Imatges de pàgina


The impress of Shelley's character is stamped everywhere upon his work. In his case, to an even greater degree than usual, some knowledge of the man is necessary for the understanding of his writings. To furnish this knowledge, in as far as our narrow limits will permit, is the aim of the following sketch. It seems superfluous, therefore, to occupy space in giving the present writer's opinion on those many points in Shelley's conduct which have been the subject of controversy, and upon which such divergent judgments have been

, pronounced. There were passages in Shelley's life from boyhood onward which, had he not been a man of genius, would incur the unhesitating censure of the world in general. He set parental and scholastic authority at defiance; he was guilty of indoctrinating the immature minds of youth with religious opinions which their natural guardians held in abhorrence; he tried to convince a younger sister, just entering womanhood, that legal marriage was a needless form; he deserted his wife without, as far as is known, any grounds which would ordinarily be regarded as adequate, and eloped with a girl not yet seventeen years old, — the daughter of an intimate friend. Yet Shelley has inspired many of his admirers with an enthusiasm which leads them to write in terms of unbroken eulogy, not merely of the poet, but of the man ; to treat with injustice persons who came into collision with him during his lifetime ; and sometimes to play fast and loose with the dictates of good sense and sound morals. On the other hand, unqualified condemna

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