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Full text of "Letters from Percy Bysshe Shelley to Jane Clairmont"






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LETTERS 



TO 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 



LETTERS 



FROM 



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 



TO 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 



I 



1889. 
London : Privately Printed. 

(Mot for Sals.) 



CONTENTS. 



LETTER I. 

London. 

2,0th December, 1816 . 

LETTER II. 

London. 

2,0th January, 1817 . 

LETTER III. 

Venice. Augttst, 1818 

LETTER IV. 

Italy. 1820 



LETTER V. 

Pisa. 

icth January, 1820 .... 13 eA 






vi CONTENTS. 

l'AGE 

LETTER VI. 

Pisa. 
January, 1820 16 

LETTER VII. 

Pisa. 

1 7th February, 1820 .... 20 

LETTER VIII. 

Pisa. 1820 21 

LETTER IX. 

Pisa. 

ztyh October, 1 820 .... 30 

LETTER X. 

Pisa. 

November, 1820 38 

LETTER XI. 

Pisa. 

2nd April, 1 821 . . . .47 

LETTER XII. 
Pisa. 
May, 1821 52 



CONTENTS. vii 

v.w.v. 
LETTER XIII. 

Pisa. 

Sth June, 1 82 1 . . . 56 

LETTER XIV. 

Pisa. 

Kythjitne, 1821 60 

LETTER XV. 

Pisa. 

llth December, 1821 . . . .64 

LETTER XVI. 
Pisa. 
1st January, 1822 .... 67 

LETTER XVII. 

Italy. 1822 72 

LETTER XVIII. 

Pisa. 

20th March, 1822 . . . .82 

LETTER XIX. 

Pisa. 1822 - 87 



viii CONTENTS. 

PAGE 
LETTER XX. 

Lerici. 

29/A March, 1822 .... 88 

LETTER XXI. 

Pisa. 

2nd April, 1 822 91 

LETTER XXII. 

Pisa. 1822 95 

LETTER XXIII. 
Pisa. 
\lth April, 1822 .... 98 

LETTER XXIV. 

Sarzana. 

31st May, 1822 101 



LETTERS 



LETTERS TO 
JANE CLAIRMONT. 

LETTER L 

London 
Dec. 30, 1 81 6. 

Dearest Clare 

Your letter to-day relieved me from 
a weight of painful anxiety. — Thank 
you too my kind girl for not expressing 
much of what you must feel, the loneli- 
ness and the low spirits which arise 
from being entirely left. — Nothing could 
be more provoking than to find all this 
unnecessary : — However they will now 
be satisfied and quiet. — 

We cannot come to-morrow, there 
being no inside place in any of the 



4 LETTERS TO 

coaches or in either of the mails. I 
have secured a place for Wednesday — 
the day following that on which you 
will receive this letter — so that you will 
infallibly see us on that evening. I may 
say that it was by a most fortunate 
chance that I secured the places that 
I did. 

The ceremony so magical in its effects 
was undergone this morning at St. 
Mildred's Church in the City. Mrs. 
G. and G. were both present and ap- 
peared to feel no little satisfaction. 
Indeed Godwin throughout has shewn 
the most polished and cautious atten- 
tions to me and Mary. — He seems to 
think no kindness too great in com- 
pensation for what has past. I confess 
I * am not entirely deceived by this ; 
tho' I cannot make my vanity wholly 
insensible to certain attentions paid in 
a manner studiously flattering. — Mrs. 
G. presents herself to me in her real 
attributes of affectation prejudice and 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 5 

heartless pride. Towards her, I confess 
I never feel an emotion of anything 
but antipathy. Her sweet daughter is 
very dear to me. 

We left the Hunts yesterday morning, 
and spent the evening at Skinner-street, 
not unpleasantly. We had a bed in the 
neighbourhood and breakfasted with 
them before the marriage. Very few 
inquiries have been made of you, and 
those not of a nature to shew that their 
suspicions have been alarmed. Indeed, 
all is safe there. 

I write to Clairmont by to-day's post 
inclosing him ^20. — So that you see 
our expected advantage from added 
income this quarter comes to very 
little. Do not answer our letter, as we 
shall be on our way to you before it 
can reach London. — The G's give the 
most singular accounts of Mrs. Boinville, 
etc. — 

I will not tell you how dreadfully 
melancholy Skinner-street appears with 



6 LETTERS TO 

all its associations. The most horrid 
thought is how people can be merry 
there ! But I am resolved to overcome 
such sensations. If I do not destroy 
them I may be myself destroyed. 

The Baxters, we hear, have suddenly 
lost all their fortune, and are reduced to 
the lowest poverty. 

Adieu my dear. Keep up your 
spirits and manage your health till we 
come back. It will be Wednesday even- 
ing at nine o'clock. Adieu my dear — 
kiss Willy and yourself for me. 

Ever affectionately yours, 

P. B. Shelley. 

Mary can't write being all day with 
Mrs. Godwin. 

[Addressed outside. } 
Mrs. Clairmont, 

1 2 New Bond Street, Bath. 



JANE CLA1RM0NT. 



LETTER II. 

[London : 
Postmark— -January 30//*, 18 17. J 

Mary has written to you, dearest 
Clare, in better spirits, and as a reward 
of her good spirits, with better news 
than I. In fact that about Hunt was 
overruled. It only serves to exhibit 
the malice of these monsters. — 

I have little doubt in my own mind 
but that they will finally succeed in 
the criminal part of the business. I 
mean that some such punishment as 
imprisonment and fine will be awarded 
me, by a jury. But do not disquiet 
yourself. Do not allow this to be a 
matter of present agitation to you. It 
is not a thing that can be decided 
within six months, an interval pregnant 
with many hopes and fears, and if 



8 LETTERS TO 

well cultivated fruitful in joys which 
might make a bovver of roses of the 
worst dungeon that tyranny could in- 
vent. Dont teaze yourself Clarice. The 
greatest good you can do me is to 
keep well and quiet yourself, and of 
that you are well aware. 

Mary tells me that she never en- 
gaged the lodgings for a month, or 
that if she did so, one fortnight of the 
time is already past. 

[Addressed outside."] 

P. B. Shelley, Esq., 
12 New Bond S l > 
Bath. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 



LETTER III. 

Mr. Hoppner 3 s, 

Friday. [August, 1818.] 

My Dear Clare, 

We arrived at Venice yesterday about 
five o'clock. Our little girl had shown 
symptoms of increased weakness and 
even convulsive motions of the mouth 
and eyes which made me anxious to 
see the physician. As she passed from 
Fusina to the Inn, she became worse. 
I left her on landing and took a gondola 
for Dr. Alietti. He was not at home. — 
When I returned I found Mary in the 
hall of the inn in the most dreadful 
distress. 

Worse symptoms had appeared. 
Another Physician had arrived. He 
told me there was no hope. In about 
an hour — how shall I tell you — she 



io LETTERS TO 

died — silently, without pain. And she 
is now buried. 

The Hoppners instantly came and 
took us to their house — a kindness I 
should have hesitated to accept, but 
that this unexpected stroke reduced 
Mary to a kind of despair. 

She is better to day. — 

I have sent a message to Albe to say 
that I cannot see him to day — unless 
he will call here. Mary means to try 
and persuade him to let Allegra stay. 

All this is miserable enough — is it 

not ? — but must be borne — and above 

all my dear girl take care of yourself. — 

Your affectionate Friend, 

P. B. S. 

[Addressed outside.] 

La Signora Clairmont. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. n 



LETTER IV. 

Friday Mor. 

My best and dearest girl, 

How excessively grieved I am that I 
have made you share our false alarm ! 
The whole business merely consists in 
the omission of the payment of £$o to 
Hume, and that rascal Longdill having 
taken out an order against my whole 
income — a mistake remedied as quickly 
as known. I shall send you the money 
for the ensuing month directly. 

Our fright was not small ; for we 
could not conjecture the truth. 

Whatever I have or have not how- 
ever, is dear to me in possession chiefly 
as an instrument of your peace and 
independence. 



12 LETTERS TO 

Good-bye dear, yours ever afftely. 

S. 

{Addressed outside.] 

To Miss Clairmont, 

presso al Prof. Bojti, 
Piazza Pitti, 

Firenze. 



JANE CLAIR MO NT. 13 



LETTER V. 

[Postmark: Pisa, 

January loth, 1820.] 

My Dear Clare 

I am seriously distressed to perceive 
by your letters the vacillating state of 
your health and spirits : and can only 
offer you the consolation of unavailing 
wishes. If they were as effectual as 
they are sincere your ills would have a 
very short duration. You do me in- 
justice in imagining that I am in any 
degree insensible to your pleasure or 
pain. I wish, since I am so incapable 
of communicating the one or relieving 
the other, that I could be so. 

I see Emilia sometimes, who always 
talks of you and laments your absence. 

She continues to enchant me infi- 
nitely ; and I soothe myself with the idea 
that I make the discomfort of her cap- 



14 LETTERS TO 

tivity lighter to her by demonstration 
of the interest which she has awakened 
in me. 

I have not been able to see until the 
last day or two, or I should have writ- 
ten to you. My eyes are still weak. 
I have suffered also considerably from 
my disease j and am already in 'imagin- 
ation preparing to be cut for the stone, 
in spite of Vacca's consolatory assur- 
ance. 

