By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Percy Bysshe Shelley as a Philosopher and Reformer
Author: Sotheran, Charles, 1847-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Percy Bysshe Shelley as a Philosopher and Reformer" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

University Libraries, Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Sankar

                         PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

                                 AS A

                       PHILOSOPHER AND REFORMER.


                           CHARLES SOTHERAN.

                    _INCLUDING AN ORIGINAL SONNET_


                        CHARLES W. FREDERICKSON

                             TOGETHER WITH


    "Let us See the Truth, whatever that may be."--_Shelley_, 1822.

                              _NEW YORK_.

                CHARLES P. SOMERBY, 139 EIGHTH STREET.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876,

by Charles Sotheran,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *





As in ancient times, none were allowed participation in the Higher
Mysteries, without having proved their fitness for the reception of
esoteric truth, so in these days only those seem to be permitted to
breathe the hidden essence in Shelley, who have realized the acute
phases of spiritality. Among the few who have enjoyed these bi-fold
gifts, none have had more fortuitous experience than yourself, to whom
I now take the liberty of dedicating this volume.

Yours fraternally,


_December_, 1875.


       *       *       *       *       *

"To see the sun shining on its bright grass, and hear the whispering
of the wind among the leaves of the trees, which have overgrown the
tomb of Cestius, and the soil which is stirring in the sun-warm earth,
and to mark the tombs, mostly of women and young children, who, buried
there, we might, if we were to die, desire a sleep they seem to

To the Memory





    Amid the ruins of majestic Rome,
    That told the story of its countless years,
    I stood, and wondered by the silent dust
    Of the "Eternal Child." Oh, Shelley!
    To me it was not given to know thy face,
    Save through the mirrored pages of thy works;
    Those whisper'd words of wood and wave, are to mine ears,
    Sweet as the music of ocean's roar, that breaks on sheltered shores.
    Thy sterner words of Justice, Love and Truth,
    Will to the struggling soul a beacon prove,
    And barrier against the waves of tyranny and craft.
    Then rest, "_Cor Cordium_," and though thy life
    Was brief in point of years, its memory will outlive
    The column'd monuments around thy tomb.

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW YORK, _Nov_. 25, 1875.


The copy of the lines on our Beloved-Poet, which you requested, are
entirely at your service--make what use of them you please.

Yours, sincerely,




    "Let us see the Truth, whatever that may be."--SHELLEY, 1822.

_Mr. Vice-President and Members of the Liberal Club_:

"The Blood of the Martyr is the Seed of the Church." Persecution ever
fails in accomplishing its desired ends, and as a rule lays the
foundations broad and deep for the triumph of the objects of and
principles inculcated by the persecuted.

Driven from their homes by fanatical tyranny, not permitted to worship
as they thought fit, a band of noble and earnest, yet on some points
mistaken men, were, a little over two hundred and fifty years ago,
landed on this continent from the good ship "Mayflower." The "Pilgrim
Fathers" were, in their native land, refused liberty of conscience and
freedom of discussion; their apparent loss was our gain, for if it had
not been for that despotism, and the corresponding re-action, which
made those stern old zealots give to others many of the inalienable
rights of liberty denied to themselves, you and I could not to-night
perhaps be allowed to meet face to face, without fear, to discuss
metaphysical and social questions in their broadest aspects, without
the civil or theological powers intervening to close our mouths.

"Fragile in health and frame; of the purest habits in morals; full of
devoted generosity and universal kindness; glowing with ardor to attain
wisdom; resolved at every personal sacrifice to do right; burning with a
desire for affection and sympathy," a boy-under-graduate of Oxford,
described as of tall, delicate, and fragile figure, with large and
lively eyes, with expressive, beautiful and feminine features, with head
covered with long, brown hair, of gracefulness and simplicity of manner,
the heir to a title and the representation of one of the most ancient
English families, which numbered Sir Philip Sidney on its roll of
illustrious names, just sixty-four years ago, and in this nineteenth
century, for no licentiousness, violence, or dishonor, but, for his
refusal to criminate himself or inculpate friends, was, without trial,
expelled by learned divines from his university for writing an
argumentative thesis, which, if it had been the work of some Greek
philosopher, would have been hailed by his judges as a fine specimen of
profound analytical abstruseness--for that expulsion are we the debtors
to theological charity and tolerance for "Queen Mab."

Excommunicated by a mercenary and abject priesthood, cast off by a
savage father, the admirer of that gloomy theology founded by the
murderer of Michael Servetus, and charged by his jealous brother
writers as one of the founders of a Satanic School, for neither
immorality of life nor breach of the parental relation, but for
heterodoxy to an expiring system of dogmatism, and for acting on and
asserting the right of man to think and judge for himself, a father
was to have two children torn from him, in the sacred name of law and
justice, by the principal adviser of a dying madman, "Defender of the
Faith, by Law Established," and by us despised as the self-willed
tyrant, who lost America and poured out human blood like water to
gratify his lust of power. By that Lord Chancellor whose cold,
impassive statue has a place in Westminster Abbey, where Byron's was
refused admittance, and whose memory, when that stone has crumbled
into dust, will live as one who furnished an example for execrable
tyranny over the parental tie, and that Lord Eldon whom an outraged
father curses in imperishable verse:

    "By thy most impious hell, and all its terrors;
        By all the grief, the madness and the guilt
     Of thine impostures, which must be _their_ errors,
        That sand on which thy crumbling power is built;

       *       *       *       *       *

     By all the hate which checks a father's love;
        By all the scorn which kills a father's care;
     By those most impious hands that dared remove
        Nature's high bounds--by thee, and by despair.

    "Yes, the despair which bids a father groan,
        And cry, 'my children are no longer mine.
     The blood within those veins may be mine own,
        But, tyrant, their polluted souls are thine.'

    "I curse thee, though I hate thee not. O slave!
        If thou could'st quench the earth consuming hell
     Of which thou art a demon, on thy grave
        This curse should be a blessing. Fare thee well."

Sad as it is to contemplate any human being in his agony making use of
such language to another; and however much we may sympathize with the
poet, yet we cannot but have inwardly a feeling of rejoicing; for, if
it had not been for this unheard of villainy, we should probably never
have had the other magnificent poetry and prose of Percy Bysshe
Shelley composed during his self-imposed ostracism, and which furnish
such glorious thoughts for the philosopher, and keen trenchant weapons
for the reformer.

Have any of my hearers ever stood, in the calm of a summer evening, in
Shelley's native land, listening to the lovely warble of the
nightingale, making earth joyful with its unpremeditated strains, and
the woods re-echo with its melody? Or gazed upwards with anxious ken
towards the skylark careering in the "blue ether," far above this
sublunary sphere of gross, sensual earth, there straining after
immortality, and

       "Like a poet hidden,
          In the light of thought,
        Singing hymns unbidden,
          Till the world is wrought
    To sympathy with hopes and fears, it heeded not,"

pouring out such bursts of song as to make one almost worship and
credit the fables, taught in childhood at our mothers' knees, of the
angelic symphonies of heavenly choirs. Such was the poetry of Shelley;
and as the music of the nightingale or the skylark is far exceeding in
excellence that of the other members of the feathered kingdom, so does
Shelley rank as a poet far above all other poets, making even the poet
of nature, the great Wordsworth himself, confess that Shelley was
indeed the master of harmonious verse in our modern literature. It is
broadly laid down in the Marvinian theory that all poets are insane. I
would much like to break a lance with the learned Professor of
Psychology and Medical Jurisprudence; but as the overthrow of this
dogma does not come within the scope of my essay, I would suggest to
those who may have been influenced by that paper to read Shelley's
"Defence of Poetry." I shall quote two extracts therefrom, each
pertinent to my subject. The first describes the function of the poet:

     "But poets, or those who imagine and express this
     indestructible order, are not only the authors of language
     and of music, of the dance, and architecture, and statuary,
     and painting; they are the institutors of laws, and the
     founders of civil society, and the inventors of the arts of
     life, and the teachers, who draw into a certain propinquity
     with the beautiful and the true, that partial apprehension
     of the agencies of the invisible world, which is called

The other is in extension of the same idea, and concludes the essay:

     "Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration;
     the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts
     upon the present; the words which express what they
     understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle and feel
     not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but
     moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the

I have no hesitation in saying that for treating Shelley as a
philosopher, I shall be attacked with great "positivism" by the
disciples[A] of manufacturers of bran-new Brummagen philosophies dug
out of Aristotelian and other depths to which are added new thoughts,
not their own. The reason which David Masson offers in his "Recent
British Philosophy" for placing Alfred Tennyson among the same class
is equally applicable now:

[Footnote A: If Diogenes or Socrates, leaving High Olympus and sweet
converse with the immortals, were to condescend to visit New York some
Friday evening. I am sadly afraid they would be astounded at many of
their would-be brothers in philosophy. On seeing the travestie of
ancient academies and groves where the schools used to congregate, the
dialogues consisting of bald atheism under sheep's clothing to trap
the unwary, and termed "The _Religion_ of Humanity," of abuse and
personality in lieu of argument, of buffoonery called wit, of airing
pet hobbies alien to the subject instead of disputating, of shouting
vulgar claptrap instead of rhetoric, etc.--I sadly fear these stout
old Greeks, having power for the nonce, would, throwing philosophy to
the dogs in a moment of paroxysmal indignation, despite physiognomies
trained to resemble their own, have these fellows casked up in tubs
without lanterns, but with the appropriate "snuffers," fit emblems of
their faiths, and dropped far outside Sandy Hook. A proper finale to
the vapid utterance made by one of these gentry that all "Reformers
should be annihilated," Imagine Plato or Epicurus offering such a
suggestion. O tempora! O mores!]

"To those who are too strongly possessed with our common habit of
classifying writers into kinds, as historians, poets, scientific and
speculative writers, and so on, it may seem strange to include Mr.
Tennyson in this list. But as I have advisedly referred to Wordsworth
as one of the representatives and powers of British philosophy in the
age immediately past, so I advisedly named Tennyson as succeeding him
in the same character. Though it is not power of speculative reason
alone that constitutes a poet, is it not felt that the worth of a poet
essentially is measured by the depth and amount of his speculative
reason? Even popularly, do we not speak of every great poet as the
exponent of the spirit of his age? What else can this mean than that
the philosophy of his age, its spirit and heart in relation to all the
great elemental problems, find expression in his verse? Hence I ought
to include other poets in this list, and more particularly Mr.
Browning and Mrs. Browning, and the late Mr. Clough. But let the
mention of Mr. Tennyson suggest such other names, and stand as a
sufficient protest against our absurd habit of omitting such in a
connection like the present. As if, forsooth, when a writer passed
into verse, he were to be abandoned as utterly out of calculable
relationship to all on this side of the boundary, and no account were
to be taken of his thoughts and doings, except in a kind of curious
appendix at the end of the general register? What if philosophy, at a
certain extreme range, and of a certain kind, tends of necessity to
pass into poesy, and can hardly help being passionate and metrical? If
so, might not the omission of poets, purely as being such, from a
conspectus of the speculative writers of any time, lead to erroneous
conclusions, by giving an undue prominence in the estimate of all such
philosophizing as could most easily, by its nature, refrain from
passionate or poetic expression? Thus, would philosophy, or one kind
of philosophy in comparison with another, have seemed to had been in
such a diminished condition in Britain about the year 1830, if critics
had been in the habit of counting Wordsworth in the philosophic list
as well as Coleridge, Mackintosh, Bentham, and James Mill? Was there
not more of what you might call Spinozaism in Wordsworth than even in
Coleridge, who spoke more of Spinoza? But that hardly needs all this
justification, so far as Mr. Tennyson is concerned, of our reckoning
_him_ in the present list. He that would exclude In "Memoriam" (1850)
and "Maud" (1855) from the conspectus of the philosophical literature
of our time, has yet to learn what philosophy is. Whatever else "In
Memoriam" may be, it is a manual for many of the latest hints and
questions in British Metaphysics."

The soi-disant philosophers and classifiers of the sciences and arts
who will not permit such poets as Shelley and Tennyson to be put in
the category of philosophers, remind one very forcibly of the passage
in Macbeth: "The earth has bubbles, as the water has, and these are of

As a poet and not as a poet, as an acknowledged legislator for the
race, as a philosopher, (a searcher after, or lover of wisdom) and as
a political and social reformer, it is my intention to treat Shelley
this evening, and having finished my prefatory remarks, will now
regard him in those attributes which peculiarly should enshrine him in
your hearts and mine.

