Although barely out of adolescence…[Shelley] was, in 1813, an ardent radical and anti-monarchist. Physically, he was rather odd, tall and slim to the point of limpness, with a high-pitched effete voice; but what he lacked in physical bulk he more than made up for in charismatic intensity. Among the earliest witnesses to this intensity were his school fellows at Eton, where he was sent by his landowning father when he was twelve. Initially he was bullied for his refusal to ‘fag’ for older boys, but the bullies soon discovered that in spite of his feeble frame, Shelley was not a boy to succumb quietly to taunts. On the contrary, he could be terrifying when roused, and was quite capable of reciprocal acts of violence. He stabbed one tormentor’s hand with a fork, and others remembered him as an almost unearthly creature, with flashing eyes, wild hair, and deathly white cheeks.
—  young romantics - daisy hay

Mary Shelley’s dressing case

Shelley kept relics of the ones she loved—collecting their hair in folded paper packets and treasuring the objects they used daily. Some of these are still in this case, such as this packet with Byron’s hair. The bracelet pictured here was made from Shelley’s own hair, cut from her corpse. Not here is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s heart, which Edward Trelawny claims he snatched from the fire cremating P.B. Shelley’s remains on the beach at Viareggio. According to family lore, the heart was given to Mary, who stored it in a copy of Adonais, the elegy Percy Bysshe wrote on the death of Keats. Some say she kept this book in her portable desk. I don’t know where her portable desk is, but the heart is said to have been buried with their son and the copy of Adonais is at the Bodleian, as is this dressing case.

Thanks to all of you fine readers for your patience and support. I have been looking forward to producing more of the regular content (including the puzzle.) I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief break while I was otherwise occupied. This upcoming Monday will be a return to form.

I invite you to look at the Kickstarter Campaign that my studio has launched to release art-books by its members. My work is one of the first six featured and, if you like what I do, this is a way to see more of it, including rare/unpublished pieces.

We – are we not formed, as notes of music are,
For one another, though dissimilar;
Such difference without discord, as can make
Those sweetest sounds, in which all spirits shake
As trembling leaves in a continuous air?
—  Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “Epipsychidion”


Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron.

Byron: Alas! poor Shelley – how he would have laughed – had he lived, and how we used to laugh now & then – at various things – which are grave in the Suburbs. – You are all mistaken about Shelley – – you do not know – how mild – how tolerant – how good he was in Society – and as perfect a Gentleman as ever crossed a drawing room; – when he liked & where he liked.

Shelley: I have no other news to tell you, my dear Lord Byron, unless you think this is news: that I often talk, and oftener think, of you; and that, though I have not seen you for six months, I still feel the burden of my own insignificance and impotence; as they must ever forbid my interest in your welfare from being put to the proof. Adieu.

If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? IF HE HAS SPOKEN, WHY IS THE UNIVERSE NOT CONVINCED?
—  Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)