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Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or taught
I cared to learn, but from that sacred store
Wrought linked armour for my soul, before

It might walk forth to war among mankind.* Many a so-called saint, under the influence of a misanthropical bigotry, aggravated by unsocial wanderings in “ deserts drear, and shaggy caves forlorn,” has devoted himself to a monastic cell, or hermit's lonely den, that so he might obtain, by the sacrifice of a few years' ' pleasure, canonisation in this world, and an eternity of enjoyment in the next. In other words, he has attempted to cajole the Deity into a most exorbitant compact, founded on an intense selfishness, and an utter disregard for the interests of the whole human race, except those of the individual usurer. Contrast, with this picture, the noble-hearted schoolboy, letting fall his tears upon the sunny grass of May, and swearing upon that altar to be just, and free, and mild, and to devote his whole soul, with a magnanimous chivalry, to the defence of the weak and the oppressed, against the tyrannous and the strong :-remember that this was not a momentary ebullition, or transient consecration of his

powers, but that, through a life of struggle and persecution, he performed his self-sacrificing mission with the persevering courage of a hero; and then pronounce which made the holier vow; which best deserves the reverence and admiration of mankind.

A child-man rather than a man-child, young Shelley fed too intensely upon his own lofty thoughts, to mix much in the recreations of his companions at the first school to which he was sent, or even to exhibit any indication of the marvellous genius which he subsequently displayed. What Wordsworth says of Milton might already be applied to him

His soul was as a star, and dwelt apart. At the age of thirteen he was removed to Eton, where his initiation was signalised by an incident that rendered still more eminent the precocious grandeur of his character. If any remaining relic of cruelty and demoralisation be more atrocious than another, it is the system of fagging, still preserved in our public schools ; a practice which reconciles the junior to an abject slavishness at one period, in order that he may take a future revenge by inflicting upon another the tyranny to which he himself had been subjected. These are strong, but not inapplicable terms, for all boys are cruel, from innate wantonness of power, from mutual encouragement in despotism, from irresponsibility, from want of reflection. A school in which this Helotism prevails, has all the vices of a slave colony, aggravated by the reckless inhumanity of youth ; a state so diametrically opposed to Shelley's notions of right and wrong, that, in obedience to his vow, he instantly proclaimed his determination never to become a fag. This was, indeed, to deny Diana at Ephesus. The young revolutionist had rebelled against one of the time-honoured institutions of our ancestors ; he had made personal enemies of several hundred boys—for every actual as well as prospective Nero, considered his vested rights to be endangered-and he had even offended the

The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Moxon, 1840. This, the only complete edition of his poems, is rendered profoundly interesting by the copious biographical and critical notes of Mrs. Shelley.

masters, who were staunch advocates (proh pudor!) for the maintenance of this cruel and corrupting system.

What a scene is here presented to us ! On one side a fair, slight, blue-eyed stripling, of thirteen, in delicate health, for he was already threatened with pulmonary complaint; on the other the scowling masters and hundreds of infuriated boys, menacing him with every torment that their malice could invent, if he still clung to his audacious resolve. But he had already “wrought linked armour for his soul,” and he remained indomitable, although the contest must have inflicted many a pang upon his all-loving heart. Vainly might we ransack history for an instance of similar fortitude and magnanimity in one so young. True, there have been juvenile martyrs ; but what is the momentary pang of a death martyrdom, compared to that which is unflinchingly endured, every day and all day long, for a series of years ?

This revolting cruelty roused instead of taming his spirit; and as he denied the duty of obedience when enforced by menaces and punishment instead of reason and argument, we need little marvel that frequent breaches of school discipline occasioned him to be removed in October, 1810, to University College, Oxford. Before this period, however, and when he was only fifteen years


he is stated to have written two novels, “ Justrozzi," and the “Rosicrucian,” which were severely reprobated by the reviewers for their new and objectionable views of morality, with what justice I cannot say, as I never saw either of these works. At Eton he devoted himself to the pursuit of chemistry, but, as usual with him, his zeal outstripped his discretion, for upon one occasion he was nearly blown up by an accidental explosion; and upon another, he unconsciously swallowed some mineral poison, which increased the natural weakness of his constitution.

