Percy Bysshe Shelley

SHELLEY was born at Field Place, near Horsham, in Sussex, August 4, 1792; and his eventful life came suddenly to a sad termination. He had gone out in a boat to Leghorn to welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy, and while returning on the eighth of July, 1822, the boat sank in the Bay of Spezia, and all on board perished. When his body floated to shore a volume of Keats' poetry was found open in Shelley's coat pocket. The remains were reduced to ashes and deposited in the Protestant burial ground at Rome, near those of a child he had lost in that city.

His father was a member of the House of Commons. The family line could be traced back to one of the followers of William of Normandy. Thus in noble blood Shelley was more fortunate than most of his brother poets, considering the estimate that England placed upon the distinction of caste. He had all the advantages of wealth and rank, and hence much was expected of him.

At the age of ten Shelley was placed in the public school of Sion House, but the harsh treatment of instructors and school-fellows rendered his life most unpleasant. Such treatment might have been called out by his fondness for wild romances and his devotion to reading instead of more solid school work. While very young he wrote two novels, "Zastrozzi" and "St. Irvyne, or the Rosicrucian," works of some merit. Shelley was next sent to Eton, where his sensitive nature was again deeply wounded by ill usage. He finally revolted against all authority, and this disposition manifested itself strongly in Eton.

Shelley next went to Oxford, but he studied irregularly, except in his peculiar views, where he seemed to be constant in his thought and speculations. At the age of fifteen, he wrote two short romances, threw off various political effusions, and published a volume of political rhymes entitled "Posthumous Poems of My Aunt Margaret Nicholson," the said Margaret being the unhappy maniac who attempted to stab George III. He also issued a syllabus of Hume's...