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be understood that he was mostly not less mild than firm as a disputant. Trelawny, when he knew Shelley some years afterwards, perceived that nothing whatever could rouse him into an ebullition of intemperate anger : reason held her own against every impulse of passion. The writer of A Newspaper
Ēditor's Reminiscences informs us that he called one day to see Shelley at Field Place; found that he was not in; and was received by his father — at first rather gruffly, but, on explaining the orthodoxy and moral rectitude of his sentiments, with hearty good-will. The Editor next proceeded to the Swan Inn, Horsham : Shelley was there, and they had a talk together. The conversation took a discursive range over natural philosophy, politics, and social institutions. Finally, Shelley charged the evils of society upon christianity, and urged his friend to co-operate in schemes to "reform it altogether.” Opposition ensued, and roused Bysshe to indignation. “His eyes flashed fire; his words rolled forth with the impetuosity of a mountain-torrent; and even attitude aided the manifestation of passion.” At last, “Have your own way, mad fool !' exclaimed Shelley; and, taking his hat, he quitted the room.” 2
The efforts at an arrangement with his father failed. For the while, nothing could mollify the offended parent, and the poet returned to York : but towards the beginning of 1812 the allowance of £200 was renewed, accompanied by a gracious message from Mr. Shelley senior “ that his sole reason for so doing was to prevent his cheating strangers.” This meagre but convenient result closed a series of attempts at coming to terms, in the course of which Bysshe gave a noble proof of his ideal purity of principle. About the beginning of December Captain Pilfold told him of a meditated proposal, from his father and grandfather, of an immediate income for him of £2000 per annum (Shelley wrote of it as a capital fund of £120,000), on condition that he would entail the estate on his eldest son, or, in default of issue, on his younger brother John. This Shelley rejected, not only with peremptory decision, but with consuming indignation.
I See Note, P: 14.
The Newspaper Editor is exceedingly lax in some matters, and most especially in dates. He says that his first acquaintance with Shelley occurred when the latter was at Oxford," though temporarily on a visit to London. As Shelley first went to Oxford in October 1810, and was expelled on 25th March 1811, we may suppose the introduction to have taken place towards December 1810. The incident which we are now considering--the outburst of Shelley against christianity-severed" (so says the Newspaper Editor) “a friendship of three years' standing": if so, its date would be towards December 1813. But it is certain that Shelley was not at that period passing much of his time at Horsham,” within the immediate cognizance of his father. Further, the Newspaper Editor informs us that, after a lapse of seven months and more -say ten months-- from Shelley's outburst, he heard of the " elopement" (so he terms it) of Miss Hitchener with Shelley to Wales-the Editor being manifestly quite unconscious that Shelley was then already married to Harriet. Now Miss Hitchener was a visitor with the Shelleys from about July to November 1812. If we reckon ten months backwards from July 1812, we come to September (or October) 1811 ; and I am inclined to suppose that the interview with Shelley may in fact have taken place towards that time. If so, the personal acquaintance of the Editor with Shelley can have lasted barely one year, instead of three. However, I feel very uncertain as to the true date of the interview.
* The Newspaper Editor gives the conversation at some length; and says that it is reproduced “from notes which I made a few days afterwards. Six months later he received a letter from Shelley, proposing, as an experiment in unsophisticated human nature, to bring up two girls in solitude, from the age of four or five. The Editor (who remained unaware, even in 1841, that Shelley was at the time a married man) remonstrated, and the project was dropped: though why dropped by a married man, in consequence of remonstrances pertinent only as addressed to an unmarried man, is not over clear.
That he should be supposed capable of entailing all this “command over labour"
upon a possible fool or scoundrel !
