Shelley as a Teacher.

From: Literary Sketches (1888)
Author: Henry S. Salt
Published: Swan Sonnenschein Lowrey & Co. 1888 London

Shelley as a Teacher.

IT is the object of this paper to exhibit Shelley in the character of teacher rather than poet. His poetical fame is now almost universally acknowledged, but many of his admirers are content to pass lightly over the matter of his teaching, as though it were erroneous or unimportant; even Mr. Symonds, in his otherwise appreciative review,1 comes to the conclusion that the real lesson of his life and writings “is not to be sought in any of his doctrines, but rather in his fearless bearing, his resolute loyalty to an unselfish and in the simplest sense benevolent ideal.” My desire is to show that this is an under-estimate of the importance of Shelley’s doctrines, which, under one form or another, seem to be destined to play an important part in determining the course of thought, and therefore cannot be so lightly dismissed. It is perhaps natural enough that such impassioned utterances as those of Shelley should have met with scanty appreciation. The sublime, we know, always borders on the ridiculous; and in estimating such a character it is often difficult, as in the case of Swedenborg, to draw the line between enthusiasm and hallucination. But when enthusiasm is guided and tempered by the powers of calm and sober reason, there results from this union the most beautiful of all human characters. So it was with Shelley, whose intellect was in truth eminently keen and powerful, notwithstanding the assertion, so often made, that he was a weak thinker. All his biographers bear witness to the fact that he was a profound and subtle disputant, and very far from being the mere wild singer and visionary that some would now wish him to appear. This is well expressed by Dr. Garnett in his essay on Shelley:2

  “We must learn to think of Shelley not merely as gentle, dreamy, unworldly, imprudently disinterested, and ideally optimistic-though he was all this-but likewise as swift, prompt, resolute, irascible, strong-limbed, and hardy, often very practical in his views of politics, and endowed with preternatural keeness of observation.”

  This being so, it is strange that we should set such high value on his purely literary work, while we scarcely pause to examine the great idea by which nearly all his poems are inspired. His life-work was devoted to one clear and definite end, which he kept steadily before his eyes, and followed with singular firmness and consistency. As he himself tells us in the introduction to Prometheus Unbound, he had “a passion for reforming the world.” This reformation was to be affected not by bloodshed and civil strife, but by the gentler and surer process of argument and education. It was by his poems that he hoped to carry out the divine mission with which he was entrusted. He says in the preface to The Revolt of Islam: “I have sought to enlist the harmony of metrical language, the etherial combinations of the fancy . . . in the cause of a liberal and comprehensive morality.” Thus, like a second Lucretius, he proposed to sweeten his doctrine with the honey of melodious rhythm and beautiful imagery. But it should always be remembered that his primary object was to teach and persuade, and that his poetry was for the most part employed only to effect this result.

  There is a singular consistency between Shelley’s life and writings. In early boyhood he solemnly dedicated himself to his task of philanthropy and reformation, and throughout his lifetime all his intellectual powers were devoted to this end. In the opening stanzas of The Revolt of Islam he thus describes the first awakening to the new life:

“I do remember well the hour which burst
My spirit’s sleep: a fresh May dawn it was
When I walked forth upon the glittering grass,
And wept, I knew not why; until there rose
From the near schoolroom voices that, alas!
Were but one echo from a world of woes—
The harsh and grating strife of tyrants and of foes.

And then I clasped my hands, and looked around,
But none was near to mock my streaming eyes,
Which poured their warm drops on the sunny ground;
So, without shame, I spake—‘I will be wise,
And just, and free, and mild, if in me lies
Such power; for I grow weary to behold
The selfish and the strong still tyrannise
Without reproach or check.’ I then controll’d
My tears; my heart grew calm, and I was meek and bold.”

The resolution thus earnestly made was conscientiously kept. Some years later, in reviewing his past life, Shelley could truly say in his Hymn to Intellectual Beauty:

“I vowed that I would dedicate! my powers
To thee and thine: have I not kept my vow?”

This Hymn to Intellectual Beauty was written shortly after what may be called the close of the first part of Shelley’s life. During that period, he seems to have entertained the belief that his theories for the regeneration of man might be carried into effect even in the present time, and accordingly we find him personally advocating his doctrines with extraordinary pertinacity. He is described in the Shelley Memorials as a boyish enthusiast,

  “Whose enthusiasm never wanes, and whose voice is seldom silent; who, with the eloquence of conviction, obtrudes his doctrines at all times; who seeks the youngest daughter in the schoolroom, and the butler in the pantry, to make them converts.”

