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"To Wordsworth" and the "White Obi"'. slavery, determination, and contingency in Shelley's Peter Bell the Third.

ONCE MORE INVOKING POETRY IN ADVANCE OF SCIENCE--IN THIS CASE prophesying the development of a radioactive decay-calculus that modern biologists call "half-life"--Percy Shelley's sonnet "To Wordsworth" reads as an epitaph for a man still alive. As in so many other efforts of Shelley, the poem's work is to translate a displaced "life" to a new sense. (1) Thirty-some years before Wordsworth's death (more than Shelley's own lifetime), it ends with the line, "Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be." The only way to make an explicit paraphrase of Shelley's clear meaning is to understand him as saying something like "thus having been a force for good, and a great example to me," that Wordsworth should "cease to be in the same way." The poem's main device reverses life's normative test--as Shelley weighs the balance of meaning in contempt of mere physical states--and turns Wordsworth's accommodation, or endurance, of life's challenges into the sign of his exponential decay. Using the argument of the "Immortality" Ode against its author, "To Wordsworth" holds that existence may be preserved at the cost not only of virtue or interest, but of being. When this happens, being is given over to a set of customs that are just dead weight, and a chill ensues "deep almost as life!" (2) Here is the sonnet:
 Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know
 That things depart which never may return:
 Childhood and youth, friendship and love's first glow,
 Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
 These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
 Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
 Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine
 On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar:
 Thou hast like a rock-built refuge stood
 Above the blind and battling multitude:
 In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
 Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,-Deserting
 these, thou leavest me to grieve,
 Thus having been, that thou should cease to be.

(92) (3)


Finished and published in 1816, and included in the volume Alastor; or the Spirit of Solitude, and Other Poems, the sonnet's drafts likely go back to 1814. (4) They have since been lost. On September 14th of that year, Mary Shelley wrote in her journal: Shelley "calls on Hookham, and brings home Wordsworths Excursion, of which we read a part--much disappointed--He is a slave." (5)

The weight of this essay depends greatly on what is meant by thinking of the mature Wordsworth as a "slave," and comes to see it increasingly as a reflexive judgment in Shelley's own terms. Throughout his early work climaxing in Queen Mab (1812-13), Shelley used "slave" as a marker of ideological dependency in a manner that pressed a revolutionary agenda by means of a style of ambitious abstraction, yet remains almost careless toward slavery's literal, legal and human, conditions. (6) In this sense atypical of the exceedingly careful vision of mutually dependent freedom and necessity in his later thought, the slavery that charges Shelley's initial accusations against Wordsworth is a loose term whose springiness recoils eventually upon its user. Yet a tactical victory is gained for Shelley's poetry by this accusation. It calls back, and reinterprets, the all too sober terms of Wordsworth's escape from mutability. The sonnet's last line in effect sees Wordsworth's defense against external change as the disclosure of his own changeability. The poem likens change of the latter sort to treachery; and Wordsworth's stoic accommodation is the cause for why he ceases "to be" for the skeptic Shelley. (7) Although he is impossible to expunge physically (like the "rock-built refuge" reminiscent of the pile in "Peele Castle," a poem that Mary Shelley sadly celebrated in her own lyric response of 1825), the sonnet urges the feeling that Wordsworth just ceases to matter. If Wordsworth has deserted the ephemeral state that characterizes all things, then where even is he now? Shelley invokes an increasingly punitive form of scapegoat logic; in it, Wordsworth is no part of creation, and is not just socially, but metaphysically, shut out. But this expulsion proves more wishful than accurate of Shelley. As a declarative pose it is subject to irony, like the mockery that besets Ozymandias' "sneer of cold command" in another famous sonnet from around the same time (109). Here Shelley's own position incurs some of the irony besetting Ozymandias the tyrant. My own sense is that this is not a reflectively self-transcending, "romantic," irony.

For in turn the charge of "To Wordsworth" formulates a condition which Shelley, too, proves contained by. Sometimes closely mimicking that of slavery, Shelley often affirms a discourse of voluntary servitude. It stands along with enlarged political franchise and a platform of social consent, each of these being reforms that Shelley himself sought. Canto Ix of Laon and Cythna (1817) evokes positive freedom in a manner not possible to tell from servitude: "Virtue, and Hope, and Love, like light and Heaven, / Surround the world.--We are their chosen slaves" (106). Wordsworth's arrival at a parallel end in the service of "duty" constituted an example Shelley mocked at whatever cost. Yet he attacked it always at the price of his own equivocal admiration of an uncannily benign "slavery," an aim that stands as his own version of Wordsworth and Coleridge's earlier formulations of benign modes--alternately Christian or Spinozist and "pantheist"--of philosophical determination.

Within the inclusive idea of contingency that "To Wordsworth" manipulates, Shelley is himself irreversibly caught up in process. He is attached to change forever, both in himself and in the departed things "which never may return." He is given to the flux of process as a fixed necessity. Partly deriving from his unwinnable conflict with Wordsworth (whom Shelley in a manuscript fragment called "Proteus Wordsworth," (8) thereby turning his apostasy into a much more slippery and elemental fiction), process and the image of the triumphal procession become Shelley's most lasting figures for that determination. In this, The Triumph of Life (1822) can only elaborate the figures for a state of bondage begun more simply in "To Wordsworth," where the example of the older poet is an explicit and intensely realized presence. The issue throughout may be framed in terms of Shelley's repeated identification of Wordsworth's freedom versus his servitude, and what constitutes positive duty as opposed to bad (mere) determination. Wordsworth's sportive yet constrained return to the sonnet, "Nuns Fret Not," understands itself as speaking for those "who have felt the weight of too much liberty" (WPW 199). This is directed first at the aesthetics of liberty, but is not limited to formal aspects. The sonnet's space confronts us with a limit Shelley persistently associated with Wordsworth. There are hints of Wordsworth in the "cold glare" and "icy cold" of the arriving triumphal car (486), and these pick up Shelley's repeated association of Wordsworth's process of nature---and lack of a sympathetic imagination, at least conventionally understood--as forms of antisocial coldness in the satire of Peter Bell (352). Just as the mutability of "To Wordsworth" extends to a law (vengeful to those who flout it, with Shelley as an oddly self-appointed kind of enforcer), the being or life invoked in the sonnet comprehends already the fatal paradox of fife in The Triumph of Life. If the conditions of life are inclusive, they sustain but also consume human vitality.

Most frighteningly, life offers no way of telling the difference between this positive immanence and inclusive decay. This essay's central account of Peter Bell the Third should be understood to ask--can poetry? Shelley's work is an almost philosophical proof of the "One Life" of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Except in Shelley's revision, the constitutive character of the "One Life" marks it as sustaining and fatal. The conditions of fatality, determination, and necessity emerge as the complex knot of life's dilemma. For Shelley this state comprehends both the painful and the benign, and in doing so lays claim to a larger picture than Coleridge and Wordsworth had done in their pictures of the mind, when they struggled for a triumphant benignity against the background of darker intimations. At least in their consolidating moments, Shelley would argue--perhaps thinking back to "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison" or "Tintern Abbey"--they wished to amplify on the light alone, without allowing for the distance of inhuman truths that The Triumph's "cold" light often illuminates.

The person who wrote Alastor (1815) and The Triumph of Life (1822), and all in between, by character is either compelled or impelled, chasing or fleeing: ever driven. It is as though he recognizes only to refuse Wordsworth's distinction in "Tintern Abbey," between the poet "flying from something that he dreads" and seeking "the thing he loved" (WPW 164). Indeed Shelley wrote as much in The Triumph, where he kept the rhythm of the original insight intact, only to identify Wordsworth's "love" instead as "the object of another's fear" (485). In doing so, Shelley both demystified and broadcast love (and its relational shadow, fear) on fines Wordsworth might have grasped, but even in his best poems only intimated. (9) In Shelley this rushing movement of the quest, or flight, becomes at once public (involving the claims of others) and visibly circular in nature. It yields the juggernaut image of an inclusive rolling like that of the world itself in Wordsworth's famous imagery: an intuition we see in Lucy, and in the earth's "diurnal course" rolled round with rocks and stones and trees. The poet's death secures this loss of control. But as with the concept of "half-life," his death is not the end of meaning, nor is it the first example of such a meaningful attrition.

Yet there is also a major development in Shelley's career, and it saves him from the solipsism we might expect after Alastor. Becoming more capable of detachment, which Shelley understands as a generosity toward the polysemous and indirect determination of human issues, he increasingly sees others in the same plight that was once put uniquely on himself (the post-Wordsworthian poet). The impersonality of their public imagination is part of Wordsworth and Shelley's often surprisingly linked originality. At times it can link Wordsworth and Shelley in a mode they, and others, felt as unbearable chill. There is a likeness in their prose theorizations of history, which subsumes the often stark differences of their poems (and the difference from Shelley reflected in Wordsworth's later politics). After such disciplined strictures on the historical role of the individual imagination, there remains a power that, announced obliquely through his poems, survives Shelley. This emerges as an historical aspect of the poet's skeptical and indirect sense of aesthetic agency. It is Shelley's personal voice finally stripped of everything that is not essential, and merged with the spirit of the age through literature's powers of "world-forming" (Jean-Luc Nancy) or of Kantian "world legislation." By this program of imagination, Shelley observes an indirect historical function for the aesthetic that is propaedeutic to a revitalizing social engagement, and not apart from it. (10)

While assiduously re-taking the measure of historical pressures, recent criticism has been very concerned to prevent any essentialized views of this "spirit," the emergence of which becomes more forcible even as it is shown to be more contingent and mediated. Coming after Wordsworth, that age's brilliance is often of a secondary (and discursive) order. Yet by submitting to the spirit--perhaps one could say even by falling beneath its triumph--Shelley helped in fact to shape romanticism's after-effects. Shelley's best critics, from William Keach and James Chandler to Robert Kaufman, tend often to think of the poet as a fellow critic; Kaufman even claims for the poet something like Frankfurt School "critical consciousness." These commentators persistently remind us how the sense of an historical spirit finds its best "case" in the recursive texture of Shelley's thought itself. (11)

Shelley's moroseness, and his faith, stems from the realization that he cannot get outside of what he called "life." Yet where life has the character of a totalizing philosophical construct for Shelley, in experience it is felt frequently as interruption. What this interruption dialectically supposes, we might say, is the only leftover in Shelley's habits of thought from the logic of transcendence: the sense (humorously evinced in the story where he accosts a baby) of how close people could be to utopia, if only life had not intervened. Hence the repeated note of complaint--a dismay whose paradox we now take for granted as Wordsworthian--in his essay "On Life": "We live on, and in living we lose the apprehension of life" (506). If the Marxian tradition is in at least one sense right, and "life" determines consciousness in whatever sense that takes, we can view "On Life" as Shelley's critique of the ghost of Wordsworth, who in living on has lost in an exact sense the awareness of what he is doing, and so failed by a skeptical test of his self-knowledge. This is of course a backhanded compliment. It carries the flattering implication that the poet's self is worth preserving, and the unusual implication that young Wordsworth's self could have been better preserved in another's, that is Shelley's, care. To put it bluntly, Wordsworth's becoming a "slave" to his own conception of duty means he could not be Shelley's tool.

Immanence and Obeah Curses: Peter Bell the Third

We must dwell further upon that salvo in which Wordsworth "is a slave." Though Mary's was an instantaneous and excessive statement, it cannot be reduced to an angry passing figure of speech; nor--knowing Shelley's personal views on slavery, or the attitudes about justice famously offered by the then seventeen-year-old Mary's parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft--could it be a flippant gesture. On the evidence of his poems, it proved a characterization that stood out increasingly in Shelley's judgment of Wordsworth over time.

More even than Percy's sonnet, Mary's remark leads onward to the damning conclusions later exhibited against Wordsworth in Shelley's only other major poem addressed to him, Peter Bell the Third (1819). (12) Schematically dense, this work has always required some initial background. (13) Of course the poem Shelley addresses is Wordsworth's Peter Bell, part of whose complexity stems from an unusual history of publication. Though written at the time of Lyrical Ballads, in 1798, the work was not published until 1819, by which point Wordsworth's own self-image and reception had much changed (see WPW 188 ft.). The result of this shift was to produce a group of (especially young) writers who still followed Wordsworth, having owed his works a great deal, but who now mainly reviled or mocked him. More charitable than most, Keats called the reaction "splenetic love." (14) Wordsworth's announcement that he had held the poem for twenty years "to make the production less unworthy of a favourable reception; or rather to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the Literature of our Country" did nothing to curb this disposition. Wordsworth was advertising a poem from his democratically leveling years in a tone that recruited it to aging legitimacy. As a forecast of his coming place in the symbolic order of "literature," notoriously these interests included a sinecure government post (as stamp distributor, assumed in 1813), and the celebration of God's "exterminating sword," waved exultingly over the dead at Waterloo in his "Thanksgiving Ode" of 1816 (WPW 263).

The notice merely announcing the appearance of Wordsworth's "new" poem was enough to provoke the composition of the "second" Peter Bell, a work written by John Hamilton Reynolds called "Peter Bell: A Lyrical Ballad." Reynolds wrote his poem blind to its stated target, publishing it a week before what he (and then Shelley) calls "the real Simon Pure" (337). (15) However, this really created no problem for the hostile critical reaction. As a model, "The Idiot Boy" (also of 1798) was seized upon instead, and is anyway the best gauge of a style Wordsworth loved--one sprung from flatfooted ambitions, with the combination of off-key humor and a disarming earnestness that is also found in Peter Bell--a mode that Wordsworth has seldom been praised for, and which was especially scorned by Coleridge in the Biographia Literaria. (16) Because of this odd fact in the dating, Reynolds' intermediate stage turns from a relatively simple production into itself something fairly complex. Shelley knew of it, and so titled his own poem Peter Bell the Third. But Shelley for his part likely had neither read Wordsworth's Peter Bell nor Reynolds' "antenatal" sequel (341). (17) What he had read, trying to keep abreast in Italy, were two separate numbers of The Examiner, Leigh Hunt's liberal miscellany. By June of 1819, Shelley had read the April 25 issue containing an unsigned review of Reynolds by Keats, and in the number issued May 2, a scathing moral invective that Hunt himself wrote on Wordsworth. Seizing a passage that Wordsworth later cut, Hunt forcibly depicted Peter Bell as a "Methodistical nightmare." (18) He singled out one disruptively failed moment, which showed a poor balance of judgment with dark humor on Wordsworth's part, in the rhyme "Cramm'd just as they on earth were cramm'd" with "All silent and all damn'd!" Pierre Bayle, the enlightenment forerunner of Wordsworth's title character, in a very different spirit had written his massive Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel of Luke 14.23, "Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full" (English translation, 1708). Playing on the verb "cram," Shelley too would use this couplet (which he would have seen in Hunt), and through it connect Peter Bell to the vicious theological imagination of the "Thanksgiving Ode" and a poem splintered from it, Wordsworth's "Ode, 1815" (361). In fact Shelley may have been still thinking of Wordsworth, when he paired "cramming" with the allegorical specter of "FAMINE" (the result of such wars of intolerance) in Swellfoot the Tyrant, a satire written on the return of Queen Caroline in the following year (2.ii.5). Byron after him would use the same "damn'd'/ "cramm'd" rhyme against Southey in The Vision of Judgment in 1822.

Importantly, for Hunt, it was Wordsworth's adherence to the party of judgment that made his poem so unredeemable. This made it easy, in Dantesque fashion, to convict Wordsworth for his moralizing standards in the coercive reform of Peter. A fearful excess that Hunt long reviled in Methodism returns on its creator. The combined effect of this tangled literary network (which included not just Shelley, Wordsworth and Reynolds, but also Hunt and Keats) was to yield two strands that Shelley exploits in his poem. Cued again by the themes of Wordsworth's "Immortality" Ode, he returned to invoke Reynolds as an "antenatal" Platonic fiction familiar already to the ode's readers. Hunt's diagnosis of the Methodism, or evangelical fervor in general, which stands behind the poem's arguable lapses of bad faith then supplies the second of Shelley's tactical motifs, in Peter's Christian conversion story seen as a hopeless reformation.

Yet it is not so much the poem's seven parts as the Prologue that dwells obsessively on the themes set in motion by Platonism and Christianity:
 Peter Bells, one, two and three,
 O'er the wide world wandering be:--
 First, the antenatal Peter,
 Wrapt in weeds of the same metre,
 The so long predestined raiment
 Clothed in which to walk his way meant
 The second Peter; whose ambition
 Is to link the proposition
 As the mean of two extremes--
 (This was learnt from Aldric's themes)
 Shielding from the guilt of schism
 The orthodoxal syllogism:
 The first Peter--he who was
 Like the shadow in the glass
 Of the second, yet unripe,
 His substantial antetype.--
 Then came Peter Bell the Second,
 Who henceforward must be reckoned
 The body of a double soul--
 And that portion of the whole
 Without which the rest would seem
 Ends of a disjointed dream.--
 And the third is he who has
 O'er the grave been forced to pass
 To the other side, which is,--
 Go and try else,--just like this.
 Peter Bell the First was Peter
 Smugger, milder, softer, neater,
 Like the soul before it is
 Born from that world into this.
 The next Peter Bell was he
 Predevote like you and me
 To good or evil as may come;
 His was the severer doom,--
 For he was an evil Cotter
 And a polygamic Potter.
 And the last is Peter Bell,
 Damned since our first Parents fell,
 Damned eternally to Hell--
 Surely he deserves it well!

(341-42)


There have been great Christian and Platonic programs for reading Shelley over the years. But neither has given full play to how these mythic frameworks tend to defeat the gravity of their interpretation. (19) Doctrines cannot be separated from their role here in delivering a seriously envenomed joke; and that feeling of aesthetic medley then becomes much harder to keep away from other poems that are not ostensibly satire, but are sometimes just as comical. Though Shelley in this connection once said, "perhaps no one will believe in anything in the way of a .joke from me," (20) Peter Bell the Third hones its farrago style to a point. Indeed, my aim in what follows is to suggest a more powerful mythic work behind the poem: one that is not so much threatened by the jokes, in the way Regency contemporary powers might react to as blasphemy or sedition, (21) as emergent through humor when it is hard to tell at first from righteous anger, and then from the kind of public melancholy on which, I shah be arguing, the poem ends.