We send you the Papers ; and a 
parcel containing your Habit, and 
Sintram etc. has been prepared some 
days for the Procaccino, who does not 
part until to-morrow. You will prob- 
ably receive that and this letter at 
once. 

All your wishes have been attended 
to respecting Julian and Maddalo, which 
never was intended for publication. 

So it seems that it would have been 
better for you to have remained at Pisa. 
Yet being now at Florence make the 



JANE CLAIR MO NT. 15 

best profit of your situation : and do not 
on any account neglect, if possible, 
to present the letter to the Princess 
Montemeletto, taking especial care to 
specify who is the writer. You ought 
to be aware that if this gland should be 
scrofulous, no small portion of the dis- 
ease consists in the dejection of spirits 
and inactivity of mind attached to it ; it 
is at once a cause and an effect of it, for 
which the best remedy is society and 
amusement, and for which even bustle 
and occupation would be a palliation. 
Pacchiani is not yet returned. 

Farewell my dear girl. Confide in 
the sincere friendship and unceasing 
interest of yours affectionately, 

S. 

[Addressed outside,] 
Miss Clairmont, 

Presso Professore Bojti. 

dirimpetto Palazzo Piiti t 
Firenze. 



1 6 LETTERS TO 



LETTER VI. 

Pisa, 

Tuesday Ev. 

January, 1820. 

My Dear Clare 

Many thanks for your kind and 
tender letter which Mrs. M. gave me 
to-day, several days I believe after it 
had arrived. — I had been very ill, and 
had not seen her for a fortnight. I 
had several times been going to write 
to you, to request you to love me 
better than you do — when meanwhile 
your letter arrived. I shall punctually 
follow all such portions of the advice 
it contains which are practicable. I 
write to-night that I may not seem to 
neglect you, though I have little time : 
I am delighted to hear of your re- 
covered health — may I entreat you to 
be cautious in keeping it. Mine is 



JANE CLAIRMONT. i 7 

far better than it has been ; and the 
relapse which I now suffer into a state 
of ease from one of pain, is attended 
with such an excessive susceptibility 
of nature, that I suffer equally from 
pleasure and from pain. You will ask 
me naturally enough whei'e I find any 
pleasure? The wind, the light, the 
air, the smell of a flower affects me 
with violent emotions. There needs 
no catalogue of the causes of pain. 

I see Emily sometimes ; and whether 
her presence is the source of pain or 
pleasure to me, I am equally ill-fated 
in both. I am deeply interested in 
her destiny, and that interest can in 
no manner influence it. She is not 
however insensible to my sympathy, 
and she counts it among her alleviations. 
As much comfort as she receives from 
my attachment to her I lose. 

There is no reason that you should 
fear any mixture of that which you 
call love. My conception of Emilia's 



1 8 LETTERS TO 

talents augments every day. Her 
moral nature is fine — but not above 
circumstances. Yet I think her ten- 
der and true — which is always some- 
thing. How many are only one of 
these things at a time ! 

So much for sentiment and ethics. 

The Williams's are come, and Mrs. W. 
dined here to-day, an extremely pretty 
and gentle woman, apparently not very 
clever. I like her very much. I have 
only seen her for an hour, but I will 
tell you more another time. Mary 
will write you sheets of gossip. I 
have not seen Mr. W. — 

The Greek expedition appears to be 
broken up. No news of any kind that 
I know of. 

You delight me with your progress 
in German, in spite of the reproach 
which accompanies the account of it. 
Occupy, amuse, instruct, multiply your- 
self and your faculties — and defy the foul 
fiend. I wish to Heaven, my dear girl, 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 19 

that / could be of any avail to add to 
your pleasures or diminish your pains 
— how ardently you cannot know, you 
only know, as you frequently take care 
to tell me, how vainly. I can do you 
no other good than in keeping up 
the unnatural connexion between this 
feeble mass of diseases and infirmities 
and the rapid and weary spirit doomed 
to drag it through the world. 

I took up the pen for an instant 
only to thank you, — and if you will, to 
kiss you for your kind attention to me, 
and I find I have written in ill spirits 
which may infect you. Let them not 
do so ! — I will write again to-morrow. 
Meanwhile your's most tenderly — 

S. 
[Addressed outside.] 

La Sig*- Clairmont, 

presso al Professore Bojti, 

dirimpetto Palazzo Pitti, 
Firenze. 



2o LETTERS TO 



LETTER VII. 

[Pisa, 
February ipA, 1820.] 

My Dearest Friend, 

I write in great haste at the Bankers 
not to lose the Post, and send you a 
check for two months. — A thousand 
thanks for your affectionate letter, 
which to me is as water in the desart. 
I hope to tell you of Del Rosso by 
next post, he has just sent for his 
money which is paid him. 

Adieu, best Clare — 

Yours ever, 

S. 

PlSA, Friday, [Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clair mont, 

presso al Prof. Bojti, 

dirimpetto Palazzo Pitti, 
Firenze. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 



LETTER VIII. 

Sunday. 

My Dearest Friend, 

I wrote a line only with the check, 
which I hope you have received ; I 
had not time on that day to answer 
your letters. — 

Your predilection for Germany, 
German literature and manners, and 
for an attempt at forming some con- 
nections there, still continues. — There 
can be no harm in maturing the attempt, 
should you succeed in finding a fit 
occasion for it, because you can always 
recede, in case it should not answer 
your expectations. The situation of 
Dame de compagnie is one indeed in 
which there is little to be hoped com- 
pared with what is to be feared ; cal- 



22 LETTERS TO 

culating on common cases, but I am 
willing to believe that yours is an ex- 
ception to these, and that every one 
who knows you intimately must find 
a necessity of interesting themselves 
deeply in you. — But what are your 
opportunities, that you so confidently 
discuss the merits of the question as if 
the determination of it were in your 
power ? Has the Princess engaged to 
interest herself in your affairs, — or any 
other of your acquaintances at Florence? 
If, indeed, it be in your power to ac- 
company some German Lady of rank 
to her own country, I think, under 
the impressions you seem to have 
conceived, you ought not to delay 
putting it into effect. It is not as if 
you had no scheme of life in reserve 
to which you can retreat. 

But you can always reassume your 
present situation. 

— You are indeed Germanizing very 
fast, and the remark you made of the 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 23 

distinction between the manner in 
which mind is expressed upon the 
physiognomy or the entire figure of 
the Italian or the Austrian is in the 
choicest style of the criticism of pure 
reason. . . . There is a great deal of 
truth in it : of truth surrounded and 
limited by so many exceptions, as en- 
tirely to destroy its being, as a practical 
law of pathognomy. — I hope you will 
find Germany and the Germans answer 
your expectations. I have had no 
opportunity of forming an idea of 
them — their Philosophy as far as I 
understand it, contemplates only the 
silver side of the shield of truth : 
better in this respect than the French, 
which only saw the narrow edge of 
it— 

You send no news of Naples and 
Neapolitan affairs; we know nothing 
of them except what we hear from 
Florence. Every post may be ex- 
pected to bring decisive news, for even 



24 LETTERS TO 

the news that they defend themselves 
against so immense and well appointed 
a force, is decisive. — I hate the cow- 
ardly envy which prompts such base 
stories as Sgricci's about the Nea- 
politans : a set of slaves who dare not 
to imitate the high example of clasping 
even the shadow of Freedom, alledge 
the ignorance and excesses of a popu- 
lace, which oppression has made 
savage in sentiment and understand- 
ing. 

That the populace of the city of 
Naples are brutal, who denies to be 
taught ? they cannot improvise tragedies 
as Sgricci can, but is it certain that 
under no excitement they would be 
incapable of more enthusiasm for their 
country? Besides it is not of them 
we speak, but of the people of the 
Kingdom of Naples, the cultivators 
of the soil ; whom a sudden and great 
impulse might awaken into citizens 
and men, as the French and Spaniards 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 25 

have been awakened, and may render 
instruments of a system of future 
social life before which the existing 
anarchies of Europe will be dissolved 
and absorbed. — This feeling is base 
among the Tuscans about Naples. — As 
to the Austrians I doubt not they are 
strong men, well disciplined, obeying 
the master motion like the wheels of a 
perfect engine : they may even have, as 
men, more individual excellence and 
perfection (not that I believe it) than 
the Neapolitans, — but all these things, 
if the Spirit of Regeneration is abroad 
are chaff before the storm, the very 
elements and events will fight against 
them, indignation and shameful repulse 
will burn after them to the vallies of 
the Alps — Lombardy will renew the 
league against the Imperial power, 
which once was so successful, and as 
the last and greatest consummation, 
Germany itself will wrest from its 
oppressors, a power confided to them 



26 LETTERS TO 

under stipulations which after having 
assumed they refused to carry into 
effect — . . . You have seen or heard, I 
suppose of the note sent by the British 
Ministry to the Allied sovereigns. 
Even the unprincipled Castlcreagh 
dared not join them against Naples, 
and ventured to condemn the princi- 
ples of their alliance ; saying as much 
as to forbid them to touch Spain or 
Portugal. ... If the Austrians meet 
with any serious check — they may 
as well at once retire, for the good 
spirit of the World is out against 
them. — If they march to Naples at 
once, let us hide our heads in sor- 
row, for our hopes of political good 
are vain — 

My dearest girl I wish you would 
contrive some means of causing the 
Petition of Emilia to be presented to 
the Grand-duchess. I have engaged 
that I will procure its presentation, 
and although perhaps we may conceive 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 27 

little hope from the application there 
is yet the possibility of success. — She 
made me write the Petition for her, 
though she could have done it a 
thousand times better herself; for she 
has written to the Princess Rospigliosi 
to entreat her to second the prayer of 
the petition in a manner that I am 
persuaded must produce some effect — 
it is so impressive and pathetic. — The 
Petition is the very reverse — but these 
affairs are less determined by words 
than by facts. — Would Bojti present it? 
No, that is not good. Could you ask 
Mad e - Martini to do so, or Mad c - 
Orlandini ? Pray do something for 
me about this, otherwise I must come 
to Florence, which does not suit me in 
any manner. — 

Del Rosso I have not yet seen. I 
was to have gone to Leghorn yesterday, 
but Williams who is to accompany 
me, was obliged to stay till to day. — I 
will write of it from that place. — 



28 LETTERS TO 

What pleasure it gives me to hear 
that you are well. . . . health is the 
greatest possession health of body and 
mind. ... as the writer, weak enough 
in both, too well knows. — Tell me par- 
ticularly how you get on with your 
Italian friends — study German — I will 
give you a dictionary if I can find one 
at Leghorn. " Be strong, live happy 
and love," says Milton. Adieu dear 
girl — confide and persuade yourself of 
my eternal and tender regard. 

Yours with deepest affection 
& 

Keats is very ill at Naples — I have 
written to him to ask him to come to 
Pisa, without however inviting him 
into our own house. We are not rich 
enough for that sort of thing. Poor 
fellow ! — I am provoked at Sgricci's 
assumption, and shall certainly never 
allow him to make the use you allude 
to of me. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. : 

[Addressed out side. "\ 
Miss Clairmont 

presso al Sig e - Projff e - Bojti. 

dirimpetto Palazzo Pitti 

Firenze. 



[The leaf on which the conclusion of this letter was 
written had been the rejected commencement of a letter 
to Keats. On turning it upside down, we can read the 
cancelled words.] 



3 o LETTERS TO 



LETTER IX. 

Pisa, 

Oct. 29th, 1820. 

My Dearest Clare, 

I wrote to you a kind of a scrawl 
the other day merely to show that I 
had not forgotten you, and as it was 
taxed with a postscript by Mary it 
contained nothing that I wished it to 
contain. Mrs. Mason has just given 
me your letter brought by the Tantinis. 
I called on the Tantinis last night, 
and am pained to find that they con- 
firm the intelligence of your letter. 
They tell me you looked very melan- 
choly and disconsolate, which they 
impute to the weather. You must 
indeed be very uncomfortable for it to 
become visible to them. Keep up 
your spirits my best girl until we meet 
at Pisa. But for Mrs. Mason, I should 



JANE CLA1RM0NT. 31 

say, come back immediately and give 
up a plan so inconsistent with your 
feelings — as it is, I fear you had better 
endure — at least until you come here. 
You know however, whatever you 
shall determine on, where to find one 
ever affectionate Friend, to whom your 
absence is too painful for your return 
ever to be unwelcome. I think it 
moreover for your own interest to 
observe certain . As to introduc- 
tions, believe me I will try my best. 
I have seen little lately of Mrs. M. 
nor when one sees her is it easy to 
nail her attention to what you wish 
to say, unless you make a direct de- 
mand, which in this present case I 
can hardly do. Medwin's friends are 
yet to come. I feel almost certain on 
their arrival of being able to get intro- 
ductions of some sort or other for 
you from him. I have not yet spoken 
to him of it, but I know that he would 
do all in his power. 



32 LETTERS TO 

I have suffered within this last week 
a violent access of my disease, with 
a return of those spasms that I used 
to have. I am consoled by the per- 
suasion that the seat of the disease 
is in the kidneys, and consequently 
not mortal. As to the pain, I care 
little for it ; but the nervous irritability 
which it leaves is a great and serious 
evil to me, and which if not incessantly 
combated by myself and soothed by 
others would leave me nothing but 
torment in life. — I am now much 
better. Medwin's cheerful conver- 
sation is of some use to me, but 
what would it be to your sweet con- 
solation, my own Clare? 

We have now removed to a lodging 
on the Lung Arno, which is sufficiently 
commodious, and for which we pay 
thirteen sequins a month. It is next 
door to that marble palace, and is 
called Palazzo Galetti, consisting of 
an excellent mezzanino, and of two 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 33 

rooms on the fourth story, all to the 
south ; and with two fireplaces. The 
rooms above, one of which is Med win's 
room and the other my study (con- 
gratulate me on my seclusion) are 
delightfully pleasant, and to day I 
shall be employed in arranging my 
books and gathering my papers about 
me. Mary has a very good room 
below, and there is plenty of space 
for the babe. I expect the water of 
Pisa to relieve me, if indeed the 
disease be what is conjectured. 

I have read or written nothing 
lately, having been much occupied by 
my sufferings, and by Medwin, who relates 
wonderful and interesting things of the 
interior of India. We have also been 
talking of a plan to be accomplished 
with a friend of his, a man of large 
fortune, who will be at Leghorn next 
Spring, and who designs to visit 
Greece, Syria and Egypt in his own 
ship. This man has conceived a great 



34 LETTERS TO 

admiration for my verses, and wishes 
above all things that I could be in- 
duced to join his expedition. How- 
far all this is practicable, considering 
the state of my finances I know not 
yet. I know that if it were it would 
give me the greatest pleasure, and the 
pleasure might be either doubled or 
divided by your presence or absence. 

All this will be explained and deter- 
mined in time ; meanwhile lay to your 
heart what I say, and do not mention 
it in your letters to Mary. 

The Gisborns are acting as ill as 
possible about the Steamboat. Mrs. G. 
wants to apply the engine to their own 
use, in working a bellows to cast iron : 
a mere scheme to defraud us. Henry 
came to the Bagni the other day, and 
I had a long and very explicit conver- 
sation with him, the result of which 
was that if the affairs which remained 
of the Steamboat were to be carried 
on through Mr. G. I absolutely refused 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 35 

to take any further part in the concern, 
except to receive whatever money they 
chose to give me as proceeding from 
the sale of the materials. At the 
same time, should he decide on taking 
that side of the alternative, I assured 
him that I should take some pains to 
acquaint my friends with the bad treat- 
ment I had received from him and 
his family. The result of the conver- 
sation was, that four hundred crowns 
were necessary to complete the boat, 
and that this sum should be raised 
upon the materials of the engine, and 
instantly applied to that purpose. I 
am in hopes thus, by enlisting their 
own interest in the concern, and 
showing my resolution to advance no 
more money to get it finished ; though 
it is true that I risk my interest in the 
sale of the materials, which, if Mr. 
Gisborn should find some fresh scheme 
for preventing the success of the enter- 
prise would be all swallowed up in the 



36 LETTERS TO 

debt thus created. But at all events 
I should receive very little from the 
sale, and in this manner I may be 
repaid the whole. — These Gisbornes are 
people totally without faith. — I think 
they are altogether the most filthy and 
odious animals with which I ever came 
in contact. — They do not visit Mary 
as they promised, and indeed if 
they did, I certainly should not stay 
in the house to receive them. I 
have already planned a retreat to 
Mrs. Mason's. — 

I am going to study Arabic — for a 
purpose and a motive as you may 
conceive. — I wish you would enquire 
for me at Florence whether there are 
an Arabic Grammar and Dictionary, 
and any other Arabic books, either 
printed or Manuscript, to be bought. 
You can first ask Dr. Bojti, and if he 
knows nothing, go to Molini's library 
and enquire of him. At all events go 
to Molini's and send me all the in- 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 37 

formation you can pick up. I trust 
this to your kind love. 

If I buy and pay for any I can send 
you your scudi at the same time which 
I have made some ineffectual efforts to 
convey to Florence. Pardon me my 
dearest for mentioning scudi, and do 
not love me less because they are a 
portion of the inevitable dross of life, 
which clings to our friendship. — 
Your most affectionate 

Shelley. 

[Addressed outside. ] 

La Signora Clair mont 

per ricapito al Professore Bojti 
Piazza dei Pitti 

Firenze. 



38 LETTERS TO 



LETTER X. 

Casa Galetti, Pisa, 
November, Wednesday, 
[1820] 

My Dear Clare, 

Something indeed must be instantly 
decided respecting your present situa- 
tion — unfit in every respect for you, 
and fraught with consequences to your 
health and spirits which I cannot en- 
dure to think of. I had spoken to 
Mrs. Mason of it, and her reply was 
that when you return from Pisa to Flor- 
ence, she will give you a letter to the 
Princess, charging me at the same time 
to keep this promise a secret from you ; 
for what motive I cannot divine. I have 
not done so, you see, — and indeed I could 
not, without urging your immediate re- 
turn. The great thing now is, if possible, 
to come to Pisa before you shall stand 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 39 

engaged for another month, or perhaps 
another three months — for such was 
the arrangement decided upon at Flor- 
ence. Could you not make some ex- 
cuse for preceding them to Pisa? Or 
still better, could you not do it without 
assigning any reason, and then deter- 
mine with me and Mrs. Mason upon 
what should be done on their arrival ? 
This must be done, or you stand 
pledged for some indefinite time. 

