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perhaps not with much of the insight of sympathy. On one occasion (so Mr. Trelawny informs me) he went so far as to say, “If people only appreciated Shelley, where should I be ?” Some of his own works, such as Manfred and the fourth canto of Childe Harold, are understood to owe something to the influence and suggestions of Shelley : others were shown to the latter day by day as written. A few of Byron's remarks upon his friend may here be not inappropriately cited. “You are all mistaken about Shelley. You don't know how mild, how tolerant, how good, he was in society, and as perfect a gentleman as ever crossed a drawing-room, when he liked and where liked.”.
“He is, to my knowledge, the least selfish and the mildest of men—a man who has made more sacrifices of his fortune and feelings for others than any I ever heard of.” “You should have known Shelley to feel how much I must regret him. He was the most gentle, the most amiable and least worldly-minded person I ever met; full of delicacy, disinterested beyond all other men, and possessing a degree of genius joined to simplicity as rare as it is admirable. He had formed to himself a beau idéal of all that is fine, high-minded, and noble, and he acted up to this ideal even to the very letter. He had a most brilliant imagination, but a total want of worldly wisdom. I have seen nothing like him, and never shall again, I am certain.” Another statement made by Byron, very characteristic of himself, and placing Shelley in a light somewhat different from that in which one is wont to contemplate him, is that he was the only thoroughly companionable man under thirty years of age whom Byron knew. The following also deserves to be borne in mind; though we must assuredly not interpret it so as to infer that there was the slightest taint of insincerity in Shelley's professions of extreme opinions or of personal friendship : Medwin understands it as referring more especially to Leigh Hunt's translations from Homer. Byron is writing to Murray on the 25th October 1822, and Hunt is the main topic. Shelley! how he would have laughed had he lived ! and how we used to laugh now and then at various things which are grave in the suburbs !” But perhaps the strongest of all evidences of the unique regard in which Lord Byron held Shelley, when we consider his lordship’s habit of running down all his acquaintances from time to time, is that which I learn from Mr.
* So in Moore's Life of Byron, vol. č. p. 622 ; not "where he liked," as I have mostly seen in quotations. 2 Medwin's Life, vol. ii. p. 36.
Trelawny—that no word of detraction of Shelley ever issued from Byron's lips, within Trelawny's experience or belief. The assertion above quoted that Shelley had “a total want of worldly wisdom” must be understood with some qualification, as implying rather a contempt of self-seeking than any real inaptitude for the ordinary business of life. Byron himself clearly did not undervalue Shelley in this respect, having (besides other proof to the contrary) entrusted to him, along with Mr. Kinnaird, the negotiations for the publishing of the third canto of Childe Harold, the Prisoner of Chillon, and Manfred; while Leigh Hunt states that Shelley had more capacity than hiniself for business (which is not indeed saying much), and Medwin speaks of him as very sagacious and rational in practical affairs, especially in the interest of his friends. Mr. Thornton Hunt also regards Shelley as having had very great ability to grapple with such affairs, though his own appreciation of his powers in that line was inadequate ; and Mr. Trelawny tells me that Shelley could do what few Englishmen can-hold his own perfectly well in personal bargaining with Italian tradesmen. In fact, while he would sacrifice anything for a principle, would fly in the face of all sorts of opinions and conventions, and would incur any amount of personal inconvenience to do a generous act, there is nothing, in Shelley's career as a grown man, to show that he was ill-fitted to cope with the world on its own terms. Not honesty alone, but highmindedness as well, is in one sense the best policy. There were no caprices, no pettinesses, no backslidings, to lower him in the eyes of such people as were capable of rightly estimating him. It is the tone of a hero, not a braggart, that we hear in those memorable words of his to Trelawny—“ I always go on until I am stopped, and I never am stopped.”
After passing a fortnight in the same hotel, the two travelling parties separated ; Byron and Polidori moving into the Villa Diodati, and Shelley, with Mary and Miss Clairmont, into a small house hard-by on the Mont Blanc side of the Lake. The Villa Diodati is very beautifully situated on the high banks, named Belle Rive, of the Lake near Coligny. Shelley's house was termed the Maison Chapuis or Campagne Mont Alègre : he and his would sometimes sleep at Byron's after sitting up talking till dawn. It was a remarkably wet summer; which did not, however, prevent Shelley from being out on the lake at all hours of the day and night. On the 23rd of June he and Lord Byron, accompanied only by
two boatmen and his lordship's servant, undertook a voyage round the Lake, lasting nine days; they visited Meillerie, Clarens, Chillon, Vevai, Lausanne. On this occasion Shelley read for the first time the Nouvelle Héloïse : "an overflowing (as it now seems, surrounded by the scenes which it has so wonderfully peopled) of sublimest genius, and more than human sensibility.” He would have liked to weep at the socalled Bosquet de Julie. In sailing near St. Gingoux (the scene of a similar incident in the Nouvelle Héloïse) the voyagers were overtaken by a tempest, and, through the mismanagement of one of the boatmen, were very nearly upset. Shelley, who somehow could never be taught to swim, considered himself in imminent danger of drowning. He refused assistance, sat on a locker, grasped the rings at both ends, and said he would go down. “I felt in this near prospect of death” (he wrote to Peacock on the 12th of July) “a mixture of sensations, among which terror entered, though but subordinately. My feelings would have been less painful had I been alone: but I knew that my companion would have attempted to save me, and I was overcome with humiliation when I thought that his life might have been risked to preserve mine."
