« PredošláPokračovať »
Munched children with fury, It was thou, Devil, dining with pure intent."1
PART THE SEVENTH
THE Devil now knew his proper cue.—
"Pray find some cure or sinecure;
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,
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.
His servant-maids and dogs grew dull;
All grew dull as Peter's self.
The earth under his feet-the springs,
The birds and beasts within the wood,
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
No bailiff dared within that space,
Seven miles above-below-around— This pest of dulness holds its sway;
A ghastly life without a sound;
NOTE ON PETER BELL THE THIRD, BY MRS. SHELLEY
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.
LETTER TO MARIA
LEGHORN, July 1, 1820.
THE spider spreads her webs, whether
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-
Memory may clothe in wings my living
To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic,
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,
From the fine threads of rare and subtle
On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with
With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth
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
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
Magical forms the brick floor overspread,
More figures, or more strange; nor did he take
Such shapes of unintelligible brass,
Which by the force of figured spells
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
Ixion or the Titan :-or the quick
Of wave and wind and time.—Upon
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 :-
When at their subterranean toil they
Pledging the demons of the earthquake, who
The liquor doctors rail at-and which I
We'll toss up who died first of drinking
Reply to them in lava-cry halloo !
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
The walnut bowl it lies, veinèd and thin,
The Tuscan deep, when from the moist | With lead in the middle—I'm conjectur
How to make Henry understand; but
The inmost shower of its white fire-
And in this bowl of quicksilver-for I
A rude idealism of a paper boat :-
The thing I mean and laugh at me,-if so
Lie bills and calculations much perplext,
Then comes a range of mathematical
A heap of rosin, a queer broken glass
This secret in the pregnant womb of time,
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,
The gentle spirit of our meek reviews