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These words exchanged, the news sent off
To Peter, home the Devil hied,— Took to his bed. He had no cough, No doctor,—meat and drink enough,— Yet that same night he died.
The Devil's corpse was leaded down;
His decent heirs enjoyed his pelf,
His eyes grew like two stars for bliss.
He hired a house, bought plate, and made
A genteel drive up to his door,
But a disease soon struck into
The very life and soul of Peter.
Dug better—none a heartier eater :—
And yet a strange and horrid curse
Peter was dull— (he was at first
Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed,
Still with his dullness was he cursed—
Dull—beyond all conception, dull.
No one could read his books—no mortal,
The parson came not near his portal;
His state was like that of the immortal Described by Swift—no man could bear him.
His sister, wife, and children, yawned,
With a long, slow, and drear ennui All human patience far beyond; Their hopes of heaven each would have pawned Anywhere else to be.
But in his verse and in his prose
The essence of his dullness was Concentred and compressed so close 'Twould have made Guatimozin doze On his red gridiron of brass.
xv. A printer's boy, folding those pages,
Fell slumbrously upon one side, Like those famed Seven who slept three ages. To wakeful frenzy's vigil rages,
As opiates, were the same applied.
Even the Reviewers who were hired
With adamantine nerves, grew tired ;—
Gaping and torpid they retired,
And worse and worse the drowsy curse
Yawned in him till it grew a pest;
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.
xx. 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 brood Near Peter's house took wing.
And every neighbouring cottager
Stupidly yawned upon the other;
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;
The yawn of such a venture.
Seven miles above—below—around—
A ghastly life without a sound.
To Peter's soul the spell is bound—
SHELLEY'S NOTES TO PETER BELL THE THIRD. P-3.
Andapolygamic Potter. The oldest scholiasts read
"A dodecagamk Potter." This is at once more descriptive and more megalophonous,—but the alliteration of the text had captivated the vulgar ear of the herd of later commentators.
To those who have not duly appreciated the distinction between Whale and Russia oil, this attribute might rather seem to belong to the Dandy than the Evangelic . The effect, when to the windward, is indeed so similar that it requires a subtle naturalist to discriminate the animals. They belong, however, to distinct genera.
Lihe eats, who amant misere.
One of the attributes in Linnaeus*s description of the Cat. To a similar cause the caterwauling of more than one species of this genus is to be referred ;—except, indeed, that the poor quadruped is compelled to quarrel with its own pleasures, whilst the biped is supposed only to quarrel with those of others.
Of their own virtue, and pursuing
What would this husk and excuse for a virtue be without its kernel prostitution, or the kernel prostitution without this husk of a virtue? I wonder the women of the town do not form an association, like the Society for the Suppression of Vice, for the support of what may be called the "King, Church, and Constitution," of their order. But this subject is almost too horrible for a joke.
* Tis a lie to say " God damns."
This libel on our national oath, and this accusation of all our countrymen of being in the daily practice of solemnly asseverating the most enormous falsehood, I fear deserves the notice of a more active Attorney General than that here alluded to.
PETER BELL THE THIRD—MRS SHELLEY'S NOTE. 29 P. 19.
From God's own voice. Voxpopulivox Dei. As Mr. Godwin truly observes of a more famous saying, of some merit as a popular maxim, but totally destitute of philosophical accuracy.
When the booh came, the Devil sent
Quasi, Qui valet verba—*". e. all the words which have been, are, or may be, expended by, for, against, with, or on, him. A sufficient proof of the utility of this history. Peter's progenitor who selected this name seems to have possessed a Pure anticipated cognition of the nature and modesty of this ornament of his posterity.
Shades lihe a rainbow*s rise andjlee.
See 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:
"The lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide.
Taught both by what she * shows and what conceals—
It was thou, Devil, dining with pure intent. 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 Cobbet. 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 cither 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.
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