« AnteriorContinuar »
tually amounting to it.”—(Sir William the knots meant we could not tell. He Manning, Attorney-General of New South- was stripped of his clothes, his head frightWales.)
fully smashed, and several wounds in the The circumstances of his death in Sep- body. tember last are thus related by the master “ It is quite certain some vessel had been of the Southern Cross, and his companions here ill-using the natives a very short time on this last sad voyage. Bishop Patteson previous to our coming, or they never proceeded in the first instance to Mota, would have killed the Bishop. Every one of the Banks group, with the Rev. J. year he called at this place he would give Atkin and a catechist Stephen; and hav- the chiefs and people presents, and remain ing made preparations for a tour among a considerable part of the day on shore the heathen islands, set out for the Santa with them.” Cruz group, which lies in lat. 10° S., and What then is to be done? It is imposlong. 165° E., 350 miles north of the New- sible that these things can be allowed any Hebrides :
longer. They have been suffered already “During Mr. Atkin's stay at Wonga, he too long. With what grace can the Engwas speaking to the captain of the Emma lish Government, as representing an antiBell, who told him he was going to Santa slavery people, remonstrate with other naCruz for labor. This news made the tions against Cuban oppressions and PeruBishop very uneasy, as he very well knew vian kidnapping, when its own subjects are if a vessel went there mischief would re- guilty of the same crimes. When the seizsult from it. He made his mind up to go ure of the Charles et George, in 1858, by to the Reef Islands, and to ascertain if any the Portuguese Government, brought to vessels had been about. On the 15th of light the French scheme under which carSeptember made Santa Cruz; very light goes of negroes were to be secured at winds. September 20: Light winds off Zanzibar and Kilwa for the Bourbon esNukapu. About four miles distant saw tates, all of whom were to be voluntary five or six canoes coming out. When with- emigrants engaged under contracts, why in a mile or two from the vessel they lay-to. did the English Government successfully We thought it strange they did not come oppose the scheme, except on the ground alongside; on former occasions they would that the ignorant tribes could not underhave been alongside and have boarded us stand civilized contracts and terms of sersix and seven miles off the land. The vice, and that the traffic would certainly Bishop had the boat lowered and went to degenerate into a practical slavery. It is them. [This was the last we saw of him a precisely similar system which has now alive.] It being low water, the boat could been established in Queensland and Fiji, not go over the reef. The Bishop, as it and with almost that result. was usual for him to do, got into a canoe The total suppression of the traffic seems and went on shore, accompanied by the to be impracticable. Its total suppression two chiefs, Taula and Motu, the remaining could be secured only on terms which four canoes remaining with the boat. would hamper, if not entirely prevent, all About the time the Bishop would have got movement of native islanders on English on shore the natives in the canoes attack- vessels from one part of the Pacific to aned the boat, firing several arrows at the other. But that is no reason why a strenucrew before they could get the boat out of ous effort should not be made to place the shot. Mr. Atkin was hit in the back of system under strong regulations, and sethe shoulder; Stephen, a native of Bouro, cure due punishment to the men that had six arrows in him, one in the breast; abuse it. At this moment an extensive John, a native of Mota, shot in the system of voluntary emigration is carried side. · We saw the natives put on between the Continent of India on the off in two canoes from shore. One of one side, and the West India Colonies, them they turned adrift, the other went Mauritius, and Bourbon on the other. It back to the shore. Presently the boat is carried on quietly, steadily, with regulariwent towards the drifting canoe, and found ty, and with due care for the rights of all the dead body of the Bishop in her, rolled concerned. No doubt it is at times abusup in a native mat. A small branch of ed; no doubt crimps and agents, by glowthe cocoanut palm, with five knots, was ing pictures and delusive promises, succeed stuck in the mat. What the palm with in deceiving men and women, and inducing them to go abroad. But there is no nesses may be brought to the Courts, comviolence, the wages are real, and the emi- pensated for their attendance, and sent grants are protected in their return. How back again. It is also provided that the is this? Because the Government of In- testimony of heathen islanders shall be addia insists on taking care of its people. All missible in these courts, and in the cases emigrants must go through the coolie de- into which they inquire. pôts, and be examined by the Government But these things are not enough. It is agent who knows their language. All ves- of the last importance that the entire imsels must be licensed; must be examined; portation into Fiji, as well as into Queensmust have a surgeon ; must guarantee a land, shall be placed in Government hands, certain space and scale of provisions. The shall be carried on in Government vessels, emigrants are received by Government au- and be watched by a sufficient number of thorities; they are inspected and watched English cruisers. The English settlements by those authorities during their time of in the Fijis must also have an English service; and those authorities insure their Court, and the Consul must be empowered safe return at its close. The result is that to seize offending vessels there. regular vessels are engaged in the traffic; Stern regulations, enforced by a strong that certain vessels and captains are favor- hand, and backed by a healthy public ites; that evils are kept under control; opinion, ought to place the entire system and that large numbers of “coolies” return under a firm control. We can be content safely with the wages they have saved. with nothing less. For many generations Their rights and their freedom have been the English people have been contending in the main secured.