The philosophical theories of advanced thinkers are always tinged with
the reflex of that which called them forth, or impeded them in their
development, consequently social bondage and the "anarch custom" being
always present to Shelley, the great idea ever uppermost to him was
that true happiness is only attainable in perfect freedom: the
atrocious system of fagging, now almost extinct in the English Public
Schools and the tyrannical venality of ushers, deeply impressed
themselves on the mind of Shelley, and he tells us, in the beautiful
lines to his wife, of the remembrance of his endeavors to overthrow
these abominations having failed, of flying from "the harsh and
grating strife of tyrants and of foes" and of the high and noble
resolves which inspired him:

       "And then I clasp'd my hands, and look'd around;
        But none were near to mock my streaming eyes,
        Which pour'd their warm drops on the sunny ground.
        So, without shame, I spake: 'I will be wise,
        And just, and free, and mild, if in me lies
        Such power; for I grow weary to behold
        The selfish and the strong still tyrannize
        Without reproach or check.' I then controll'd
    My tears; my heart grew calm; and I was meek and bold.

       "And from that hour did I, with earnest thought,
        Heap knowledge from forbidden mines of lore;
        Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or taught,
        I cared to learn; but from that secret store
        Wrought linked armor for my soul, before
        It might walk forth, to war among mankind.
        Thus, power and hope were strengthen'd more and more
        Within me, till there came upon my mind
    A sense of loneliness, a thirst with which I pined."

The fruits born of this seed are discernible in every line of his
works. While having all reverence for his college companions,
Aristotle, Aeschylus, and Demosthenes, his mind instinctively turns
towards the deemed heretical works of the later French philosophers,
D'Holbach, Condillac, La Place, Rousseau, the encyclopaedists, and
other members of that school. His intellect he furbishes with stores
of logic and of chemistry, in which his greatest love was to
experimentalize; of botany and astronomy, in which he was more than a
mere adept; from Hume, too, whose essay on "Miracles," wrong as it is
in the main on many important points, was one of the alphas of his
creed--and with deep draughts from his great instructor, Plato, of
whom he always spoke with the greatest adoration, as, for instance, in
the preface to the Symposium:

     "Plato is eminently the greatest among the Greek
     philosophers; and from, or rather perhaps through him and
     his master, Socrates, have proceeded those emanations of
     moral and metaphysical knowledge, on which a long series and
     an incalculable variety of popular superstitions have
     sheltered their absurdities from the slow contempt of

It is desirable to call attention to the great minds from whom the
student of the early part of this century could only cull his
knowledge--he had no Spencer and no Mill, at whose feet to sit--he had
in science none of the conclusions of Darwin, of Huxley, of Tyndall,
of Murchison, of Lyell, to refer to, and yet I think, that the careful
reader will, like myself, find prefigured in Shelley's works much of
that of which the world is in full possession to-day, and which the
mystical Occultists, Rosicrucians, and Cabalists have now, and have
ever had, conjoined to a mysterious command over the active hidden
material and spiritual powers in the infinite domain of nature.

The idea of the _Supreme Power_ or _God_, as emanating from Shelley,
is one of the most sublime to be found in the pages of metaphysical
learning at the command of ordinary mortals. By many it may be
considered only a vague pantheism; yet, rightly regarded in a
reconciliative spirit, it is of such an universal character as to
harmonize with not only Deism, Theism and Polytheism, but even
Atheistical Materialism. Listen to the following, which I select out
of numerous examples, as a finger-post for others who seek the living
springs of undefiled truth, as in Shelley:

     "Whosoever is free from the contamination of luxury and
     license may go forth to the fields and to the woods,
     inhaling joyous renovation from the breath of Spring, and
     catching from the odors and sounds of autumn some diviner
     mood of sweetest sadness, which improves the softened heart.
     Whosoever is no deceiver and destroyer of his fellow-men--no
     liar, no flatterer, no murderer--may walk among his species,
     deriving, from the communion with all which they contain of
     beautiful or majestic, some intercourse with the Universal
     God. Whosoever has maintained with his own heart the
     strictest correspondence of confidence, who dares to examine
     and to estimate every imagination which suggests itself to
     his mind--whosoever is that which he designs to _become_,
     and only aspires to that which the divinity of his own
     nature shall consider and approve--he has already seen God."

Can any one cavil with these beautiful expressions, this outpouring of
genius? If such there be, his heart and understanding must be sadly
warped, any appeal would be in vain, for him the Veil of Isis could
never be lifted. After a careful study of Shelley's works I can find
nothing to warrant the execration formerly levelled at his head, not
even in the "Refutation of Deism," that remarkable argument in the
Socratic style between Eusebes and Theosophus in which, as in all his
prose works, is displayed keen discernment, logical acuteness, and
close analytical reasoning not surpassed by the greatest
philosophers--most certainly his notions of God were not in unison
with the current theological ideas, and it was this daring rebellion
against the popular faith, the chief support of custom which caused
all the trouble. If ever he attempted to show the non-existence of
Deity, his negation was solely directed against the gross human
notions of a creative power, and _ergo_ a succession of finite
creative powers _ad infinitum_, or a Personal God who has only been
acknowledged in the popular teachings as an autocratic tyrant, and as
Shelley puts it in his own language:

     "A venerable old man, seated on a throne of clouds, his
     breast the theatre of various passions, analogous to those
     of humanity, his will changeable and uncertain as that of an
     earthly king."

Not to be compared with the far different eternal and infinite.

    "Spirit of Nature! all sufficing power,
    Necessity! thou mother of the world!
    Unlike the God of human error, thou
    Requirest no prayers or praises, the caprice
    Of man's weak will belongs no more to thee
    Than do the changeful passions of his breast
    To thy unvarying harmony."

And by this doctrine of necessity here apostrophised our philosopher
instructs us in a lengthy statement of great clearness:

     "We are taught that there is neither good nor evil in the
     universe, otherwise than as the events to which we apply
     these epithets have relation to our own peculiar mode of
     being. Still less than with the hypothesis of a personal
     God, will the doctrine of necessity accord with the belief
     of a future state of punishment. God made man such as he is,
     and then damned him for being so; for to say that God was
     the author of all good, and man the author of all evil, is
     to say that one man made a straight line and a crooked one,
     and another man made the incongruity."

For you to better understand the exact position in which Shelley
placed himself, it is elsewhere thus admirably expressed:

     "The thoughts which the word 'God' suggest to the human mind
     are susceptible of as many variations as human minds
     themselves. The Stoic, the Platonist, and the Epicurean, the
     Polytheist, the Dualist, and the Trinitarian, differ entirely
     in their conceptions of its meaning. They agree only in
     considering it the most awful and most venerable of names,
     as a common term to express all of mystery, or majesty, or
     power, which the invisible world contains. And not only has
     every sect distinct conceptions of the application of this
     name, but scarcely two individuals of the same sect, which
     exercise in any degree the freedom of their judgment, or
     yield themselves with any candor of feeling to the
     influences of the visible world, find perfect coincidence of
     opinion to exist between them.... God is neither the Jupiter
     who sends rain upon the earth; nor the Venus through whom
     all living things are produced; nor the Vulcan who presides
     over the terrestrial element of fire; nor the Vesta that
     preserves the light which is enshrined in the sun, the moon,
     and the stars. He is neither the Proteus nor the Pan of the
     material world. But the word 'God' unites all the attributes
     which these denominations contain and is the (inter-point)
     and over-ruling spirit of all the energy and wisdom included
     within the circle of existing things."

Of these attributes generally supposed to appertain to Deity, he

     "There is no attribute of God which is not either borrowed
     from the passions and powers of the human mind, or which is
     not a negation. Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence,
     infinity, immutability, incomprehensibility, and
     immateriality, are all words which designate properties and
     powers peculiar to organized beings, with the addition of
     negations, by which the idea of limitation is excluded."

There is no other writer, I think, who seems to grasp so clearly as
Shelley the everlasting and immutable laws of Naturismus, or who
believed so fully in the divine mission of man, and the religion of
humanity. Ever soaring into the ideal, philosophizing by the aid of
his emotional impulses, Shelley possessed, like all true Hermetists
and Theosophists imbued with mysticism, a wonderful power of continued
abstraction in the contemplation of the Supreme Power. His mentality,
described by one of his critics as essentially Greek, "simple, not
complex, imaginative rather than fanciful, abstract not concrete,
intellectual not emotional," contributed its share to his belief in a
pantheistic philosophy, making him find Supreme Intelligence permeated
through the whole of infinite and interminable Nature. Regarding the
universe as an abstract whole, he endorsed the fundamental
metaphysics of Plato, and believed that "passing phenomena are types
of eternal archetypes, embodiments of eternal realities."

Even if despite of my assertions to the contrary, there be those who
still insist on the atheism of Shelley, they had better restudy the
elementary axioms and learn to think--to those who imagine that there
is but little difference between atheism and pantheism to the
discredit of either, I would remind them that Bacon in his "Moral
Essays," lays down as a principle that:--

     "Atheism leaves to man reason, philosophy, nature, piety,
     laws, reputation and everything that can serve to conduct him
     to virtue; but superstition destroys all these, and erects
     itself into a tyranny over the understandings of men; hence
     atheism never disturbs the government, but renders man more
     clear-sighted, since he sees nothing beyond the boundaries of
     the present life."

In making use of this quotation do not let it be presumed that I wish
to endorse Materialism; my desire is to add the authority of a great
mind like that of the Elizabethan philosopher, to the fact that
superstition is so hateful that even blank, bald atheism is preferable
thereto. I should state that Bacon in extension of the extract I have
quoted, speaking of this soul-destroying incubus on humanity observes
that:--"A little philosophy inclineth men's minds to atheism; but
depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds to religion."

No amount of mere reasoning, or argument _a priori_ or _a posteriori_,
can prove the existence of the Most High or destroy the same; in every
breast is implanted an innate belief in Deity, the inner consciousness
of the race, by the "Vox Dei" speaking within, has throughout all time,
the past and the present revelled in this sublimity, and will continue
to do so in the future, notwithstanding the insane and insensate efforts
of pseudo scientists or iconoclastic materialists--the brain and the
heart must act in harmony to consolidate a pure philosophy, for mere
intellect alone is an untrustworthy guide. By logic Whately proved
apparently indisputably the non-existence of Napoleon Bonaparte, at the
time when there was no doubt in any reasonable mind that he was actually
living in the flesh, by the same means one can disprove one's own being,
and so by this unsafe method have I frequently heard the God idea very
learnedly overthrown. On such occasions I have simply taken the words
of the logicians for what all their idle wind is worth--ZERO.

The Immortality of the Soul has ever been a subject of primary
importance to all philosophers--the last dying efforts of Socrates,
noblest of Greece's sons, as Plato has shown us in the Phaedo, were
expended in a discussion on the _pros_ and _cons_ of an argument in
favor of a future life. Many of the highest intelligences since his
day have been endeavoring to prove this satisfactorily without the aid
of theological revelation. All mankind, from sage to peasant, from the
most learned Brahmin on the banks of the Ganges to the untutored red
Indian beside the Mississippi, has the question, "is there an
existence after death," been approached with the most earnest hopes to
solve as one of the greatest mysteries. Shelley devoted a vast amount
of energy to the elucidation of this occult, yet overt, truth; and in
one place remarks:

     "The desire to be forever as we are; the reluctance to a
     violent and unexperienced change, which is common to all;
     the animate and inanimate combinations of the universe, is,
     indeed, the secret persuasion which has (among other
     reasons) given birth to a belief in a future state."

Full well he knew, that independent of matter, there was a power,
which has been denominated by some, Spirit; by others, simply mind,
force, or intelligence; and by metaphysical philosophers, soul. If he
approached the subject logically, as in his essay, "On a Future
State," the _ignis fatuus_ seems to escape him and be lost; if
poetically, with the innate voice which speaks within us all, ever

After close reasoning in the essay I have referred to, he arrived at
the conclusion that even

     "if it be proved that the world is ruled by a divine power,
     no inference can necessarily be drawn from that circumstance
     in favor of a future state."

and that

     "if a future state be clearly proved, does it follow that it
     will be a state of punishment or reward?"

Then in extension of the same argument he urges:

     "Sleep suspends many of the faculties of the vital and
     intellectual principle--drunkenness and disease will either
     temporarily or permanently derange them. Madness, or
     idiotcy, may utterly extinguish the most excellent and
     delicate of these powers. In old age the mind gradually
     withers; and as it grew and strengthened with the body, so
     does it with the body sink into decrepitude."

He also considered that:

     "It is probable that what we call thought is not an actual
     being, but no more than the relation between certain parts
     of that infinitely varied mass, of which the rest of the
     universe is composed, and which ceases to exist so soon as
     those parts change their position with regard to each other.
     Thus color, and sound, and taste, and odor, exist only

Even granted that mind or thought be a part of, or in fact, the soul,
then he asks in what manner it could be made a proof of its
imperishability, as all that we see or know perishes and is changed.

Here then comes the query, "Have we existed before birth?" A difficult
possibility to conceive of individual intelligence and if unprovable
against the theory of existence after death.

He then winds up the whole by thinking that it is impossible that,

     "we should continue to exist after death in some mode
     totally inconceivable to us at present."

and that only those who desire to be persuaded are persuaded.