The only consideration to make you 
hesitate, is how far such a step would 
offend Mrs. Mason — that is, how far it 
would affect any future aid you might 
derive from her. Poor Mrs. M. is 
now very ill, slowly convalescing from 
a dangerous colic ; she cannot bear the 
light, or the air, or the least motion. 
You may judge, she is [in] no state to 
permit me to agitate this question. 
Before her illness, when I talked to her, 
she seemed to think it weak and un- 
reasonable in you, not to bear all this 



40 LETTERS TO 

solitude and inconvenience in the hope 
of some change, or something that she 
could or would do. — She opposed 
strongly the idea of your return ; and it 
was on that occasion that she spoke of 
the Princess Montemilitto \ — -which 
introduction, if it could be carried into 
effect, would certainly place you in a 
situation to require no other. But as 
she has not seen or heard from the 
Princess for sixteen years, we cannot be 
sure of the reception her recommenda- 
tion would meet. Everything however 
consists in the manner — and I by no 
means recommend you to freeze or 
mope yourself to death on the chance 
of this Princess. — I would advise, 
contriving by some form of words, to 
part from your hosts on the best possible 
terms, and with a mutual understanding 
that the connexion was to be renewed 
again, so soon as you had fulfilled the 
object of your leaving them. — Leave 
some sort of opening, but just so small 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 41 

as that they should not be able without 
further communication to hold you 
liable on the 20th for three additional 
months. 

It is great pity that the day of 
their arrival at Pisa, exceeds the month, 
or it might all have admitted of a far 
simpler mode of arrangement. I don't 
think Mrs. Mason could be seriously 
angry — I am sure she would have no 
reason — nor do I think that it would 
make any difference in her giving you 
an introduction to the Princess. The 
only care need be, that it should be so 
managed as not, at least for the present, 
to offend or alarm the Bojtis, and that 
you tell Mrs. Mason, that you deter- 
mined to employ the interval of the few 
days that remained of the month, in 
taking her advice respecting how far a 
further residence with them could be 
made available to your purposes. And 
that you were determined (as I think 
you right to determine) not to make a 



42 LETTERS TO 

three months additional engagement to 
spend the winter in the frore climate of 
Florence, merely to suffer. My advice 
therefore is, that you take a place in the 
Diligence and return here instantly, 
without offending or alarming the Bojtis. 
You cannot hesitate without making 
yourself liable for an engagement of 
three additional months, and I am per- 
suaded that Mrs. Mason is too reasonable 
and too good not to feel that this step is 
completely justifiable by the alternative 
in which you stand, of either taking it, 
or engaging in a longer term — in which 
unless some alteration takes place you 
expend health and spirits for no imagin- 
able purpose. — This step pledges you to 
nothing, — and after painful and serious 
consideration of the circumstances of 
your situation it is my deliberate advice. 
Read this letter over twice or three 
times, before you decide to act, and 
completely understand what you are 
about. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 43 

We are at Casa Galetti, next door to 
that marble palace with Alia Giornata 
written on it. — 

There is yet no letter from Ravenna — 
a delay which you cannot from expe- 
rience think extraordinary. 

I do not send you the Papers; because 
I do not see how you can do other- 
wise than come. — Let me repeat it 
again— do not part on bad or even on 
indifferent terms with the Bojtis. All 
depends on that — and it is so easy to 
say that some one is ill, if you think 
it necessary to make any express 
explanation. — 

It rains incessantly, but the climate 
is exceedingly mild, and we have no 
fires. How sorry I am, my poor girl, 
to hear that your glands are bad. — 
You must take care of yourself this 
winter, and eat nourishing food, and 
try and deceive care. How I long to 
see you again, and take what care I can 
of you— but do not imagine that if I did 



44 LETTERS TO 

not most seriously think it best for you 
that I would advise yon to return. I 
have suffered horribly from my side, 
but my general health decidedly im- 
proves, and there is now no doubt but 
that it is a disease of the kidneys 
which, however it sometimes makes 
life intolerable, has, Vacca assures me, 
no tendency to endanger it. May it be 
prolonged that I may be the source of 
whatever consolation or happiness you 
are capable of receiving ! 

Mary is well, and the babe brilliantly 
well, and very good — he scarcely surfers 
at all from his teeth. 

Medwin is very agreeable — I do not 
know him well enough to say that he 
is amiable. He plays at chess, and 
falls into our habits of reading in the 
evening, and Mary likes him well 
enough. — Henry Revely has been 
frequently at Pisa, and always dines 
with us, in spite of a conversation 
which I had with him, and which was 



JANE CLA1RM0NT. 45 

intended to put an end to all intercourse 
between me and that base family. — I 
have not the heart to put my interdict 
in effect upon Henry, — he is so very 
miserable, and such a whipped and 
trembling dog. You have no conception 
of the stories that he tells about 
the Riccis. There is no decisive news 
yet from London about the Queen — it 
is expected this day, and all the papers 
of the trial have been kept for you. — 
Adieu, dearest — be careful to tear this 
letter to pieces as I have written 
(carelessly ?) 

Yours faithfully, 

S. 

This only bit of paper I have is the 
beginning of a letter addressed to 
Henry* — never mind it. 

I am happy that the Hyperion and 
the Prometheus please you. My verses 

* The leaf on which the conclusion of this letter was 
written had been the rejected commencement of a letter 
to Henry Revely. The six lines of which the cancelled 
fragment consists are quite legible. 



46 LETTERS TO 

please so few persons that I make 
much of the encouragement of the 
few, whose judgement (if I were to 
listen to Vanity, the familiar spirit of 
our race) I should say with Shakespeare 
and Plato "outweighed a whole theatre 
of others." 

[Addressed outside. ] 

Miss Clairmont, 
presso al Prof. Bojti, 

dirimpetto Palazzo Pitti, 
Fi rente. 



/ANE CLA1RM0NT. 47 



LETTER XL 

'CtyiAoi'Ti [Pisa, 

April 2nd, 1821.] 
[Written by Mary.] 

My Dear Claire, 

Greece has declared its freedom ! 
Prince Mavrocordato had made us 
expect this event for some weeks past. 
Yesterday he came rayonnant de joie — 
he had been ill for some days but he 
forgot all his pains. Ipselanti, a Greek 
general in the service of Russia, has 
collected together 10,000 Greeks and 
entered Wallachia, declaring the liberty 
of his country. The Morea — Epirus— 
Servia are in revolt. Greece will most 
certainly be free. The worst part of 
this news for us is that our amiable 
prince will leave us — he will of course 
join his countrymen as soon as possible 
— never did man appear so happy — yet 



48 LETTERS TO 

he sacrifices family— fortune— every thing 
to the hope of freeing his country. 
Such men are repaid — such succeed. 
You may conceive the deep sympathy 
that we feel in his joy on this occasion : 
tinged as it must be with anxiety for 
success — made serious by the knowledge 
of the blood that must be shed on this 
occasion. What a delight it will be to 
visit Greece free. 

April has opened with a weather 
truly heavenly — after a whole week of 
libeccio — rain and wind, it is delightful 
to enjoy one of these days peculiar to 
Italy in this early season — the clear 
sky, animating sun and fresh yet not 
cold breeze — just that delicious season 
when pleasant thoughts bring sad ones 
to the mind, when every sensation 
seems to make a double effect and 
every moment of the day is divided 
felt and counted. One is not gay — at 
least I am not — but peaceful and at 
peace with all the world. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 49 

I write you a short letter to day but I 
could not resist the temptation of ac- 
quainting you with the changes in 
Greece the moment Prince Mavrocor- 
dato gave us leave to mention it. 

I hope that your spirits will get better 
with this favourable change of weather — 
Florence must be perfectly delightful. 
Send the white paint as soon as you 
can and two strisce's for me. Shelley 
says that he will finish this letter — We 
hear from no one in England. 

Ever yours, 
M. W. S. 

[Continued by Shelley. ] 

My Dear Friend, 

I hope you have somewhat recovered 
your spirits, since you last wrote to me ; 
if so, pray tell me, as it makes me very 
melancholy to hear that you are so 
much depressed. The weather is a 
medicine for almost any dejection 
which does not spring from a naturally 



50 LETTERS TO 

imperfect or deranged frame. My health 
is very fluctuating and uncertain — • 
and change of season brings a change 
rather than a relief of ills. I live 
however for certain intercalary moments 
which are the "ounces of sweet that 
outweigh a pound of sour," and which 
no person deprived of memory need 
despair of possessing. 