For the full particulars of his college life, the reader is referred to a series of papers, admirably written by his friend and brother-collegian, Captain Medwin, which first appeared in the pages of this magazine.* At the end of his second term, in 1811, he published an irreligious pamphlet, and completed his folly by circulating copies among the bench of bishops. The result was a summons, on the 25th of March, before the heads of the college. The master produced a copy of the syllabus, and asked if Shelley was the author of it

, in a rude, abrupt, and insolent tone. Shelley complained much of his violent and ungentlemanlike deportment, saying, “ I have experienced tyranny and inji

injustice before, and I well know what vulgar insolence is, but I never met with such unworthy treatment. I am determined not to answer any questions respecting the publication on the table.” He immediately repeated his demand ; I persisted in my refusal; and he said furiously, “ Then you are expelled ; and I desire that you will quit the college early to-morrow morning at the latest.”+ The manner of its execution may

have been harsh, but the sentence itself, provoked by such a rash and wanton outrage, might well have been anticipated.

His father, irritated by the disgrace his son had incurred, refused, for some weeks after his expulsion, to receive him within his doors ; and when, at last, he gained admission, the coolness of his reception deter

* Vols. xxxiv. and xxxv.

† History of Sussex, vol. ii., p. 270. Oct.-VOL. LXXXI, NO. CCCXXII,



mined him to quit his home privately and repair to London. “ Can this be wondered at ?" asks Mrs. Shelley. “At the age of seventeen, fragile in health and frame, of the purest habits in morals, full of devoted generosity and universal kindness, glowing with ardour to attain wisdom, resolved, at every personal sacrifice, to do right, burning with a desire for affection and sympathy, he was treated as a reprobate, cast forth as a criminal. The cause was that he was sincere ; that he believed the opinions which he entertained to be true ; and he loved truth with a martyr's love."

Respecting his first adventures in London, the most painful statements are current. Pride and a sense of injury preventing him from making any applications to his family, his pecuniary means quickly became exhausted, and he sought employment from the booksellers, forlornly wandering up and down Paternoster-row, and offering to translate from any of the various languages of which he was master. After having visited Ireland, he returned, at the end of 1812, to England, and devoting himself to poetry, composed, at the age of eighteen, his crude and most intemperate poem of “Queen Mab, never publishing it, however, but distributing copies among his friends. Lord Byron, in his notes on “ The Two Foscari," thus alludes to it.

“ I showed it to Mr. Sotheby, as a poem of great power and imagination. No one knows better than the author, that his opinions and mine differ very materially upon the metaphysical portion of that work ; though, in common with all who are not blinded by baseness and bigotry, I might admire the poetry of that and his other productions.” Some years afterwards a bookseller in the Strand surreptitiously published an edition of “Queen Mab,” which untoward occurrence being immediately communicated to Shelley, then in Italy, by the writer of these notices, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Examiner, from which the following are extracts ;-"I have not seen this production for several years ; I doubt not but that it is perfectly worthless in point of literary composition ; and that in all that concerns moral and political speculation, as well as in the subtler discriminations of metaphysical and religious doctrine, it is still more crude and immature. I am a devoted enemy to religious, political, and domestic oppression ; and I regret this publication, not so much from literary vanity, as because I fear it is better fitted to injure than to serve the sacred cause of freedom. I have directed my solicitor to apply to Chancery for an injunction to restrain the sale."

“ Whilst I exonerate myself from all share in having divulged opinions hostile to existing sanctions, under the form, whatever it may be, which they assume in this poem, it is scarcely necessary for me to protest against the system of inculcating the truth of Christianity or the excellence of monarchy, however true, or however excellent they may be, by such equivocal arguments as confiscation and imprisonment, and invective and slander, and the insolent violation of the most sacred ties of nature and society.” In the

year 1816, at the house of our mutual friend Leigh Hunt, then residing at Hampstead, I made my first personal acquaintance with this remarkable man. Punishments disproportionately severe always excite sympathy for their victim, rather than condemnation of his offence. In

• Poetical Works, p. 36.

the midst of all the reckless enthusiasm that prompted Shelley, like a moral Quixote, to run atilt at whatever he considered an abuse, I felt convinced that his aims were pure and lofty, that he was solely animated by an impassioned philanthropy, in the prosecution of which he was ready to sacrifice his life; and such being his motives, I thought it most cruel and unjust that he should be proscribed as a reprobate, and be made the butt of the most malignant invectives. Having long compassionated him as a grievously over-punished man, and having recently read his poems with a profound admiration of his genius, I had looked forward to our first meeting with no common interest. He was not in the cottage when I arrived, but I was introduced to another young poet of no common talent-Keats, who was destined, alas! ere many years had flown, to meet the same premature death, and to lie in the same cemetery, with Shelley, beneath the ruined walls of Rome. Keats has been described by Coleridge in his “Table Talk," as “a loose, slack, not well-dressed youth ;" and to an observant eye his looks and his attenuated frame already foreshadowed the consumption that had marked him for its prey.