It is essential to note that Peter Bell the Third does not league entirely with Reynolds against Wordsworth, though this would seem the expected maneuver given Shelley's point of contact with the poem through his political set. In the May 9 Examiner, by openly contrasting Wordsworth's character to Shelley's, Hunt had effectively set Shelley on the attack. And yet the way is barred immediately, in as quick a gesture as that by which Hunt locates the direction of Wordsworth's vulnerability. Shelley's satiric effort is first incited, only to be rendered moot, by Hunt's terms. For in comparing him to Wordsworth, Hunt presents Shelley as the more social and sympathetic agent. Shelley is therefore the writer held up for praise because he would not attack someone exposed. Though Hunt in his vituperation betrays his own kind of intemperate illiberalism, he praises Shelley for enlightened tolerance. Hunt places Shelley's urbanity in the context of the French Illuminati from the 1790s (and against mere parochial Englishness), a return to the spirit of revolution that is hinted at by calling Shelley "Our Cosmopolite-Poet":
 [Wordsworth] The Poet of the Lakes always carries his egotism and
 "saving knowledge" about with him, and unless he has the settlement
 of the matter, will go in a pet and plant by the side of the oldest
 tyrannies and slaveries. [Shelley] Our Cosmopolite-Poet would
 evidently die with pleasure to all personal identity, could he but
 see his fellow-creatures reasonable and happy. (22)


Hunt prompted a direction for work both as a fellow radical and in his role as a literary critic. And yet, as moral criticism, the feat of Peter Bell the Third is to disappoint The Examiner and its expected invective against Wordsworth, without refuting the many ideals and opinions that Shelley and Hunt still shared as fellow travelers and friends.

Throughout the Prologue, while Reynolds' Platonic emergence is described as "smugger, milder, softer, neater," Wordsworth's original (and contingently middle) offering is treated as foundational yet complex. Shelley locates Peter as a kind of overdetermined touchstone: the "body of a double soul," the part of a whole that materially anchors its vapory extremes, as memory coordinates the merely notional time before and after the present moment. This is all in praise of Wordsworth without flattering him, especially since it is delivered in a venue that would lead readers to assume broadly that Peter has been unfavorably set up, just by his being featured in such a poem. In the moment that follows, Shelley expresses his even greater regard for Wordsworth's experimental position. Here the terms became metaphysical, but also sharply ethical or even existential. For "predevote," or determined to ends beyond his knowledge, Wordsworth's Peter suffers like "you and me." Not close to faultless, among equals who might sustain the comparison, Wordsworth and his Peter Bell are said to experience the "severer doom." He means "severer," first, compared to Reynolds' parody. But there is an implication of doom more severe than Shelley's own at that point, and also that of his implicated reader. In the act of creating this new, divergently public setting, Shelley's deepest criticism of Wordsworth, then, begins with the observation that Wordsworth judged first upon himself. And without ceasing to be the "passive-aggressive resistance" that Steven E. Jones so often finds recoiling upon its author in Shelley's Satire (31), I think this stands as experientially true, and a more powerful understanding of Wordsworth over time than Hunt's inimical position.

Wordsworth's Peter Bell is himself victimized in Shelley's poem. He is literally condemned, and the poem follows his "afterlife" as the devil's servant in the various and busy setting of literary London. From the beginning of "Part First," the refusal of any separate, conjectural realm after "death" is the abiding quality worth noticing about Shelley's scheme. The fiction of continuity itself assumes all the energies of projection. Apart from his shifting of Wordsworth from the Lake District to the metropolis (a move in keeping with Hunt's praise of the "Cosmopolite" in Shelley himself, another "P.B."), Shelley's treatment of hell is wholly continuous with the immediate world. As Jones again remarks, this quotidian quality follows Goethe's Mephistopheles to present a banal version of demonic satire, to be viewed as an important romantic alternative to the high style of Milton. Claude Rawson suggests--taking fleer range--that Shelley's mock-heroic represents what is, intentionally, a "radically trivialised reduction of scope," one we are made to recognize through a series of "flip low-key diminutions," like writing about rocks and trees instead of Pope's allegories of "grandeur, or mock-grandeur." (23)

The poem accommodates both critics' sharp discernment. In the meantime, it folds them into what Shelley would elsewhere call an "encyclopedic poem" of the human (not just Wordsworthian) predicament. The preface to Peter Bell the Third holds a serious, though complicated, intent in back of all the irony when Shelley maintains that
 the present history can be considered only, like the Iliad, as a
 continuation of that series of cyclic poems which have already been
 candidates for bestowing immortality upon, at the same time they
 receive it from, his [Peter's] character and adventures. In this
 point of view, I have violated no rule of syntax in beginning my
 composition with a conjunction; the full stop which closes the poem
 continued by me being, like the full stops at the end of the Iliad
 and Odyssey, a full stop of a very qualified import. (340-41)


Jones points out eloquently the poem's "key question," "whether belonging to a community is seen as a potential paradise or an irredeemable hell" (Shelley's Satire 57). And in this sense, Peter Bell the Third nevertheless harbors a thematic grandeur of its own. True enough, the pathos is mostly deflated. In place of Rawson's focus, on "the vast misshapen majesty of the Popeian Mighty Mother," Shelley gives us a sad realm without horizon, where even "majesty" is part (and increasingly the major part) of the letdown. In just this way The Mask of Anarchy turns round on "God, and Law, and King"--with Hope bidding her audience to stand--"On some spot of English ground / Where the plains stretch wide around" (323). As it may signal the distinctively romantic contribution to a broadly Augustan mode of social satire, leveling that is this fierce itself imbues the philosophy of Shelley with the plains of Troy's "epic" scope. In that immanent vision, the Devil of Peter Bell the Third "is--what we are" (344). And
 Hell is a city much like London--
 A populous and a smoky city;
 There are all sorts of people undone
 And there is little or no fun done;
 Small justice shewn, and still less pity.

 There is a Castles, and a Canning,
 A Cobbett, and a Castlereigh;
 All sorts of caitiff corpses planning
 All sorts of cozening for trepanning
 Corpses less corrupt than they.

 There is a Southey, who has lost
 His wits, or sold them, none knows which;
 He walks about a double ghost,
 And though as thin as Fraud almost--
 Ever grows more grim and rich.

 There is a Chancery Court, a King,
 A manufacturing mob; a set
 Of thieves who by themselves are sent
 Similar thieves to represent;
 An Army;--and a public debt.

 Which last is a scheme of Paper money,
 And means--being interpreted--
 "Bees, keep your wax--give us the honey
 And we will plant while skies are sunny
 Flowers, which in winter serve instead."

 There is great talk of Revolution--
 And a great chance of Despotism--
 German soldiers--camps--confusion--
 Tumults--lotteries--rage--delusion--
 Gin--suicide and methodism.

 And this is Hell--and in this smother
 All are damnable and damned;
 Each one damning, damns another;
 They are damned by one another,
 By none other are they damned.

 'Tis a lie to say, "God damns!"
 Where was Heaven's Attorney General
 When they first gave out such flams?
 Let there be an end of shams,
 They are mines of poisonous mineral.

(346-47, 349)


As this brutally wonderful extended passage shows, where Peter Bell the Third offers the "diminutions" themselves as epic, it not coincidentally also recovers the language of Wordsworth in praise of the social life gauged by the wholly internal set of relations we call immanence. That stanza, second to last here, in which the "smother" covers all London, just as reciprocal damnation--between people, and only people--nets groups (one "another") together, looks back to some moving lines of Wordsworth published before The Prelude, and then later within it: a poem on "The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement."

Two lines were in Shelley's mind at least from the dedication of Peter Bell the Third (where he slightly misquotes them): "the world of all of us, and where / We find our happiness, or not at all" (340). Though Shelley was more likely to have read or heard the "French Revolution" fragment than The Prelude itself (unpublished until 1850), in the second volume of The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, editors Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat speculate that Shelley, indeed, may have heard The Prelude, or parts, during a visit to Southey at Keswick in the winter of 1811-12--the consolation prize after Shelley meant to visit Wordsworth but had missed him. (24) Wordsworth's language from The Prelude gives the clearest sense of the exact point incurring Shelley's ironic reversal and disillusionment. In the following, it is the loving repetition of "world" that Shelley replaces with the litany of secular damning I have just quoted from Peter Bell the Third. Wordsworthian immanence is preserved by a violently hinging effect--adapting the philosophy, but showing a failure to secure the promise of what Wordsworth had imagined:
 Not in Utopia--subterraneous fields,--Or some secreted island,
 Heaven knows where But in the very world, which is the world Of all
 of us,--the place where, in the end, We find our happiness, or not
 at all!

 (The Prelude 1850; 11.140-44)


To Wordsworth, deciding the terms of a self-made history was understood, at least in rhetoric, as equal to the realization that the contingent part of inheritance turns out right. The possibility of a future linked with others is treated almost inevitably as the achievement of that future history. In part this may explain why, at the end of The Prelude, the realization that disciples can be made is treated as equivalent to the solid achievement of a future legacy, when to anyone else these are two very different kinds of experiential prospect (1805; 13.442-52). Exemplified here, one of Shelley's main functions is to preserve Wordsworth's operating sense of things as sufficient of themselves, owing to the self-contained character of "the very world." While instead of happiness, in Peter Bell the Third, "There is great talk of Revolution--/ And a great chance of Despotism--." The poem's feel for "chance" is powerfully thematized in its dissonant and angry use of an imbalanced couplet in each stanza's third and fourth line (abaab). By theme and technique, Shelley implies strongly either that the historical outcome has not yet been purposefully cast--making even the end of The Prelude an abortive performative "misfire," or false start, by implication (for who better than Shelley could be made to love what Wordsworth and Coleridge had loved?); or, more darkly, the mode of the satire's composition may imply that the deciding events have already come to pass unnoticed, and that the outcome has turned out negatively. Just as the Regency had increasingly shown among the ruling elite, there would be no proper succession among poets. Whereupon, in the twenty intervening years that were more like Shelley's half-life than Wordsworth's, both Peter and Wordsworth passed over into living death.

Recall the self-image Shelley offers in the Prologue:
 And the third is he who has
 O'er the grave been forced to pass
 To the other side, which is,--
 Go and try else,--just like this.


Dialectically optimistic readings of Shelley, like James Chandler's recent (and already classic) account, need to recognize the immanence here as a negative realization of the possibly transformative "graves" in "England in 1819" (23-33). In the guise of the third Peter Bell, here the poet passes through the grave to more of the same. And the poem enacts this failure of transformation even as Shelley uncovers the language of immanence within it: this language is an inflected voice that stresses the claims of the world, knowing how its unredeemed materials, too, will be utterly changed in the course of things. They are changed despite, not because of, the fact that idealism voices transformative intention. The very end of the dedication to Peter Bell the Third contains one of Shelley's most vivid evocations of the "immortal" future of poems. But by then (like the city's past in W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz, or in Brecht's Los Angeles) "London shall be an habitation of bitterns." The poetry that still bears weight in time's scales has been broken away from its context like a ruined architecture, and transplanted to serve some "unimagined" new system of transatlantic commentary (341).

The way Shelley carried into exile his inexhaustible fascination with Wordsworth has become a critical chestnut about 1816. It possessed an intensity that once led Byron to complain of being given a daily "physic" of Wordsworth by his friend's dose. (25) But Mary first hit the tone Percy Shelley was to exploit: that of a brisk and ruthless inversion. Peter Bell the Third is a work which combines Pope's sparkling malice with a demotic and stripped tone (damns! / flares / shams?), in arguing for the very un-Popean grievance of a progressive politics that Shelley, alongside many other contemporaries, felt Wordsworth had betrayed. (26) The Shelleys had seen as clearly as Byron, but with more at stake than Byron had--with his settled Augustan preferences--how Wordsworth's long-awaited new work in The Excursion put him in league with an "ultra-legitimate dulness" (340).

And in this context it is striking, given Byron's love of Pope and his talent for making fun of Lake Poets, that it takes Shelley to attack Words-worth using something like the full arsenal of a Popean manner. (27) A prominent idea in The Dunciad, having to do with its experimental use of decreation as a philosophy-laden slur (for me, a hermetically operative rather than externally stylish use) communicates more forcibly through Shelley than in the often-acknowledged vein of Pope found in Byron. By intent, but especially through its unintentional qualities--a great talent worked up to write in one week a diverting exercise of sheer mischievousness--Peter Bell the Third is like little else since Pope. (28) Review criticism of the English Bards type looks like a five-fingered exercise by comparison; while, partly under Shelley's influence, Byron's Vision of Judgment comes three years later. Because Shelley's poem is written in a style of "mock-lyrical-ballad flatness" (Rawson, Satire and Sentiment 106), more is involved in the comparison than just wit and closed couplets. Instead Shelley follows Pope in his cosmological interpretive vision. But at the same time, against Pope-who on the one hand wrote The Dunciad and Rape of the Lock, and on the other the theodicy of An Essay on Man--it proves hard to say where Shelley's wit predominates and where the poem takes up its serious issues from his philosophy. The Witch of Atlas, another work having much to do with Wordsworth, determination and playfulness, is comparable in this sense. In the dedication to Peter Bell the Third ("To Thomas Brown [Moore], Esqr., the Younger, H.[istorian of] F.[udges]"), Shelley fills out his Popean vision. He reiterates the theme of dulness until it becomes a judgment on theology by human history. Shrewdly identifying Wordsworth as a version of Voltaire's Leibniz parody, Doctor Pangloss, Shelley mocks attempts at theodicy for their readiness to serve unprincipled force:
 There is this particular advantage in an acquaintance with any one
 of the Peter Bells; that if you know one Peter Bell, you know three
 Peter Bells; they are not one but three, not three but one. An
 awful mystery after having caused torrents of blood, and having
 been hymned by groans enough to deafen the music of the spheres is
 at length illustrated to the satisfaction of all parties in the
 theological world, by the nature of Peter Bell.

 Peter is a polyhedric Peter, or a Peter with many sides. He
 changes colours like a chameleon, and his coat like a snake. He is
 a Proteus of a Peter. He was at first sublime, pathetic,
 impressive, profound; then dull; then prosy and dull; and now
 dull--o so dull! it is an ultralegitimate dulness. (340)


We can note Pope's legacy in Shelley's style. They share a caricatured take on the victim that can also become a surprisingly apt vehicle for searching moral criticism. But--perhaps because their attitudes about science, religion, philosophy and politics were so different, as different as the Tory Essay on Man and radical Queen Mab--few critics read deeply into Shelley's advancement of the encyclopedic nature of the Popean undertaking. (29) Both in its total conception and in specific language like the passage just quoted, Peter Bell the Third owes much to Pope's Dunciad. Shelley even turns a composite Lake Poet, "Wordosoutheridge" in Richard Holmes's version, into the role of poet-laureate Cibber (Shelley 552). Along the way he takes both the ironic procession and a sense of misrule from Pope. As in The Mask of Anarchy (a poem written just a month before, in the same year of 1819), here Shelley will depart from the most common usage to see "anarchy" as an effect not of mob energy, and the erosion of the cultural hedge around property, so much as of a misrule caused by energy drained (as with the "dregs" of "England in 1819"). Anarchy--to negate a word deriving from the Greek not just for rule, but command, empire, and beginning--becomes in this alternative tradition a chaos identified with entropy and dulness. In these last few senses of etymological "rule," "an-arche" connotes a world forming that cannot self-originate or a fiat that structurally does not take, and so represents yet another performative misfire. In Shelley's case, anarchy also imposes a kind of fiat that should not be obeyed and institutionalized regardless of its claims to instrumental efficiency.

Shelley's original for this set of associations is Milton's Sin and Death, potentials that are given scope by our first parents' failed resistance; but the zest, scale, and above all the energetic cosmopolitanism of these associations he derives from Pope. (30) By making this connection, the poem draws its tactics from a mock epic of grand scale, where the reign of entropy in a perverse rite is announced by a poet's fiat. More exactly Pope shows the reverse: a rescission that starts a new dispensation by taking creative light back:
 [']Thy hand great Dulness! lets the curtain fall,
 And universal darkness covers all.'

(Dunciad Variorum 3:355-56)

 Lo! thy dread Empire, CHAOS! is restor'd;
 Light dies before thy uncreating word:
 Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
 And universal Darkness buries All.

(Dunciad in Four Books 4: 653-56) (31)


No doubt in a diminished way, and perhaps thinking too of Boileau's famous translation of the biblical sublime, "Let there be light!," Shelley then transposes the image of Pope's dull antifiat into his characterization of Wordsworth. By the end of Peter Bell the Third, the magnificent cartoon vividness of The Dunciad has indeed begun to fade. But in exchange for that loss of clear outline, Shelley manages to end his poem in a mood of sustained thoughtfulness about Wordsworth's impress on the phenomenal world. The evaluation is gothic--as a "spell" on the sleeping beauty of the poet's past work--but also empirical. (Robert Kaufman's Brechtian lineage, the Shelley-Bild, is forcefully directed; this "spell" reserves a future part in both the dialectic of enlightenment and in Adorno's judgment of the weird mix of positivism and animism found in Benjamin's work on Baudelaire.) An umbrella of dulness is marked like a blast zone, in language reminiscent of the milder forms of curse seen in Wordsworth poems such as "Hart-Leap Well." The admonition of that poem may itself mark the difficult territory Shelley is now trying to skirt: do not take pleasure or pride in another being's suffering, "Hart-Leap Well" had moralized, or do so and incur sure retribution. One may also hear the strain continuing from the last line of "To Wordsworth," which by leaning from a different direction on the word "should" (opposed to Shelley's meaning before in "that thou shouldst cease to be," from an indicative statement to a conditional injunction, from "is" to "ought") suggests exasperation initially that the curse will not lift, and next that the poet is not yet (empirically) dead or "pass[ed] away":
 Seven miles above--below--around--
 This pest of dulness holds its sway:
 A ghastly life without a sound;
 To Peter's soul the spell is bound--
 How should it ever pass away?

(365)


Shelley's scheme, like Pope's, is imaginative to the point of working out its own implied theology of decreation ("Where things destroyed are swept to things unborn [Dunciad 1: 242]; "Like motion from one circle to the rest; / So from the mid-most the nutation spreads" [2: 409]). But the power of Pope's final curtain lies in its element of unrelenting allegory, and in that fanciful context the fiat and antifiat of his Dulness play themselves out. Peter Bell the Third, by contrast, has Wordsworth's legacy reverberate less distinctly in a more immediate world. Shelley follows Wordsworth's dulness through effects more muted than a metaphysical world forming would produce; instead, the poem calls upon self-legislating psychological dynamics in the language of curse (349). But the colors lost through naturalization offer elsewhere a tradeoff. For in turn Shelley keeps his drama in immanent reality, suspending it there. Shelley adapts Pope's antifiat to his own creative psychology of the curse, rather than using it as an allegorical and metaphysical conceit. At the most general level, where Pope refers to a major topos of creative fiat in The Dunciad, Peter Bell the Third relates its views of Wordsworth as an embodiment of fiat creation, seen in a variety of contexts that mediate curses and blessings. All these contexts tend to gain interpretive power as they lose vigor in Wordsworth's performative intention.

In an additional, concentrically enlarging effect, Shelley's metaphors in Peter Bell the Third take seriously what Pope calls the "Empire" of chaos and dulness. If Pope's sense of decreation begins alongside (or even inaugurates) this empire, Shelley arrives after a century of disillusionment to inscribe its genealogy. Here again, the machinery of Pope is rendered in the name of the world's immediacy. This is a development Shelley takes from Wordsworth as he identifies him, only to wield it against Peter and his author. "You will perceive that it is not necessary to consider Hell and the Devil as supernatural machinery," writes Shelley in the dedication. "The whole scene of my epic is in "this world which is"--so Peter informed us before his conversion to the White Obi--"the world of all of us, and where / We find our happiness, or not at all" (340). If they could be read without the irony in which they are submerged in the dedication, these two lines show Wordsworth at his closest to Shelley. The younger poet would have been painfully aware of this. One of Hunt's regrets about Wordsworth, when he judged him alongside Shelley, was that they were "two spirits who ought to have agreed" about the social calling of poetry, but instead had split off (Examiner, 9 May 1819). Quoting The Prelude apparently from memory (for as I said it is misquoted), the dedication to Peter Bell the Third compares Wordsworth's "conversion" to Christianity and legitimacy to "the White Obj." That reference would have forcibly reminded its readers how the very "world which is" from a British imperial perspective had been expanded.

In using "Obi" or obeah as an imported term, Shelley's main implication is clear. Wordsworth's conversion to "legitimate" politics and religion is a superstitious regression in the eyes of anyone who once respected him, and in addition is symptomatic of a desertion of himself. At the point where "White Obi" is mentioned in the dedication, Shelley has just accused Wordsworth of changing "colours like a chameleon, and his coat like a snake" (340). Since obeah practice was associated--even etymologically--with snake worship, (32) to reference Obi at such a moment is then to make the oxymoron of Wordsworth's later career explicit: shunning his commonality with transient things, he has dedicated himself with a kind of conservative inertia to self-interested change. If, as Alan Bewell writes, Peter Bell was constructed as a progressive catalog of the enlightenment anthropology of religion (moving from nasty brutishness through superstition and fear to socialized faith, ushered in by nature and Methodism (33)), Shelley suggests that an impulse guiding the author of Peter Bell plays out an equivalent teleology in reverse: it is a movement from social engagement back to a "primitive" bondage and superstitious isolation. But the specific, semi-exotic phrase on its own merit hastens some questions. As the subject of an increasing amount of recent critical interest in romantic studies, "Obi," or obeah (the latter usually appears adjectivally), was a West African apotropaic art associated with Koromantyn or Gold Coast peoples. It is based on the use of seemingly disparate objects. Obi sometimes is conflated with voodoo, and comparable practices today would be juju or santoria. The practice of obeah was introduced to the British West Indies by slaves at Jamaican plantations. (34) Shelley precociously reads this "black" magic as a necessary supplement of the dominant white mythology. "White" Obi then is Wordsworth's version of Christian religion, with Shelley following the anthropology of Hume's Natural History of Religion (1757) to note a superstition comparable to that ascribed to the Obi in Wordsworth's later attitudes towards parochial British power. We may at the same time wonder about the grammar of Wordsworth's conversion "to" these reductive forms of power. Is "to" an indirect object marker, or an equivalence? In other words, is it Wordsworth himself becoming as a God, at least in his own mind? And then does his being a slave involve a practice of self-servitude, and a masking of that slavishness as divine other-worship? Under "obeah," the Oxford English Dictionary adds a different sense of the term to supplement its role as a fetish object. It may also be a subject. Obi men also were the human agents. They were sorcerers; and so were responsible for the performances that at once served and created the authority that afterwards they projected onto religious objects, once displaced. "The representation of obeah," writes Alan Richardson, "functions in this period rather like the practice of obeah itself": "to generate, direct, or exorcise" anxieties about causation in what was becoming, increasingly, a connected global theater ("Romantic Voodoo" 5). (35)

This reification of wholly secular psychology--the fetish of making a habitual process of human cognition into an outward thing that may be idolized as its own power--reproduces exactly the skeptical religious arguments that Shelley more generally had learned from Hume. (36) Shelley's application of these methods here is not surprising. As a skeptic, he is calling Wordsworth to account for his craving for settled dogma: the desire, as in "Ode to Duty," for "a repose that ever is the same." Except we must note that, in referencing White Obi and implicitly drawing on Hume, Shelley accuses Wordsworth of a form of religious error that may not be expected. Atavistic rather than advanced, the historical aspect of Wordsworth's new orthodoxy is reversed. Accusing Wordsworth either of being, or worshipping, the White Obi, Shelley declines to treat him under the evolved (monotheistic, "sophisticated" (37) heading of religious error, to which Wordsworth's moves toward duty and accommodation in this period would seem otherwise in their social context to belong. (38) Instead Shelley charges Wordsworth--or Peter as his close deputy--with a charismatic and regressive form of error whose nature had also been previously marked by Hume. In a paraphrase by one editor of the Natural History, J. C. A. Gaskin, Hume associates this with the "first conception of gods as powerful but limited beings, who are themselves subject to destiny and are parts of nature" (Dialogues and Natural History of Religion 194). After Hume, Shelley recognizes that if Wordsworth aspires to be a God, he remains just an immanent power, one whose force is conditioned altogether by relational and inner causation, and nothing in itself transcendent. The ascription meanwhile is political. Though Shelley accuses Wordsworth of conversion to reactionary modes of power, his means of this--the White Obi--reach back to Caribbean slaves in the revolutionary moment of the 1790s. At this time, successful insurgents like the man Wordsworth later celebrated, the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture, themselves even recognized the disruptive energies of voodoo and obi, and banned the practices. (39) Toussaint's temporary defeat of Napoleon helped further Britain's own counterrevolutionary efforts. These cumulative effects of obeah culture's symbolic use leave a tangled network of relationships that stress mainly the unavoidable fact of a dense global texture among literary works and their social constellations, arriving at no clear pattern from any ideological direction.

In addition to the layered irony of the Obi's shift in political meaning from a revolutionary threat to a reactionary performance, there is an irony, or compromising complexity, in Shelley's location of Wordsworth at this genealogical level of religion--the "flux and reflux of polytheism and theism" (40)--since Shelley himself repeatedly paid homage in poems to the same, ambivalently divine forces of strength and limitation. Precisely because of its openness to a myth of epochal change, the snake on a larger scale than this particular work was an emblem of Shelley's own revolutionary poetic agency. (41) Shelley's regressive and charismatic notion of Wordsworth's religious turn brings a different element to Peter Bell the Third. It helps us consider why, for example, the issues of egotism and sublimity in Wordsworth, which were decisive negative considerations for Hazlitt and Keats, for Shelley would assume a much less univocal form. The assertion (playing with the second and more anthropomorphic creation story in Genesis), that "language was in Peter's hand / Like clay while he was yet a potter," is meant by Shelley as a contrastive complement ("yet") to the subservient moral damp that would set in afterwards in Wordsworth's career; though Hazlitt may have felt the same association as mere egotism playing at being divine (355). Moving further, the idea of White Obi as at once sorcerer and slave, the creator and object of religious devotion, proves helpful beyond Peter Bell the Third, and especially meaningful in the poems surrounding it in Shelley's timeline of composition.

Richard Holmes calculates that a week before he wrote Peter Bell the Third, at the end of October, 1819, Shelley began the "Ode to the West Wind" (Shelley 551). More than any other work, imputing the White Obi to Wordsworth highlights a significant element in this poem, and addresses a question that is hard to develop a background for in other ways. Of course, that poem begins:
 O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
 Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
 Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

 Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
 Pestilence-stricken multitudes[.]

(298)


All attempts to interpret the "Ode to the West Wind" hinge, at James Chandler notes, on just the issue of "unseen" or "Absent Cause" that also marks the poem's connection to Peter Bell the Third's White Obj. (42) In any case, the problem is to determine the exact way Shelley might have inflected the multiple possibilities of agent and object, the present power and inferred or mediated ones, and the looming issue of the master and its dependent. Who is the "enchanter" in this layering of figurations? And what are leaves," when Shelley idiosyncratically compares them not just to the generations of men (an association with a legacy in Virgil, Dante and Milton, beginning in Homer's war imagery) but also to corpses and visible ghosts? (43) In an odd pairing, intensity and mediation alike increase throughout the opening. This wind appears related to the layers of unseen power Shelley first described in "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty," and felt as that beauty (93). The "wild West Wind" is invoked, in a vocative grammar of presence, as "Thou," only to be attenuated by its equation to the "breath of Autumn's being"--both the first and last words there having equivocal significance, besides an equivocal season. The "leaves dead" then "are driven," in a kind of aggressively passive construction that seemingly implies that there is another agent behind them, one not yet mentioned (otherwise, why suppress an already fixed reference?). And this multiply "unseen" force Shelley likens to "an enchanter." Taking an opening from the White Obi, one is tempted to risk a partial answer to any or all of these dangling questions by allowing a strong suggestion to imbue the poem, and wonder if that enchanter's deeper nomination might not be Wordsworth, or not too far from it. Though Wordsworth's sorcery may help us fathom why the ghosts (leaves) are at once commanded by him and flee--its major source is the seeking and fleeing Shelley fastens onto so often in "Tintern Abbey"--the identification may not finally help readers to construe anything certain in the poem. But this attribution does peel back further some of the specific layers of meaning already meshed atop the existing language of "To Wordsworth," which is itself about the same method of persuasive inversions.

A major store of the West Wind's imagery, Canto IX of Shelley's Spenserian political romance, Laon and Cythna (1817), had spoken of "Faith" as "the inchanter's word," binding "all human hearts in its repose abhorred" (106). Laon may be taken as Shelley's culminating idealist work, the one in need of failure in order to bring about any of the reforms it counterfactually wished for. Such a project puts great demands on otherwise religious qualities, like faith and hope. Quoting A Philosophical View of Reform while writing about this passage, Chandler remarks that "[i]f faith is a virtue in any case it is so in politics rather than religion" (England in 1819 546). On the very same stanza, Shelley wrote of his politics as an attempt not so much to destroy duty and "slavery," as reciprocally to create the conditions in which "Virtue, Hope, and Love" might reveal its citizens, after all, as "their chosen slaves" (Letters 2:191). The key to this counterintuitive, benevolent and voluntary slavery lies in Shelley's particular idea of necessity and its reciprocally determined nature. The diction images well its society: "chosen" balances pointedly between a self-determining personal will and the work of historical factors as they form the individual subject in a constant association with "Virtue" (in this ideal vision). Benign slavery emerges with the constant conjunction of approved forces, a necessity based on an inclusive field of binding association, not based on cause and effect. But Laon and Cythna (better known by its later title The Revolt of Islam) can bring only unreality and romance to its major challenge. How do we materially bring that contextual environment about?

In keeping with Shelley's broadly enlightenment attitude that sees progress in the stripping away of prejudice, apparently one way to bring the revolution about is to expose the rhetorical evidence from past failures. Developing a language held intact in "Ode to the West Wind," but not yet so imbricated and figural, "To Wordsworth" from the outset had spoken in terms of fleeing and leaving, and connected these movements to the buried argument between Shelley and Wordsworth about the proper conditions of binding oneself in a voluntary dependence. "Childhood and youth, friendship and love's first glow, / Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee [Wordsworth] to mourn," is Shelley's sympathetic summary of the time scholars have often called the golden decade (92). But after a certain point, the argument of "To Wordsworth" really becomes a bitter revaluation to the effect that the mutable had not fled, and that Wordsworth in fact did not mourn sufficiently. He had, by contrast, made terms with mourning all too easily. When the reader is first told of Shelley's "loss"--"These common woes I feel"--Wordsworth too "feel'st" them. But immediately the gold standard of grief (Shelley's standard) is raised from feel to "deplore," (44) and here Wordsworth will not rise to a sympathetic equivalency. He leaves Shelley entirely "alone." Progressively dividing in this way, through the second half of "To Wordsworth" it grows clear (again, according to Shelley) that Wordsworth did not quite lose touch. But instead, enchanter-like, he drove off his relation to all things mutable. The sonnet, once more, concludes: "Deserting these [troth and liberty, and the songs consecrated to them] thou leavest me to grieve / Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be."

Left by Wordsworth beneath him--among "the blind and battling multitude" that looks forward to the receding "Sea of Faith" encountered by Matthew Arnold on "Dover Beach" (45)--in this famous reflection begun five years before the appearance of all three Peter Bells, Shelley places himself, not Wordsworth, in the role of a benighted dependent. To repeat the sonnet's now uncovered twist, the accusation of "To Wordsworth" is that Wordsworth's failure has caused Shelley's enslavement and a unique sense of "loss":
 One loss is mine
 Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
 Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine
 On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar:
 Thou hast like a rock-built refuge stood
 Above the blind and battling multitude:
 In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
 Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,--
 Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,
 Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.

(92)


Shelley's sense of himself as a victim is never simple; but neither were his aggressions, and they were equally many. Before the fact, this argument reverses the myth Shelley would construct for Keats in Adonais: here the reader is neglected by an author, and hence that reader turns a bitter critic. Wordsworth ceases to be a "lone star"--when his light was the only guide for "some frail bark"--and now reverts back to a mere living person, yielding a kind of reverse instauration that admits the poet back to an unwanted decaying life--and in the process, in Shelley's framework, undoing much of the original work of the first great instauration of Baconian empirical thinking. Quite open in its perversity, "that thou shouldst cease to be" is Shelley's charge in resentment of Wordsworth's continued material embodiment (a shadow that indeed lived beyond Shelley, to Wordsworth's uncertain cost). "To Wordsworth" argues that its subject has lived longer than his susceptibility to feel for things which may not live, or have come and gone, "which never may return." While Wordsworth was a "Poet of Nature," lamenting, as in the "Immortality" Ode, those aspects of experience that prove so ethereal to trace ("Childhood and youth, friendship and love's first glow"), Shelley found in him a vicarious but close kind of substantive partnership. What is distinctive of Shelley, once this vicarious partnership soured, is the way he recognized and preserved the unique form of Wordsworth's original perception, while twisting its use in context to suggest a reinterpretation--at once--of a great stalled hope and great bitterness.

As a consequence, Shelley's ambivalence becomes a matter of sweeping inversions rather than a Coleridgean "muddle," or a sullied middle ground. Where many of the period's other major writers tend to reduce or displace Wordsworth in order to criticize, the critical effect in Shelley tends always to preserve Wordsworth's statements (often directly quoting passages), while it installs them in contexts that switch all polarity in a larger field of meaning. Thus Jones argues that "[o]ne side of Shelley ... was emotionally drawn to the broad polemical effects of demonization as a tactic of inversion" (Shelley's Satire 68). As in part the effect of the enlarged world of Peter Bell the Third, this meaning leads beyond the poet's immediate self-image or intention, while it comprehends him from an inclusive view as part of the story. Other critics find their handle by minimizing the poet. Byron, for example, could lightheartedly mock Wordsworth--and his whole "reading" of him is packed into the conceit by which he takes his aim; Hazlitt and Keats tend to reduce him to the "egotistical" issue, of not being negatively capable enough to get beyond the projected self and its limited private enthusiasms; Hunt's view is a blunt yet perhaps admirable test based on politics, but it moves very reductively against enthusiasm in religion; while Coleridge, who may well be the largest and is certainly the most damaged of these contemporary forces, has hobbyhorse issues based on the intense past experience of a friend, someone also whom he had wished to recruit intellectually for the "great philosophical poem." Distinct from all these examples, Shelley seems to approach and value Wordsworth primarily for his essential oddity, the irreducible touches that others thought could be altered without changing Wordsworth: ontologically charged repetitions (about which Reynolds could dismissively joke in his "Peter Bell"), earnest tones, his admissions:
 "The good die first,
 And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust,
 Burn to the socket!"

(73)

 the world of all of us, and where
 We find our happiness, or not at all.

(340)

 For though it was without a sense
 Of memory, yet he remembered well
 Many a ditch and quickset fence[.]

(354)

 And coolly to his own soul said;--
 "Do you not think that we might make
 A poem on her when she is dead?["]

(360)

 Some flying from the thing they feared and some
 Seeking the object of another's fear[.]

(485)


Whether in Alastor, Peter Bell the Third, or The Triumph of Life, Shelley lets Wordsworth's own language act in judgment, first to create, and then to testify against the self as it proceeds.

Within this dominant progression, "To Wordsworth" becomes an odd poem for those modern critics of Wordsworth with an eye on the second generation. The poem inhabits its role with an eccentric force, because it refrains from criticizing, or even praises, the very works most often cited in Wordsworth's so-called apostasy: "Peele Castle" in its distrust of mere hues, and "Ode to Duty" in its almost anthropological "consciousness of kind." I already noted how the "rock-built refuge," as the stolid central presence in the retraction argument of "Peele Castle," is given positive associations by Shelley in his sonnet and by Mary Shelley in her poem after Percy's death. At the same time as the composition of the second half of the "Immortality" Ode, Wordsworth in "Ode to Duty" similarly declared the end of his announced desire for all things mutable: "My hopes no more must change their name, / I long for a repose that ever is the same" (lines 39-40; WPW 386). Shelley structures "To Wordsworth" as an homage to the version of himself that Wordsworth pressed down in these lines, one Shelley quickly follows with an attack on the new direction. And yet, to the argument that Wordsworth "desert[ed]" the second generation and its most pressing interests, Shelley's poem itself provides a type of rebuttal, since it only manages to repeat much of the basic climax of "Ode to Duty" once more. Demanding one stable hope, Wordsworth merely deserted the "things" which themselves "depart." This marks the same conclusion as the one reached by Shelley in "Mutability," composed in the same period (it would appear) (46) as "To Wordsworth." If "Naught may endure but Mutability," "To Wordsworth" has merely taken its subject to task for pretending a solution for--or supposing it had answered--the same problem from which Shelley himself sought groundlessly to escape (92).

The word "may," in both the final two lines of "Mutability," functions on a pivot exactly like that of "shouldst" in "To Wordsworth." It must either be imperative or conditional, though in practice the final line reads with the nuances of both choices. And depending on an answer to that question--one involving an end to Shelley's skepticism, which never is forthcoming--this decides whether Wordsworth's actions are called simply out of bounds, a desertion, or if they are allowed as a point of fact that must be judged a miracle nonetheless: an impossible escape that provokes the skeptical Shelley's envy.

The modern critic's accusation of Wordsworth's turn, and bad faith, has been common since E. P. Thompson wrote of it at another revolutionary time, in 1968. (47) But suppose we could decisively follow the second of the above options: that Wordsworth is not deluded in his acceptance of mature duty toward what "Peele Castle" calls "the Kind," but escapes instead from mutability although no such marvel could ever be demonstrable--nor reduced to an exemplary pattern. It provides an odd solace that Shelley's ambivalent envy actually lends support to the rigors of his skepticism. Proven indefensibly factitious, maybe Wordsworth's conclusion was also right? Impossible but actual? Where it cannot even settle on negative certainty, Shelley's skeptical method yields not a solution to doubt, but a persuasive calculus or hope-curve; it culminates not in an end to doubt, but a progressive refinement toward all its possible occasions. The clarity of this position philosophically is won from the same vantage that yields mixed feelings in experience. Skeptically viewed and yet constitutive in the production of future personal reality, an accusation against Wordsworth that also in Peter Bell the Third becomes a strong conceptualization of the communal legacy that determines himself in turn--from its inclusive perspective on life, Shelley's satire displays the full rigors of contingency. His insight was at once a recognition of Wordsworth's legitimist "White Obi" as a backward looking and slavish retreat, and an obeah he cast forward as one possibly negative aspect looming within all future psychological legislation, in partial but not complete acknowledgment of his own limits.

