« AnteriorContinuar »
to those of Dante and Petrarch. How much do I admire Boccaccio! What descriptions of nature are those in his little introductions to every new day! It is the morning of life stripped of that mist of familiarity which makes it obscure to us. Boccaccio seems to me to have possessed a deep sense of the fair ideal of human life, considered in its social relations. His more serious theories of love agree especially with mine. He often expresses things lightly too, which have serious meanings of a very beautiful kind. He is a moral casuist, the opposite of the Christian, stoical, ready-made, and worldly system of morals. Do you remember one little remark, or rather maxim of his, which might do some good to the common narrow-minded conceptions of love,—" Bocca bacciata non perde ventura; anzi rinnuova, come fa la luna!"
We expect Mary to be confined towards the end of October. The birth of a child will probably retrieve her from some part of her present melancholy depression.
It would give me much pleasure to know Mr. Lloyd. Do you know, when I was in Cumberland, I got Southey to borrow a copy of Berkeley from him, and I remember observing some pencil notes in it, probably written by Lloyd, which I thought particularly acute. One, especially, struck me as being the assertion of a doctrine, of which even then I had long been persuaded, and on which I had founded much of my persuasions, as regarded the imagined cause of the universe—" Mind cannot create, it can only perceive." Ask him if he remembers having written it. Of Lamb you know my opinion, and you can bear witness to the regret which I felt, when I learned that the calumny of an enemy had deprived me of his society whilst in England.—OUier told me that the Quarterly are going to review me. I suppose it will be a pretty , and as I am acquiring a taste for humour and drollery, I confess I am curious to see it. I have sent my " Prometheus Unbound" to P.; if you ask him for it he will show it you. I think it will please you.
Whilst I went to Florence, Mary wrote, but I did not see her letter.—Well, good b'ye. Next Monday I shall write to you from Florence. Love to all. Most affectionately your friend,
Flormet, October 13UI or Hlh, 1819. Mv Diar FiiiENn,—The regret we feel at pur absence from you persuades me that it is a state which cannot last, and which, so long as it must
last, will be interrupted by some intervals, one of which is destined to be, your all coming to visit us here. Poor Oscar! I feel a kind of remorse to think of the unequal love with which two animated beings regard each other, when I experience no such sensations for him, as those which he manifested for us. His importunate regret is, however, a type of ours, as regards you. Our memory—if you will accept so humble a metaphor—is for ever scratching at the door of your absence.
About Henry and the steam-engine.* I am in
* Shelley set on foot the building of a steam-boat, to ply between Marseilles, Genoa, and Leghorn. Such an enterprise promised fortune to his friend who undertook to build it, and the anticipation filled him with delight. Unfortunately, an unforeseen complication of circumstances caused the design to be abandoned, when already far advanoed towards completion.
1 insert a letter from Mrs. Gisbome, which will explain some portion of this letter :—
"my Dearest Mrs. Shkixky,—I began to feel a little uneasy at not hearing from you by Wednesday's post; you may judge, therefore, with how much pleasure I received your friendly lines, informing me of your safe arrival, and good state of health, and that of Mr. Shelley. A little agitation of the nerves is a trifling evil, and was to be expected after such a tremendous journey for you at such a time; yet you could not refrain from two little innocent quizzes, notwithstanding your hand trembling. I oonfess 1 dreaded the consequences when 1 saw the carriage drive off on the rough road. Did you observe that foolish dog Oscar, running by your side, waving his long slender tail? Giuseppe was obliged to catch him up in his arms to stop his course ; he continued for several days at dinner-time to howl piteously, and to scratch With all his might at the door of your abandoned house. What a forlorn house! I cannot bear to look at it. My last letter from Mr. Gisborne is dated the 4th; he has been seriously indisposed ever since his first attack ; he suffers now a return of his cough, which he can only mitigate by taking quantities of opium. I do not expect to see hfm till the end of the week. Tou see that he was not the person to undertake a land-journey to England by abominable French diligences. (What says C. to tho words abominable and French t) I think he might have suffered less in a foot journey, pursued leisurely c a tuo comodo. All's well that ends well! Mr. G. gives a shocking account of Marseilles; he seems to think Tuscany a delightful country, compared to what he has seen of Franco. I remarked, in one of your letters, the account you give of your travelling with a French voiturfer, so unlike the obligingness we have always experienced from our Italian vetturini ; we have found them ever ready to sacrifice themselves and their horses, sooner than do an uncivil thing, and distressed beyond measure at our determination of going sometimes for miles on foot, though, at the same time, their beasts might scarcely have been able to drag the vehicle without us. This is in favour of tho Italians; God knows there is enough to be said against them.
