Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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254                Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
No being ever bore stronger testimony to the worth of another than did Shelley's wife to him; and the testimony was sealed by a widowhood of 29 years, consecrated to him and his child, during which she was left by his father to bear the full weight of the burthen; for she indignantly spurned the only condition on which Sir Timothy would continue to the mother and son the allowance made to the husband and father, namely, that she should give up the custody of her only child! She also declined to take part in the work to which she was invited by some of her friends—the apostle-ship of the Rights of Women, for which she felt she had no mission; but she devoted her time and talent to literature, and so, like the worthy daughter of Godwin and wife of Shelley, maintained herself and son until the death of Sir Timothy, in 1842, put Shelley's son, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, in that position as to fortune and title which he still fills.* Mrs. Shelley died in 1851, in the 54th year of her age.
We have referred to the delicate, and almost feminine organisation of Shelley. Here is a picture of him by Captain Kennedy, a friend of the Shelley family, who saw him during a stolen visit which he paid to his mother, at her request and his sisters'—it was his last visit to Field Place—in 1813, whilst his father was away:—
" I fancy I see him now, as he sat by the window, and hear his voice, the tones of which impressed me with his sincerity and simplicity. His resemblance to his sister Elizabeth was as striking as if they had been twins. His eyes were most expressive, his complexion beautifully fair, his features exquisitely fine; his hair was dark, and no peculiar attention to its arrangement was manifest. In person he was slender and gentleman-like, but inclined to stoop; his gait was decidedly not military. The general appearance indicated great delicacy of constitution. One would at once pronounce of him that he was something different from other men. There was an earnestness in his manner, and such perfect gentleness of breeding, and freedom from everything artificial, as charmed everyone. I never met a man who so immediately won upon me."
" He was," says Capt. Kennedy, in closing his description of him, "an amiable, gentle being." Such, indeed, was the
* Sir Percy Florence Shelley filled the office of High Sheriff of Sussex in 1865.
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