« AnteriorContinuar »
fortitude to bear was almost always on the stretch; and thus, during a short life, had
gone through more experience of sensation, than many whose existence is protracted. “If I die to-morrow,” he said, on the eve of his unanticipated death, "I have lived to be older than my father.” The weight of thought and feeling burdened him heavily ; you read his sufferings in his attenuated frame, while you perceived the mastery he held over them in his animated countenance and brilliant eyes.
Ile died, and the world showed no outward sign; but his influence over mankind, thougn slow in growth, is fast augmenting, and in the ameliorations that have taken place in the political state of his country, we may trace in part the operation of his arduous struggles. His spirit gathers peace in its new state from the sense that, though late, his exertions were not made in vain, and in the progress of the liberty he so fondly loved.
He died, and his place among those who knew him intimately, has never been filled up. He walked beside them like a spirit of good to comfort and benefit-to enlighten the darkness of life with irradiations of genius, to cheer it with his sympathy and love. Any one, once attached to Shelley, must feel all other affections, however true and fond, as wasted on barren soil in comparison. It is our best consolation to know that such a pure-minded and exalted being was once among us, and now exists where we hope one day to join him ;-although the intolerant, in their blindness, poured down anathemas, the Spirit of Good, who can judge the heart, never rejected him.
In the notes appended to the poems, I have endeavoured to narrate the origin and history of each. The loss of nearly all letters and papers which refer to his early life, renders the execution more imperfect than it would otherwise have been. I have, however, the liveliest recollection of all that was done and said during the period of my knowing him. Every impression is as clear as if stamped yesterday, and I have no apprehension of any mistake in my statements as far as they go. In other respects, I am, indeed, incompetent; but I feel the importance of the task, and regard it as my most sacred duty. I endeavour to fulfil it in a manner he would himself approve; and hope in this publication to lay the first stone of a monument due to Shelley's genius, his sufferings, and his virtues :
S'al seguir son tarda,
In revising this new edition, and carefully consulting Shelley's scattered and confused
papers, I found a few fragments which had hitherto escaped me, and was enabled to complete a few poems hitherto left unfinished. What at one time escapes the searching eye, dimmed by its own earnestness, becomes clear at a future period. By the aid of a friend I also present some poems complete and correct, which hitherto have been defaced by various mistakes and omissions. It was suggested that the Poem •To the Queen of my Heart,” was falsely attributed to Shelley. I certainly find no trace of it among his papers, and as those of his intimate friends whom I have consulted never heard of it, I omit it.
Two Poems are added of some length, “Swellfoot the Tyrant,” and “Peter Bell the Third.” I have mentioned the circumstances under which they were written in the notes ; and need only add, that they are conceived in a very different spirit from Shelley's usual compositions. They are specimens of the burlesque and fanciful; but although they adopt a familiar style and homely imagery, there shine through the radiance of the poet's imagination the earnest views and opinions of the politician and the moralist.
At my request the publisher has restored the omitted passages of Queen Mab.-. I now present this edition as a complete collection of my husband's poetical works, and I do not foresee that I can hereafter add to or take away a word or line,
Putney, November 6th, 1839.