September 8 1816: Shelleys In England



On September 8, 1816, Shelley arrives in England, and writes to Byron, from Portsmouth.

Portsmouth, September 8, 1816

Nine days of tedious voyaging over land and sea have brought us hither. We had some pleasant moments in our journey through France, visitings of sunshine in stormy weather. We passed, not through Paris, but by a shorter route through Versailles, and Fontainebleau, and stayed to visit those famous Palaces, which, as I will hereafter tell you, are well worth visiting as monuments of human power; grand, yet somewhat faded; the latter is the scene of some of the most interesting events of what may be called the master theme of the epoch in we live – the French Revolution. Our passage from Havre hither was wretched – 26 hours. We have just dined after our arrival, and I learn that the post departs in a few minutes – but I am anxious to give you the earliest intelligence of the safe arrival of the Childe.6 His only adventure since he quitted the paternal roof has been inglorious. He was taken for a smuggler, and turned over and over by a Custom-house officer, to see if lace, &c., were hidden within. He is now quite safe, and locked in my portmanteau.

You shall hear from me again in three days. Adieu – take care of your health – tranquillise yourself – and be persuaded with Coleridge – that “Hope is a most awful duty, the nurse of all other virtues.” I assure you that it will not depart, if it be not rudely banished, from such a one as you.

Mary unites with me in sincerest wishes for your happiness; Clare is about to enjoin me some messages which are better conceived than expressed. Your sincere friend, P. B. Shelley

[P.S.] Make my remembrances to Hobhouse – as also to Mr. Davies. I hope that the former has destroyed whatever scruples you have felt, in dismissing Polidori. The anecdote which he recounted to me the evening before I left Geneva made my blood run cold.


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