Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/37

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SHELLEY.

in the opening of "The Revolt of Islam;" how sublime is it in the "Prometheus Unbound," where they are represented by Jupiter and Prometheus!

He proclaims enthusiastically the Idealism of Plato, of Spinoza, of Berkeley, of Kant. Let those who so stolidly sneer at this, expound by what possibility spirit and matter can influence each other without one attribute in common; or let them demonstrate the existence of matter apart from our perception; or let them show, if there be but one existing substance, that it is such as we should call matter rather than spirit. How glorious are his expositions of this philosophy in the "Ode to Heaven" and the speeches of Ahasuerus in "Hellas!"

He devoted himself heart and mind to the doctrine of the perfectibility of human nature; an intrinsic perfectibility to eventuate in a heaven on earth realised by the noble endeavours of man himself; not that which is complacently patronised by many so-called Christians, who are agreed to die and accept a perfect nature as a free gift, when they can no longer live imperfect. As if the severe laws of the universe permitted partial gifts, any more than they permit gainful robberies! Though I must consider Shelley mistaken in this belief, I yet honour and not blame him for it. For his nature must have been most pure and noble, since it could persuade his peculiarly introspective mind of its truth. Right or wrong, it is the very mainspring of his philosophic system. In "Queen Mab," in "The Revolt of Islam," in the "Prometheus Unbound," its expression glows with the solemn inspiration of prophecy. As Scott was the poet of the past, and Goethe of the present, so was Shelley of the future; the thought of whose developed triumphs always kindles him into rapture. However