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Mrs. Shelley by Lucy M. Rossetti

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Fanny must have had a sufficiently trying life at home to account for
the result in either case, especially when we consider that Claire and
her brother Charles both preferred to leave Godwin's house on the
first possible occasion, Charles having left for France immediately
after Mary's and Claire's departure with Shelley. William alone
remained at home, but four years passed in a boarding school at
Greenwich, from 1814, must have helped him to endure the discomforts
of the time. Before Mrs. Gisborne's return to Italy Godwin gave her a
detailed account, in writing, of his money transactions with Shelley,
which had become very painful to both. In January, 1820, Florence
proving unsuitable for Shelley's health, they left for Pisa, the mild
climate of which city made it a favourite resort of the poet during
most of the short remainder of his life. Mary, ever hospitable,
although, as Shelley said, the bills for printing his poems must be
paid for by stinting himself in meat and drink, hoped that Mrs.
Gisborne would have stayed with them during her husband's visit to
England in 1820, as they had moved into a pleasant apartment in March.
This idea was not carried out. About this time Mary and Claire, both
with their own absorbing anxieties, became again irksome to each
other. Mary found relief when Claire was absent, and Claire notes how
"the Claire and the Mai find something to fight about every day," a
way of putting it which indicates differences, but certainly no grave
cause of disturbance. This was after their removal to Leghorn, where
they went towards the end of June to be near the lawyer on account of
Paolo. At the beginning of August the heat at Leghorn caused the
Shelleys to migrate to the baths of San Giuliano, where Shelley found
a very pleasant house, Casa Prini. The moderate rent suited their
slender purse, which had so many outside calls upon it.

In October Claire's departure for Florence, as governess in the family
of Professor Bojti, where she went by the advice of her friend Mrs.
Mason, formerly Lady Mountcashell, brought an end to her permanent
residence with the Shelleys, although she was still to look upon their
house as her home, and she visited them either for her pleasure or to
assist them. Her absence from her friends gives us the advantage of
letters from them, letters full of a certain exaggeration of affection
and sympathy from Shelley, who felt more acutely than Mary that Claire
might be unhappy under a strange roof. Mary, less anxious on those
grounds, writes about the operas she has seen, giving good
descriptions of them. One of her letters is full of anxiety as to
Allegra, who has been placed in the convent of Bagnacavallo by Byron.
She feels that the child ought, as soon as possible, to be taken out
of the hands of so "remorseless and unprincipled a man"; but advises
caution and waiting for a favourable opportunity. She hopes that he
may be returning to England. "He may be reconciled with his wife." At
any rate, Bagnacavallo is high and in a healthy position, quite
different from the dirty canals of Venice, which might injure any
child's health. Mary thus tries to console Claire, who is planning, in
her imagination, various ways of getting at her child, and
corresponding with and seeing Shelley on the subject. Mary dissuades
Claire from attempting anything in the spring--their unlucky time. It
was in the second spring Claire met L. B., &c.; the third they went to
Marlow--no wise thing, at least; the fourth, uncomfortable in London;
fifth, their Roman misery; the sixth, Paolo at Pisa; the seventh, a
mixture of Emilia and a Chancery suit. Mary acknowledges this
superstitious feeling is more in Claire's line than her own, but
thinks it worth considering; but this letter to Claire carries us a
year in advance.

During the summer of 1820 Mary had some of the delightful times she
loved so dearly, of poetic wanderings with Shelley through woods and
by the river, one of which she remembers long afterwards, when, making
her note to the "Skylark," she recalls how she and Shelley, wandering
through the lanes whose myrtle hedges were the bowers of the firefly,
heard the carolling of the skylark which inspired one of the most
beautiful of his poems. Precious memories which helped her through
many after years devoid of the sympathy she yearned for. At the Baths
they had the pleasure of a visit from Medwin, who gave a description
of how Shelley, his wife and child, had to escape from the upper
windows of their house in a boat when the canal overflowed and
inundated the valley. Mary speaks of it as a very picturesque sight,
with the herdsmen driving their cattle.

During the short absence of Shelley, when he took Claire to Florence,
Mary was occupied planning her novel of _Valperga_, for which she
studied Villani's chronicle and Sismondi's history.

On leaving the baths of San Giuliano, after the floods, the Shelleys
returned to Pisa, where they passed the late autumn and winter of 1820
and the spring of 1821. Here they made more acquaintances than
heretofore, Professor Pacchiani, called also "Il Diavolo," introducing
them to the Prince Mavrocordato, the Princess Aigiropoli, the
_improvisatore_ Sgricci, Taafe, and last, not least, to Emilia
Viviani. Here Mary continued to write _Valperga_, and pursued her
Latin, Spanish, and Greek studies; the latter the Prince Mavrocordato
assisted her with, as Mary writes to Mrs. Gisborne: "Do not you envy
me my luck? that, having begun Greek, an amiable, young, agreeable,
and learned Greek prince comes every morning to give me a lesson of an
hour and a half."

But the person of most moment at this time was undoubtedly the
Contessina Emilia Viviani, whom, accompanied by Pacchiani, Claire,
then Mary, and then Shelley, visited at the Convent of Sant' Anna.
This beautiful girl, with profuse black hair, Grecian profile, and
dreamy eyes, placed in the convent till she should be married, to
satisfy the jealousy of her stepmother, became naturally an object of
extreme interest to the Shelleys. Many visits were paid, and Mary
invited her to stay with them at Christmas. Shelley was convinced that
she had great talent, if not genius. Shelley and Mary sent her books,
and Claire gave her English lessons at her convent, while she was
taking a holiday from the Bojtis. Many letters are preserved from the
beautiful Emilia to Shelley and Mary, letters which, translated into
English, seem overflowing with sentiment and affection, but which to
Italians would indicate rather the style cultivated by Italian ladies,
which, to this day, seems one of their chief accomplishments if they
are not gifted with a voice to sing. To Mary she complains of a
certain coldness, but certainly this could not be brought to
the charge of Shelley, who was now inspired to write his
_Epipsychidion_. To him Emilia was as the Skylark, an emanation
of the beautiful; but to Mary for a time, during Shelley's transitory
adoration, the event evidently became painful, with all her philosophy
and belief in her husband. She could not regard the lovely girl who
took walks with him as the skylark that soared over their heads; and
the _Epipsychidion_ was evidently not a favourite poem of Mary.
Surely we may ascribe to this time, in the spring of 1821, the poem
written by Shelley to Lieutenant Williams, whose acquaintance he had
made in January. There is no month affixed to--

The Serpent is cast out from Paradise....

and it might well apply, with its reference to "my cold home," to the
time when Mary, in depression and pique, did not always give her
likewise sensitive husband all the welcome he was accustomed to, and
Shelley took refuge in a poem by way of letter; for this is the time
referred to by Mary in her letter to Claire as their seventh
unfortunate spring--a mixture of Emilia and a Chancery suit! It was
not till the next spring that Emilia was married, and led her husband
and mother-in-law, as Mary puts it, "a devil of a life." _We_
have only to be grateful to Emilia for having inspired one of the most
wondrous poems in any language.

The Williamses, to whom Shelley's poem is addressed, were met by them
in January. Mary writes of the fascinating Jane (Mrs. Williams) that
she is certainly very pretty, but wants animation; while Shelley
writes that she is extremely pretty and gentle, but apparently not
very clever; that he liked her much, but had only seen her for an
hour.

Mary, among her multifarious reading, notes an article by Medwin on
Animal Magnetism, and Shelley, who suffered severely at this time,
shortly afterwards tried its effect through Medwin. The latter bored
Mary excessively; possibly she found the magnetising a wearisome
operation, although Shelley is said to have been relieved by it. His
highly nervous temperament was evidently impressed. When Medwin left,
Mrs. Williams undertook to carry on the cure.

The Chancery suit referred to by Mary was an attempt between Sir
Timothy's attorney and Shelley's to throw their affairs into Chancery,
causing great alarm to them in Italy, till Horace Smith came to their
rescue in England, and with indignant letters settled the
inconsiderate litigation.

Mrs. Shelley, in her Notes to Poems in 1821, recounts how Shelley was
nearly drowned, by a flat boat which he had recently acquired being
overturned in the canal near Pisa, when returning from Leghorn.
Williams upset the boat by standing up and holding the mast. Henry
Reveley, Mrs. Gisborne's son, rescued Shelley and brought him to land,
where he fainted with the cold. At this same time, at Pisa, Mary had
to consider with Shelley a matter of great importance to Claire.

Byron, now at Ravenna, had placed Allegra, as already stated, in the
convent of Bagnacavallo. He told Mrs. Hoppner that she had become so
unmanageable by servants that it was necessary to have her under
better care than he could secure, and he considered that it would be
preferable to bring her up as a Roman Catholic with an Italian
education, as in that way, with a fortune of five or six thousand
pounds, she would marry an Italian and be provided for, whereas she
would always hold an anomalous position in England. At this proposal
Claire was extremely indignant; but Shelley and Mary took the opposite
view, and considered that Byron acted for the best, as the convent was
in a healthy position, and the nuns would be kind to the child. This
idea of Mary would naturally be agreed with by some, and disapproved
of by others; but at that time there was certainly no cause to
indicate that Bagnacavallo would be more fatal to Allegra than any
other place, although Claire's apprehensions were cruelly realised.
From this time Claire and Byron wrote letters of recrimination to each
other, which, considering Byron's obduracy against the feelings of the
mother, Shelley and Mary came to hold as tyrannically unfeeling.

In May, Shelley and his wife and son returned to the baths of San
Giuliano, and while here Shelley's _Adonais_ was published. In
1820, when the Shelleys heard of Keats's fatal illness from Mrs.
Gisborne, she having met him the day after he had received his death
warrant from the doctor, they were the first to beg him to join them
at Pisa. A small touch of poetical criticism, however, appears to have
weighed more with the sensitive Keats than these friendly
considerations for his health, and as he was about to accompany his
friend Mr. Severn to Rome, he did not accept their kind offer, though
in all probability Pisa would have been better for him.

During this summer at the baths Mary had finished her romance of
_Valperga_, and read it to her husband, who admired it extremely.
He considered it to be a "living and moving picture of an age almost
forgotten, a profound study of the passions of human nature."

_Valperga_, published in 1823, the year after Shelley's death, is
a romance of the 14th century in Italy, during the height of the
struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, when each state and
almost each town was at war with the other; a condition of things
which lends itself to romance. Mary Shelley's intimate acquaintance
with Italy and Italians gives her the necessary knowledge to write on
this subject. Her zealous Italian studies came to her aid, and her
love of nature give life and vitality to the scene. Valperga, the
ancestral castle home of Euthanasia, a Florentine lady of the Guelph
faction, is most picturesquely described, on its ledge of projecting
rock, overlooking the plain of Lucca; the dependent peasants around
happy under the protection of their good Signora. That this beautiful
and high-minded lady should be affianced to a Ghibelline leader is a
natural combination; but when her lover Castruccio, prince of Lucca,
carries his political enthusiasm the length of making war on her
native city of Florence, whose Republican greatness and love of art
are happily described, Euthanasia cannot let love stand in the way of
duty and gratitude to all those dearest to her. The severe struggle is
well described, for Euthanasia has loved Castruccio from their
childhood. When they played about the mountain grounds of her home at
Valperga, Castruccio learnt the secret paths to the Castle, which
knowledge later helped him to take the fortress when Euthanasia
refused to yield it to him. Castruccio's character is also well
described: his devoted attachment to Euthanasia from which nothing
could turn him, till the passions of the conqueror and party faction
are still stronger; and the irresistible force which impels him to
make war and subdue the Guelphs, which by her is regarded as murder
and rapine, disunites beings seemingly formed for each other. All
these different emotions are portrayed with great beauty and
simplicity.

The Italian superstitions are well shown, as how the Florentines
ascribed all good and evil fortune to conjunction of stars. The power
of the Inquisition in Rome comes likewise into play, when the
beautiful prophetess Beatrice (the child of the prophetess Wilhelmina)
who had to be given to the Leper for protection, as even his filthy
and deserted hut was safer for her than that it should be known to the
Inquisition that she existed. She is rescued from the Leper by a
bishop who heard her story from the deathbed of the woman to whom her
mother when dying had confided her. She was then brought up by the
bishop's sister. Her mother's spirit of prophecy was inherited by the
daughter; and as the mother believed herself to be an emanation of the
Holy Spirit, so Beatrice thought herself the Ancilla Dei. These
mystical fancies and their working are depicted with much beauty and
strength.

