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Slash them at Manchester,
Glasgow, Leeds, and Chester; Drench all with blood from Avon to
V These words exchanged, the news sent
off i 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.
“Let thy body-guard yeomen
Hew down babes and women,
To Peter, home the Devil hied, Took to his bed; he had no cough,
No one could read his books-no No doctor, --meat and drink enough,
mortal, Yet that same night he died.
But a few natural friends, would hear
The parson came not near his portal; The Devil's corpse was leaded down; His state was like that of the immortal
His decent heirs enjoyed his pelf, Described by Swift—no man could Mourning.coaches, many a one,
bear him. Followed his hearse along the town :Where was the devil himself?
His sister, wife, and children yawned,
With a long, slow, and drear ennui, When Peter heard of his promotion, All human patience far beyond;
His eyes grew like two stars for bliss: Their hopes of Heaven each would have There was a bow of sleek devotion,
pawned, Engendering in his back; each motion Any where else to be.
Seemed a Lord's shoe to kiss.
Even the Reviewers who were hired And yet a strange and horrid curse To do the work of his reviewing,
Clung upon Peter, night and day, With adamantine nerves, grew tired ;-Month after month the thing grew worse, Gaping and torpid they retired, And deadlier than in this my verse, To dream of what they should be I can find strength to say.
Peter was dull-he was at first
And worse and worse, the drowsy curse Dull--oh, so dull-so very dull ! Yawned in him, till it grew a pestWhether he talked, wrote, or re- A wide contagious atmosphere, hearsed
Creeping like cold through all things Still with this dulness was he cursed
near; Dull--beyond all conception--dull. A power to infect and to infest.
A ghastly life without a sound; His servant-maids and dogs grew dull ;
To Peter's soul the spell is bound
How should it ever pass away?
NOTE ON PETER BELL THE
THIRD, BY MRS. SHELLEY
In this new edition I have added Peter XIX
Bell the Third. A critique on WordsThe earth under his feet-the springs,
worth's Peter Bell reached us at Leghorn, Which lived within it a quick life,
which amused Shelley exceedingly, and The air, the winds of many wings,
suggested this poem.
I need scarcely observe that nothing That fan it with new murmurings, Were dead to their harmonious strife. personal to the author of Peter Bell is
intended in this poem. No man ever
admired Wordsworth's poetry more;-he XX
read it perpetually, and taught others to The birds and beasts within the wood, appreciate its beauties.
This poem is, The insects, and each creeping thing, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. Were now a silent multitude;
He conceived the idealism of a poet--a Love's work was left unwrought - no
man of lofty and creative genius-quitting brood
the glorious calling of discovering and
announcing the beautiful and good, to Near Peter's house took wing.
support and propagate ignorant prejudices
and pernicious errors; imparting to the XXI
unenlightened, not that ardour for truth And every neighbouring cottager and spirit of toleration which Shelley
Stupidly yawned upon the other : looked on as the sources of the moral imNo jack-ass brayed ; no little cur
provement and happiness of mankind, but Cocked up his ears; - no man would false and injurious opinions, that evil was stir
good, and that ignorance and force were
the best allies of purity and virtue. His To save a dying mother.
idea was that a man gifted, even as trans
cendently as the author of Peter Bell, with XXII
the highest qualities of genius, must, if Yet all from that charmed district went he fostered such errors, be infected with
But some half-idiot and half-knave, dulness. This poem was written as a Who rather than pay any rent,
warning- —not as a narration of the reality. Would live with marvellous content,
He was unacquainted personally with Over his father's grave.
Wordsworth, or with Coleridge (to whom he alludes in the fifth part of the poem),
and therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely XXIII
ideal;—it contains something of criticism No bailiff dared within that space, on the compositions of those great poets,
For fear of the dull charm, to enter; but nothing injurious to the men themA man would bear upon his face,
selves. For fifteen months in any case,
No poem contains more of Shelley's The yawn of such a venture.
peculiar views with regard to the errors into which many of the wisest have fallen,
and the pernicious effects of certain XXIV
opinions on society. Much of it is beauSeven miles above- below--around
tifully written: and, though, like the burThis pest of dulness holds its sway; lesque drama of Swellfoot, it must be looked on as a plaything, it has so much To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic, merit and poetry
--so much of himself in it Or those in philanthropic council met, —that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and who thought to pay some interest sor by right belongs to the world for whose
the debt instruction and benefit it was written.
