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on Shelley, with the Nouvelle Heloise in his hand, was entrancing. He visited also Lausanne, and while walking in the acacia walk belonging to Gibbon's house, he could not help saying, “Gibbon had 8 cold and unimpassioned spirit. I never felt more inclination to rail at the prejudices which clung to such a thing, than now that Julie and Clarens, Lausanne and the Roman Empire, compel me to a contrast between Rousseau and Gibbon.” His lines on the Bridge of Arve and bis Hymn to Intellectual Beauty were written at this time.
The poets and Mrs. Shelley were constantly together, out in the air, amid that sublime scenery, in fine weather, and in the evenings at each other's houses ; and, during a week of rain, they horrified themselves with German ghost stories, and gave a mutual challenge to write each one of their own. To this we owe the Vampire, which was, on its first appearance, attributed to Lord Byron ; but was in reality written by his vain satellite of a physician, Polidori. Byron wrote a story called The Marriage of Belphegor, which was to narrate the circumstances of his own,-as he was now smarting under the recent refusal of his wife to live with him ; but, on hearing from England that Lady Byron was ill, with an impulse that did him honour, he thrust it into the fire. What Shelley wrote does not appear, but the production of Mrs. Shelley was Frankenstein.
On his return to England, in the autumn of that year, he had to endure the misery of his two children being taken from him by the Court of Chancery, on the ground of his disbelief in revealed religion, and the authorship of Queen Mab, a work published without his consent. It was at this period that he went to live at Great Marlowe, in Buckinghamshire. Mrs. Shelley says :-“Shelley's choice of abode was fixed chiefly by this town being at no great distance frorn London, and its neighbourhood to the Thames. The poem of the Revolt of Islam was written in his boat, as it floated under the beech groves of Bisham, or during wanderings in the neighbouring country, which is distinguished for its peculiar beauty. The chalk hills break into cliffs that overhang the Thames, or form valleys clothed with beech. The wilder portion of the country is rendered beautiful by exuberant vegetation ; and the cultivated part is particularly fertile. With all this wealth of nature, which, either in the forta of gentlemen's parks, or soil dedicated to agriculture, flourishes around, Marlowe was inhabited-I hope it is altered now-by a very poor population. The women are lace-makers, and lose their health by sedentary labour, for which they are very ill paid. The poor-laws ground to the dust not only the paupers, but those who had risen just above that state, and were obliged to pay poor-rates. The change produced by peace following a long war, and a bad harvest, brought with them the most heart-rending evils to the poor. Shelley afforded what alleviation he could. In winter, while bringing out his poem, he had a severe attack of ophthalmia, caught while visiting the cottages. I mention these things, for this minute and active sympathy with his fellow-creatures gives a thousand-fold interest to his speculations, and stamps with reality his pleadings for the buman race."
Shelley does not seem to have had any acquaintance at Marlowe, or in the neighbourhood,-it was simply the charm of the country and the river here which attracted him; but his friend Mr. Peacock, author of Headlong Hall, was residing there at the time, either drawn there by Shelley, or Shelley by him. Marlowe stands in a fine open valley, on the banks of the Thames. The river here is beautiful, running bankful through the most beautiful meadows, level as a bowling-green, of the richest verdure, and of a fine, ample, airy extent. Beyond the river, these meadows are bounded by steep hills clothed with noble woods; and a more charming scene for boating cannot be imagined. The grass and flowers on the river margin overhang and dip lovingly into the waters, which, from running over a chalk bottom, are as transparent nearly as the air itself; and at the various turns of the river new features of beauty salute youimpending woods, which invite you to land and stroll away into them; solitary valleys, where house or man is not seen ; and then, again, cultivated farms, and hills covered with flocks. No wonder that Shelley was all summer floating upon this fine river, and luxuriating in the composition of his splendid poem. A little below the town stands the village of Little Marlowe, with its grey church, and old manor house, called Bisham Abbey, amid its fine trees; and around, a lovely scene of the softly flowing, beautiful river, the level meads, and the hills and woods. On the other side of the town, the country is of that clear, bright aspect, with its tillage farms and isolated clumps of beech on swelling hills, which always marks a chalk district. The town itself is small, and intensely quiet. The houses are low and clean looking, as if no smoke ever fell on them from the pure diaphanous air. It consists of three principal streets, something in the shape of the letter T, with some smaller ones. In passing along it, you would not suspect it of that intense poverty which Mrs. Shelley speaks of, though, from the wretched depression of the hand-lace-weaving, it may exist. The houses have a neat miniature look, and the people look cheerful, healthy, and the women of a very agreeable expression of countenance.