These Donne Estatiche first appear in Italy after the 12th century,
and had continued to the time which Mary Shelley selected for her
romance. After giving an account of their pretensions, Muratori
gravely observes: "We may piously believe that some were distinguished
by supernatural gifts and admitted to the secrets of heaven, but we
may justly suspect that the source of many of their revelations was
their ardent imagination filled with ideas of religion and piety."
Beatrice, on prophesying the Ghibelline rule in Ferrara, is seized by
the emissaries of the Pope, and has to undergo the ordeal of the white
hot ploughshares, through which she passes unscathed, there having
apparently been connivance to help her through. Her exultation and
enthusiasm become intense, and it is only after a great shock that she
grows conscious of the falseness of her position; for, having met
Castruccio on his mission to Ferrara, she is irresistibly attracted by
him, and, mixing up her infatuation with her mystical ideas, does not
hesitate to make secret appointments with him, never doubting that her
love is returned, and that they are one at heart. When at length
Castruccio has to return to Lucca, and to his betrothed, Euthanasia,
the shock to the poor mystical Beatrice is terrible. Finally she is
met as a pilgrim wending her weary way to Rome. Assuredly, Shelley was
justified in admiring this character. There is a straightforwardness
in the plot into which the stormy history of the period is clearly
introduced, which gives much interest to this romance, and it is a
decided advance upon _Frankenstein_, though her age when that was
written must not be forgotten. A book of this kind shows forcibly the
troubles to which a lovely country like Italy is exposed through
disunion, and must fill the hearts of all lovers of this beautiful
land with gratitude to the noble men who willingly sacrificed
themselves to help in the cause of united Italy; those whose songs
roused the people, and carried hope into the hearts of even the
prisoners in the pozzi of Venice; for the man of idea who can rouse
the nation by his songs does not help less than the brave soldier who
can aid with his arms, though alas! he does not always live to see the
triumph he has helped to achieve. [Footnote: Gabriele Rossetti, whom
Mary Shelley knew, and to whom she referred for information while
writing her lives of Italian poets, has been said to have been the
first who in modern times had the idea of a united Italy under a
constitutional monarch, for which idea and for his rousing songs he
was forced to leave Italy by Ferdinand I. of Naples in 1821, and
remained an exile in England till his death in 1854, at the age of 71.
How Mary Shelley, with her husband, must have sympathised in these
ideas with their love of Italy can be understood, although it was the
climate and beauty of Italy more than the people that charmed Shelley;
but then was he not also an exile from his native land?]

This work, when completed, was sent to her father by Mary, for it had
been a labour of love, and the sum of four hundred pounds which Godwin
obtained for it was devoted to help him in his difficulties.
Unhappily, the romance was not published till the year after her
husband's death.

CHAPTER XII.

LAST MONTHS WITH SHELLEY.

IN July 1821, Shelley left his wife at the baths while he went to seek
a house at Florence for the winter; but he returned in three days
unsuccessful. He then received a letter from Byron begging him to go
straight to Ravenna, various matters having to be talked over. Shelley
left at two in the afternoon, on his birthday, August 4th. Here he had
to go through the Paolo-Hoppner scandal, which we have referred to.
Shelley had to write letters to Mary on the subject, and Mary wrote
the most indignant and decisive denial of the imputation, on her
husband and Claire. She writes: "I swear by the life of my child, by
my blessed beloved child, that I know the accusations to be false." If
more were needed, the clear exposition by Mr. Jeaffreson and later
Professor Dowden, leave nothing to be said. Shelley wrote to Mary
describing his visit to Allegra at the convent, where he found her
prettily dressed in white muslin with an apron of black silk. She was
a most graceful, airy child; she took Shelley all over the
convent, and began ringing the nun's call-bell, without being
reprimanded--although the prioress had considerable trouble to prevent
the nuns assembling dressed or undressed--which struck Shelley as
showing that she was kindly treated. Before leaving Ravenna, about
August 17th, he wrote to thank his wife for her promise of her
miniature, done by Williams, which he received a few days later from
her at the Baths of Pisa. Mary and Shelley both were of those who,
wherever they found a friend, found also a pensioner, or person to be
benefited by them; as they did not seek their friends for personal
advantage, and were among those who hold it more blessed to give than
to receive. In January 1821, Mrs. Leigh Hunt wrote to Mary Shelley,
begging her to help her husband and family to come to Italy--he was
ill and depressed, and surrounded by all his children sick and
suffering. While Shelley was at Ravenna he brought up this subject
with Byron, who proposed that he, Shelley, and Leigh Hunt should start
a periodical for their joint works, and share the profits. Shelley did
not agree to this for himself, as he was not popular, and could only
gain advantage from the others; but for Hunt it was different, and
Shelley joyfully wrote to him from Pisa, on his return from Ravenna,
to join them as soon as possible. Delays occurred in Hunt's departure,
and Byron received letters from England warning him against joining
with Shelley and Hunt. Byron arrived in Pisa with the Countess
Guiccioli and her brother Pietro Gamba, on November the 1st, at the
Lanfranchi Palace, and the Shelleys had apartments at the top of I Tre
Palazzi di Chiesa, opposite. Claire, who had been staying with them,
and accompanied them on a trip to Spezzia, had now returned to
Professor Bojti's at Florence.

Mary had the task of furnishing the ground floor of Byron's Lanfranchi
Palace for the Hunts, although Byron insisted on paying for it. Hunt,
meanwhile, was unable to proceed beyond Plymouth that winter, where
they were obliged to stay by stress of weather and Mrs. Hunt's
illness. Thus some months passed by, during which time Byron lost the
first ardour of the enterprise, and became very lukewarm. It must have
been when Mary had good reason to foresee this result that she wrote
to Hunt thus:--

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I know that S. has some idea of persuading you to come here. I am too
ill to write the reasonings, only let me entreat you let no
persuasions induce you to come; selfish feelings you may be sure do
not dictate me, but it would be complete madness to come. I wish I
could write more. I wish I were with you to assist you. I wish I could
break my chains and leave this dungeon. Adieu, I shall hear about yon
and Marianne's health from S.

Ever your M.

Shelley was forced to apply to Byron to help him with money to lend
Hunt, and Byron had ceased to care about the _Liberal_, the
projected magazine.

While staying near Byron the Shelleys came in for a large influx of
visitors, often much to Shelley's annoyance, and Mary wrote of their
wish, if Greece were liberated, of settling in one of the lovely
islands.

The middle of January brought one visitor to the Shelleys, who,
introduced by the Williams, became more than a passing figure in
Mary's life. In Edward John Trelawny she found a staunch friend ever
after. Trelawny, who had led a wild life from the time he left the
navy in mere boyhood, was a conspicuous character wherever known. With
small reverence for the orthodox creeds, he must have had some of the
traits of the ancient Vikings, before meeting Shelley; but from that
time he became his devoted admirer, or, as one has observed who knew
him, as Ahab at Elijah's feet, so Trelawny at Shelley's was ready to
humble himself for the first time; nor did he afterwards, to the end
of a long life, ever speak of him without veneration. Shelley's
exalted ideas touched a chord in the strong man's heart, and within a
few weeks of his death he rejoiced in hearing of a crowded assembly in
Glasgow, enthusiastic in hearing a lecture on Shelley, and asserted it
is the "spirit of poetry which needs spreading now; science is popular
to the exclusion of poetry as a regenerator."

The day after their first meeting with Trelawny, Mary notes in her
diary how Trelawny discussed with Williams and Shelley about building
a boat which they desired to have, and which Captain Roberts was to
build at Genoa without delay. A year later Mary added a note to this
entry, to the effect how she and Jane Williams then laughed at the way
their husbands decided without consulting them, though they agreed in
hating the boat. She adds: "How well I remember that night! How
short-sighted we are! And now that its anniversary is come and gone,
methinks I cannot be the wretch I too truly am." This winter, at Pisa,
Mary, with popular and strong men to protect her, was not neglected so
much as hitherto. She went to Mrs. Beauclerc's ball with Trelawny; but
she refers to a strange feeling of depression in the midst of a gay
assembly.

On February 8 Shelley started, with Williams, to seek for houses in
the neighbourhood of Spezzia; the idea being that the Shelleys, the
Williamses, Trelawny and Captain Roberts, Byron, Countess Guiccioli
and her brother, should all spend the summer there, although Mary
feared the party would be too large for unity. Only one suitable house
could be found; but Shelley was not to be stopped by such a trifle,
and the house must do for all.

In the early spring of this year, Mary wrote to Mrs. Hunt how she and
Mrs. Williams went violet-hunting, while the men went on longer
expeditions. The Shelleys and their surroundings must have kept the
English assembled in Pisa in a pleasing state of excitement. At one
time Mary caused a commotion by attending Dr. Nott's Sunday service,
which was held on the ground floor of her house. On one occasion he
preached against Atheism, and, having specially asked Mary to attend,
it was taken as a marked attack on Shelley, and it was considered that
Mary had taken part against her husband.

Mary wrote a pathetic letter to Mrs. Gisborne that she had only been
three times to church, and now longed to be in some sea-girt isle with
Shelley and her baby, but that Shelley was entangled with Byron and
could not get away. She was longing for the time by the sea when she
would have boats and horses.

While Mary was yearning for sympathy with her kind, or solitude with
Shelley, he for a time was wasting regrets that she did not sympathise
with or feel his poetry. It was the old story of the Skylark. While he
was seeking inspiration at some fresh source, Mary did not become
equally enthusiastic about the new idea. But most probably, in spite
of Trelawny's later notion and her own self-reproaches of not having
done all possible things to sympathise with Shelley, Mary's behaviour
was really the best calculated for his comfort. A man who did not like
regular meals and conventional habits in this respect, would not have
liked his wife to worry him constantly on the subject, and the plate
of cold meat and bread placed on a shelf, as his table was probably
covered with papers--which Trelawny found there forgotten, towards the
end of a "lost day" as Shelley called it--was not inappropriate for
one who forgot his meals and did not like being teased. Mary was not
of the nature to make, nor Shelley of the nature to require, a docile
slave; and during the time at Naples, for which Mary felt most regret,
Shelley wrote of her as "a dear friend with whom added years old
intercourse adds to my appreciation of its value, and who would have
more right than anyone to complain that she has not been able to
extinguish in me the very power of delineating sadness."

During this time the English visitors believed and manufactured all
kinds of stories about the eccentric English then at Pisa. Trelawny
had been murdered--Byron wounded--and Taaffe was guarded by bulldogs
in Byron's house! These rumours were laughed over by the people
concerned.

On one occasion Mrs. Shelley, with the Countess Guiccioli, witnessed
from their carriage the affair with the dragoon Masi, when he jostled
against Taaffe. Byron, Shelley, and Gamba pursued him; Shelley, coming
up with him first, was knocked down, but was rescued by Captain Hay.
The dragoon was finally wounded by one of Byron's servants, under the
idea that he had wounded Byron.

During this exciting time at Pisa, Claire was eating her heart at
Florence with longings and regrets for Allegra; and Mary and Shelley
were trying to calm her by letters, and growing themselves more and
more dissatisfied at Byron's treatment of the mother. There are
entries in Claire's diary as to her cough, and the last entry before
the day she left Florence for Pisa--April l3--is erased. Then there is
one of her ominous blanks from April till September.

While Claire travelled with Williams and his wife to Spezzia to look
for a house, news came from Bagnacavallo which verified her worst
fears. Typhus fever had ravaged the convent and district, and the
fragile blossom had succumbed. Shelley and Mary determined to keep
this "evil news," as Mary calls it, from Claire till she is away from
the neighbourhood of Byron. So, on her return from the unsuccessful
visit to Spezzia, they have to conceal their sorrow and their
feelings. Shelley, ever anxious for Claire's distress, persuaded her
to accompany Mary to Spezzia, saying they must take any house they
could get. Claire had thought of returning to Florence, but was
overruled by Shelley, who, as Mary wrote to Mrs. Gisborne, carried all
like a torrent before him and sent Mary and Claire with Trelawny to
Spezzia. Shelley followed with their furniture in boats; and so, on
April 26, they were hurried by Shelley, or fate, from misfortune to
misfortune, in taking Claire to a haven where she might be helped to
bear her sore trouble. Mary, with her companions, secured the only
available house--Casa Magui, at San Terenzio, near Lerici--in which it
was settled that they and the Williamses must find room and bring
their furniture. Difficulties of all kinds had to be overcome from the
dogana. The furniture arrived in boats, and they were told the dues
upon it would amount to three hundred pounds, but the harbour-master
kindly allowed it to be removed to the villa as to a dept till
further orders arrived. Then there were the difficulties of Mrs.
Williams, of whom Shelley wrote that she was pining for her saucepans.
Claire felt the necessity of returning to Florence, the space being so
small. This, however, was not to be thought of. Claire still had to
have the news of her child's death broken to her, and Mrs. Williams's
room had to be used for secret consultations. Claire, entering the
room and seeing the agitated silence on her approach, at once realised
the state of the case. She felt her Allegra was dead, and it only
devolved on Shelley to tell the sad tale of a fever-ravaged district,
and a fever-tossed child dying among the kind nuns, who are ever good
nurses. Claire's grief was intense; but all that she now wanted was a
sight of her child's coffin, a likeness of her, and a lock of her
golden hair (a portion of which last is now in the writer's
possession). The latter Shelley helped to obtain for her; but Claire
never after forgave him who had consigned her child to the convent in
the Romagna, nor allowed her another sight of her little one.

