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by Medwin, the earliest letter of Shelley cumstances which occur under the possithat has been preserved :
ble view of mankind.
“I am, sir, “FIELD PLACE, September 6th, 1810. “ Your obliged and humble servant,
“ PERCY B. SHELLEY.” “SIR,—I have to return you my thankful acknowledgments for the re- The enclosure-a curiosity-is as ceipt of the books, which arrived as soon
follows:as I had any reason to expect : the
“EDINBURGH, September 24th, 1810. superfluity shall be balanced as soon as
“SIR,—The delay which occurred in I pay for some books which I shall
our reply to you respecting the poem trouble you to bind for me.
you have obligingly offered us for publi" I enclose you the title-page of the
cation, has arisen from our literary Poems, which, as you see, you have mistaken on account of the illegibility have confidence in) being in the country
friends and advisers (at least such as we of my handwriting. I have had the last proof impression from the printer they have bestowed in its perusal.
at this season, as is usual, and the time this morning, and I suppose the exe
“ We are extremely sorry, at length, cution of the work will not be long de
after the most mature deliberation, to layed. As soon as it possibly can, it
be under the necessity of declining the shall reach you, and believe me, sir,
honour of beirg the publishers of the grateful for the interest you take in it. “I am, sir,
present poem ;--not that we doubt its
success, but that it is, perhaps, better “Your obedient humble servant,
suited to the character and liberal feel“ PERCY B. SHELLEY."
ings of the English, than the bigoted spirit which yet pervades many culti
vated minds in this country. Even Shelley soon forgot the mishaps of
Walter Scott is assailed on all hands at Victor and his Cazire, in fresh literary projects. He had already placed the present by our Scotch spiritual and Ms. of “ St. Irvyne, or the Rosicrucian," Evangelical magazines and instructors, in Stockdale's hands, and on Septenber
for having promulgated atheistical doc
trines in the · Lady of the Lake.' 28th he offered him the copyright of his
“We beg you will have the goodness schoolboy epie, written in conjunction with Captain Medwin, “ The Wandering and we think its being consigned to the
to advise us how it should be returned, Jew":
care of some person in London would
be more likely to ensure its safety than "FIELD PLACE, September 28th, 1810.
addressing it to Horsham. “SIR, I sent, before I had the pleasure of knowing you, the MS. of a poem “ Your most obedient humble servants, to Messrs. Ballantyne and Co. Edin
“ John BALLANTYNE & Co." burgh; they declined publishing it, with the enclosed letter. I now offer Now, had Shelley told any of his it to you, and depend upon your honour friends that the “ Lady of the Lake” as a gentleman for a fair price for the had been assailed in Scotland on the copyright. It will be sent to you from ground of atheism, and professed to have Edinburgh. The subject is, 'The Wander- derived his information from the Baling Jew. As to its containing atheistical lantynes, the circumstance would ere principles, I assure you I was wholly this have made its appearance in print unaware of the fact hinted at. Your as a proof of his irresistible tendency to good sense will point out to you the “hallucinations," and his "inability to impossibility of inculcating pernicious “relate anything exactly as it hapdoctrines in a poem which, as you will
pened." Here, however, we see that see, is so totally abstract from any cir- he would not have spoken without au
“ We are, sir,
thority. It is, of course, quite possible ment and fermentation. The ordinary that the Ballantynes may themselves interchange of sunshine and shower sufhave been mystified or mystificators- fices for the production of mustard, otherwise it would appear that it had, in cress, and such-like useful vegetables, that fortunate age, been vouchsafed to but Nature must have been disturbed to certain Scotch clergymen to attain the her centre ere there can be a Stromboli ne plus ultra of absurdity
for Byron to moor his bark by for a long
summer's night, and meditate a new “Topmost stars of unascended heaven, canto of “Childe Harold.” Shelley's Pinnacled dim in the intense inane”. mind was never in a more excited con
dition than during the autumn of 1810, or insane, whichever may be the cor- and, at that time, like Donna Inez, rect reading. It is needless to add that “his favourite science was the metathe “Wandering Jew” is quite guiltless physical”—he reasoned of matters abof atheism, or any “ism” but an occa- struse and difficult, "of fate, free-will, sional solecism. Whatever precautions “foreknowledge absolute," of may have been taken to ensure the safety of the MS., they failed to bring “Names, deeds, grey legends, dire it into Stockdale's hands.