Such was the spot where Shelley resided, eight-and-thirty years ago. His house was in the main street-a long stuccoed dwelling, of that species of nondescript architecture which once was thought Gothic, because it had pointed windows, and battlements. It must have been then a spacious and a very pleasant residence ; it is now, as is the lot of most places in which poets have lived, desolated and desecrated. It is divided into three tenements, a school, a private house, and a pothouse. I entered the latter, and with a strange feeling. In a large room with a boarded floor, and which had probably been Shelley's dining-room, was a sort of bar partitioned off, and a number of visitors were drinking on benches along the walls, which still bore traces, amid disfigurement and stains, of former taste. The garden behind had evidently been extensive, and very pleasant. There were remains of fine evergreen trees, and of a mound on which grew some deciduous cypresses, where had evidently stood a summer-house. This was gone. The garden was divided into as many portions as there were now tenants, and all evidences of care had vanished from it. Along the side of it, however, lay a fine open meadow, and the eye ran across this to some sweetly-wooded hills. It was a melancholy thing to go back to the time when Shelley, and his wife and friends, walked in this garden, enjoying it and its surrounding quiet cenery, and to reflect what had been the subsequent fate both of it and him.
Amongst the poor of the town the remembrance of his benevolence and unassuming kindness had still chroniclers ; but from the other classes little could be learned, and that not what the memory of such a man deserves. One old shopkeeper, not far from his house, remerabered him, and “hoped his children did not take after him.” “Why?” “Oh! he was a very bad man !” “Indeed ! wbat bad actions did he do ?” “Oh! I beg your pardon! he did no bad actions that I ever heard of, but, on the contrary, he was uncommonly good to the poor ; but then—" “ But then, what?"
Why, he did not believe in the devil !” Such are the fruits of bigot teaching. In vain has Christ said, “By their fruits shall yo know them." I begged the poor man, of whom I found Shelley bought po groceries, at least to leave him to the judgment of his God, and of Christ, who came to seek and to save all that were lost; and to believe those great assurances of the gospel, that the prodigal, when he had committed all kind of crimes, found not only a pacified but a fond father ; that he that hath not charity is as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and that he that loveth intensely, thongh he may think erroneously, will stand a very fair chance with the Father of love himself.
"But pray what has become of this Mr. Shelley, then ?” asked the man's wife, who had come from an inner room. “He was drowned," I replied. “Oh! that's just what one might have expected. Drowned ! Lud-a-mercy! ay, just what we might ha' said he'd come to. He was always on the water,-always boating, boating,-never easy but when he was in that boat. Do you know what a trick was played him by some wag ?” “No." "He called his boat' Vaga,' and one morning he found the name lengthened, by a piece of chalk, with the word. bond'-Vagabond. There are clever fellows here, as well as in London, mind you. But Mr. Shelley was not offended. He only laughed ; for, you see, he did not believe in a devil, and so he thought there could be nothing wrong. He used to say, when he heard of wickednesg, “Ah, poor people ! it's only ignorance ; if they knew better, they'd do better!' Oh; what darkness and heathenry! to excuso sin, and feel no godly jealousy against wickedness!” I found that the crabbed creedsman had been there too long before me. My hint about charity was thrown away, and I moved off, lest I myself for faith in Jesus Christ, who would not condemn even the adulteress at the desire of the vengeful and the sensual, should be found wanting in holy indignation too.
