Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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244               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
than on that girl-like and ethereal being; girl-like in its fragile mould—in its intense sympathies; also in its capacity for suffering. It sounds like a contradiction in Nature when we are told that Shelley was the son of a Sussex "Squire"—a man of broad acres and narrow opinions—one Timothy Shelley—living in the heart of that Bceotia of England, the Weald of Sussex, which was only known to the rest of the kingdom ioo years ago by the fatness of its fowls, the white­ness of its wheat, and the clayey adhesiveness of its soil. Of course, Timothy Shelley was a Tory of the Pitt School— a hater of Bonaparte in particular and of Frenchmen in general; a staunch upholder of "Church and State," as that was understood ioo years ago. How came this man to christen his son Percy Bysshe Shelley—of which it may as truly be said that " it doth poetically sound," as it has been said of Shakspeare that " it doth heroically sound." How came he to have such a son? How could such a Pegasus—all " fire and air "—all tenderness and love—more Greek than English—more spiritual than mortal—spring from such fox­hunting, change-hating loins ? Expound the mystery, shade of Tristram Shandy! We can only record the fact.
The life of Percy Bysshe* Shelley (he was born on the 4th of August, 1792, at Field Place, near Horsham) was a long conflict—martyrdom, it will, perhaps, one day be called —with the Powers of the day, one by one, as he came in contact with them: the power of the Bully at School—of the Tyrant at home—of the Dogmatiser at the University—of the High and Dry spirit of Toryism in Law, Church, and Senate—of the "slashing" and slandering Reviewer in Litera­ture. With the organization of a woman, but with the heart of a hero, and the intellect of a being something higher than man, the Sussex boy turned at bay upon these Powers of the day and did battle with them. Discreetly ? Temperately ? Wisely ? No. He was but a boy when the struggle began,
* Bysshe was the name of the poet's grandfather.
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