Imágenes de páginas

of the triumphal Arch of Titus yet subsists, more perfect in its proportions, they say, than any of a later date. This I did not remark. The figures of Victory, with unfolded wings, and each spurning back a globe with outstretched feet, are, perhaps, more beautiful than those on either of the others. Their lips are parted: a delicate mode of indicating the fervour of their desire to arrive at the destined resting-place, and to express the eager respiration of their speed. Indeed, so essential to beauty were tho forms expressive of the exercise of the imagination and the affections considered by Greek artists, that no ideal figure of antiquity, not destined to some representation directly exclusive of such a character, is to be found with closed lips. Within this arch are two panneled alto relievos, one representing a train of people bearing in procession the instruments of Jewish worship, among which is the holy candlestick with seven branches; on the other, Titus standing on a quadriga, with a winged Victory. The grouping of the horses, and the beauty, correctness, and energy of their delineation, is remarkable, though they are much destroyed.*


To T. L. P. Esq.

Rome, April 6th, 1819.

My Dear P.,—I sent you yesterday a long

letter, all about antique Rome, which you had

better keep for some leisure day. I received

yours, and one of Hunt's, yesterday.—So, you

know the B s! I could not help considering

Mrs. B., when I knew her, as the most admirable

* Shelley left another description of this ruin:—"On the inner compartment of the Arch of Titus ia sculptured, in deep relief, the desolation of a city. On one aide, the walls of the Temple, split by tho fury of conflagrations, hang tottering in the act of ruin. The accompanimenta of a town taken by assault.—matrons and virgins, and children and old men, gathered into groups, and the rapine and license of a barbarous and enraged soldiery— are imaged in the distance. The foreground is occupied by a procession of the victors, 'bearing in their profane hands tbe holy candlesticks and the tables of shewbread, and the sacred instruments of the eternal worship of the Jews. On the opposite side, the reverse of this sod picture, Titus is represented standing in a chariot drawn by four horses, crowned with laurel, and aurrounded by the tumultuous numbers of his triumphant army, and the magistrates, and priests, and generals, and philosophers, dragged in chains beside his wheels. Behind him stands a Victory eagle-winged.

"The arch ia now mouldering into ruins, and the imagery almost erased by the lapse of fifty generations. Beyond this obscure monument of Ilebrew desolation, ia seen the tomb of the Destroyer's family, now a mountain of ruins.

"The Flavian Amphitheatre has become a habitation for owls and bats. The power, of whose possession it was onoe tho type, and of whose departure it is now the emblem, is become a dream and a memory. Rome is no more than Jerusalem."

specimen of a human being I had ever aeea. Nothing earthly ever appeared to me more perfect than her character and manners. It is improbable that I shall ever meet again the person whom I so much esteemed, and still admire. I wish, however, that when you sec her, you would tell her that I have not forgotten her, nor any of the amiable circle once assembled round her; and that I desire such remembrances to her as an exile and a Pariah may be permitted to address to an acknowledged member of the community of mankind. I hear they dined at your lodging*.

But no mention of A and his wife—wfaero

were they? C , though so young when I saw

her, gave indications of her mother's excellences; and, certainly less fascinating, is, I doubt not, equally amiable, and more sincere. It was hardly possible for a person of the extreme subtlety and

delicacy of Mrs. B 's understanding and

affections, to be quite sincere and constant.

I am all anxiety about your I. 11. affair. There are few who will feel more hearty satisfaction at your success, in this or any other enterprise, than I shall. Pray let me have the earliest inteUhjeoce.

When shall I return to England! The Pythia has ascended the tripod, but she replies not. Our present plans—and I know not what can induce us to alter them—lead us back to Naples in a month or six weeks, where it is almost decided that we should remain until the commencement of 1820. You may imagine, when we receive soon letters as yours and Hunt's, what this resolution costs us—but these are not our only communications from England. My health is materially better. My spirits, not the most brilliant hi the world; but that we attribute to ocr solitary situation, and, though happy, how shouM I be lively? We see something of Italian society indeed. The Romans please me much, especially the women, who, though totally devoid of every kind of information, or culture of the imagination, or affections, or understanding—and, in tbk respect, a kind of gentle savages—yet contrive to be interesting. Their extreme innocence anl naivete, the freedom and gentleness of their maimers; the total absence of affectation, mak<* an intercourse with them very like an intercourse with uncorrupted children, whom they resemble in loveliness as well as simplicity. I have seen two women in society here of the highest beauty ; their brows and lips, and the moulding of the face modelled with sculptural exactness, and the dark luxuriance of their hair floating over their t'n <■ complexions; and the lips—you must hear tbe common-places which escapo from them, beforv they cease to be dangerous. The only inferior

part are the eyes, which, though good and gentle, want the mazy depth of colour behind colour, with which the intellectual women of England and Germany entangle the heart in soul-inwoven labyrinths.

