Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

This was not Shelley's case—the aspect of its nature, its

sunny sky, its majestic storms; of the luxuriant vegetation jf the country, and the noble marble-built cities, enchanted Uim. The sight of the works of art was full enjoyment and wonder: he had not studied pictures or statues before, he now did so with the eye of taste, that referred not to the rules of schools, but to those of nature and truth. The first entrance to Rome opened to him a scene of remains of antique grandeur that far surpassed his expectations; and the unspeakable beauty of Naples and its environs added to the impression he received of the transcendent and glorious beauty of Italy. As I have said, he wrote long letters during the first year of our residence in this country, and these, when published, will be the best testimonials of his appreciation of the harmonious and beautiful iu art and nature, and his delicate taste in discerning and describing them.*

Our winter was spent at Naples. Here he wrote tne fragments of Mozenghi and the Woodman and the Nightingale, which he afterwards threw aside. At this time Shelley suffered greatly in health. He put himself under the care of a medical man, who promised great things, and made him endure severe bodily pain, without any good results. Constant and poignant physical suffering exhausted him; and though he preserved the appearance of cheerfulness, and often greatly enjoyed our wanderings in the environs of Naples, and our excursions on its sunny sea, yet many hours were passed when his thoughts, shadowed by illness, became gloomy, and then he escaped to solitude, and in verses, which he hid from fear of wounding me, poured forth morbid but too natural bursts of discontent and sadness. One looks back with unspeakable regret and gnawing remorse to sueh periods; fancying that had one been mora alive to the nature of his feelings, and more attentive tc

* These letters, together with various essays, translations, hai fragments, being the greater portion of the prose writing* .eft by Shelley, are now in the press.—M. 8.

lootho them, such wouM not have existed—and yet enjoying, as he appeared to do, every sight or influence of earth or sky, it was difficult to imagine that any melancholy he ihowed was aught but the elTect of the constant pain to which he was a martyr.

We lived in utter solitude—and such is often not the nurse of cheerfulness; for then, at least with those who have been exposed to adversity, the mind broods over its sorrows too intently; while the society of the enlightened, the witty, and the wise, enables us to forget ourselves by making us the sharers of the thoughts of others, which is a portion of the philosophy of happiness. Shelley never liked society in numbers, it harassed and wearied him; but neither did he like loneliness, and usually when alone sheltered himself against memory and reflection, in a book. But with one or two whom he loved, he gave way to wild and joyous spirits, or in more serious conversation expounded his opinions with vivacity and eloquence. If an argument arose, no man ever argued better—he was clear, logical, and earnest, in supporting his own views; attentive, patient, and impartial, while listening to those on tho adverse side. Had not a wall of prejudice been raised at this time between him and his countrymen, how many would have sought the acquaintance of one, whom to know was to love and to revere! how many of the more enlightened of his contemporaries have since regretted that they did not seek him! how very few knew his worth while he lived, and of those few, several were withheld by timidity or envy from declaring their sense of it. But no man was ever more enthusiastically loved— more looked up to as one superior to his follows in intellectual endowments and moral worth, by the few who knew him well, and had sufficient nobleness of soul to appreciate his superiority. His excellence is now acknowledged; but ?ven while admitted, not duly appreciated. For who, except t lose who were acquainted with him, can imagine his unvaried benevolence, his generosity, his systematic forbearance? And still less is his vast superiority in intellectual attainments sufficiently understood—his sagacity, his clear understanding, his learning, his prodigious memory; all these, as displayed in conversation, were known to few while he lived, and are now silent in the tomb:

Ahi orbo mondo ingrato,

Gran cagion hai di dever pianger meco;

Che quel ben eh' era in te, perda? hai seco.

POEMS WRITTEN IN 1819.

THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY.

L

As I lay asleep in Italy,
There came a voice from over the sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

Ii.

I met Murder on the way;
He had a mask like Castlereagh;
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven bloodhounds followed him:

in.

All were fat; and well they might

Be in admirable plight,

For one by one, and two by two,

He tossed them human hearts to chew,

Which from his wide cloak he drew.

IV.

Next came Fraud, and he had on,

Like Lord E , an ermine gown;

His big tears, for he wept well, Turned to mill-stones as they fell; Vol. in. 14

V.

And the little children, who

Round his feet played to and fro,

Thinking every tear a gem,

Had their brains knocked out by them.

VI.

Clothed with the bible as with light,
And the shadow of the night,
Like S * * * next, Hypocrisy,
On a crocodile came by.

VII.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

VIII.

Last came Anarchy; he rode

On a white horse splashed with blood;

He was pale even to the lips,

Like Death in the Apocalypse.

IX.

And he wore a kingly crown;
In his hand a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw:
"I am God, and King, and Law I"

« AnteriorContinuar »