  So too at Oxford, brought face to face with the narrow orthodoxy of the College authorities, he could not content himself with a silent disbelief: he would neither conform, nor abstain from proclaiming his non-conformity, and the publication of a pamphlet, entitled The Necessity of Atheism, resulted in his expulsion from the University. Then came his first marriage, and his visit to Ireland, made in order to take a practical part in the amelioration of that country. Within a year after this expedition, Queen Mab had been written, and the equally remarkable notes to Queen Mab, In the meantime, Shelley had put another of his theories into practice, by the adoption of a vegetarian diet.

  Looking back over these years, Shelley must indeed have felt that he had conscientiously fulfilled the resolution of his boyhood. Yet he must have felt also some disappointment at the temporary failure of many cherished plans, for, in spite of all his efforts, there was no visible improvement among mankind. We can hardly doubt that the following words of the Essay on Love were written with reference to this time:

  “I know not the internal constitution of other men, not even thine, whom. I now address. I see that in some external attributes they resemble me; but when, misled by that appearance, I have thought to appeal to something in common, and unburthen my inmost soul to them, I have found my language misunderstood, like one in a distant and savage land.”

  These words mark the sense of that loneliness and disappointment and temporary failure which have been felt by every true reformer. But in the second period of Shelley’s life, which was mainly spent in Italy, he seems to have looked to the future, and not the present, for the realisation of his schemes. Yet his firm faith in the ultimate triumph of his principles was never for an instant shaken; nor did he relax for an instant his efforts to ameliorate the condition of mankind.

  Let us proceed now to a consideration of the religious and moral tendencies of Shelley’s teaching. The chief and cardinal doctrines of Shelley’s creed is Love. And by this is meant love in its most universal sense, something much more than individual affection or philanthropic benevolence-love not only of mankind, but of all creation. This love of nature is the central point, both of his religion and morality; his duty to God and duty to man are both alike comprised in this.

  And first, as regards Shelley’s religious views, I may here remark that the popular opinion which represents him sometimes as an atheist, sometimes as a sceptic, are both equally fallacious. Shelley was no atheist, though in the combative zeal of youth he may have delighted so to style himself: he was rather a pantheist, believing, as we learn from his Adonais, in the all-pervading presence of universal love. With still less truth could he be called a sceptic; since his religious, or antireligious convictions were fixed, decided, and thoroughly sincere. On this point it is interesting to compare his character with that of Byron, the true sceptic, who had no fixed belief, and little reverence, but “flew about from subject to subject like a will-o’-the-wisp, touching them with a false fire, without throwing any real or steady light on any.”3 Shelley, on the contrary, had an essentially religious nature, and was filled with profound veneration for the good. Hogg says of him, that “the devotion, the reverence, the religion, with which he was kindled towards all masters of intellect, cannot be described, and must be utterly inconceivable to minds less deeply enamoured with the love of wisdom.”4 We learn from the Shelley Memorials that “the more exalted Platonical speculations of his later life made Shelley discontented with the somewhat cold though qualified materialism of Queen Mab,”5 and about the year 1815 he became an adherent of the immaterial philosophy of Berkeley, who asserted that matter itself is nothing but a perception of the mind. But his great and cardinal belief was undoubtedly in the perfectibility of man, the belief that the good is more potent than the evil, and that man’s redemption must be worked out by no external revelation, but by the innate sense of virtue and love. As a rule, he was indifferent to all theologica] disputes and abstruse questions of religion. He regarded all priestcraft with aversion, and looked forward to the age of intellectual freedom and universal toleration, when, as he says in the Ode to Liberty,

“Human thoughts might kneel alone,
Each before the judgment throne
Of its own aweless soul, or of the power unknown.”

It is obvious, therefore, that Religion, in the ordinary sense of the word, must hold a far less important place in Shelley’s teaching than Morality, the relation of man to man. It was to “the cause of a liberal and comprehensive morality,” that, as I have already remarked, he devoted all his poetical faculties.

