Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

mind of man and man himself are enslaved as long as this god exercises his delegated but now absolute power. Prometheus, who is from of old wedded to Asia, or Nature, protests against and anathematizes the usurper enthroned by himself. At last the anathema (although Prometheus has revoked it by an act of self-conquest) takes effect: Eternity, Demogorgon, dismisses Jupiter to unending nothingness. Prometheus is at once unbound, the human mind is free; he is reunited to his spouse Nature, and the world of man passes from thraldom and its degradation into limitless progression, or (as the phrase goes) perfectibility, moral and material. This we regard as in brief the argument of Prometheus Unbound. It is closely analogous to the argument of the juvenile poem Queen M ab, but so raised in form and creative touch that, whereas to write Queen M ab was only to be an ambitious and ebullient tiro, to invent Prometheus Unbound was to be the poet of the future. The Witch of Atlas (18213) is the most perfect work among all Shelley's longer poems, though it is neither the deepest nor the most interesting. I t may be rated as a pure exercise of roving imagination-guided, however, by an intense sense of beauty, and by its author's exceeding fmeness of nature. The poem has often been decried as practically unmeaning; we do not subscribe to this opinion. The “ witch ” of this subtle and magical invention seems to represent that faculty which we term “ thefancy ”; using this assumption as a clue, we find plenty of meaning in the poem, but necessarily it is fanciful or volatile meaning. The elegy on Keats, Adonais, followed in 182I; the Triumph of Life, a mystical and most impressive allegory, constructed upon lines marked out by Dante and by Petrarch, was occupying the poet up to the time of his death. The stately fragment which remains is probably a minor portion of the projected whole. The translations-chiefly from Homer, Euripides, Calderon and Goethe-date from 1819 to 1822, and testify to the poetic endowment of Shelley not less absolutely than his own original compositions; there are also prose translations from Plato. Shelley, it will be seen, was not only a prolific but also a versatile poet. Works so various in faculty and in form as The Revolt of I slam, Julian and M addalo, The Cenei, Prometheus Unbound, Epipysychidion, and the grotesque effusions of which Peter Bell the Third is the prime example, added to the consummate array of lyrics, have seldom to be credited to a single writer one, moreover, who died before he was thirty years of age. In prose Shelley could be as admirable as in poetry. His letters to Thomas Love Peacock and others, and his uncompleted Defence of Poetry, are the chief monuments of his mastery in prose; and certainly no more beautiful prose-having much of the spirit and the aroma of poetry, yet without being distorted out of its proper essence-is to be found in the English language.

The chief original authorities for the life of ShelleY (apart from his own writings, which contain a good deal of autobiography, if heedfully sifted and collated) are-(1) the notices by Mrs Shelley interspersed in her edition of the Poems; (2) Hogg's amusing, discern in and authentic, although in some respects exaggerated, book; (5 Trelawny's Records; (4) the Life by Medwin; and (5) the articles written by Peacock. Some other writers, especially Leigh Hunt, might be mentioned, but they come less close to the facts. Among biographical books produced since Shellev's death, by authors who did not know him personally, the leading work is the Life by Professor Dowden (2 vols., 1886), which embodies important materials imparted by the Shelley family. The Real Shelley, by ]. C. lealfreson (1885), is controversial in method and decidedly hostile in tendency, and tries a man of genius by tests far from well adapted (in our opinion) to bring out a right result; it contains, however, an ample share of solid information and sharp disquisition. The memoir by W. M. Rossetti, prefixed to an edition of Shelley's Poems in two forms of publication (1870 and 1878), was an endeavour to formulate in brief space, out of the then confused and conflicting records, an accurate account of Shelley-admiring, but not uncandidly one-sided. There is valuable material in Lady Shelley's Shelley Memorials, and in Dr Garnett's Relics of Shelley; and the memoir by I. Addington Symonds, in the English Men of Lettersseries, is characteristic of the writer. The most complete edition of Shelley's poems is now the Oxford edition, edited by Thomas Hutchinson (Clarendon Press, 1905), which lncludes several pieces not in any other edition, and uses the emendations, &c., published by Mr CD. Locock (1903) from examination of the MSS. in the Bodleian Library. Mr Buxton F orman's earlier and excellent edition includes the writings in prose, as well asin verse. (W. M. R.)

