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Munched children with fury, It was thou, Devil, dining with pure intent."1




THE Devil now knew his proper cue.—
Soon as he read the ode, he drove
To his friend Lord MacMurderchouse's
A man of interest in both houses,
And said: "For money or for love,


"Pray find some cure or sinecure;
To feed from the superfluous taxes,
A friend of ours-a poet-fewer
Have fluttered tamer to the lure
Than he." His lordship stands and

racks his


Stupid brains, while one might count

As many beads as he had boroughs,At length replies; from his mean front, Like one who rubs out an account, Smoothing away the unmeaning furrows:


"It happens fortunately, dear Sir,
I can. I hope I need require
No pledge from you, that he will stir
In our affairs;-like Oliver,

That he'll be worthy of his hire."


These words exchanged, the news sent off

1 It is curious to observe how often extremes meet. Cobbett and Peter use the same language for a different purpose: Peter is indeed a sort of metrical Cobbett. Cobbett is, however, more mischievous than Peter, because he pollutes a holy and now unconquerable cause with the principles of legitimate murder; whilst the other only makes a bad one ridiculous and odious.

If either Peter or Cobbett should see this note, each will feel more indignation at being compared to the other than at any censure implied in the moral perversion laid to their charge.

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His servant-maids and dogs grew dull;
His kitten late a sportive elf,
The woods and lakes, so beautiful,
Of dim stupidity were full,

All grew dull as Peter's self.


The earth under his feet-the springs,
Which lived within it a quick life,
The air, the winds of many wings,
That fan it with new murmurings,
Were dead to their harmonious strife.


The birds and beasts within the wood,
The insects, and each creeping thing,
Were now a silent multitude;
Love's work was left unwrought-no

Near Peter's house took wing.


And every neighbouring cottager

Stupidly yawned upon the other: No jack-ass brayed; no little cur Cocked up his ears;-no man would


To save a dying mother.


Yet all from that charmed district went
But some half-idiot and half-knave,
Who rather than pay any rent,
Would live with marvellous content,
Over his father's grave.


No bailiff dared within that space,
For fear of the dull charm, to enter;
A man would bear upon his face,
For fifteen months in any case,
The yawn of such a venture.


Seven miles above-below-around— This pest of dulness holds its sway;

A ghastly life without a sound;
To Peter's soul the spell is bound---
How should it ever pass away?


IN this new edition I have added Peter Bell the Third. A critique on Wordsworth's Peter Bell reached us at Leghorn, which amused Shelley exceedingly, and suggested this poem.

I need scarcely observe that nothing personal to the author of Peter Bell is intended in this poem. No man ever admired Wordsworth's poetry more;-he read it perpetually, and taught others to appreciate its beauties. This poem is, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. He conceived the idealism of a poet-a man of lofty and creative genius-quitting the glorious calling of discovering and announcing the beautiful and good, to support and propagate ignorant prejudices and pernicious errors; imparting to the unenlightened, not that ardour for truth and spirit of toleration which Shelley looked on as the sources of the moral improvement and happiness of mankind, but false and injurious opinions, that evil was good, and that ignorance and force were the best allies of purity and virtue. His idea was that a man gifted, even as transcendently as the author of Peter Bell, with the highest qualities of genius, must, if he fostered such errors, be infected with dulness. This poem was written as a warning-not as a narration of the reality. He was unacquainted personally with Wordsworth, or with Coleridge (to whom he alludes in the fifth part of the poem), and therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely ideal; it contains something of criticism on the compositions of those great poets, but nothing injurious to the men themselves.

No poem contains more of Shelley's peculiar views with regard to the errors into which many of the wisest have fallen, and the pernicious effects of certain opinions on society. Much of it is beautifully written: and, though, like the burlesque drama of Swellfoot, it must be

looked on as a plaything, it has so much merit and poetry-so much of himself in it -that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and by right belongs to the world for whose instruction and benefit it was written.



LEGHORN, July 1, 1820.

