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a political principle was insensibly established. When the power was in the hands of freedom's enemies, there might be some sense in seeking to steal a march upon them. These days are gone Whoever holds power in future, must do so by an open avowal of his principles, and by acting up to them as closely as he may. Personal affection and esteem may conciliate a small band of adherents; but the profession and enforcement of those principles to which the mass of the people are attached, can alone secure national confidence and esteem. That mystery which is the strength of the despot, is the weakness of a free government. Its implement is the will of the people; and that works freely only where there is perfect confidence. To the present ministers, doubt is weakness and timidity is destruction. In the enchanted hall of the poet, “ Be bold” was the legend of ninety-nine doors, “ Be not too bold,” only that of the hundredth.

It is no ordinary stake for which we now play: it is the loss or preservation of Ireland. We confess that the maintenance of an incorpor. ating union seems to us desirable. Ireland has capabilities, and England has capital. The counties of Down and Meath are the bleaching fields of Manchester ; Queen's County and Kildare, the provision grounds of Liverpool. By the aid of steam, the two islands are virtually made one. Where the local situation is so close, and society so intertwined by mutual employment and services, one government and one law is an advantage of no ordinary nature. If Ireland separate from us, our fleets must walk the waters comparatively crippled. But it is the feeling of a community of interests alone that ought to retain the Irish people united to Britain. If this feeling do not exist, the maintenance of the Union will only weaken and destroy the happiness of both. One step on the part of Ministers will determine this eventful question. Their fal. tering in their grand scheme for settling the tithe question towards the close of last session gives us hopes ; but the language of Brougham and Anglesea is of evil augury. The welfare, the might of Britain depends upon their resolution. If they choose amiss, a more mortifying character with posterity than even that of tyrants awaits them. They will be spoken of as men who rashly grappled with a task to which both their want of knowledge and weakness of character rendered them inadequate. Their pigmy stature and their worthlessness will contrast ludicrously with the magnitude and importance of the events, among which they are mixed up. They will be the flies in amber, the Tom Thumbs of history.


In these unpoetical times one is forced to fall back upon the outpourings of the first five-and-twenty years of the century. That was the age of poetry. The clear stream rushed out, gurgling and sparkling, now in tiny jets, now in a broad impetuous flood, now calm and majestic, anon rippling and fantastic, now murmuring like a rill which

“to hide its chilly bubbles in the grass.” Every day almost brought forth a new poem, and the greedy public gobbled it down, and looked

agape for the next. Scott pleased us with his clear fresh pictures of hill and dale, his easy jingle, his interesting adventures, and his heroes, the faint shadows of those forms which were to become pal.


pable, warm, and breathing substances in his novels. Wordsworth sat apart on his own Westmoreland hills, flinging to the gale tones austere as the steepy hills which surrounded him ; majestic as the notes which, trumpet-toned, swept up their ravines; pure and holy as the cool dim atmosphere of an old cathedral ; with ever and anon a dropping passage at the close, which went right to the heart. Coleridge thrilled the blood with tales of unearthly mariners with glittering eyes, and wild-wood spirits gliding in visible form,“ now in glimmer and now in gloom,” and then made the pulse beat thick with the voluptuous deep-toned melody of “ Genevieve,” or saddened the mood by conjuring up before our fancy the ancient forests

Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclined ; when

Their own imperious branches swinging,

Have made a solemn music to the wind. Beside him stood Wilson, less swelling and sustained in his notes, but equally master of all the beauteous combinations of the gorgeous and shifting elements, with a wild, yet gentle and dreamy minstrelsy. Byron (like Scott, but without his historical treasures, and calm observant eye for noting the realities of life around him) approached nearer to the prose of life than the others. It required an effort and exertion on his part to spring up into the airy realms of imagination ; but once there, his intense will and glowing passion bore him onward with no undigni. fied flight. Yet still, at every pause, he would stop to mock his own earnestness, and then again throw his whole soul into his lofty task, And Hunt was the heart-felt bard of social life ; and Keats, with his Hyperion rising up through his Endymion, was undergoing a spiritual transition, akin to that which the Gothic artist's skill underwent, when his quaintly carved, arched, and pinnacled shrines for saints, expanded into lofty domes and minsters.

By far the sweetest and most purely poetical of these sweet singers, was poor Shelley; although a variety of circumstances combined to di. vert attention from his notes. These circumstances are so closely interwoven with his personal history, that it is impossible to avoid a brief recapitulation of its principal events.