This is but a rough outline of some of the principal features of his
considerations on soul immortality from a logical basis, and which,
after all, only constitute an argument, to which, and the thoughts
presented therein, he did not necessarily bind himself. There can be
little doubt, independently of what I have quoted, that he did not
believe in a future state as popularly accepted. Trelawney asked him on
one occasion: "Do you believe in the immortality of the spirit?"
Shelley's answer was unmistakable, "Certainly not; how can I? We know
nothing; we have no evidence."[B]

[Footnote B: Those who desire to fully investigate Shelley's ideas on
the immortality of the soul, and the existence, or nature, of Deity,
will be amply repaid by reading W.M. Rossetti's admirable memoir of
the poet, appended to the last two-volume London edition of his

When we take Shelley from a poetical standpoint, or with the divine
truism implanted by the Ain-soph clamoring within to his intelligence
for expression, how confident he appears of a hereafter, as in the
"Adonais," or in the following extract from an unpublished letter to
his father-in-law, William Godwin, the property of my friend C.W.
Frederickson, of New York, one of the most enthusiastic admirers of
Shelley, and who has been often known to pay more than the weight in
gold for Shelleyana:

     "With how many garlands we can beautify the tomb. If we
     begin betimes, we can learn to make the prospect of the
     grave the most seductive of human visions. By little and
     little we hive therein all the most pleasing of our dreams.
     Surely, if any spot in the world be sacred, it is that in
     which grief ceases, and for which, if the voice within our
     hearts mocks us not with an everlasting lie, we spring upon
     the untiring wings of a pangless and seraphic life--those
     whom we love around us--our nature, universal intelligence,
     our atmosphere, eternal love."

How exquisite these remarks and his description of a disembodied

                          "it stood
    All beautiful in naked purity,
    The perfect semblance of its bodily frame,
    Instinct with inexpressible beauty and grace,
         Each stain of earthliness
    Had passed away, it re-assumed
    Its native dignity, and stood
         Immortal amid ruin."

It must appear impossible to any rational mind, that, with the full
evidence before their eyes, materialists can attempt to claim Shelley
as endorsing their doctrines, for even in the "Queen Mab," which has
been considered by those not understanding it as a most atheistical
poem, he speaks of--

                            "the remembrance
    With which the happy spirit contemplates
    Its well-spent pilgrimage on earth."

Positive dogmatists are tyrannically endeavoring to crush the belief in
a soul, that All which makes the-present life happy on earth, the hope
of our heritage in a future state. To them the fact that the race from
the dawn of history, and through the ages has knelt down in abnegation
before this inscrutable truth is nothing. This glorious belief evolved
from the primaeval Cabala, taught in ancient Egypt, found
contemporaneously in India, enunciated by scholarly Rabbis, ever present
before the Chaldaean and Assyrian Magi, and laid down as axioms in the
philosophical schools of Greece and Rome, not only to be discovered a
fundamental in the Egyptian, the Hebraistic, the Brahminical, the
Buddhistic, the Vedic, but also in all the sacred books of every nation,
and handed down and perpetuated to these days as a sacred legacy from
the past, by both Mohammed and Christ. This, the great co-mystery of all
the ancient mysteries, shall remain ever present through all futurity
like "the existing order of the Universe, or rather, of the _part of it
known to us_," to use the phraseology of John Stuart Mill. Nations may
rise and fall, theologies may flourish and decay, but this glorious and
divine inheritance shall never pass away. Let pseudo-scientists avail
themselves of stale and exploded arguments, and urge that there is no
invisible world, and therefore no immortality for man, but honest
scientists, like Professors Tait and Stewart, in the "Unseen Universe,"
will agree with the Illuminati: "in the position assigned by Swedenborg,
and by the Spiritualists, according to which they look upon the
invisible world not as something absolutely distinct from the visible
universe, and absolutely unconnected with it, as is frequently thought
to be the case, but rather as a universe that has some bond of union
with the present;" and like Tyndall, will be obliged in abject humility
to acknowledge, unlike the initiated occultist, that: "When we endeavor
to pass from the phenomena of physics to those of thought, we meet a
problem which transcends any conceivable expansion of the powers we now
possess. We may think over the subject again and again--it eludes all
intellectual presentation--we stand at length face to face with the

Shelley was ever calling attention to the fact that either from
ignorance or the casuistical sophistries of mal-interested teachers
who have distorted the divine pristine truths for their own base ends,
emanated superstition, the taint of all it looked upon; and with no
unsparing hand he flagellated the professors of the numerous false
faiths, bastardized from their original purity, which have in their
decay, darkened the earth, and with all the force of his powerful pen,
mightier than any sword, he ridiculed these gross theologies existant
among men, as in the following:

     "Barbarous and uncivilized nations have uniformly adored,
     under various names, a God of which themselves were the
     model: revengeful, blood-thirsty, groveling and capricious.
     The idol of a savage is a demon that delights in carnage.
     The steam of slaughter, the dissonance of groans, the flames
     of a desolated land, are the offerings which he deems
     acceptable, and his innumerable votaries throughout the
     world have made it a point of duty to worship him to his
     taste. The Phoenicians, the Druids and the Mexicans have
     immolated hundreds at the shrines of their divinity, and the
     high and holy name of God has been in all ages the watchword
     of the most unsparing massacres, the sanction of the most
     atrocious perfidies."

Of the treatment Judaism, the foster mother of Christianity, received
at the poet's hands, I will now recite two examples. To Moses, the
Jehovah of the Hebrews is thus made to speak:

   "From an eternity of idleness
    I, God, awoke; in seven days' toil made earth
    From nothing; rested, and created man;
    I placed him in a paradise, and there
    Planted the tree of evil, so that he
    Might eat and perish, and my soul procure
    Wherewith to sate its malice, and to turn
    Even like a heartless conqueror of the earth,
    All misery to my fame. The race of men
    Chosen to my honor, with impunity
    May sate the lusts _I_ planted in their hearts.
    Here I command thee hence to lead them on,
    Until, with harden'd feet, their conquering troops
    Wade on the promised soil through woman's blood.
    And make my name be dreaded through the land,
    Yet ever-burning flame and ceaseless woe
    Shall be the doom of their eternal souls,
    With every soul on this ungrateful earth,
    Virtuous or vicious, weak or strong--even all
    Shall perish to fulfill the blind revenge
    (Which you to men call justice) of their God."

In another place Shelley is equally descriptive of the early stages of
Jewish history, and makes the following observations on the building
of the Temple of Jerusalem, which rearing high its thousand golden
domes to heaven, exposed its glory to the face of day:

   "Oh! many a widow, many an orphan cursed
    The building of that fane; and many a father,
    Worn out with toil and slavery, implored
    The poor man's God to sweep it from the earth,
    And spare his children the detested task
    Of piling stone on stone, and poisoning
         The choicest days of life,
         To soothe a dotard's vanity.
    There an inhuman and uncultured race
    Howl'd hideous praises to their demon--God;
    They rushed to war, tore from the mother's womb
    The unborn child--old age and infancy
    Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms
    Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were fiends,
    And what was he who taught them that the God
    Of nature and benevolence had given
    A special sanction to the trade of blood?
    His name and theirs are fading, and the tales
    Of this barbarian nation, which imposture
    Recites till terror credits, are pursuing
         Itself into forgetfulness."

With the enlightenment of the present century in every department of
knowledge, so has a corresponding degree of advancement been thrown on
the science of history, which Shelley only partially apprehended. An
enormous amount of new information is now to be gleaned from the
writings of Ewald, Fergusson, Bunsen, Deutsch, Max Muller,
Baring-Gould, Stanley, and other scholars of Orientation, which shows
that the Hebrews, like every other nation, passed through the various
phases of Nomadism and Pastoralism, to that of offensive and defensive
war. The same as other races, they came through the usual steps in
religious progress--Fetishism, Astrolatry, Polytheism and Monotheism.
During phases in their history they participated in the various forms
of tree and serpent, Phallic, or fire-worship. They had, as the
Talmud, Targums, and the Old Testament show, a knowledge of the
Egyptian or Chaldaic account of the creation and fall, the latter
still to be seen on the walls of the temple of Osiris at Philae. They
had much knowledge of the Cabala, through their great prophet Moses,
who was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and, like
Pythagoras, had been initiated into their mysteries, and who both
imparted the knowledge in part to their compatriots, on which they
both founded systems.

A great traveler, and most learned modern writer on Occultism, who
claims, on good grounds, to have been received into the ancient branch
of the Rosie Cross in the far East, Madame Helena P. de Blavatsky,
imparts the following particulars: "The first Cabala in which a mortal
man ever dared to explain the greatest mysteries of the universe, and
show the keys to those masked doors in the ramparts of Nature, through
which no mortal can ever pass without rousing dread sentries never
seen upon this side her wall, was compiled by a certain Simeon Ben
Jochai, who lived at the time of the second temple's destruction. Only
about thirty years after the death of this renowned Cabalist, his MSS.
and written explanations, which had till then remained in his
possession as a most precious secret, were used by his son, Rabbi
Elizzar, and other learned men. Making a compilation of the whole,
they so produced the famous work called _Zohar_ (God's splendor). This
book proved an inexhaustible mine for all the subsequent Cabalists,
their source of information and knowledge, and all more recent and
genuine Cabalas were all more or less carefully copied from the
former. Before that, all the mysterious doctrines had come down in an
unbroken line of merely oral tradition as far back as man could trace
himself on earth. They were scrupulously and jealously guarded by the
wise men of Chaldea, India, Persia and Egypt, and passed from one
initiate to another, in the same purity of form as when handed down to
the first man by the angels, students of God's great Theosophic

Many Free Thinkers, in their anxiety to crush everything belonging to
Christianity, often forget that, in throwing aside the Hebrew records as
utterly worthless, they are getting rid of one of the most ancient
literatures in the world. They also do not remember the history of a
peculiar nation, strangely preserved amid the fluctuations of time, the
purity and excellence of the Book of Job, the Psalms, and others which I
could name. They cast unmerited contempt on these compilations, when, at
the same time, they will throw themselves, with almost Fetish reverence,
and apparently rapt adoration, before the Institutes of Menu, the
Bhagvat-Geeta, the morals of Chaoung-Fou-Tszee, the Zend-Avesta, the
Rig-Veda, the Oracles of Zoroaster, the Book of the Dead, the Puranas,
the Shastras, and the like.

Well may the Sons of Israel be proud of their ancient descent. They
suffered through Christian persecutions uncomplainingly--the torture,
the rack, the _auto-da-fe_--and yet they bowed their heads in
submission to the will of Adonai. To-day they stand upright and
united, as in olden times. They have gained the victory over the false
disciples of the Nazarene, who, in days gone by, forgot their
erudition, their medical knowledge, their commercial activity, and
general culture. Pre-eminent in wealth and learning, they are found on
the lecture-platform, in the fields of literature and science, in the
councils of rulers, on the exchange, in the legislature--everywhere.
When Greece and Rome were in their infancy, this extraordinary people
was in middle age; and when our Saxon forefathers were in the lowest
stage of barbarism, they were in a state of high civilization; and
to-day, although scattered, they show a compact front, firmly knit in
the bonds of brotherly love, a model for Christians. The great reform
movement now agitating Judaism, as well as every other species of
political and metaphysical thought, will eventually aid to consolidate
all the races into one race--Humanity.

In order to make Christians prejudge Shelley it has been the wont of
theologians, as usual in fighting their antagonists, to cry up a false
issue, and to make their followers believe that he was rather more
than a mere hater of Jesus Christ, and of the teachings of that
religious and social reformer, in fact, that he was an infidel of
infidels. To have no misconceptions--for it has been stated that
Shelley changed his views on Christ, which after ten years' careful
study of his writings, I utterly deny, it should be thoroughly
understood that he regarded this pious Israelite in a duismal
aspect--as Christ the Man, and as Christ the God. I must not, while
here, forget that many advanced metaphysicians agree that they cannot
satisfactorily prove the historical existence of Christ, and that they
have to winnow through a vast amount of chaff to get at his presumed
philosophy, and the facts in his life, which like that of Buddha is
wrapped up in traditional fable.