with the system of slavery. There has alIt is with great satisfaction, therefore, ways been a formidable number of interthat the proposal of the Colonial Office to ested men, who sought, by compelling the deal with the traffic during the present ses- dark races to labor, to get special benefit sion of Parliament has been observed by at their expense. The early planters in those who have loudly protested against Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas deits conduct hitherto. The Bill introduced veloped the whole system of American into the House of Commons by Mr. slavery out of this desire for gain. The Knatchbull-Hugessen proposes to visit planters in Cuba, Chili, and Peru have with the penalties of felony all British sub- sought the coolies of China for the same jects who decoy natives by force or fraud; end. And it is this which has given so who ship them without their consent; who powerful a stimulus in the brief period of make contracts for shipping them; who fit five years to the kidnapping of South Sea out or man such vessels, or who sup- Islanders in Queensland and Fiji. It is ply those vessels with goods for the pur- the same hydra everywhere. We have pose. All offences under the Act may be not contended with it'in vainand it is tried in any Supreme Court in Australia ; time that, at least among Englishmen, the witnesses may be examined by commission question of its continuance shall be settled away from the colonies; and native wit- once for all.
It is a very common error in the world, while no numbers were falling from their when dealing with persons of genius, and lips. But with our present subject the especially with poets, to swamp the man case is different. Shelley was a poet only in the writer, and to regard as poet only, -an embodied Song—scarcely a man at an individual probably strong in natural all. He stands before us with glittering characteristics, and with a most solid and eyes looking out from among the shadows, muscular basis of humanity to make a as his friend Trelawney saw him first-a pedestal for his genius. With such poets wild and wayward figure, more like the as those we have already discussed, this Faun of the classic imagination, or those idea would be a thoroughly false one, for strange beautiful beings who dwelt bethey were all most distinguishable men tween earth and heaven on the heights of apart from their inspired condition, and Gothic fancy, than a mere plodding morNEW SERIES.
VOL. XVI., No. 1
tal like ourselves. He is a creature whom, est of all, no such thing as equality is posthough his sins were not passed over by sible between man and man. And Shelhis contemporaries, we who come after ley is emphatically one of the exceptions can scarcely think of as bearing any against whom the most inexorable Rhadaweight of moral obligation at all. He manthus could wield no sword of justice. has no responsibilities, no duties, except As a man, we should be compelled to say to be happy when he can, and kind, and that he discharged very badly all the oblito sing. Instinctively we feel that here is gations of life, and was commendable in the being who ought to be Nature's spoilt none of its relationships. He surrounded child. The sun should always shine for himself with a youthful bravado of infidelhim, and his own west wind blow, and ity, which most likely meant very little. the lark make delicious music. His world He was not particular about truth-telling, ought to be that garden in which the sen- nor any of those usually necessary moralisitive plant flourished. There should be ties. Such weaknesses render a man very a river for this favorite of earth to float objectionable ; but they do not affect a upon in his boat under the overhanging Faun one way or another, or alter our trees, interrupted by nothing worse than opinion of that beautiful woodland creahere and there a fragrant copse of water- ture; and Shelley was much more a Faun lilies; or even a delightful mimic sea, a than a man. He was sheer poetry only sheltered celestial inlet, in which he could half embodied at any time—a spirit of an gently dare and safely attain the flowery intermediary world--a wandering genieisles and rosy rocks, with ever a safe piece nothing more. of silver strand at their feet to beach his Such a visionary being, however, unless fairy vessel. And there should be woods very specially cared for, is apt to come deep and soft, breathing coolness and into dismal contact with the harder entibalmy rest and solitude ; and blue moun- ties that fill the world. It requires, intains, such as are seen only in heaven and deed, even on the part of father and Italy. And unseen guardians should wan- mother, an extreme clearness of vision to der about, woodland creatures, with pene- be able to perceive that it is a Faun they trating eyes, to charm away all newts and have to deal with. Even Love erects toads, as once they did from T'itania's itself against such a theory_love which is slumbers. To place Wordsworth 'or not of its nature tolerant but rather exactBurns in such a scene would be ludicrous; ing, demanding excellence, or something and the puzzled movements of the as- which it can believe to be excellence, with tonished Titan thus surrounded would a voice which is often imperious in its move the world to inextinguishable laugh- passion. And college dons and university ter ; but with Shelley it would be natural. Officials are still less likely to perceive the Those soft shades would caress him like peculiar mental constitution of an offendthe touch of angels. The dreamy quiet, ing undergraduate. Neither would it seem the soft varieties of bliss, would heal all that Shelley in his early days had any nis wounds. Not heaven nor earth, but friend in the least capable of understandthis elysium between the two, would be ing his character, or treating his peculiarihis natural sphere.
