« AnteriorContinuar »
to be forgeries, though, on the most careful inspection, we could scarcely detect any difference between these and the originals; for some were exact copies of documents in our possession. The watermark on the paper was generally, though not always, the mark appropriate to the date ; and the amount of ingenuity exercised was most extraordinary. Mr. Moxon published what he had bought in a small volume, but recalled the work shortly afterwards, on discovering that some of the letters had been manufactured from articles in magazines and reviews, written long after Shelley’s death.
The letter to Lord Ellenborough has never before been published; but I regard it as too extraordinary a production for a youth of eighteen to feel myself justified in suppressing it.
The fragmentary Essay on Christianity, published at the end of this volume, was found amongst Shelley's papers in the imperfect state in which it is now produced.
BOSCOMBE, March 31, 1859
At the close of the last century, the family of the Shelleys had long held a high position among the large landholders of Sussex. Fortunate marriages in the two generations preceding the birth of the poet considerably increased the wealth and influence of the house, the head of which in 1806 was a stanch Whig, and on that ground obtained a baronetcy from the short-lived Whig Administration of that year. Fourteen years previously, - viz., on the 4th of August, 1792, — his illustrious grandson drew the first breath of life. PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY was born on that day at Field Place, near Horsham, Sussex. the eldest son of Timothy Shelley, Esq., subsequently the second baronet ; and was christened Bysshe after his grandfather. At six years of age, the boy was sent to a day-school near the residence of his parents,
and at ten left home for the seminary of Dr. Greenlaw, at Brentford, Middlesex. Here he acquired the dead languages, seemingly by intuition ; for, during school hours, he would gaze abstractedly at the passing clouds, or would scrawl in his school-books (a habit which he never lost) rude drawings of pines and cedars, in memory of those standing on the lawn of his native home.
He was regarded by his school-fellows as a strange, unsociable person. Never joining in their sports, he passed much of his leisure time in solitude, and on holidays would walk backwards and forwards along the southern wall of the playground, indulging in wild fancies and vague meditations. Still, though he seemingly neglected his tasks, he soon surpassed all his competitors ; for his memory was so tenacious that he never forgot what he had once learned. fond of reading, and eagerly perused all the books which were brought to school after the holidays. Stories of haunted castles, bandits, murderers, and various grim creations of fancy, were his favorites ; and in after years he began his literary life by writing similar wild romances. When at Field Place during the vacations, his propensity to frolic, — always, however, unaccompanied by the infliction of pain on any living creature, - his partiality for moonlight walks, and his wonderfully exuberant imagination, came under the notice of his sister, who, in some spirited and graceful letters, has recorded a few of the incidents of this period.
He was very