Percy Bysshe Shelley eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 212 pages of information about Percy Bysshe Shelley.
of Trelawny’s friend, Captain Roberts.  Such was the birth of the ill-fated “Don Juan”, which cost the lives of Shelley and Willliams, and of the “Bolivar”, which carried Byron off to Genoa before he finally set sail for Greece.  Captain Roberts was allowed to have his own way about the latter; but Shelley and Williams had set their hearts upon a model for their little yacht, which did not suit the Captain’s notions of sea-worthiness.  Williams overruled his objections, and the “Don Juan” was built according to his cherished fancy.  “When it was finished,” says Trelawny, “it took two tons of iron ballast to bring her down to her bearings, and then she was very crank in a breeze, though not deficient in beam.  She was fast, strongly built, and Torbay rigged.”  She was christened by Lord Byron, not wholly with Shelley’s approval; and one young English sailor, Charles Vivian, in addition to Williams and Shelley, formed her crew.  “It was great fun,” says Trelawny, “to witness Williams teaching the poet how to steer, and other points of seamanship.  As usual, Shelley had a book in hand, saying he could read and steer at the same time, as one was mental, the other mechanical.”  “The boy was quick and handy, and used to boats.  Williams was not as deficient as I anticipated, but over-anxious, and wanted practice, which alone makes a man prompt in emergency.  Shelley was intent on catching images from the ever-changing sea and sky; he heeded not the boat.”


Last days.

The advance of spring made the climate of Pisa too hot for comfort; and early in April Trelawny and Williams rode off to find a suitable lodging for themselves and the Shelleys on the Gulf of Spezia.  They pitched upon a house called the Villa Magni, between Lerici and San Terenzio, which “looked more like a boat or a bathing-house than a place to live in. it consisted of a terrace or ground-floor unpaved, and used for storing boat-gear and fishing-tackle, and of a single storey over it, divided into a hall or saloon and four small rooms, which had once been white-washed; there was one chimney for cooking.  This place we thought the Shelleys might put up with for the summer.  The only good thing about it was a verandah facing the sea, and almost over it.”  When it came to be inhabited, the central hall was used for the living and eating room of the whole party.  The Shelleys occupied two rooms facing each other; the Williamses had one of the remaining chambers, and Trelawny another.  Access to these smaller apartments could only be got through the saloon; and this circumstance once gave rise to a ludicrous incident, when Shelley, having lost his clothes out bathing, had to cross, in puris naturalibus, not undetected, though covered in his retreat by the clever Italian handmaiden, through a luncheon party assembled in the dining-room.  The horror of the ladies at the poet’s unexpected apparition and his innocent self-defence are well described by Trelawny.  Life in the villa was of the simplest description.  To get food was no easy matter; and the style of the furniture may be guessed by Trelawny’s laconic remark that the sea was his only washing-basin.

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Percy Bysshe Shelley from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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