'* Now, I will tell you the news of the steam-boat. The contract was drawn and signed the day after your departure ; the rcsselto be complete, and launched, fit in every respect for the sea, excepting the finishing of the cabin, for 260 sequins. We have every reason to believe that the work will bo well executed, and that it is an excellent bargain. Henry and Frankfort go on not onl> with vigour, but with fury ; the lower part of the house e filled with models prepared for casting, forging, *c. We have procured the wood for the frame from the shipbuilder on credit, so that Frankfort can go on with hft work; but I am gorry to say, that from this timo the I gencr;d progress of the work will be retarded for want at torture until this money comes from London, though I am sure that it will and must come; unless, indeed, my banker has broke, and then it will be my loss, not Henry's—a little delay will mend the matter. I would then write instantly to London an effectual letter, and by return of post all would be set right—it would then be a thing easily set straight—but if it were not, you know me too well not to know that there is no personal suffering or degradation, or toil, or anything that can be named, with which I do not feel myself bound to support this enterprise of Henry. But all this rhodomontade only shows how correct Mr. Bielby's advice was, about the discipline necessary for my imagination. No doubt that all will go on with mercantile and common-place exactness, and that you will be spared the suffering, and I the virtue, incident to some untoward event.
I am anxious to hear of Mr. Gisbome's return, and I anticipate the surprise and pleasure with which he will learn that a resolution has been taken which leaves you nothing to regret in that event. It is with unspeakable satisfaction that I reflect that my entreaties and persuasions overcame your scruples on this point, and that whatever advantage shall accrue from it will belong to you, whilst any reproach due to the imprudence of such an enterprise must rest on me. I shall thus share the pleasure of success, and bear the blame and loss, (if such a thing were possible,) of a reverse; and what more can a man, who is a friend to another, desire for himself? Let ns believe in a kind of optimism, in which we are our own gods. It is best that Mr. Gisborne should have returned; it is best that I should have over-persuaded you and Henry; it is best that you should all live together, without any more solitary attempts; it is best that this one attempt should have been made, otherwise, perhaps, one thing which is best might not have occurred ; and it is best that we should think all this for the best, even though it is not; because Hope, as Coleridge says, is a solemn duty, which we owe alike to ourselves and to the world—a worship to the spirit of good within, which requires, before it sends that inspiration forth, which im
cash. The boilers might now be going on contemporaneously with the casting, but I know that at present there is no remedy for this evil. Every person concerned is making exertions, and is in a state of anxiety to see the quick result of this undertaking. I have advanced about 140 crowns, but prudence prohibits me from going any farther.
"Henry will write to Mr. Shelley when the works are in a greater state of forwardness: in the mean time, ho sends his best love to his good friends, patron and patroness, and begs his kind remembrance to Miss C.— I remain, with sincere affection for you all,
presses its likeness upon all that it creates, devoted and disinterested homage.
A different scene is this from that in which you made the chief character of our changing drama. We see no one, as usual. Madame M • • • i= quiet, and we only meet her now and then, by chance. Her daughter, not so fair, but I fear as cold, as the snowy Florimel in Spenser, is in and
out of love with C as the winds happen to
blow ; and C , who, at the moment I happen to
write, is in a high state of transitory contentment, is Betting off to Vienna in a day or two.
My i. 100, from what mistake remains to be explained, has not yet arrived, and the banker here is going to advance me .£50, on my bill at three months—all additional facilitation, should any such be needed, for the steam-boat I have yet seen little of Florence. The gallery, I have a design of studying piece-meal; one of my chief objects in Italy being the observing in statuary and paintinc the degree in which, and the rules according to which, that ideal beauty, of which we have so intense yet so obscure an apprehension, is realised in external forms.