events, rebellions, received it, and it seems to have re- Majesties, sovran voices, agonies, mained peaceably at Edinburgh till its Creations and destroyings. discovery in 1831, when a portion of it appeared in Fraser's Magazine, and
No other mental process could have has since been reprinted in one of the equally developed the unparalleled many unauthorised editions of Shelley's
glories of his verse. The enchanted works. According to Captain Medwin, readers of “Prometheus Unbound” and indeed, Shelley left it at his lodgings in “ Hellas" must admit that if Kant and Edinburgh in 1811. But the Captain Berkeley had not much poetry in themevidently knew nothing of the negotia
selves, they were at all events the cause tion with the Ballantynes, which affords
of transcendent poetry in others. But a much more plausible explanation of for his own ease and comfort it would the discovery of the MS. in the Scotch
certainly have been better if he could metropolis. He adds, indeed, that the
have agreed with Goethe that young authors were induced to lay aside all thoughts of publication by the ad- “Ein Mensch, der spekulirt, verse judgment of Campbell, who re- Ist wie ein Thier, auf dürrer Haide turned the MS. submitted for his in- Von einem bösen Geist im Kreis spection with the remark that there herum geführt, were only two good lines in the whole, Und rings herum ist schöne, grüne naming a pair of exceedingly common- Weide.” place ones. Whatever the effect on his coadjutor, it is now clear that Shelley On November 12th he wrote to was not to be daunted by the condemna- Stockdale : tion even of a poet he admired, though, doubtless, he would have himself ad
“OXFORD, Sunday. mitted in after life that the quest after “SIR,—I wish you to obtain for me tolerable lines in the “Wandering Jew" a book which answers to the following might scarcely be more hopeful than description. It is a Hebrew essay, dethat undertaken of old after righteous monstrating that the Christian religion men in the Cities of the Plain.
is false, and is mentioned in one of the Poetry like Shelley's is not to be numbers of the Christian Observer, produced except under the immediate last spring, by a clergyman, as an unimpulse of lively emotion, or without a answerable, yet sophistical argument. long preliminary epoch of mental excite- If it is translated in Greek, Latin, or
any of the European languages, I would (being wholly so abrupt) not require thank you to send it to me.
it. “I am, sir, your humble servant, “PERCY B. SHELLEY." “ Your sincere humble servant,
“ PERCY B. SHELLEY. We have searched the Observer in vain for the notice referred to. The
“Shall you make this in one or two letter, according to Stockdale, "satisfied volumes? Mr. Robinson, of Paternoster “ me that he was in a situation of im- Row, published ‘Zastrozzi.'' “ pending danger, from which the most "friendly and cautious prudence alone
Certainly the faults of “St. Irvyne" " could withdraw him." We shall see
were of the kind best amended by una in due course what line of conduct the
litura. Nevertheless, it is as much worthy bookseller considered answerable
better than “ Zastrozzi” as one very to this definition. Two days later
bad book can be better than another. Shelley wrote:
“ Zastrozzi” is an absolute chaos; in
“St. Irvyne" there is at least the trace “UNIVERSITY COLL. Nov. 14th, 1810.
of an effort after organisation and inner "DEAR SIR, -I return you the Ro- harmony. Shelley's whole literary career mance (St. Irvyne] by this day's coach.
was, viewed in one of its aspects, a conI am much obligated by the trouble you stant struggle after the symmetry and have taken to fit it for the press. I am command of material which denote the myself by no means a good hand at cor- artist. The exquisiteness of his later rection, but I think I have obviated the productions shows that at last he had principal objections which you allege. little to learn, and worthless as “St.