For the Man Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's carnate son,
the mystical Essene and occultist, Shelley exceeded in love and
reverence many of the most earnest Christians, and in no theological
writings can there be discovered such beautiful sentiments concerning
the "The Regenerator of the World," and the "Meek Reformer," of whom
he speaks as contemplating that mysterious principle called God, the
fundamental of all good, and the source of all happiness, as every
true poet and philosopher must have done. It is impossible to turn to
any page of his works, where, in speaking of Christ, he fails in
this--he expatiates with as great fervor as Renan, Seeley, or
Strauss, on Christ's exposing with earnest eloquence, like all true
members of the brotherhood of Illuminati, to which he belonged, the
panic fears and hateful superstitions which have enslaved mankind for
ages, and extols

     "His extraordinary genius, the wide and rapid effects of his
     unexampled doctrines, his invincible gentleness and
     benignity, (and) the devoted love borne to him by his

For the God Christ, as depicted by the Sacerdotal order, he had the
greatest contempt. It was impossible for a mind constituted like his
to tamely rest contented with the incredible story forced on mankind's
intelligence, that the Supreme Power could or would for any wise
purpose be transformed into a dove, and re-enact the mythical part of
Jupiter with a Christian Leda, the Jew carpenter's wife, Mary, under
the disguise of a bird. Such a story and the theory on which it rests
Shelley summarised as follows:

     "According to this book, God created Satan, who, instigated
     by the impulses of his nature, contended with the Omnipotent
     for the throne of Heaven. After a contest for the empire, in
     which God was victorious, Satan was thrust into a pit of
     burning sulphur. On man's creation, God placed within his
     reach a tree whose fruit he forbade him to taste, on pain of
     death; permitting Satan, at the same time, to employ all his
     artifice to persuade this innocent and wondering creature to
     transgress the fatal prohibition.

     "The first man yielded to this temptation; and to satisfy
     Divine Justice the whole of his posterity must have been
     eternally burned in hell, if God had not sent his only Son
     on earth, to save those few whose salvation had been
     foreseen and determined before the creation of the world."

The hero of this fabulous episode, beneath which a great truth lies
hidden, the Christian Ahrimanes or Typhon, the Devil, as painted by
Milton, he considered a moral being, far superior to the God depicted
by the same author, and who, under the form of the second person of
the Christian Trinity, Shelley tells us of coming humbly,

    "Veiling his horrible God-head in the shape
    Of man, scorn'd by the world, his name unheard,
    Save by the rabble of his native town,
    Even as a parish demagogue. He led
    The crowd; he taught them justice, truth, and peace,
    In semblance; but he lit within their souls
    The quenchless flame of zeal, and blest the sword
    He brought on earth to satiate with the blood
    Of truth and freedom his malignant soul."

Elsewhere, in extension of the same, he puts the accompanying words in
the mouth of God the Father, to illustrate the doctrine of Christian

    "I will beget a son, and he shall bear
    The sins of all the world; he shall arise
    In an unnoticed corner of the earth,
    And he shall die upon a cross, and purge
    The universal crime; so that the few
    On whom my grace descends, those who are marked
    As vessels to the honor of their God,
    May credit this strange sacrifice, and save
    Their souls alive. Millions shall live and die,
    Who ne'er shall call upon their Saviour's name,
    But unredeem'd go to the gaping grave;
    Thousands shall deem it an old woman's tale,
    Such as the nurses frighten babes withal;
    These, in a gulf of anguish an I of flame,
    Shall curse their reprobation endlessly,
    Yet tenfold pangs shall force them to avow,
    Even on their beds of torment, where they howl,
    My honor and the justice of their doom.
    What then avail their virtuous deeds, their thoughts
    Of purity, with radiant genius bright,
    Or lit with human reason's earthly ray?
    Many are call'd but few will I elect."

The popular faith of Europe and America, which experience demonstrates
to this age has, even as a means of reforming humanity, been a
complete failure, Shelley correctly believed, had the same human
foundation and origin as that of other revealed theologies--he sums up
the proofs on which Christianity rests, miracles, prophecies, and
martyrdoms, with great clearness; proves the absurdity of the doctrine
of miracles, as taught by Christian writers, shows the falseness of
the so-called prophecies, even granting the utmost warping of the real
meaning of the Old Testament texts for Christian purposes, which he
asserted were to be compared unfavorably with the oracles of Delphos,
and points out that the Mohammedan dying for his prophet, or the
Hindoo immolating himself under the wheels of Juggernaut could be
cited equally as a proof of the divine origin of their faiths, as the
reputed martyrdoms of Christians could of theirs.

The development of Christianity, which was really founded by Paul, was
a subject to which Shelley devoted much attention--he tells us that

     "The same means that have supported every other belief, have
     supported Christianity. War, imprisonment, assassination,
     and falsehood; deeds of unexampled and incomparable
     atrocity, have made it what it is. The blood shed by the
     votaries of the God of mercy and peace, since the
     establishment of his religion, would probably suffice to
     drown all other sectaries now on the habitable globe. We
     derive from our ancestors a faith thus fostered and
     supported; we quarrel, persecute, and hate, for its
     maintenance. Even under a government which, while it
     infringes the very right of thought and speech, boasts of
     permitting the liberty of the press, a man is pilloried and
     imprisoned because he is a deist, and no one raises his
     voice in the indignation of outraged humanity."

The numerical majority of Christians--the Greek and Roman Catholic--are
as much pagans as their ancestors, the ancient Greeks and Romans were
exoterically. And why? Simply because on the break-up of the Roman
empire--like Mohammedanism afterwards, which was the natural reformation
and revolution from Christian image-worship--Christianity, in a natural
succession, and by fortuitous circumstances, took possession of the
executive, and placed on the seat of power a Christian Byzantine emperor
in lieu of a pagan. Basilicas, dedicated to Jupiter, Mercury, Adonis,
Venus and the deities of High Olympus, were re-dedicated to God the
Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, and the other
saints (or gods) of the Christian Pantheon. Statues therein were
rechristened, and the sacrificial altars were simply transferred for the
use of the eucharistical sacrifice. The vestal virgins became nuns of
the church; the _Sacerdotes_, her priests; the mysteries of Isis, her
Agapae. Her incense, her pictures, her image-worship, her holy water,
her processions, and her prodigies, too, all came from the same source.
Thus were the socialistic and communistic teachings, based on the
Philoic-Essenism of the Reformer of Nazareth, paganized, prostituted,
and entirely misrepresented. His life and labors were transformed from
the natural into what was considered by the vulgar the supernatural, and
all those who dared--like Hypatia, with thousands of other pious and
noble ancients--to deny his divinity, were sacrificed to this new
Moloch, set up by parricide Constantines, or adulterers of the
Theodosius caste. Thus through the ages, has the race suffered under
such murder, rapine, and lust, as never disgraced tolerant ancient
heathendom in the interests of paganism, even as recently happened in
Central America,[C] and would happen everywhere else, if priestcraft had
the power to act without restraint, so that, as Shelley says,

    "Earth groans beneath religion's iron age,
     And priests dare babble of a God of Peace--
     Even whilst their hands are red with guiltless blood,
     Murdering the while, uprooting every germ
     Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all,
     Making the earth a slaughter-house."

[Footnote C: I refer to the abominable outrages perpetrated a few
months ago at San Miguel, Panama, where popular preachers were forced
by the ecclesiastical powers to foment rebellion by violently
denouncing the State authorities, who had refused to allow a pastoral
of the Christian Bishop of San Salvador, hostile to the laws, to be
read in the churches. Having been put into a state of frenzy by one
Palacios, a canon of the cathedral, a fanatic mob revolted, liberated
prisoners, murdered generals in command, massacred numbers of the best
citizens, set fire to the city with kerosene, and destroyed over one
million dollars' worth of property. After this theological revolt had
been put down, passports, couched in the following terms, and sealed
with the seal of the bishopric, were found on the bodies of some of
these holy murderers;

"PETER.--Open to the bearer the gates of heaven, who has died for religion.

            (Signed), GEORGE, Bishop of San Salvador."

Similar attempts were made by the Christian hierarchy in Brazil
against the Masonic body; but, fortunately, the emperor, a liberal and
an enlightened savant, crushed the attempt under foot, and
unmistakably proved, to the satisfaction of humanity, that he was not
to be transformed into a nineteenth century Charles the Ninth or
Philip the Second, and act the cat's paw for Pio Nono, ex-carbonari
and recusant mason, to wreak his vengeance on the brethren whom he had

To those who will look down the ages, I would ask, is this picture
overdrawn? and further, to remember that in Shelley's own words:

     "Eleven millions of men, women and children have been killed
     in battle, butchered in their sleep, burned to death at
     public festivals of sacrifice, poisoned, tortured,
     assassinated and pillaged in the spirit of the religion of
     peace, and for the glory of the most merciful God."

Is it amazing that he should have written such a "highly wrought and
admirably sustained" tragedy as the "Cenci," founded on facts, and
which has been deemed by competent critics the first since
Shakspeare--that he should have brought forward, with vivid
delineation, the crimes of the priesthood--and that he should have
made us remember the terrors of the bloody wars on heretics and
heathen, in words such as these:

    "Yes! I have seen God's worshippers unsheathe
     The sword of His revenge, when grace descended,
     Confirming all unnatural impulses,
     To sanctify their desolating deeds;
     And frantic priests wave the ill-omen'd cross
     O'er the unhappy earth; then shone the sun
     On showers of gore from the upflashing steel
     Of safe assassination, and all crime
     Made stingless by the spirits of the Lord.
     And blood-red rainbows canopied the land.
     Spirit! no year of my eventful being
     Has pass'd unstain'd by crime and misery,
     Which flows from God's own faith. I've marked his slaves
     With tongues whose lies are venomous, beguile
     The insensate mob, and whilst one hand was red
     With murder, feign to stretch the other out
     For brotherhood and peace; and that they now
     Babble of love and mercy, whilst their deeds
     Are marked with all the narrowness and crime
     That freedom's young arm dare not yet chastise?"

Protestant Christians may urge that all this is not Christianity; if
it be not--for it is the record of the Church--I would ask, what is?
and where shall we find the history of Christianity for the fifteen
centuries before Luther's time? and where, to-day? Their predecessors
plucked the plumage from the dying bird of mythology, as they,
themselves, have robbed the liberal orchard of all its choicest fruits
and palmed them off as of their own growth. Protestants would not, I
dare say, now countenance the persecutions of the past, but yet, I
would tell them that their Protestantism has been a great mistake; and
that, at this moment, there is no unity among the opposers of
Catholicism, who are split into a thousand sects, wrangling for
superiority, like wolves over offal; and that their churches are
gradually converging toward Rationalism on the one hand, and Catholic
Sacerdotalism on the other; in regard to which last, the Historical
Roman Church--the only Christian body which presents a solid
phalanx--one must not be too iconoclastic, remembering that, in the
monastic houses and great ecclesiastical libraries we have had
conserved for us, although, perchance by accident, the records of all
the philosophy, all the jurisprudence, all the polity, all the
literature, and all the civilization of ancient Greece and Rome, that
remained from the Alexandrian library and pre-Christian times--the
mediaeval clerics were the great conservators of knowledge, which we
inherit directly from Europe; and we should be, therefore, grateful to
them equally with Mohammedanism, from which we received, through the
Crusaders and the Moors, the basis of nearly all science and luxury,
from Asia. There were, undoubtedly, many bad popes, men as bad as the
incestuous, and, according to the recent dogma, the infallible
Alexander Borgia; priests who are not all vile, but many nobler than
their system, acknowledge this with regret, and among whom there are
some whom I can reverence, such as John Henry Newman, for instance,
whose life would favorably compare with that of Shelley, or any
liberal. There have been popes, also, whose lives have been as pure,
as disinterested, and as virtuous as that of any stoic or epicurean.
We owe much to Sixtus the Fifth, founder of the Vatican Library, and
would-be regenerator of order in his temporal dominions; to Leo the
Great, whose patronage of the arts has sent us down the wondrous
statuary, painting, and works of genius, which are the admiration of
the world; and to Hildebrand, who brought together, in one harmonious
whole, the struggling elements of European society. It is well to
note, too, in order that I may not be misunderstood, that Catholicism
is better than savage Fetishism, and Rationalism in degree superior to
either; and, further, that Liberalism should only war with evil
principles, and not with men whom they are generally the exponents of
ignorantly, and to the best of their knowledge. Comtism[D]
acknowledges the fact that Christianity was not simply a mere advance
on, but where we shall only find the civilization of Europe as it was
during mediaeval times, and recognizes this most strongly, by placing
over fifty of these great geniuses and luminaries, popes, bishops, and
saints of the Catholic Church, in the Comtist Calendar, under the
sixth and seventh months dedicated to St. Paul or Catholicism, and
Charlemagne or Feudal Civilization respectively. We should thank the
followers of Comte for thus bringing to our notice what we might be
liable to occasionally forget in our bigotry and frequent

[Footnote D: Comtism, or Positivism is that casuistical system of
modern Atheism, founded by Auguste Comte, the Ignatius Loyola of
Materialism, and which that learned pantarchical madman strung
together in Esquirol's lunatic asylum. It is an insidious philosophy,
full of Jesuistry, and teaches a _soi-disant_ Religion which is
Ir-religion, a pseudo-God, which has no conceivable existence, and an
impossible immortality of the soul, ignoring a future state. The
present crusade of Comtism in our midst, with false colors flying can
be justly compared to that of St. Francois Xavier in Hindostan.]