Adieu.—I am anxious for Henry's first letter. Give to him and take to yourself those sentiments, whatever they may be, with which you know that I cannot cease to regard you.
Most faithfully and affectionately yours,
P. R S.
I had forgotten to say that I should be very much obliged to you, if you would contrive to send The Cenci, which are at the printer's, to England, by the next ship. I forgot it' in the hurry of departure.—I have just heard from P., saying, that he don't think that my tragedy will do, and that he don't much like it. But I ought to say, to blunt the edge of his criticism, that he is a nursling of the exact and superficial school in poetry.
If Mr. G. is returned, send the " Prometheus"" with them.
Flomet, Oct. SB. 7819.
Mr Dear Henry,—So it seems / am to begin the correspondence, though I have more to ask than to tell.
You know our bargain; you are to write me uncorrected letters, just as the words come, so Irt me have them—I like coin from the mint—though it may be a little rough at the edges ;—clipping is penal according to our statute.
In the first place listen to a reproach; yon ought to have sent me an acknowledgement of my last billet. I am very happy to hear from Mr. Gisborne, and he knows well enough how to interest me himself, not to need to rob me of an occasion of hearing from you. Let you and I try if we cannot be as punctual and business-like as the best of them. But no clipping and coining, if you please.
Now take this that I Bay in a light just so serious as not to give you pain. In fact, my dear fellow, my motive for soliciting your correspondence, and that flowing from your own mind, and clothed in your own words, is, that you may begin to accustom to discipline yourself in the only practice of life in which you appear deficient. You know that you are writing to a person persuaded of all the confidence and respect due to your powers in those branches of science to which you have addicted yourself; and you will not permit a false shame with regard to the mere mechanical arrangement of words to overbalance the advantage arising from the free communication of ideas. Thus you will become day by day more skilful in the management of that instrument of their communication, on which the attainment of a person's just rank in society depends. Do not think mo arrogant. There are subjects of the highest importance in which you are far better qualified to instruct me, than I am qualified to instruct you on this subject.
Well, how goes on all I The boilers, the keel of the boat, and the cylinder, and all the other elements of that soul which is to guide our " monstruo de fuego y agua" over the sea! Let me hear news of their birth, and how they thrive after they are bom. And is the money arrived at Mr. Webb's 1 Send me an account of the number of crowns you realise; as I think we had better, since it is a transaction in this country, keep our accounts in money of this country.
We have rains enough to set the mills going, which are essential to your great iron bar. I suppose it is at present either made or making.
My health is better so long as the scirocco blows, and, bat for my daily expectation of Mary's confinement, I should have been half tempted to have come to see you. As it is, I shall wait till the boat is finished. On the subject of your actual and your expected progress, you will certainly allow me to hear from you.
Give my kindest regards to your mother and Mr. Gisborne—tell the latter, whose billet I have neglected to answer, that I did so, under the idea of addressing him in a post or two on a subject which gives me considerable anxiety about you all. I mean the continuance of your property in the British funds at this crisis of approaching
revolution. It is the business of a friend to say what he thinks without fear of giving offence ; and, if I were not a friend, argument is worth its market-price anywhere.
Believe me, my dear Henry,
Your very faithful friend,
P. B. S.
To Ha. Ard Jl Us. GISBORNE.
Florence, Oct. 28, 1819.
My Dear Friends,—I receive this morning the strange and unexpected news, that my bill of £200 has been returned to Mr. Webb protested. Ultimately this can be nothing but delay, as I have only drawn from my banker's hands so much as to leave them still in possession of £80, and this I positively know, and can prove by documents. By return of post, for I have not only written to my banker, but to private friends, no doubt Henry will be enabled to proceed. Let him meanwhile do all that can be done.
Meanwhile, to save time, could not money be
obtained temporarily, at Livorno, from Mr. W ,
or Mr. G , or any of your acquaintance, on my
bills at three or six months, indorsed by Mr. Gisborne and Henry, so that he may go on with his work i If a month is of consequence, think of this.
Be of good cheer, Madonna mia, all will go well. The inclosed is for Henry, and was written before this news, as he will see ; but it does not, strange as it is, abate one atom of my cheer.