Tell me, what do you mean to do 
on the 20th and how are your pros- 
pects with the Princess ? Naples will 
be no place to visit at present and you 
are much deceived by those who sur- 
round you, if you imagine that the 
success of the Austrians in that country 
has terminated the war in Italy. We 
are yet undecided for the summer — say 
something to fix our determination. 
The Catholic Emancipation has passed 
the second reading by a majority of 
ii on 497. This will give the Govern- 
ment a momentary strength. Pray 
order Calderon for me without delay 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 51 

and try if you can urge the bookseller 
to some sort of speed. — 

Pray don't imagine that the trees 
upon the letter ycu sent to Mary are my 
manufacture — I disclaim such daubs — 
and I had hoped that you knew my style 
too well to impute them to me. The 
love-letters themselves do not seem to 
have been meant for you. Is there 
no other Clara Clairmont in the world 
but the one to whom I declare myself 
the constant and affectionate friend, 

S. 

[Tree-tops roughly sketched.] 
That is my style. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clairmont, 

presso al Prof. Bojti, 

dir impel to Palazzo Pitli, 

Firenze. 



52 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XII. 

[Postmark : Pisa ; 

May, 1 82 1.] 

My Dearest Clare, 

It is not for want of interest in your 
plans and feelings, that I have not 
written to you : but, imagining that Mary 
managed the rude stuff, the mass, of 
the correspondence ; and not knowing 
that I had anything peculiar to say to 
you, I had kept the silence of one to 
whom letters and indeed communi- 
cation of any kind, is either a great 
bain or a great pleasure. — So far have I 
been from neglecting you in my thoughts, 
that I have lately had with Mrs. Mason 
long and serious conversations respect- 
ing your situation and prospects : con- 
versations too long, too important, and 
embracing too various a complication 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 53 

of views to detail in a letter. — You can 
perhaps guess at some of them. — I am 
most anxious to know your expectations 
and determinations, at Florence. What- 
ever these may be, either there or else- 
where, believe that no view which I can 
take of any plan you may determine on, 
will be influenced by anything else than 
a consideration of your own ultimate 
advantage. I feel, my dear girl, that 
in case the failure of your expectations 
at Florence should induce you to think 
of other plans, we, that is you and I 
ought to have a conversation together. 
My health is in general much the 
same : somewhat amended by the 
divine weather that has fallen upon us, 
but still characterized by irritability and 
depression ; or moments of almost 
supernatural elevation of spirits. My 
side begins however to feel the influence 
of the relaxing year. I think I have 
been better altogether this winter; I 
wish to think so, in spite of the strong 



54 LETTERS TO 

motives which should impel me to 
desire to exist under another form. — 
I have bought a boat, which Williams 
overturned the first evening by taking 
hold of the top of the mast ; — as you 
might any boat under a sloop of war. 
I expect that the exercise of sailing etc. 
will do good to my health : I have 
bought it instead of a horse, which 
Vacca recommended ; but which would 
cost more money, spirits, time, trouble, 
and care than I have to expend con- 
veniently. Henry Reveley has got her 
now at Leghorn to paint and refit ; and 
she will be a very nice little shell, for 
the Nautilus your friend . . . who, 
has enough to do in taming his own 
will, without the additional burthen of 
regulating that of a horse, and still 
worse, of a groom. — The Gisborns are 
going to England. They have been 
here for two days on a visit, proposed 
by themselves, and return tomorrow. 
My manners to them have been gentle, 



JANE CLA1RM0NT. 55 

but cold. Not a word of the Steam 
Boat — in fact my money seems to be 
as irretrievable as Henry's character, 
and it is fortunate that I value it as 

little. 1 do not write anything at 

present. I feel incapable of com- 
position. 

I believe it is now certain that Emilia 
will marry, although it is undecided 
whom. — A great and a painful weight 
will be taken off my mind by that 
event. Poor thing! she suffers dread- 
fully in her prison. 

Adieu. Your affectionate friend, 

S. 

/ Mantuan, capering, squalid > squalling. 

A verse of Mr. T[aaffe]'s translation of 
Dante. 

{Addressed out 'side. .] 
Miss Clairmont, 

Presso al Prof- Bojti, 

dirimpetto Palazzo Pitli, 
Firenze. 



56 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XIII. 

Pisa, 
June Wi, 182 1. 

My Dear Clare, 

I have just seen Mrs. Mason, who 
desires me on your part not to take 
further steps about your lodgings at 
Livorno : I accordingly stay all pro- 
ceedings until further orders. — Indeed 
you would be very uncomfortable there 
alone, or in the society of those odious 
people, the dregs of the Livornese mer- 
chants, who sell board and lodging on 
such terms as are by no means large 
enough to include the increased appetite 
that sea-bathing would give you. If 
you can go with Madam Orlandini pray 
do. The Gisborns I told you are going 
to England and are selling all their 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 57 

goods, and mine too. I wonder how 
much they will have the face to offer me 
as the produce of the wreck of the steam- 
boat. We shall see. I shall pounce 
upon their German dictionary for you ; 
as the order I transmitted to Peacock 
for one, has been like all my other 
orders, totally neglected. My health is 
better since I last wrote. I always tell 
you it is better, and yet I am never well. 
I have a great desire and interest to 
live, and I wculd submit to any incon- 
venience to attain that object. I take 
all sorts of care of myself, but it ap- 
pears to make no difference. Anything 
that prevents me from thinking does me 
good. Reading does not occupy me 
enough : the only relief I find springs 
from the composition of poetry, which 
necessitates contemplations that lift me 
above the stormy mist of sensations 
which are my habitual place of abode. 
I have lately been composing a poem 
on Keats : it is better than anything 



58 LETTERS TO 

that I have yet written, and worthy 
both of him and of me. 

We never hear from England now. 
Godwin writes no more. 

Peacock writes no more. Hunt wrote 
about three months ago, in a strain 
however which gave me pain, because 
I see he is struggling. Miss Curran 
wrote the other day inviting herself to 
spend the summer with us ; but Mary 
sent an excuse. We see a good deal of 
the Williams's, who are very good 
people, and I like her much better than 
I did. Mr. TaarTe comes sometimes, 
and on an occasion of sending two 
guinea pigs to Mary wrote this at the 
end of his letter : 

" O, that I were one of those guinea 
pigs, that I might see you this morn- 
ing" !— 

A vessel has arrived to take the Greek 
Prince and his suite to join the army in 
the Morea. He is a great loss to Mary 
and therefore to me . . but not otherwise. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 59 

Adieu. I will send you the rest of 
your money in a day or two. 

Ever truly and affectionately your's 

S. 

P.S. — Untreue trifft seinen eigenen 
Herrn. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clairmont, 

Presso al Prof. Bojli, 

dirimpetlo Palazzo Pitli, 
Pirenze. 



6o LETTERS TO 



LETTER XIV. 

Pisa, Saturday. 
[Postmark: June igt/i, 182 1.] 

My Dearest Clare 

Have you made your mind up where 
you would live this summer ? or is 
there anything new in your plans ? I 
hear from you but seldom now you 
cease to correspond with Mary. 

Horace Smith is coming out to Italy 
immediately. He requests me to dis- 
cover for him in or near Florence, an 
house fit for a very small establish- 
ment, with a garden, large enough for a 
family in all of seven or eight persons. — 
He wishes also to get an Italian woman, 
good cook, who speaks French. This 
last I apprehend to be impossible. You 
know how much I wish to do my ut- 
most in executing all Horace Smith's 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 61 

commissions: and I thought of coming 
to Florence, though it would be a great 
waste both of money and of health to 
me, for that purpose. But perhaps you 
could manage these affairs ; of course 
the house will not be taken until he 
comes, and will be subject to his ap- 
probation. I imagine he wishes it to be 
unfurnished, and he is the sort of man 
to like a pretty, elegant, neat, well-kept 
little place. 

Let me see if I have any news for 
you. I have received a most melan- 
choly account of the last illness of 
poor Keats, which I will neither tell 
you nor send you ; for it would make you 
too low-spirited. — My elegy on him is 
finished : I have dipped my pen in con- 
suming fire to chastise his destroyers ; 
otherwise the tone of the poem is 
solemn and exalted. — I send it to the 
press here, and you will soon have a 
copy.— 

Horace Smith tells me a curious cir- 



62 LETTERS TO 

cumstance, which if I were in England, 
would work me much annoyance. A 
low bookseller has got hold of Queen 
Mab, and published it, and says he 
will defy all prosecutions, and is selling 
them by thousands. 

Horace Smith applied for an injunc- 
tion on my part, but, like Southey in 
Wat Tyler, was refused. The abuse 
which all the Government prints are 
pouring forth on me, and, as H. S. says, 
the "diabolical calumnies which they 
vent, and which religion alone could 
inspire," is boundless. — I enjoy and am 
amused with the turmoil of these poor 
people ; but perhaps it is well for me 
that the Alps and the Ocean are 
between us. — Medwin is going to be 
married to a daughter of Sir E. 
Dalbyn only 15 years old. He is in 
full chase to Venice. — I am trying to 
persuade Mary to ask your pardon, — 
I hope that I shall succeed.— In the 
meantime, as you were in the wrong 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 63 

you had better not ask hers, for that 
is unnecessary, but write to her — if you 
had been in the right you would have 
done so. — 

Emilia's Marriage is put off to Sep- 
tember. I think of spending next 
winter at Florence. Mary talks of 
Rome. — We see the Williams con- 
stantly—nice, goodnatured people, very 
soft society after authors and pretenders 
to philosophy. Godwin's Malthus is 
come: a dry but clever book, with 
decent interspersions of cant and 
sophistry. 