  There can be no greater mistake than to suppose that Shelley’s convictions were merely the result of the thoughtlessness of youth, or the imperfection of education, or, as a Cambridge essayist has surmised, that “if Shelley’s honest doubts had been openly and liberally met by those with whom he first e1me in contact, his after-life might have been very different to that which it actua1ly was.”6 The fact is, that from the first Shelley was no doubter, honest or dishonest, but was filled with the absorbing conviction that while all religious dogma is false and injurious, man may yet attain to perfection by the light of his own reason and his innate sense of gentleness and love. In this belief Shelley never faltered: it was this that upheld him through all the struggles and sorrows of his life. We must approve or condemn him, according as each shall think right; but the fact remains that this was the secret of his strength.

  Turning now to the question of morality, in which Shelley was, for the most part, a pupil of William Godwin, the author of Political Justice, we find that here, as in religion, the sole motive-power of Shelley’s creed is Love. Love is the one and only source of those two great qualities, the bulwarks of morality, gentleness and virtue. It is impossible to prove to a man that gentleness is better than cruelty, virtue than vice; one can only appeal to that intuitive sense of good, for which Love is the most comprehensive name that can be found. In Shelley’s own words: “If a man persists to inquire why he ought to promote the happiness of mankind, he demands a mathematical or metaphysical reason for a moral action.”

  Love is therefore the origin of all morality, but there is another condition that is inseparable from a perfectly moral state, and that is Freedom—for only those who are free can be entirely and perfectly moral. If we say then that Morality is the child of Love, we must admit that it is the fosterchild of Freedom, for by Freedom only can it attain to maturity and perfection. Accordingly, in Shelley’s poems, we everywhere find Love and Liberty celebrated as the saviours of the human race.

  The two moral qualities on which Shelley most frequently dwells, and of which his own life affords the most conspicuous example, are those I before mentioned—gentleness and virtue. Gentleness is perhaps more often inculcated by Shelley than any other quality. And, rightly understood, it is the chief of all virtues, as cruelty is the chief of all crimes. For gentleness is identical with unselfishness: it is that widely sympathetic spirit that prompts us to injure no living thing. Among individuals true gentleness can only exist in conjunction with simplicity of life, for in exact proportion as a man lives in needless luxury, he causes labour and degradation to his fellowmen, and pain and suffering to the lower animals. For this reason Shelley, the apostle of gentleness, repeatedly insists on the necessity of simplicity of life. In Epipsychidion he says:

“Our simple life wants little, and true taste
Hires not the pale drudge Luxury to waste
The scene it would adorn, and therefore still
Nature, with all her children, haunts the hill.”

And again in the Essay on Christianity: “The man who has fewest bodily wants approaches nearest to the Divine nature. Satisfy these wants at the cheapest rate, and expend the remaining energies of your nature in the attainment of virtue and knowledge.” For the same reason Shelley himself, as all his biographers bear witness, lived with the utmost frugality. Leigh Hunt’s account is as follows:

  “This was the round of his daily life. He was up early, breakfasted sparingly, wrote this Revolt of Islam all the morning; went out in his boat, or in the woods, with some Greek author or the Bible in his hands; came home to a dinner of vegetables (for he took neither meat nor wine); visited, if necessary, the sick and fatherless, whom others gave Bibles to and no help; wrote or studied again, or read to his wife and friends the whole evening, took a crust of bread, or a glass of whey for his supper, and went early to bed.”

  Such was his life at Marlow in 1817, and his mode of living in Italy seems to have been equally abstemious. “Bread,” says Trelawny, “was literally his staff of life.” “Wine,” says Medwin, “he never touched with his lips.”

  But the gentleness which Shelley teaches does not only condemn what is openly cruel or violent; it sanctions nothing that is selfish or uncharitable. There is an ungentleness in peaceful as in warlike occupations, and it is not surprising that Shelley should dwell as strongly on the crime of selfishness as seen in modern commerce as on cruelty itself. He says in Queen Mab.

“Hence commerce springs, the venal interchange
Of all that human art or nature yield;
Which wealth should purchase not, but want demand,
And natural kindness hasten to supply
From the full fountain of its boundless love.”

This may sound Quixotic; yet it is essentially the same lesson as that which Ruskin has taught us that the maxim of the political economist, “to buy in the cheapest market, and sell in the dearest,” is selfish and ungentle. It may be worth while to quote his words:7

  “They will find that commerce is an occupation which gentlemen will every day see more need to engage in, rather than in the businesses of talking to men or slaying them: that in true commerce, as in true preaching or true fighting, it is necessary to admit the idea of occasional voluntary loss; that sixpences have to be lost, as well as lives, uuder a sense of duty.”