In popularizing terms wrongly, lies much mischief. If the misapplied
term Christianity, signify the current notion, zeal for truth, the
good of mankind, and active virtue or Christism, the reputed precepts
of Christ, then Shelley taught that ethical system, and the so-called
Christian world which persecuted him, the opposite.

No one believed, better than Shelley, in the necessity of continuity,
and that all theological systems are a portion of the development of

It should likewise be remembered, that even in the grossest
superstition, as in the highest belief, the underlying aspiration,
veiled perhaps, under some beautiful myth, is a straining after the
pure and the good, and, as Shelley puts it:

     "All original religions are allegorical, or susceptible of
     allegory, and, like Janus, have a double face of false and

It should also be considered, that it is better not to interfere with
the faith of the ignorant, but let them remain in an exoteric
condition, until they are properly developed by sufficient education
and consequent intelligence. It is just as much the duty of advanced
thinkers not to tamper with the beliefs of men who are in an early
stage of progress, as it is not to put a flaming torch in the
possession of a lunatic, or a razor in the hands of a child.

Shelley, in his philosophy, accepted all this, with the full
consciousness that in the end truth would prevail--he yearned for the
time when priest-led slaves would

                     "Cease to proclaim that man
    Inherits vice and misery, when force
    And falsehood hang even o'er the cradled babe,
    Stifling with rudest grasp all natural good,"

and for that epoch when "the Mohammedan, the Jew, the Christian, the
Deist, and the Atheist will live together in one community, equally
sharing the benefits which arise from its associations, and united in
the bonds of charity and brotherly love."

With Shelley we can turn with delight to the gospels of the future, as
of the ancient past; and the ramifications of the Trinity of a truly
Rational Religion, Mature, Science, and Art, where we have, instead of
idle prayers, addressed to gross material idols, or the impossible
entities hitherto depicted in theological systems, a feeling of real
satisfaction in learning how to live rather than to die, and in
practicing virtue and benevolence for their own sakes, than for
improbable rewards in the unsatisfactory hereafter, enunciated from
the theological platform.

Like a true religionist, Shelley tells us that aspirations to "Madre
Natura," like the following, should be poured out in silent, grateful
communion with Omnipresence, and not in temples made by hands:

        Spirit of Nature! here!
    In this interminable wilderness
    Of worlds, at whose immensity
        Even soaring fancy staggers,
        Here is thy fitting temple.
            Yet not the slightest leaf
    That quivers to the passing breeze
        Is less instinct with thee;
        Yet not the meanest worm
    That lurks in graves, and fattens on the dead
        Less shares thy eternal breath.
        Spirit of Nature! thou!
    Imperishable as this scene,
    Here is thy fitting temple.

From such a soul-inspiring altar should praises like these be raised,
and with what sacred feeling would the pure worshipper revel "where
spirits live and dream--where all that is sweet in sound, or pure in
vision floats on the air, or passes dimly before the sight," for as
the late Professor J.G. Hoyt, in his essay on Shelley beautifully
points out--"To him everything was God, and God was everything. Every
place was peopled with forms of beauty and animated with living
intelligences. Hills and valleys, forests and fountains, were each
thronged with presiding deities--bright effluences from the Diving
that stirred within, and shone above the whole."

In leaving the first portion of my paper, I will make the following
quotation from a remarkable article on Shelley in the pages of the
_National Magazine_, which all minds unshackled, and free from
prejudice, must acknowledge to be correct in the main, and which
admirably sums up his efforts in metaphysical philosophy. Our
attention is called to the fact that we discover in all Shelley's
writings "a freer and purer development of what is best and noblest in
ourselves. We are taught in it to love all living and lifeless things,
with which in the material and moral universe we are surrounded--we
are taught to love the wisdom and goodness and majesty of the
Almighty, for we are taught to love the universe, his symbol and
visible exponent. God has given two books for the study and
instruction of mankind; the book of revelation and the book of nature.
In one at least of these was Shelley deeply versed, and in this one he
has given admirable lessons to his fellow-men. Throughout his
writings, every thought and every feeling is subdued and chastened by
a spirit of unutterable and boundless love. The poet meets us on the
common ground of a disinterested humanity, and he teaches us to hold
an earnest faith in the worth and the intrinsic Godliness of the soul.
He tells us--he makes us feel that there is nothing higher than human
hope, nothing deeper than the human heart; he exhorts us to labor
devotedly in the great and good work of the advancement of human
virtue and happiness, and stimulates us

    "To love and hear--to hope till hope creates
    From its own wreck the thing it contemplates."

It is observed by Shelley that

     "The exertions of Locke, Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire, Rousseau,
     and their disciples in favor of oppressed and deluded
     humanity, are entitled to the gratitude of mankind. Yet it
     is easy to calculate the degree of moral and intellectual
     improvement which the world would have exhibited, had they
     never lived. A little more nonsense would have been talked
     for a century or two; and perhaps a few more men, women and
     children burnt as heretics. We might not at this moment have
     been congratulating each other on the abolition of the
     Inquisition in Spain."

The vast impetus, which these extraordinary geniuses gave to freedom
in metaphysical strongholds, led to a corresponding degree of liberty
in the political and social relations.

Shelley was not one who

                          "beheld the woe
    In which mankind was bound, and deem'd that fate
    Which made them abject, would preserve them so."

but on the contrary was aware of the progressive character of the
race, and threw himself with all his heart and soul into the cause of
Republicanism, and never slackened in his efforts till death took him
from his work. His noblest endeavors were directed toward the cause of
suffering humanity, crushed under the weight of despotism; and his
tuneful lyre was ever struck in behalf of the Goddess of Freedom, to
whom, in that soul inspiring "Ode to Liberty," he offers chaplets of
the most glorious verse to rouse the nations from their apathy. He has
given us his reflections on the English Revolution, when Cromwell
crushed royalty under his feet in the person of the tyrant Charles
Stuart, and which, notwithstanding, rose again to befoul, in the
profligacy and debauchery of the second Carolian epoch; on the French
Revolution, when an intelligent people drove out a brood of vampires,
who had drained the blood of France too long, to be replaced by
atrocious demagogues, hateful priest-ridden Bourbons and a Napoleon
Bonaparte, the wholesale Jaffa poisoner, on whose death Shelley wrote
lines pregnant with republican feelings:

    "I hated thee, fallen tyrant! I did groan
    To think that a most ambitious slave,
    Like thou, shouldst dance and revel on the grave
    Of Liberty. Thou mightst have built thy throne
    Where it had stood even now; thou didst prefer
    A frail and bloody pomp, which time has swept
    In fragments towards oblivion. Massacre,
    For this I pray'd would on thy sleep have crept,
    Treason and Slavery, Rapine, Fear and Lust,
    And stifled thee, their minister. I know
    Too late, since thou and France are in the dust,
    That virtue owns a more eternal foe
    Than force or fraud; old custom, legal crime,
    And bloody Faith, the foulest birth of time."

With full knowledge of all this, he hopefully looked with loving eyes
toward this side of the Atlantic, to your magnificent constitution and
model Republic, built on the consolidated masonic bases of Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity, as did also the mass of my compatriots, who,
suffering under a more intolerant despotism, and unable to help
themselves, had no hand or voice in the attempted tyranny, from which
your forefathers properly rebelled one hundred years ago.

In "Hellas" we find Shelley advocating the cause of Greece, and it is
believed, that that poem assisted his friend Byron in the
determination to wield his sword in the cause of Grecian Liberty. "The
Revolt of Islam," his most mystical work, next to his early effort,
"St. Irvyne, or the Rosicrucian," is full of the most majestic and
sympathetic thoughts, and underlying its weirdness we have all those
elements "which essentially compose a poem in the cause of a liberal
and comprehensive morality, and with the view of kindling in the bosom
of his readers a virtuous enthusiasm for those doctrines of liberty
and justice, that faith and hope in something good, which neither
violence, nor misrepresentation, nor prejudice, nor the continual
presence and pressure of evil, can ever totally extinguish among

Can we wonder that Shelley could be else than Republican when he
regarded what Thackeray afterward summed up with biting irony, the
record of the reigning house of Great Britain, the mad Guelph
_Defenders of the Christian Faith_(_?_), the results of whose labors
have been corroborated by Greville and recent writers?

To what a line of monarchs, was Shelley called upon to give allegiance
and prostrate himself before, and can we be astonished that he thus
describes the state these abominable Hanoverians had "England in

    "An old, mad, blind, despised and dying king,--
       Princes the dregs of their dull race who flow
    Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring,--
       Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
    But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
       Till they drop blind in blood without a blow,--
    A people starved and stabbed in unfilled field,--
       An army which liberticide and prey
    Make as a two-edged sword to all who wield,--
       Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay--
    Religion Christless, Godless, a book sealed,--
    A Senate--time's worst statute unrepealed,--
       Are graves from which a glorious phantom may
    Burst to illumine our tempestuous day?"

To aid Republicanism, he threw himself with fervor into the cause of
the unhappy Caroline of Brunswick; and on her account he wrote "God
Save the Queen," in imitation of the British national anthem, and the
satirical piece entitled "Swellfoot, the Tyrant." In the following
words he attacked the prime minister, Lord Castleragh, whose
reactionary counsels were transforming England into a state analogous
to that of Russia to-day:

       "Then trample and dance, thou oppressor,
        For thy victim is no redressor!
        Thou art sole lord and possessor
    Of her corpses, and clods and abortions--they pave
        Thy path to a grave."

For the Lord Chancellor, Eldon, his hatred was intense; for, in
addition to the crime of robbing him of his children, this occupant of
the wool-sack, had made the seat of justice an appanage for his lust
of wealth and power. I have already quoted some verses on this
renowned lawyer, and will now present you with two others bearing on
the same subject:

   "Next came Fraud, and he had on,
    Like Lord Eldon, an ermine gown;
    His big tears (for he wept well)
    Turned to mill stones as they fell;

   "And _the little children_, who
    Round his feet played to and fro,
    Thinking every tear a gem,
    Had their brains knocked out by them."

In _Queen Mab_, Shelley has presented us with an unmistakable
portraiture of the "First Gentleman in Europe;" and in the following
lines, which I have taken from this poem, I have chosen two extracts,
descriptive of the origin of political despotism, and the reason of
its continuance:

   "Whence, thinkest thou, kings and parasites arose?
    Whence that unnatural line of drones, who heap
    Toil and unvanquishable penury
    On those who build their palaces, and bring
    Their daily bread? From vice, black, loathsome vice,
    From rapine, madness, treachery and wrong;
    From all that genders misery, and makes
    Of earth this thorny wilderness; from lust,
    Revenge and murder."

       *       *       *       *       *

   "Nature rejects the monarch, not the man;
    The subject, not the citizen; for kings
    And subjects, mutual foes, forever play
    A losing game into each other's hands,
    Whose stakes are vice and misery. The man
    Of virtuous soul commands not nor obeys.
    Power, like a desolating pestilence,
    Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience,
    Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
    Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame
    A mechanized automaton."

Shelley believed in reformation, not revolution; and in the "Revolt of
Islam" and his Irish pamphlets, we find him advocating a bloodless
revolution, except where force was used, and then force for force, if
compromise were hopeless. His idea was ever the foundation of
political systems founded on that of this country, or on the ancient
Greek Republic. He says:

     "The study of modern history is the study of kings,
     financiers, statesmen, and priests. The history of ancient
     Greece is the study of legislators, philosophers, and poets;
     it is the history of men compared with the history of
     titles. What the Greeks were was a reality, not a promise.
     And what we are and hope to be is derived, as it were, from
     the influence of these glorious generations."

Hoping almost against hope for the regeneration of his country, he
submitted to the people of England a proposal for putting to the vote
the great reform question, which was filling the public mind; but he
was conscious that in the then unprepared state of public knowledge
and feeling, universal suffrage was fraught with peril, and remarks
that although

     "A pure republic may be shown, by inferences the most
     obvious and irresistible, to be that system of social order
     the fittest to produce the happiness and promote the genuine
     eminence of man. Yet nothing can less consist with reason,
     or afford smaller hopes of any beneficial issue, than the
     plan which should abolish the regal and the aristocratical
     branches of our constitution, before the public mind,
     through many gradations of improvement, shall have arrived
     at the maturity which shall disregard these symbols of its

An essay has come down to us (unhappily unfinished), in which he
argues in favor of "Government by Juries." It is but a fragment; and
yet it shows us that his mind was ever in search of the right
solution of the question of proper legislation for the masses. William
Pitt, with enemies on every side, publicly acknowledged the
extraordinary genius which impelled the American revolution, and
admired the constitution of this country, as well as the masterly
character of the "Declaration of Independence." In unstinted praise
does he speak of the learning and remarkable public spirit of the
signers. With equal praise, I am confident, everyone must eulogize the
"Declaration of Rights," compiled by Shelley, which he put before his
countrymen sixty-three years ago. Therein he has given the whole of
his conception of the correct theory of government, and it cannot fail
to be read by advanced minds with feelings of genuine pleasure.