Dearest girl — your most affectionate 

Friend. — 

P. B. S.— 

I don't send your money till I hear 
do you come or no. Write next post. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clairmont, 

Presso al Prof e - fio/'/i, 
Palazzo Pitti, 
Firenze. 



64 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XV. 

Pisa, 
Dec. ii, 1821. 
My Dearest Friend, 

I should be very glad to receive a 
confidential letter from you— one totally 
the reverse of those I write to you ; 
detailing all your present occupation 
and intimacies, and giving me some 
insight into your future plans. Do not 
think that my affection and anxiety for 
you ever cease, or that I ever love you 
less although that love has been and 
still must be a source of disquietude 
to me. 

The Exotic as you please to call me 
droops in this frost — a frost both moral 
and physical — a solitude of the heart. 
These last days I have been unable to 
ride, the cold towards sunset is so 



JANE CLA1RM0NT. 65 

excessive and my side reminding me 
that I am mortal. Medwin rides 
almost constantly with Lord B. ; and 
the party sometimes consists of Gamba, 
Taaffe, Medwin and the Exotic who 
unfortunately belonging to the order of 
mimosa, thrives ill in so large a 
society. I cannot endure the company 
of many persons, and the society of one 
is either great pleasure or great pain. 

We expect the Hunts every day, but 
I suppose the tramontana is a Greek 
wind at Sea and detains them. I think 
I told you they were to live at Lord 
B's. 

The news of the Greeks continues to 
be more and more glorious. It may be 
said that the Peloponnesus is entirely 
free, and that Mavrocordato has been 
acting a distinguished part, and will 
probably fill a high rank in the magis- 
tracy of the infant republic. 

What are you doing in German ? I 
have read none since we met, nor 



66 LETTERS TO 

probably until we meet again — should 
that ever be — shall I read it. 

I am employed in nothing — I read — 
but I have no spirits for serious com- 
position — I have no confidence, and to 
write in solitude or put forth 'thoughts 
without sympathy is unprofitable vanity. 

Tell me dearest what you mean to 
do, and if it should give you pleasure 
come and live with us. The Williamses 
always speak of you with praise and 
affection, and regret very much that you 
did not spend this winter with them, but 
neither their regret nor their affection 
equal mine. Yours ever. 

S. 

[Addressed out 'side, .] 
Miss Clair mont 

Fresso al Prof. Bojti 

Dirempetto Palazzo Pitti 
Firenze. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 67 



LETTER XVI. 

December 31, Pisa — 
[Postmark: \Janttary, (1822.)] 

My Dearest Friend 

I returned from Leghorn on Friday 
evening, but too late for the Post or 
you should have heard from me. The 
expected person had not arrived, having 
been detained by the tremendous 
weather. I hope soon to have more 
satisfactory intelligence. Your desires 
on this subject are the object of my 
anxious thought. — 

Mary desires me to say (not that she 
sees this letter or any of yours addressed 
to me) that she should have written to 
you — but she has been very unwell. She 
has suffered dreadfully from rheumatism 
in her head, to such a degree as for 
some successive nights entirely to 



68 LETTERS TO 

deprive her of sleep. She is now, 
by dint of blisters and laudanum 
somewhat better. I have suffered 
considerably from pain, and depression 
of spirits. The weather has been 
frightful here. Torrents of rain have 
swollen the Arno to a greater degree 
than has been known for many years ; 
the fury of the torrent is inconceivably 
great. The wind was beyond any- 
thing I ever remember, and all the 
shores of the Mediterranean are strewn 
with wrecks. The damage sustained 
at Genoa and the number of lives 
lost has been immense: the ships 
suspected of pestilence have been 
driven from their moorings into the 
town, and everything coming from 
Genoa has been subjected to a strict 
quarantine. Three mails from France 
are due, and a thousand contradictory 
rumours are afloat as to the cause. 
You may imagine, and I am sure you 
will share our anxiety about poor 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 69 

Hunt. I wonder, and am shocked 
at my own insensibility, that I can 
sleep or* enjoy one moment of peace 
until I hear of his safety. I shall of 
course write to tell you the moment 
of his arrival — I know you will be 
anxious about these poor people. The 
ship in which they sailed was spoken 
with in the Bay of Biscay, and was 
then quite safe. — We have little new 
in politics. You will have heard of 
the amphibious state of things in 
France, and the establishment of the 
Ultra-Ministry by the preponderance 
afforded to that party by the coalition 
of the Liberals with it. — The Greeks 
are going on excellently, and those 
massacres at Smyrna and Constanti- 
nople import nothing to the stability 
of the cause. There is no such thing 
as a rebellion in Ireland, or anything 
that looks like it. The people are 
indeed stung to madness by the op- 
pression of the Irish system, and there 



70 LETTERS TO 

is no such thing as getting rents or 
taxes even at the point of the bayonet 
throughout the southern provinces. 
But there are no regular bodies of men 
in opposition to the Government, nor 
have the people any leaders. In 
England all bear for the moment 
the aspect of a sleeping volcano. 

You do not tell me, my dearest 
Claire, anything of your plans, although 
you bid me be secret with respect 
to them. Assure yourself, my best 
friend, that anything you seriously 
enjoin me, that may be necessary for 
your happiness will be strictly observed 
by me. Write to me more explicitly 
your projects and expectations — you 
know in some respects my sentiments 
both with regard to them and you. 
I have been once, after enduring much 
solicitation, to Mrs. Beauclerk's, who 
did me the favour to caress me exceed- 
ingly. Unless she calls on Mary I shall 
not repeat my visit. Do you know her ? 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 71 

Should you take it into your head to 
call on Molini for me, let not Calderon 
having been sent for be an objection. 
— I want a Calderon. 
Adieu. Ever most faithfully yours, 

S. 

Mrs. Mason told me to say that she 
does not write because I do. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clair mont, 

Presso al Prof. Bojti, 
dirimpetto Palazzo Pitti, 

Firenze. 



72 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XVII. 
[Begun by Maty.] 

[Italy, 1822.] 

My dear Claire 

Shelley and I have been consulting 
seriously about your letter received this 
morning, and I wish in as orderly a 
manner as possible to give you the 
result of our reflections. First as to 
our coming to Florence ; I mentioned 
it to you first, it is true, but we have so 
little money, and our calls this quarter 
for removing &c. will be so great that 
we had entirely given up the idea. If 
it would be of great utility to you, as a 
single expence we might do it — but if it 
be necessary that others should follow, 
the crowns would be minus. But 
before I proceed further on this part 
of the subject let me examine what 
your plans appear to be. Your anxiety 



JANE CLAIRMQNT. 73 

for A's health is to a great degree 
unfounded j Venice, its stinking canals 
and dirty streets, is enough to kill any 
child ; but you ought to know, and any 
one will tell you so, that the towns of 
Romagna, situated where Bagna-cavallo 
is, enjoy the best air in Italy — Imola 
and the neighbouring paese are famous. 
Bagna-callo especially, being 15 miles 
from the sea and situated on an 
eminence is peculiarly salutary. Con- 
sidering the affair reasonably A. is well 
taken care of there, she is in good 
health, and in all probability will 
continue so. 

No one can more entirely agree with 
you than I in thinking that as soon as 
possible A. ought to be taken out of 
the hands of one as remorseless as he 
is unprincipled. But at the same time 
it appears to me that the present 
moment is exactly the one in which 
this is the most difficult — time cannot 
add to these difficulties for they can 



74 LETTERS TO 

never be greater. Allow me to en- 
umerate some of those which are 
peculiar to the present instant. A. is 
in a convent, where it is next to im- 
possible to get her out ; high walls and 
bolted doors enclose her — and more 
than all the regular habits of a convent, 
which never permits her to get outside 
its gates and would cause her to be 
missed directly. But you may have a 
plan for this and I pass to other ob- 
jections. At your desire Shelley urged 
her removal to L.B. and this appears 
in the highest degree to have exasperat- 
ed him — he vowed that if you annoyed 
him he would place A. in some secret 
convent, he declared that you should 
have nothing to do with her, and that 
he would move heaven and earth to 
prevent your interference. L. B. is at 
present a man of 12 or 15 thousand a 
year, he is on the spot, a man reckless 
of the ill he does others, obstinate to 
desperation in the pursuance of his 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 75 

plans or his revenge. What then 
would you do having A. on the outside 
of the convent walls? Would you go 
to America? the money we have not, 
nor does this seem to be your idea. 
You probably wish to secrete yourself. 
But L. B. would use any means to find 
you out— and the story he might make 
up— a man stared at by the grand 
duke — with money at command— and 
above all on the spot to put energy 
into every pursuit, would he not find 
you ? If he did not he comes upon 
Shelley— he taxes him ; Shelley must 
either own it or tell a lie— in either case 
he is open to be called upon by L. B. 
to answer for his conduct — and a duel 
—I need not enter upon that topic, 
your own imagination may fill up the 
picture. 