On May 21 Claire left for Florence, and Mary remained with her husband
and the Williamses at Casa Magni. These rapidly succeeding troubles,
together with Mary's being again in a delicate state of health, left
the circle in an unhinged and nervous state of apprehension. Shelley
saw visions of Allegra rising from the sea, clapping her hands and
smiling at him. Mrs. Williams saw Shelley on the balcony, and then he
was nowhere near, nor had he been there. Shelley ranged from wild
delight with the beauty around him, to such fits of despondency as
when he most culpably proposed to Mrs. Williams, while in a boat with
him and her babies, in the bay--"Now let us together solve the great
mystery." But she managed to get him to turn shorewards, and escaped
at the first opportunity from the boat.

Mary was not without her prophetic periods--a deep melancholy settled
on her amid the lovely scenery. Generally at home with mountain and
water, she now only felt oppressed by their proximity. Shelley was at
work on the _Triumph of Life_, one of his grandest poems; but
Mary was always apprehensive except when with her husband, least so
when lying in a boat with her head on his knees. If Shelley were
absent, she feared for Percy, her son, so that, in spite of the oasis
of peace and rest and beauty around them, she was weak and nervous;
and Shelley, for fear of hurting her, had to conceal such matters as
might trouble her, especially the again critical state of the affairs
of her father, who was in want of four hundred pounds to compound with
his creditors. These alarms for Mary's health and tranquillity of
mind, and the consequent necessity of keeping any trying subject from
her, may have induced Shelley in writing to Claire to adopt a
confidential tone not otherwise advisable.

While at Casa Magni, the fatal boat which had been discussed on the
first evening Trelawny spent with the Shelleys, arrived. The "perfect
plaything for the summer" had been built against the advice of
Trelawny, by a Genoese ship-builder, after a model obtained by
Lieutenant Williams from one of the royal dockyards in England.
Originally it was intended to call it the _Don Juan_, but recent
circumstances had caused a break in the intimacy of Shelley with
Byron, and Shelley felt that this would be eternal. He, therefore, no
longer wished any name to remind him of Byron, and gave the
name _Ariel_, proposed by Trelawny, to the small craft. With
considerable difficulty the name _Don Juan_ was taken from the
sail, where Byron had manoeuvred to have it painted.

Towards the end of May, Mary was seriously suffering; the difficulties
of housekeeping for the Williamses as well as themselves were no
trifle. Provisions had to be fetched from a distance of over three
miles. Shelley writes to Claire, hoping she will be able to find them
a man-cook. As Mary was somewhat better when Shelley wrote, he feared
he should have to speak to her about Godwin's affairs, but put off the
evil day.

On June 6 we find Shelley setting out with Williams in the
_Ariel_ to meet Claire on her way from Florence to Casa Magni. A
calm having delayed them till the evening, they were too late to meet
Claire, who travelled on by land for Via Reggio. Shelley and Williams,
returning by sea, arrived home a short time before her. Their return
and her arrival were none too soon; for, on the 8th or 9th, Mary fell
dangerously ill, as she wrote in August to Mrs. Gisborne: "I was so
ill that for seven hours I lay nearly lifeless--kept from fainting by
brandy, vinegar, eau-de-cologne, &c. At length ice was brought to our
solitude; it came before the doctor, so Claire and Jane were afraid of
using it; but Shelley over-ruled them, and, by an unsparing
application of it, I was restored. They all thought, and so did I at
one time, that I was about to die."

Shelley, equal to the occasion, felt the strain on his nerves
afterwards, and a week after his wife was out of danger he alarmed her
greatly, as she relates: "While yet unable to walk, I was confined to
my bed. In the middle of the night I was awoke by hearing him scream,
and come rushing into my room; I was sure that he was asleep, and
tried to waken him by calling on him; but he continued to scream,
which inspired me with such a panic that I jumped out of bed and ran
across the hall to Mrs. Williams's room, where I fell through
weakness, though I was so frightened that I got up again immediately.
She let me in, and Williams went to Shelley who had been wakened by my
getting out of bed. He said that he had not been asleep, and that it
was a vision that he saw that had frightened him. But as he declared
that he had not screamed, it was certainly a dream, and no waking
vision." And so the lovely summer months passed by with all these
varying emotions, with thoughts soaring to the highest pinnacles of
imagination as in the _Triumph of Life_, and with the enjoyment
of the high ideals of others, as in reading the Spanish dramas: music
also gave enchantment when Jane Williams played her guitar. With the
intense beauty of the scenery, and the wildness of the natives who
used sometimes to dance all night on the sands in front of their
house; the emotions of life seemed compressed into this time, spent in
what would be considered by many great dulness, in the company of
Trelawny and the Williamses. And now an event, long hoped for,
arrived, for the Hunts were in the harbour of Genoa, and Shelley was
to meet them at Leghorn, as Hunt's letter, which reached them on June
19, had been delayed too long to allow of Shelley joining them at
Genoa. On July I intelligence came of the Hunts' departure from Genoa;
and at noon a breeze rising from the west decided the desirability of
at once starting for Leghorn. Shelley, with Captain Roberts who had
joined him at Lerici, arrived by nine in the evening, after the
officers of health had left their office. The voyagers were thus
unable to land that evening, but spent the time alongside of Byron's
yacht, the _Bolivar_, from which they received coverings for the
night.

The next morning news arrived from Byron's villa, which already began
to verify Mary's forebodings in her letter to Hunt, and proved the
clear-sightedness of her forecast. Disturbances having taken place at
his house at Monte Nero, Count Gamba and his family were banished by
the Government from Tuscany, and there were rumours that Byron might
be leaving immediately for America or Switzerland. This was indeed
trying news for Shelley to have to break to the Hunts on their first
meeting in the hotel at Leghorn, where, after four years, the two
friends again met. The encounter was most touching, as remembered
years later by Thornton Hunt. Shelley had plenty of work on hand for a
few days; he procured Vacca, the physician, for Mrs. Hunt; and had to
sustain his friend during his anxiety as to his wife's health and the
uncertainty as to Byron's conduct. Shelley would not think of leaving
him till he had seen him comfortably installed in the Lanfranchi
Palace, in the rooms which Mary had prepared for him at Byron's
request. The still more difficult task of fixing Byron to some promise
of assistance with regard to the _Liberal_ was likewise carried
out; and after one or two days of dejection, during which Shelley
wrote to Mrs. Williams on July 4 to relieve his own despondency, and
to his wife to relieve hers, as her depression of spirits required
more cheering than adding to, he wrote:--"How are you, my best Mary?
Write especially how is your health and how your spirits are, and
whether you are not more reconciled to staying at Lerici, at least
during the summer. You have no idea how I am hurried and occupied. I
have not a moment's leisure, but will write by the next post."

Soon after writing these letters, Shelley found with exultation that
his work was done. As usual, he had carried ail before him, and
secured Byron's "Vision of Judgment" for the first number of the
_Liberal_, and by July 7 he was able to show his friends the
ever-delightful sights of Pisa. Thus one day of rest and pleasure
remained to Shelley after doing his utmost to assist his friend Hunt.
To the last Shelley was faithful to his aim--that of doing all he
could for others. His interviews with Byron had secured a return of
the friendly feeling which nought but death was henceforth to sever,
and the two great names, which nothing can divide, are linked by the
unbreakable chain of genius--genius, the fire of the universe, which
at times may flicker low, but which, bursting into flame here and
there, illumines the dark recesses of the soul of the universe--genius
which has made the world we know, which, never absent, though dormant,
has changed the stone to the flower, the flower to animal, and,
gaining ever in degree through the various stages of life, is the
divine attribute, the will, the idea. Genius manifest in the greatest
and best of humanity, shown indeed, as the Word of God, or as he who
holds the mirror up to nature, or by the great power which in colour
or monotone can display the love and agony of a dying Christ; by the
loving poet, who can soar beyond his age to uphold an unselfish aim of
perfection to the world; by all those who, throwing off their mortal
attributes at times, can live the true life free from the too
absorbing pleasures of the flesh, which can only he enjoyed by
dividing.

But now Shelley's mortal battle was nearly over; he who had not let
his talent or myriad talents lie dormant was to rest, his work of life
was nearly done. Not that the good is ever ended; verily, through
thousands of generations, through eternity, it endures; while the
bad--perhaps not useless--is the chaff which is dispersed, and which
has no result unless to hurry on the divine will. Our life is double.
Shelley's atoms were to return to their primal elements. The unknown
atoms or attributes of them were undoubtedly to carry on their work;
he had added to the eternal intellect.

The last facts of Shelley's life are related by Trelawny and by Mrs.
Shelley. On the morning of July 8, having finished his arrangements
for the Hunts and spent one day in showing the noble sights of Pisa,
Shelley, after making purchases for their house and obtaining money
from his banker, accompanied by Trelawny during the forenoon, was
ready by noon to embark on the _Ariel_ with Edward Williams and
the sailor-boy, Charles Vivian. Captain Roberts was not without
apprehensions as to the weather, and urged Shelley to delay his
departure for a day; but Williams was anxious to rejoin his wife, and
Shelley not in a humour to frustrate his wishes. Trelawny, who desired
to accompany them in the _Bolivar_ into the offing, was prevented,
not having obtained his health order, and so could only reluctantly
remain behind and watch his friends' small craft through a ship's glass.

Mistakes were noted, the ship's mate of the _Bolivar_ remarking
they ought to have started at daybreak instead of after one o'clock;
that they were too near shore; that there would soon be a land breeze;
the gaff top-sail was foolish in a boat with no deck and no sailor on
board; and then, pointing to the southwest, "Look at those black lines
and dirty rags hanging on them out of the sky; look at the smoke on
the water; the devil is brewing mischief."

The approaching storm was watched also by Captain Roberts from the
light-house, whence he saw the topsail taken in; then the vessel
freighted with such precious life was seen no more in the mist of the
storm. For a time the sea seemed solidified and appeared as of lead,
with an oily scum; the wind did not ruffle it. Then sounds of thunder,
wind, and rain filled the air; these lasted with fury for twenty
minutes; then a lull, and anxious looks among the boats which had
rushed into the harbour for Shelley's hark. No glass could find it on
the horizon. Trelawny landed at eight o'clock; inquiries were useless.
An oar was seen on a fishing boat: it might be English--it might be
Shelley's; but this was denied. Nothing to do but wait, till the third
day, when he returned to Pisa to tell his fears to Hunt and Byron, who
could only listen with quivering lips and speak with faltering voice.

While these friends were agitated between hope and fear, the time was
passing wearily at San Terenzio. Jane Williams received a letter from
her husband on that day (written on Saturday from Leghorn), where he
was waiting for Shelley. It stated that if they did not return on
Monday, he certainly would be back at the latest on Thursday in a
felucca by himself if necessary. The fatal Monday passed amid storm
and rain, and no idea was entertained by Mrs. Shelley or Mrs. Williams
that their husbands had started in such weather as they experienced.
Mary, who had then scarcely recovered from her dangerous illness, and
was unable to join Claire and Jane Williams in their evening walks,
could only pace up and down in the verandah and feel oppressed by the
very beauty which surrounded her. So till Wednesday these days of
storm and oppression and undefined fears passed; then, some feluccas
arriving from Leghorn, they were informed that their husbands had left
on Monday; but that could not be believed. Thursday came and passed,
_the_ Thursday which should be the latest for Williams's arrival.
The wind had been fair, but midnight arrived, and still Mary and Jane
were alone; then sad hope gave place to fearful anxiety preceding
despair; but Friday was letter day--wait for that--and no boat could
leave. Noon of Friday and letters came, but _to_, not _from_
Shelley. Hunt wrote to him: "Pray write to tell us how you got home,
for they say that you had bad weather after you sailed on Monday, and
we are anxious." Mary read so far when the paper fell from her hands
and she trembled all over. Jane read it, and said, "It is all over."
Mary replied, "No, my dear Jane, it is not all over; but this suspense
is dreadful. Come with me; we will go to _Leghorn_; we will post,
to be swift and learn our fate."

