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Peacock in love: reminiscences of Cecilia Jenkins, an unknown Victorian novelist.

An editor of literary letters sometimes needs a bit of luck, as well as the persistence of a detective, to track down a "missing person." When I began to collect the letters of Thomas Love Peacock, I naturally wanted to identify the Mrs. Jenkins mentioned by his granddaughter Edith Nicolls as "a very old friend" and as one of his few correspondents in his last years. (1) But how was I to find a lady with a common surname about whom I knew next to nothing? The case seemed all but hopeless until I came across a bookseller's catalogue listing, among other Peacock first editions, a presentation copy of his last little book, Gl'Ingannati: The Deceived ... and Aelia Laelia Crispis, inscribed to Cecilia Jenkins. Once I knew Mrs. Jenkins's given name, it was an easy matter, the next time I was in London, to check the indexes of wills at Somerset House for some twenty years following the date of the inscription. Of the two Cecilia Jenkinses listed, one turned out to be Peacock's friend, and her will enabled me to connect her with his early circle at Englefield Green. But the real payoff came when, to my surprise, I found her name in the index of applicants for assistance from the Royal Literary Fund, a charity for impoverished authors that still flourishes today. Cecilia Jenkins's case file in the Fund's archives not only contained details of her disastrous marriage but also revealed that she was the anonymous author of eight books, one of which proved to be an autobiographical novel in which she relates otherwise unrecorded anecdotes of Shelley and Peacock, quotes the full text of an otherwise unknown love poem that Peacock sent her, and even describes how, one summer day, Peacock proposed to her.

What began as a search for a missing person turned out to involve a case of mistaken identity. Not only have Mrs. Jenkins's books been forgotten, but her very existence as an author has been unknown to bibliographers. Prior to the indexing of Bentley's privately printed Lists by Michael Turner (2) and the cataloguing of the archives of the Royal Literary Fund by Nigel Cross, (3) Cecilia Jenkins's novels were attributed in a number of standard reference works, including the Supplement to Allibone's Dictionary and the British Museum's General Catalogue of Printed Books, to another woman writer with a similar Welsh surname: Henrietta Camilla Jenkin, whose novels were sometimes published under the name of Mrs. C. Jenkin. (4) The British Library has since corrected its listings for the novels, but the misattribution persists in numerous catalogues and reference works, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The present article thus has two interrelated purposes: first, to provide an account of the life and writings of a hitherto unrecognized Victorian novelist whose work is noteworthy for its critique of the institution of marriage in early nineteenth-century England, and second, to examine the hitherto unnoticed passages relating to Shelley and Peacock in Mrs. Jenkins's three-decker Wedlock; or, Yesterday and To-day, which collectively constitute the only extensive personal reminiscence we have of Peacock as a young man.

Cecilia Jenkins was the second of three daughters of James Knowles and his wife Hannah Warren, of St. Agnes Cottage, Englefield Green, Surrey. (5) Although she did not give her year of birth on her applications to the Literary Fund, she was born at Englefield Green on 30 January, probably around 1792, though possibly as late as 1796. (6) Her older sister, Anna Maria Knowles, was born on 27 September 1789 and was married at Egham on 1 May 1809 to Joseph Gulston, a former schoolfellow of Peacock's who lived for the next few years at Poplar Lodge, Englefield Green. (7) A brother, Francis Edward Knowles, was born on 27 April 1794 and baptized at Croydon, Surrey, on 20 June of that year. (8) Cecilia's younger sister, Clarinda Knowles, was baptized at Sutton, Surrey, on 12 May 1797 and was married to the Reverend John Atkyns at All Saints, Southampton, on 26 August 1834. (9) Peacock is likely to have known the Knowles family from his schooldays at Englefield Green or his residence at Chertsey in his early twenties. (10) After the death of James Knowles in February 1809, his widow remained at Englefield Green with her two unmarried daughters for more than five years, but she later resided at Brighton and at Albourne, Sussex. Sometime around 1823, Cecilia married James Gidoin (or Gedoin) Jenkins, solicitor, of Sidmouth, Devon, with whom she had at least five children:

1. Cecilia Mary Gidoin Jenkins, born in 1824/25, unmarried in 1867.

2. James Gidoin Jenkins, born 26 June 1826, passed as a cadet for the Bengal Infantry 29 June 1842, died at Umballa 14 October 1843.

3. Claire Maria Gidoin Jenkins, born in 1828/29, unmarried in 1867.

4. Henry Gidoin Jenkins, baptized 5 July 1830, passed as a cadet for the Bengal Cavalry 7 June 1848, married Lucy Jane Miller of Sidmouth 14 April 1857, retired as a major 12 December 1872.

5. Robert Gedoin Jenkins, born 26 December 1835, baptized 15 January 1836, passed as a cadet for the Madras Infantry 1 October 1856, promoted captain 13 December 1868, married Alice Mary 30 July 1872.

The eldest son was nominated for his cadetship on the recommendation of Sir David Scott, an old family friend and one of Hannah Knowles's executors, while the two younger sons were both nominated on Peacock's recommendation. Cecilia Jenkins's two applications for assistance from the Royal Literary Fund were made in April 1848 and November 1855 to help defray the expense of their outfitting and passage. The applications were necessary because, "through a perverted and mistaken judgment," her husband became bankrupt in 1842 and was again insolvent a few years later. By 1848, she and her children were living apart from her husband in a cottage known as Radway at Fort Field, Sidmouth, and receiving no financial assistance from him. (11) Her husband died in 1861, after having been "pronounced of unsound mind" sometime between 1848 and 1855. In 1840, Cecilia Jenkins inherited St. Agnes Cottage and some of her mother's other property in Surrey, which altogether produced less than 100 [pounds sterling] a year in rent. She died at Sidmouth on 17 September 1868, leaving a will dated 29 March 1867. The value of her estate was sworn under 200 [pounds sterling].

To support herself and her family as her husband's financial affairs worsened, Cecilia Jenkins turned to writing and eventually produced four novels, a travel book, a historical tale for children, and translations of two seventeenth-century French memoirs, all of which were published anonymously: (12)

1. Miss Aylmer; or, The Maid's Husband. 3 vols. London: Richard Bentley, 1840. Reissued as The Maid's Husband. 3 vols. London: Richard Bentley, 1844. (13)

2. Wedlock; or, Yesterday and To-day. By the Author of "The Maid's Husband." 3 vols. London: Richard Bentley, 1841. (14)

3. The Smiths: A Novel. By the Author of "The Maid's Husband," "Wedlock; or, Yesterday and To-day." 3 vols. London: T. C. Newby, 1843. [Also contains a short story, "Sir Paul Crespigny" (3:228-314).]