Shelley was born at his father's seat in Sussex, on the 4th of August, 1792. He was drowned on the night of the 8th of July, 1822—before he had completed his thirtieth year. Till he was seven or eight years of age, he was educated at home with his sisters; and carried, in conse. quence, a bashfulness and delicate purity of feeling to school with him, rarely to be met with in boys. From his eighth to his thirteenth year was spent at Sion House school, Brentford, where the boisterous sports, and less pure language and manners of the other boys, kept him from forming intimacies with them. In his thirteenth year he was sent to Eton, whence he was soon removed to Oxford. Before this transference took place he had fallen in with the writings of Hume, and with all the rashness of a young and ardent spirit, had embraced the opinions of that philosopher. He had likewise been labouring for about a year at German: but his acquaintance with the literature of that language, obtained chiefly through the medium of English translations, for which all the rubbish seems to have been most assiduously selected, had, without extending his range of ideas, served only to imbue him with the mysticism and exaggeration of its circulating library school. A popular lecturer

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in chemistry had taught him to perform a few flashy experiments, but his acquaintance with the science never seems to have gone further. This crude, flimsy, and ill-digested knowledge, đecked out in all the dazzling colours which the novelty of young life and a splendid imagination could bestow, formed a world in which the bashful boy, unaccustomed to converse with his kind, lived alone. The real world, as far as he could see, was different'; and, like all children, he sought to make it what he wished. He commenced his task by attempting to convert his tutors; he printed a pamphlet professing to demonstrate atheism, and sent copies to some clerical dignitaries. The consequence of this was, a summons to appear before the heads of colleges ; whom Shelley, when called upon to recant, challenged to argue the question. He was expelled the university. Shelley's conduct was that of a foolish boy; the punishment inflicted, being calculated to blast all his prospects in life, was disproportionate and tyrannical.

After his expulsion, not daring to face his angry father, a commonplace, money-making man, who had expected that the talents of his son would raise and illustrate his family, he repaired to London, where he resided some time with his relation, Captain Medwin, in the Temple. About this period he seems to have become acquainted, for the first time, with “ Godwin's Political Justice," and immediately resolved to square all his actions by its rules. In his Atheism, which was rather an adherence to an unmeaning formula of words than an opinion, he had been confirmed by what he considered a persecution. Living without an aim, he involved himself in the cloudy labyrinth of what were at that time called metaphysics; a mixture of materialism with the auguries of a highly excited sensual fancy. He embraced about this time the theory of the deleterious effects of animal food, and, as was uniformly his way, proceeded to act upon it. The account given of him by Captain Medwin at this period of his life, represents him totally engrossed by his metaphysical pursuits; daily noting down his dreams, till the atten. tion he paid to his dreaming fancies well nigh made them more than a half of his conscious existence; disregarding all the usual allotments of time, dining when he felt hungry at the first baker's shop, and laying himself down to sleep at times in the open street. His anxiety to remodel the world by the diffusion of his opinions, continued as intense as ever; and the eagerness with which, for this purpose, he opened a com. munication with every person who began to emerge into notoriety, soon swelled the number of his correspondents. This period of his history closed at the age of eighteen, by his being inveigled into a marriage with a young woman of his own age, neither fitted by her natural character nor by her education to be a companion for Shelley. As his wife was of what is called in the world low birth, the union led to an entire alienation from his family.

The ill-assorted pair dragged on an unhappy union, the fruit of which was two children, for upwards of three years, and then separated by mutual consent. Previous to this event, he had habituated himself, for the purpose of deadening painful reflection, to take large quantities of opium ; which completely undermined a constitution naturally delicate, and further stimulated the painful busy workings of a restless imagination. He was at this period of his life miserably straitened in his cir. cumstances, and led a restless wandering life, in the course of which he . wandered through great part of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the Continent ; sometimes alone, sometimes in company, frequently on

foot. He took up his abode in London in 1814, and remained pretty closely there for eighteen months, during which period he studied medicine; making but slender progress in his anatomical pursuits, but prosecuting botany with greater success. In 1816 he visited Geneva, in company with the lady whom he afterwards married, who had sometime previously consented to become the companion of his wanderings; and attracted by the society of Lord Byron, fixed his residence for a short time in the neighbourhood. He removed hence to the Vale of Chamouni, and afterwards to the Lake of Como, and returned to England in the autumn of 1817. He was met by the intelligence that his wife had terminated her existence by suicide. His feelings of compunction were so strong as to bring on a temporary derangement. The cup of his misery was filled up by the unnatural and iniquitous decision of the Court of Chancery, denying him the guardianship of his own children, and consigning them to the care of strangers.