Thus, as Mary Shelley herself describes, they crossed to Lerici,
despair in their hearts, two poor, wild, aghast creatures driving,
"like Matilda," towards the sea to know if they were to be for ever
doomed to misery. The idea of seeing Hunt for the first time after
four years, to ask "Where is he?" nearly drove Mary into convulsions.
On knocking at the door of the Casa Lanfranchi they found Lord Byron
was in Pisa and. Hunt being in bed, their interview was to be with
Byron, only to hear, "They knew nothing. He had left Pisa on Sunday;
on Monday he had sailed. There had been bad weather Monday afternoon;
more they knew not." Mary, who had risen from, a bed of sickness for
the journey, and had travelled all day, had now at midnight to proceed
to Leghorn in search of Trelawny; for what rest could there be with
such a terrible doubt hanging over their lives? They could not
despair, for that would have been death; they had to pass through
longer hours and days of anguish to subdue their souls to bear the
inevitable.

They reached Leghorn, and were driven to the wrong inn. Nothing to do
but wait till the morning--but wait dressed till six o'clock--when
they proceeded to other inns and found Captain Roberts. His face
showed that the worst was true. They only heard how their husbands had
set out. Still hope was not dead; might not their husbands be at
Corsica or Elba? It was said they had been seen in the Gulf. They
resolved to return; but now not alone, for Trelawny accompanied them.
Agony succeeded agony; the water they crossed told Mary it was his
grave.

While crossing the bay they saw San Terenzio illuminated for a festa,
while despair was in their hearts. The days passed, a week ever
counted as two by Mary, and then, when she was very ill, Trelawny, who
had been long expected from his search, returned, and now they knew
that all was over, for the bodies had been cast on shore. One was a
tall, slight figure, with Sophocles in one pocket of the jacket, and
Keats's last poems in the other; the poetry he loved remained; his
body a mere mutilated corpse, which for a while had enshrined such
divine intellect. Williams's corpse, also, was found some miles
distant, still more unrecognisable, save for the black silk
handkerchief tied sailor-fashion round his neck; and after some ten
days a third body was found, a mere skeleton., supposed to be the
sailor-boy, Charles Vivian.

"Is there no hope?" Mary asked, when Trelawny reappeared on July 19.
He could not answer, but left the room, and sent the servant to take
the children to their widowed mothers. He then, on the 20th, took them
from the sound of the cruel waves to the Hunts at Pisa.

Naught remained now but to perform the last funeral rites. Mary
decided that Shelley should rest with his dearly-loved son in the
English cemetery in Rome. With some little difficulty, Trelawny
obtained permission, with the kind assistance of the English Charg
d'Affaires at Florence, Mr. Dawkins, to have the bodies burned on the
shore, according to the custom of bodies cast up from the sea, so that
the ashes could be removed without fear of infection. The iron furnace
was made at Leghorn, of the dimensions of a human body, according to
Trelawny's orders; and on August 15 the body of Lieutenant Williams
was disinterred from the sand where it had been buried when cast up.
Byron recognised him by his clothes and his teeth. The funeral rites
were performed by Trelawny by throwing incense, salt, and wine on the
pyre, according to classic custom; and when nothing remained but some
black ashes and small pieces of white bone, these were placed by
Trelawny in one of the oaken boxes he had provided for the purpose,
and then consigned to Byron and Hunt. The next day another pyre was
raised, and again the soldiers had to dig for the body, buried in
lime. When placed in the furnace it was three hours before the
consuming body showed the still unconsumed heart, which Trelawny saved
from the furnace, snatching it out with his hand; and there, amidst
the Italian beauty, on the Italian shore, was consumed the body of the
poet who held out immortal hope to his kind, who, in advance of the
scientists, held it as a noble fact that humanity was progressive;
who, more for this than for his unfortunate first marriage and its
unhappy sequel, was banished by his countrymen, and held as nothing by
his generation. But, as Claire wrote later in her diary, "It might be
said of him, as Cicero said of Rome, 'Ungrateful England shall not
possess my bones.'"

The ashes of the body were placed in the oaken box; those of the
heart, handed by Trelawny to Hunt, were afterwards given into the
possession of Mary, who jealously guarded them during her life, in a
place where they were found at her death, in a silken case, in which
was kept a Pisan copy of the _Adonais_. The ashes of Shelley's
body were finally buried in the cemetery in Rome, where the grave of
the English poet is now one of the strongest links between the present
and the past world; and there beside him rest now the ashes of his
faithful friend, Trelawny, who survived him nearly sixty years.

CHAPTER XIII.

WIDOWHOOD.

The last ceremony was over, hope, fear, despair, were past, and Mary
Shelley had to recommence her life, or death in life, her one solace
her little son, her one resource for many years her work. Fortunately
for her, her education and her studious habits were a shield against
the cold world which she had to encounter, and her accustomed personal
economy, which had fitted her to be the worthy companion to her
generous husband, whom she had encouraged rather than thwarted in his
constantly recurring acts of philanthropy, would help her in her
present struggle; and one friend was ready to assist with advice and
out of his then slender means, Mr. Trelawny. But from England no help
was forthcoming. Godwin's affairs having reached the climax of
bankruptcy already referred to, were not likely to settle down easily
now that the ever-ready supply was suddenly cut short.

Sir Timothy Shelley was not inclined to continue the terms he made
with his son, nor was anything to be arranged but on conditions which
Mrs. Shelley could never consent to. Of her despondent state of misery
we can judge in her letters of 1822 to Claire, as when she writes from
Genoa, September 15, "This hateful Genoa"; and, describing her misery
on her husband's death, she exclaims: "Well, I shall have his books
and his MSS., and in these I shall live, and from the study of these I
do expect some instants of content.... some seconds of exaltation that
may render me both happier here, and more worthy of him hereafter."
Then, "There is nothing but unhappiness to me, if indeed I except
Trelawny, who appears so truly generous and kind.... Nothing but the
horror of being a burden to my family prevents my accompanying Jane
(to England). If I had any fixed income, I should go at least to
Paris, and I shall go the moment I have one." And again in December of
the same year she writes to Claire, addressing her as Mdlle. de
Clairmont, _chez_ Mdme. de Hennistein, Vienna. She mentions an
approach to Sir Timothy, through lawyers, abortive as yet; how she
detests Genoa; "Hunt does not like me." Her daily routine is copying
Shelley's manuscripts and reading Greek; in her despair, study is her
only relief. She sees no one but Lord Byron, and the Guiccioli once a
mouth, Trelawny seldom, and he is on the eve of his departure for
Leghorn.

Thus we find Mary Shelley going on from day to day, too poor to travel
so far as Paris, as yet her child and her work of love on her
husband's MS. filling up her time, till in February she had to undergo
the mortification of her father-in-law proposing that she should give
her son up entirely to him, and in return receive a settled income.
But Mary was not of those who can be either bought or sold, and,
having the means of subsistence in herself, she could be independent;
a letter from her father shows how they were at one on this important
subject, and it must have been a great encouragement to her in her
loneliness, as she was always diffident of her own powers. However,
now her work lay in arranging and copying her husband's MSS., and
saving treasures which but for her loving care might have been lost.
In the spring of this year, 1823, Trelawny was in Rome arranging
Shelley's grave, which he bought with the adjoining ground for
himself, and he had the massive slab of stone placed there which still
tells of the "_Cor cordium_" In the autumn of the same year Mary
found means for leaving the hated Genoa, and, travelling through
France; she stayed for a time at Versailles with her father's old
friends, the Kennys, and of this visit one of the daughters, now Mrs.
Cox, then a child of about six years, retains a lively and pleasing
recollection. Brought up in France and imbued with the idea and
pictures of the Madonna and child, the little girl, on seeing Mrs.
Shelley arrive with her small son, became impressed with the idea that
the pale, sweet, oval-laced lady was the Madonna come to visit them;
and this idea was not dispelled by the gentle manner and kind way that
she had with the children, reminding one who had been punished by
mistake that the next time she was naughty she would have had her
punishment in advance. This visit was followed later by the intimacy
and friendship of the two families. In London (as we learn from a
letter to Miss Holcroft, Mrs. Kenny's daughter, by her previous
marriage with Holcroft) Mrs. Shelley was settled at 14, Sheldhurst
Street, Brunswick Square. She was then hoping that her father-in-law
would make her an allowance sufficient for her to live comfortably in
dear Italy; and, at all events, she had received "a present supply, so
that much good at least has been accomplished by my journey." She felt
quite lost in London, and Percy had not yet learnt English. She had
seen Lamb, but he did not remark on her being altered. She would then
have returned to Italy, but her father did not like the idea.

Among other work at this time Mary Shelley attempted a drama, but in
this her father did not encourage her, as he writes to her in February
1824 that her personages are mere abstractions, not men and women.
Godwin does not regret that she has not dramatic talent, as the want
of it will save her much trouble and mortification.

This disappointment did not discourage Mary, for in the next year she
published, with Henry Colburn of New Burlington Street, her novel
_The Last Man_, of which a second edition appeared in the
succeeding year. This must have been a great help to Mary's limited
means: she had received four hundred pounds for her previous romance.

During this year we find Mrs. Shelley living in Kentish Town, as she
writes from that address to Trelawny in July 1824. She is much cheered
by finding her old friend still remembers her. She speaks of him as
her warm-hearted friend, the remnant of the happy days of her vagabond
life in beloved Italy, and now, shortly before writing, she had seen
another link in her past life disappear; for the hearse containing the
body of Lord Byron had passed her window going up Highgate Hill, on
his last journey to the seat of his ancestors. Mary had been much
interested in the account Trelawny had sent her of Byron's latest
moments. She had been to see the poet's remains at the house where
they lay in London. She saw his valet, Fletcher, and "from a few words
he imprudently let fall, it would seem that his Lordship spoke of
C----- in his last moments, and of his wish to do something for her,
at a time when his mind, vacillating between consciousness and
delirium, would not permit him to do anything." She describes how
Fletcher found Lady Byron in great grief, but inexorable, and how
Byron's memoirs had been destroyed by Mrs. Leigh and Hobhouse, but
adds: "There was not much in them, I know, for I read them some years
ago at Venice; but the world fancied that it was to have a confession
of the hidden feelings of one concerning whom they were always
passionately curious." She says that Moore was much disgusted. He was
writing a life of Byron, but it was considered that although he had
had the MSS. so long in his hands, he had not found time to read them.
She asks Trelawny to help Moore with any facts or details. Mary thanks
Trelawny for his wish that she and Jane Williams, who see each other
and little else every day, should join him in Greece. That is
impossible, but she looks for him to come in the winter to England.
She speaks of July as fatal to her for good and ill. "On this very
very day"--she is writing July 28--"I went to France with my Shelley.
How young, heedless, and happy and poor we were then, and now my
sleeping boy is all that is left to me of that time--my boy and a
thousand recollections which never sleep." She describes the pretty
country lanes round Kentish Town. If only there were cloudless skies
and orange sunsets, she would not mind the scenery; but she can attach
herself to no one. She and Jane live alone; her child is in excellent
health, a tall, fine, handsome boy. She is still in hopes that she
will get an income of three or four hundred a year from Sir Timothy in
a few months; one of her chief wishes in being independent would be to
help Claire, who is in Russia. Of this time Claire wrote a good
account in her diary.

These letters to Trelawny give much insight into the present life of
Mary Shelley, and refer to much of interest in her past. On February
25 she tells how she had been with Jane, her father, and Count Gamba
to see Kean in Othello, but she adds: "Yet, my dear friend, I wish we
had seen it represented as was talked of at Pisa. Iago would never
have found a better representative than that strange and wondrous
creature whom one regrets daily more; for who can equal him?" Trelawny
adds a note that in 1822 Byron had contemplated that he, Trelawny,
Williams, Medwin, Mary Shelley, and Mrs. Williams were to take the
several parts:--Byron, Iago; Trelawny, Othello; Mary, Desdemona.
Trelawny adds that Byron recited a great portion of his part with
great gusto, and looked it too. Byron said that all Pisa were to be
the audience. Letters from Trelawny from Zante in 1826, carry on the
correspondence. He regrets that poverty keeps them apart; speaks of
the difficulty of travelling without money; he rejoices that he still
holds a place in her affections, and says, "You know, Mary, that I
always loved you impetuously and sincerely." In 1827, still writing
from Kentish Town, on Easter Sunday, but saying that in future her
address will be at her father's, 44, Gower Place, Bedford Square, we
have another of her charming letters to her friend, full of good
reflections. In this letter she tells how Jane Williams has united her
life with that of Shelley's early friend, Mr. Jefferson Hogg. He had
loved her devotedly since her arrival in England five years earlier,
but till now she had been too constant to Williams's memory to accept
him. Claire was still in Russia. Mary writes:--"I wrote to you last
while I entertained the hope that my money cares were diminishing, but
shabby as the best of these shabby people was, I am not to arrive at
that best without due waiting and anxiety. Nor do I yet see the end of
this worse than tedious uncertainty." Mary was to see Shelley's
younger brother, who was just married, but she had small hope of
reaping any good from his visit. She adds, "Adieu, my ever dear
friend; while hearts such as yours beat, I will not wholly despond."
Mary refers with great kindness to Hunt, and is most anxious as to his
future. She also notices with high satisfaction that the Whigs with
Canning are in the ascendant, and that they may be favourable to
Greece. While Mary Shelley was residing in Kentish Town, before she
joined her father in Gower Place after the winding up of his affairs,
a letter from Godwin to his wife at the sea-side shows that the latter
considered he did not need her society as Mrs. Shelley was with him;
he explains that he sees her about twice a week, but is feeling lonely
every day.