On the contrary a little time, a very 
little time, may alter much of this. It 
is more than probable that he will be 
obliged to go to England within a year 



76 LETTERS TO 

— then at a distance he is no longer so 
formitable [sic] what is certain is that 
we shall not be so near him another 
year — he may be reconciled with his 
wife, and though he may bluster he 
may not be sorry to get A. off his 
hands ; at any rate if we leave him 
perfectly quiet he will not be so ex- 
asperated, so much on the qui vive as 
he is at present — Nothing remains 
constant, something may happen — 
things cannot be worse. Another thing 
I mention which though sufficiently 
ridiculous may have some weight with 
you. Spring is our unlucky season. 
No spring has passed for us without 
some piece of ill luck. Remember 
the first spring at Mrs. Harbottles. 
The second when you became ac- 
quainted with L. B. the third we went 
to Marlow — no wise thing at least — 
the fourth our uncomfortable residence 
in London — the fifth our Roman 
misery — the sixth Paolo at Pisa — the 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 77 

seventh a mixture of Emilia and a 
Chancery suit — now the aspect of the 
Autumnal Heavens has on the contrary 
been with few exceptions, favourable to 
us — What think you of this ? It is in 
your own style, but it has often struck 
me. Would it not be better there- 
fore to wait, and to undertake no plan 
until circumstance bend a little more 
to us. 

Then we are drearily behind hand 
with money at present — Hunt and our 
furniture has swallowed up more than 
our savings. You say great sacrifices 
will be required of us, I would make 
many to extricate all belonging to me 
from the hands of L. B., whose hypoc- 
risy and cruelty rouse one's soul from 
its depths. We are of course still in 
great uncertainty as to our summer 
residence — we have calculated the 
great expence of removing our furniture 
for a few months as far as Spezia, and 
it appears to us a bad plan — to get a 



78 LETTERS TO 

furnished house we must go nearer 
Geneva, probably nearer L. B., which 
is contrary to our most earnest wishes. 
We have thought of Naples,* in such an 
event — Your setting up a school precisely 
on Miss Field's plan I certainly never 
approved ; because I thought even in 
Miss Field's case, the prices and the 
whole plan ridiculously narrow: and 
the whole affair seemed planned on that 
plausible scheme of moderation which 
never succeeds. It was this that I 
wanted to say to you. But the idea of 
a school, especially under Mrs. Mason's 
protection, I confess appeared very 
plausible to me. I should be glad, in 
case of transmigration, to leave you 
under such powerful and such secure 
protection as her's : it would be one 
subject less for regret, to me, if I could 
consider — my death — as no immediate 
misfortune to you ; as in this case it 

* This letter is written in Mary Shelley's autograph 
as far as the word Naples, and from in such an event 
to the end it is in the autograph of Shelley. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 79 

would not. — The incumbent of my re- 
version still flourishes ; and, you must be 
aware that the sensations with which it 
has pleased the Devil to endow the 
frame of his successor, are not the 
strongest pledges of longevity. You 
say that I may not have a conversation 
with you because you may depart in a 
hurry Heaven knows where — Except it 
be to the other world (and I know the 
coachman of that road will not let the 
passengers wait a minute) I know of no 
mortal business that requires such post 
haste. 

We are now at the Baths in a very 
nice house looking to the mountains. 
Mary will tell you all about it. Little 
Babe is quite well, smiling and good. 
I am better to day. I have been very 
ill, body and soul, but principally the 
latter. — I took some exercise in the 
boat to dissipate thought : but it 
over-fatigued me and made me worse. 
The Baths, I think, do me good, but 



8o LETTERS TO 

especially solitude, and not seeing 
polite human faces, and hearing 
voices. I go over about twice a 
week to see Emilia, who is in 
better spirits and health than she 
has been for some time. — Danielli 
almost frightens her to death, and 
she handed him over to me to quiet 
and console. — It seems that I am 
worthy of taking my degree of M.A. 
in the art of Love, for I have con- 
trived to calm the despairing swain, 
much to the satisfaction of poor Emilia : 
who in that convent of hers sees 
everything as through a mist, ten times 
its natural size. — The Williams's 
come sometimes : they have taken 
Pagnano. W. I like, and I have 
got reconciled to Jane. — Mr. Taaffe 
rides, writes, invites, complains, 
bows and apologizes ; he would be a 
mortal bore if he came often. The 
Greek Prince* comes sometimes, and I 

*Prince Alexander Mavrocordato. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 81 

reproach my own savage disposition 
that so agre[e]able, accomplished 
and amiable a person is not more 
agre[e]able to me. 

Adieu, my dear Clare. 

Ever yours most affectionately 

S. 

[Addressed out 'side. ] 

A Mademoiselle 

Mad lu de Clairmont 

Chez M. le Professeur Bojti 
Florence. 



82 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XVIII. 

[Postmark, March 20.] 

Pisa, 
Sunday Mor\ning, 1822.] 

My Dear Clare, 

I know not what to think of the 
state of your mind, or what to fear for 
you. Your late plan about Allegra 
seems to me in its present form 
pregnant with irremediable infamy to 
all the actors in it except yourself; — 
in any form wherein / must actively 
co-operate, with inevitable destruction. 
I would not in any case make myself 
the party to a forged letter. I could 
not refuse Lord Byron's challenge, 
though that, however to be deprecated, 
would be the least in the series of 
mischiefs consequent upon my pesti- 
lent intervention in such a plan. I 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 83 

say this because I am shocked at the 
thoughtless violence of your designs, 
and I wish to put my sense of this 
madness in the strongest light. I may 
console myself however with the 
reflection that the attempt even is 
impossible ; as I have no money. So 
far from being ready to lend me 3 or 
400 pounds, Horace Smith has lately 
declined to advance 6 or 7 Napoleons 
for a musical instrument which I wished 
to buy for Jane at Paris : nor have I 
any other Friend to whom I could 
apply. 

You think of going to Vienna. The 
change might have a favorable effect 
upon your mind, and the occupation 
and exertion of a new state of life wean 
you from counsils so desperate as those 
to which you have been so lately led. 
I must try to manage the money for 
your journey, if so you have decided. 
You know how different my own ideas 
are of life. I also have been struck 



84 LETTERS TO 

by the heaviest inflictions almost, 
which a high spirit and a feeling heart 
ever endured. — Some of yours and of 
my evils are in common, and I am 
therefore, in a certain degree, a judge. 
If you would take my advice you 
would give up this idle pursuit after 
shadows, and temper yourself to the 
season, and seek in the daily and 
affectionate intercourse of friends a 
respite from these perpetual and 
irritating projects. Live from day to 
day, attend to your health, cultivate 
literature and liberal ideas to a certain 
extent, and expect that from time and 
change which no exertion of your own 
can give you. Serious and calm reflection 
has convinced me that you can never 
obtain Allegra by such means as you 
have lately devised, or by any means 
to be devised. Lord Byron is inflexible, 
and he has her in his power. Remem- 
ber Clare when you rejected my earnest 
advice at Milan, and how vain is now 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 85 

your regret ! — This is the second of my- 
Sybilline volumes ; if you wait for the 
third it may be sold at a still higher 
price. If you think well, this summer, 
go to Vienna ; but wherever you go or 
stay let the past be past. 

I expect soon to write to you on 
another subject, respecting which, how- 
ever, all is as you already know. 
Farewell. Your affte. 

S. 

I am much pleased with your trans- 
lation of Goethe, which cannot fail to 
succeed if finished as begun. Lord B. 
thinks I have sent it to Paris to be 
translated, and therefore does not yet 
expect a copy. I shall of course have 
it copied out for him, and preserve 
yours to be sent to England. 

I send you 50 Francesconi — 6 more 
than your income, as you have made 
some expenses for me and Mary, I 
know not what. — Pray acknowledge 
the receipt of it. 



86 LETTERS TO 

Mary has written, she tells me, an 
account of yesterday's affray. The 
man, I am sorry to say, is much worse ; 
but never did any one provoke his 
own fate so wantonly. I was struck 
/rom my horse, and had not Captain 
Hay warded off the sabre with his stick, 
I must inevitably have been killed. 
Captain Hay has a severe sabre wound 
across the face. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clainnont, 

presso al Prof. Bojti, 

Piazza Pitti, 
Firenze. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 87 



LETTER XIX. 

[Pisa, 1822.] 
It is of vital importance both to me 
and to yourself; to Allegra even that 
I should put a period to my intimacy 
with L.B. and that without eclat. No 
sentiments of honour or justice restrain 
him (as I strongly suspect) from the 
basest insinuations, and the only mode 
in which I could effectually silence 
him ; I am reluctant (even if I had 
proof) to employ during my father's 
life. But for your immediate feelings 
I would suddenly and irrevocably leave 
the country which he inhabits, nor ever 
enter it but as an enemy to determine 
our differences without words. But at 
all events I shall soon see you, and 
then we will weigh both your plans and 
mine. Write by next post. 

[P. B. S.] 



88 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XX. 

Lerici, 
Tuesday Evening, March 29, 1822. 

My Dear Clare, 

Tell me when we are to expect you, 
and the precise hour and day at which 
you arrive at Viareggio.— I do not 
expect that you will have found any 
motives at Florence for altering your 
intentions with respect to this summer, 
and I think that at least for the present 
you would be happier here than any- 
where else. I have heard from Mrs. 
Mason. Mary still continues to suffer 
terribly from languor and hysterical 
affections ; and things in every respect 
remain as they were when you left 
us The letters on the sail, aft e r 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 89 

having undergone a thousand processes 
remain still distinct, and the only 
difference is that the sail is in a dismal 
condition. — We cannot match the stuff. 

