246 BYGONE SUSSEX.
The children, ev'ry spring, Find lilies of the valley blowing where The fight took place. Alas ! they quickly drove My darling from my bosom and my love, And snatched my crown of laurel from his hair."
Sussex can claim only the early years of the poet's short and much troubled career. Between the baby that lay cradled in the wealthy home of the Shelleys at Field Place, Sussex, and the drowned corpse lying on the funeral pile at Lerici there is but an interval of thirty years. Within that brief space of time Shelley, born in an atmosphere of privilege and wealthy conventionality, had shown himself to be a daring thinker, prepared to demand from everything a reason for its existence. Shelley wrote a plea for the " Necessity of Atheism," yet his attack was on the "erroneous and degrading" ideas of deity, and not on " the Supreme Being itself; " in fact, as Mr. Salt has well said, "it was not the presence but the absence of spirituality " in the conventional creed of his day that made Shelley its opponent. In his references to social and political reforms it will be seen that he was far in advance of his day. Yet many things that he held to be desirable he also saw to be impracticable until mankind had received further education and ethical training. Hence he