This is holy-week, and Rome is quite full. The Emperor of Austria is here, and Maria Louisa is coming. On their journey through the other cities of Italy, she was greeted with loud acclamations, and vivas of Napoleon. Idiots and slaves! Like the frogs in the fable, because they are discontented with the log, they call upon the stork, who devours them. Great festas, and magnificent funzioni here—we cannot get tickets to all. There are five thousand strangers in Rome, and only room for five hundred, at the celebration of the famous Miserere, in the Sixtine chapel, the only thing I regret we shall not be present at After all, Rome is eternal; and were all that w extinguished, that which has been, the ruins and the sculptures, would remain, and Raffaele and Guido be alone regretted.

In the Square of St. Peter's there are about three hundred fettered criminals at work, hoeing out the weeds that grow between the stones of the pavement Their legs are heavily ironed, and some are chained two by two. They sit in long rows, hoeing out the weeds, dressed in particoloured clothes. Near them sit or saunter, groups of soldiers, armed with loaded muskets. The iron discord of those innumerable chains clanks up into the sonorous air, and produces, contrasted with the musical dashing of the fountains, and the deep azure beauty of the sky, and the magnificence of the architecture around, a conflict of sensations allied to madness. It is the emblem of Italy— moral degradation contrasted with the glory of nature and the arts.

We see no English society here; it is not probable that we could if we desired it, and I am certain that we should find it insupportable. The manners of the rich English are wholly insupportable, and they assume pretensions which they would not venture upon in their own country. I am yet ignorant of the event of Hobhouse's election. I saw the last numbers were—Lamb, 4200; and Hobhouse, 3900—14th day. There is little hope. That mischievous Cobbett has divided and weakened the interest of the popular party, so that the factions that prey upon our country have been able

to coalesce to its exclusion. The N s you have

not seen. I am curious to know what kind of a girl Octavia becomes; she promised well. Tell

ri hi<> Melpomene is in the Vatican, and that

her attitude and drapery surpass, if possible, the I of her countenance.

My ■ Prometheus Unbound" is just finished, and in a month or two I shall send it. It is a drama, with characters and mechanism of a kind yet unattempted; and I think the execution is better than any of my former attempts. By-thebye, have you seen Oilier? I never hear from him, and am ignorant whether some verses I sent him from Naples, entitled, I think, " Lines on the Euganean hills," have reached him in safety or not. As to the Reviews, I suppose there is nothing but abuse ; and this is not hearty or sincere enough to amuse me. As to the poem now printing,* I lay no stress on it one way or the other. The concluding lines are natural.

I believe, my dear P., that you wish us to come back to England. How is it possible? Health, competence, tranquillity—all these Italy permits, and England takes away. I am regarded by all who know or hear of me, except, I think, on the whole, five individuals, as a rare prodigy of crime and pollution, whose look even might infect This is a large computation, and I don't think I could mention more than three. Such is the spirit of the English abroad as well as at home.-f

Few compensate, indeed, for all the rest, and if I were alone I should laugh; or if I were rich enough to do all things, which I shall never be. Pity me for my absence from those social enjoyments which England might afford me, and which I know so well how to appreciate. Still, I shall return some fine morning, out of pure weakness of heart

My dear P., moat faithfully yours,

P. B. Shellet.

To Hii. And Mrs. GISBORNE.


