Puslapio vaizdai

tion would be less difficult to frame, and it would about, under the favor of time, and were such awake no 'serious hostility; the moral ideal, as the poet meant them to be, as in some meatoo, is enthroned in religious conceptions as se- sure was the case, and yet the influence also curely as in the conscience of man. It would operated in an unexpected way by the reacbe idle to say that advance has not been made, tion of the awakened conscience on the naror to deny that it has pursued the lines of Shel- rower faith to its liberalization instead of its ley's instincts, his intellectual questioning, and destruction, this does not affect the reality of his moral sympathies. Merely as a polemical Shelley's work; it affords rather an example writer he stood in the necessary path of pro- of that element in the poet through which, as gress; but as a poet, he vastly strengthened Shelley said, he is an instrument as well as a that moral enthusiasm which after his death power, and in neither capacity is wholly conregenerated religion as it had before inspired scious of his significance. politics. He impressed his own moral ideal on The second tenet which immediately drew those whom he influenced, and the old con- upon him scandal and obloquy was his belief ception became as impossible for them as for that legal marriage was not a proper social inhim. Other forces united in the general ten- stitution. He had derived the opinion from his dency, for all things spiritual drew that way; teachers, and held it in common with other renor is it possible to distinguish his share in formers of the age. It is a view that from time the change that has passed over English theol- to time arises in minds of an entirely pure and ogy in this century. But some sentences of virtuous disposition under the stress of a rigorthe Rev. Stopford Brooke are apposite, and the ous and undiscriminating law. The state of opinion of such an observer may be allowed woman under English law was then one of weight upon the question of Shelley's place in practical servitude, and in the case of unfit marthis field. “He indirectly made," says this riages might become, and sometimes was, dewriter, “ as time went on, an ever-increasing plorable. The continuance of forced union, on number of men feel that the will of God could the side of either man or woman, after affection not be in antagonism to the universal ideas con- or respect ceased, was revolting to Shelley, cerning man, that His character could not be the more so in proportion to the refinement in contradiction to the moralities of the heart, and purity of his own poetic idealization of the and that the destiny He willed for mankind relation of love. The helpless condition of must be as universal and as just and loving as woman under such circumstances appealed to Himself. There are more clergymen and more him as a violation of justice and of liberty as religious laymen than we imagine who trace well as a degradation of love. If since his to the emotion Shelley awakened in them when time the rights of married women have been they were young their wider and better views recognized by important and really sweeping of God." Whether this be true to the extent changes in their legal status, and if the bonds indicated is immaterial. It is enough if it be- of the legal tie have been relaxed, in both incomes clear that Shelley's “atheism ” was, by stances it was an acknowledgment of the reality its revolt, the sign and promise of that liberal of the social wrongs which were the basis of ized thought and more humane feeling in re- his conviction. If there is less tendency among spect to the divine dealing with men which reformers to attack the institution of marriage, characterized the religious progress of the time; and the subject has ceased to be conspicuous, that his denial has been sustained by the com- though still occasionally manifest, it is because mon conscience of mankind; and that the af- the removal of the more oppressive and tyrannic firmations of the moral ideal which he made elements in the difficulty has relieved the situhave been strengthened by years as they passed ation. The belief of Shelley in love without by, and have spread and been accepted as marriage was an extreme way of stating his disnoble expressions of the conviction and aspira- belief in marriage without love, as the law of tion of the men who came after him. Whether England then was. There was, too, a positive Shelley intended these results in the precise as well as a negative side to his conviction, form that they took is also immaterial. It but in this he merely repeated the dream of probably never entered his mind that clergy- the golden age, and asserted that in the ideal men would thank him for a liberalized ortho- commonwealth love and marriage would be doxy, any more than that Owenites would use one; and this has been the common theme of " Queen Mab" as an instrument in their pro- Utopians, whether poets or thinkers, in all ages. paganda, and thus give the widest circulation In other words, it may reasonably be held that, to that one of his poems which he would have in this case as in that of his atheism, an extreme suppressed. Certainly he had a conscious pur- view was taken; but in relation to the time pose to destroy old religious conceptions and and to the reforms made since then, his ideas to quicken the hearts of men with new ideals, of marriage held in them the substantial injusnot religious, but moral. If both results came tice of a state of facts then existing and the lines

Vol. XLIV.-82.

