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present members of the school who may wish it, to at once join so good and useful a society as the one now proposed.
Many boys now in the juvenile, I may say, look forward to the day when it will come to their turn to contend for Honours, either at one of our Universities, Wimbledon, Lords, or Prince's. These boys, with love for the school in them, would, I am convinced, contribute half-yearly their small but willing subscription to a fund from which one and all hope some day to gain a benefit,—that is, if he has any pluck in him ; for, from what I hear, it is not only to assist the studious lad who works for University Honours, but to find funds for all the public matches, i.e., as far as the funds will admit.
My day was before Cheltenham College existed; but from what I have heard, I hope all my sons may be educated there, and become members of the Cheltenham Fund; that, by the aid of Dr. Barry, Mr. Southwood, and J. Lillywhite-eschewing those frequent visits to Tyler's, which we have heard so much about in that foolish book just published—they may be trained both in mind and body, so that some day they may draw doubly on the Cheltonian Fund, and do some credit to the school. All ought to be invited.
To the Editors of the Cheltonian. Gentlemen,-Allow me, through the medium of your pages, to .insert a few words on the old subject, the ‘Racquet Courts.? My suggestion will, I am sure, appear very simple to you. I would merely propose to have the floors of the Racquet Courts rubbed over with holystone. By means of this the courts, now absurdly slow, would become somewhat faster. To the slowness of our Courts is partly due our recent defeat in London, as the Courts there are much faster than ours. If my suggestion were to be acted upon, it surely could do the Courts no harm, even if it did not succeed in making them faster. I am, gentlemen, yours, &c.,
J. J. REID.
Percy Bysshe Shelley.
HE object of this paper is to remove, or at least to put people
in the way of removing for themselves, an impression which I fear is lamentably common as to the character of the great poet Shelley. Concerning his poetry, I should hardly venture to speak, but while that is matter of opinlon, the events of his life are fortunately matters of history and fact. As such let them be treated, and as such let no wild impressions, un-founded or ill-founded, be esteemed.
I cannot undertake to furnish a life of Shelley here. This may be found in several places, and the life of such a man ought to be known to all Englishmen: they cannot count many such as him in the history of their country, they can find still fewer who as poets can stand at his side. A large number of so-called well-educated people hold, I think, a belief, perfectly honest, I doubt not, but unutterably false, I am sure; they look on Shelley in much the same way as his own generation looked on him, that is, they regard him as a hopelessly wicked and abandoned ruffian in his relations both to God and man, a would-be murderer of all priests and kings, and a fervent desirer of perfect destruction of the peace of all. They consider him, too (if we may allow them the term), to have lived a flagrantly immoral life ; in fact, they suppose him to have been about as. vile a man as it is easy to conceive. Some of them' couple him with Byron, with the qualification that he was ' far worse.' A small minority, having much the same suppositions as to his character, prefer to regard him as a lunatic.
Now it may be said, 'people who have such a belief as this are not worth instructing ;' but I think they are, mainly for this reason
Need I add that these persons, presumably on the same ground which reviewers who reviled the poetry of the ‘Poems and Ballads' occupied, deny a priori the possibility of Shelley's having been a great poet. Nevertheless he was.
No. 31.-Vol. III.
-you may be absolutely certain of this that pretty nearly all of them have never read any account of Shelley by men who knew him. None who have read such books can by any possibility believe such utter nonsense as most people do on this subject. For the sake of ourselves this ignorance ought to be removed; ‘his name is one of the noblest left us, and it is not for his sake that we should contend to do him honour.'
First, then, I would say that those who really care to know about the man can go to to the following books: Hogg's Life of Shelley,' 'Shelley Memorials, compiled by Lady Shelley,' and ‘Recollections of the last days of Shelley and Byron, by E. J. Trelawney.' Those three will give at least a fair idea of the man, and others there doubtless are. But from those who will not or cannot read such books, I would ask an unprejudiced hearing.
I suppose one might fairly take as an example of the opinion of the least-bigoted of those of Shelley's contemporaries, who were not fortunate enough to know him, the paper by De Quincey. It would be aggravating, if it were not so pitiable, to find a man like De Quincey writing such words as these : 'always craving for love, oving, and seeking to be loved' (what the difference between the first and third characteristic may be, I know not) ; 'always he was destined to reap hatred from those with whom life had connected him.' Man never made a greater mistake or else told a more shameless lie than this. Where will you find any account of Shelley, by one who knew him at all well, which does not tell the same tale as the books I have referred to above tell, which does not echo the strain of unqualified praise and admiration and love?