Rome, April Oh, 1819. Mt Desk Friends,—A combination of circumstances, which Mary will explain to you, leads us

* Rosalind and Helen.

t These expressions ehow how keenly Shelley felt the calumnies heaped on him during his life. The very exaggeration of which he is guilty, is ■ clue to much of his despondency. Ills seclusion from society resulted greatly from his extreme ill health, and his dislike of strangers and numbers, as well as the system of domestic eoonomy which his lavish benevolence forced us to restrict within narrow bounds. In Justice to our countrymen, I must mention that several distinguished for intellectual eminence, among them, Frederic Earl of Guilford, and Sir William Drummond, called on him at Rome. Accident at the time prevented him from cultivating their acquaintance—the death of our son, and our subsequent retirement at Pisa, abut us out still more from the world. I confess that the insolence of some of the more vulgar among the travelling English, rendered me anxious that Shelley should be more willing to extend his acquaintance among the better sort, but his health was an insuperable bar.

back to Naples in June, or rather the end of May, where we shall remain until the ensuing winter. We shall take a house at Portici or Caste! a Mare, until late in the autumn.

The object of this letter is to ask you to spend this period with us. There is no society which we have regretted or desired so much as yours, and in our solitude the benefit of your concession would be greater than I can express. What is a sail to Naples 1 It is the season of tranquil weather and prosperous winds. If I knew the magic that lay in any given form of words, I would employ them to persuade ; but I fear that all I can say is, as you know with truth, we desire that you would come—we wish to see you. You came to see Mary at Lucca, directly I had departed to Venice. It is not our custom, when we can help it, any more than it is yours, to divide our pleasures.

What shall I say to entice you? We shall have a piano, and some books, and—little else, beside ourselves. But what will be most inviting to you, you will give much, though you may receive but little, pleasure.

But whilst I write this with more desire than hope, yet some of that, perhaps the project may fall into your designs. It is intolerable to think of your being buried at Livorno. The success assured by Mr. Reveley's talents requires another scene. You may have decided to take this summer to consider—and why not with us at Naples, rather than at Livorno?

I could address, with respect to Naples, the words of Polypheme in Theocritus, to all the friends I wish to see, and you especially:

*E{fyOoa, TaKiTtia, Ko.1 4£ey$oura \dBou>, *n<rxep iyii my (fSt Ka&fifievoi, oijcao0 hrtvBetv*. Most sincerely yours,

P. B. Shelley.

To T. L. P., Esq.

Livorno, July, 1819. Mt Dear P.—We still remain, and shall remain nearly two months longer, at Livorno. Our house is a melancholy one,t and only cheered by letters from England. I got your note, in which you speak of three letters having been sent to Naples, which I have written for. I have heard also from

H , who confirms the news of your success, an

intelligence most grateful to me.

* Come, O Galatea; and having come, forget, aa do I, now sitting here, to return home.

t We had lost our eldest, and, at that time, only child, the preceding month at Rome.

The object of the present letter is to ask a favour of you. I have written a tragedy, on the subject of a story well known in Italy, and, in my conception, eminently dramatic. I have taken some pains to make my play fit for representation, and those who have already seen it judge favocrably. It is written without any of the peculiar feelings and opinions which characterise my other compositions; I having attended simply to the impartial development of such characters, as it is probable the persons represented really were, together with the greatest degree of popular effect to be produced by such a development. I send you a translation of the Italian manuscript on which my play is founded, the chief subject of which I have touched very delicately; for my principal doubt, as to whether it would succeed as an acting play, hangs entirely on the question, as to whether such a thing as incest in this shape, however treated, would be admitted on the stage. I think, however, it will form no objection : considering, first, that the facts are matter of hiatorr; and, secondly, the peculiar delicacy with which I have treated it

I am exceedingly interested in the question of whether this attempt of mine will succeed or no. I am strongly inclined to the affirmative at present, founding my hopes on this, that, as a ctvaposition, it is certainly not inferior to any of the modern plays that have been acted, with the exception of " Remorse f that the interest of its plot is incredibly greater and more real; and that there is nothing beyond what the multitude are contented to believe that they can understand, either in imagery, opinion, or sentiment. I wish to preserve a complete incognito, and can trust to 'you, that whatever else you do, you will at feast favour me on this point Indeed this is essential, deeply essential to its success. After it had been acted, and successfully (could I hope such a thing), I would own it if I pleased, and use the ceJebrhy it might acquire to my own purposes.

