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for any personal advantage. Those who have never experienced the workings of passion on general and unselfish subjects, cannot understand this; and it must be difficult of comprehension to the younger generation rising around, since they cannot remember the scorn and hatred with which the partizans of reform were regarded some few years ago, nor the persecutions to which they were exposed. He had been from youth the victim of the state of feeling inspired by the reaction of the French Revolution ; and believing firmly in the justice and excellence of his views, it cannot be wondered that a nature as sensitive, as impetuous, and as generous as his, should put its whole force into the attempt to alleviate for others the evils of those systems from which he had himself suffered. Many advantages attended his birth; he spurned them all when balanced with what he considered his duties. He was generous to imprudence, devoted to heroism.
These characteristics breathe throughout his poetry. The struggle for human weal; the resolution firm to martyrdom; the impetuous pursuit ; the glad triumph in good; the determination not to
despair. Such were the features that marked those of his works which he regarded with most complacency, as sustained by a lofty subject and useful aim.
In addition to these, his poems may be divided into two classes,--the purely imaginative, and those which sprung from the emotions of his heart. Among the former may be classed “ The Witch of Atlas," "Adonais," and his latest composition, left imperfect, “The Triumph of Life." In the first of these particularly, he gave the reins to his fancy, and luxuriated in every
in all, there is that sense of mystery which formed an essential portion of his perception of life—a clinging to the subtler inner spirit, rather than to the outward form
- a curious and metaphysical anatomy of human passion and perception.
The second class is, of course, the more popular, as appealing at once to emotions common to us all; some of these rest on the passion of love; others on grief and despondency; others on the sentiments inspired by natural objects. Shelley's conception of love was exalted, absorbing, allied to all that is purest and noblest in our nature, and warmed by earnest pas
sion; such it appears when he gave it a voice in
Yet he was usually averse to expressing these feelings, except when highly idealised ; and many of his more beautiful effusions he had cast aside, unfinished, and they were never seen by me till after I had lost him. Others, as for instance, Rosalind and Helen," and "Lines written among the Euganean Hills,” I found among his papers by chance; and with some difficulty urged him to complete them. There are others, such as the“ Ode to the Sky Lark, and “The Cloud,” which, in the opinion of many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his productions. They were written as his mind prompted, listening to the carolling of the bird, aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or marking the cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated in his boat on the Thames.
No poet was ever warmed by a more genuine and unforced inspiration. His extreme sensibility gave the intensity of passion to his intellectual pursuits ; and rendered his mind keenly alive to every perception of outward objects, as well as to his internal sensations. Such a gift is, among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the disappointments we meet,
and the galling sense of our own mistakes and errors, fraught with pain ; to escape from such, he delivered up his soul to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself from the influence of human sympathies, in the wildest regions of fancy. His imagination has been termed too brilliant, his thoughts too subtle. He loved to idealise reality; and this is a taste shared by few. We are willing to have our passing whims exalted into passions, for this gratifies our vanity ; but few of us understand or sympathise with the endeavour to ally the love of abstract beauty, and adoration of abstract good, the tò αγαθόν και το καλόν of the Socratic philosophers, , with our sympathies with our kind. In this Shelley resembled Plato; both taking more delight in the abstract and the ideal, than in the special and tangible. This did not result from imitation ; for it was not till Shelley resided in Italy that he made Plato his study ; he then translated his Symposium and his Ion; and the English language boasts of no more brilliant composition, than Plato's Praise of Love, translated by Shelley. To return to his own poetry. The luxury of imagination, which sought nothing beyond itself, as a child burthens itself with spring flowers, thinking of no use beyond the enjoyment of gathering them, often showed itself in his verses: they will be only appreciated by minds who have resemblance to his own; and the mystic subtlety of many of his thoughts will meet the same fate. The metaphysical strain that characterises much of what he has written, was, indeed, the portion of his works to which, apart from those whose scope was to awaken mankind to aspirations for what he considered the true and good, he was himself particularly attached. There is much, however, that speaks to the many. When he would consent to dismiss these huntings after the obscure, which, entwined with his nature as they were, he did with difficulty, no poet ever expressed in sweeter, more heart-reaching, or more passionate verse, the gentler or more forcible emotions of the soul.