Meantime, and just before his return to York, Miss Westbrook had arrived there as pre-arranged, and had taker possession of the establishment, and especially of Harriet, who had always been much under her control, and looked up to her with a long-confirmed habit of trustful and almost daughterly affection. Besides, she was wholly destitute of housewifery. Shelley found himself at once an infinitesimal quantity ; Harriet was a cipher, and Hogg a zero. Eliza Westbrook, overruling everything that everybody else wanted to do, solicitous for Harriet's hitherto unapparent nerves, dominating her by the terrible query “What would Miss Warne say?”—and brushing her own harsh but glossy black hair for hours in her bedroom-is an inimitable portrait limned by the equally skilful and ruthless hand of Mr. Hogg. That she may have meant well he allows; and more than this will not readily be conceded by the reader who regards Shelley, and his comfort and proper position in his own house, as of somewhat more consequence than the managing and fussing propensities of this mature spinster. Her undisputed function as regulator of the household expenditure appears in the small fact that, when she was soon afterwards with the Shelleys in Dublin, Eliza kept the common stock of money in a blind corner of her dress, and told it out as occasion required.
About the beginning of November, Shelley, with his wife and sister-in-law (the latter probably supplying the funds on this occasion), went off to Keswick, in the Lake-country of Cumberland : scenery and economy both attracted him thither. They
"Miss Westbrook married eventually, I am informed.
also wished to lose sight for a while of Hogg, who (as appears at length in an unpublished correspondence which has passed through my hands) had, during Shelley's recent absence from York, made advances to Harriet which she regarded, and it might seem not without some reason, as an attempt at seduction. The excerpt which Hogg gives from a writing of Shelley's, forming (according to the biographer) part of a variation of Göthe's Werther, is in fact, I am fully convinced, a portion of the severe remonstrances which the poet addressed to Hogg himself on this occasion. The Shelley party took at Keswick a small furnished house, Chesnut Cottage, at a rent of thirty shillings a week, which was afterwards reduced. The Duke of Norfolk (through whom Shelley had already tried to make terms with his father) invited all three to Greystoke, and did his best, in a kindly and handsome spirit, to promote their comfort. Southey also called upon Shelley; and they metto use the elder poet's own phrase—“upon terms, not of friendship indeed, but of mutual good-will." Southey admired Shelley's talents at this time, and believed his heart to be kind and generous. The writings of the future Laureate, as likewise of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and Landor's Gebir, were among those for which Shelley, in early youth, had a particular predilection : of the older English poetry he then knew very little. By the time of his sojourn in Cumberland, however, Shelley had come to regard Southey—not as yet Wordsworth—as guilty of tergiversation, and this feeling increased into indignant disgust, before his departure, in consequence of some fulsome adulation of George the Third which the author of Wat Tyler had just been publishing: but in personal intercourse Shelley prized him, and could even, soon after their first meeting, speak of him as “a great man.” De Quincey was another casual acquaintance at Keswick. Here the Shelleys and Miss Westbrook remained till the beginning of February 1812. Bysshe could not be long anywhere without having an adventure of some sort Accordingly, to accept his own account contained in a letter of 26th January, a robbery had just then been attempted on his person, and he was only saved from undefined ill-consequences by happening to fall within the limits of his house. The same letter mentions that he had been taking
"I have seen a letter of Shelley's, written from Keswick, inscribed outside " Single sheet, by God,” for every postman to read. He had had reason to consider himself overcharged by the post under the old regulations concerning single or double sheets.
This is exquisitely Shelleyan.
laudanum medicinally - a practice which he had then very recently begun; possibly in this instance—and not in this one alone—the laudanum and the idea of the perilous adventure may have been connected as cause and effect.