What I want you to do is, to procure for me hs presentation at Covent Garden. The principal character, Beatrice, is precisely fitted for Misa O'Neil, and it might even seem written for her,

(God forbid that I should ever see her play it it

would tear my nerves to pieces,) and, in all respects it is fitted only for Covent Garden. The chief male character, I confess, I should be very unwilling that any one but Kean should play— that is impossible, and I must be contented with an inferior actor. I think you know some of the people of that theatre, or at least, some one who knows them ; and when yon have read the play, you may say enough, perhaps, to induce them net

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to reject it without consideration—bat of this, perhaps, if I may judge from the tragedies which they have accepted, there is no danger at any rate.

Write to me as soon as you can on this subject, because it is*becessary that I should present it, or, if rejected by the theatre, print it this coming season; lest somebody else should get hold of it, as the story, which now exists only in manuscript, begins to be generally known among the English. The translation which I send you is to be prefixed to the play, together with a print of Beatrice. I hare a copy of her picture by Guido, now in the Colonna palace at Rome—the most beautiful creature you can conceive.

Of course, you will not show the manuscript to any one—and write to me by return of post, at which time the play will be ready to be sent.

I expect soon to write again, and it shall be a less selfish letter. As to Oilier, I don't know what has been published, or what has arrived at his hands.—My "Prometheus," though ready, I do uot send till I know more.

Ever yours, most faithfully,

P. B. S.


Livorno, August }bth, 1813.

Mr Dear Frirkd,—How good of you to write to us so often, and such kind letters 1 But it is like lending a beggar. What can I offer in return!

Though surrounded by suffering and disquietude, and, latterly, almost overcome by our strange misfortune*, I have not been idle. My " Prometheus" is finished, and I am also on the eve of completing another work +, totally different from anything you might consider that I should write; of a more popular kind; and, if anything of mine could deserve attention, of higher claims. "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, till thou approve the performance."

I send you a little poem J to give to Oilier for publication, but without my name. P. will correct the proofs. I wrote it with the idea of offering it to the " Examiner," but I find it is too long. It was composed last year at Este ; two of the characters yon will recognise; and the third is also in some degree a painting from nature, but, with respect to time and place, ideal. You will find the little piece, I think, in some degree consistent with your own ideas of the manner in which poetry

• The midden death of William Shelley, then our only child, which happened In Rome, 6th June, 1819. t The CencL % Julian and Maddalo.

ought to be written. I have employed a certain familiar style of language to express the actual way in which people talk with each other, whom education and a certain refinement of sentiment have placed above the use of vulgar idioms. I use the word vulgar in its most extensive sense. The vulgarity of rank and fashion is as gross in its way as that of poverty, and its cant terms equally expressive of bare conceptions and therefore equally unfit for poetry. Not that the familiar style is to be admitted in the treatment of a subject wholly ideal, or in that part of any subject which relates to common life, where the passion, exceeding a certain limit, touches the boundaries of that which is ideal. Strong passion expresses itself in metaphor, borrowed from objects alike remote or near, and casts over all the shadow of its own greatness. But what am I about t If my grandmother sucks eggs, was it I who taught her!

If you would really correct the proof, I need not trouble P., who, I suppose, has enough. Can you take it as a compliment that I prefer to trouble you 1

I do not particularly wish this poem to be known as mine; but, at all events, I would not put my name to it I leave you to judge whether it is best to throw it into the fire, or to publish it. So much for self—ttlf, that burr that will stick to one. Your kind expressions about my Eclogue gave me great pleasure ; indeed, my great stimulus in writing, is to have the approbation of those who feel kindly towards me. The rest is mere duty. I am also delighted to hear that you think of us and form fancies about us. We cannot yet come home. Most affectionately yours,

P. B. Shellet.


Livorno, Sept. 8, 1819.

Mr Dear Friend, — At length has arrived OUier's parcel, and with it the portrait What a delightful present! It is almost yourself, and we sat talking with it, and of it, all the evening. It is a great pleasure to us to possess it, a pleasure in time of need, coming to us when there are few others. How we wish it were you, and not your picture! How I wish we were with you!

This parcel, you know, and all its letters, are

now a year old—some older. There are all kinds

of dates, from March to August, and "your date,"

to use Shakspeare's expression, " is better in a pio

or a pudding, than in your letter."—" Virginity,"

ParoUes says, bnt letters are the same thing in

another shape.


