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WHEN 'MIDST THE GAY I MEET.
WHEN 'midst the gay I meet
But when to me alone
Your secret tears you show,
Then still with bright looks bless
The snow on Jura's steep
Can smile with many a beam,
Whose touch is fire, appears,
Then still with bright looks bless
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, Bart. of Castle Goring, was born at Field Place, Sussex, on the 4th of August, 1792. He was educated at Eton, and at University College, Oxford; was twice married, and has left two children, a daughter by the first wife, and a son-who is heir to the title-by the second. His widow, the daughter of William Godwin, is well known as the author of Frankenstein, and other novels. Mr. Shelley was cut off in the flower of his years and genius, on the 8th of July, 1822; he was drowned in a storm on the Genoese coast, whither he was hastening, to his abode near the town of Lerici.
It is within the scope neither of the limits nor the object of this Wo to enter upon those controversial points, which so occupied the attention, and coloured the existence of this extraordinary man. Suffice it to say (for the man's NATURE can never be left out, where the Poet is concerned), that whether his speculations were well or ill grounded, he is acknowledged on all hands to have been sincere in his pursuit of them; and that his friends entertain the most enthusiastic regard for his memory.
Mr. Shelley was tall, and slight of figure, with a singular union of general delicacy of organization and muscular strength. His hair was brown, prematurely touched with gray; his complexion fair and glowing; his eyes gray and extremely vivid; his face small and delicately featured, especially about the lower part; and he had an expression of countenance, when he was talking in his usual earnest fashion, which has been described elsewhere, as giving you the idea of something "seraphical.”
Mr. Shelley's poetry resembles that creation, for the moral harmony of which he was so anxious. It is wonderfully flowing and energetic, round and harmonious as the orb,-no less conversant with seas and mountains, than with flowers and the minutest beauty, -and it hungers and thirsts after a certain beauty of perfection, as the orb rolls in loving attraction round the sun. He is remarkable for mixing a scholarly grandiosity of style with the most unaffected feeling and the most impulsive expression, and for being alike supernatural and human in his enthusiasm,-that is to say, he is equally fond of soaring away into the most ethereal abstractions, as if he were spirit; and of sympathizing with every-day
flesh and blood, as though he had done nothing but suffer and enjoy with the most earthbound of his fellow-creatures. Whether interrogating Nature in the icy solitudes of Chamouny, or thrilling with the lark in the sunshine, or shedding indignant tears with sorrow and poverty, or pulling flowers like a child in a field, or pitching himself back into the depths of time and space, and discoursing with the first forms and gigantic shadows of creation; he is alike in earnest, and AT HOME. His faults arise from the very excess of his sympathies with all things. He is sometimes obscure in the remoteness of his abstractions, and sometimes so impatient with the forms of error, as to seem contradictory to his own tole. rant doctrine. He not only
"Relishes all things sharply, Passion'd as we-"
He is far more passioned, and relishes them with a sharpness that makes him cry out like one constituted almost too delicately for existence. The cry is useful, because it begets attention to what might be otherwise too dully endured; but it leaves his genius with a certain charge of impatience and excess upon it, that hazards, meanwhile, that very enjoyment of the beautiful which is longed for, and which it is the more peculiar business of poetry to produce.
THE EDITOR is indebted for this Memoir of Shelley, and also for that of Keats, to the friend of both, Leigh Hunt. The dangerous tendency of Shelley's writings,—his mistakes, theoretical and practical, acknowledged in some instances by himself,-will not find from others the excuse they have found from those who had personal regard for the man, as well as admiration of the Poet. Shelley may have been, as is contended he was, SINCERE in his schemes for remodelling society; but his doctrines are not, therefore, the less pernicious. Unhappily he died before judgment had arrived to the aid of genius: it is impossible to doubt that a mind so naturally generous would have atoned for many of the errors he had assisted propagate, if he had lived be convinced of them. He publicly disavowed (in the "Examiner") the republication of "Queen Mab;" and regretted that he had written it. It was the work of a youth exasperated by scholastic injustice.
SEA-GIRT City! thou hast been
And thou soon must be his prey,
I BRING fresh showers for the thirsting flowers
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
When rock'd to rest on their mother's breast,
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under; And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
In a cavern under is fetter'd the thunder,
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile,