Literary Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century

Literary Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century

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Literary Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century

Literary Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century

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Excerpt

The natural charm by which Shelley fascinated his familiar friends lives after him, and has gathered about him for his defense a group of men whose affection for him seems no whit lessened because they never knew him face to face. The one common characteristic prominent in all who have written of him with sympathy, however meager or valuable their individual contributions of praise, criticism, or information, is this sentiment of direct, intimate, intense personal loyalty which he has inspired in them to a degree rare, if not unparalleled, in literary annals. Under the impulse of this strong love, they have championed his cause, until his fame, overshadowed in his own generation by the vigorous worldliness of Byron, and slightly esteemed by nearly all of his craft, has grown world-wide. With the enthusiasts, however, who have aided in bringing about this result, admiration for Shelley's work is a secondary thing; its virtue is blended with and transfused into the nature of Shelley himself, who is the center of their worship. To reveal the fineness and luster of his character, his essential worth throughout that romantic and darkened career of thirty years, is their chief pleasure, and in this, too, they have now won some success, and have partially reversed the popular estimate of the poet as merely an immoral atheist; yet, although some amends have been . . .

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