of tendency along which advance was subse- doubtless, that he removed to Italy, where, bequently made. He reflected the age, and he ing less irritated, he was able to express his foreshadowed the future; though the results, abstract ideas in the quiet and undisturbed just as in the case of religion, consist in a modi- atmosphere of imaginative poetry. fication, and not in demolition, of the ideas These abstract ideas, his scheme of society, which he antagonized.

were acquired in his youth, and they were, as Shelley's atheism, however, and his views of has been said, of the utmost simplicity. He legal marriage have had a disproportionate at- adopted the doctrine known as that of the pertention directed to them because of their

close fectibility of man. It is especially associated relation to the events of his own life. These with the name of Condorcet. Shelley believed were not the things in his philosophy for which that society could be made over in such a way he most cared. In the matter of marriage, that virtue would prevail and happiness be sethough he acted on his belief in taking his sec- cured. He thought that institutions should be ond wife without a divorce from his first, in abolished and a new rule of life substituted. both unions he went through the form of mar- He did not enter upon details. The present riage. He would never have so compromised was wrong; let it cease: that was the whole with the world in an opinion which was a point of the matter. It was a form of what is now of conscience with him. If it had been a ques- called nihilism. The state of society that existed tion of the freedom of the press, or of the wel- seemed to him real anarchy. “Anarchs" was a fare of the masses, he would have stood by his favorite word with him for kings and all perconvictions though they sent him to prison or sons in power. His hatred was consequently the scaffold. The affairs which he took an ac- centered on the established order. It was a tive interest in, and endeavored to make prac- government of force, and therefore he hated tical, were political. At first the freedom of the force; kings and priests were its depositaries, press was nearest to him, and he helped with he hated them; war was its method, he hated sympathy or money those whom he knew to be war. The word is not too strong. Gall flows from singled out for persecution by the Government; his pen when he mentions any of these things. then the state of Ireland, Catholic emancipa- Their very names are to him embodied curses. tion, the putting of reform to the vote, the con- If the system he saw prevailing in Europe bred dition of the poor, exercised his mind and called in him such hatred, its results in practice filled out such labors as were open to him; at a still him with pity. He was susceptible to the sight later time the Manchester riots, the revolutions of suffering and misery, and almost from boy. on the Continent, and such larger matters en- hood the effort to relieve wretchedness by gaged his enthusiasm. He was the most con- personal action characterized him. He could temporary of all poets. His keen interest in endure the sight of pain as little as the sight of what was going on was characteristic; he lost wrong. The lot of the poor, wherever he came no occasion which gave him opportunity to use upon it in experience or in description, stirred the question of the moment to spread his gen- his commiseration to the depth of his heart. eral principles. His immediate response to the He was one of those born to bear the sufferings hour is noticeable from the time, for example, of the world, in a real and not a sentimental or of the death of the Princess Charlotte, on which metaphorical sense. He had seen the marks he wrote a pamphlet, to that of the Greek ris- of the devastation of war in France; he knew ing, on which he composed a lyric drama. the state of the people under tyrannical rule; What poet before ever had occasion, as he did he was as well aware of the degradation of the in the preface to“Hellas,” to beg“the forgive- English masses as of the stagnation of Italy. ness of my readers for the display of newspaper Wherever he looked, the fruits of government erudition to which I have been reduced”? were poverty, ignorance, hopelessness, in vast The words are most significant of the spirit of bodies of mankind. There was nothing for it his life. It is also not useless to observe that but the Revolution, and heart and soul he was a share of Shelley's violence, especially in early pledged to that cause. years, is due to the fact that he was actually But his hopes went far beyond the purposes in the arena and taking blows in his own per- of a change to be brought about by force for son. Such a man does not, between the ages limited political ends; such an event involved of seventeen and twenty-four, write with the the destruction of forms of power which he same equable restraint as a student in his li- wished to see destroyed, and might result in brary; he is not likely to hold opinions in tem- amelioration, since force become popular was perate forms; and if, like Shelley, he is by better than force that remained aristocratic; nature sensitive to injury and resentful of it, his but his heart was set upon a change of a far language takes heat and may become extrava- different nature, more penetrating, more univergant. What he struggled with was not only sal, more permanent - nothing less than that thought, but fact. It was to his advantage, “ divine result to which the whole creation