After Mary removed to Gower Place in 1827, among other work, she was
occupied by her _Lives of Eminent Literary Men_, for _Lardner's
Cyclopdia_. About the same year Godwin writes to his daughter who
is evidently in very low spirits, wishing that she resembled him in
temperament rather than the Wollstonecrafts, but explains that his
present good spirits may be owing to his work on Cromwell. A little
later we find Godwin writing to Mary, himself in depression. He is
troubled by publishers who will not decide to take a novel. "Three,
four, or five hundred pounds, and to be subsisted by them while I
write it," is what he hoped to get. Mrs. Shelley was at Southend for
change of air, and wishing her father to join her; but this he could
not decide on. Every day lost is taking away from his means of
subsistence; for he is writing now, not for marble to be placed over
his remains, but for bread to be put into his mouth.

In April 1829, Mrs. Shelley, writing still from her father's address,
44, Grower Street, complains to Trelawny in a truly English way, as
she says, of the weather. She rejoices that her friend has taken to
work, and hopes that his friends will keep him to recording his own
adventures; but she strongly dissuades him from writing a life of
Shelley, for how could that be done without bringing her into
publicity? which she shrinks from fearfully, though she is forced by
her hard situation to meet it in a thousand ways; or as she expresses
it, "I will tell you what I am, a silly goose, who, far from wishing
to stand forward to assert myself in any way, now that I am alone in
the world have but the desire to wrap night and the obscurity of
insignificance around me. This is weakness, but I cannot help it."
Neither does Mary consider that the time has come to write Shelley's
life, though she her-self hopes to do so some day.

Towards the end of 1830 we find Mary in Somerset Street, Portman
Square, from which place she writes to Trelawny on the subject of his
MS. of _The Adventures of a Younger Son,_ which he had consigned
to her hands to place with a publisher, make the best terms for that
she could, and see through the press; a task distasteful to Trelawny
to the last. Mrs. Shelley much admired the work, considering it full
of passion and interest. But she does not hesitate to point out the
blemishes, certain coarsenesses, which she begs him to allow her to
deal with, as she would have dealt with parts of Lord Byron's _Don
Juan_. She is sure that without this she will have great difficulty
in disposing of the book.

Mary finds the absorbing politics of the day a great hindrance to
publishing, and says: "God knows how it will all end, but it looks as
if the aristocrats would have the good sense to make the necessary
sacrifices to a starving population."

The worry of awaiting the decision of the publisher was felt by Mrs.
Shelley more for Trelawny than for herself; she finds it difficult to
make the terms she wishes for him, and, writing to her friend on March
22 of the next year, she regrets that she cannot make Colburn, the
best publisher she knows of, give five hundred pounds as she wishes,
but trusts to get three hundred pounds for first edition and two
hundred pounds for second; but times have changed since she first
returned to England, neither she nor her father can command the same
prices which they did then. At that time "publishers came to seek me,"
she writes; "now money is scarcer and readers fewer than ever."

Three days later she is able to add the news that she has received
"the ultimatum of these great people," three hundred pounds down and
one hundred pounds on second edition, she thinks, for 1,000 copies.
She advises acceptance, but will try other publishers if he wish it.

Mary again regrets that it is impossible for her to go to Italy. She
expresses herself as wretched in England, and in spite of her sanguine
disposition and capacity to endure, which have borne her up hitherto,
she feels sinking at last; situated as she is, it is impossible for
her not to be wretched.

Mary does not give way long to despondency, she goes on to tell news
as to Medwin, Hogg, Jane, &c.; she can even tease Trelawny about the
different ladies who believe themselves the sole object of his
affection, and tells him she is having a certain letter of his about
"Caroline" lithographed, and thinks of dispensing 100 copies among
"the many hapless fair."

A third letter on the subject of the hook, on June 14, 1831, tells
Trelawny how his work is in progress, and Horace Smith, who much
admires it, has promised to revise it. Again, in July of the same
year, she writes that the third volume is in print, and his book will
soon be published; but that as his mother talks openly of his memoirs
in society, he must not hope for secrecy. In this letter, also, we
have a fact which redounds to the credit of both Mary Shelley and
Trelawny, as she clearly tells him she cannot marry him; but remains
in "all gratitude and friendship" his M. S. Trelawny had evidently
made her an offer of marriage, moved perhaps by gratitude for her
help, as well as probably, in his case, a passing love; for she writes
to him: "My name will never be Trelawny. I am not so young as I was
when you first knew me, but I am as proud. I must have the entire
affection, devotion, and, above all, the solicitous protection of any
one who would win me. You belong to womenkind in general, and Mary S.
will _never_ be yours. I write in haste," &c. &c.

Trelawny would never have offered his name thus to a woman he could
not respect, and perhaps few know better than those of his reckless
class who are most worthy of respect. Mary Shelley, who dreaded men's
looks or words, by her own knowledge and her intimate friends'
accounts had no fear of him; he had the instincts of a gentleman for a
true lady, who may be found in any class.

Four years later, we have Mary again writing to Mr. Trelawny with
regard to his book, a second edition being called for, when, to her
confusion, she finds that through her not having read over the
agreement, and having taken for granted that the proposal of three
hundred pounds on first edition with one hundred pounds more on second
was inserted, she had signed the contract; but now it turned out that
what was proposed by letter was not inserted by Oilier in the
agreement, and she knew not what to do. In a second letter a few days
later from Harrow, where she lived for a while to be near her son at
school, she wrote in answer to Trelawny, proposing Peacock as umpire,
because, she writes, "he would not lean to the strongest side, which
Jefferson, as a lawyer, is inclined, I think, to do." Oilier, she
writes, devoutly wished she had read the agreement, as the clause
ought to have been in it.

Again, a few months later, on April 7, 1836, there is another letter
asking Trelawny if he would like to attend her father's funeral, and
if he would go with the undertaker to choose the spot nearest to her
mother's, in St. Pancras Churchyard, and, if he could do this, to
write to Mrs. Godwin, at the Exchequer, to tell her so. The last few
years of Godwin's life had not ended, as he had so bitterly
apprehended, in penury; as his friends in power had obtained for him
the post of Yeoman Usher of the Exchequer, with residence in New
Palace Yard, in 1833. The office was in fact a sinecure, and was soon
abolished; but it was arranged that no change should be made in the
old philosopher's position. His old friends had died, but his work had
its reward for him, as well as its place in the thought of the world,
for such people as the Duke of Wellington and Lord Melbourne had used
their influence for him. Mary had been his constant devoted daughter
to the last. In 1834 he writes to his wife of Mrs. Shelley, as he
always called his daughter to Mrs. Godwin, of various meetings and
dinners with each other, though he cannot attend her evenings as he
would wish, since the walk across the park to reach Somerset Street,
where she then lived, was by no means pleasant after dark: and now we
find Mary honouring Trelawny with the last service for her father,
apologising, but adding, "Are you not the best and most constant of
friends?"

Godwin's last grief was the loss of his son. William in 1832; he had
been settled in a literary career and left a widow. One of Mary's
first acts of generosity later on was to settle a pension on her.

CHAPTER XIV.

LITERARY WORK.

Having traced Mary's life, as far as space will allow, to the death of
her father, we must now retrace our steps to show the work she did,
which gives the _raison-d'tre_ for this biography. It has
already been shown that her second book, _Valperga_, much admired
by Shelley, was written to assist her father in his distress before
his bankruptcy. After her husband's death, while arranging his MSS.,
and noting facts in connection with them, she planned and wrote her
third romance, _The Last Man_.

This highly imaginative work of Mary Shelley's twenty-sixth year
contains some of the author's most powerful ideas; but is marred in
the commencement by some of her most stilted writing.

The account of the events recorded professes to be found in the cave
of the Cumsean Sibyl, near Naples, where they had remained for
centuries, outlasting the changes of nature and, when found, being
still two hundred and fifty years in advance of the time foretold. The
accounts are all written on the sibylline leaves; they are in all
languages, ancient and modern; and those concerning this story are in
English.

We find ourselves in England, in 2073, in the midst of a Republic, the
last king of England having abdicated at the quietly expressed wish of
his subjects. This book, like all Mrs. Shelley's, is full of
biographical reminiscences; the introduction gives the date of her own
visit to Naples with Shelley, in 1818; the places they visited are
there indicated; the poetry, romance, the pleasures and pains of her
own existence, are worked into her subjects; while her imagination
carries her out of her own surroundings. We clearly recognise in the
ideal character of the son of the abdicated king an imaginary portrait
of Shelley as Mary would have him known, not as she knew him as a
living person. To give an adequate idea of genius with all its charm,
and yet with its human imperfections, was beyond Mary's power. Adrian,
the son of kings, the aristocratic republican, is the weakest part,
and one cannot help being struck by Mary Shelley's preference for the
aristocrat over the plebeian. In fact, Mary's idea of a republic still
needed kings' sons by their good manners to grace it, while, at the
same time, the king's son had to be transmuted into an ideal Shelley.
This strange confusion of ideas allowed for, and the fact that over
half a century of perhaps the earth's most rapid period of progress
has passed, the imaginative qualities are still remarkable in Mary.
Balloons, then dreamed of, were attained; but naturally the
steam-engine and other wonders of science, now achieved, were unknown
to Marv. When the-pi ague breaks out she has scope for her fancy, and
she certainly adds vivid pictures of horror and pathos to a subject
which has been handled by masters of thought at different periods. In
this time of horror it is amusing to note how the people's candidate,
Ryland, represented as a vulgar specimen of humanity, succumbs to
abject fear. The description of the deserted towns and grass-grown
streets of London is impressive. The fortunes of the family, to whom
the last man, Lionel Verney, belongs, are traced through their varying
phases, as one by one the dire plague assails them, and Verney, the
only man who recovers from the disease, becomes the leader of the
remnant of the English nation. This small handful of humanity leaves
England, and wanders through France on its way to the favoured
southern countries where human aid, now so scarce, was less needed. On
this journey Mrs. Shelley avails herself of reminiscences of her own
travelling with Shelley some few years before; and we pass the places
noted in her diary; but strange grotesque figures cross the path of
the few wanderers, who are decimated each day. At one moment a dying
acrobat, deserted by his companions, is seen bounding in the air
behind a hedge in the dusk of evening. At another, a black figure
mounted on a horse, which only shows itself after dark, to cause
apprehensions soon calmed by the death of the poor wanderer, who
wished only for distant companionship through dread of contagion.
Dijon is reached and passed, and here the old Countess of Windsor, the
ex-Queen of England, dies: she had only been reconciled to her changed
position by the destruction of humanity. Once, near Geneva, they come
upon the sound of divine music in a church, and find a dying girl
playing to her blind father to keep up the delusion to the last. The
small party, reduced by this time to five, reach Chamouni, and the
grand scenes so familiar to Mary contrast with the final tragedy of
the human race; yet one more dies, and only four of one family remain;
they bury the dead man in an ice cavern, and with this last victim
find the pestilence has ended, after a seven years' reign over the
earth. A weight is lifted from the atmosphere, and the world is before
them; but now alone they must visit her ruins; and the beauty of the
earth and the love of each other, bear them up till none but the last
man remains to complete the Cumsan Sibyl's prophecy.

Various stories of minor importance followed from Mrs. Shelley's pen,
and preparations were made for the lives of eminent literary men. But
it was not till the year preceding her father's death that we have
_Lodore_, published in 1835. Of this novel we have already spoken
in relation to the separation of Shelley and Harriet.

