Page:Mrs Shelley (Rossetti 1890).djvu/70

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58
MRS. SHELLEY.

planning the amelioration of the world pleasanter than struggling to keep one poor soul from sinking to degradation; but who shall judge the strength of another's power, or feel the burden of another's woe? We can only tell how the expression of his agony may help ourselves; but surely it is worthy of admiration to find Shelley, four days after writing this most heart-broken letter to Hogg, binding his chains still firmer by remarrying, so that, come what would, no slur should be cast on Harriet.

Harriet, who had never understood anything of housekeeping, and whose ménage, according to Hogg, was of the funniest, now that the novelty of Shelley's talk and ways was over, and when even the constant changes were beginning to satiate her, apparently spent a time of intolerable ennui. It is still remembered in the Pilfold family how Harriet appeared at their house late one night in a ball dress, without shawl or bonnet, having quarrelled with Shelley. A doctor who had to perform some operation on her child was struck with astonishment at her demeanour, and considered her utterly without feeling, and Shelley's poem, "Lines, April 1814," written, according to Claire Clairmont's testimony, when Mr. Turner objected to his visiting his wife at Bracknell, gives a touching picture of the comfortless home which he was returning to; in fact, they seem to have no sooner been together again than Harriet made a fresh departure. There is one imploring poem by Shelley, addressed to Harriet in May 1814, begging her to relent and pity, if she cannot love, and not to let him endure "The misery of a fatal cure"; but Harriet had not generosity, if it was needed, and, according to Thornton Hunt, she left Shelley and went to Bath,