The enthusiastic and ideal fervour which marks Shelley’s poetry could not possibly be simulated—it was a part, the most essential part, of his character. He was remarkably single-minded, in the sense of being constantly ready to do what he professed as, in the abstract, the right thing to be done; impetuous, bold, uncompromising, lavishly generous, and inspired by a general love of humankind, and a coequal detestation of all the narrowing influences of custom and prescription. Pity, which included self-pity, was one of his dominant emotions. If we consider what are the uses, and what the abuses, of a character of this type, we shall have some notion of the excellences and the defects of Shelley. In person he was well-grown and slim; more nearly beautiful than handsome; his complexion brilliant, his dark-brown but slightly grizzling hair abundant and wavy, and his eyes deep-blue, large, and fixed. His voice was high-pitched—at times discordant, but capable of agreeable modulation; his general aspect uncommonly youthful.
The roll of Shelley’s publications is a long one for a man who perished not yet thirty years of age. I append a list of the principal ones, according to date of publication, which was never very distant from that of composition. Several minor productions remain unspecified.
1810. Zastrozzi, a Romance. Puerile rubbish.
" Original Poetry, by Victor and Cazire.
Withdrawn, and ever since unknown.
" Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson.
Balderdash, partly (it would appear) intended as burlesque.
1811. St. Irvyne, or The Rosicrucian, a Romance.
No better than Zastrozzi.
1813. Queen Mab. Didactic and subversive.
1817. Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude, and
The earliest volume fully worthy of its author.
1818. Laon and Cythna—reissued as
The Revolt of Islam.
An epic of revolution and emancipation in the
1819. Rosalind and Helen, a modern Eclogue, and
The character of ‘Lionel’ is an evident
idealisation of Shelley himself.
1819. The Cenci, a Tragedy. Has generally
as the finest English tragedy of modern date.
" Prometheus Unbound, a Lyrical Drama,
and other Poems.
The Prometheus ranks as at once the greatest and the most
thoroughly characteristic work of Shelley.
1819. Oedipus Tyrannus, or Swellfoot the Tyrant.
Satirical Drama on the Trial of Queen Caroline.
1821. Epipsychidion. A poem of ideal love under a human personation.
1822. Hellas. A Drama on the Grecian War of Liberation.
1824. Posthumous Poems. Include Julian and
written in 1818, The Witch of Atlas, 1820, The
Triumph of Life, 1822, and many other compositions