4. Cardinal de Retz: A Literary Curiosity. From the Original Memoirs. By the Author of "The Maid's Husband," "The Smiths." 2 vols. London: T. C. Newby, 1844. (15) [The second English translation, considerably abridged, containing no preface or introduction, only a few notes and a brief conclusion dated "Radway, March 12th, 1844" (2:391-96).]

5. Economy; or, A Peep at Our Neighbours. London: John Ollivier, 1845. Reissued as The Channel Islands; or, A Peep at Our Neighbours. London: John Field, 1847. (16) [A travel book, based on a residence of several months in Guernsey, for the sake of economy, in the summer of 1844.]

6. King Edwin and Northumbria: A Tale of Old English Times. London: James Burns, 1845. Reissued London: J. & C. Mozley, 1850. (17) [A children's book.]

7. Lost and Won; or, The Love Test. By the Author of "The Maid's Husband." 3 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1846.

8. Memoirs of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, Grand-Daughter of Henri Quatre, and Niece of Queen Henrietta Maria. Written by Herself Edited from the French. 3 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1848. [The first English translation, containing an "Introduction by the Editor" (1:1-32), a list of "Personages Mentioned in This Work" (1:33-45), and a "Continuation and Conclusion of Mademoiselle's History; with Reflections, and an Inquiry into the Evidence of Her Marriage with the Duke of Lauzun" (3:256-84), as well as a fair number of notes.]

Mrs. Jenkins's 1855 application adds: "Desultory literature, and two M.S. works in hand, of 3 vols each;... a little leisure will see them ready for publication--." (18) However, no further works of hers have been identified. Except for the two translations, all of her books are now extremely rare.

On the evidence of her works, Cecilia Jenkins appears to have been well educated and well read, with a broad knowledge of literature, history, and public affairs. (19) She evidently possessed a thorough mastery of French, a good grasp of Italian, and some acquaintance with Latin and Greek. (20) The law reformer Henry Bellenden Ker, who had known her since childhood and was one of her mother's executors, offered the following assessment of her books in a letter of 29 March 1848 to Octavian Blewitt, the Secretary of the Royal Literary Fund:

They are light, & respectable, not of any high order, but if they are not calculated to do great good or afford any very high intellectual enjoyment, they have a good end & object. Some estimate may be framed of their success by her always being able to find a publisher & that she has always received pay for their production.

The "good end & object" of Mrs. Jenkins's novels was to radically reform the English system of marriage by telling the truth about wedlock from a woman's point of view, by teaching young women to respect themselves and value their independence, by urging parents not to pressure their daughters to marry, and by upholding the usefulness and dignity of old maids. In her view, the vast majority of married women would be better off had they remained single.

Mrs. Jenkins's critique of marriage is fully developed in her first novel, Miss Aylmer; or, The Maid's Husband. The heroine, Rosalind Aylmer--whose name obviously recalls Landor's famous lines on Rose Aylmer (21)--is a wealthy young heiress who settles with her companion, Mrs. Milman, at Haveringham Manor, a picturesque Gothic mansion near a fashionable bathing-place on the southwest coast of England--a place much like Sidmouth. Like Anthelia Melincourt in Peacock's Melincourt (1817), Rosalind would like to marry but does hot intend to do so unless she tan find a man who embodies her imaginary ideal of perfection. After rejecting various suitors, she rather unaccountably falls in love with John Bracken, a brilliant but self-absorbed scholar in his early twenties, who is living as the nominal "pupil" of Mr. Strickland, the local curate, whose wife Rosalind has befriended. When Bracken fails to respond to her encouragement, she finds herself gradually attracted to one of her guardians, Philip Waldegrave, a wealthy and refined but melancholy bachelor in his late forties, who pays her a long visit in the course of which they become engaged. Shortly before their wedding day, however, she breaks off the engagement when it transpires that Waldegrave has an illegitimate son, who turns out to be John Bracken. Disillusioned, Rosalind remains single and dies a beloved and respected spinster--the "maid's husband" having proved, in her case, an unattainable ideal.

It is hardly surprising that an anonymous reviewer in the Athenaeum thought Miss Aylmer was "not ... so much a story, as a long and eloquent homily on the laconic warning "Never marry!" (22) Interspersed throughout the three volumes are long didactic passages in which the author/narrator directly addresses her young female readers and their parents, warning them of the dangers of marrying, or allowing a daughter to marry, without due consideration of a prospective husband's character and compatibility. Given the vast preponderance of unhappy marriages, the economic powerlessness of married women, and the burdens of housekeeping and motherhood, she argues that most young women would be well advised to preserve their independence, except in those rare cases where a woman's true happiness depends on marriage to a man of exceptional character whom she loves wisely as well as passionately. If an ample fortune is hot absolutely necessary, it can nevertheless provide insurance against the evils of poverty, or consolation in case the love proves illusory. Even with a good husband, marriage on a limited income can result in domestic slavery for the wife.

The importance of money in marriage is explored in the story of Rosalind's friend Mrs. Strickland, who has married for love and struggles to keep her love alive in a cottage with a husband and six children. The Stricklands are, as the Athenaeum reviewer noted, a study in contrasts--"the woman all prudence and cheerful forbearance, the man all extravagance and selfish indulgence." (23) Despite his small salary as curate, Strickland insists on keeping horses and indulging in the expensive habits of a gentleman, while leaving tradesmen's bills unpaid. Mrs. Strickland, for her part, is a model wife and mother, educating her children herself and attending to some of the parish responsibilities that her husband neglects. The first time her husband is threatened with arrest for debt, Mrs. Strickland not only borrows money from Miss Aylmer to satisfy his creditors but also secures his promotion to the vacant rectory by writing a letter in his name to the noble patron of the living. However, the large increase in his income only makes Strickland even more extravagant, and his wife has to come to the rescue a second time, with the help of a friendly lawyer. Eventually, we are told, she manages to obtain cadetships for two of her sons, as Mrs. Jenkins would do for all three of hers in the years following the publication of Miss Aylmer. In view of what we know about Mrs. Jenkins's financial difficulties and her husband's bankruptcy, it seems obvious that the character of Mrs. Strickland is an idealized self-portrait of the author as a married woman.

Mrs. Jenkins's second novel, aptly titled Wedlock; or, Yesterday and Today, actually purports to be autobiographical, tracing the anonymous author/narrator's life from her girlhood in the neighborhood of Windsor in the first decade of the nineteenth century to her marriage at Brighton in the early 1820s. Now older and wiser, she sets out to persuade her young female readers, and their parents, to take a more serious and more realistic view of wedlock than the one that prevails in English society. Although she provides no details of her own married life, her message can be summed up in the lines from an "Old Song" quoted as an epigraph on the title-page: "Say what man will, / Wedlock's a pill, / Bitter to swallow, and hard of digestion." (24) Her recollections of her earlier experience as a marriageable young woman are padded out with accounts of stirring events, famous personages, and memorable scandals. Some of these historical passages are based on personal observation of the royal family at Windsor and of Regency society at Brighton, but others are little more than potted history, often serving to illustrate the perils of wedlock as well as to spin out the story to the requisite length of a standard three-decker. Despite the abundance of historical reference, the chronology of events is often imprecise. At one point the narrator admits, "the recollection is all very dreamy, and the dates not of material consequence" (3:10). A bit later she remarks: "I find I have been anticipating, and have somewhat jumbled this part of my narrative out of the right place; but it matters little, for it is difficult to follow dates at this distant period" (3:34).

Although Wedlock is a continuous first-person narrative with no chapter breaks, the volume divisions mark distinct stages in the early life of the unnamed narrator/heroine, a bright, beautiful young woman of good family but modest fortune. The first volume describes her early days as an only child in "a beautiful cottage-ornee" within sight of Windsor Park (1:8-9). (25) Her brilliant father wastes his energy dabbling in the arts and loses much of his modest fortune pursuing dreams of wealth, while her prudent mother watches in dismay, powerless to check his extravagance. (26) Toward the end of the first volume, her father's death in reduced circumstances forces mother and daughter to leave "the home of their hearts" (1:293). (27) The second volume begins with a brief residence in London, after which the heroine is sent to stay with various friends and relatives, in order to save money while her mother tries to put her financial affairs in order. This phase of her life comes to an end when her mother eventually secures, from the wreck of her husband's fortune, an income sufficient to enable them to go to Brighton and enter fashionable society. The third volume traces the heroine's progress from the fashionable world of Brighton and London, where she has many admirers, to a quiet village in Wales, where she meets her future husband, and then back to Brighton, where their wedding takes place and she finally "leaves the church--/ A POOR MAN'S WIFE" (3:297). (28)

For the most part, the narrator's former suitors are a rather uninteresting lot, and the man she eventually marries is no exception. The only one who stands out, the only one she keeps remembering throughout the book, is an unnamed poet--obviously Peacock--whom she introduces as Shelley's friend "Mr.--" when describing her early days in the neighborhood of Windsor:

I do not wonder the poets congregate together in a romantic part of the country; and we had in our neighbourhood, Shelley, his friend Mr. Newton, and his most interesting friend Mr.--. It is a strange objection I have to give some names to the public eye; and yet how reckless I am of others. I could write Bond all over the book;--Bond,--Bond,--Bond,--ugly Bond; Bond,--as the French write Bete, "avec trois accens circonflexes," to mark my disgust at it. And at what? not at his proposing to marry me, for that he never did; but for his bringing on me the never forgotten reflection of my friends, that I might have had him, had I taken as much pains to please him as the young lady did who had not so many propinquities as myself; and whom he eventually took home to his highly vaunted rectory in Suffolk. (29)

How differently my mind still falls on Shelley's highly gifted friend. And well do I remember the wild gaze of Shelley's eye,--its dark, deep lustre! I speak of the time when he was just married to Miss Westbrook; before his mind had been contaminated with wrong, and before he knew more of his second father-in-law, than to relieve him in his difficulties by sums given from his own slender income. Being one day solicited in this manner, he gave him the money he required; saying, at the same time, in his own generous way, he wished he had asked him for as many hundreds. St. Leon (30) did not lose the hint: he hemmed and hawed a little,--talked about political economy,--and soon made it appear that the hundreds would be very acceptable.

Shelley's ideas were certainly hyper-liberal. A Mr. Hog fell in love with his wife; she huffed him, and did not like his attentions. Percy Bysshe took his part. She would have nothing to say to him: that might be; but the husband argued that it was but fair to give him first a patient hearing. They then seated themselves on three chairs, as ladies and gentlemen do on the stage, and the lover was allowed to plead "the whole hog" of his passion. On its conclusion, Shelley asked his wife if he had prevailed? She said "No;" then Shelley made him a bow; condoled with him on the ill success of his suit; wished him good b'ye, and ceased to encourage his visits.

It was after their residence at--, that Mrs. Shelley's unfortunate end took place. Brought up at the Mount Coffee-house, her ideas could have but ill assimilated with his; and she was driven at last, in regret and despair, to seek relief in self-destruction. Paper sentiment, and coined cruelty, are very different things:--what reads well, is hard to bear: the pen touches but the paper;--the dart reaches the heart. I saw the little Ianthe as a baby,--the next time as a bride. (31) Nothing is so pretty as modesty; at the same time, I confess I was vexed at the determined way in which she kept down her head,--let fall her veil,--and slunk under the protecting wing of her husband. I wanted to be reminded of Shelley; but I saw nothing but blond lace and willow-drooping feathers. (1:115-18)

Cecilia Knowles had known Peacock for some time, and it was presumably through him that she met the Shelleys during their brief residence at Windsor in the winter of 1813/14. Peacock, who had traveled to the Lake District and Edinburgh with the Shelleys in the autumn, recalled in his "Memoirs" that "Shelley returned to London shortly before Christmas, then took a furnished house for two or three months at Windsor, visiting London occasionally." (32) The house has never been identified, and little is known about this period in Shelley's life. Mrs. Jenkins's reminiscences suggest that he spent much of his time with Peacock and John Frank Newton as well as with William Godwin, for whom he was engaged in raising money, mainly through a post-obit bond for 8,000 [pounds sterling] that was auctioned at Garraway's Coffee House, Change Alley, on 4 March 1814. (33) Mrs. Jenkins's anecdote of Godwin's quickness in taking advantage of Shelley's generosity is more plausible than Map/Russell Mitford's story of his threatening to stab himself if Shelley would not relieve his distress. (34) Her account of Thomas Jefferson Hogg's attempted seduction of Harriet at York in October 1811 is noteworthy as the earliest version of the stop/to appear in print. While accurately representing Shelley's "hyper-liberal" views of free love, she drastically underestimates the emotional turmoil he experienced in temporarily breaking off relations with the friend who had shared his expulsion from University College, Oxford. (35) Mrs. Jenkins's tone of amused detachment suggests that she is more likely to have heard the stop/from Peacock than from Shelley or Harriet. Since Hogg was naturally anxious to keep the incident under wraps, he would have been furious if he saw the passage in Wedlock, and would probably have blamed his friend Peacock for spreading malicious gossip. (36) Mrs. Jenkins's enigmatic comment on Harriet's suicide may also have been based on information from Peacock.