This lake-trip with Byron was succeeded by a land-trip with Mary and Miss Clairmont. On the 20th of July the three started for Chamouni, Mont Blanc, the Source of the Arveiron, and the Glacier of Montanvert; he was nearly lost in a mauvais pas on the road to Montanvert. It would be no use to attempt here to give the details : the reader should consult the poem of Mont Blanc, composed on this occasion, and the letters which Shelley wrote at the time. I can only make room for a brief reference to the king of mountains. “ Pinnacles of snow intolerably bright, part of the chain connected with Mont Blanc, shone through the clouds at intervals on high. I never knew I never imagined—what mountains were before. The immensity of these aërial summits excited, when they suddenly burst upon the sight, a sentiment of ecstatic wonder not unallied to madness. And remember, this was all one scene: it all pressed home to our regard and our imagination. Though it embraced
* A letter from Shelley to Mr. Peacock, dated 17th July 1816, was in 1869 disposed of in the Dillon sale. The auctioneer's catalogue says that it " speaks of private affairs, choice of house in England, intended tour, philosophical remarks, acquaintance with Lord Byron, his character, long and descriptive account of a nine days' journey to Vevai and neighbour. hood with Lord B. ; Rousseau's Julie, Castle of Chillon, &c. 'Lord Byron,' he says,
'is an exceedingly interesting person; and, as such, is it not to be regretted that he is a slave to the vilest and most vulgar prejudices, and as mad as the winds ?'” This remarkable passage about Byron does not appear in any of the published letters.
a vast extent of space, the snowy pyramids which shot into the bright blue sky seemed to overhang our path : the ravine, clothed with gigantic pines, anů black with its depth below, so deep that the very roaring of the untameable Arve, which rolled through it, could not be heard above-all was as much our own as if we had been the creators of such impressions, in the minds of others, as now occupied our own. Nature was the poet whose harmony held our spirits more breathless than that of the divinest.” Shelley purchased near Mont Blanc “a large collection of all the seeds of rare Alpine plants, with their names written upon the outside of the papers that contain them. These I mean to colonize in my garden in England” (Mr. Peacock was at this time engaged in looking out a house for Shelley to reside in],"and to permit you [Peacock] to make what choice you please from them.”
In the album kept for visitors at the Chartreuse at Montanvert Shelley found that his last predecessor had written some of the platitudes-well-meant platitudes they may be called when they are set down with any distinct meaning at allabout “Nature and Nature's God." The author of Queen Mab took
είμι φιλάνθρωπος δημοκρατικός τ' άθεός τε.! Some one added uwpós; and that was possibly the most sensible performance of the three.
Returning to his Genevese villa, Shelley resumed his habitual intercourse with Byron, and also with his old admiration Matthew Gregory Lewis, and had much spectral converse with both of them : he reasonably controverted the position which they advanced, that no one could consistently believe in ghosts without believing in a God. Lewis, indeed, had already, at some earlier interview, been turning the thoughts of the visitors towards the supernatural; and at his instance the whole party had undertaken to write tales of an unearthly or fantastic character. In the long-run only two stories resulted from this suggestion; the far-renowned Frankenstein of Mrs. Shelley, and The Vampyre by Dr. Polidori, embodying the nucleus of a tale sketched out by Byron. Rather later, on the 18th of June, occurred an often-repeated incident, which is thus authentically jotted down in the physician's diary. “After tea, 12 o'clock, really began to talk ghostly. Lord Byron repeated some verses
* The spelling, at which Mr. Swinburne expresses the horror of a He lenist, is copied literatim
of Coleridge's Christabel, of the witch's breast; when silence ensued, and Shelley, suddenly shrieking, and putting his hands to his head, ran out of the room with a candle. Threw water in his face, and after gave him ether. He was looking at Mrs. Shelley, and suddenly thought of a woman he had heard of who had eyes instead of nipples; which, taking hold of his mind, horrified him." Medwin says that this story of the pectoral eyes was to have been the subject-matter of the romance to be written by Shelley, along with his wife's Frankenstein; which, indeed, is possible enough, though it may only be a confusion of incidents on the biographer's part. In illustration of the vividness of Shelley's feelings in such matters it may be allowable to quote here another instance, though proper to an earlier date, some time in 1815. He was then writing a Catalogue of the Phænomena of Dreams, as connecting Sleeping and Waking, forming part of Speculations on Metaphysics, and had come to the mention of an ordinary country-view which he had seen near Oxford, and which singularly corresponded to some dream of his own in past time. Having written up to this point, Shelley finishes with—“Here I was obliged to leave off, overcome by thrilling horror.” And Mrs. Shelley adds :-“I remember well his coming to me from writing it, pale and agitated, to seek refuge in conversation from the fearful emotions it excited. No man, as these fragments prove, had such keen sensations as Shelley. His nervous temperament was wound up by the delicacy of his health to an intense degree of sensibility; and, while his active mind pondered for ever upon, and drew conclusions from, his sensations, his reveries increased their vivacity, till they mingled with and made one with thought, and both became absorbing and tumultuous, even to physical pain.”
The Shelleys and Miss Clairmont left Geneva on the 29th of August; and returned by Dijon and Hâvre, reaching London about the 7th of September.
XIV.-HARRIET'S SUICIDE. While the Shelleys were in Switzerland, Mr. Peacock had settled at Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire : they paid him a visit there in the earlier part of September, and selected a house for themselves in the same town. Pending its being fitted up, the poet stayed at Bath. Here he received news of
* Conversations with Byron, p. 150.