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He grew dull, harsh, sly, unrefined,
As when he tramped beside the Otter."
Lambently flashing from a fish,
Mixed with a certain hungry wish.?
1 A famous river in the new Atlantis of the Dynastophylic Pantisocratists.
3 Šee the description of the beautiful colours produced during the agonizing death of a number of trout, in the fourth part of a long poem in blank verse, published within a few years. That poem contains curious evidence of the gradual hardening of a strong but circumscribed sensibility, of the perversion of a penetrating but panic-stricken understanding. The author might have derived a lesson which he had probably forgotten from these sweet and sublime verses :
This lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide,
+ At the end of the eighth book of The Excursion is an account of two young anglers “laden with their spoil”:
And, verily, the silent creatures made
That seemed to pity what he could not spare. If this is the offence which Shelley meant to chastise (and I think it must be), stanza xxvi is quite hard enough upon it, without the note.-ED.
He looked—and lovely as she lay,
With hardened sneer he turned away:
“Do you not think that we might make A poem on her when she's dead: Or, no—a thought is in my head
Her shroud for a new sheet I'll take.
XXIX. “My wife wants one.—Let who will bury
This mangled corpse! And I and you, My dearest Soul, will then make merry, As the Prince Regent did with Sherry,
Aye—and at last desert me too.”
But moaned within him; like a fawn
Till all its life of life was gone.
The storm in Peter's heart and mind
Shaking dim grave-clothes in the wind.
Of Baptisms, Sunday-schools, and Graves, 'Twould make George Colman melancholy, To have heard him, like a male Molly,
Chaunting those stupid staves.
On Peter while he wrote for freedom,
Praise him, for those who feed 'em.
A planet lost in truth's keen rays :-
Pure-minded Poet of these days.”
“ Eureka! I have found the way
Up to this blessed day.”
In one of which he meekly said: “ May Carnage and Slaughter, Thy niece and thy daughter, 1 The allusion is to a passage in Wordsworth's Thanksgiving Ode on the Battle of Waterloo :
... Almighty God !
Yea, Carnage is thy daughter. -ED.
May Rapine and Famine,
Slash them at Manchester,
“Let thy body-guard yeomen
Hew down babes and women,
Munched children with fury,
The Devil now knew his proper cue.
Soon as he read the ode, he drove | 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.
To his friend Lord MacMurderchouse's,
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
As many beads as he had boroughs,-
Smoothing away the unmeaning furrows :
“It happens fortunately, dear Sir,
I can. I hope I need require
That he'll be worthy of his hire.”
To Peter, home the Devil hied, -
Yet that same night he died.
i Oliver, like Castles (see note at page 161), was a Government spy. He had been very prominent, two years before Peter Bell was published, in the Brandreth, Turner, and Ludlam case, which induced Shelley to write his Address to the People on the Death of the Princess Charlotte. See vol. i, page xlii. -ED.