University of Vermont

(1.) This translation of life applies obviously to such poems as Adonais and The Triumph of Life, yet also appears as a repeated conceptual twist in many others. Shelley wrote a prose statement, "On Life" (1819), which seeks alternately to estrange perception of ordinary living in order to renew feeling, and to let habit shield us from "Life, the great miracle ... which would otherwise absorb and overawe the functions of that which is [its] object." The essay's definition of life as "that which includes all" is more philosophically precise than may first be supposed. The next sentence begins with a reference to "any artist" trying to create by his own fiat the plan of the universe, "the system of the sun and stars and planets ... not existing." Yet, even in this thought experiment, where is such a creator? Having abandoned the mutable state, this, argues Shelley, is the position of Wordsworth in "To Wordsworth." The inclusive nature of Shelley's attitude toward life leads to the uncanniness of any view outside it. Though open to our loss of awareness, life is inclusive. There is a dizzying quality to the essay, recognized by Shelley at the time, in which God's original fiat and projections, common, if not inevitable, to all human existence, are nearly equalized. See Shelley's Prose: Or, The Trumpet of a Prophecy, ed. David Lee Clark (Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1954) 172. A comparable stance on the atheological immanence of "world-forming" [mondialisation] as opposed to uniform instrumental "globalization" has been articulated by Jean-Luc Nancy in The Creation of the World or Globalization, trans. Francois Raffoul and David Pettigrew (Albany: SUNY P, 2007). There Nancy writes in a Shelleyan mode: "Since it is not an issue of prophesizing nor of controlling the future, the question is, rather, how to give ourselves (open ourselves) in order to look ahead of ourselves, where nothing is visible, with eyes guided by those two terms whose meaning evades us--"creation" (up to this point limited to theological mystery), "world-forming" [mondialisation] (up to this point limited to economic and technological matters, generally called "globalization") (29).

(2.) Wordsworth: Poetical Works, ed. Thomas Hutchinson, revised and ed. Ernest de Selincourt (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1936) 461. Hereafter cited as WPW followed by page.

(3.) Unless otherwise noted, quotations from Shelley's poems refer to pages in Shelley's Poetry and Prose: Authoritative Texts and Criticism, 2nd edition, ed. Donald Reiman and Nell Fraistat (New York: Norton, 2002). Hereafter I shall also use this edition for all prose prefaces to the poems included in their selection.

(4.) Richard Holmes, Shelley: The Pursuit, 2nd edition (New York: New York Review of Books, 1994) 274.

(5.) The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1814-1844, vol. I: 1814-1822, ed. Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987) 25.

(6.) See Debbie Lee, Slavery and the Romantic Imagination (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2002) and Marcus Wood, Slavery, Empathy and Pornography (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002), especially 244-254.

(7.) For two informed accounts of Shelley's basic skepticism, see Terence Hoagwood's Skepticism and Ideology: Shelley's Political Prose and its Philosophical Context from Bacon to Marx (Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1988) and Tim Milnes, "Centre and Circumference: Shelley's Defence of Philosophy," European Romantic Review 15.1 (March 2004): 3-22. Christopher R. Miller has written on "Shelley's Uncertain Heaven" in a manner that evinces the poet's skepticism without raising an argument for it programmatically (ELH 72.3 [Fall 2005]: 577-603). On the final page of Shelley's Annus Mirabilis: The Maturing of an Epic Vision (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1975), Stuart Curran argues that "If]or Shelley skepticism is the true via media between a self-righteous conviction reliant on inhuman rigidity and the abject doubt that denies all assurance." Indeed, for Curran, Shelley's imaginative "faith" makes him "the greatest religious poet in the English language between Blake and Yeats" (205).

(8.) See Steven E. Jones, "Apostasy and Exhortation: Shelley's Satiric Fragments in the Huntington Notebooks," Huntington Library Quarterly 53.1 (Winter 1990): 41-66.

(9.) Typically, the last line of "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty"--Shelley's injunction to the worshipper of beauty "To fear himself, and love all human kind"--is softened by parsing fear as self-respect (92). But the line assumes its full scope in dialogue with Wordsworth if worship itself, even that of beauty, is kept dubious, and if personal distrust is balanced inwardly against the outward force of sociable love. This contrast can have tremendous force in Shelley. "On Life" judges solipsism "the monstrous presumption" (508).

(10.) For this "propaedeutic" role of the aesthetic in critical engagement, see Robert Kaufman, "Legislators of the Post-Everything World: Shelley's Defence of Adorno," ELH 63-3 (1996): 707-33, and "Aura, Still" (Walter Benjamin and Art, ed. Andrew Benjamin [London: Continuum, 2005]: 121-47 [134-38]). Comparably suggestive and yet concise is Bo Earle, "World Legislation: The Form and Function of a Romantic Cosmopolitanism," European Romantic Review 16.2 (April 2005): 209-20.

(11.) In Shelley's Style (New York: Methuen, 1984), Keach writes best on the reflexivity of Shelley's thought and imagery. William Hazlitt--and Chandler partly by his example--sees Shelley in a recursive position through the historical self-awareness of a "spirit of the age." That phrase, expanded into a book of the same title by Hazlitt in 1825, was Shelley's coinage first, though Hazlitt excludes Shelley from treatment in that very study. Chandler uses "the case" and casuistry to structure his interest in the discursive self-image of second generation romanticism; see England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism (Chicago: U of Chicago P: 1998) 23-33, 483-524. Regarding Peter Bell the Third specifically, however, there remains an interesting lacuna between Kaufman's forcefully brief account in "Aura, Still" and that in Chandler's book. While Kaufman reconstructs a line through Walter Benjamin and Brecht's Hollywood Elegies, in which Shelley's influence is made to represent the very persistence of aura, the public culture of Chandler's "witty and recondite" Peter Bell the Third appears to concede (and to gain very productive results from conceding) what Kaufman calls "auratic impulse and formal aesthetic autonomy" (England in 1819 484; "Aura, Still" 137). Partly due to the poem's internal qualities, and partly from its place in the great sequence of 18 x 9, Peter Bell the Third like few other poems leads us to sense both the presence and extinction of lyric aura. Compared to the figures in Pope's Dunciad in my discussion below, for example, even the execrated proper names in Shelley's poem resonate with the surplus of curses rather than the bathos of condescension.

(12.) Other poems of interest about Wordsworth are "An Exhortation" and the fragment "Proteus Wordsworth," for which see note 8.

(13.) An excellent summary of the literary context of Peter Bell the Third, especially in light of the role of Leigh Hunt and partisan journal culture, may be found in Steven E. Jones, Shelley's Satire: Violence, Exhortation, and Authority (DeKalb: Northern Illinois UP, 1994) 49-55.

(14.) See Keats's review of Reynolds in The Examiner, 25 April 1819.

(15.) Jonathan Wordsworth explains the import of this reference in his Woodstock edition of Peter Bell (Oxford: Woodstock, 1992), unpaginated introduction. It is taken from Susannah Centlivre's play A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1718), and is meant to imply that Wordsworth's Peter Bell functions analogously to Colonel Fainwell, a character in Centlivre's play who is caught impersonating the Quaker Simon Pure.

(16.) In an otherwise rich and persuasive account of Wollstonecraft's anthropological use of Methodism, Alan Bewell declares Peter Bell "obviously a bad poem," while playing off on this badness indecisively, between a generic form of intent ("an inept village Milton," citing John E. Jordan), and a failure (without the thematized element) simply to write well. See Wordsworth and the Enlightenment: Nature, Man, and Society in the Experimental Poetry (New Haven: Yale UP, 1989) 134.

(17.) Jones, a careful reader everywhere in his study, thinks Shelley "probably" read Reynolds, though it is hard to say when and where. See Shelley's Satire 49- Sufficient cues from Reynolds' work, but not the whole text, are presented in the April 25 Examiner through the selection of Keats.

(18.) The Critical Heritage: William Wordsworth, 1793-1820, vol. 1, ed. Robert Woof (London: Routledge, 2001) 652.

(19.) See "Shelley's Reputation Before 1960: A Sketch," in Shelley's Poetry and Prose 539-49.

(20.) The Letters of Percy Shelley, ed. Frederick L. Jones, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1964) 164. That Peter Bell the Third consciously deploys traits of farrago is given associative support by the style of William Earle's 1800 novel Obi: or, The History of Three-Fingered lack, ed Srinivas Aravamudan (Peterborough: Broadview, 2005). Just before his execution, the aged African patriarch Feruarue is said to be "covered over with the farrago of his weak and impotent charms" (99). And in the House of Commons Sessional Papers that Aravamudan's appendices helpfully provide, we are told "The Obi is usually composed of a Farrago of Materials, most of which are enumerated in the Jamaican Law, viz. 'Blood, Feathers, Parrots, Beaks, Dogs Teeth, Alligators Teeth, Broken Bottles, Grave Dirt, Rum and Eggshells'" (172). In Peter Bell the Third, the vituperative lists of proper names and exploitative schemes work by a similar logic, but suggest by contrast that power is conjured away from victims.

(21.) Jones writes about blasphemy citing the actual "three trials" of William Hone (Shelley's Satire 44-47). For a more extended account of these trials, see Marcus Wood, Radical Satire and Print Culture 1790-1822 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994) 96-154.

