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will have seen my Adonais and perhaps my Hellas, and I think, whatever you may think of the subject, the composition of the first poem will not wholly displease you. I wish I had something better to do than furnish this jingling food for the hunger of oblivion, called verse, but I have not; and since you give me no encouragement about India I cannot hope to have." Peacock, Works, iii. 477. 66 I was
Shelley (from Pisa) to Ollier, January 11, 1822 : also more than commonly interested in the success of Adonais. I do not mean the sale, but the effect it produced; and I should have been glad to have received some communication from you respecting it. I do not know even whether it has been published, and still less whether it has been published with the alterations I sent." Rossetti, Adonais, 1891, p. 33.
Shelley (from Pisa) to Hunt, January 25, 1822 : Pray tell me if Ollier has published Hellas, and what effect was produced by Adonais. My faculties are shaken to atoms, and torpid. I can write nothing; and if Adonais had no success, and excited no interest, what incentive can I have to write? Garnett, Relics, p. 190.
Shelley (from Pisa) to John Gisborne, April 10, 1822 : “I know what to think of Adonais, but what to think of those who confound it with the many bad poems of the day, I know not. . . It is absurd in any Review to criticise Adonais, and still more to pretend that the verses are bad." Mrs. Shelley, Essays and Letters, ii. 336, 339.
Shelley (from Lerici) to John Gisborne, June 18, 1822: "The Adonais I wished to have had a fair chance, both because it is a favorite with me and on account of the memory of Keats, who was a poet of great genius, let the classic party say what it will." Fortnightly Review, June, 1878.
Adonais was reprinted, except stanzas xix.-xxiv., in The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review, December 1, 1821; and was noticed in The Literary Gazette, December 8, 1821.
Hellas / A Lyrical Drama / By / Percy B. Shelley / ΜΑΝΤΙΣ ΕΙΜ' ΕΣΘΛΩΝ 'ΑΓΩΝΩΝ / dip. Colon. / London /
Charles and James Ollier Vere Street / Bond Street / MDCCCXXII.
Collation: Octavo. Half-title (with imprint, Printed by S. and R. Bentley, / Dorset Street, London, on verso), pp. i. ii.; Title (with blank verso) pp. iii. iv. ; Dedication (with blank verso) pp. v. vi.; Preface, pp. vii.-xi.; Fly-title to Hellas (with list of Dramatis Persona on verso) pp. 1, 2; Hellas pp. 3-53 (with imprint repeated, slightly different [Fleet St.] at foot of page); Notes, pp. 55-58; Stanzas written on hearing the News of the / Death of Napoleon, pp. 59, 60. Issued in wrappers, with white paper label on side lettered Hellas / A/Lyrical Drama / 3s. 6d.
The copy referred to in this edition as Shelley, n. d. differs from the above only by lacking all after Edip. Colon, on the title-page, and containing the suppressed passages of the text, as noted. It is evidently the first printed copy.
Fragments of the draft of the drama exist among the Boscombe MSS. The copy, made by Williams and revised by Shelley for the printer, is in the possession of Mr. F. Locker-Lampson. The list of errata is in the possession of Mr. C. W. Frederickson.
Garnett, Relics, p. 3: "Mrs. Shelley informs us, in her Note on the Prometheus Unbound, that at the time of her husband's arrival in Italy, he meditated the production of three dramas. One of these was the Prometheus itself; the second, a drama on the subject of Tasso's madness; the third, one founded on the Book of Job; ' of which,' she adds, 'he never abandoned the idea.' That this was the case will be apparent from the following newly-discovered fragment, which may have been, as I have on the whole preferred to describe it, an unfinished Prologue to Hellas, or perhaps the original sketch of that work, discarded for the existing more dramatic, but less ambitious version, for which the Persœ of Eschylus evidently supplied the model. It is written in the same book as the original MS. of Hellas, and so blended with this as to be only separable after a very minute examination. Few even of Shelley's rough drafts have proved
more difficult to decipher or connect; numerous chasms will be observed which, with every diligence, it has proved impossible to fill up; the correct reading of many printed lines is far from certain; and the imperfection of some passages is such as to have occasioned their entire omission. Nevertheless I am confident that the unpolished and mutilated remnant will be accepted as a worthy emanation of one of Shelley's sublimest moods, and a noble earnest of what he might have accomplished, could he have executed his original design of founding a drama on the Book of Job. Weak health, variable spirits, and, above all, the absence of encouragement, must be enumerated as chief among the causes which have deprived our literature of so magnificent a work."