From Keswick, on the 3rd of January, Shelley began one of his wonted volunteered correspondences—this time with the eminent publicist and novelist William Godwin. Soon before leaving Eton he had read that author's Political Justice; and he looked upon the book as having exercised an important influence on his character, rousing him from merely romantic notions, and showing that he had duties to perform. Shelley was now, spite of some dissuasion from Godwin (who evidently responded to his letters in a friendly and judicious spirit, though the answers are not on record), meditating a journey to Dublin, with a view to furthering Catholic Emancipation and the Repeal of the Union; he had already prepared an address to the Irish people. He was also writing (as one of his printed letters expresses it) “ An Enquiry into the Causes of the Failure of the French Revolution to benefit Mankind.” From other sources of information I learn that this was in fact a tale or novel, by name Hubert Cauvin: he had written about two hundred pages of it by the end of January, but in all probability it was never finished One of his assertions to Godwin regarding his father is very startling. “My father . . . wished to induce me by poverty to accept of some commission in a distant regiment; and, in the interim of my absence, to prosecute the pamphlet [The Necessity of Atheism], that a process of outlawry might make the estates, on his death, devolve to my younger brother." He speaks of it as an entailed estate of £6000 per annum; of this, it seems, the fee-simple vested, upon his father's death, in Shelley, who could dispose of it by will,--and, besides the entailed estate, there was other property to a similar amount which could be cut off from Percy. From his statement above quoted, we may perhaps assume, as a fact in Shelley's career, that his father, after the Oxford esclandre, had wished him to enter the army; but for the rest Hogg's terse observation is indisputable. “It is only in a dream that the prosecution, outlawry, and devolution of the estate, could find a place. . . . It would have been too large a requisition upon the reader's credulity to ask him to credit them in the father of Zastrozzi or of St. Irvyne.” Fortunately for himself, Hogg had probably not read St. Irvyne, or he would have found that that name designates a locality, and not a man.
The Irish project, at any rate, was “not all a dream." Shelley arrived in Dublin, with Harriet and Eliza, on the 12th of February 1812, after a tedious and stormy voyage which had driven them to the North of Ireland. His address was 7 Lower Sackville Street, and afterwards 17 Grafton Street. He at once issued, with his name, his Address to the Irish People-a mean-looking pamphlet of twenty-two pages, for which, it appears, no publisher would venture to be responsible. The edition was 1500 copies. Shelley pitched his diction in a purposely low key, to suit his readers; the tone is juvenile as well as common place, but does not tend to advocating any forcible or illegal acts—on the contrary, there are the usual tritenesses about the violence which destroyed the French Revolution, and which should on no account be imitated by the Irish patriots, about a peaceful progress towards perfectibility, and the like. The pamphlet had a considerable sale, and met with some newspaper eulogy. It was Shelley's custom to throw copies from his balcony to passers-by who looked "likely” recipients, and to distribute the pamphlet in the street : on one occasion, walking out with Harriet, he popped a copy into a lady's hood, making his bride “almost die of laughing." The Address was followed by another pamphlet, of eighteen pages-Proposals for an Association of those Philanthropists who, convinced of the inadequacy of the moral and political state of Ireland to produce benefits which are nevertheless attainable, are willing to unite to accomplish its Regeneration. By Percy B. Shelly. Here again the youthful agitator thought he had guarded against the dangers and disadvantages of associations (much enforced by Godwin) by providing for the publicity of meetings, and the optional secession of members. Nothing, however, save total abandonment of the Irish scheme, could satisfy the author of Political Justice : so, about the middle of March, Shelley, who most sincerely reverenced Godwin from afar, withdrew his pamphlets, and prepared to retire from the scene and field of Hibernian politics, profoundly moved by the misery and ignorance he had witnessed in Dublin. Meanwhile he had attended in person at least one political meeting, an “Aggregate Meeting of the Roman Catholics,” on the 28th of February, in Fishamble Street Theatre ; and here he spoke at length in the presence of O'Connell and other celebrities. Shelley was
* This speech is to be found in the Dublin Evening Post for 29th February 1812. An article by Mr. MacCarthy, published in The Nation (Dublin) in 1846, was the best account of Shelley's stay in Ireland, prior to the issue of the same writer's work, Shelley's Early Life, which constitutes a very detailed monograph of the Dublin episode.