After returning to the stop/of her own life and describing in some detail her visits to the London residence of John and Amelia Opie when her parents were having their portraits painted, the narrator reverts to Shelley and Peacock, emphasizing their simple pleasures as well as their vegetable diet in a passage that contains some striking echoes of Headlong Hall (published early in December 1815 with a title-page dated 1816):

The philosopher-poets used to amuse us greatly;--their original, and yet childish ways. Shelley with his paper boats; and his interesting friend, Mr.--, not Bond,--spending his best strength of mind and wit in kite-flying.

"Who fills our butchers' shops with large blue flies," (37)

was to them immaterial--the muttons grazed in safety by their side; meat was an abomination! And they divided cabbages with the caterpillars.

There was a writing-master--methodist preacher sort of a person (38)--in the neighbourhood, who took a great interest in all these novel proceedings. He liked to talk with these bright lights, as he would with creatures from New Zealand, yet could scarcely believe, or follow them, in the mighty odd things they told: and being one who never lost sight of the loaves and fishes himself, it was in vain trying to bring him to their point of reasoning upon the matter. (39)

"What a deal of learning, sir, you have got in your head!" he would breathe out in a long note of admiration sort of sigh, to some of their strange doctrine;--and I suspect they took a great delight in mistifying him. They talked to him of the present degeneracy of the times--for they were nearly as bad then as they are now,--and laid all the blame to the use of animal food and fire. The natural and original man, they told him, lived in woods; the roots and fruits of the earth supplied his simple nutriment; he had few desires, and no diseases; his liver was then his own, and not made over to the vultures by strong and spirituous liquors. (40) That was the time fox the philosophic pinnacle of pure and perfect felicity! (41)

"Look at your teeth, sir," said--, "what have they to do to meddle with the ox? see from the formation if they do not decidedly place man in the frugiferous class?" (42) and he snatched at the parson's mouth as he concluded.

"There is no specimen left," shrieked the old man; "they have all done their duty, and are worked out; I gave up my last tooth"--and he said it with a sigh,--"my last tooth on Saturday; I felt its loss at my Sunday's dinner."

"This is your only wear!" said Mr.--, shaking a bunch of grapes in his face, that he was eating in the way of breakfast. The parson ran his tongue round his mouth, where his teeth had been, as though they were all on edge; and a shiver seemed to curdle up his blood, as he replied with his usual sigh,--

"Ah, sir! grapes may be very celestial food; but give me a good beef-steak." (1:128-31)

Mrs. Jenkins's reminiscences cast a surprising light on Peacock's treatment of Shelley's vegetarianism in his "Memoirs," where he represents himself as a healthy meat-eater who cured his ailing vegetarian friend, in the course of an excursion up the Thames to Lechlade in September 1815, with his well-known prescription of "Three mutton chops, well peppered." (43) Unlike his fellow-biographer Hogg, Peacock never admitted to having been a vegetarian, and he is widely suspected to have written "Dinner by the Amateurs of Vegetable Diet," an anonymous burlesque of Shelley's A Vindication of Natural Diet (1813) and/or his nearly identical vegetarian note to Queen Mab (privately printed in 1813 and piratically published in 1821). (44) But despite his later amusement over the impractical theorizing of Shelley's vegetarian friends, Peacock adopted John Frank Newton's zodiacal mythology as part of the groundwork for his unfinished romantic epic "Ahrimanes" (written between late summer 1813 and late summer 1815). (45) And despite his later opinion that Shelley's vegetable diet was injurious to his physical and mental health, it now appears that Peacock actually professed himself a vegetarian for a short period in 1813/14. In recreating the discourse of the two "philosopher-poets" in Wedlock, Mrs. Jenkins borrows much of her phraseology from the breakfast-table conversation of Peacock's three philosophers and the Reverend Doctor Gaster in the second chapter of Headlong Hall--an episode that may have owed something to the actual conversations of Shelley and Peacock with the unidentified parson at Englefield Green.

The narrative continues, with further borrowings from Headlong Hall as well as direct quotations from the revised edition of Peacock's poem The Genius of the Thames (1812):

But the poor parson was not the only one Mr.--seemed disposed to puzzle. I came in for my share of it. Drummond's Academical Questions were at his fingers' ends; (16) yet, at the same time that he talked about living with pleasure the life of a wild man,--feeding on acorns, and sleeping on the ground,--no man, perhaps, more enjoyed the refinements and good cheer of this life than he did. He even made attention at table a point of attack upon the female heart; and with a pretty cousin, who sometimes paid us a visit, and myself, we always knew who was the favourite Cynthia of the minute, by the close and unique siege laid, and the attack made, in the first glass of wine, and the offering of all the sweetest creams and pastry.

I think I see his fine eyes now, serving their apprenticeship of love, and dwelling on one almost to one's discomfiture, if we had not known him; following wherever we moved--that is, one at a time--and professing the most devout attentions. My cousin one day expostulated with him upon this fixed gaze, and to me it seemed not a little triumphantly, in being the object of it; but he silenced her in a moment by quietly replying, that whenever he reflected he always looked on vacancy. And this favouritism would last for about three or four days; and then the wind would vere (47) him, eyes and wine, creams and pastry, round again to the other divinity. During out reign, no song would he hear but that of the queen of his love. If she walked, he walked. If she stayed at home, he stayed at home; partaking his attention with Euripides, (48) and rambling with him--lamely though on our part it might be--through his fields of speculation, original deductions, sources of analyses, and experimental comparison.

And yet it was most amusing to unravel the labyrinth of his peculiar mind, to follow him in his poetical combinations, piercing and developing the springs of passion, and identifying himself, as it were, with the beings of an invisible creation." (49) Nothing was milder or gentler than he was: all his oddity and genius seemed his mother tongue. It was no effort--virtue and truth were his pursuit; and if he did venture to repeat a modern philosophical creed, it was so naturally said, and with so much intelligence at the same time, that had I not retrograded the moment he left me, I had bid fair to become a Mary Woolstonecroft, or some such heathenish character. (50) Virtue, he would teach, was independent of external circumstances: my exalted understanding was to look into the truth of things, and in its own peculiar contemplations to rise superior to the world. Mental acquisitions were the goal at which was to be sacrificed all terrestrial good; (51) and he seemed ready himself to sacrifice anything,--everything but his love!

I wish I could remember the words in which he once asked me to marry him--I dare say he had asked my cousin before--as I think they must have been super-characteristic; but I can only remember my answer. It was under the shade of some lofty elms before the drawing-room windows one sultry afternoon, the Thames winding its peaceful way in the landscape, that we were sitting together,--a book in his hand as was usual with him; our view over the rugged part of Windsor Park--its green slopes and richly wooded valleys, the Castle at the distance,--its flag now ever waving on its round tower seeming to mourn the desolated monarch. And as I have said, at the foot of the scene glided the Thames.
   "Thames! when beside thy secret source,
   Remembrance points the mighty course
      Thy defluent waters keep;
   Advancing, with perpetual flow,
   Through banks still widening as they go,
      To mingle with the deep!