SHELLEY'S CASE, RULE IN, an important decision in the law of real property. The litigation was brought about by the settlement made by Sir William Shelley (e. 1480-1549), a judge of the common pleas, of an estate which he had purchased on the dissolution of Sion Monastery. After prolonged argument the celebrated rule was laid down by Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Bromley, who presided over an assembly of all the judges to hear the case in, Easter term 1580-1 581. The rule may be stated as follows: when an ancestor by any gift or conveyance takes an estate of freehold and in the same gift or conveyance an estate is limited, either mediately or immediately, to his heirs or the heirs of his body, in such a case the word “ heirs 'r' is a word of limitation and not of purchase; that is to say, the estate of the ancestor is not a life or other freehold estate with remainder to the heirs or heirs of the body, but an estate in fee or anestate tail according to circumstances. Therule is a highly technical one, and has led to much litigation and in many cases without a doubt to the defeat of a testator's intentions. It is said to have had its origin in the wish of the law to preserve to the lords their right of wardship, which would have been ousted by the heir taking as purchaser and not as successor. The rule is reported by Lord Coke in 1 Reports Q3 b. (see also Van Grutten v. Foxwell, 1897, A.C. 658). In the United States the rule in She1ley's case was at one time in operation as a part of the common law, but it has been repealed by statute in most states.

SHELL-HEAPS, or Kitchen-Midden (Dan. Kjökken-mödding), prehistoric refuse heaps or mounds found in all quarters of the globe, which consist chiefly of the shells of edible mollusks mixed with fragments of animal bones, and implements of stone, bone and horn. They may sometimes, as in the Straits of Magellan, be seen in process of formation. Many having a prehistoric origin, have been examined, notably on the eastern coast of Denmark. These were at first thought to be raised beaches, but a cursory examination at once proved their artificial construction. Further investigation by archaeologists proved these shell-heaps to belong to» a very ancient period, probably the early part of the Neolithic age, “ when the art of polishing flint implements was known, but before it had reached its greatest development ” (Lord Avebury, Prehistoric Times, 6th ed. p. 235). They contained the remains of quadrupeds, birds and fish, which served as the food of the prehistoric inhabitants. Among the bones were those of the wild bull or aurochs, beaver, seal and great auk, all now extinct or rare in this region. Moreover, a striking proof of the antiquity of these shell-heaps is that they contain full-sized shells of the common oyster, which cannot live at present in the brackish waters of the Baltic except near its entrance, the inference being that the shores where the oyster at that time flourished were open to the salt sea. Thus also the eatable cockle, mussel and periwinkle abounding in the kitchen-middens are of full ocean size, whereas those now living in the adjoining waters are dwarfed to a third of their natural size by the want of saltness. It thus appears that the connexion between the ocean and the Baltic has notably changed since the days of these rude stone-age peoples. The masses of debris were in some places ten to twenty feet thick and stretched a thousand feet. It does not appear that the men of the kitchen-middens had any knowledge of agriculture, no traces of grain of any sort being found. The only vegetable remains were burnt pieces of wood and some charred substance, possibly a sea-plant used in the production of salt. Flat stones blackened with fire, forming hearths, were also found. That periods of scarcity must have been frequent in the absence of cereals is indicated by the discovery of bones of the fox, wolf and other carnivore, which would hardly have been eaten from choice. The kitchen-middens of Denmark were not mere summer-quarters: the ancient fishermen appear to have stayed in the neighbourhood for two-thirds, if not the whole, of the year. This is suggested by an examination of the bones of the wild animals, from which it is often possible to tell the time of year when they

were killed. Thus the remains of the wild swan (Cygnus musicus),