the date of whose composition I am fully conversant. In the present arrangement all his poetical translations will be placed together at the end of the volume.
The loss of his early papers prevents my being able to give any of the poetry of his boyhood. Of the few I give as early poems, the greater part were published with “Alastor;” some of them were written previously, some at the same period. The poem beginning, “Oh, there are spirits in the air,” was addressed in idea to Coleridge, whom he never knew ; and at whose character he could only guess imperfectly, through his writings, and accounts he heard of him from some who knew him well. He regarded his change of opinions as rather an act of will than conviction, and believed that in his inner heart he would be haunted by what Shelley considered the better and holier aspirations of his youth. The summer evening that suggested to him the poem written in the churchyard of Lechdale, occurred during his
voyage up the Thames, in the autumn of 1815. He had been advised by a physician to live as much as possible in the open air ; and a fortnight of a bright warm July was spent in tracing the , Thames to its source. He never spent a season more tranquilly than the summer of 1815. He had just recovered from a severe pulmonary attack; the weather was warm and pleasant. He lived near Windsor Forest, and his life was spent under its shades, or on the water ; meditating subjects for verse. Hitherto, he had chiefly aimed at extending his political doctrines; and attempted so to do by appeals, in prose essays, to the people, exhorting them to claim their rights; but he had now begun to feel that the time for action was not ripe in England, and that the pen was the only instrument wherewith to prepare the way for better things. In the scanty journals kept during those years, I find a record of the books that Shelley read during several years. During the years of 1814 and 1815, the list is extensive. It includes in Greek ; Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus—the histories of Thucydides and Herodotus, and Diogenes Laertius. In Latin ; Petronius, Suetonius, some of the works of Cicero, a large proportion of those of Seneca and Livy. In English ; Milton's Poems, Wordsworth's Excursion, Southey's Madoc and Thalaba, Locke on the Human Understanding, Bacon's Novum Organum. In Italian, Ariosto, Tasso, and Alfieri. In French, the Rêveries d'un Solitaire of Rousseau. To these may be added
several modern books of travels. Heread few ~
THERE late was One, within whose subtle being, As light and wind within some delicate cloud That fades amid the blue noon's burning sky, Genius and death contended. None may know The sweetness of the joy which made his breath Fail, like the trances of the summer air, When, with the Lady of his love, who then First knew the unreserve of mingled being, He walked along the pathway of a field, Which to the east a hoar wood shadowed o'er, But to the west was open to the sky. There now the sun had sunk, but lines of gold Hung on the ashen clouds, and on the points Of the far level grass and nodding flowers, | And the old dandelion's hoary beard, And, mingled with the shades of twilight, lay On the brown massy woods—and in the east The broad and burning moon lingeringly rose Between the black trunks of the crowded trees, While the faint stars were gathering overhead.— “Is it not strange, Isabel,” said the youth, “I never saw the sun ? We will walk here To-morrow ; thou shalt look on it with me.” That night the youth and lady mingled lay In love and sleep—but when the morning came The lady found her lover dead and cold. Let none believe that God in mercy gave That stroke. The lady died not, nor grew wild, But year by year lived on—in truth I think Her gentleness and patience and sad smiles, And that she did not die, but lived to tend Her aged father, were a kind of madness, If madness 'tis to be unlike the world. For but to see her were to read the tale Woven by some subtlest bard, to make hard hearts Dissolve away in wisdom-working grief;Her eye-lashes were torn away with tears, Her lips and cheeks were like things dead—so pale; Her hands were thin, and through their wandering Weins And weak articulations might be seen Day's ruddy light. The tomb of thy dead self Which one vexed ghost inhabits, night and day, Is all, lost child, that now remains of thee!
“Inheritor of more than earth can give, Passionless calm and silence unreproved, Whether the dead find, oh, not sleep but rest, And are the uncomplaining things they seem, Or live, or drop in the deep sea of Love; Oh, that like thine, mine epitaph were-Peace " This was the only moan she ever made.
HYMN TO INTELLECTUAL BEAUTY.
THE awful shadow of some unseen Power
Spirit of BEAUTY, that dost consecrate
No voice from some sublimer world hath ever
Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart