Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/44

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


SHELLEY'S RELIGIOUS OPINIONS.


MY dear Eikonoklastes,—In the National Reformer of August the 4th, you quote a few words from one G. T. in support of your own opinion that Shelley was an Atheist. Can you spare me space for a few remarks on the subject?

I have none of Shelley's letters by me, save those which are included in Mrs. Shelley's edition of his prose writings. But a man's letters do not always afford the best evidence concerning his opinions upon the most important questions put to us by life. In friendly letters one permits himself to give the reins to his mood, to throw off rough and ready sketches with little care as to the accurate shading, to be capricious and paradoxical,—in short, to speak not as one who is delivering testimony on oath. Of course I do not speak of serious and solemn epistles, but of the general run of correspondence. On the other hand, you may be sure that the public works of a man so brave, so honest, so enthusiastic as Shelley, record his profoundest convictions on the most momentous subjects. I wish, therefore, to bring to your notice some passages of these works which tend to elucidate the question as to his creed.

Let us begin by putting the "Queen Mab" out of court. It was written when he was a mere youth, and