moves.” Since Shelley, in common with the lished for the security and profit of the few-a thinkers of his time, believed that the world's whole order of society resting upon a principle wretchedness was due to political misrule, and opposite to love, the principle of organized could be obviated by a change of institutions, force. If this time-incrusted evil, this blind he was on his practical side in alliance with every and deaf and dumb authority of wrong long expression of revolutionary force; but he had an prevalent, this sorry scheme of accepted lies, ideal side, and in his poetry it was this that could be destroy stroke, a simple refound expression. He sang the golden age; solve in each breast would bring heaven on time and again he returned to the theme, of earth. which he could not weary, from the hour of This was Shelley's creed. It may be false, imyouth, when he poured forth the story of man's practicable, and chimerical; it may be a doctriperfect state in eloquence still burning with first naire's philosophy, an enthusiast's program, a enthusiasm, to the impassioned moment when poet's dream: but that it has points of conhe created the titanic forms of his highest lyri- tact and coincidence with gospel truth is plain cal drama, and bade the planetary spirits dis- to see; and in fact Shelley's whole effort may course in spheral music the pæan of peace on be truly described as an incident in that slow earth, good will to men. The paradise of “The spread of Christian ideas whose assimilation by Revolt of Islam,” the isle of seclusion in “Epi- mankind is so partial, uneven, imperfect, so psychidion," the echoes of the Virgilian song in hesitating, so full of compromise, so hopeless in “ Hellas,” like “ Queen Mab” and “ Prome- delay. He had disengaged once more from the theus Unbound,” show the permanence before ritual of Pharisees and the things of Cæsar the his rapt eyes of that vision of heaven descended original primitive commands, and made them as upon earth which has fascinated the poets of all simple as conscience; he may have been wrong times. Yet how transform this “world's woe” in the sense that these things are impossible to into that harmony? Shelley's command was man in society; but if he was in error, he erred as simple, as direct as Christ's—“Love thy with a greater than Plato. neighbor." No; there was nothing novel in it, But it is not necessary to carry the matter so nothing profound or original. It is so long now far. Shelley was a moralist, but he used the since man's knowledge of what is right has out- poet's methods. He declared the great comrun his will to embody it in individual life and mands, and he denounced wrong with anathethe institutions of society that new gospels, were mas; but he also gave a voice to the lament they possible, are quite superfluous. What Shel- of the soul, to its aspirations and its ineradicaley had that other men seldom have was faith ble, if mistaken, faith in the results of time; and in this doctrine, the will to practise it, the pas- the ideas which he uttered with such affluence sion to spread it. There may be to our eyes of expression, such poignancy of sympathy, such something pathetic in such simplicity, as the a thrill of prophetic triumph, are absorbed in the belief of boyhood in goodness is pathetic in the spirit which poured them forth in its indigsight of the man; something innocent, as we nation at injustice, its hopefulness of progress, say, in such unworldliness, and again we inti- its complete conviction of the righteousness of mate the eternal child in the poet's heart; but its cause. He has this kindling power in men's it is the simplicity and innocence - the pathos hearts. They may not believe in the perfectiit may be of what Christ taught. That Shel- bility of man under the conditions of mortal ley believed what he said cannot be doubted. life, but they do believe in his greater perfecHe thought that men might, if they would, love tion; and Shelley's words strengthen them in their fellow-men, and then injustice would of it- effort. No cause that he had greatly at heart self cease, being dried at its source, and that has retreated since his day. There are thousands reign of mutual helpfulness, of the common now, where there were hundreds then, who hold sharing of the abundance of the earth's harvest, his beliefs. The Revolution has gone on, and of man's enfranchisement from slavery to an- is still in progress, though it has yet far to go. other's luxurious wants, would begin; war, pov- What part he has had in the increase of the erty, and tyranny, force and fraud, greed, in- mastering ideas of the century is indetermidulgence, and crime would be abolished. It nable. He was dead when his apostolic work was too obvious to need consideration; man began. His earliest and unripe poem, “Queen was capable of perfection, and the method to at- Mab," was the first to be caught up by the spirit tain to it was love, and this way once adopted, of the times, and was scattered broadcast; and as it could be, by the fiat of each individual wherever it fell it served, beyond doubt, to unwill, would enthrone justice and spread virtue settle the minds that felt it. Crude as it was, throughout the world. It was not reason that it was vehement and eloquent; and the crudiwithstood this doctrine, but custom, tradition, ties which have most offense in them are of the interested individuals and classes, the active sort that make the entrance of such ideas into and law-intrenched power of institutions estab- uneducated minds more easy. It was nearer intellectually to these minds than a better poem come into being through his intuitions, symwould have been. Rude thoughts not too care- pathies, and longings. fully discriminated are more powerful revolu- Shelley's genius, then, it must be acknowtionary instruments than more exact truths in ledged, had this prescience by which it seized finer phrases. “Queen Mab” was certainly the the elements of the future yet inchoate, and poem by which he was long best known. The glorified them, and won the hearts of men to first revival of his works came just before the worship them as an imagined hope, and fertime of the Reform Bill

