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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Shelley's Vegetarianism

Full text of "Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Monograph"


H. S. SALT Author of'A Shelley Primer," and "Literary Shelley'



This sketch of the chief scenes of Shelley's life has been written with the desire of exhibiting his opinions and actions as they appear to a sympathetic, instead of a hostile or indifferent, observer. Shelley's writings are now held in great and growing esteem by a considerable number of earnest thinkers; yet it so happens that none of his biographers, with the possible exception of Leigh Hunt, have been heartily in accord with his social and moral doctrines, however sincerely they have admired his character and poetical genius. The inevitable consequence has been that Shelley's story has seldom or never been told in such a manner as to do justice to the real significance of his ethical creed, and the principles by which his conduct was directed.

Assuming that most readers are acquainted with at least the main outline of Shelley's life, I have employed what has been styled the "scenical" method of narration, omitting, as far as possible, the dry details of dates and places, and avoiding the mass of controversial matter with which the whole subject is unfortunately over-laid. Nor have I scrupled, in dealing with the conflicting and never wholly reliable accounts left us by Hogg, Peacock, Medwin, and Trelawny, to use my own judgment in accepting some statements and rejecting others. "The rule of criticism," says Shelley himself in one of his prose essays, "to be adopted in judging of the life, actions, and words of a man who has acted any conspicuous part in the revolutions of the world, ought not to be narrow. We ought to form a general image of his character and doctrines, and refer to this whole that distinct portions of action and speech by which they are diversified. I have tried to keep this principle in view in the following study of Shelley's life.


I. The Elf-child

II. The Education op a Gentleman — at Eton

III. The Education of a Gentleman — at Oxford

IV. Marriage without Love

V. At War with Intolerance

VI. Darkness before Dawn

VII. Love without Marriage

VIII. Work at Marlow

IX. Wanderings in Italy

X. Life at Pisa

XI. Life at Pisa (continued)

XII. The Storm at Spezzia

XIII. "Cor Cordium"

XIV. Epilogue



Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom.
An angel writing in a book of gold : —
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold.
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" — The vision rais'd its head.
And with a look made all of sweet accord,
Answer'd, "The names of those who love the Lord.
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low.
But cheerly still ; and said, "I pray thee then.
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light.
And show'd the names whom love of God hath bless'd.
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Leigh Hunt

Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.