Mary had too much feeling of art in her work to make an imaginary
character a mere portrait, and we are constantly reminded in her
novels of the different wonderful and interesting personages whom she
knew intimately, though most of their characters were far too subtle
and complex to be unravelled by her, even with her intimate knowledge.
Indeed, the very fact of having known some of the greatest people of
her age, or of almost any age, gives an appearance of affectation to
her novels, as it fills them with characters so far from the common
run that their place in life cannot be reduced to an ordinary
fashionable level. Romantic episodes there may be, but their true
place is in the theatre of time of which they are the movers, not the
Lilliputians of life who are slowly worked on and moulder by them, and
whose small doings are the material of most novels. We know of few
novelists who have touched at all successfully on the less known
characters. This accomplishment seems to need the great poet himself.

The manner in which Lady Lodore is influenced seems to point to
Harriet; but the unyielding and revengeful side of her character has
certainly more of Lady Byron. She is charmingly described, and shows a
great deal of insight on Mary's part into the life of fashionable
people of her time, which then, perhaps more than now, was the
favourite theme with novelists. This must be owing to a certain innate
Tory propensity in the English classes or masses for whom Mary Shelley
had to work hard, and for whose tendencies in this respect she
certainly had a sympathy. Mary's own life, at the point we have now
reached, is also here touched on in the character of Ethel, Lord and
Lady Lodore's daughter, who is brought up in America by her father,
and on his death entrusted to an aunt, with injunctions in his will
that she is not to be allowed to be brought in contact with her
mother. Her character is sweetly feminine and trusting, and in her
fortunate love and marriage (in all but early money matters) might be
considered quite unlike Mary's own less fortunate experiences; but in
her perfect love and confidence in her husband, her devotion and
unselfishness through the trials of poverty in London, the
descriptions of which were evidently taken from Mary's own
experiences, there is no doubt of the resemblance, as also in her love
and reverence for all connected with her father. There are also
passages undoubtedly expressive of her own inner feelings--such as
this when describing the young husband and wife at a _tte--tte_
supper:--

Mutual esteem and gratitude sanctified the unreserved sympathy which
made each so happy in the other. Did they love the less for not loving
"in sin and fear"? Far from it. The certainty of being the cause of
good to each other tended to foster the most delicate of all passions,
more than the rough ministrations of terror and the knowledge that
each was the occasion of injury. A woman's heart is peculiarly
unfitted to sustain this conflict. Her sensibility gives keenness to
her imagination and she magnifies every peril, and writhes beneath
every sacrifice which tends to humiliate her in her own eyes. The
natural pride of her sex struggles with her desire to confer
happiness, and her peace is wrecked.

What stronger expression of feeling could be needed than this, of a
woman speaking from her heart and her own experiences? Does it not
remind one of the moral on this subject in all George Eliot's writing,
where she shows that the outcome of what by some might be considered
minor transgressions against morality leads even in modern times to
the Nemesis of the most terrible Greek Dramas?

The complicated money transactions carried on with the aid of lawyers
were clearly a reminiscence of Shelley's troubles, and of her own
incapacity to feel all the distress contingent so long as she was with
him, and there was evidently money somewhere in the family, and it
would come some time. In this novel we also perceive that Mary works
off her pent-up feelings with regard to Emilia Viviani. It cannot be
supposed that the corporeal part of Shelley's creation of
_Epipsychidion_ (so exquisite in appearance and touching in
manner and story as to give rise, when transmitted through the poet's
brain, to the most perfect of love ideals) really ultimately became
the fiery-tempered worldly-minded virago that Mary Shelley indulges
herself in depicting, after first, in spite of altering some relations
and circumstances, clearly showing whom the character was intended
for. It is true that Shelley himself, after investing her with
divinity to serve the purposes of art, speaks later of her as a very
commonplace worldly-minded woman; but poets, like artists, seem at
times to need lay figures to attire with their thoughts. Enough has
been shown to prove that there is genuine subject of interest in this
work of Mary's thirty-seventh year.

The next work, _Falkner_, published in 1837, is the last novel we
have by Mary Shelley; and as we see from her letter she had been
passing through a period of ill-health and depression while writing
it, this may account for less spontaneity in the style, which is
decidedly more stilted; but, here again, we feel that we are admitted
to some of the circle which Mary had encountered in the stirring times
of her life, and there is undoubted imagination with some fine
descriptive passages.

The opening chapter introduces a little deserted child in a
picturesque Cornish village. Her parents had died there in apartments,
one after the other, the husband having married a governess against
the wishes of his relations; consequently, the wife was first
neglected on her husband's death; and on her own sudden death, a few
months later, the child was simply left to the care of the poor people
of the village--a dreamy, poetic little thing, whose one pleasure was
to stroll in the twilight to the village churchyard and be with her
mamma. Here she was found by Falkner, the principal character of the
romance, who had selected this very spot to end a ruined existence; in
which attempt he was frustrated by the child jogging his arm to move
him from her mother's grave. His life being thus saved by the child's
instrumentality, he naturally became interested in her. He is allowed
to look through the few remaining papers of the parents. Among these
he finds an unfinished letter of the wife, evidently addressed to a
lady he had known, and also indications who the parents were. He was
much moved, and offered to relieve the poor people of the child and to
restore her to her relations.

The mother's unfinished letter to her friend contains the following
passage, surely autobiographical:--

When I lost Edwin (the husband), I wrote to Mr. Raby (the husband's
father) acquainting him with the sad intelligence, and asking for a
maintenance for myself and my child. The family solicitor answered my
letter. Edwin's conduct had, I was told, estranged his family from
him, and they could only regard me as one encouraging his disobedience
and apostasy. I had no claim on them. If my child were sent to them,
and I would promise to abstain from all intercourse with her, she
should be brought up with her cousins, and treated in all respects
like one of the family. I declined their barbarous offer, and
haughtily and in few words relinquished every claim on their bounty,
declaring my intention to support and bring up my child myself. This
was foolishly done, I fear; but I cannot regret it, even now.

I cannot regret the impulse that made me disdain these unnatural and
cruel relatives, or that led me to take my poor orphan to my heart
with pride as being all my own. What had they done to merit such a
treasure? And did they show themselves capable of replacing a fond and
anxious mother? This reminds the reader of the correspondence between
Mary and her father on Shelley's death.

It suffices to say that Falkner became so attached to the small child,
that by the time he discovered her relations he had not the heart to
confide her to their hard guardianship, and as he was compelled to
leave England shortly, he took her with him, and through all
difficulties he contrived that she should be well guarded and brought
up. There is much in the character of Falkner that reminds the reader
of Trelawny, the gallant and generous friend of Byron and Shelley in
their last years, the brave and romantic traveller. The description of
Falkner's face and figure must have much resembled that of Trelawny
when young, though, of course, the incidents of the story have no
connection with him. In the meantime the little girl is growing up,
and the nurses are replaced by an English governess, whom Falkner
engages abroad, and whose praises and qualifications he hears from
everyone at Odessa. The story progresses through various incidents
foreshadowing the cause of Falkner's mystery. Elizabeth, the child,
now grown up, passes under his surname. While travelling in Germany
they come across a youth of great personal attraction, who appears,
however, to be of a singularly reckless and misanthropical disposition
for one so young. Elizabeth seeming attracted by his daring and
beauty, Falkner suddenly finds it necessary to return to England.
Shortly afterwards, he is moved to go to Greece during the War of
Independence, and wishes to leave Elizabeth with her relations in
England; but this she strenuously opposes so far as to induce Falkner
to let her accompany him to Greece, where he places her with a family
while he rushes into the thick of the danger, only hoping to end his
life in a good cause. In this he nearly succeeds, but Elizabeth,
hearing of his danger, hastens to his side, and nurses him assiduously
through the fever brought on from his wounds and the malarious
climate. By short stages and the utmost care, she succeeds in reaching
Malta on their homeward journey, and Falkner, a second time rescued
from death by his beloved adopted child, determines not again to
endanger recklessly the life more dear to her than that of many
fathers. Again, at Malta, during a fortnight's quarantine, the
smallness of the world of fashionable people brings them in contact
with an English party, a Lord and Lady Cecil, who are travelling with
their family. Falkner is too ill to see anyone, and when Elizabeth
finally gets him on board a vessel to proceed to Genoa, he seems
rapidly sinking. In his despair and loneliness, feeling unable to cope
with all the difficulties of burning sun and cold winds, help
unexpectedly comes: a gentleman whom Elizabeth has not before
perceived, and whom now she is too much preoccupied to observe,
quietly arranges the sail to shelter the dying man from sun and wind,
places pillows, and does all that is possible; he even induces the
poor girl to go below and rest on a couch for a time while he watches.
Falkner becomes easier in the course of the night; he sleeps and gains
in strength, and from this he progresses till, while at Marseilles, he
hears the name, Neville, of the unknown friend who had helped to
restore him to life. He becomes extremely agitated and faints. On
being restored to consciousness he begs Elizabeth to continue the
journey with him alone, as he can bear no one but her near him. The
mystery of Falkner's life seems to be forcing itself to the surface.

The travellers reach England, and Elizabeth is sought out by Lady
Cecil, who had been much struck by her devotion to her father.
Elizabeth is invited to stay with Lady Cecil, as she much needs rest
in her turn. During a pleasant time of repose near Hastings, Elizabeth
hears Lady Cecil talk much of her brother Gerard; but it is not till
he, too, arrives on a visit, that she acknowledges to herself that he
is really the same Mr. Neville whom she had met, and from whom she had
received such kindness. Nor had Gerard spoken of Elizabeth; he had
been too much drawn towards her, as his life also is darkened by a
mystery. They spend a short tranquil time together, when a letter
announces the approaching arrival of Sir Boyvill Neville, the young
man's father (although Lady Cecil called Gerard her brother, they were
not really related; Sir Boyvill had married the mother of Lady Cecil,
who was the offspring of a previous marriage).

Gerard Neville at once determines to leave the house, but before going
refers Elizabeth to his sister, Lady Cecil, to hear the particulars of
the tragedy which surrounds him. The story told is this. Sir Boyvill
Neville was a man of the world with all the too frequent disbelief in
women and selfishness. This led to his becoming very tyrannical when
he married, at the age of 45, Alethea, a charming young woman who had
recently lost her mother, and whose father, a retired naval officer of
limited means, would not hear of her refusing so good an offer as Sir
Boyvill's. After their marriage Sir Boyvill, feeling himself too
fortunate in having secured so charming and beautiful a wife, kept out
of all society, and after living abroad for some years took her to an
estate he possessed in Cumberland. They lived there shut out from all
the world, except for trips which he took himself to London, or
elsewhere, whenever _ennui_ assailed him. They had, at the time
we are approaching, two charming children, a beautiful boy of some ten
years and a little girl of two. At this time while Alethea was
perfectly happy with her children, and quite contented with her
retirement, which she perceived took away the jealous tortures of her
husband, he left home for a week, drawn out to two months, on one of
his periodical visits to the capital. Lady Neville's frequent letters
concerning her home and her children were always cheerful and placid,
and the time for her husband's return was fixed. He arrived at the
appointed hour in the evening. The servants were at the door to
receive him, but in an instant alarm prevailed; Lady Neville and her
son Gerard were not with him. They had left the house some hours
before to walk in the park, and had not since been seen or heard of,
an unprecedented occurrence. The alarm was raised; the country
searched in all directions, but ineffectually, during a fearful
tempest. Ultimately the poor boy was found unconscious on the ground,
drenched to the skin. On his being taken home, and his father
questioning him, all that could be heard were his cries "Come back,
mamma; stop, stop for me!" Nothing else but the tossings of fever.
Once again, "Then she has come back," he cried, "that man did not take
her quite away; the carriage drove here at last." The story slowly
elicited from the child on his gaining strength was this. On his going
for a walk with his mother in the park, she took the key of a gate
which led into a lane. A gentleman was waiting outside. Gerard had
never seen him before, but he heard his mother call him Rupert. They
walked together through the lane accompanied by the child, and talked
earnestly. She wept, and the boy was indignant. When they reached a
cross-road, a carriage was waiting. On approaching it the gentleman
pulled the child's hands from hers, lifted her in, sprang in after,
and the coachman drove like the wind, leaving the child to hear his
mother shriek in agony, "My child--my son!" Nothing more could be
discovered; the country was ransacked in vain. The servants only
stated that ten days ago a gentleman called, asked for Lady Neville
and was shown in to her; he remained some two hours, and on his
leaving it was remarked that she had been weeping. He had called again
but was not admitted. One letter was found, signed "Rupert," begging
for one more meeting, and if that were granted he would leave her and
his just revenge for ever; otherwise, he could not tell what the
consequences might be on her husband's return that night. In answer to
this letter she went, but with her child, which clearly proved her
innocent intention. Months passed with no fresh result, till her
husband, beside himself with wounded pride, determined to be avenged
by obtaining a Bill of Divorce in the House of Lords, and producing
his son Gerard as evidence against his lost mother, whom he so dearly
loved. The poor child by this time, by dint of thinking and weighing
every word he could remember, such as "I grieve deeply for you,
Rupert: my good wishes are all I have to give you," became more and
more convinced that his mother was taken forcibly away, and would
return at any moment if she were able. He only longed for the time
when he should be old enough to go and seek her through the world. His
father was relentless, and the child was brought before the House of
Lords to repeat the evidence he had innocently given against her; but
when called on to speak in that awful position, no word could be drawn
from him except "She is innocent." The House was moved by the brave
child's agony, and resolved to carry on the case without him, from the
witnesses whom he had spoken to, and finally they pronounced a decree
of divorce in Sir Boyvill's favour. The struggle and agony of the poor
child are admirably described, as also his subsequent flight from his
father's house, and wanderings round his old home in Cumberland. In
his fruitless search for his mother he reached a deserted sea-coast.
After wandering about for two months barefoot, and almost starving but
for the ewe's milk and bread given him by the cottagers, he was
recognized. His father, being informed, had him seized and brought
home, where he was confined and treated as a criminal. His state
became so helpless that even his father was at length moved to some
feeling of self-restraint, and finally took Gerard with him abroad,
where he was first seen at Baden by Elizabeth and Palkner. There also
he first met his sister by affinity, Lady Cecil. With her he lost
somewhat his defiant tone, and felt that for his mother's sake he must
not appear to others as lost in sullenness and despair. He now talked
of his mother, and reasoned about her; but although he much interested
Lady Cecil, he did not convince her really of his mother's innocence,
so much did all circumstances weigh against her. But now, during
Elizabeth's visit to Lady Cecil, a letter is received by Gerard and
his father informing them that one Gregory Hoskins believed he could
give some information; he was at Lancaster. Sir Boyvill, only anxious
to hush up the matter by which his pride had suffered, hastened to
prevent his son from taking steps to re-open the subject. This Hoskins
was originally a native of the district round Dromoor, Neville's home,
and had emigrated to America at the time of Sir Boyvill's marriage. At
one time--years ago--he met a man named Osborne, who confided to him
how he had gained money before coming to America by helping a
gentleman to carry off a lady, and how terribly the affair ended, as
the lady got drowned in a river near which they had placed her while
nearly dead from fright, on the dangerous coast of Cumberland. On
returning to England, and hearing the talk about the Nevilles in his
native village, this old story came to his mind, and he wrote his
letter. Neville, on hearing this, instantly determined to proceed to
Mexico, trace out Osborne, and bring him to accuse his mother's
murderer.

