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PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
Lord Byron is said to have prevented the schoolroom at Harrow from being burnt in a rebellion, by showing the boys the names of their ancestors on the walls *; SHELLEY, to have entered into a conspiracy at Eton against the odious custom of fagging. I believe that neither of these anecdotes rests on any good authority. Shelley was in love
* Byron's own name would now act as a spell against any similar attempt. I saw his name carved at Harrow, in three places, in very large characters—a presentiment of his future fame, or a pledge of his ambition to acquire it.
with no Mary Duff* at eight years old, nor wrote epigrams on lame ducks, like Dr. Johnson, at four. I knew him from a child, our mothers being near relatives, but remember no precocity of genius which he displayed. His parents were not remarkable for any particular talent. It is true that his grandfather possessed what is thought most worth acquiring, the science of getting money, for, commencing the world with no fortune, he contrived to marry two of the richest heiresses in England, and to leave 20,0001. a year, and 300,0001.
* This love affair of Byron's seems rather to border on the ridiculous. That he showed a remarkable precocity of talent is certain. A schoolfellow of his at Aberdeen, and who used to visit his mother when lodging at Leslie's the apothecary's in Broad Street, told me that Byron and himself were caught in a thunder storm, and obliged to take refuge in a cellar, where, to wile away the time, Byron, with much emphasis and action, recited a tale from the Arabian Nights.' He might then be five years old. He was exceedingly pugnacious at this school, a character he maintained at Harrow, and notwithstanding the deformity in both his feet, he was very active. He used to blame his mother's mock delicacy for this defect. In common with many Scotch ladies of that time, it seems she had a prejudice against accoucheurs.