ties with wisdom. Therefore, while he It is one of the triumphs of modern was but a boy, his life got astray among civilization to have placed all the world all kinds of painful and misleading curon the same level before the law; but this rents, and the boat which was fit for nothrule, though inevitable in public affairs, is, ing greater than an encounter with the as every body knows, subject to all manner water-lilies, was forced upon many a rock of modifications at the tribunal of private and down many a rapid. Nothing can judgment. There are always some people be more sad than a premature blight upon whom, according to the nature of things, a life scarcely yet emerged from the bud, we judge more leniently than others; and or capable of understanding the miseries some upon whom we find it impossible to which it is precociously capable of inflictput any serious moral stigma, though their ing upon itself. Shelley lived but thirty offences, according to the letter, have been years in this unkindly world. Before as grievous as those to which in others twenty of them had passed he had ruined we allot the deepest condemnation. Even himself in public estimation, estranged in this point, which would seem the easi- himself from his relations, and cut off from before his own wayward feet all possibility being no evidence either for or against of a worthy career. Sad throughout was them, his biographers take for granted the fate of the unfortunate poet. Had he we are content to believe that the strange not been a poet, men in general would spirit which already chafed at all the conhave made small moan over the misfor- ditions and restrictions of every-day hutunes of the young fool who wrecked manity met with a certain amount of trouhimself thus willfully and early. As it is, ble from the ordinary flesh and blood his life has been the subject of countless which surrounded him. For one thing, comments, attacks, and defences; and as with that curious exaggeration of personal a life, we doubt whether there is much to independence which is always to be found be said for it one way or another. We in a certain number of boys, he set his give up, accordingly, the vain idea to treat face against the fagging system, which Shelley seriously as a man. Poor wander- probably, like other things, was of a ruder ing soul! he was, after all, little more than and more disagreeable character than at a boy when he came to a sudden conclu- present. This, which is but an insignifision in those blue Mediterranean waves cant incident in his career, is a most which are salt and bitter to some as any valuable indication of his character. ShelBaltic. He was a Poet, a Spirit of the ley was beyond the reach of those ordirace of Ariel, and him who invoked Sa- nary motives which make the wholesome brina in Milton's stately verse--and it is mass of ordinary boys place their necks in this character that we will understand cheerfully and even with a certain pride him best.
under this yoke, which is of the school's This exceptional being was born in own making-prescribed and sanctioned August, 1792, on the very edge of the by that truest of republics, and supported great Revolution which did all but over- by the public opinion of its members. turn the world; of a family not at all re- To such sentiments, which in their way markable in any way, to which hence. are of an elevated and elevating order, forward he was a mystery and a trouble and contain the germ of one of the highunceasing, as any fairy child is likely to be est of human principles-voluntary suborin a humdrum modern household. He dination to received law—the poet was had a sister Elizabeth, who was very like absolutely impervious. He was apparhim in appearance, and who in her early ently incapable even of conceiving what youth dabbled in verse like himself; but is meant by esprit de corps, the pride of probably she was no changeling, and the corporate and public being, and the sway resemblance and natural attraction be- of tradition. The whole principle of his tween them appears to have faded as life life was individuality. Notwithstanding a went on. Of his childhood little or nothing most generous heart always ready to overis known. He went to school at ten, when, flow in the wildest liberality of charity and being a very delicate-looking and lovely almsgiving, the higher generosity of obechild—a curled darling fresh from the dience was altogether out of his reach. nursery—he had a hard time of it, as is He is like a restive horse that kicks and not unusual. At fifteen he went to Eton, flings at the very appearance of bit and where he became, according to all his bridle. To give he is willing-to submit biographers, the victim of much cruelty, is impossible to him. He is Ariel, but rudeness, and persecution on the part of Ariel before either Sycorax or Prosperohis comrades