, and they were an ele- vently to desire their coming. If one thing were ment in the agitation of men's minds; but his to be sought for as the secret of his power on permanent influence began with the second re- man, I should say it was his belief in the soul. vival, ten years later, when his collected works No poet ever put such unreserved trust in the were issued by his widow. Since then edition human spirit. He laid upon it the most noble has followed edition, and with every fall of his of all ideal tasks, and inspired it with faith in poems from the presses of England and Amer- its own passion. “Save thyself,” he said, and ica new readers feel the impulse of his passion, showed at the same time the death in which it blending naturally with the moral and political lay, the life of beauty, love, and justice to which inspiration of an age which has exhausted its it was born as to a destiny. Virtue in her shape spiritual force in pursuit of the objects that he how lovely, humanity throughout the world how bade men seek. Democracy, of which philan- miserable, were the two visions on which he thropy is the shadow,has made enormous gains; bade men look; and he refused to accept this the cause is older and social analysis has gone antithesis of what is and what ought to be as infarther than in his day; his denunciation of evitable in man's nature or divine providence; kings and priests seems antiquated only because it remained with man, he said, to heal himself. the attack is now directed on the general con- He was helped, perhaps, in his faith in the huditions of society which make tyrannical power man spirit by the early denial he made of reand legalized privilege possible under any po- ligion as interpreted by the theology of his litical organization, and in industrial and com- period; for him salvation rested with man, or mercial as well as military civilizations; his nowhere. In later years he made love the prinobjects of detestation seem vague and unreal ciple, not only of human society, but of the only because a hundred definite propositions, government of the universe; it was his only developed by socialistic thought, -any one of conception of divine power ; but he never recwhich was more rife with danger than his own onciled in thought this mystical belief with the elementary principles,-- have been put forth apparent absence of this divine element from without any such penalty being visited upon its lost provinces in human life. He promised their authors as was fixed upon him. This ad- men in their effort no other aid than the mere vance, and more, has been made. The con- existence, in the universe, of beneficent laws of sciousness of the masses, both in respect to their which mankind could avail itself by submitting material position and their power to remedy it, thereto. The doctrine of the power of the huhas increased indefinitely in extent and in in- man spirit to perfect itself, and the necessity of tensity in all countries affected by European the exercise of this power as the sole means of thought; socialism, anarchism, nihilism are progress, remained in unaffected integrity. This names upon every lip, and they measure the fundamental conviction is one that has spread active discontent of those strata of society last equally with the democratic idea or the philanto be reached by thought except the bourgeoisie. thropic impulse. The immediacy of the soul as Whatever revolutionary excess may unite with the medium of even revealed truth is a conthe movement, the stream flows in the direct ception that clarifies with each decade, and it course of Shelley's thought with an undreamt is in harmony with Shelley's most intimate convehemence and mass. That he still implants in victions, with those tendencies and dispositions others that passion of his for reforming the world of his temperament so natural to him that they is not questioned; his works have been a pe- were felt rather than thought. But in such rennial fountain of the democratic spirit with analysis one may refine too much. It is meant its philanthropic ardor. As in the other phases only to illustrate how completely, in the reof his influence, so in this its grand phase, his cesses of his nature as well as in definite maniwork has been in modification instead of demo- festation of his thought, he was the child, lition of the social order; it has been only one intellectually and morally, of the conquering individual element in a world-movement issu- influences implicit in his age, so readily appreing from many causes and sustained from many hensive of them that he anticipated their power sources; but here too he fulfils his own char- in the world, so intensely sympathetic that he acterization of the poet, imperfectly conscious embodied them in imagination before the fullof his own meanings, dimly prophetic of what ness of time, so compelled to express them that shall be, belonging to the future whose ideas he was their prophet and leader in the next ages.

