Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Poets.
arrived at Byron's Palazza, at Pisa, and hither, to meet them, Shelley and Williams, with a young English sailor, named Vivian, set out in their little yacht, which they had had built for them at Genoa, and in which they had been making excursions in the Italian seas. They reached Leghorn in safety, and spent several days with their friends at Pisa; but Shelley receiving a gloomy letter from his wife, who seems to have had the cloud of an impending calamity hanging over her, hastened his departure from Leghorn; Williams and he and the sailor-boy Vivian embarking again in their little yacht on the 8th July (1822) for their home at Lerici.
The weather was very sultry, and clouds were gathering in the south-west when they set sail from Leghorn; but a profound stillness overspread the Bay. By and bye a sea-fog came on which concealed Shelley's boat from the watching eyes of his friends, Trelawny and Roberts. At half-past six (they had started at 3 p.m.) it was almost dark, and the wind began to rise, in short, panting gusts; and big drops of rain struck the water. " There was a commotion in the air," says Mr. Trelawny, who records these particulars, "made up of many threatening sounds, coming upon us from the sea." The vessels in the harbour were all in hurried movement, and the tempest soon came crashing and glaring, in the fury of thunder, wind, rain and lightning, over the port and the open waters. The storm only lasted about twenty minutes, and during its progress Captain Roberts watched Shelley's vessel with his glass from the top of the Leghorn lighthouse. The yacht had made Via Reggio when the storm began. " When the cloud passed onward," writes Mrs. Shelley, " Roberts looked again, and saw every other vessel sailing on the ocean except the little schooner, which had vanished." Mr. Trelawny thought for some time that his friends would return to port; but he waited for them in vain.
They were never to return alive. After an agonising suspense of some days for wives and friends, the terrible truth was made certain by the casting ashore of the bodies,
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