By the urgent advice of his friends, co-operating with the promptings of his own love of justice, he now married Miss Godwin ; and in her company, after a short sojourn at Marlow, bade a last adieu to his native land in the spring of 1818. He passed rapidly through France and Switzerland, and, after paying a visit to Lord Byron at Naples, proceeded to Rome. The autumn he spent at Naples, and the winter in Rome. After spending some time at Florence, the Baths, Lucca, and Leghorn, he finally took up his abode at Pisa in 1820, and continued to reside in that city or its neighbourhood till the hour of his untimely death. His residence in Italy leaves little to record ; his life was devoted to the study of his art, and to vain longings after the realization of his Utopian dreams. His wife proved a kind and sympathetic attendant ; one who could appreciate his conversation, share in his pleasures, or sooth his almost unremitting sufferings. In June 1822 he visited Pisa, for the purpose of welcoming his friend Hunt to Italy; and was lost at sea, with his friend Williams, on his return to Lerici, where he was then residing.

This is the history of a warm heart and a forgetive fancy, left to tread their way through the intricacies of life without an affectionate and experienced guide, quarrelling with the world before they understood each other. The presumptuous dogmatism of his boyhood was apology sufficient for the great mass of mankind, when it shrunk back in shy apprehension from him who attacked with scorn and derision all that they held most sacred. It was, however, no apology for those who dared to assume the office of the teachers of youth, so ill-qualified for their task as to meet his offence with treatment, which could not fail to convince him that he was right. Still less is it an apology for those hireling scribes, who, either with full knowledge of the truth, or without sufficient previous inquiry (a degree of levity scarcely less culpable,) persisted for a tract of years in misrepresenting and calumniating his actions. Whoever has traced the history of Shelley must feel that his error was of a kind to which even the rankest bigot could not attribute criminality. Itwas the honest and ingenuous search of a lonely and unaid. ed mind after that truth which the dazzling brilliancy of that mind's own inborn light prevented it from perceiving. The rude manner in which his expressions shocked the reverential feeling for religion entertained by the larger as well as better portion of the British public, naturally enough led men to attribute an evil character to the cause of their annoyance. But those who searched deeper saw that this seeming harshness was merely the

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tuning of an instrument of the mellowest tones ; that the muddiness of his thoughts and feelings was the fermentation which transforms the clammy and insipid juice of the grape into the clear and generous wine. Shelley's mind, in early life, was not ill indicated by his personal appearance ; a face not regularly beautiful, yet, when longer gazed on, inexpressibly charming ; a voice high and thin, yet capable of a mellower tone, and of the most musical modulation ; a manner awkward and bashful, yet with an inborn gentility which could not be concealed. Tolerance, which is true wisdom, is increasing. A young man is no longer looked upon as lost because his passions drive him once astray. Within certain limits society allows men to avow their opinions. But it must learn not, it is true, to encourage such aberrations as Shelley's, but not to condemn precipitately. There is danger undeniably in the extravaganzas of such a mind; but where all tends so evidently towards good, the darkness and terror, nay even the danger which herald the birth, are ominous of its surpassing excellence.

The stream ran itself fine.” We have no wish to palliate his con. duct where it was wrong ; but is we are entitled to say in alleviation, that his misconduct was scarcely to be avoided in one abandoned so young to his own guidance ; that he made reparation where he could ; and that he suffered agonizingly for the pain he caused. Nemesis exacted her dues in full. Every year of Shelley's brief life shewed the beauty of his mind more fully developed, and with less alloy of the ridi. culous. Love was the atmosphere in which his soul existed. He loved all nature, animate and inanimate. He shuddered at the least pain inAlicted upon any thing that breathed ; but, instead of turning away selfishly, indulging a morbid sensibility, he lingered like the good Samaritan, to bind up and pour balm into the wound. More than any other mere human being on record, he was capable of sacrificing himself for others. There was a maiden purity in his soul : a gross expression pained him almost as an evil act ; his love was sentiment ; his diet was that of an Anchorite ; his greatest dainties, those which please the unsophisticated palate of children. In a weak body he kept alive a fearless, unwinking soul; and hourly tortured with the pains of sickness sapping his vital frame, he was neither sullen nor fretful. The eagerness with which his friends sought and walked by his advice, shews that his strong mind had not wrestled with the world in vain. He had learned to trace accurately the connexion between actions, their causes and consequences. His night-mare dream of atheism had softened, unawares, into a recognizance of an intelligent Author and Preserver of the universe. Taught ourselves, by experience, to cling to the Christian belief, as that alone which can purify us amid our eternal aberrations from right, and reconcile us with God and ourselves, we must ever lament, that so fair a soul was closed against its accesses; but we dare not anticipate the mysterious decrees of the Creator. We leave poor Shelley with “ trembling hope,” to his repose. Let no one misunderstand or bring an undeserved reproach against us when we say, that nothing carries home to us so convincingly the impression of his tremendous strength of mind, as his power to bear up with all the emptiness of unbelief, in gentle meekness, against pain, sickness, the world's contumely, and the reproaches of his own heart.

We have dwelt at so much length on the personal history of Shelley for two reasons. In the first place, because a knowledge of it is indispensable to the right understanding and appreciation of some of his


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