The race has suffered through its long martyrdom with the horrors of
war. One tyrant after another, to aid his accursed ambition or revenge
his spite upon a brother monarch, has cursed the unhappy earth and
humanity with the terrors of long-continued devastation and bloodshed.
With burning pen has Shelley depicted war in its most hideous aspects,
and by most beautiful comparisons has he shown us the sublimity of
peace. He points out, that

   "War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight,
    The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade."

He repudiates the notion that man, if left free, would wantonly heap
ruin, vice, or shivery, or curse his species with the withering blight
of war; and he shows us how

   "Kings, priests, and statesmen blast the human flower,
    Even in its tender bud; their influence darts
    Like subtle poison through the bloodless veins
    Of desolate society. The child,
    Ere he can lisp his mother's sacred name,
    Swells with the unnatural pride of crime, and lifts
    His baby sword even in a hero's mood.
    This infant arm becomes the bloodiest scourge
    Of devastated earth: whilst specious names,
    Learnt in soft childhood's unsuspecting hour,
    Serve as the sophisms with which manhood dims
    Bright reason's ray, and sanctifies the sword
    Upraised to shed a brother's innocent blood."

In other places he seems to prophetically point out what this generation
appears to comprehend--the judiciousness of arbitration--which in the
future will be the true panacea for this frightful affliction of

To the current Irish questions Shelley devoted much of his time, and
took up his residence in Dublin, to aid the independence of Ireland,
which might, under proper treatment, have been made one of the
brightest spots in the British Dominions; but the inhabitants of
which, owing to centuries of English misrule and oppression, had, in
certain parts, fallen into a condition not much superior to that of
those of Central Africa. When we contemplate what Ireland was before
the Norman and Saxon had set their feet there, the most prejudiced
antagonist of the Celtic race cannot but be astonished at the picture
presented to us after their usurpation. When Saxondom was in a state
of barbarism, this branch of the Celts was civilized. Aldfred, king of
the Northumbrian Saxons, has given us the experiences of a Saxon in
Ireland over a thousand years ago. In a poem of his own composing, he
tells us that he found "noble, prosperous sages," "learning, wisdom,
welcome, and protection," "kings, queens, and royal bards, in every
species of poetry well skilled. Happiness, comfort, and pleasure," the
people "famed for justice, hospitality, lasting vigor, fame," and
"long blooming beauty, hereditary vigor"--and the monarch concludes
his really curious account by saying:

   "I found in the fair, surfaced Leinster,
    From Dublin to Slewmargy,
    Long-living men, health, prosperity,
    Bravery, hardihood and traffic.

    I found from Ara to Gle,
    In the rich country of Ossory,
    Sweet fruit, strict jurisdiction,
    Men of truth, chess-playing.

    I found in the great fortress of Meath,
    Valor, hospitality, and truth,
    Bravery, purity, and mirth--
    The protection of all Ireland.

    I found the aged of strict morals,
    The historians recording truth--
    Each good, each benefit that I have sung,
    In Ireland I have seen."

Such is the statement of King Aldfred, and the Venerable Bede informs
us that in Ireland, Saxons and other foreigners were "hospitably
received, entertained and educated, furnished with books," etc., all

Up to the middle of the sixteenth century, I find, after careful study
in the Leabhar-Gabhala, the Annals of the Four Masters, of
Clonmacnoise, of Loch Ce, and other historical records, the same
continued apparent prosperity, but after the English took possession
of the larger portion of the country, only the records of anarchy,
despotism, and misery. Before the Reformation, or so long as the
English settlers remained within the pale, Ireland had been as happy
as Ultramontanism would allow, but from the accession of Elizabeth and
the consequent attempted enforcement of a new theology, against the
wishes of the people, a fearful succession of despotism is revealed.
To force Protestantism on the Irish, Catholicism was put down by the
most stringent laws--the torture chamber never empty, the scaffold
rarely free from executions, the seaports closed, and manufactures
forbidden to be exported; "black laws" of a most iniquitous character,
exceeding in ingenuity the devices of Tilly or Torquemada, placed on
the statute book. The punishment for being a recusant Catholic, or
Papist, was death, and it is a known fact that one Protestant
commander, Sir William Cole, of Fermanagh, made his soldiers massacre
in a short period "seven thousand of the vulgar sort," as Borlase
informs us. Elsewhere the English behaved in the same manner, and on
the authority of Bishop Moran it is asserted that the Puritans of the
North shot down Catholics as wild beasts, and made it their business
"to imbrue their swords in the hearts' blood of the male children."
Mr. and Mrs. S.C. Hall, in their valuable work on Ireland, state that
the possessors of the whole province of Ulster were driven out under
pain of mortal punishment from their homes and lands, without roof
over their heads, to be pent up in the most barren portion of
Connaught, where to pass a certain boundary line was instant death
without trial, and where it was commonly said, "There is not wood
enough to hang a man, water enough to drown him, nor earth enough to
bury him." One hundred thousand Catholics were sold as slaves to the
West Indian and North American planters by the public authority of the
Cromwellian government. Such was the way these Christians showed their
love for their fellow Christians, and can it be wondered that ever
since than there has been one continual succession of uprisings in
that most unhappy country? As the sinew of Ireland's people in this
country were driven by necessity, fleeing from the terrors of
starvation and insufficient existence at home, so were the best of the
race in the two previous centuries necessitated to fly to the European
continent, where we find them enrolled, for instance, in the service
of the King of France, and having revenge on their oppressors on the
field of Fontenoy. Elsewhere in every country of Europe do we discover
them or their descendants in the front ranks, and at the helm of
affairs--in Spain, O'Donnell and Prim; in France, Mac Mahon and Lally
Tollendal; in Austria, O'Taafe and Maguire.

When Shelley arrived in Dublin in 1812, he soon found himself joined
to the body of the Repeal party, which was endeavoring to obtain back
the parliament which had been stolen from them by British gold, less
than a quarter of a century before, and to have the Catholic
Emancipation Bill made law. He published two remarkable, political
pamphlets, in those days the only mode by which a statesman could
appeal to the people, in which it may be noticed how well he could
write in a popular style, to effectually serve a purpose. They also
prove his enthusiasm for the liberty of discussion, and how, although
he was always willing to treat on politics alone, he was preoccupied
with metaphysical questions which continually crop out.

In the first, which he called _An Address to the Irish People_, and
wrote during the first week of his residence in Ireland, he commences
by eulogizing the Irish, explains to them that all religions are good
which make men good, and shows that, being neither Protestant nor
Catholic, he can offer the olive branch to each. He then points out
the weak spots in each other's conduct in the past, the necessity of
toleration, and the crime of persecution--how different this was to
what Christ taught!

He endeavors to prove that arms should not be used--that the French
Revolution, although undertaken with the best intentions, ended badly
because force was employed. He recommends sobriety, regularity and
thought; for the Irish not to appeal to bloodshed, but to agitate
determinedly for Catholic emancipation and repeal, which should be
ensured through the use of moral persuasion. And concluding with an
appeal to Catholic and Protestant to bear with each other, using
mildness and benevolence, and to mutually organize a society which

     "Shall serve as a bond to its members for the purpose of
     virtue, happiness, liberty and wisdom by the means of
     intellectual opposition to grievances,"

he winds up by saying:

     "Adieu, my friends! May every sun that shines on your green
     island see the annihilation of an abuse, and the birth of an
     embryon of melioration! Your own hearts--may they become the
     shrines of purity and freedom, and never may smoke to the
     Mammon of Unrighteousness ascend from the polluted altar of
     their devotion."

In a postscript to this pamphlet, he urges

     "A plan of amendment and regeneration in the moral and
     political state of society, on a comprehensive and
     systematic philanthropy which shall be sure though slow in
     its projects; and as it is without the rapidity and danger
     of revolution, so will it be devoid of the time-servingness
     of temporizing reform;"

and quotes Lafayette:

     "A name endeared by its peerless bearer to every lover of
     the human race, 'For a nation to love liberty, it is
     sufficient that she knows it to be free; it is sufficient
     that she wills it.'"

His other Dublin pamphlet, _A Proposal for an Association of
Philanthropists_, consists of remarks of the same character as the
former, but he gives a summary of the French Revolution, which he
endeavors to clear from the slurs which had been cast thereon. The
information has come down to us through one of Shelley's biographers,
that he spoke at several meetings in Dublin. At the one in which he
made his first appearance in public he aroused a large assembly to
enthusiasm by his fervid eloquence, and yet, notwithstanding all his
efforts, his toleration unfortunately became the great stumbling-block
in his attempts on behalf of Ireland, for we learn that at another
meeting of patriots:

     "So much ill-will against the Protestants was shown, that
     Shelley was provoked to remark that the Protestants were
     fellow-Christians and fellow-subjects, and were therefore
     entitled to equal rights and equal toleration with the
     Papists. Of course, he was forthwith interrupted by savage
     yells. A fierce uproar ensued, and the denouncer of bigotry
     was compelled to be silent. At the same meeting, and
     afterward, he was even threatened with personal violence,
     and the police suggested to him the propriety of quitting
     the country."

By many it has been said that Shelley was unsuccessful in his
self-imposed task, but he was simply before his time, and no wonder,
when we remember the condition of Ireland at the time of his visit.

We know to-day that much of what he demanded has been conceded to
Ireland by liberal English governments. An alien Church has been
disestablished; public education, Catholic emancipation, and a good
deal more, has been given. In the late repeal movement, the young
Ireland party, the Fenian organization, and the present Home Rule
agitation, we find, as Shelley wished, Catholic and Protestant working
arm in arm, their colors being an admixture of orange and green--a
healthy sign.

Those who dislike this noble people--for the name is legion of those
who are fond of shouting "No Irish need apply"--I would recommend to
think calmly over Irish history, to remember the frightful outrages
put upon this generous, warm-hearted, and impulsive race for
centuries, and read up Froude, Mitchell, Goldwin-Smith, McGee, Moran,
and other Irish historians.

We know what the Irish are capable of, and that in Ireland, as here,
after a generation or two of education, the old theological belief
becomes by a gradual process less and less strong.

On September 6th, 1819, a red letter day was added to the English
calendar, through the slaughter by cavalry of a number of unarmed men,
who were agitating, peaceably, for the rights of labor. This is known
to posterity as the "Peterloo Massacre," and happened in Manchester,
on the site of the present superb Free Trade Hall, erected by the Free
Traders to commemorate the ultimate triumph of their cause over the
capitalists, who, in the manufacturing districts, were, until a few
years back, always aided by the military in putting down strikes or
demands for increase of wages.

At the time of this outrage Shelley was in Italy; in consequence of it
his attention was concentrated more than previously on the labor
question, and he immediately composed half a dozen in spiriting poems,
full of the fire of genius; in one of which he calls, with a voice of
thunder, to the


   "Men of England! wherefore plough
    For the lords who lay ye low?
    Wherefore weave, with toil and care,
    The rich robes your tyrants wear?


    Wherefore feed and clothe and save,
    From the cradle to the grave,
    Those ungrateful drones who would
    Drain your sweat--nay, drink your blood?


    Wherefore, bees of England, forge
    Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,
    That these stingless drones may spoil
    The forced produce of your toil?


    Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
    Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?
    Or what is't ye buy so dear
    With your pain, and with your fear?


    The seed ye sow, another reaps;
    The wealth ye find another keeps;
    The robes ye weave, another wears;
    The arms ye forge, another bears.


    Sow seed--but let no tyrant reap;
    Find wealth--let no impostor heap;
    Weave robes--let not the idle wear;
    Forge arms--in your defence to bear.


    Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;
    In halls ye deck, another dwells.
    Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see
    The steel ye tempered, glance on ye!


    With plough and spade, and hoe and loom,
    Trace your grave, and build your tomb,
    And weave your winding sheet, till fair
    England be your sepulchre!"

By far the finest composition brought out by this occasion was the
"Masque of Anarchy," a magnificent poem of ninety-one verses. "Anarchy"
he describes as riding "on a white horse,"[E] in alliance with
theology and statecraft, and whose admirers were "lawyers and

[Footnote E: This doubtless alludes to the House of Hanover, the
principal charge on whose armorial bearings is a white horse.]

After a series of powerful delineations, he describes slavery and
freedom, justice, wisdom, peace and love, in exquisite terms. Then he
turns to their lamps--science, poetry, and thought, which make secure
"the lot of the dwellers in the cot."

He advises--That, on some spot of English ground, should be convened a
great assembly of the fearless and the free, who shall come from the
bounds of the English coast, and from every hut, village, and town,
where, for other's misery and their own, they live, suffer, and moan.