(22.) Examiner, 9 May 1819. Concerns for internationalism, the conflicting imperatives of forgiveness, and the potential (from an exile's point of view) of seeing London as a future city of refuge link Shelley very closely to Derrida's late writing on cosmopolitanism. See his Cosmopolites de tous les pays, encore un effort!, included in On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, trans. Mark Dooley and Michael Hughes (London: Routledge, 2001).

(23.) See Shelley's Satire 44; and also Claude Rawson, Satire and Sentient, 1660-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994) 108, 114.

(24.) The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, vol. 2 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004) xvii.

(25.) This was in the "Byron summer" in Switzerland, 1816. The uncharacteristic intrusion of much "Wordsworthian" nature in Childe Harold Canto in was one result of Shelley's intervention. See Shelley 327. Also see Leslie A. Marchand, Byron: A Biography, 3 vols. (New York: Knopf, 1957) 2:624.

(26.) I have already mentioned Leigh Hunt's review of Wordsworth's Peter Bell in The Examiner, 2 May 1819. Hunt's main charge against the poem is its hopelessness, which he understands as Wordsworth's "Methodistical" despair not for himself but for others. Yet the deep insight of Hunt's reaction is covered in a rant that implies a ready audience in the hardening attitudes of readers. Hunt's essay begins: "This is another didactic little horror of Wordsworth's, founded on the bewitching principles of fear, bigotry, and diseased impulse." See The Critical Heritage: William Wordsworth 651-54. Robert Browning understood Wordsworth to have left the ranks of "the van and the freemen" (explicitly including Shelley) to join "the rear and the slaves," in the poem "The Lost Leader" of 1845.

(27.) In her chapter titled "Wordsworth and the Parodic School of Criticism," Nicola Trott observes romantic parallels to Augustan satire even in the Wordsworthian first generation. There she asserts that as a satirical object "Wordsworth found himself the principle, though wholly unintentional, reviver of an entire Augustan satirical tradition. Wordsworth also, in the process, became the medium through which the "new school of criticism" established its own distinctive procedures and techniques." See The Satiric Eye, ed. Steven E. Jones (New York: Palgrave, 2003) 71-97 (82).

(28.) Jones links Shelley to Pope through "a chaos of uncreation that takes apart the life of the community. But whereas Pope blames the dunces out on the fringe," "Shelley blames the opposite cause" associated with "the 'norms' themselves"--"loyalty to the center" (Shelley's Satire 62-63). Howard Weinbrot goes so far as to posit the "tentative hypothesis" of a "dissociation of satiric sensibility" in the century after Pope, recycling T. S. Eliot's distinctive terminology; see Eighteenth-Century Satire: Essays on Text and Context from Dryden to Peter Pindar (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988) 185-203. My point about Shelley's remarkable success at satire by no means claims that no other writers imitated Pope or offered their own Dunciadic visions of dulness. Weinbrot himself concludes his study by drawing the parallel (albeit weakened by the onset of "dissociation") between Pope and John Wolcot or "Peter Pindar"; see 199-202.

(29.) As an example of this odd mutedness about the conceptual relevance of Pope, James Chandler cites The Dunciad in his extended discussion of Peter Bell the Third. His concern, however, is wholly with the Pope "controversy" over received schools of aesthetic decorum in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Thus far Pope has always been assimilated to Byron's position in such debates, usually without extended consideration, on assumptions of the presumed earnestness in the other romantics. I would argue that Shelley's use of Pope is important but not recognizable in such debate (England in 1819 522). Thus an implicit stake in my argument is that Peter Bell the Third can be "Popean" without ever assimilating to Byron's reductive handling of Wordsworth. Since, as Chandler points out, the initial appearance of Don Juan takes place "between the time of the first two Peter Bells in early spring and the time when Shelley composed Peter Bell the Third," Byron's modern epic is therefore pointedly absent from my account (England in 1819 517-18). The hole I leave could be glaring: obviously Shelley took a certain cue from the anti-metaphysical satire of Lake Poets in Don Juan Canto I. My point is that we see the way in which Shelley resists or complicates Byron's mandate, just the same as he resists in poetic practice the clear anti-Wordsworth directives of Hunt in The Examiner and by letter from Peacock. The Wordsworth criticism embedded in Peter Bell the Third is not a salvo, but a series of rapidly crystallized insights based on and deserving extended rumination.

(30.) Paradise Lost 2.988. Stuart Curran has also written on The Dunciad as a model for the poem; see Shelley's Annus Mirabilis 149. In his study British Satire and the Politics of Style 1789-1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997), Gary Dyer sensibly distinguishes between the poles of "Neo-Juvenalian" and "Neo-Horation" satire, inherited from the Augustans, on the one hand, and romantic "Radical" satire on the other. Though all three styles are major parts of the period's satiric discourse in political context, only "Radical satire" eschews a monologic form for a "multi-voiced discourse" (3, 39-93; I quote at 68).

(31.) The Poems of Alexander Pope, ed. John Butt (New Haven: Yale UP, 1963) 425, 800.

(32.) See Debbie Lee, Slavery and the Romantic Imagination 129-31. That etymology, however, is exploded by Joseph J. (J. J.) Williams in Voodoos and Obeahs: Phases of West India Witchcraft (New York: Dial, 1932) 110-11, 116.

(33.) "Peter Bell demonstrates that it was through the violence of a superstitious imagination that religious ideas were first revealed to early humans and they made the transition from barbarism to a world of Christian love" (Bewell, Wordsworth and the Enlightenment 127).

(34.) See Alan Richardson, "Romantic Voodoo: Obeah and British Culture, 1797-1807" in SiR 32.1 (Spring 1993): 3-28. A long-lived play, Obi; or, Three-Fingered Jack (1800) popularized the phenomenon for a decade at the start of the nineteenth century. Among the authors who treat obi in their works are Maria Edgeworth in chapter 16 of Belinda, and Thomas De Quincey in Suspiria de Profundis. Observing how obi leave no "wound except from [the victim's] own domineering fancy," De Quincey calls the practice a "dark collusion with human fears and human credulity"; see Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Other Writings, ed. Grevel Lindop (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996) 120. In Cultural Politics in the 1790s: Literature, Radicalism and the Public Sphere (Houndsmills: Macmillan, 1999), Andrew McCann writes about the contexts of obeah in Belinda as "a sign of militant non-identity and anticolonial insurgency," particularly after the 1760 slave uprising in Jamaica known as Tacky's Rebellion; see 192-99.

(35.) Anya Taylor's Magic and English Romanticism (Athens: U of Georgia P, 1979) remains a valuable study for white and black magic more broadly. Given Shelley's allusions--both in his epigraph and in signing the dedication--to the "Miching Mallecho" of Hamlet's play within a play, Laura Bohannon's ethnographic account, "Miching Mallecho: That Means Witchcraft," is also of particular interest. Anthropology courses often informally refer to this text as "Shakespeare in the Bush"; it is reprinted in Magic, Witchcraft, and Curing, ed. John Middleton (Austin: U of Texas P, 1967).

(36.) In Skepticism and Ideology, Hoagwood shows ancient skepticism to be the common element between Shelley's Humean method and the Marxist account of "inversion" as the "German Ideology" (131).

(37.) See Hume's Natural History of Religion, section I ("That Polytheism Was the Primary Religion of Men"), Dialogues and Natural History of Religion, ed. J. C. A. Gaskin (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993) 135. J. J. Williams, an early-twentieth century expert on Obi, quotes a certain Captain Rattray to articulate the conflictive monotheistic background of its historical West African culture: "Hence, we have in Ashanti exactly that 'mixed religion' which we find among the Israelites of old. They worshipped Jehovah, but they worshipped other Gods as well" (Voodoos and Obeahs 123).

(38.) In the literature on Shelley, here one might consult the first important effort at a Humean skeptical framework, C. E. Pulos's The Deep Truth: A Study of Shelley's Scepticism (Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1954), where he comments: "the only sceptic whom Shelley disliked, so far as I know, was Pierre Bayle, the precursor of French materialists, because of his 'obliquity of understanding and coarseness of feeling'" (24). With potentially fascinating repercussions that I cannot explore further in this essay, Alan Bewell points out the link from Pierre Bayle to Peter Bell in Wordsworth and the Enlightenment 120.

(39.) J. J. Williams 101. "Voodoo" and its cognates typically refer to practices in French colonies such as Haiti, with "Obi" (and its related term obeah, going back to the original Ashanti word Obayifo) reserved for English-speaking colonies including Jamaica.

(40.) This is the heading of Natural History, section VIII.

(41.) This symbolic ascription is a widespread yet still accurate commonplace. See, for example, Charles Robinson, Shelley and Byron: The Serpent and the Eagle Wreathed in Flight (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976).

(42.) England in 1819 545-49. "Absent cause" originates in the philosophy of Spinoza, and in contemporary theory becomes crucial to the Althusserian concept of global capital and the "differend."

(43.) This striking reversal of visible ghosts that are fleeing, not summoned by, their enchanter is noted by Paul H. Fry in The Poet's Calling in the English Ode (New Haven: Yale UP, 1980) 210.

(44.) "Deplore" is Browning's chosen word too, about Wordsworth, in "The Lost Leader."

(45.) Poetry and Criticism of Matthew Arnold, ed. A. Dwight Culler (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961) 162.

(46.) Like "To Wordsworth," no dated manuscript survives of "Mutability."

(47.) "Disenchantment or Default: A Lay Sermon," in The Romantics: England in a Revolutionary Age (New York: New Press, 1997) 33-74.
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Title Annotation:Percy Shelley
Author:Lindstrom, Eric
Publication:Studies in Romanticism
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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