It was in vain that I inquired amongst the class of little gentry In the place for information about Shelley—they knew nothing of ury such person. At length, after much research, and the running to and fro of waiters from the inn, I was directed to an ancient surgeon who had attended almost everybody for the last half-century, I found him an old man of nearly ninety. He recollected Shelley : had attended him, but knew little about him. He was a very unsocial man, he said ; kept no company but Mr. Peacock's, and that of his boat, and was never seen in the town but he had a book in his hand, and was reading as he went along. The old gentleman, however, kindly sent his servant to point out Shelley's house to me, and as I returned up the street, I saw him standing bare-headed on the pavement before his door, in active discourse with various neighbours. My inquiries had evidently aroused the Marlowean curiosity. On coming up, the old gentleman inquired eagerly if I wanted to learn more yet about Mr. Shelley.-I had learned little or nothing. I replied that I should be very happy. “Then," said he, “ come in, Sir, for I have sent for a gentleman who knows all about him.” I entered, and found a tall, well-dressed man, with a very solemn aspect. “It is the squire of the place,” said I to myself. With a very solemn bow he arose, and with very solemn bows we sat down opposite to each other. “I am happy to hear," I said, “that you knew Mr. Shelley, and can give me some particulars regarding his residence here.” “I can, Sir," he replied, with another solemn bow. I waited to hear news—but I waited in vain. That Mr. Shelley had lived there, and that he had long left there, and that his house was down the street, and that he was a very extraordinary man-he knew, and I knew; but that was all : not a word of his doings or his sayings at Marlowe came out of the solemn brain of that large solemn man. But at length a degree of interest appeared to gather in his cheeks and brighten in his eyes. “Thank God!” I exclaimed, inwardly. “The man is slow, but it is coming now." His mouth opened, and he said, “ But pray, Sir, what became of that Mr. Shelley ? "
“What, did you never hear ?” I exclaimed. “Did it never reach Marlowe--but thirty miles from London—that sad story of his death, which created a sensation throughout the civilized world ? " No, the thing had never penetrated into the Baotian denseness of that place! I rose up, and now bowed solemnly too. “And pray what family might he leave ?” asked the solemn personage, as I was hasting away. “You will learn that,” I said, still going away, “iu the Baronetage, if such a book ever reaches Marlowe.”
I hastened to the inn where my chaise was standing ready for my departure, and was just in the act of entering it, when I heard a sort of outcry, perceived a sort of bustle behind me, and turning my head, saw the tall and solemn man hasting with huge and anxious strides after me.
“ You'll excuse me, Sir; you'll excuse me, I think ; but I could relate to you a fact, and I think I will venture to relate to you a fact connected with the late Mr. Shelley.” “Do,” said I. “I think I will,” replied the tall stout man, heaving a deep sigh, and erecting himself to his fuil height, far above my head, and casting a most awful glance at the sky. “I think I will,—I think I may venture."
“ It is certainly something very sad and agonizing," I said to myself; “but I wish he would only bring it out.” “Well, then," continued he, with another heave of his capacious chest, and another great glance at the distant horizon, “I certainly will mention it. It was this. When Mr. Shelley left Marlowe, he ordered all his bills to be paid, most honourably, certainly, most honourably; and they were paid-all-except-mine! There, Sir! it is out; excuse it-excuse it; but I am glad it is out.”
“ What! a bill!” I exclaimed, in profoundest astonishment, “a bill !-was that all?"
“ All, Sir! all! everything of the sort; every shilling, I assure you, has been paid, but my little account; and it was my fault; I don't know how in the world I forgot to send it in."
“ What,” said I, “are you not the squire here? What are you ?"
“Oh, Lord! no, Sir! I am no squire here! I am a tradesman ! I am-in the general way!”
“Drive on!” I said, springing into the carriage, “ drive like the Dragon of Wantley out of this place-Shelley is remembered in Marlowe because there was one bill left unpaid !”
There again is fame. It would be a curious thing if the man who deems himself most thoroughly and universally famous, and walks about in the comfortable persuasion of it, could see his fame mapped upon the country. What an odd figure it would make ! A few feeble rays shooting here and there, but all around what vast patches of unvisited country, what unilluminated regions, what deserts of oblivion of his name! Shelley lived, and suffered, and spent himself for mankind, and in the place where he last lived in England, within thirty miles of the great metropolis of genius and knowledge, he is only remembered by a bad joke on his boat, by his disbelief of the devil, and by a forgotten bill. Were it not forgotten, he had been 80! Eheu! jan satis.
On the 12th of March, 1818, Shelley quitted England once more. He was never to return. His own fate and that of Byron were wonderfully alike. The two greatest, most original, most powerful, and influential poets of the age, were driven into exile by the public feeling of their country. They could not bring themselves to think on political questions with a large party, nor on religious ones with a still larger; and every species of vituperation and insult was let 100se upon them. As if charity and forbearance had been heathen qualities, and wrath and calumny Christian virtues, the British public most loftily resolved not to do as Christ required them to love those who hated them and despitefully used them, but to hate those who loved them, and had noble virtues, though they had their errors. Their errors should have been lamented, and their doctrines refuted as much as possible ; but there is no law, human or divine, that can release us from the law of love, and the command of seventy times seven forgiveness of injuries. Both these great men died in their exile of hatred—the world had its will for the time, and the spirits of these dead outcasts must now have their will, in their deathless volumes, to the end of time.