    "From the workhouse and the prison,
     Where, pale as corpses newly risen,
     Women, children, young and old,
     Groan for pain, and weep for cold;

    "From the haunts of daily life,
     Where is waged the daily strife
     With common wants and common cares,
     Which sow the human heart with tares."

When face to face with their oppressors, no force should be used, but

           "strong and simple words,
    Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
    And wide as targes let them be,
    With their shade to cover ye."

The description of the Peterloo massacre which follows, is one of the
finest pieces of composition in the language, and the poem concludes
by calling the "Men of England, Heirs of Glory, Heroes of Unwritten
Story," to

    "Rise like lions after slumber
     In unvanquishable NUMBER!
     Shake your chains to earth, like dew
     Which in sleep had fall'n on you;

In a pamphlet, written ostensibly on the death of the Princess
Charlotte, he calls attention to the fact that three men had been
executed in the interests of the "big-hearted and generous
capitalists," of whom we now-a-days hear so much from their interested
admirers, but whose wings are now fortunately clipped.

Shelley considered that there was no real wealth but man's labor, and
that speculators pandering to selfishness, the twin-sister of debased
theology, took a pride in the production of useless articles of luxury
and ostentation. Imbued with this spirit, a man of wealth imagines
himself a patriot when employing laborers on the erection of a
mansion, or a woman of fashion indulging in luxurious dress, fancies
she is aiding the laboring poor. He observes of such instances as

     "Who does not see that this is a remedy which aggravates,
     whilst it palliates the countless diseases of society? The
     poor are set to labor--for what? Not the food for which they
     famish; not the blankets for want of which their babes are
     frozen by the cold of their miserable hovels; not those
     comforts of civilization without which civilized man is far
     more miserable than the meanest savage, oppressed as he is
     by all its insidious evils, within the daily and taunting
     prospect of its innumerable benefits assiduously exhibited
     before him; no, for the pride of power, for the miserable
     isolation of pride, for the false pleasures of the hundredth
     part of society."

Labor is required for physical, and leisure for moral improvement.
What is wanted, he considered, is a state to combine the advantages of
both and have the evils of neither. In fact, any unnecessary labor
which deprives the race of intellectual gain, and all times not
required for the manufacture of commodities which are necessary for
the subsistence of humanity, should be occupied only in mental or
physical culture.

Shelley lays down as a principle that commerce is the venal
interchange of what human art or nature yields, and which should not
be purchased by wealth, but demanded by want. Labor and commerce, when
badly regulated, scatter withering curses and open

    "The doors to premature and violent death,
     To penury, famine, and full-fed disease."

Wealth was a living God, who rules in scorn, and whom peasants,
nobles, priests, and kings blindly reverence, and by whom everything
is sold--the light of heaven, earth's produce, the peace of outraged
conscience, the most despicable things, every object of life, and even
life itself.

In a proper condition of society, which should be strictly
co-operative, there would necessarily be no pauperism, and

    "No meditative signs of selfishness,
     No jealous intercourse of wretched gain,
     No balancings of prudence, cold and long;
     In just and equal measure all is weighed;
     One scale contains the sum of human weal.
     And one the good man's heart."

The fruits of Shelley's enunciations on the labor and capital
questions, and the school of political economists to which he
belonged, have made wondrous progress. The world is beginning to see
that labor has the unrestricted right of coalition, that there should
be only a standard day's work, according to the wants of society, with
prohibition of labor for at least one day in the week; that
legislation is required for the protection of the life and health of
the working man, and that mines, factories, and workshops should be
strictly controlled by sanitary officers selected by labor; that no
children's work should be permitted, or women's, which may be
considered unhealthy; that prison work should be regulated, and that
laborers' co-operative and benevolent societies should be administered
independently of the State.

Liberals must learn from their enemies, must organize and let the
ramifications of unshackled thought spread through the lands, and
must, above all, conserve the control of education. Whereever there is
a church or chapel, let there be beside it a hall or club, in which
shall be inculcated the simple doctrines of a pure, integralised

On the statute book of England there yet remains a law directed
against the freedom of the press and discussion; to even discuss the
question of the divinity of Christ was considered blasphemy, and the
person so offending was punished most severely by the criminal laws.
At the present time this wretched remnant of the dark ages is
practically a dead letter. The friends of Shelley suffered from this
most intolerant spirit. Keats, it is believed by many, was wounded
unto death for daring to speak on behalf of freedom, and we are given
glimpses in the _Adonais_ of his feelings on the subject; Leigh Hunt
and his brother were imprisoned and fined for the same; the publisher
of the pirated edition of Shelley's _Queen Mab_ was cast into Newgate;
Eaton, a London bookseller, had been sentenced by Lord Ellenborough to
a lengthened incarceration, for publishing Paine's _Age of Reason_,
and hundreds of others suffered similarly. The abominable circumstance
of Eaton's conviction caused great uproar; the Marquis of Wellesley,
in the House of Lords, stated it was "contrary to the mild spirit of
the Christian religion; for no sanction can be found under that
dispensation which will warrant a government to impose disabilities
and penalties upon any man on account of his religious opinions."
Shelley, who was then only nineteen years of age, and had himself
suffered from bigotry at Oxford, threw himself publicly into the
controversy with great vehemence, with "a composition of great
eloquence and logical exactness of reasoning, and the truths which it
contains on the subject of universal toleration are now generally
admitted." Lady Shelley, from whom I have just quoted, says that her
husband's father, "from his earliest boyhood to his latest years,
whatever varieties of opinion may have marked his intellectual course,
never for a moment swerved from the noble doctrine of unbounded
liberty of thought and speech. To him the rights of intellect were
sacred; and all kings, teachers, or priests who sought to circumscribe
the activity of discussion, and to check by force the full development
of the reasoning powers, he regarded as enemies to the independence of
man, who did their utmost to destroy the spiritual essence of our

To Shelley's able advocacy, and to his appeals against the stamping
out of political and social truths opposed to custom, particularly the
celebrated letter to Lord Ellenborough, it cannot be denied that the
toleration now enjoyed in Great Britain owes much.

Shelley was one of those who most earnestly deprecated punishment by
death. In his early years, if a man stole a sheep, or shot a hare,
committed forgery or larceny, was a recusant catholic or a wizard,
there was, on his conviction, but one penalty meted out--death. To
Shelley's sensitive nature, this painted and tinged everything around
him with an aspect of blood. In one of his political pamphlets,
summoning all his energies, he depicts in fearful colors, the depraved
example of an execution--how it brutalized the race, and how it was
the duty of man not to commit murder on his fellow-man, in the name of
the laws. The abolition of the first of these, he stated that
reformers should propose on the eve of a great political change. He
considered that the punishment by death harbored revenge and
retaliation, which legislation should be the means of eradicating, and
he urged that

     "Governments which derive their institutions from the
     existence of circumstances of barbarism and violence, with
     some rare exceptions, perhaps, are bloody in proportion as
     they are despotic, and form the manners of their subjects to
     a sympathy with their own spirit."

In England, as in many other countries, capital punishment is now only
employed on conviction of murder or high treason. In Spain and Italy
it was totally abolished, on the foundation of their young republics.
Thus have the labors of Shelley, and other reformers for the good of
humanity, aided to extinguish crime made law.

Cruelty to animals was another reform agitated by Shelley. His love
for the animal kingdom and hatred of blood-shedding, was so great,
that he personally carried the passion to such an extent as to become
a vegetarian, and endeavored to induce others to be the same, in an
admirable argument of some length in the notes to "Queen Mab."

The subject of the Rights of Women is approached and expatiated on,
perhaps learnedly, by individuals utterly incompetent to deal with the
question. Such persons, frequently armed with Sunday-school
platitudes, believing in the inferiority of women, consequent on the
supposed fall, and doubtless with heads paved with good intentions, as
a certain place is said to be, do more harm than good to the cause.
This is not wanted, and is worse than useless. To found a real
republic on a solid basis, it can be legislated for only by removing
the ancient landmarks by a gradual process, and coming face to face
with a new order of things, without bias or prejudice borrowed from
the past. Thus that noble woman, Mary Wolstonecraft, as well as John
Stuart Mill, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and numerous others, have treated
this all-important question, which cannot be shirked by the race. True
reformers ask: What was the condition of the sex in the past? Look
down the revolving cycles and note. In ancient Egypt, woman in the
upper classes was almost the equal of man, and although, like
Cleopatra, she could wield the sceptre, yet in the lower her condition
was wretched; in Asia, a mere slave and object of Zenana lust; in
savagedom, a beast of burthen. In Rome and Greece, Shelley shall tell
the story:

     "Among the ancient Greeks the male sex, one half of the
     human race, received the highest cultivation and refinement;
     whilst the other, so far as intellect is concerned, were
     educated as slaves, and were raised but few degrees in all
     that related to moral or intellectual excellence above the
     condition of savages.... The Roman women held a higher
     consideration in society, and were esteemed almost as the
     equal partners with their husbands in the regulation of
     domestic economy and the education of their children."

Regard the incidents of a Jewish wooing, in which the woman had no
voice, and of the marriage, the infernal punishments for adultery, and
the accounts of the seraglios of the Hebrew kings equalled only by
Turkish harems, and some of the passages in the inspired Book of
Numbers, for instance, in which the horrible truth is frequently too
evident, and only equalled by the fact that after lust had played out
its passion, unfortunate women, taken in captivity, could, by divine
command, be turned adrift to rot or starve. In Christian Feudalism we
find nothing much better. If I have read history correctly, and I may
be wrong--the upper-grade women in mediaeval Europe, who were adored,
not with love, but with lascivious and sensual worship, by Christian
knights and troubadours, and who, like criminals to the halter, were
forced, rarely with their own consent, into the arms of men they
disliked or had never seen, or were placed in conventual houses
against their wills. Of the lower-grade women, I need only offer one
example--and that is sufficient to show their awful degradation; the
French and German feudal lord had the right of _cuissage_, or, in
plain English, the embraces of his serf-retainer's bride on the
marriage night.

Shelley considered that in consequence of all this, men had forgotten
their duties to the other sex, and that even at the time at which he
lived woman was still in great social bondage, improperly educated,
tied down by restrictions, and refused participation in the higher
positions of labor. He called not in vain, against the inequality of
the sexes, and asserted that woman's position must and should be
altered by forgetting the tyranny of the past, and, be determined, for
the good of the future.

We should be rejoiced that eloquent exponents of the abominations of
former ages, the evils of the present, and the proper position of the
future, are now hard at work. The "Women's Rights" party is up
teaching men their duties on every continent; in distant India, the
Brahmo Somaj is battling, not vainly, against the horrors of the
Zenana, and in conservative England, which has been stormed, and the
forlorn hope is now taking possession of the citadel; everywhere it is
the same. Yes, woman, thanks to Shelley and the reformers, is about to
be emancipated and free; free to earn her living, how, where, and when
she likes; the equal of man, who shall no longer play such fantastic
tricks as he did in the past, in proof of his dignity and
superiority. The fourth of July is not long past and gone; I trust
that in the dim vista of the future, our descendants will keep a
national holiday, or a day to be set apart on which shall be
celebrated the "Declaration of the Independence of Women," and then,
perhaps, Shelley's description of woman in the "Episychidion" will be
more apparent:

    "Seraph of heaven! too gentle to be human,
     Veiling beneath the radiant form of woman
     All that is unsupportable in thee,
     Of light, and love, and immortality."

I now approach a very delicate portion of my essay: the question of
the marriage relation. By many it is scouted with much virtuous
indignation, but I conceive that the liberal, who, like too many, dare
not discuss this matter in its broadest and widest aspects, should be
stigmatized as unworthy of the name. Christ is reported to have urged
the admirers of his ethical system to take up their cross and follow
him, leaving father, mother, wife, children, and all they may
have--thus Shelley acted, and it bears as equally pregnant lessons to
free thinkers as it did to those Syrian fishermen. Oh, that liberals
had as much "faith" in the truth, in the efficacy of their cause, as
the first Christians are said to have had in the teachings of that
Christ whom they regarded not as a Divinity, but as a son of God, as
we to-day are sons of God, of the most high! Oh, that we could carry
that "faith" into our beliefs, and the determination to be stopped at
no obstacle which may bar the progress of truth, which must conquer in
the end!

The favorite theme in the writings of Shelley is "Eros," love of the
individual, of the race, of nature, and in this he follows Christ, in
whose system of Philosophy, Love is ever the pre-dominating idea which
permeates mankind with its beneficial effects, and will, when the
bastard tinsel with which the truths of the Nazarene are hidden, be
replaced by that pure gold which it is impossible to trace in the
enunciations of any previous philosopher. This subject is always
present to Shelley, and he thus appeals in one of his poems to the

    "Great Spirit, deepest Love!
     Which rulest and dost move
     All things which live, and are."

In another place he inquires--

     "What is love? Ask him who lives, what is life? Ask him who
     adores, what is God?"