"Ginotti, as you will see, did not die Irvyne" is in itself, it becomes of high by Wolfstein's hand, but by the influ- interest when regarded as the first feeble ence of that natural magic which, when step of a mighty genius on the road to the secret was imparted to the latter, consummate excellence. Considered by destroyed him. Mountfort being a cha- themselves, “ Zastrozzi” and “St. Irvyne” racter of inferior interest, I did not will
appear the sort of production which think it necessary to state the cata- clever boys often indite, and from which strophe of him, as it could at best be but
it is impossible to arrive at any sound uninteresting. Eloise and Fitzeustace conclusion as to the future eminence or are married, and happy, I suppose, and obscurity of the writer. Their incoheMegalena dies by the same means as rency is an attribute which should not, Wolfstein. I do not myself see any their prolific imagination one which other explanation that is required. As often cannot, survive the period of exto the method of publishing it, I think, treme youth. as it is a thing which almost mechani- On November 20th, Shelley wrote cally sells to circulating libraries, &c., thus :I would wish it to be published on my
“UNI. COLL. Monday. own account.
“MY DEAR SIR,—I did not think it "I am surprised that you have not received the Wandering Jew," and in possible that the romance would
but one small volume. It will at all consequence write to Mr. Ballantyne to
events be larger than 'Zastrozzi.' What mention it; you will doubtlessly, there
I mean as 'Rosicrucian' is, the elixir fore, receive it soon.-Should you still
of eternal life which Ginotti had obperceive in the romance any error of
tained. Mr. Godwin's romance of 'St. fagrant incoherency, &c. it must be
Leon' turns upon that superstition. altered, but I should conceive it will
I enveloped it in mystery for the greater
excitement of interest, and, on a re1 Not a vulgarism in Shelley's day, any more than "ruinated.” Both may be found
examination, you will perceive that in good writers of the 18th century.
Mountfort did physically kill Ginotti, No. 8.—VOL. II.
which will appear from the latter's pale- of conversation. It shall be sent to you
as soon as completed, but it shall receive “ Will you have the goodness to send more correction than I trouble myself to me Mr. Godwin's 'Political Justice'? give to 'wild romance and poetry.
“When do you suppose 'St. Irvyne' “Mr. Munday, of Oxford, will take will be out? If you have not yet got some romances ; I do not know whether the “Wandering Jew' from Mr. B., I he sends directly to you, or through the will send you a MS. copy which I medium of another bookseller. I will possess.
enclose the printer's account for your “ Yours sincerely,
inspection in another letter. “P. B. SHELLEY."
“ Dear sir,
“Yours sincerely, It appears from the next note that
“P. B. SHELLEY. this copy was sent, but it miscarried :
Up to this date, then, Scythrop had “OXFORD, December 2d, 1810.
only found three of the seven gold “DEAR SIR,—Will you, if you have candlesticks. Mr. Hogg and Captain got two copies of the “Wandering Jew, Medwin, as is well known, continued send one of them to me, as I have burning and shining lights; Miss Marthought of some corrections which I shall, of whom we now hear for the wish to make? Your opinion on it will first time, would appear to have been likewise much oblige me.
speedily extinguished. Speedy extinc“When do you suppose that Southey's tion, too, was the fate of the MS. • Curse of Kehama' will come out ? I
novel, of which the above is the first am curious to see it, and when does 'St. and last mention. Irvyne' come out ?
Sir (then Mr.) Timothy Shelley, the • I shall be in London the middle of poet's uncongenial father, now appears this month, when I will do myself the
upon the scene. At the date of the pleasure of calling on you.
next letter, he had already several times “ Yours sincerely, called at Stockdale's shop in the company “P. B. SHELLEY.” of his son, and thus afforded the pub
lisher an opportunity of contributing “F[IELD] P[LACE), the result of his own observation to the December 18th, 1810.
universal testimony respecting the dispo“MY DEAR SIR,—I saw your
adver- sitions of the two, and the relation in tisement of the Romance, and approve which they stood to each other. Percy of it highly; it is likely to excite curi- Shelley captivated all hearts; the roughosity. I would thank you to send est were subdued by his sweetness, the copies directed as follows :
most reserved won by his affectionate Miss Marshall, Horsham, Sussex. candour.