Almost the first events of Shelley's life show his character. At school he was the gentlest, the most lovable, the most unselfish; but there too he was the bravest in his hatred of oppression (of course, in speaking thus, I mean what he thought oppression), the most unflinching in the cause of right. He begins his life by a protest, practical enough, against fagging at Eton ; the act is like in character to the acts of all his life; he reaped the same resultignorant hatred and persecution, and consequent sorrow of mind. At Oxford the same course was pursued; finally he was expelled for the publication of a tract on the doctrines of Christianity, and the rest of his life is not unlike the beginning, for it is made up of an unhappy marriage which ended in the suicide of his wife (from other causes, as we have learnt lately), marriage with Mary Godwin, sojourn for the rest of his life in Italy, persecution and hatred till death, and, amid much happiness and (pace De Quincey) the universal love of his friends, an abiding and intense sorrow of heart.
In Shelley's character one may say these were two great elements : to no man was ever given a more gentle, faithful, loving spirit, or a more perfectly unselfish heart; and to no man a more earnest and utter abomination of the wrong and falsehood of the world, of all the oppression that is done under the sun,' in which wrong and falsehood unhappily to his perception was included the great system of Christianity.
Let any one look at a good picture of his face: the one published in the works is rough and coarse, and, I believe, inaccurate, but the one given in Trelawney's book is good. If you look at this you cannot fail to notice much that is beautiful and sweet, and something that is noble. The small round head with its masses of hair, the delicate features, the feminine mouth, the sweet expression, the large dreamy dark eyes, give at once the one half of his character; bring at once before you the gentle and sorrowful youth whose very life was love to mankind, and of mankind most of all the poor, weak, and suffering, who consciously injured no bright bird, insects and gentle beast, but still loved and cherished these his kindred,' whose heart was with these and with the glories of Nature always; it is the face of one to whom deceit, oppression, and all unkindness were unknown: of one whose life was bound up in the beauty of Nature and of Freedom; of one whose gentle and loving soul was smitten with an intense and continual sorrow. But I do not think you see the more masculine part of his character: for this gentle being was almost fanatical in his swift and absorbing intolerance and hatred of oppression, fraud, and (what he thought) a false faith. You will not find this easily in the beautiful and gentle face, you must go to his works to find the splendour of lightning and the terror of thunder against wrong.
After all, Shelley's mortal and unforgiveable sin in the eyes of the moral age of George IV. was his infidelity. If he had but been content to break a commandment which other men broke every day, and then had done nothing more, there would have been no particular objection taken to him. The seventh commandment was not kept so intact by any class at that time that his one single offence against it would have brought him into such universal odium with the book-writing population of England: and, indeed, his whole life, almost up to his marriage with Mary Godwin, and ever after it, was as pure and unimpeachable as any bishop's could be. But, unluckily, he denied the form of godliness, being not content with others to deny its power alone, and this was not to be forgiven. Indeed, he proclaimed his disbelief in sufficient startling language and one must look very sorrowfully and regretfully on this one fault
of his life, this one hitch, if so we may call it, in his intellectual machinery. Yet, even here it is not to be forgotten that he acted in the very strictest and justest accordance with his principles, and it is for us to lament his one great and (I allow) lamentable error of judgment, and not to slander him because of it as an incorrigibly wicked man. After all that is to be said against him, Christians may look with boundless admiration and respect on a man whose life was an example of obedience, far greater than most of theirs’ can hope to be, to the commandment which they hold divine, that he who loveth God, love his brother also.' For this was the secret of his goodness and his greatness, and though men would not see it then, we may safely acknowledge it now: a deep and earnest love of mankind, an absorbing passion for humanity was the source from whence sprang both splendour and failure : and men may forgive him for not having been quite perfect. For his life was too short for us to guess what he might have been, and although I cannot think that time would ever have altered those opinions which gained him oppobrium, yet it would, even in his lifetime, have opened the eyes of the world to his surpassing merits, both as a man and a poet; as it was, his hopes for humanity were not to be accomplished in his day, and his reputation as a poet was an idle dream. But in our time those hopes are being accomplished, and we cannot but wish that Shelley were alive to see them as we do, and we are alive to witness his lofty place among poets granted him by common consent of all high critics.
In these remarks I have said almost nothing of Shelley as a poet, but I have spoken of him only as a man. But one cannot help saying a word on this subject here: for of all men who have written since Shakespeare, none has produced works better worth study than Shelley. I am aware that the generality of readers do not really care for his poetry much. Now-a-days the (supposed) admirer of poetry can bear no stronger diet than the Idyllic school can afford; he revels in the luxury of his ‘Doras' and his ‘Adelines'; he rushes eagerly on ‘London Lyrics,'andaccepts with rapture ‘Tales of Homely Life,' he bases Tennyson's worth as a poet on the fact that he can tell a story well; he is forced to admire ‘In Memoriam,' but he will not read it, or if he does he will not understand it, he adores the Idylls because of the moral contained in each of them, (conspicuously Vivien, of course), but his great friend is 'Enoch Arden,' because the story is so exciting'-he will not call it sensational; he naturally puts Tennyson (on the strength of his story-telling powers) above all poets since Shakespeare (in his own mind he puts him above all poets since Adam); for the rest, he has never heard of the Life