  It was this sense which made Shelley adopt opinions which in the present day would be called socialistic. He repeatedly urges that there is no real wealth except in the labour of man, and that the rich are in reality the pensioners of the poor. The present system of society, he thinks, “must be overthrown from the foundation, with all its superstructure of maxims and forms.” Like Godwin, however, he trusted that this revolution might be brought about without violence or bloodshed by the spread of enlightenment and gentleness.

  Virtue, according to Shelley’s doctrine, must be based solely on natural purity of heart. There must be no restraint; no fear; no consideration of conventional propriety; no hope of reward, either in this world or the next; for an action is only virtuous when it is freely and spontaneously performed. In his Essay on Christianity, Shelley strongly enforces the principle that virtue is its own reward, and that it must be independent even of the hope of immortality. Commenting on the words, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” he thus explains the latter expression:

  “Whosoever is free from the contamination of luxury and licence, may go forth to the fields and woods, inhaling joyous renovation from the breath of spring, or catching from the odour and sounds of autumn some diviner mood of sweetest sadness, which improves the softened heart; whosoever is no deceiver or destroyer of his fellow-men—no liar, no flatterer, no murderer—may walk among his species, deriving, from the communion with all which they contain of beautiful or of majestic, some intercourse with the universal God. Whosoever has maintained with his own heart the strictest correspondence of confidence, who dares to examine and to estimate every imagination which suggests itself to his mind, whosoever is that which he designs to become, and only aspires to that which the divinity of his own nature shall consider and approve—he has already seen God.”

  Shelley’s life was consistently in accord with his writings, and through all his career he invariably strove to practise what he preached. In one point only has the virtue of his life been seriously questioned, and that is on the question of marriage. On this subject he held that all legal constraint is foolish and immoral, and he undoubtedly held this opinion in perfect honesty and consistency. It will be sufficient to quote his own words from the notes to Queen Mab: “Love is inevitably consequent on the perception of loveliness: its very essence is liberty: it is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy, nor fear: it is then most pure, perfect, and unlimited, when its votaries live in confidence, equality, and unreserve.” I am aware that in after-years Shelley refused to be held responsible for the theories advanced in Queen Mab, which was published without his consent; but there is no reason to suppose that he ever changed his opinion on the question of the marriage-law. It was formerly thought to be a sufficient condemnation of Shelley’s views, to point to the unhappy results of his first marriage. But the publication of Professor Dowden’s Life of Shelley has now given us for the first time a reliable account of that portion of Shelley’s career, and the evidence which he adduces, though by no means with the object of exculpating Shelley from all blame, must at least have the effect of relieving him of the charge of having “deserted” his wife, or having been in any way responsible for her death.

  Gentleness and virtue are, therefore, the two qualities which, according to Shelley’s teaching, are inseparable from a moral state. But, as I said before, true morality can only be developed under favourable conditions, and of these liberty is the chief. In the Ode to Liberty, it is liberty that is described as bringing wisdom “from the inmost cave of man’s deep spirit.” There is probably no writer who has advocated liberty so passionately as Shelley; and his theories are in consequence generally regarded as dangerous and pernicious, or at best as the wild ravings of a mere visionary and enthusiast. Yet it should be remarked that in his strongest invectives against kings and priests he never admits the idea of vengeance or persecution: his doctrine is always to overcome evil with good; liberty is to be gained not by violence but endurance. He simply advocates the principle of universal toleration.

  On the subject of civil liberty, and the right method of obtaining it, his views find their fullest expression in The Masque of Anarchy, where he calls upon the English people to overcome the violence of their oppressors by passive and indomitable endurance.

“Let a great assembly be,
Of the fearless and the free,
On some spot of English ground,
Where the plains stretch wide around.
.   .   .
And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there,
Slash and stab and maim and hew;
What they like, that let them do.
.   .   .
And that slaughter to the nation
Shall steam up like inspiration;
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.”

Such was Shelley’s theory of passive protest. The only occasion on which he took any practical part in political matters was when he visited Ireland in 1812, and published his Address to the Irish People and other documents. As might have been expected, his visit was a failure in its immediate consequences; but his address is in itself very remarkable for its sagacity and moderation. Indeed, as Mr. Symonds remarks, “Catholic emancipation has since been brought about by the very measure he proposed, and under the conditions he foresaw.”

