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Percy Bysshe Shelley   By: (1840-1893)

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First Page:

ENGLISH MEN OF LETTERS

EDITED BY JOHN MORLEY.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

BY

JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER 1. BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD.

CHAPTER 2. ETON AND OXFORD.

CHAPTER 3. LIFE IN LONDON, AND FIRST MARRIAGE.

CHAPTER 4. SECOND RESIDENCE IN LONDON, AND SEPARATION FROM HARRIET.

CHAPTER 5. LIFE AT MARLOW, AND JOURNEY TO ITALY.

CHAPTER 6. RESIDENCE AT PISA.

CHAPTER 7. LAST DAYS.

CHAPTER 8. EPILOGUE.

LIST OF AUTHORITIES.

1. The Poetical and Prose Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Mrs. Shelley. Moxon, 1840, 1845. 1 volume.

2. The Poetical Works, edited by Harry Buxton Forman. Reeves and Turner, 1876 7. 4 volumes.

3. The Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by W.M. Rossetti. Moxon, 1870. 2 volumes.

4. Hogg's Life of Shelley. Moxon, 1858. 2 volumes.

5. Trelawny's Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author. Pickering, 1878. 2 volumes.

6. Shelley Memorials, edited by Lady Shelley. Smith and Elder. 1 volume.

7. Medwin's Life of Shelley. Newby, 1847. 2 volumes.

8. Shelley's Early Life, by D.F. McCarthy. Chatto and Windus. 1 volume.

9. Leigh Hunt's Autobiography. Smith and Elder.

10. W.M. Rossetti's Life of Shelley, included in the edition above cited, Number 3.

11. Shelley, a Critical Biography, by G.B. Smith. David Douglas, 1877.

12. Relics of Shelley, edited by Richard Garnett. Moxon, 1862.

13. Peacock's Articles on Shelley in "Fraser's Magazine," 1858 and 1860.

14. Shelley in Pall Mall, by R. Garnett, in "Macmillan's Magazine," June, 1860.

15. Shelley's Last Days, by R. Garnett, in the "Fortnightly Review," June, 1878.

16. Two Lectures on Shelley, by W.M. Rossetti, in the "University Magazine," February and March, 1878.

SHELLEY.

CHAPTER 1.

BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD.

It is worse than useless to deplore the irremediable; yet no man, probably, has failed to mourn the fate of mighty poets, whose dawning gave the promise of a glorious day, but who passed from earth while yet the light that shone in them was crescent. That the world should know Marlowe and Giorgione, Raphael and Mozart, only by the products of their early manhood, is indeed a cause for lamentation, when we remember what the long lives of a Bach and Titian, a Michelangelo and Goethe, held in reserve for their maturity and age. It is of no use to persuade ourselves, as some have done, that we possess the best work of men untimely slain. Had Sophocles been cut off in his prime, before the composition of "Oedipus"; had Handel never merged the fame of his forgotten operas in the immortal music of his oratorios; had Milton been known only by the poems of his youth, we might with equal plausibility have laid that flattering unction to our heart. And yet how shallow would have been our optimism, how fallacious our attempt at consolation. There is no denying the fact that when a young Marcellus is shown by fate for one brief moment, and withdrawn before his springtime has bought forth the fruits of summer, we must bow in silence to the law of waste that rules inscrutably in nature.

Such reflections are forced upon us by the lives of three great English poets of this century. Byron died when he was thirty six, Keats when he was twenty five, and Shelley when he was on the point of completing his thirtieth year. Of the three, Keats enjoyed the briefest space for the development of his extraordinary powers. His achievement, perfect as it is in some poetic qualities, remains so immature and incomplete that no conjecture can be hazarded about his future. Byron lived longer, and produced more than his brother poets. Yet he was extinguished when his genius was still ascendant, when his "swift and fair creations" were issuing like worlds from an archangel's hands. In his case we have perhaps only to deplore the loss of masterpieces that might have equalled, but could scarcely have surpassed, what we possess. Shelley's early death is more to be regretted. Unlike Keats and Byron, he died by a mere accident... Continue reading book >>




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