ever made more T. Medwin, Esq., Horsham, Sussex. strange or unsympathetic friends, and T. J. Hogg, Esq., Rev. — Dayrell's, they who may seem to have dealt most
Lynnington Dayrell, Buckingham, . hardly with his memory since his death and six copies to myself. In case the are chiefly the well-meaning people • Curse of Kehama'i has yet appeared, whose error it has been to mistake an I would thank you for that likewise. accidental intimacy with a remarkable I have in preparation a novel ; it is character for the power of appreciating it. principally constructed to convey meta- Among these, Stockdale cannot be refused physical and political opinions by way a place, for it would be unjust not to
recognise, amid all his pomposity and 1 It thus appears that “Kehama" cannot blundering, traces of a sincere affection have been the poem with the MS. of which
for the young author whose acquaintance Southey is related to have read Shelley to sleep. To us, the whole anecdote seems to was certainly anything but advantageous come in a very questionable shape.
to him in a pecuniary point of view. An equal unanimity of sentiment pre- distinctions of the costs, which I hope vails respecting Sir Timothy; he un- are intelligible. doubtedly meant well, but had scarcely “Do you find that the public are captia single prominent trait of character vated by the title-page of “St. Irvyne ?' which would not of itself have unfitted
á Your sincere him to be the father of such a son.
“P. B. SHELLEY.” Stockdale had frequent opportunities of observing the uneasy terms on which This is interesting, in so far as it assists the two stood towards each other, and us in determining the date of Shelley's unhesitatingly throws the entire blame first acquaintance with Harriet Westupon the father, whom he represents brook. Had he known her on December as narrow-minded and wrong-headed, 18th, he would probably have included behaving with extreme niggardliness in her among those to whom he on that money matters, and at the same time day desired that copies of his novel continually fretting Shelley by harsh and should be sent. It may then be inferred unnecessary interference with his most with confidence, that he first became indifferent actions. According to the
interested in her between December bookseller, he ineffectually tried his 18th, and January 11th, and as there best at once to dispose Sir Timothy to appears no trace of his having visited a more judicious line of conduct, and to town during that period, his knowledge put him on his guard against his son's of her, when he wrote the second of these speculative rashness. The following note letters, was most likely merely derived is probably in answer to some communi- from the accounts of his sisters, her cation of this character.
schoolfellows. This accords with the
assertion, made in an interesting but "FIELD PLACE, 23d December, 1810. unpublished document in the writer's “SIR-I take the earliest oppor
possession, that he first saw her in Jatunity of expressing to you my best
nuary, 1811. Whenever this and similar thanks for the very liberal and hand
MSS. are made public, it will for the some manner in which you imparted to
first time be clearly understood how me the sentiments you hold towards my
slight was the acquaintance of Shelley son, and the open and friendly com
with Harriet, previous to their marriage; munication.
what advantage was taken of his chivalry “I shall ever esteem it, and hold it
of sentiment, and her compliant disposiin remembrance. I will take an oppor
tion, and the inexperience of both; and tunity of calling on you again, when the
how little entitled or disposed she felt call at St. Stephen's Chapel enforces my
herself to complain of his behaviour. attendance by a call of the House.
This was the last friendly communica“My son begs to make his compli
tion between Shelley and his publisher. ments to you.
Three days later we find him writing thus “I have the honour to be, sir,
to his friend Hogg (Hogg's “Life of "Your very obedient humble servant,
Shelley,” vol. I. p. 171):“T. SHELLEY.” “S, [Stockdale] has behaved in
famously to me: he has abused the On January 11th, 1811, Shelley wrote
confidence I reposed in him in sending as follows:
him my work; and he has made very
free with your character, of which he “DEAR SIR,—I would thank you to knows nothing, with my father. I shall send a copy of 'St. Irvyne' to Miss call on S— on my way (to Oxford), that Harriet Westbrook, 10, Chapel Street, he may explain.” Grosvenor Square. In the course of a The work alluded to was either the fortnight I shall do myself the pleasure unlucky pamphlet which occasioned of calling on you. With respect to the Shelley's expulsion from Oxford, or someprinter's bill, I made him explain the thing of a very similar description. After