With it came, too, Lamb's works. I have looked at none of the other books yet. What a lovely thing is his « Rosamund Gray!" How much knowledge of the sweetest and deepest parts of our nature m it I When I think of such a mind as Lamb's-when I see how unnoticed remain things of such exquisite and complete perfection, what should I hope for mvself,iflhad not higher objects in viewthan fame?

"i have seen too little of Italy, and of pictures. Perhaps P. has shown you some of my letters to him But at Rome I was very ill, seldom able to go out without a carriage; and though I kept horses for two months there, yet there is so much to see! Perliaps I attended more to sculpture than painting, its forms being more easily intelligible than that of the latter. Yet, I saw the famous works of Raffaele, whom I agree with the whole world in thinking the finest painter. With respect to Michael Angelo I dissent, and think with astonishment and indignation of the common notion that he equals, and, in some respects, exceeds Raffaele. He seems to me to have no sense of moral dignity and loveliness; and the energy for which he has been so much praised, appears to me to be a certain rude, external, mechanical quality, in comparison with anything possessed by Raffaele, or even much inferior artists. His famous painting in the Sixtine Chapel seems to me deficient in beauty and majesty, both in the conception and the execution. He has been called the Dante of painting; but if we find some of the gross and strong outlines which are employed in the most distasteful passages of the "Inferno," where shall we find your Francesca-where the spirit coming over the sea in a boat, like Mars rising from the vapours of the horizon—where Matilda gathering flowers, and all the exquisite tenderness, and sensibility, and ideal beauty, in which Dante excelled all poets except Shakspearel As to Michael Angelo's JtfojM—but you have a cast of that in England. I write these things, heaven knows why!

I have written something and finished it, different from anything else, and a new attempt for me ; and I mean to dedicate it to you. I should not have done so without your approbation, but I asked your picture last night, and it smiled assent. If I did not think it in some degree worthy of you, I wonld not make you a public offering of it I expect to have to write to you soon about it If Oilier is not turned Jew, Christian, or become infected with the Murrain, he will publish it. Don't let him be frightened, for it is nothing which, by any courtesy of language, can be termed either moral or immoral.

Mary has written to Marianne for a parcel, in

which I beg you will make Oilier enclose what you know would most interest me—your « Calendar," (a sweet extract from which I saw in the Examiner,) and the other poems belonging to you ; and, for some friends of mine, my Eclogue. This parcel, which muBt be sent instantly, will*each roe by October, but don't trust letters to it, except just a line or so. When you write, write by the post. Ever vour affectionate

P. B. S. My love to Marianne and Bessy, and Thornton too, and Percy, &c., and if you could imagine any way in which I could be useful to them here, uO me. I will enquire about the Italian chalk. Yoo have no idea of the pleasure this portrait gives u*.


Livorrui, Srpt- T!tk. lffli. My Dear Friend,—We are now on the point of leaving this place for Florence, where we ha*? taken pleasant apartments for six months, whiri brings us to the 1st of April, the season at whirh new flowers and new thoughts spring forth upon the earth and in the mind. What is then om- destination is yet undecided. I have not yet «e» , Florence, except as one sees the outside of Ike streets; but its physiognomy indicates it to be a , city which, though the ghost of a repubSe, yet possesses most amiable qualities. I wish you eoull meet us there in the spring, and we would try to muster up a " licta brigata," which, leaving bemal them the pestilence of remembered mirfortnnei, might act over again the pleasures of the Intefccutors in Boccaccio. I have been lately readk; this most divine writer. He is, in a high sense ■( the word, a poet, and his language has the rhyura and harmony of verse. I think him not e>jol certainly to Dante or Petrarch, but far soper*r to Tasso and Ariosto, the children of a later anJ of a colder day. I consider the three first m *> productions of the vigour of the infancy of n" nation—as rivulets from the same spring a* th=: which fed the greatness of the republics of FV rence and Pisa, and which checked the maw? of the German emperors; and from which, thrmei obscurer channels, Raffaele and Michael Ak*> drew the light and the harmony of their inspire tion. When the second-rate poets of Italy wr» the corrupting blight of tyranny was already haeing on every bud of genius. Energy, and simplerand unity of idea, were no more. In vain do we mn I in the finest passages of Ariosto and Tasso,«' I expression which at all approaches in this reep*

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