By his own judgment, therefore, of what bring, with revolutionary violenceoridealimaggreat poets are, he must be placed among ination, the times to come. They hate the things them, and the office of genius, as he defined it, he hated; like him they love, above all things, must be declared to be his. The millennium justice; they share the passion of his faith in has not come, any more than it came in the mankind. Thus, were his own life as dark as first century. The cause Shelley served is still Shakspere's, and had he left unwritten those in its struggle; but those to whom social jus- personal lyrics which some who conceive the tice is a watch word, and the development of poet's art less nobly would exalt above his the individual everywhere in liberty, intelli- grander poems, he would stand preëninent gence, and virtue is a cherished hope, must be and almost solitary for his service to the strugthankful that Shelley lived, that the substance gling world, for what he did as a quickener of of his work is so vital, and his influence, in- men's hearts by his passion for supreme and simspiring as it is beyond that of any of our poets ple truths. If these have more hold in society in these ways, was, and is, so completely on now than when he died, and if his influence has the side of the century's advance. His words contributed its share, however blended with the are sung by marching thousands in the streets large forces of civilization, he has in this sense of London. No poet of our time has touched given law to the world and equaled the height the cause of progress in the living breath and of the loftiest conception of the poet's signifiheart-throb of men so close as that. Yet, re- cance in the spiritual life of man. Such, taken in mote as the poet's dream always seems, it is large lines and in its true relations, seems to me rather that life-long singing of the golden age, the work for which men should praise Shelley in poem after poem, which most restores and on this anniversary, leaving mere poetic enjoyinflames those who, whether they be rude or ment, however delightful, and personal charm, refined, are the choicer spirits of mankind, and however winning, to other occasions.

George E. Woodberry.


Popular Crazes.

tion it is to form and lead public opinion. The politicians certainly do not. Public opinion leads them.

A sovereign is not less a sovereign because his comCommonwealth " reveals more strikingly the au

mands are sometimes misheard or misreported. In Amerthor's remarkable insight into American methods and affairs of this country obey to the best of their hearing.

ica every one listens for them. Those who manage the character than the twelve chapters on Public Opinion The people must not be hurried. A statesman is not exwhich constitute Part 4 of Vol. II. Every American pected to move ahead of them; he must rather seem to who is interested in the efforts which his own country that they are wrong, and refuse to be the instrument, he

follow, though if he has the courage to tell the people is making to work out successfully and completely the will be all the more respected. problem of popular government can read those chapters with profit, for he will find in them, clearly and forcibly Professor Bryce goes on to argue that one reason why set forth, many things that he has dimly conceived but public opinion is so powerful is the universal belief of has never been able to think out thoroughly for himself. the people in their star, a "confidence that the people

Professor Bryce holds that “in no country is public are sure to decide right in the long run," that “truth opinion so powerful as in the United States," and in and justice are sure to make their way into the minds the course of his searching and able discussion of why and consciences of the majority.” Every one who has it is so he makes certain observations which we wish studied the history of this country knows how true all to cite at this time as having an especial bearing upon this is. Whenever a new peril threatens us from any the subject that we wish to consider in the present quarter, either in the form of some abuse in legislation or article.

in administration, or in the form of some fresh financial Remarking that one of the chief problems of free or economic heresy, the final stronghold of hope to nations is “ to devise means whereby the national will which every anxious observer clings is the conviction shall be most fully expressed, most quickly known, most that the people will decide right in the end. Our naunresistingly and cheerfully obeyed,” he says: tional history is the record of a succession of perils of

one kind or another, suddenly averted at the very mo. Towards this goal the Americans have marched with ment when escape from them seemed most impossible. steady steps, unconsciously as well as consciously. No other people now stands so near it. Towering over

The recent collapse of the Free Silver Coinage Presidents and State Governors, over Congress and State "craze” makes a review of similar popular delusions Legislatures, over conventions and be vast machinery timely. We have had many of these since the war, and of party, public opinion stands out in the United States all of them have passed away as suddenly as they arose, as the great source of power the master of servants who after a uniformly brief and absorbing period of existremble before it.

There is no one class or set of men whose special func- tence. No one can contemplate them after they hai.

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