All these details were written by Elizabeth to her beloved father.
After some delay, one line entreated her to come to him instantly for
one day.

Falkner could not ignore the present state of things--the mutual
attraction of his Elizabeth and of Gerard. Yet how, with all he knew,
could that be suffered to proceed? Never, except by eternal separation
from his adored child; but this should be done. He would now tell her
his story. He could not speak, but he wrote it, and now she must come
and receive it from him. He told of all his solitary, unloved youth,
the miseries and tyranny of school to the unprotected--a reminiscence
of Shelley; how, on emerging from, childhood, one gleam of happiness
entered his life in the friendship of a lady, an old friend of his
mother's, who had one lovely daughter; of the happy, innocent time
spent in their cottage during holidays; of the dear lady's death; of
her daughter's despair; then how he was sent off to India; of letters
he wrote to the daughter Alethea, letters unanswered, as the father,
the naval officer, intercepted all; of his return, after years, to
England, his one hope that which had buoyed him up through years of
constancy, to meet and marry his only love, for that he felt she was
and must remain. He recounted his return, and the news lie received;
his one rash visit to her to judge for himself whether she was
happy--this, from her manner, he could not feel, in spite of her
delight in her children; his mad request to see her; mad plot, and
still madder execution of it, till he had her in his arms, dashing
through the country, through storm and thunder, unable to tell whether
she lived or died; the first moment of pause; the efforts to save the
ebbing life in a ruined hut; the few minutes' absence to seek
materials for fire; the return, to find her a floating corpse in the
wild little river flowing to the sea; the rescue of her body from the
waves; her burial on the sea-shore; and his own subsequent life of
despair, saved twice by Elizabeth. All this was told to the son, to
whom Falkner denounced himself as his mother's destroyer. He named the
spot where the remains would be found. And now what was left to be
done? Only to wait a little, while Sir Boyvill and Gerard Neville
proved his words, and traced out the grave. An inquest was held, and
Falkner apprehended. A few days passed, and then Elizabeth found her
father gone; and by degrees it was broken to her that he was in
Carlisle gaol on the charge of murder. She, who had not feared the
dangers in Greece of war and fever, was not to be deterred now; she,
who believed in his innocence. No minutes were needed to decide her to
go straight to Carlisle, and remain as near as she could to the dear
father who had rescued and cared for her when deserted. Gerard, who
was with his father when the bones were exhumed at the spot indicated,
soon realised the new situation. His passion for justice to his mother
did not deaden his feeling for others. He felt that Falkner's story
was true, and though nothing could restore his mother's life, her
honour was intact. Sir Boyvill would leave no stone unturned to be
revenged, rightly or wrongly, on the man who had assailed his domestic
peace; but Gerard saw Elizabeth, gave what consolation he could, and
determined to set off at once to America to seek Osborne, as the only
witness who could exculpate Falkner from the charge of murder. After
various difficulties Osborne was found in England, where he had
returned in terror of being taken in America as accomplice in the
murder. With great difficulty he is brought to give evidence, for all
his thoughts and fears are for himself; but at length, when all hopes
seem failing, he is induced by Elizabeth to give his evidence, which
fully confirms Falkner's statement.

At length the day of trial came. The news of liberty arrived. "Not
Guilty!" Who can imagine the effect but those who have passed
innocently through the ordeal? Once more all are united. Gerard has to
remain for the funeral of his father, who had died affirming his
belief, which in fact he had always entertained, in Falkner's
innocence. Lady Cecil had secured for Elizabeth the companionship of
Mrs. Raby, her relation on the father's side. She takes Falkner and
Elizabeth home to the beautiful ancestral Belleforest. Here a time of
rest and happiness ensues. Those so much tried by adversity would not
let real happiness escape for a chimera; honour being restored love
and friendship remained, and Gerard, Elizabeth and Falkner felt that
now they ought to remain, together, death not having disunited them.
Too much space may appear to be here given to one romance; but it
seems just to show the scope of Mary's imaginative conception. There
are certainly both imagination and power in carrying it out. It is
true that the idea seems founded, to some extent, on Godwin's Caleb
Williams, the man passing through life with a mystery; the similar
names of Falkner and Falkland may even be meant to call attention to
this fact. The three-volume form, in this as in many novels, seems to
detract from the strength of the work in parts, the second volume
being noticeably drawn out here and there. It may be questioned, also,
whether the form adopted in this as in many romances of giving the
early history by way of narrative told by one of the _dramatis
person_ to another, is the desirable one--a point to which we have
already adverted in relation to _Frankenstein_. Can it be true to
nature to make one character give a description, over a hundred pages
long, repeating at length, word for word, long conversations which he
has never heard, marking the changes of colour which he has not
seen--and all this with a minuteness which even the firmest memory and
the most loquacious tongue could not recall? Does not this give an
unreality to the style incompatible with art, which ought to be the
mainspring of all imaginative work? This, however, is not Mrs.
Shelley's error alone, but is traceable through many masterpieces. The
author, the creator, who sees the workings of the souls of his
characters, has, naturally, memory and perception for all. Yet Mary
Shelley, in this as in most of her work, has great insight into
character. Elizabeth's grandfather in his dotage is quite a photograph
from life; old Oswig Raby, who was more shrivelled with narrowness of
mind than with age, but who felt himself and his house, the oldest in
England, of more importance than aught else he knew of. His
daughter-in-law, the widow of his eldest son, is also well drawn; a
woman of upright nature who can acknowledge the faults of the family,
and try to retrieve them, and who finally does her best to atone for
the past.

CHAPTER XV.

LATER WORKS.

The writing of these novels, with other literary work we must refer
to, passed over the many years of Mrs. Shelley's life until 1837, and
saved her from the ennui of a quiet life in London with few friends.
Certainly in Mary's case there had been a reason for the neglect of
"Society," which at times she bitterly deplored; and as she had little
other than intellectual and amiable qualities to recommend her for
many years, she was naturally not sought after by the more successful
of her contemporaries. There are instances even of her being cruelly
mortified by marked rudeness at some receptions she attended; in one
case years later, when her fidelity to her husband and his memory
might have appeased the sternest moralist. During these early years,
which she writes of afterwards as years of privation which caused her
to shed many bitter tears at the time, though they were frequently
gilded by imagination, Mrs. Shelley was cheered by seeing her son grow
up entirely to her satisfaction, passing through the child's stage and
the school-boy's at Harrow, from which place he proceeded to
Cambridge; and many and substantially happy years must have been
passed, during which Claire was not forgotten. Poor Claire, who passed
through much severe servitude, from which Mary would fain have spared
her, as she wrote once to Mr. Trelawny that this was one of her chief
reasons for wishing for independence; but "Old Time," or "Eternity,"
as she called Sir Timothy, who certainly had no reason to claim her
affection, was long in passing; and though a small allowance before
1831 of three hundred pounds a year had increased to four hundred
pounds a year when her only child reached his majority in 1841, for
this, on Sir Timothy's death, she had to repay thirteen thousand
pounds. It had enabled her to make a tour in Germany with her son; of
this journey we will speak after referring to her _Lives of Eminent
Literary Men_.

These lives, written for _Lardner's Cyclopedia_, and published in
1835, are a most interesting series of biographies written by a woman
who could appreciate the poet's character, and enter into the
injustices and sorrows from which few poets have been exempt. They
show careful study, her knowledge of various countries gives local
colour to her descriptions, and her love of poetry makes her an
admirable critic. She is said to have written all the Italian and
Spanish lives with the exception of Galileo and Tasso; and certainly
her writing contrasts most favourably with the life of Tasso, to
whomever this may have been assigned. Mary was much disappointed at
not having this particular sketch to write.

To her life of Dante she affixes Byron's lines from _The Prophecy of
Dante_--

'Tis the doom
Of spirits of my order to be racked
In life; to wear their hearts out, and consume
Their days in endless strife, and die alone.
Then future thousands crowd around their tomb,
And pilgrims, come from climes where they have known
The name of him who now is but a name,
Spread his, by him unheard, unheeded fame.

Mary felt how these beautiful lines were appropriate to more than one
poet. Freedom from affectation, and a genuine love of her subject,
make her biographies most readable, and for the ordinary reader there
is a fund of information. The next life--that of Petrarch--is equally
attractive; in fact, there is little that can exceed the interest of
lives of these immortal beings when written--with the comprehension
here displayed. Even the complicated history of the period is made
clear, and the poet, whose tortures came from the heart, is as
feelingly touched on as he who suffered from the political factions of
the Bianchi and the Neri, and who felt the steepness of other's stairs
and the salt savour of other's bread. Petrarch's banishment through
love is not less feelingly described, and we are taken to the life and
the homes of the time in the living descriptions given by Mary. One
passage ought in fairness to be given to show her enthusiastic
understanding and appreciation of the poet she writes of:--

Dante, as hath been already intimated, is the hero of his own poem;
and the Divina Commedia is the only example of an attempt triumphantly
achieved, and placed beyond the reach of scorn or neglect, wherein
from beginning to end the author discourses concerning himself
individually. Had this been done in any other way than the
consummately simple, delicate, and unobtrusive one which he has
adopted, the whole would have been insufferable egotism, disgusting
coxcombry, or oppressive dulness. Whereas, this personal identity is
the charm, the strength, the soul of the book; he lives, he breathes,
he moves through it; his pulse beats or stands still, his eye kindles
or fades, his cheek grows pale with horror, colours with shame, or
burns with indignation; we hear his voice, his step, in every page; we
see his shape by the flame of hell; his shadow in the land where
there is no _other_ shadow (_Purgatoria_) and his countenance
gaining angelic elevation from "colloquy sublime" with glorified
intelligence in the paradise above. Nor does he ever go out of his
natural character. He is, indeed, the lover from infancy of Beatrice,
the aristocratic magistrate of a fierce democracy, the valiant soldier
in the field of Campaldino, the fervent patriot in the feuds of
Guelphs and Ghibellines, the eloquent and subtle disputant in the
school of theology, the melancholy exile wandering from court to
court, depending for bread and shelter on petty princes who knew not
his worth, except as a splendid captive in their train; and above all,
he is the poet anticipating his own assured renown (though not
obtrusively so), and dispensing at his will honour or infamy to
others, whom he need but to name, and the sound must be heard to the
end of time and echoed from all regions of the globe. Dante in his
vision is Dante as he lived, as he died, and as he expected to live in
both worlds beyond death--an immortal spirit in the one, an
unforgotten poet in the other.