  In foreign policy Shelley was an equally ardent champion of oppressed nations, and has left in Hellas a splendid memorial of his love for Greece. Here, too, time has shown the wisdom of his views, as will appear from the following passage in the preface to Hellas:

  “Russia desires to possess, not to liberate Greece; and is contented to see the Turks, its natural enemies, and the Greeks, its intended slaves, enfeeble each other, until one or both fall into its net. The wise and generous policy of England would have consisted in establishing the independence of Greece, and in maintaining it against both Russia and the Turks.”

  But the kind of liberty which Shelley most eloquently and urgently advocates is of course freedom of thought. He is never weary of declaiming against religious intolerance and the tyranny of social custom. These views find their most impassioned expression in the Ode to Liberty, and are worked out at greater length in The Revolt of Islam and Prometheus Unbound. In all fiction there is scarcely a sublimer conception than Shelley’s Prometheus. In some respects he resembles the Satan of Paradise Lost, and the Titans of Keats’ Hyperion, but the difference is still more striking. In these we see the shadowy forms of great and colossal heroes, who in their fallen state still cherish lofty aspirations, though wild regret and frantic indignation are now uppermost in their minds. Prometheus, on the contrary, is calm and passionless; his subjection is only temporary, and he is upheld through all his sufferings by a serene and fearless expectation of his ultimate triumph. In him we see a picture of the eternal struggle of right against might, and in this poem Shelley’s ideal principle reaches its highest development. Prometheus, the representative of liberty and gentleness, ceaselessly struggling against Jupiter, the representative of despotism and cruelty, is the very incarnation of all that Shelley ever thought, or said, or did.

  Such, in the barest outline, are the main features of Shelley’s teaching. His opinions will doubtless appear to many to be a strange mass of wild, though philanthropic speculation, and it must be admitted that he looks less at what is practically and immediately attainable than at what is positively just. Yet there are many also in whose opinion a creed such as this is destined to play a most important part in the future of the world, standing as it does between the two extremes of superstition and materialism. It is not unfrequently said that there is no consistent resting-place between these two, and that men’s choice must ultimately lie between the ancient religious dogma, on the one side, with all its treasury of fears and hopes, and modern scepticism, on the other, with its cold and passionless system, incapable alike of hope or fear. There are some, however, who will not accept this dilemma, but believe that the future of the world belongs rather to this Shelleyan idealism, which possesses the strength of both creeds and the weakness of neither. It is wholly free from the taint of superstition, while it possesses love and enthusiasm, which supply the only worthy motive for morality, and are a continual source of thankfulness and joy. Again, it can boast the perfect freedom of thought which is the glory of modern science, while it is free from the sad and joyless spirit, which is hardly separable from a state of real scepticism. In this belief alone can be found the complete union of morality and reason: here alone can be found the perfect religion of love. There is a memorable passage in the Shelley Memorials, where we read that when Shelley visited the cathedral at Pisa, in company with Leigh Hunt,

“the noble music of the organ deeply affected Shelley, who warmly assented to a remark of Leigh Hunt’s, that a divine religion might be found out, if charity were really made the principle of it, instead of faith.”

  To end as I began, I will repeat that love is the chief and cardinal doctrine of Shelley’s creed, and through love is to be wrought out the perfection of the human race. It is easy to brand such theories with the epithets “sentimental” and “Utopian.” Yet, after all, there is not much to be proud of in the belief that the human race is incapable of a regeneration which has seemed possible to its most enthusiastic children. If it be a fact that the perfectibility of man is a mere dream, we should accept such a conclusion with sober and saddened hearts, and at least refrain from railing at those whose utmost crime it has been to think too well of their fellow-creatures. The philanthropic doctrines which Shelley advances are only impracticable in this strictly limited sense, that men at present are not sufficiently unselfish to practise them. We have, however, no right to conclude beforehand that future generations will be equally incapable of reformation. Time may yet prove the truth of Shelley’s lines:

“We might be otherwise; we might be all
We dream of; happy, high, majestical.”

  Having now considered the general moral tendencies of Shelley’s teaching, it remains for me to say a few words about the manner in which that teaching was expressed. To an enthusiast such as Shelley, literary style must in itself have appeared a matter of secondary importance; and I need only notice here one or two salient points in which his manner of writing was directly influenced by the leading purpose of his life. Owing to his enthusiastic devotion to one great idea, the composition of most of his poems is less finished and artistic than would otherwise have been the case, herein differing widely from that of Keats, whose mind, undisturbed and undivided by strong religious or political sympathies, was at leisure to dwell entirely on what is beautiful and calm. Shelley’s sentences, on the contrary, are not carefully weighed and polished and refined, but are poured forth, like the song of his own skylark, “in profuse strains of unpremeditated art.” He is too eager about the matter of his teaching to be greatly concerned as to the precise method of conveying it.