His manner was shy, and embarrassed, as of one unused to society, and he spoke little.

In a short time Shelley was announced, and I beheld a fair, freckled, blue-eyed, light-haired, delicate-looking person, whose countenance was serious and thoughtful ; whose stature would have been rather tall had he carried himself upright; whose earnest voice, though never loud, was somewhat unmusical. Manifest as it was that his pre-occupied mind had no thought to spare for the modish adjustment of his fashionably-made clothes, it was impossible to doubt, even for a moment, that you were gazing upon a gentleman; a first impression which subsequent observation never failed to confirm, even in the most exalted acceptation of the term, as indicating one that is gentle, generous, accomplished, brave. “Never did a more finished gentleman than Shelley step across a drawingroom,” was the remark of Lord Byron ; and Captain Medwin, writing after several years' acquaintance with Shelley and an extensive intercourse with the polite world, thus expresses a similar opinion—"I can affirm that Shelley was almost the only example I have yet found that was never wanting, even to the most minute particular, in the infinite and various observances of pure, entire, and perfect gentility.”

Two or three more friends presently arriving, the discourse, under the inspiration of our facetious host, assumed a playful and bantering character, which Shelley by his smiles appeared to enjoy, but in which he took no part, and I then surmised, as I found afterwards, that it might be said of him, as of Demosthenes,—“ Non displicuisse illi jocos, sed non contigisse.Young as he was, a mind so deeply impressed with the sense of his own wrongs, and sobered by his solemn vow to redress, if possible, the wrongs of his fellow-creatures, was naturally more disposed to seriousness than to levity. The weather being fine, the whole party sallied forth to stroll upon the Heath, where I attached myself to Shelley, and gradually drawing him apart, enjoyed with him a long and uninterrupted conversation. Well may I say enjoyed, for to talk with a man of extensive reading and undoubted genius, who felt such a devout reverence for what he believed to be the truth, and was so fearless in its assertion that he laid his whole many-thoughted mind bare before you, was indeed a treat to one whose chief social intercourse had been with minds all stamped in the same established educational mould, or conforming to it with that plastic conventional hypocrisy which the worldly-wise find so exceedingly convenient. My companion, who, as he became interested in his subjects, talked much and eagerly, seemed to me a psychological curiosity infinitely more curious than Coleridge's Kubla Khan, to which strange vision he made reference. His principal discourse, however, was of Plato, for whose character, writings, and philosophy he expressed an unbounded admiration, * dwelling much on the similarity of portions of his doctrines to those of the New Testament, and on the singular accordance between the scriptural narrative of the birth of Christ and the miraculous nativity attributed to Plato, 420 years before our era.

On my confessing that I could not manage so subtle a thinker in the original Greek, but that I possessed Dacier's translation, Shelley replied, " Then you have seen him by moonlight, instead of in the sunshine ; the closeness of his logic, and the splendour of his diction, cannot be transferred into another language."

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CONSUMMATUM est! The Italians have achieved a great victory. They have conquered their princes. It is a victory, in sooth, neither very difficult nor unprecedented. Naples and Turin equally dictated the law to their sovereigns in 1820. Princes were equally at a discount in central Italy in 1831. Twice and thrice did the day of freedom dawn upon Italy. Revolutions in that country were sudden, unanimous, bloodless. But as invariably, also, short-lived and unavailing. In every instance Austria stepped forward to the rescue. The fugitive princes came back at the head of thousands of Austrian bayonets. Italy, it was very evident, had only one ruler, only one enemy.

Little did it avail to turn against those sceptered lieutenants of an ever-present, though invisible, power. Their native princes were only the lash that smote them. Their wrath should be turned against the hand that wielded it. With all the diadems glittering on their brow, the Italian kings and dukes were only the first slaves in the land: fellow-subjects, fellow-sufferers—perhaps unwilling slaves, chafing and fretting in the secret of their heart, longing for freedom. They must

, they may, be won over to the common cause. Perhaps they wish for nothing better than a little urging on the part of their subjects. They wish it to appear as if concessions were wrung from their hands. They fear to commit themselves by too ready a compliance with popular views.

For the last fifteen years the Italians have acted in pursuance of this one principle. They have taken pity on their princes, encouraged, re

* In Shelley's “ Essays and Letters from Abroad” will be found translations of Plato's “Banquet”-of his “ Ion,” as well as some fragments from “The Republic,” all evincing his perfect mastery of both the Greek and English languages.

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