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194

LORD BYRON'S PRIVATE JOURNAL.

therefore, stick to the original, and an original Byron was, if ever there was one in the world.

Lord Byron's private journal has also been spoken of, by those who have been favoured with a sight of it, as being a very correct and elegant composition; his Lordship, however, according to the resolution expressed in the latter part of his “Scotch Reviewers and English Bards,has withheld it from the public, or rather, we suppose, these are amongst the papers which were thrown overboard by Count Gamba, when captured by a Turkish frigate, as mentioned in another part of this work.

The fate of Lord Byron's writings displays the proper spirit of the world; it is unthankful, or ungrateful, for what it has received, and yet affects to regret that which is lost or kept back from it: Sic est vulgus ; ex veritate pauca, ex opinione multa, æstimat.—Cicero.

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CHAPTER VI.

Singular occurrence that took place at Pisa.- Sketch of the

extraordinary Life of the late P. B. Shelley, Esq.— The finding his corpse, and the ceremony of burning it on a pile, after the old Roman fashion, for the purpose of depositing the ashes in Rome. Lord Byron's establishment at Pisa. His attachment to monkies and other animals.-His regimen..

-Pistol-practice. - Duelling. - The Guiccioli.-- Fletcher's .bon mot.—The Circle at Pisa.—The Gambas and Lord Byron driven from Venice and Ravenna by the Holy Alliance:-Persecuted in a similar manner at Pisa.–Official account of the affray at Pisa, that ended in the banishment of some, and the removal of the rest of Byron's friends to Genoa.

BEFORE we take leave of Pisa, it would be unpardonable to omit another singular affair, in which Lord Byron and his friends bore a conspicuous part. The loss of Mr. P. B. Shelley, who was drowned on his return to Pisa from an excursion in an open boat, has been already mentioned; and the funereal rites that were paid to his remains, after the old Roman fashion, were too remarkable circumstances to be consigned to oblivion. The ceremony took place on the 18th August 1822, on the sea-shore in the neighbourhood of Pisa, and the last scene was quite of a piece

196

LIFE OF THE LATE

with the preceding career of that truly eccentric character.

Mr. Shelley, after the usual preliminary education, was sent to Eton, where he displayed a character of marked eccentricity, being of a melancholy and reserved disposition, averse from all the usual pursuits of youth, and remarkably shy of intercourse with his school-companions. The progress that he made was by no means considerable, as he rather showed an aversion for all classical learning. He was fond, however, of German literature, and romantic productions, and before he arrived at his fifteenth year, he published two works, intitled Justrozziand the “ Rosicrucian," both of which were reprobated as being of an immoral tendency. He also for a' time be'trayed a fondness for chemical pursuits, but being blown up, and nearly losing his life in one of his experiments, he abandoned that dangerous course. He next turned his attention to metaphysics, in which he became a follower of the French school, and entering into a theological controversy with a dignitary of the church, he published a treatise intitled T'he Necessity of Atheism,which was merely a recapitulation of the dogmas of Voltaire and the other disciples of that school, and he circulated it, without concealing his name, among the bench of bishops. The consequence was obvious; he had just previously entered himself at the university of Oxford, when

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he was summoned before the heads of the college; and being admonished, and still proving refractory, he was expelled from the university. This disgrace had little effect upon the mind of Shelley, although it deprived him of the object of his first love, and alienated his family from him. His father received him very coolly; and his paternal residence becoming unpleasant to him, he went to London, and thence eloped with a Miss Westbrooke to Gretna Green, both being considerably under age at the time. This stroke effectually alienated his father's affections from him, and all intercourse was broken off. After some stay in Edinburgh, he crossed over to Ireland, where he published a pamphlet, which had an extensive run, recommending firmness and moderation as a more effectual means of conciliating their enemies and securing their freedom, than violence and rebellion. He likewise addressed them at some of their public meetings in a similar strain, with great fluency and eloquence.

Returning to England at the latter end of 1812, he paid a visit to the lakes (being a great admirer of Southey's poetry), and passed several days at Keswick in company with that author. Having imbibed a taste for poetry, he soon after composed his “ Queen Mab,” and presented it to most of the literary characters of the day, and to Lord Byron amongst the rest, who, in a note to the Two Foscari,” speaks of it as a poem of great

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power and imagination, and avows bis admiration of the poetry of that and his other productions. This work was afterwards pirated, and Shelley then disclaimed all the opinions contained in it, as being the crude notions of inexperienced youth.

Shelley's marriage, like Byron's, proved unhappy; and a separation ensuing in 1816 (the very same year in which Byron's separation took place) he went to Switzerland, and at Geneva formed a personal acquaintance with Byron, which was the commencement of a friendship that terminated but with life. The romantic scenery of this country was not lost upon his poetic genius, and he soon produced “ Rosalind and Helen," an . eclogue, and an Ode to the Euganian Hills,both replete with beauties. The death of his wife recalled him to England, where, in the subsequent year, he again married Mary Wolstonecraft Godwin, daughter of the two celebrated persons whose names she bore. Though heir to an income of several thousand pounds, yet but shortly before this event he was nearly perishing through hunger; but, on coming of age, and discovering that he was intitled to some considerable rever. sionary property in fee, he sold it to his father for an annuity of £1,000, with which he took a house at Marlow in Buckinghamshire, and there closely followed his poetical and classical studies. During his residence at Marlow he wrote . Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude," one of the most

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