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SHELLEY, P. B.


motives and incidents of this foreign sojourn. The clear fact is that Miss Clairmont, who had a hne voice and some inclination for the stage, had seen Byron, as connected with the management of Drury Lane theatre, early in the year, and an amorous intrigue had begun between them in London. Prima facie it seems quite reasonable to suppose that she had explained the facts to Shelley or to Mary, or to both, and had induced them to convoy her to the society of Byron abroad; were this finally established as the fact, it would show no inconsistency of conduct, or breach of his own code of sexual morals, on Shelley's part. On the other hand, documentary evidence exists showing that Mary was totally ignorant of the amour shortly before they went abroad. Whether or not they knew of it while they and Claire were in daily intercourse with Byron, and housed close by him on the shore of the Lake of Geneva, may be left unargued. The three returned to London in September 1816, Byron remaining abroad; and in January 1817 Miss Clairmont gave birth to his daughter named Allegra.

The return of the Shelleys was closely followed by two suicides -first that of Fanny Wollstonecraft (already referred to), and second that of Harriet Shelley, who on the 9th of November drowned herself in the Serpentine. The body was not found until the 10th of December. The latest stages of the lovely and ill-starred Harriet's career have never been very explicitly recorded. It seems that she formed a connexion with some gentleman from whom circumstances or desertion separated her, that her habits became intemperate, and that she was treated with contumelious harshness by her sister during an illness of their father. She had always had a propensity (often laughed at in earlier and happier days) to the idea of suicide, and she now carried it out in act-possibly without anything which could be regarded as an extremely cogent predisposing motive, although the total weight of her distresses, accumulating within the past two years and a half, was beyond question heavy to bear. Shelley, then at Bath, hurried up to London when he heard of Harriet's death, giving manifest signs of the shock which so terrible a catastrophe had produced on him. Some self-reproach must no doubt have mingled with his afliiction and dismay; yet he does not appear to have considered himself gravely in the wrong at any stage in the transaction, and it is established that in the train of quite recent events which immediately led up to Harriet's suicide he had borne no part. This was the time when Shelley began to see a great ideal of Leigh Hunt, the poet and essayist, editor of the Examiner; they were close friends, and Hunt did something to uphold the reputation of Shelley as a poet-which, we may here say once for all, scarcely obtained any public acceptance or solidity during his brief lifetime. The death of Harriet having removed the only obstacle to a marriage with Mary Godwin, the wedding ensued on the 30th of December 1816, and the married couple settled down at Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Their tranquillity was shortly disturbed by a Chancery suit set in motion by Mr Westbrook, who asked for the custody of his two grandchildren, on the ground that Shelley had deserted his wife and intended to bring up his offspring in his own atheistic and anti-social opinions. Lord Chancellor Eldon delivered judgment on the 27th of March 1817. He held that Shelley, having avowed condemnable principles of conduct, and having fashioned his own conduct to correspond, and being likely to inculcate the same principles upon his children, was unfit to have the charge of them. He appointed as their curator Dr Hume, an orthodox army physician, who was Shelley's own nominee. The poet had to pay for the maintenance of the children a sum which stood eventually at £120 per annum; if it was at first (as generally stated) £200, that was no more than what he had previously allowed to Harriet. This is the last incident of marked importance in the perturbed career of Shelley; the rest relates to the history of his mind, the poems which he produced and published, and his changes of locality in travelling. The first ensuing poem was The Revolt of Islam, referred to near the close of this article. In March 1818, after an illness which he regarded (rightly or wrongly) as a dangerous pulmonary attack, Shelley, with his wife, th-eir two infants William and Clara, and Miss Clairmont and her baby Allegra, went off to Italy, where the short remainder of his life was passed. Allegra was soon sent on to Venice, to her father, who, ever since parting from Miss Clairmont in Switzerland, showed a callous and unfeeling determination to see and know no more about her. In 1818 the Shelleys-always nearly with Miss Clairmont in their company—were in Milan, Leghorn, the Bagni di Lucca, Venice and its neighbourhood, Rome, and Naples; in 1819 in "Rome, the vicinity of Leghorn, and Florence (both their infants were now dead, but a third fwas born late in 1819, Percy F lorence'Shelly, who in 1844 inherited the baronetcy); in 1820 in Pisa the Bagni di Pisa (or di San Giuliano), and Leghorn; in 1821 in Pisa and with Byron in Ravenna; in 1822 in Pisa and on the Bay of Spezia, between Lerici and Sari Terenzio. The incidents of this period are but few, and of no great importance apart from their bearing upon the poet's writings. In Leghorn he knew Mr and Mrs Gisborne, the latter a once intimate friend of Godwin; she taught Shelley Spanish, and he was eager to promote a project for a steamer to be built by her son by a former marriage, the engineer Henry Reveley; it would have been the first steamer to navigate the Gulf of Lyons. In Pisa he formed a sentimental intimacy with the Contessina Emilia Viviani, a girl who was pining in a convent pending her father's choice of a husband for her; this impassioned but vague and fanciful attachment+which soon came to an end, as Emilia's character developed less favourably in the eyes of her Platonic adorer-produced the transcendental love-poem of Epipsychiclion in 1821. In Ravenna the scheme of the quarterly magazine the Liberal was concerted by Byron and Shelley, the latter being principally interested in it with a view to benefiting Leigh Hunt* by such an association with Byron. In Pisa Byron and Shelley were very constantly together, having in their company at one time or another Shel1ey's cousin and schoolfellow Captain Thomas Medwin (1788-1869), Lieutenant Edward Elliker Williams (1793-1822) and his wife, to both of whom the poet was very warmly attached, a.nd Captain Edward John Trelawny, the adventurous and romantic-natured seaman, who has left important and interesting reminiscences of this period. Byron admired very highly the generous, unworldly and enthusiastic character of Shelley, and set some value on his writings; Shelley half-worshipped Byron as a poet, and was anxious, but in some conjunctures by no means able, to respect him as a man. In Pisa he knew also Prince Alexander Mavrocordato, one of the pioneers of Grecian insurrection and freedom; the glorious cause fired Shelley, and he-wrote the drama of Hellas (1821). The last residence of Shelley was the Casa Magni, a bare and exposed dwelling on the Gulf of Spezia. He and his wife, with the Williamses, went there at the end of April 1822 to spend the summer, which proved an arid and scorching one. Shelley and Williams, both of them insatiably fond of boating, had a small schooner named the “ Don ]uan ” (or more properly the “ Ariel ”), built at Genoa e after a design which Williams had procured from a naval friend, but the reverse of safe. They received her on the 12th of May, found her rapid and alert, and on the 1st of July started in her to Leghorn, to meet Leigh Hunt, whose arrival in Italy had just been notified. After doing his best to set things going comfortably between Byron and Hunt, Shelley returned on board with Williams on the 8th of July. It was a day of dark, louring, stifling heat. Trelawny took leave of his two friends, and about half-past six in the evening found himself startled from a doze by a frightful turmoil of storm. The “Don ]uan ” had by this time made Via Reggio; she was not to be seen, though other vessels which had sailed about the same time were still discernible. Shelley, Williams, and their only companion, a sailor-boy, perished in the squall. The exact nature of the catastrophe was from the first regarded as somewhat disputable. The condition of the “ Don ]uan ” when recovered did not favour any assumption that she had capsized in a heavy sea—rather that she had been run down by some other vessel, a felucca or fishing-smack. In the absence of any counter evidence this would- be supposed to have occurred by accident;

but a rumour, not strictly verified and certainly not refuted,