The Sensitive Plant: A Life of Lady Mount Cashell

The Sensitive Plant: A Life of Lady Mount Cashell

The Sensitive Plant: A Life of Lady Mount Cashell

The Sensitive Plant: A Life of Lady Mount Cashell

Excerpt

One day late in September of 1819, Percy Shelley interrupted his journey from Leghorn to Florence in order to stop for a day in Pisa to visit a Mrs. Mason who lived there in a modest house on the Via Mala Gonella with her two daughters, Laura and Nerina. He was taking his wife and her step-sister, Claire Clairmont, to Florence, for Mrs. Shelley was approaching confinement and needed the good medical care that Florence could provide.

A few months later Shelley mentioned Mrs. Mason in a letter he wrote from Pisa to Leigh Hunt in England. "We see no one but an Irish lady and her husband, who are settled here," Shelley said. "She is everything that is amiable and wise, and he is very agreeable. You will think it my fate either to find or to imagine some lady of 45, very unprejudiced and philosophical, who has entered deeply into the best and selectest spirit of the age, with enchanting manners, and a disposition rather to like me, in every town that I inhabit. But certainly such this lady is."

Shelley's description of her mind and personality is matched by a description of her appearance which Claire Clairmont wrote years later. "She was very tall," Claire said, "of a lofty and calm presence. Her features were regular and delicate; her large blue eyes singularly well- set; her complexion of a clear pale, but yet full of life . . .

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