THE spider spreads her webs, whether

she be

In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree; The silk-worm in the dark green_mulberry leaves

His winding sheet and cradle ever


No net of words in garish colours

To catch the idle buzzers of the day-
But a soft cell, where when that fades


Memory may clothe in wings my living

To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic,
Or those in philanthropic council met,
Who thought to pay some interest for

the debt

They owed to Jesus Christ for their salvation,

By giving a faint foretaste of damnation To Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and the rest

Who made our land an island of the blest,

When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes


So I, a thing whom moralists call worm,
Sit spinning still round this decaying form, Of Cornwall and the storm-encompassed


From the fine threads of rare and subtle

her fire

On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with
Empire :-

With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth
and spike and jag,

Which fishers found under the utmost


Where to the sky the rude sea rarely smiles

Unless in treacherous wrath, as on the


When the exulting elements in scorn
Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay
Sleeping in beauty on their mangled


And feed it with the asphodels of fame,

Which in those hearts which must remember me

Grow, making love an immortality.

Whoever should behold me now, I Proteus transformed to metal did not


As panthers sleep;—and other strange

and dread

Magical forms the brick floor overspread,


More figures, or more strange; nor did he take

Would think I were a mighty mechanist,
Bent with sublime Archimedean art
To breathe a soul into the iron heart
Of some machine portentous, or strange

Such shapes of unintelligible brass,
Or heap himself in such a horrid mass
Of tin and iron not to be understood;
And forms of unimaginable wood,

Which by the force of figured spells
might win

Its way over the sea, and sport therein; For round the walls are hung dread engines, such As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to The elements of what will stand the clutch shocks

puzzle Tubal Cain and all his
Great screws, and cones, and wheels,
and grooved blocks,

Ixion or the Titan :-or the quick
Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic,

Of wave and wind and time.—Upon
the table

More knacks and quips there be than I With ink in it;-a china cup that was am able What it will never be again, I think, A thing from which sweet lips were wont to drink

To catalogise in this verse of mine :-
A pretty bowl of wood-not full of wine,
But quicksilver; that dew which the
gnomes drink

When at their subterranean toil they

Pledging the demons of the earthquake, who

The liquor doctors rail at-and which I
Will quaff in spite of them-and when
we die

We'll toss up who died first of drinking
And cry out,-heads or tails? where'er
we be.

Reply to them in lava-cry halloo !
And call out to the cities o'er their Near that a dusty paint box, some odd



Roofs, towers, and shrines, the dying A half-burnt match, an ivory block, and the dead, three books, Crash through the chinks of earth-and Where conic sections, spherics, logarthen all quaff Another rouse, and hold their sides and To great Laplace, from Saunderson and Sims,




This quicksilver no gnome has drunk- Lie heaped in their harmonious disarray
Of figures, disentangle them who may.
Baron de Tott's Memoirs beside them lie,
And some odd volumes of old chemistry.
Near those a most inexplicable thing,

The walnut bowl it lies, veinèd and thin,
In colour like the wake of light that



The Tuscan deep, when from the moist | With lead in the middle—I'm conjectur

moon rains


How to make Henry understand; but


The inmost shower of its white fire-
the breeze
Is still-blue heaven smiles over the I'll leave, as Spenser says, with many
pale seas.

And in this bowl of quicksilver-for I
Yield to the impulse of an infancy
Outlasting manhood-I have made to

A rude idealism of a paper boat :-
A hollow screw with cogs-Henry will

The thing I mean and laugh at me,-if so
He fears not I should do more mischief.

Lie bills and calculations much perplext,
With steam - boats, frigates, and
machinery quaint
Traced over them in blue and yellow

Then comes a range of mathematical
Instruments, for plans nautical and

A heap of rosin, a queer broken glass


This secret in the pregnant womb of time,
Too vast a matter for so weak a rhyme.

And here like some weird Archimage sit I,

Plotting dark spells, and devilish enginery,

The self-impelling steam-wheels of the mind

Which pump up oaths from clergymen,
and grind

The gentle spirit of our meek reviews
Into a powdery foam of salt abuse,
Ruffling the ocean of their self-content;—
I sit and smile or sigh as is my bent,
But not for them--Libeccio rushes round
With an inconstant and an idle sound,
I heed him more than them - the

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