You feel this is written from the heart of the woman who herself felt
as she wrote. We would fain go through her different biographies,
tracing her feelings, her appreciation, and poetic enthusiasm
throughout, but that is impossible. She takes us through Boccaccio's
life, and, as by the reflection of a sunset from a mirror, we are
warmed with the glow and mirth from distant and long-past times in
Italy. One feels through her works the innate delicacy of her mind.
Through Boccaccio's life, as through all the others, the history of
the times and the noteworthy facts concerning the poets are brought
forward--such as the sums of money Boccaccio spent, though poor, to
promote the study of Greek, so long before the taking of
Constantinople by the Turks. In the friendship of Petrarch and
Boccaccio, she shows how great souls can love, and makes you love them
in return, and you feel the riches of the meetings of such people,
these dictators of mankind--not of a faction-tossed country or
continent. How paltry do the triumphs of conquerors which end with the
night, the feasts of princes which leave still hungry, appear beside
the triumphs of intellect, the symposium of souls.

After Boccaccio, Mary rapidly ran over the careers of Lorenzo de'
Medici, Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Politian, and the Pulci,
exhibiting again, after the lapse of a century, the study in Italy of
the Greek language. The story of the truly great prince with his
circle of poet friends, one of whom, Politian, died of a broken heart
at the death of his beloved patron, is well told. From these she
passes on to the followers of the romantic style begun by Pulci, Cieco
da Ferrara, Burchiello, Bojardo; then Berni, born at the end of the
fifteenth century, who carried on or recast Bojardo's _Orlando
Innamorato_, which was followed by Ariosto's _Orlando Furioso_,
the delight of Italy. In Ariosto's life Mary, as ever, delights in
showing the filial affection and fine traits of the poet's nature.
She quotes his lines--

Our mother's years with pity fill my heart,
For without infamy she could not be
By all of us at once forsaken.

But with these commendations she strongly denounces the profligacy of
his writing as presumably of his life. She says: "An author may not be
answerable to posterity for the evil of his mortal life; but for the
profligacy of that life which he lives through after ages,
contaminating by irrepressible and incurable infection the minds of
others, he is amenable even in his grave."

Through the intricacies of Machiavelli Mary's clear head and
conscientious treatment lead the reader till light appears to gleam.
The many-sided character of the man comes out, the difficulties of the
time he wrote in, while advising Princes how to act in times of
danger, and so admonishing the people how to resist. Did he not
foresee tyranny worked out and resistance complete, and his own
favourite republic succeeding to the death of tyrants? One remark of
Mary's with regard to the time when Machiavelli considered himself
most neglected is worth recording: "He bitterly laments the inaction
of his life, and expresses an ardent desire to be employed. Meanwhile
he created occupation for himself, and it is one of the lessons that
we may derive from becoming acquainted with the feelings and actions
of celebrated men, to learn that this very period during which
Machiavelli repined at the neglect of his contemporaries, and the
tranquillity of his life, was that during which his fame took root,
and which brought his name down to us. He occupied his leisure in
writing those works which have occasioned his immortality."

A short life of Guicciardini follows; then Mrs. Shelley comes to the
congenial subject of Vittoria Colonna, the noble widow of the Marquis
of Pescara, the dear friend in her latter years of Michael Angelo, the
woman whose writings, accomplishments, and virtues have made her the
pride of Italy. With her Mary Shelley gives a few of the long list of
names of women who won fame in Italy from their intellect:--the
beautiful daughter of a professor, who lectured behind a veil in
Petrarch's time; the mother of Lorenzo de' Medici, Ippolita Sforza;
Alessandra Scala; Isotta of Padua; Bianca d'Este; Damigella Torella;
Cassandra Fedele. We next pass to the life of Guarini, and missing
Tasso, whose life Mary Shelley did not write, we come to Chiabrera,
who tried to introduce the form of Greek poetry into Italian. Tassoni,
Marini, Filicaja are agreeable, but shortly touched on. Then
Metastasio is reached, whose youthful genius as an _improvisatore
early gained him applause, which was followed up by his successful
writing of three-act dramas for the opera, and a subsequent calm and
prosperous life at Vienna, under the successive protection of the
Emperor Charles VI., Maria Theresa, and Joseph II. The contrast of the
even prosperity of Metastasio's life with that of some of the great
poets is striking. Next Goldoni claims attention, whose comedies of
Italian manners throw much light upon the frivolous life in society
before the French Revolution, his own career adding to the pictures of
the time. Then Alfieri's varied life-story is well told, his sad
period of youth, when taken from his mother to suffer much educational
and other neglect, the difficulties he passed through owing to his
Piedmontese origin and consequent ignorance of the pure Italian
language. She closes the modern Italian poets with Monti and Ugo
Foscolo, whose sad life in London is exhibited.

Mary's studies in Spanish enabled her to treat equally well the poets
of Spain and of Portugal. Her introduction is a good essay on the
poetry and poets of Spain, and some of the translations, which are her
own, are very happily given. The poetic impulse in Spain is traced
from the Iberians through the Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and the early
unknown Spanish poets, among whom there were many fine examples. She
leads us to Boscan at the commencement of the sixteenth century.
Boscan seems to have been one of those rare beings, a poet endowed
with all the favours of fortune, including contentment and happiness.
His friends Garcilaso di Vega and Mendoza aided greatly in the
formation of Spanish poetry, all three having studied the Italian
school and Petrarch. This century, rich in poets, gives us also Luis
de Leon, Herrera, Saade Miranda, Jorge de Montemayor, Castillejo, the
dramatists; and Ercilla, the soldier poet, who, in the expedition for
the conquest of Peru went to Arauco, and wrote the poem named
_Araucana_. From him we pass to one of the great men of all time,
Cervantes, to one who understood the workings of the human heart, and
was so much raised above the common level as to be neglected in the
magnitude of his own work. Originally of noble family, and having
served his country in war, losing his left hand at the battle of
Lepanto, he received no recognition of his services after his return
from a cruel captivity among the Moors. Instead of reward, Cervantes
seems to have met with every indignity that could be devised by the
multitudes of pigmies to lower a great man, were that possible. Mary,
as ever, rises with her subject. She remarks:--"It is certainly
curious that in those days when it was considered part of a noble's
duties to protect and patronise men of letters, Cervantes should have
been thus passed over; and thus while his book was passing through
Europe with admiration, Cervantes remained poor and neglected. So does
the world frequently honour its greatest, as if jealous of the renown
to which they can never attain."

From Cervantes we pass on to Lope de Vega, of whose thousand dramas
what remains? and yet what honours and fortune were showered upon him
during his life! A more even balance of qualities enabled him to write
entertaining plays, and to flatter the weakness of those in power.
From Gongora and Quevedo Mary passes to Calderon, whom she justly
considers the master of Spanish poetry. She deplores the little that
is known of his life, and that after him the fine period of Spanish
literature declines, owing to the tyranny and misrule which were
crushing and destroying the spirit and intellect of Spain; for,
unfortunately, art and poetry require not only the artist and the
poet, but congenial atmosphere to survive in.

Writing for this Cyclopdia was evidently very apposite work for Mrs.
Shelley. She wrote also for it lives of some of the French poets. Some
stories were also written. In these she was less happy, as likewise in
her novel, _Perkin Warbeck_, a pallid imitation of Walter Scott,
which does not call for any special comment.

Shortly after her father's death, Mrs. Shelley wrote from 14 North
Bank, Regent's Park, to Moxon, wishing to arrange with him about the
publication of Godwin's autobiography, letters, &c. But some ten years
later we find her still expressing the wish to do some work of the
kind as a solemn duty if her health would permit. Probably the very
numerous notes which Mrs. Shelley made about her father and his
surroundings were towards this object.

Mrs. Shelley's health caused her at times considerable trouble from
this period onwards. Harrow had not suited her, and in 1839 she moved
to Putney; and the next year, 1840, she was able to make the tour
above mentioned, which we cannot do better than refer to at once.

CHAPTER XVI.

ITALY REVISITED.

In Mary Shelley's _Rambles in Germany and Italy_ in 1840-42-43,
published in 1844, we have not only a pleasing account of herself with
her son and friends during a pleasure trip, but some very interesting
and charming descriptions of continental life at that time.

Mary, with her son and two college friends, decided in June 1840 to
spend their vacation on the banks of the Lake of Como. The idea of
again visiting a country where she had so truly lived, and where she
had passed through the depths of sorrow, filled her with much emotion.
Her failing health made her feel the advantage that travelling and
change of country would be to her. After spending an enjoyable two
months of the spring at Richmond, visiting Raphael's cartoons at
Hampton Court, she went by way of Brighton and Hastings. On her way to
Dover she noticed how Hastings, a few years ago a mere fishing
village, had then become a new town. They were delayed at Dover by a
tempest, but left the next morning, the wind still blowing a gale;
reaching Calais they were further delayed by the tide. At length Paris
was arrived at, and we find Mary making her first experience at a
_table d'hote_. Mary was now travelling with a maid, which no
doubt her somewhat weakened health made a necessity to her. They went
to the Hotel Chatham at Paris. She felt all the renovating feeling of
being in a fresh country out of the little island; the weight of cares
seemed to fall from her; the life in Paris cheered her, though the
streets were dirty enough then--dirtier than those of London; whereas
the contrast is now in the opposite direction.

After a week here they went on towards Como by way of Frankfort. They
were to pass Metz, Treves, the Moselle, Coblentz, and the Rhine to
Mayence. The freedom from care and, worries in a foreign land, with
sufficient means, and only in the company of young people open to
enjoyment, gave new life to Mary. After staying a night at Metz, the
clean little town on the Moselle, they passed on to Treves. At
Thionville, the German frontier, they were struck by the wretched
appearance of the cottages in contrast to the French. From Treves they
proceeded by boat up the Moselle. The winding banks of the Moselle,
with the vineyards sheltered by mountains, are well described. The
peasants are content and prosperous, as, after the French Revolution,
they bought up the confiscated estates of the nobles, and so were able
to cultivate the land. The travellers rowed into the Rhine on reaching
Coblentz, and rested at the Bellevue; and now they passed by the
grander beauties of the Rhine. These made Mary wish to spend a summer
there, exploring its recesses. They reached Mayence at midnight, and
the next morning left by rail for Frankfort, the first train they had
entered on the Continent. Mary much preferred the comfort of railway
travelling. From Frankfort they engaged a voiturier to Schaffhausen,
staying at Baden-Baden. The ruined castles recall memories of changed
times, and Mary remarks how, except in England and Italy, country
houses of the rich seem unknown. At Darmstadt, where they stopped to
lunch, they were annoyed and amused too by the inconvenience and
inattention they were subjected to from the expected arrival of the
Grand Duke. On reaching Heidelberg, she remarks how, in travelling,
one is struck by the way that the pride of princes for further
dominion causes the devastation of the fairest countries. From the
ruined castle they looked over the Palatinate which had been laid
waste owing to the ambition of the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of our
James I. Mary could have lingered long among the picturesque
weed-grown walls, but had to continue the route to their destination.
At Baden they visited the gambling saloon, and saw _Rouge et
Noir_ played. They were much struck by the Falls of the Rhine at
Schaffhausen; and, on reaching Chiavenna, Mary had again the delight
of hearing and speaking Italian. After crossing the blank mountains,
who has not experienced the delight of this sensation has not yet
known one of the joys of existence. On arriving at their destination
at Lake Como, their temporary resting-place, a passing depression
seized the party, the feeling that often comes when shut in by
mountains away from home. No doubt Mary having reached Italy, the land
she loved, with Shelley, the feeling of being without him assailed
her.

At Cadenabia, on Lake Como, they had to consider ways and means. It
turned out that apartments, with all their difficulties, would equal
hotel expenses without the same amount of comfort. So they decided on
accepting the moderate terms offered by the landlord, and were
comfortably or even luxuriously installed, with five little bedrooms
and large private salon. In one nook of this Mrs. Shelley established
her embroidery frame, desk, books, and such things, showing her taste
for order and elegance. So for some weeks she and her son and two
companions were able to pass their time free from all household
worries. The lake and neighbourhood are picturesquely described. One
drawback to Mary's peace of mind was the arrival of her son's boat. He
seemed to have inherited his father's love of boating, and this
naturally filled her with apprehension. They made many pleasant
excursions, of which she always gives good descriptions, and also
enters clearly into any historical details connected with the country.
At times she was carried by the beauty and repose of the scene into
rapt moods which she thus describes:--

It has seemed to me, and on such an evening I have felt it, that the

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