  There is another noticeable defect in Shelley’s writings, this too caused by his intense seriousness and absorbing devotion to his cause. His nature was by no means deficient in humour, as may be seen from his satire on Wordsworth in Peter Bell the Third, and from other poems of a similar vein. But the humour, though not absent, was of ten latent and forgotten, and this prevented his seeing the frailties of his fellowmen from any but the saddest side. His characters have great virtues or great vices, but they have no small foibles or eccentricities: he weeps at the littleness of human nature, but he cannot smile. He has none of the playful yet sympathetic humour which could draw such characters as Sir Roger de Coverley or Colonel Newcome. But these faults, if faults they be, are after all insignificant when compared with the immense benefits which Shelley derived from his firm faith and unswerving devotion. It was this faith alone that could inspire him with that wonderful energy and inexhaustible flow of language which make him unique among our poets, and caused Lord Macaulay to write of him as follows: “The words bard and inspiration, which seem so cold and affected when applied to other modern writers, have a perfect propriety when applied to him. He was not an author, but a bard. His poetry seems not to have been an art, but an inspiration.”

  It should be remembered, too, that in spite of these artistic defects in his didactic works, Shelley has left poems which, even from an artistic point of view, are scarcely inferior to anything in our language. “Not only did he write the best lyrics, but the best tragedy, the best translations, and the best familiar poems of his century.” So says his biographer in ‘English Men of Letters,’ and there is certainly no exaggeration in the remark. Such high lyrical inspiration has never yet been united with such high artistic skill, as in the Ode to the West Wind, the Question, the Ode to Liberty, and a host of other odes and songs which I need not here enumerate. Again though Shelley cannot be called a great dramatist, yet The Cenci is undoubtedly one of our greatest dramas; from beginning to end a masterpiece of artistic perfection; a marvel of objective writing by the most subjective of poets. The Adonais, too, is a model of consummate art; Keats himself has left us nothing more faultlessly and symmetrically beautiful than this. These two poems alone are sufficient to prove that there is no natural or inherent artistic blemish in Shelley’s work. But, writing in the full fervour of poetical inspiration, he for the most part could not pause to elaborate and refine. It was better that his poems should bear the stamp of genuine and passionate conviction, than that they should be free from faults of detail in their style and workmanship.

  And, lastly, a word about Shelley himself. He had several characteristics that have endeared him to many readers beyond all other poets of his generation. His beauty and youth; the freshness and simplicity of his life; his womanly purity of mind; his unselfishness and high devotion to his cause; all these have conspired to invest his memory with a peculiar charm. We look back to him with something more than ordinary veneration and hero-worship; the least reminiscence of him is precious; there is something almost startling in the fact that persons lately living had seen and conversed with him. Of whom else could it have been written as in Mr. Browning’s Memorabilia?

“Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you,
And did you speak to him again?
How strange it seems and new!”

A reminiscence of Shelley is, indeed, as Mr. Browning describes it, as it were a moulted eagle-feather fallen upon the blank and barren moorland of ordinary life. Still more beautiful and reverential is the tribute paid to Shelley’s memory by the late James Thomson (“B.V.”) a writer who himself inherited no small share of Shelley’s rhythmic melody and rapturous inspiration. It is from his privately published poem on Shelley that the following stanzas are taken:

“A voice of right amidst a world gone wrong,
A voice of hope amidst a world’s despair,
A voice instinct with such melodious song
As hardly until then had thrilled the air
Of this gross underworld wherein we fare
With heavenly inspirations, too divine
For souls besotted with earth’s sensual wine.

All powers and virtues that ennoble men—
The hero’s courage and the martyrs’ truth,
The saint’s white purity, the prophet’s ken,
The high unworldliness of ardent youth,
The poet’s rapture, the apostle’s ruth,
Informed the Song; whose theme all themes above
Was still the sole supremacy of Love.”

1 “English Men of Letters.”
2 “Fortnightly Review,” 1878.
3 Medwin, ii. 147.
4 Hogg i. 242.
5 Shelley Mem. 54.
6 Cambridge Prize Essay, 1877.
7 Unto this Last, p. 30.

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