They owed to Jesus Christ for their
By giving a faint foretaste of damnation LETTER TO MARIA
To Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and GISBORNE
Who made our land an island of the LEGHORN, July 1, 1820.
blest, The spider spreads her webs, whether When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes she be
her fire In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree; On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with The silk-worm in the dark green mul
Empire :berry leaves
With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth His winding sheet and cradle ever
and spike and jag, weaves;
Which fishers found under the utmost So I, a thing whom moralists call worm, Sit spinning still round this decaying form, or Cornwall and the storm-encompassed
crag From the fine threads of rare and subtle
Where to the sky the rude sea rarely No net of words in garish colours
Unless in treacherous wrath, as on the To catch the idle buzzers of the dayBut a soft cell, where when that fades When the exulting elements in scorn away,
Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay Memory may clothe in wings my living Sleeping in beauty on their mangled And feed it with the asphodels of fame, As panthers sleep;—and other strange
prey, Which in those hearts which must
and dread remember me
Magical forms the brick floor overGrow, making love an immortality.
spread, Whoever should behold me now, I Proteus transformed to metal did not wist,
make Would think I were a mighty mechanist, More figures, or more strange; nor did Bent with sublime Archimedean art
he take To breathe a soul into the iron heart Such shapes of unintelligible brass, Of some machine portentous, or strange Or heap himself in such a horrid mass gin,
Of tin and iron not to be understood; Which by the force of figured spells And forms of unimaginable wood, might win
To puzzle Tubal Cain and all his Its way over the sea, and sport therein ; brood : For round the walls are hung dread Great screws, and cones, and wheels, engines, such
and grooved blocks, As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to The elements of what will stand the clutch
shocks Ixion or the Titan :-or the quick Of wave and wind and time.-Upon Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic,
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, To catalogise in this verse of mine :- A thing from which sweet lips were A pretty bowl of wood—not full of wine,
wont to drink But quicksilver; that dew which the The liquor doctors rail at—and which I gnomes drink
Will quaff in spite of them—and when When at their subterranean toil they
we die swink,
We'll toss up who died first of drinking Pledging the demons of the earthquake, tea, who
And cry out, -heads or tails ? where'er Reply to them in lava-cry halloo !
we be. And call out to the cities o'er their Near that a dusty paint box, some odd head,
hooks, 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
ithms, Another rouse, and hold their sides and To great Laplace, from Saunderson and laugh.
Sims, This quicksilver no gnome has drunk- Lie heaped in their harmonious disarray within
Of figures,—disentangle them who may. The walnut bowl it lies, veined and thin, Baron de Tott's Memoirs beside them lie, In colour like the wake of light that | And some odd volumes of old chemistry. stains
Near those a most inexplicable thing, The Tuscan deep, when from the moist With lead in the middle-I'm conjecturmoon rains
ing The inmost shower of its white fire- How to make Henry understand; but
the breeze Is still-blue heaven smiles over the I'll leave, as Spenser says, with many pale seas.
mo, And in this bowl of quicksilver-for I This secret in the pregnant womb of time, Yield to the impulse of an infancy Too vast a matter for so weak a rhyme. Outlasting manhood - I have made to float
And here like some weird Archimage A rude idealism of a paper boat :
sit I, A hollow screw with cogs—Henry will Plotting dark spells, and devilish know
enginery, The thing I mean and laugh at me,—if so The self-impelling steam-wheels of the He fears not I should do more mischief.
Which pump up oaths from clergymen, Lie bills and calculations much perplext, and grind With steam - boats, frigates, and The gentle spirit of our meek reviews machinery quaint
Into a powdery foam of salt abuse, Traced over them in blue and yellow Ruffling the ocean of their self-content;paint.
I sit- and smile or sigh as is my bent, Then comes a range of mathematical But not for them--Libeccio rushes round Instruments, for plans nautical and with an inconstant and an idle sound, statical;
I heed him more than them - the A heap of rosin, a queer broken glass