   Emblem'd in thee, my thoughts survey
      Unruffled childhood's peaceful hours,
   And blooming youth's delightful way

      Through sunny fields and roseate bowers:
   And thus the scenes of life expand
   Till death draws forth, with steady hand,
      Out names from his capacious urn;
   And draws alike the base and good
   To pass that all-absorbing flood,
      O'er which is no return." (52)

Nothing can be more appropriate than the lines I have chosen, written by himself, and published in some poems he had already given the public,--certainly before he was in love with me, or ever professed to be so. Indeed I do not think he seems in love at all during the poem--decidedly not at Windsor--or he might have sung of something else save--
   "The Norman King's embattled towers
      Look proudly o'er the subject plain,
   Where deep in Windsor's regal bowers
      The silver Muses hold their reign.
   From groves of oak, whose branches hoar
   Have heard primeval tempests roar;
   Beneath the moon's pale ray they pass
   Along the shore's unbending grass,
   And songs of gratulation raise,
   To speak a patriot monarch's praise."

In another page he says,--
   "Sweetly, on yon poetic hill,
      Strains of unearthly music breathe;
   Where Denham's spirit, hovering still,
      Weaves his wild harp's aerial wreath.
   And sweetly on the mead below
   The fragrant gales of summer blow:
   While flowers shall spring, while Thames shall flow,
      That mead shall live in memory,
   Where valour on the tented field
   Triumphant raised his patriot shield,
   The voice of truth to kings revealed,
      And broke the chains of tyranny!" (53)

This alluding to Runnymead and Cowper's Hill; and he may well talk of England's freedom and the chains of tyranny! But all this was before he took my cousin to this hill, whilst my back was turned, and made professions of love to her, as he said, in excuse only for the moment. But he might well have said the same to those he offered to me: wavering as the butterfly, how hard is man to fix! and his inconstancy, it was enough to make the Thames turn round and change its current. (54) (1:131-36)

The "pretty cousin" who shared Peacock's shifting affection was presumably based on Cecilia Knowles's younger sister Clarinda, with whom he was in love in September 1812, when he took a walking tour of the Isle of Wight with their brother-in-law and his old schoolfellow Joseph Gulston. On the eve of their departure, he wrote to his friend Thomas Forster from Englefield Green: "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is, of all the girls whom I have ever met with, the most lovely, the most engaging, the most witty, and the most accomplished; and at the same time, so obliging, so unaffected, so sweet-tempered, so every way fascinating, that she is to me little less than a spirit of heaven, and indeed 'too much a dream of heaven, for mortal love to merit her'." A week later, he added in a letter from Steephill: "I doubt if the concentrated attractions of all the nymphs I have e<ver> loved and caressed would compose a being hall so encha<nti>ng as this goddess of my idolatry. O utinam!" At a ball at Englefield Green in late December, he still thought her "the loveliest and wittiest girl in the room," though he did not sound quite so much in love. (55) Even if Peacock's preference did not shift quite as often as the narrator suggests, his professions of love for the two sisters must have left both girls questioning his sincerity as well as the "modern philosophical creed" of free love.

The narrator's concluding remark on Peacock's inconstancy leads into a digression on a scene of more serious delinquency: a ruined house on the Thames at Ankerwyke, from which Mary Elizabeth King, third daughter of Viscount Kingsborough, eloped with her married lover Colonel Henry Gerald FitzGerald in 1797. (56) After some further reminiscences of the Thames from Ankerwyke to Staines, the narrator returns to her story of Peacock's proposal, again quoting Headlong Hall, and now for the first time quoting Nightmare Abbey (1818): (57)

I could fain leave Mr.--still sitting with his book,--and it always seemed immaterial whether he had that or the best company near him,--to follow still the mazes of my beautiful river.
   "The stream expands; the meadows fly;
   The stately swan sails proudly by."

It is some compensation for you, Mr.--, that I write in your own poetic words. But alas! from Staines-bridge my memory is out of its beat; and' even the dreamy recollection fades away, as,
   "Full, clear, and bright, with devious flow,
   The rapid waters murmuring go." (58)

And though you would lead me by the beautiful banks of Oatlands, and the pretty village of Sunbury, here I rest, and return to my story.

I remember, I was dressed in what we used to call a "hail-stone" (50) muslin frock; it was cotton heavily bumped over a clear cobweb ground,--my sleeves fastened up with rosettes of blue riband, and my blue kid shoes elaborately sandaled. I have told you that I forger the words in which the "prop" (60) was conveyed; but I well remember my answer. I replied, "But what is the use of your asking me to marry you, when you do not hold with the faith of Wedlock?" re-reminding (61) him at the same time of his own words, "legal bondage," and "superstitious imposture." (62)

For a moment I think he looked disconcerted; but he was so good tempered, and so exceedingly amused with anything odd and original, that, drawing up his features into a smile, he replied, "But you do: you consider marriage binding, and that will do just as well,--take my word for it."

But it did not do: and though there is no recollection in my mind but the most agreeable ones--of all my acquaintance with Mr.--, nothing more came of it than some beautiful and original poetry, as he told me, on myself, and a never failing pleasure in the retrospection of the many hours we passed together. However strange, there was always in his conversation something mild and agreeable, and pleasing to the feelings,--an intellectual strain running through the whole; and though sometimes he would take the pains to demonstrate the "nullity of virtue," and enter upon a "delicious misanthropy of discontent,"(63) yet he ever seemed, to me, to laugh at it himself, and to get up his schemes of transcendental illumination merely to carry on the war waged at the moment by the philosophers of the day, as an auxiliary mail for helping on the great design of mankind's emancipation? (64)

He is married,--I wonder now what he thinks of emancipation?--and so am I. I wish we could compare notes, and run through the logarithms of Wedlock. (1:140-42)

Like the philosopher Mr. Escot in Headlong Hall, Peacock was more than ready to marry for love, despite his railing against "the present system of marriage." It is no wonder, then, that Cecilia Knowles should have found his proposal at odds with his antimatrimonialism, or that she should have suspected his arguments for free love were more theoretical than practical. But if Peacock's proposal "did not do," it was not just on account of his inconstancy or his ideas about sex and marriage. Even if Cecilia Knowles had been in love with him, his poverty would have been an insuperable obstacle to their union, for Peacock was literally a charity case. On three separate occasions, in December 1811, May 1812, and June 1813, he had received grants from the Literary Fund, and he had since been receiving assistance from Shelley. (65) While the narrator says nothing about his financial circumstances, as she does in discussing most of her former suitors, her subsequent remarks on "my poet" make it clear that she found him attractive but thought she could make a better match, at least in worldly terms. In recalling a visit to Ascot Races when the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia were among the spectators--the date would have been 10 June 1814 (66)--she reveals her youthful vanity and ambition by remarking that she would have felt no surprise if by some chance the Emperor or the King had proposed to her: "it would merely have seemed to me a fulfilling, and fitting in to my destiny; and if a sigh had come amidst the prodigious luck of my lot, it would only have been for my bright poet; but then I could have compensated him by making him my laureat" (1:226). Here, as elsewhere, the narrative chronology appears jumbled, for the Ascot Races are likely to have preceded Peacock's proposal "one sultry afternoon" in the summer of 1814.

The chronology is again problematic at the end of the first volume, where the narrator quotes a poem that she says Peacock sent her when she was preparing to leave her childhood home near Windsor, though it may have been written on an earlier occasion:

I had many leave-takings to go through, and among the rest my bright poet was not forgotten: he sent me the beautiful verses I now write from memory; it is a hackneyed expression, but in this instance a true one,--they were engraven on my heart.
   "And must I bid farewell to thee,
      Thou sweetest flower of earth,
   That more an angel seem'st to me,
      Than aught of mortal birth!
   By silver Elan's winding way,
   When far from thee my footsteps stray,
   That thought will rob of every smile
   The loveliest vale that gems our isle.

   "Were mine the simplest, lowliest cot
      On Arctic plains afar;
   Where man scarce sees, and blesses hot,
   The sun's low wheeling car;
   Where no life-kindling zephyrs blow;
   Where Nature sleeps in chains of SHOW;
   Thy single presence would suffice
   To make my dwelling Paradise. (67)

   "But lovely is the scene that lies
      Amid the sylvan shores,
   Where Elan's barrier mountains rise,
      And dark brown Clerwen roars.
   Peace, Friendship, Truth, refined and free,
   The muse and mountain liberty,
   All these, and more, will be my lot,
   Yet, what are they, where thou art not?

   "No more from Fortune's hand I claim,
      No fairer home I seek;
   The magic sound,--'s name,
      My every wish will speak:
   There love and hope at once express
   All forms of Nature's loveliness:
   The heart, where purest feelings beat;
   The voice, than music's self more sweet; (68)
   The smile, to which more charms are given,
   Than aught enthusiasts dream of Heaven."

I have said I have these beautiful lines by heart; but how light does even the heart get treated, when thrown in the power of a coquette. Prizing them as I did, and admiring myself the more I read them, I yet turned them aside; and replied to them by a flippant extempore production of my own,--so silly a production, that I must render myself the mercy of pretending to forget it. I saw my poet once after this: he said he had been anxious for my letter,--so anxious, that Shelley brought it to his bedside. It was a bad return to him; but he guessed not the ambition he had to combat with. I had masked it with folly; and I believe Shelley and his friend cried over the frivolity of my letter together. (1:288-90)

Peacock's highly characteristic farewell verses certainly deserve a place in any future edition of his poetical works. Though the narrator says she is quoting them from memory, her text shows no obvious signs of corruption. Mrs. Jenkins is likely to have preserved a manuscript version to jog her memory over the years, for she elsewhere quotes two of Peacock's then unpublished verse translations from Greek tragedies. (69) But if the verses appear to be genuine, the narrator's account of their occasion seems open to question, since Peacock says nothing about Cecilia's leaving the home of her childhood, but dwells exclusively on his own impending departure for the Elan valley in Radnorshire, which he had visited on his second excursion to Wales in the summer of 1813. On his way back to London, he had written to Thomas Forster from Bath on 26 August: "I have engaged a very beautiful place in Radnorshire, where I purpose to devote myself to the muses of history and philosophical poetry; not altogether renouncing the worship of the Cyprian deity...." (70) Peacock's scheme of residing in Radnorshire is likely to have been involved in some way with Shelley's attempts to lease the house and farm at Nantgwyllt, near Rhayader, which began in April 1812 and continued on and off until November 1814. (71) Peacock says in a note to his "Memoirs" that he "stayed a day in Rhayader, for the sake of seeing this spot," which he called "a scene of singular beauty." (72) But considering that Shelley's first attempt to acquire the property had failed because he was still a minor, it is not unlikely that he commissioned Peacock to try to reopen negotiations on his behalf, in anticipation of his coming of age on 4 August 1813. (73) Peacock's farewell verses to Cecilia suggest that he did not abandon his hope of living in the Elan valley until sometime in 1814.

Early in the second volume, while describing her stay in London, the narrator remarks that none of her former admirers had touched her heart: "My poet had, perhaps, come the nearest; but even here I needed not the confection of Mithridates to damp the potent spell ..." (2:40). Then, a few pages later, she pauses to reflect on his love and the way it contrasted with his philosophy:

Nothing came so near to please me as my poet; and he was so young, so wild, and so strange, that lie was more like a will-of-the-wisp, than any other thing;--one moment raving about liberty in the moon; the next stringing, like gudgeons on a rush, his tender tales together. There was nothing cloggy or cumbersome in his attentions, for they ever impressed the idea, that lie had not quite made up his mind whether or no he would give them; it was such regular "touch and go" work; (74) and all with so gentlemanly a spirit,--pouring forth his passion--if the humour pleased him to pour it forth--in such sweet strains, and uttering

"Words which are things--hopes which will not deceive," (75)

in so true a spirit, that the wonder was, I did not take him at his word. I suppose it was not to be; (76) and it is of no avail to fight against destiny.

But there was something particularly amusing in all his philosophy; its want of the valid and the practical; the discipline of life treated, in a laughing way, as a nightmare of society; and whilst his feelings were hounding along so true to nature, how ridiculously amusing were his ideas upon what he termed his own natural or given phenomena; making it not the picture of a man--and that a very agreeable one--but the representation of an automaton--a thing that could not help being--a phantom dreaming what it could not but dream--an engine performing what it was obliged to perform--an incarnate reverie--a weathercock shifting helplessly in the wind. Oh, how unlike yourself was this account! and of which, from never really understanding it myself, l fancy I have given but a lame description: making out of everything superior, agreeable, and good, a wretched association-machine, through which ideas were to pass, linked together by laws this said machine was to have no control over. And this whilst his own feelings were no dream--no theory and no lesson taught in the school; it was no system remote from the practical pursuits and interests of humanity--it was love--as long as it lasted, virtuous and sincere love--attempting to strike its deep roots in the heart of a--coquette. And perhaps, after all, we met on equal terms! and parted with the account balanced between us. (2:50-52)