Accept, dear Mr. G., my best regards.
Florence, A'or. 6,1819.
Mr Dear Friends,—I have just finished a letter of five sheets on Carlile's affair, and am in hourly expectation of Mary's confinement: you will imagine an excuse for my silence.
I forbear to address you, as I had designed, on the subject of your income as a public creditor of the English government, as it seems you have not the exclusive management of your funds; and the peculiar circumstances of the delusion are such that none but a very few persons will ever be brought to see its instability but by the experience of loss. If I were to convince you, Henry would probably be unable to convince his uncle. In vindication, however, of what I have already said, allow me to tnrn your attention to England at this hour.
In order to meet the national expenses, or rather that some approach towards meeting them might seem to be made, a tax of .£3,000,000 was imposed. The first consequence of this has been a defalcation in the revenue at the rate of ;£3,600,000 a-year. Were the country in the most tranquil and prosperous state, the minister, in such a condition of affairs, must reduce the interest of the national debt, or add to it; a process which would only insure the greater ultimate reduction of the interest But the people are nearly in a state of insurrection, and the least unpopular noblemen perceive the necessity of conducting a spirit, which it is no longer possible to oppose. For submitting to this necessity—which, be assured, the haughty aristocrats unwillingly did—Lord Fitzwilliam has been degraded from his situation of Lord-Lieutenant. An additional army of 11,500 men has received orders to be organised. Everything is preparing for a bloody struggle, in which, if the ministers succeed, they will assuredly diminish the interest of the national debt, for no combination of the heaviest tyranny can raise the taxes for its payment. If the people conquer, the public creditor will equally suffer; for it is monstrous to imagine that they will submit to the perpetual inheritance of a double aristocracy. They will perhaps find some crown and church lands, and appropriate tho tithes to make a kind of compensation to the public creditor. They will confiscate the estates of their political enemies. But all this will not pay a tenth part of their debt. The existing government, atrocious as it is, is the surest party to which a public creditor may attach himself. He may reason that it may last my time, though in the event the ruin is more complete than in the case of a popular revolution. I know you too well to believe you capable of arguing in this manner; I only reason on how things stand.
Your income may bo reduced from ,£210 to 150, and then ,£100, and then by the issue of immense quantities of paper to save the immediate cause of one of the conflicting parties, to any value however small; or the source of it may be cut off at once. The ministers had, I doubt not, long since determined to establish an arbitrary government; and if they had not determined so, they have now entangled themselves in that consequence of their instinct as rulers, and if they recede they must perish. They are, however, not receding, and we are on the eve of great actions.
Kindest regards to Henry. I hope ho is not stopped for want of money, as I shall assuredly send him what he wants in a month from the date I
of my last letter. I received his letter from Pistoia, and have no other criticism to make on it, except the severest—that it is too short How goes on Portuguese—and Theocritus! I have deserted the odorous gardens of literature, to journey across the great sandy desert of politics; not, as you may imagine, without the hope of finding some enchanted paradise. In all probability, I shall be overwhelmed by one of the tempestuous columns which are forever traversing, with the speed of a storm, and the confusion of a chaos, that pathless wilderness. Yon meanwhile will be lamenting in some happy oasis that I do not return. This is out-Calderonizing Muley. We have had lightning and rain here in plenty. I like the Cascini very much, where I often walk alone, watching the leaves, and the rising and falling of the Arno. I am full of all kinds of literary plans.
Meanwhile, all yours most faithfully,
F. B. S.
Firenxe, Wot. 13, 18 IS.
My Dear Fbiend,—Yesterday morning Mary brought me a little boy. She suffered but two hours' pain, and is now so well that it seems a wonder that she stays in bed. The babe is also quite well, and has begun to suck. Yen may imagine that this is a great relief and a great comfort to me amongst all my misfortunes, past, present, and to come.