And in the same essay he describes love as

     "The bond and sanction which connects man with man, and with
     everything which exists."

Elsewhere he points out that the attainment of love

     "urges forth the power of man to arrest the faintest shadow
     of that without the possession of which there is no rest nor
     respite to the heart over which it rules, (and that) so soon
     as this want or power is dead, man becomes the living
     sepulchre of himself, and what yet survives is the mere husk
     of what once he was."

Of such was Shelley's philosophy of love, and I would ask if it be
conceivable that the abominable calumny prompted by theological virus,
that he kept a seraglio, as his friend Leigh Hunt informs us was
reported, had any real existence. Shelley was too pure for any such
idea as that of promiscuous sexual intercourse to be acted on by
himself; his life, which lies open before us, refutes the diabolical
invention. The fact was, that at the early age of nineteen he married
Harriet Westbrook, the daughter of a retired tavern keeper, a woman
without soul and that congeniality of disposition which a man
overflowing with the pulses of genius should have chosen. After a
wretched existence without intellectual sympathy, and on the advice of
her father, who did not agree with his ideas on religion, they parted
by mutual consent, never to meet again. Shelley about this period met
his second wife, a woman of the highest powers of mind and charm of
body, Mary Wolstonecraft Godwin, the authoress of _Frankenstein_ and
other works, daughter of William Godwin, the novelist, and author of
_Political Justice_ and Mary Wolstonecraft, the gifted writer of _The
Rights of Women_. We are told by Lady Shelley that, "To her, as they
met one eventful day in St. Pancras churchyard, by her mother's grave,
Bysshe, in burning words, poured forth the tale of his wild past, how
he had suffered, how he had been misled, and how, if supported by her
love, he hoped, in future years, to enroll his name with the wise and
good, who had done battle for their fellow-men and been true through
all adverse storms to the cause of humanity. Unhesitatingly she placed
her hand in his, and linked her fortune with his own."

After the death of his first wife, on the solicitation of Godwin, who
was anxious for the landed interests of his grandchildren, a _legal_
union was performed. After looking on this episode, in the most
charitable manner, I am confident the sternest moralist cannot but
"acknowledge that the passionate love of a boy should not be held a
serious blemish, in a man whose subsequent life was exceptional in
virtue and beneficence."

Believing, as I have explained, in the divinity of love, Shelley
regarded everything in the relation of the sexes with the most intense
horror, which was not consistent with "freedom;" and by which he most
certainly did not signify the license attributed by many. When he
looked around and saw the withering blast of forced marriages,
conjugal hatred and prostitution, can we be astonished at his
passionately exclaiming:

    "Even love is sold; the solace of all woe
     Is turned to deadliest agony, old age
     Shivers in selfish beauty's loathing arms,
     And youth's corrupted impulses prepare
     A life of horror from the blighting bane
     Of commerce, whilst the pestilence that springs
     From unenjoying sensualism, has filled
     All human life with hydra-headed woes?"

In a most important essay bearing on this passage, which should be
widely studied, he observes:

     "Love is inevitably consequent upon the perception of
     loveliness. Love withers under constraint; its very essence
     is liberty; it is compatible neither with obedience,
     jealousy, nor fear; it is then most pure, perfect, and
     unlimited, where its votaries live in confidence, equality,
     and unreserve."

He then urges:

     "A husband and wife ought to continue so long united as they
     love each other. Any law which should bind them to
     cohabitation for one moment after the decay of their
     affection, would be a most intolerable tyranny, and the most
     unworthy of toleration; and there is nothing _immoral_ in
     this separation, for love is free. To promise forever to
     love the same woman, is not less absurd than to promise to
     believe the same creed."

He states categorically that

     "The present system of constraint does no more, in the
     majority of instances, than make hypocrites or open enemies.
     Persons of delicacy and virtue, unhappily united to those
     whom they find it impossible to love, spend the loveliest
     season of their lives in unproductive efforts to appear
     otherwise than they are, for the sake of the feelings of
     their partners or the welfare of their mutual offspring; and
     that the early education of their children takes its color
     from the squabbles of the parents. They are nursed in a
     systematic school of ill-humor, violence, and falsehood, and
     the conviction that wedlock is indissoluble holds out the
     strongest of all temptations to the perverse. They indulge
     without restraint in acrimony and all the little tyrannies
     of domestic life, when they know that their victim is
     without appeal. If this connection were put on a rational
     basis, each would be assured that habitual ill-temper would
     terminate in separation, and would check this vicious and
     dangerous propensity."

He conceived from the re-arrangement of the marriage relation by
greater facility of divorce than was to be had sixty years ago,[F]

     "A fit and natural arrangement would result."

[Footnote F: It should be remembered that in Shelley's day divorce was
obtainable by the most wealthy only, at an enormous cost and by a
lengthy process, precluding the slightest opportunity for the middle
and poorer classes to avail themselves thereof.]

Shelley by no means asserts that the intercourse would be promiscuous,
but on the contrary believed that from the relation of parent to child
a union is generally of longer duration, placed on such a footing, and
marked above all others with generosity and self-devotion.

We are on the eve of great religious changes, which must consequently
disturb all the social relations. Historical Christianity still holds
to her old text, of marriage being a sacrament, and therefore
indissoluble. The founder of Comtism developing this dogma, urges that
after the death of either husband or wife the duty of the survivor is
not to re-marry. Great Britain and many of the American States have
conceded greater freedom in divorce, so as to carry out in a large
measure the arguments of Shelley, while the theory of what is termed
the "sovereignty of the individual" is propounded by the leaders of
the free love party, as a cure for the present and former

Whatever may be the outcome of the present widespread discussions I
know not, but I have belief in the supreme intelligence and in
humanity, and am certain that neither the home nor the race will
suffer, but that out of all this agitation will come more refined
sentiment and truer morality.

I must now conclude. It has been said that there are two things in
which the professors of all theologies have agreed-"To persecute all
other sects, and plunder their own." Shelley, who subscribed to no
theology, was persecuted by them during his entire life, but he ever
forgave his persecutors, who he was confident acted through ignorance
of his real motives, and he tells us:

     "I have thought to appeal to something in common and
     unburden my inmost soul to them. I have found my language
     misunderstood, like one in a distant and savage land. The
     more opportunities they have afforded me for experience, the
     wider has appeared the interval between us, and to a greater
     distance have the points of sympathy been withdrawn. With a
     spirit ill-fitted to sustain such proof, trembling and
     feeble through its tenderness, I have everywhere sought
     sympathy, and have found only repulse and disappointment."

Do _we_ misunderstand him? I think not, and William Howitt, a
representative of the people, shall answer for them: "For liberty of
every kind he was ready to die. For knowledge, and truth, and
kindness, he desired only to live. He was a rare instance of the union
of the finest moral nature and the finest genius. If he erred, the
world took ample revenge upon him for it, while he conferred in return
his amplest blessing on the world. It was long a species of heresy to
mention his name in society; that is passing fast away. It was next
said that he never could become popular, and therefore the mischief he
could do was limited. He _has_ become popular, and the good he is
likely to do will be unlimited. The people read him, though we may
wonder at it, and they comprehend him."

This estimate is not overrated, for, having confidence in his mission
to humanity, he was fortified by the belief of his existing as an
indestructible portion of interminable nature and the universal mind,
which in all high intelligences lives through the ages, not only in
the individual consciousness of the spirit, but in that immortality of
soul or mind, which lives in the race.

He hated the superstitions of Christian Fetishism and tyranny over the
intellect, but loved Christ and the other philosophers with a genuine
affection; he loved humanity, and was ever fond of examining its
highest phases, as, for instance, through the doctrines of perfect
equality in the sexes--yet he recognised that sudden changes were
prejudicial before sufficient progress had been accomplished. "To
destroy, you must replace." Justice he considered the sole guide,
reason and duty the only law. His morality was not that of pharasaical
tartuffes, nor of prudish knickerbockers, who with wide phylacteries,
sit in the high places to be seen of men. He only combatted evil
principles and fought hard in favor of good.

He has been quoted as being too transcendental; he may be to dullards
with imperfect reasoning faculties, or theologians, who only see
through fanatical and green-monsterish spectacles, but to men who
have a _live_ philosophy equally adapted to modern as well as ancient
thought, he is as clear as the noon-day sun. All that is required, to
comprehend Percy Bysshe Shelley, is integralism of that high order
which has ever believed in the ultimate perfectibility of human
nature, and looked "forward to a period when a new golden age would
return to earth, when all the different creeds and systems of the
world would be amalgamated into one, crime disappear, and man, freed
from shackles, civil and religious, bow before the throne 'of his own
awless soul,' or 'of the power unknown,'" whose veil it is the
ambition of theosophy to raise for humanity, and remain the
"inscrutable" no longer.

I have completed my task, and with humility I make the statement,
knowing that before me are many who could have performed it as
completely as I have crudely. I look upon my essay, in which I have
treated my subject popularly, with intention, as a beacon, whence a
little light may be shed dimly, hoping that others, better qualified,
will bring you face to face with the full rays.

I have shown you Shelley in his writings, his life and poetry, only
where they trench on his philosophical and reform ideas--I could have
related to you much about his inflexibly moral, generous, and
unselfishly benevolent character--his pure, gentle and loveable
existence--his utter abnegation of self, learnt from the hermetic
philosophy, and his despisal of transitory legislative honors--how he,
the heir to thousands of dollars annually, and a baronetage, threw
aside pecuniary considerations for love of the truth and
benevolence,[G] and how, therefrom, he was often nearly dying of
hunger in the streets. I could have treated him simply as a poet, full
of experienced impetuosity, subtlety of expression, and precision of
verse, but I have aimed to exhibit one side of his immortality to you,
which lives in and by the race, for humanity.

[Footnote G: "In his heart there was nothing depraved or unsound;
those who had opportunities of knowing him best, tell us that his life
was spent in the contemplation of nature, in arduous study, or in acts
of kindness and affection. A man of learning, who shared the poverty
so often attached to it, enjoyed from him at one period a pension of a
hundred pounds sterling a year, and continued to enjoy it till fortune
rendered it superfluous. To another man of letters, in similar
circumstances, he presented fourteen hundred pounds; and many other
acts like these are on record to his immortal honor. Himself a frugal
and abstemious ascetic, by saving and economising, he was able to
assist the industrious poor--and they had frequent cause to bless his
name."--_National Magazine._]

Cut short in the youth of manhood, who can tell what Percy Bysshe
Shelley might, not have become, living for us even perhaps at this
moment? What need we care, though, for does not the "Empire of the
dead increase of the living from age to age?" Shelley's terrestrial
body may have been cast up by the waves on the lonely Italian shore,
in sweet companionship with the souls of Keats and Sophocles. His
mundane elements, purified through the fire, may have returned to
their kindred elements, and been

               "made one with Nature, where is heard
      His voice in all her music, from the moan
    Of thunder to the song of night's sweet bird;
      He is a presence to be felt and known,
    In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,
      Spreading itself where'er that Power move,
    Which has withdrawn his being to its own;
      Which wields the world with never-wearied love,
      Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above."

His cinereal ashes may lie beneath the cypresses, near the dust of the
"Adonais" of his muse, under Roman sod, and where he said:

     "To see the sun shining on its bright grass, and hear the
     whispering of the wind among the leaves of the trees, which
     have overgrown the tomb of Cestius, and the soil which is
     stirring in the sun-warm earth, and to mark the tombs,
     mostly of women and young children, who, buried there, we
     might, if we were to die, desire a sleep they seem to

All this may have happened, but why need we repine, for as eternal as
the sea, as infinite as Nature, and as the phoenix, he revivifying
lives, transmigrated and transfused into humanity, for with certainty
we know that

    "He lives, he wakes--'tis Death is dead, not he."

Immortal amid immortals, his spirit in communion with the Most High,
fully conscious in its individuality--immortal amid mortals, his place
need never be refilled, for he stands betwixt the old and the
new--immortal amid the sons of song, do poets still breathe his divine
afflatus--immortal amid philosophers and the regenerators of the race,
with Buddha, with Moses, with Socrates, with Mahomet, with
Christ--immortal amid the noble, the virtuous, the good, the
wise--immortal as when living here, for from spirit-spheres we hear
him bidding us repeat:

   "Nor let us weep that our delight is fled
     Far from these carrion-kites that scream below;
    He wakes or sleeps with the enduring dead;
     Thou canst not soar where he is sitting now.
    Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow
     Back to the burning fountain whence it came,
    A portion of the Eternal, which must glow
     Through time and change, unquenchably the same,"

       *       *       *       *       *

   "Peace! peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep--
     He hath awaken'd from the dream of life--
   'Tis we, who, lost in stormy visions, keep
     With phantoms an unprofitable strife;
    And in mad trance, strike with our spirits' knife,
     Invulnerable nothings!"


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Percy Bysshe Shelley as a Philosopher and Reformer" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.