This account of the young Peacock makes him sound like a figure one might encounter in one of his satiric tales, where the characters often eat and drink, fall in love and marry, with little regard for the theories they propound. Although the narrator admits that she did not really understand Peacock's philosophy, the notion of his "phenomena" as a dream or reverie seems reminiscent of the "intellectual system" described in Shelley's fragmentary essay "On Life." Peacock's metaphysical speculations, like Shelley's, were strongly influenced by Sir William Drummond's Academical Questions (1805)--a book that Mrs. Jenkins knew well enough to quote. (77)

The final passage on "my poet" appears as a remembered reverie in the third volume of Wedlock. The narrator recalls that after her return from Brighton, "London was full of foreigners ... Wave followed wave--each brighter than the last, and quite as frothy. We had the Grand Duke Constantine-Paulowitsch (the son of Paul), and two of his brothers" (3:99). She then proceeds to describe a morning visit to the India House with Constantine and one of the brothers--evidently Nicholas rather than Michael, since she had remarked earlier, "I have breakfasted with an archduke, afterwards Emperor of Russia" (1:182)--in a party conducted by Sir William Congreve, the inventor of the Congreve rocket, as equerry to the Prince Regent. At an elaborate breakfast provided by the Court of Directors, she sat next to Constantine, whose manners left something to be desired, but her mind was elsewhere:

And where were my best thoughts at the time? I will tell you. I recollected that my poet, of whom I have spoken before, was somewhere to be found in the Indiahouse,--this dark dingy mansion! Oh, how different to the fields, the groves, and the sweet Thames, which we had gazed on together! And I longed to spring off, and find my poet,--to dart down the long stone passages,--to peep in at every door,--to tell him by a look--a glance, how impossible it was ever to forget him. I longed to find him in his own noble simplicity, setting apart from Constantine-Paulowitsch, and all the rest; and in that simplicity; that nobility of mind, how much more attractive!

Thus did the thoughts of my poet occupy me And the directors looked pompous, and I sympathised with him; and the walls looked gloomy, and I thought how my presence, even for a moment, would cheer him; and the recollection that I had flown away from the Grand Duke, to come to him, would have made some amends for my former heartless conduct. My caged-up poet, how I pitied you! The quiet of the place was not such as to calm and soothe; it wanted the freshness, the peacefulness of the clear sky above. Here was no sky, but a composition of pea-soup instead: the soul, subdued and suppressed, could do nothing but sicken under it. How far he might seek before he found the innocent pleasure we used to find in each other's society,--our very healthfull feelings in themselves a heaven!

For myself I was now feverish from a last night's ball; there was the burning spot in the centre of the hands, and the thirsty feel in the throat. But dissipation had not yet faded the bloom that used to please my poet; he would have known me in a moment. Perhaps I might have had to have cast away my French bonnet and plumes; but I am sure he would soon have recognised me. Ours had been the acquaintance of young, unworn, unexhausted hearts; looking to each other tot peace, not pain; reposing in good will, and leaving a security, that none but innocent pleasure can ever leave.

At the same time I had no mind to give up the world for the sake of my poet: the wish to see him was merely an episode in the pleasurable bustle of the day; it made me laugh to think how joyous--how untrammeled by fashion--we could converse together. I was dressed very becomingly, and I knew the carriage was waiting to take me to the Park. I should have had no objection that he should have seen me dressed thus advantageously, if he would have seen it. But I suspect he would not have seen my dress; he never did see my dress,--it was myself alone he cared for. There was a freshness in even the very thinking of him, so different to the men in London, who could tell real blond from the imitation, and whether our flowers came from Rathbone Place or Paris. But what a cramp to the intelligence of his mild blue eye, to rest on nothing green but the cloth of his writing-table! to wander no further than the smoke-dimmed sash! struggling with its love of freedom,--his happiness trammeled down,--his soul wrestling with, perhaps, its love--its hope--its disinterestedness,--and daring not to wander even in its own eternity. And there were times, no doubt, when tire spirit, oppressed with pain, worn with toil, tired of noise, sick at the sight of ink, wounded in this said love, baffled in its hope, and trembling in its faith, might have longed for the wings of the dove to fly away (78)--to take refuge amidst the shady bowers, the roses without thorns, the quiet, the beauty, the loveliness of--. (3:103-6)

The moving of the party puts an end to this reverie, and the narrator reflects that "even my little burst of sensibility was soon bowled away amid the tumultuous joys of the town" (3:107).

Although the narrator's account of her visit to the India House with the Russian grand dukes seems authentic, her historical chronology is more muddled than usual in this part of the novel, and her "little burst of sensibility" turns out to be an anachronism. The visit must be supposed to have taken place between late November 1816 and the middle of March 1817, when Grand Duke Nicholas was in England and Sir William Congreve was appointed by the Prince Regent to show him around the country. (79) But since Peacock did not take up his position in the Examiner's Office until the beginning of 1819, the narrator's fantasy of running off to find him in the India House must have been an afterthought. By addressing him directly--"My caged-up poet, how I pitied you!"--she reveals that she is not just writing about him, but writing especially for him--showing her empathy in order to make amends for past rebuffs, and trying to convince him that, even in her early days as an ambitious coquette, she would have valued his company above a grand duke's. In likening her former lover to a prisoner in the India House and evoking the sentimental image of a caged bird--reminiscent of Yorick's starling in A Sentimental Journey--she offers a clue to the name of her poet "Mr.--." (80)

As an autobiographical novel, Wedlock is unusual in the way it defies the conventions of genre and blurs the distinction between fact and fiction, history and invention--perhaps most obviously by introducing celebrities under their real names while leaving the reader in doubt as to whether the nameless heroine and the many other unnamed characters are, or were, real people rather than literary creations. Peacock stands apart from the rest of the narrator's unnamed suitors, who may or may not have been recognizable to readers in the author's social circle. If not quite a celebrity, he was at least potentially identifiable, either as a friend of Shelley or as the author of The Genius of the Thames. Although his name had rarely been linked with Shelley's in print, Thomas Medwin had identified the recipient of Shelley's travel letters from Switzerland as "his friend Mr. Peacock," (81) and Mary Shelley had recently published thirteen of her husband's Italian travel letters "To T. L. P., Esq." (82) But not until Peacock published his "Memoirs" in 1858 and 1860 would he have been easily recognizable outside the Shelley circle as the poet who proposed to the author of Wedlock, and by that time Mrs. Jenkins's novels were well on their way to oblivion.