Since I last wrote to you, some circumstances have occurred, not necessary to explain by letter, which makes my pecuniary condition a very painful one. The physicians absolutely forbid my travelling to England in the winter, but I shall probably pay you a visit in the spring. With what pleasure, among all the other sources of regret and discomfort with which England abounds for me. do I think of looking on the original of that kind and earnest face, which is now opposite Mary's bed. It will be the only thing which Mary will envy me, or will need to envy me, in that journey, for I shall come alone. Shaking hands with yon is worth all the trouble; the rest is clear loss.
I will tell you more about myself and my pursuits in my next letter.
Kind love to Marianne, Bessy, ami all the children. Poor Mary begins (for the first time) to look a little consoled; for we have spent, a* you may imagine, a miserable five months.
Good-bye, my dear Hunt
Your affectionate friend, P. B. S.
I have had no letter from you for a month.
Florence, Xov. 16,1819. Madonna,—I have been lately voyaging in a sea without my pilot, and although my sail has often been torn, my boat become leaky, and the log lost, I have yet sailed in a kind of way from island to island ; some of craggy and mountainous magnificence, some clothed with moss and flowers, and radiant with fountains, some barren deserts. / hare been reading Calderon without you. I have read the "Cisma de Ingalaterra," the " Cabellos de Absolom," and three or four others. These pieces, inferior to those we read, at least to the '' Principe Constante," in the splendour of particular passages, are perhaps superior in their satisfying completeness. The Cabellos de Absolom is full of the deepest and tenderest touches of nature. Nothing can be more pathetically conceived than the character of old David, and the tender and impartial love, overcoming all insults and all crimes, with which he regards his conflicting and disobedient sons. The incest scene of Amnon and Tamar is perfectly tremendous. Well may Calderon say in the person of the former—
Si sangre sin fuego hiere, quo fara sangre con fuego?
Incest is, like many other incorrect things, a very
poetical circumstance. It may be the excess of
love or hate. It may be the defiance of everything
for the sake of another, which clothes itself in the
glory of the highest heroism; or it may be that
cynical rage which, confounding the good and the
bad in existing opinions, breaks through them for
the purpose of rioting in selfishness and antipathy.
Calderon, following the Jewish historians, lias
represented Amnon's action in the basest point of
view-—he is a prejudiced savage, acting what he
abhors, and abhorring that which is the unwilling
party to his crime.
Adieu. Madonna, yours truly,
P. B. S.
I transcribe you a passage from the Cisma de
Ingalaterra—spoken by "Carlos, Embaxador de
Francia, cnamorado de Ana Bolena." Is there
anything in Petrarch finer tlian the second stanza.*
* Porquo apenas el Sol se coronaba
To JOHN GISBORNE, Esq.
Mt Dear Sir,—I envy you the first reading of Theocritus. Were not the Greeks a glorious people! What is there, as Job says of the Leviathan, like unto them 1 If the army of Nicias had not been defeated under the walls of Syracuse; if the Athenians had, acquiring Sicily, held the balance between Rome and Carthage, sent garrisons to the Greek colonies in the south of Italy, Rome might have been all that its intellectual condition entitled it to be, a tributary, not the conqueror of Greece; the Macedonian power would never have attained to the dictatorship of the civilised states of the world. Who knows whether, under the steady progress which philosophy and social institutions would have made, (for, in the age to which I refer, their progress was both rapid and secure) among a people of the most perfect physical organization, whether the Christian religion would have arisen, or the barbarians have overwhelmed the wrecks of civilisation which had survived the conquest and tyranny of the Romans J What then should we have been 1 As it is, all of us who are worth anything, spend our manhood in unlearning the follies, or expiating the mistakes, of our youth. We are stuffed full of prejudices ; and our natural passions are so managed, that if we restrain them we grow intolerant and precise, because we restrain them not according to reason, but according to error; and if we do not restrain them, wc do all sorts of mischief to ourselves and others. Our imagination and understanding arc alike subjected to
Alii, cl silencio de la nocbe frla,
el Jaxmtn, que en las redes se enlatava,
cl cristal de la fuente que oorrta,
cl arroyo que a solas murraurava,
El vicnto que en las hojas se movia,
el Aura que en las flores rcsplrava;
todo era amor*; que mucho, si en tal calma,
avea, f uentes, y flores tiencn alma.'
No bas vlsto provfdente y officlosa,
Assi ml amor, cobarde muchos dias,