NOTES Showing the state of other editions and including minor variations beyond what has been already noted :·
8 your || yon Forman; Dowden.
77 tempests 1822, tempests' Forman, Dowden.
87 prey Forman, Dowden. Mrs. Shelley's reading harmonizes with the thought and is more natural.
88 lightenings Rossetti.
253 spoils 18391,2.
262 overshadowing 18391,2.
466 Repulsed 18391,2.
472 Hold 18391,2. 503 in || of 18391,2. 511 sea, 18391,2. 520 soul. 18391,2.
279 bear || have 18391,2.
317 'Mid Forman conj. 321 assaults 18391,2.
352 his its 18391,2.
357 of the earth || of earth 18391,2.
384 bands 18391,2.
527 And | As 18391,2. 563 freeman 18391,2.
620 upon Clelonit's 18391,2; upon Chelonites' Rossetti, Dowden. In Shelley's MS. errata upon is struck out and on written above the line. The initial extra syllable of the next line supplies what is missing metrically, and taken together the two lines are complete. The irregularity is not greater than was habitual with Shelley.
755 apprehend 18391,2.
762 my 18391,2 Dowden.
882 shall 18391,2.
657 deep omit 18391,2.
728 For Fear Rossetti conj., Forman, Dowden. For is the reading of the Williams transcript, and therefore Rossetti abandoned his conjecture. It is renewed by Forman and Dowden, without necessity, and is unsupported by the passage in Eschylus here expanded.
958 earthquakes 18391,2.
1018 vailed James Thomson conj. It is unlikely that Shelley would use such a word.
1057 dreams 18391,8.
1068 his its 18391,2.
1072 Argos 1822.
1095 native Galignani, 1829.
60 Milan was the centre of the resistance of the Lombard league against the Austrian tyrant. Frederic Barbarossa burned the city to the ground, but liberty lived in its ashes, and it rose like an exhalation from its ruin. See Sismondi's Histoire des Républiques Italiennes, a book which has done much towards awakening the Italians to an imitation of their great ancestors.
197 The popular notions of Christianity are represented in this chorus as true in their relation to the worship they
superseded, and that which in all probability they will supersede, without considering their merits in a relation more universal. The first stanza contrasts the immortality of the living and thinking beings which inhabit the planets, and to use a common and inadequate phrase, clothe themselves in matter, with the transience of the noblest manifestations of the external world.
The concluding verses indicate a progressive state of more or less exalted existence, according to the degree of perfection which every distinct intelligence may have attained. Let it not be supposed that I mean to dogmatize upon a subject concerning which all men are equally ignorant, or that I think the Gordian knot of the origin of evil can be disentangled by that or any similar assertions. The received hypothesis of a Being, resembling men in the moral attributes of his nature, having called us out of non-existence, and after inflicting on us the misery of the commission of error, should superadd that of the punishment and the privations consequent upon it, still would remain inexplicable and incredible. That there is a true solution of the riddle, and that in our present state that solution is unattainable by us, are propositions which may be regarded as equally certain meanwhile, as it is the province of the poet to attach himself to those ideas which exalt and ennoble humanity, let him be permitted to have conjectured the condition of that futurity towards which we are all impelled by an inextinguishable thirst for immortality. Until better arguments can be produced than sophisms which disgrace the cause, this desire itself must remain the strongest and the only presumption that eternity is the inheritance of every thinking being.
245 The Greek Patriarch after having been compelled to fulminate an anathema against the insurgents was put to death by the Turks.