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but not unheeded, sat blushing a damsel who had been seduced. It is not stated by whom, probably by some well-dressed gentleman in the room, who thought himself entitled, nevertheless, to the conversation of the most flourishing ladies present, and who naturally thought so because he had it. That sort of thing happens every day. It was expected that the young squire would take out one of these ladies to dance. What is the consternation when they see him making his way to the back benches, and handing forth, with an air of consolation and tenderness, the object of all the virtuous scorn of the room ! the person whom that other gentleman, wrong as he had been to her, and “ wicked” as the ladies might have allowed him to be toward the fair sex in general, would have shrunk from touching !”
While at Oxford he seems to have had some dreams of combining a life of politics with that of literature, as would appear by the following letter to Leigh Hunt, then editor of the “ Examiner.”
“ UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD, March 2, 1811. “SIR,-Permit me, although a stranger, to offer my sincerest congratulations on the occasion of that triumph so highly to be prized by men of liberality; permit me also to submit to your consideration, as to one of the most fearless enlighteners of the public mind at the present time, a scheme of mutual safety and mutual indemnification for men of public spirit and principle, which, if carried into effect, would evidently be . productive of incalculable advantages; of the scheme
the inclosed is an address to the public, the proposal for a meeting, and which shall be modified according to your judgment, if you will do me the honour to consider the point. The ultimate intention of my aim is to induce a meeting of such enlightened unprejudiced members of the community, whose independent principles expose them to evils which might thus become alleviated, and to form a methodical society which should be organized so as to resist that coalition of the enemies of liberty which at present renders any expression of opinion on matters of policy dangerous to individuals. It has been for the want of societies of this nature that corruption has attained the height at which we now behold it, nor can any of us bear in mind the very great influence which some years since was gained by ( ? ), without considering that a society of equal extent might establish rational liberty on as firm a basis as that which would have supported the visionary schemes of a completely equalized community. Although perfectly unacquainted (privately) with
you, I address you as a common friend of Liberty, thinking that in cases of this urgency and importance, that etiquette ought not to stand in the way of useful
My father is in Parliament, and on attaining 21, I shall, in all probability, fill his vacant seat. On account of the responsibility to which my residence at this University subjects me, I of course dare not publicly to avow all that I think, but the time will come when I hope that my every endeavour, inefficient as they may be, will be directed to the advancement of liberty. " I remain, Sir, your most
“ P. B. SHELLEY.”
During his University life, his favourite amusements were chemistry, microscopic investigations, and boating. He also went through the usual drill in logic, but with some rather unusual and uncomfortable results. To a youth of Shelley's impetuous temperament, resolved to subject every custom, prejudice, or idea, which he found concreted in practice, to the ideal tests of abstract truth and justice, the syllogism was a weapon which he was quite as likely to seize by the blade as the handle. Taking for his premises all the vulgar notions of God's attributes that he could lay hold of, he wrote and published in conjunction with a college friend, Mr. Hogg, an anonymous pamphlet to demonstrate the non-existence of any deity at all. He had already rendered himself somewhat obnoxious by printing a volume of verses under the title of “ The Posthumous Works of Mrs. Margaret Nicholson," who, it will be remembered, was the poor insane woman that attempted the life of George III. The name of his new indiscretion was the “Necessity of Atheism." The government of his college were not slow in constructing a syllogism quite as unanswerable as his own, to this effect.
The society of an avowed atheist cannot but be injurious to the morals of the young gentlemen of this college: but P. B. Shelley has avowed himself an atheist : then it is fit that he be expelled. And expelled he accordingly was. Perhaps a milder mode of treatment and less heroic remedies might have been more efficacious in effecting a cure. As it was, Shelley went up to London full of the dangerous exhilaration of a successful martyr, and carried about with him the certificate of his expulsion, as St. Lawrence does his gridiron, at once the evidence of his admission to the Church triumphant, and of the manner of it. The immediate consequences of his expulsion were a quarrel with his father, (followed by a hollow reconcilement,) and the breaking off of his love affair with Miss Grove.
Shortly after his arrival in London he read Godwin's “ Political Justice,” and was thereby confirmed in his theories on the subject of politics. / But Shelley's liberalism must be distinguished from the kind professed by Lord Byron. It was with him a matter of nature as well as conviction, and he cheerfully gave up for its sake a seat in Parliament and a large income. Byron's was an affair of whim, cost him nothing, and the contradiction between his principles and his position, enhanced that interest in his personal chacacter, which it was the object of his whole life to increase. To a peer all things are possible in England, and if Byron made a show of sacrificing his social prestige, it was to himself that the altar was built, and his own nostrils that inhaled the incense, while Shelley enthusiastically made a holocaust of self, of position, of prospects, to the principles which he believed to be right.
At this period of his life Shelley had a habit of writing letters to any person that interested him. Among others, he opened a correspondence with Miss Browne, (afterward Mrs. Hemans,) which continued some time, till it was broken off by her mother, who probably did not relish some of the young poet's theories in regard to domestic life. In the same way his intercourse began with Miss Harriet Westbrooke, the beautiful daughter of a retired coffee-house keeper. To letters succeeded stolen interviews, (the young lady was at a boarding-school,) and to interviews, Gretna Green. This was in 1811.
Hitherto, probably, Sir Timothy had looked upon the dogmatic excesses of his son as only another form of sowing those wild oats from which commonly is reaped in due time a crop of tame respectability and decorum. Theories, as long as they were abstract, did not disturb him, for he knew that they might be, and commonly were, turned out of doors, whenever society as it was offered greater inducements. But now that his son had legally indented himself to a theory for life, it was quite another and more serious affair. The chance of being grandfather to a coffee-house keeper's grandson, who, in spite of him, might be the future master of Castle Goring, was probably not a pleasant one. Hitherto, in his treatment his son, he had neglected practise on the obvious truth that the opinions of the