. "The Eton of the present the fatal witch or the potent magicianday has become so peaceable, well-bred, had bound him. The passion of his life, and gentlemanly, that the story of the tor- thus developed in its very earliest stage, is tures inflicted upon young Shelley read, to resistance. From that instinctive struggle those who know the school, like one of against a school-boy's dearest authority, the feverish dreams of his own over-ex- the law and custom of his school, which cited imagination. But times were ruder he maintained at fifteen, until the time in the beginning of the century; and when-alas ! not another fifteen years full. though we do not know by what rule we counted—he had to succumb at last to an. are to distinguish between the grotesque adversary no man can successfully resist, adventures of after-days-in which he the whole scope both of his life and dochimself seems to have believed, but no- trine is vehement opposition-resistancebody else—and those stories which, there it does not much matter to what-to God,
to man, to law, to authority-whatsoever imaginations too. Several years later, and whosoever opposed him. Perhaps it when he already called himself a man, he is, more almost than its fine poetry, the informed Godwin in a letter that he had extraordinary life of this principle, the very been twice expelled from Eton; but for essence of his being, which makes his this statement there does not seem the crowning poem, “ Prometheus,” stand out slightest foundation. According to all a great and terrible picture against the likelihood, he left his school much as other pale heavens and the shuddering earth. boys do whose career there has not been This was the highest conception he could brilliant. He had a quantity of books reach of human superiority. How far it given him on leaving by his schoolfellows, might be the fault of his age, we can not which some of his biographers take as a tell—or how far it was peculiar to his wild mark of their attachment to him-a point and lawless spirit; but it is clear that this as to which old Eton men, knowing the great yet inevitably inferior ideal took habit of the place, will be less certain. possession of him. He saw no beauty in He went to Oxford in the year 1810, bethat loftier and more splendid faculty of fore which period he had composed and submission .which is the theory of Chris- published two volumes of what we are astianity; a harmonious movement in con- sured were extremely foolish novels. In cert with all the music of the spheres, with Oxford, however, he emerges out of the the will of Heaven, and the courtesies and mythological period in which we can be primitive sympathies of earth, was a thing certain of nothing; and here a prophet at which his Faun-eyes glittered wildly, and interpreter of Shelley appears to lend blank with incomprehension. But those us his solid and consequential aid. Mr. eyes glowed with terrible and wonderful Jefferson Hogg, who was the poet's chief vision when the old fable of the resisting and most intimate friend during his brief Titan, indomitable, unconquerable, waken- career at the University, is as strange a ed their depths. This he understood and biographer as such an eccentric and way. felt to the very depths of his ghostly na- ward soul could well have. His jaunty ture. Resistance ! it was his ideal of all patronage of his young hero, his mingled lofty character, and the principle of his life. sense of Shelley's superiority to every body
We have not space to linger upon all and his own superiority to Shelley, and his the wild traditions of his school-boy life, delightful confidence that in his own peropposed as it was to every thing that could son he is equally interesting to the world, be called authority. He was fond of is full of the frankest naïveté ; but we beGreek and Latin, and would have gladly lieve his book has been accepted as in the studied them by his own will; but the main a true record founded upon personal fact that it was the will of the masters knowledge. Shelley was eighteen at the that he should learn, set him astray at time when he thus suddenly, as it were, once. He “would not submit to the bounds upon the scene, a slim lad with trammels of the gradus." "Shelley never brilliant eyes, stooping shoulders, a voice would obey;" and in pure perverseness it like a peacock, and the most wonderful would seem, because such learning was "ways" that ever young collegian had. discouraged, he took to studying chemistry Mr. Hogg saw him first at dinner in the and electricity instead. These scientific hall of University College, a freshman studies were prosecuted under the care of newly arrived-and, beginning to talk to a Dr. Lind in Windsor, who is reported to him, became so absorbed that every body have amused himself and the boy by en- was gone from the hall, and the college gaging in bouts of cursing, the King and servants had come to clear the table, beShelley's father being the special objects of fore the two young men came to them. these 'extraordinary anathemas. But this selves. Oddly enough, the discussion which is the mythological period of the poet's so entranced them was upon the relative life, and there seems always to have been merits of German and Italian poetry-a ground for hoping that such wild stories, discussion which was characteristically and when told only by himself, might be mere summarily concluded, when the young disimaginations. Perhaps the other eccentri. putants had retired to Hogg's rooms, by cities of the time-his sallying forth at the mutual admission that neither knew midnight to call up the devil, his burning any thing of the literature he had so hotly of trees, and similar cantrips-were but defended!