I sailed to Massa the other day, and 
returned late at night against a high sea 
and heavy wind in which the boat be- 
haved excellently. — I sit within the 
whole morning and in the evening we 
sail about. — I write a little — I read and 
enjoy for the first time these ten years 
something like health 1 find how- 
ever that I must neither think or feel, 
or the pain returns to its old nest. 

Williams seems happy and content 
and we enjoy each other's society. 
Jane is by no means so acquiescent in the 
system of things, and she pines after 
her own house and saucepans to which 
no one can have a claim except herself. 
It is a pity that one so pretty and 
amiable should be so selfish — But 
dont tell her this — and come soon 
yourself, I hope my best Clare, with 



90 LETTERS TO 

tranquillized spirits and a settled mind 
to your ever constant and 

affectionate friend, 

P. B. S. 

Mrs. M. will tell you all Sk. st. news — 
— Mary is not in a state to hear it. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clairmont, 

presso al Prof. Bojti, 

Piazza Pitti, 

Firenze. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 91 



LETTER XXI. 

Sunday Evening — 
{Postmark Pisa 2 April, (1822).] 

My dearest friend — 

I wish you could in some degree 
tranquillize yourself, and fix upon 
some quiet plan of thought and action. 
The best would probably be to think 
and act without a plan, and let the 
world pass. . . No exertions of yours 
can obtain Allegra, and believe me 
that the plans you have lately dreamed, 
would,were they attempted only, plunge 
you and all that is connected with you 
in irremediable ruin. — But I dare say 
you are by this time convinced of 
it.— 

One thing I beg you to answer me : 



92 LETTERS TO 

How is your Health? If you have any 
returns of that affection of the glands of 
the breasts, you must promise me to see 
Vacca. — I am positive and most 
anxious on this subject, — for ill-health 
is one of the evils that is not a dream, 
and the reality of which every year, 
if you neglect it, will make more 
impressive. — 

This late affair about the Soldier will 
probably have no consequences. The 
man is getting better : my part in the 
affair, if not cautious or prudent, was 
justifiable : nor can I take to myself 
any imputation of rashness or want of 
temper. My words and my actions 
were calm and peaceable though firm. 
The fault of the affair, if there be any 
began with Taaffe, who loudly and 
impetuously asked Lord Byron if he 
would submit to the insult offered by 
the Dragoon. Lord B. might indeed 
have told Taaffe to redress his own 
wrongs ; but I, ,who had the swiftest 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 93 

horse, could not have allowed the man 
to escape, when once the pursuit was 
begun : — the man was probably drunk 
. . . Don't be so ready to blame. 
Imagine that there may be some more 
temper and prudence in the world, be 
sides what that little person of yours 
contains. . . . 

Your translation of Gothe is ex- 
cellent. — I did not understand from 
you that your name was to be told to 
Lord B — and I must now adhere to 
the story already told. I am sure 
you will gain a great deal by it — ■ 
if you go on as you have begun — 
How many pages of the original are 
done? 

Mary will talk gossip, and send you 
the Indian air, either by this post or the 
next — After a long truce, my side has 
declared war against me ; and I suppose 
I must wait for the general paci- 
fication between me and my rebel 



94 LETTERS TO 

faculties before it will be quiet for 
good. 

Ever your affectionate 

S— 
[Addressed outside. ] 
Miss Clairmottt, 

presso al Sige- P e - Bojti, 
Piazza Pitti, 
Fircnzc. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 95 



LETTER XXII. 

[Pisa, 1822.] 

I have little to add to Mary's letter 
my poor dear friend — and all that I 
shall do is suspend my journey to take 
a house until your answer : — Of course, 
if you do not spend the summer with 
us I shall come to Florence and see 
and talk with you. — But it seems to 
me far better, on every account that 
you should resolve on this and tran- 
quillize yourself among your friends. 
I shall certainly take our house far 
from Lord Byron's, although it may be 
impossible suddenly to put an end to 
his detested intimacy. — My coming to 
Florence would cost 15 or 20 crowns; 
Mary's much more : and if therefore 
we are to see you soon this money 



96 LETTERS TO 

in our present situation were better 
spared. — 

Mary tells you that Lord Byron is 
obstinate and awake about Allegra ; 
my great object had been to lull him 
into security until circumstances might 
call him to England. But the idea of 
contending with him in Italy and 
defended by his enormous fortune is 
vain. — I was endeavouring to induce 
him to place Allegra in the institute at 
Lucca, but his jealousy of my regard 
for your interests will, since a con- 
versation I had with him the other 
day, render him inaccessible to my 
suggestions. — It seems to me, that you 
have no other resource but time and 
chance and change. Heaven knows, 
whatever sacrifices I could make how 
gladly should I make if they could 
promote your desires about her : it 
tears my heart to think that all sac- 
rifices are now vain. Mary participates 
in my feelings — but I cannot write — 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 97 

my spirits completely overcome 
me. — 

Your ever faithful 

and affectionate S. 

Come and stay among us— If you 
like, come and look for houses with 
me, in our boat— it might distract your 
mind. 



98 LETTERS TO 



LETTER XXIII. 

[Postmark : Pisa. 

April nth, 1822.] 

Mary has not shown me her letter to 
you, and I therefore snatch an instant 
to write these few lines. 

Come my best girl if you think fit, 
and assure yourself that every one — I 
need not speak for myself — will be most 
happy to see you : — But I think you 
had better wait a post or two, and not 
make two journies of it, as that would 
be an expense to no purpose, and 
we have not an overplus of money. 
In fact, you had better resolve to 
be of our party in the country, 
where we shall go the moment the 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 99 

weather permits ; and arrange all your 
plans for that purpose. — The Williams's 
and we shall be quite alone, Lord Byron 
and his party having chosen Leghorn, 
where their house is already taken. 

Do not lose yourself in distant and 
uncertain plans ; but systematize and 
simplify your motions, at least for the 
present. 

I am not well. My side torments 
me. My mind agitates the prison 
which it inhabits, and things go ill 
with me — that is within — for all external 
circumstances are auspicious. 

Resolve to stay with us this summer, 
and remain where you are till we are 
ready to set off: — no one need know 
of where you are — The W's are serene 
people and we alone 

Before you come, look at Molini's 
what German books they have. I have 
got a Faust of my own, and just now 
my Drama on the Greeks'* is come — 

* Hellas. 



ioo LETTERS TO 

1 will keep it for you. 

Affectionately and ever yours, 

S. 

[Addressed outside. ] 
Miss Clairmont, 

Presso al Prof- Bojti, 
Piazza Pitti, 
Pirenze. 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 101 



LETTER XXIV. 



Lerici, Thursday. 
[Postmark, Sarzana, 31 May, (1822).] 

My dear Clare, 

I am vexed to hear that you are 
so ill, although the state of your spirits 
does not surprize me. I do not think 
there is any chance of your expe- 
riencing annoyance of whatever kind 
at Lerici, as I suspect between me 
and the only object from which it 
could spring there is a great gulph 
fixed, which by the nature of things 
must daily become wider. — I hear 
nothing of Hunt, nor have we any 
letters from England except those you 
are acquainted with and one from Mr. 
Gisborne. — I think you would be 



io2 LETTERS TO 

happier here ; and indeed always either 
with or near me,— but on this subj ect your 
own feelings and judgement must guide 
you. My health is much better this 
summer than it has been for many years ; 
but the occupation of a few mornings 
in composition has somewhat shaken 
my nerves. — I have turned Maria's 
room into a study, and am in this 
respect very comfortable. — What do 
you think about the situation of the 
G's, and their pretensions upon our 
resources ? This question you cannot 
answer in a letter, but I should be very 
glad to hear your opinion on it : mean- 
while I do nothing. — Mary has been 
very unwell. — She is now better and 
I suppose it will soon be necessary 
to make the Godwins a subject of 
conversation with her — at present I 
put off the evil day. — 

The superscription of my poor 
boat's infamy is erased. We have 



JANE CLAIRMONT. 103 

had the piece taken out, and new reef 
bands put in, and in such a manner 
that it will be impossible to distinguisn 
that it has been mended; it merely 
appears as if two additional reefs had 
been inserted; of which indeed we 
were greatly in want. — Jane, the other 
day was very much discontented with 
her situation here, on account of 
some of our servants having taken 
some things of hers, but now, as is the 
custom calm has succeeded to storm, 
to yield to the latter in the accustomed 
vicissitude.— Mary though ill is good. 
— And how are you? 

I wish you could mark down some 
good cook for us — a man of course. — 
If you could find another Betta with- 
out the disagr[e]eable qualities of the 
last it would do as well. 

Your ever affectionate, 

S. 



io4 LETTERS. 

Say when we are to come and meet 
you. 

[Addressed outside.] 
Miss Clairmont, 

presso al Sig*- P* Bojti, 
Piazza Pitti, 

Firtnze. 



London : Privately Printed 



I 22 J