It would be interesting to know how Mrs. Jenkins presented Wedlock to Peacock, and how he, with his intense dislike of literary gossip, reacted to his portrayal in the novel. After describing his failed proposal, the narrator observes that they are both married, wonders whether his views on female emancipation have changed, and wishes they could compare notes on their respective experience of wedlock. While these remarks might suggest that Mrs. Jenkins had lost touch with Peacock and was hoping to revive their friendship, her curiosity appears to have been a pretense. Sometime between September 1840 and May 1841, Peacock's daughter Mary Ellen wrote him a farewell note--it is not clear whether she was contemplating suicide or simply thought she was dying--in which she wrote of her sister: "Dear Rosa is very delicate ... pray place her with Mrs Jenkins" (83)--a clear indication that Mrs. Jenkins was recognized as a close friend of the Peacock family by the time she wrote Wedlock. Presumably she would have known that Peacock's wife had, since the late 1820s, been suffering from a psychosomatic illness that rendered her "a complete invalid," unable to "attend to the care of their children, or undertake the cares of housekeeping." (84) After he in turn learned of her husband's bankruptcy and mental instability, Peacock used his influence to obtain East India Company cadetships for Mrs. Jenkins's two younger sons, and he may have found other ways to help her. In a letter of 19 December, probably written in 1851-54, her sister Clarinda--now married to the Rev. John Atkyns--wrote to Peacock: "I have frequently heard of you from Cecilia--who has much cause to talk of your kindness--." (85) In a subsequent letter of 30 April, apparently written in 1858 or 1862, after the death of one of his daughters, Clarinda said she found it hard to imagine him having grown old and suffered such a loss:

I never can think of you otherwise than as that young and brilliant personage we used to know at Englefield Green--and never having seen you with such matter of fact belongings as wife and children, could scarcely realize the grief your loss must have caused you. The glimpse I caught of you in Grosvenor Square did not at all give me the idea of the time passed since your "Blessed Glendoveer" days--when you used to repeat poetry, drink champagne, and seem not to have a single link to heavy earth--If it had not been for your white hair I should not have thought you looking any older--and your voice and laugh were still the same. (86)

Peacock's own bittersweet memories of the summer of 1814, when he proposed to Cecilia, are preserved in a manuscript copy of a poem titled "In remembrance of forty-four years ago" and dated "August 1858":
   The convolvulus twines round the stems of its bower,
      And spreads its young blossoms to morning's first ray:
   But the noon has scarce past, when it folds up its flower,
      Which opens no more to the splendour of day.

   So twine round the heart, in the light of life's morning,
      Love's coils of green promise and bright purple bloom:
   The noontide goes by, and the colours, adorning
      Its unfulfilled dreamings, are wrapt up in gloom.

   But press the fresh flower, while its charms are yet glowing,
      Its colour and form through long years will remain:
   And treasured in memory, thus love is still showing
      The outlines of hope, which else blossomed in vain.

According to a note in the hand of the unidentified copyist, "These lines were sent with some pressed convolvulus to Mrs. J."--the "J." being filled up to "Jenkins" in the hand of Edith Nicolls. (87) This poem and the one Peacock sent her in 1814 are all that remains of his extensive correspondence with Cecilia Jenkins.

Wedlock; or, Yesterday and To-day provides a valuable portrait of Peacock as he appeared to a bright, observant young woman in the early days of his friendship with Shelley, more than forty years before he reluctantly began writing his guarded "Memoirs." Indispensable as they are as a biographical record, the "Memoirs" can make it difficult to imagine Peacock as Shelley's friend and contemporary. It is all too easy to think of Shelley as the impulsive young radical caricatured as Scythrop Glowry in Nightmare Abbey, and of Peacock as the discreet elderly biographer trying to sift truth from falsehood in previous accounts of Shelley and to determine "the degree in which ... his imagination coloured the past." (88) In writing about Shelley's eccentricities, Peacock inevitably suppresses his own, as in the case of his silence about his own vegetarianism. Even when he writes of Shelley's "passion for sailing paper-boats" and acknowledges that he "sympathized with him in this taste," we do not see him actually engaging in the activity alongside his friend. (89) And of course we never see Peacock behaving foolishly or acting impulsively, as he did when he ran off to Liverpool with a supposed heiress named Charlotte and then found himself imprisoned for debt in January 1815--much to the dismay of Marianne de St. Croix, whom he had talked of marrying a few months earlier. (90)

For Mrs. Jenkins, it was not Shelley but Peacock who "was so young, so wild, and so strange, that he was more like a will-of-the-wisp, than any other thing"--it was not Shelley but Peacock whose inconstancy as a lover "was enough to make the Thames turn round and change its current." And yet she does not impugn his sincerity, but insists that his feeling "was love--as long as it lasted, virtuous and sincere love." Mrs. Jenkins's reminiscences of Peacock thus serve to corroborate the recollection of his cousin Harriet Love that prior to his marriage he was, like Miss Ilex's "young gentleman" in Gryll Grange (1861), "an universal lover" who "was always overcome by the smiles of present beauty," and who "made a sort of half-declaration to half the young women he knew: sincerely for the moment to all." (91) Despite her lover's seemingly erratic behavior, Miss Ilex describes him as having been true to an imaginary ideal: "For the qualities which he loved and admired in the object of his temporary affection, existed more in his imagination than in her. She was only the frame-work of the picture of his fancy. He was true to his idea, though not to the exterior semblance on which he appended it, and to or from which he so readily transferred it." (92) There may be a good deal of truth in this attempt at retrospective self-analysis on Peacock's part, even if it tends to over-intellectualize what was likely a matter of temperament--perhaps an instance of the quality that Byron calls "mobility" and defines as "an excessive susceptibility of immediate impressions--at the same time without losing the past." (93)

Clinging as she did to the ideals of Christian marriage, Mrs. Jenkins could not embrace Peacock's doctrine of non-exclusive love, vet she seems to have felt its appeal and to have made an effort to understand it. In her last novel, Lost and Won; or, The Love Test (2:140-42), she makes her heroine, Sydney Cleveland, ponder the question posed at the beginning of the second canto of Peacock's Rhododaphne; or, The Thessalian Spell (1818):
   Does Love so weave his subtle spell,
   So closely bind his golden chain,
   That only one fair form may dwell
   In dear remembrance, and in vain
   May other beauty seek to gain
   A place that idol form beside
   In feelings all pre-occupied?
   Or does one radiant image, shrined
   Within the inmost soul's recess,
   Exalt, expand, and make the mind
   A temple, to receive and bless
   All forms of kindred loveliness? (94)

These lines--which adumbrate Shelley's discourse on the nature of love in Epipsychidion (1821)--were presumably written under the immediate influence of Peacock's reading of Plato's Symposium in July 1817, (95) which almost certainly prompted Shelley's reading of the dialogue the following month. (96) However, both poets had probably read the dialogue in translation some years earlier, and the theory of love that these lines express is likely to have formed one of the bonds of sympathy between Peacock and Shelley. (97)

But theory is one thing, and practice another. What seems most remarkable in Peacock's behavior as reflected in Wedlock is not just his inconstancy but the way he seems to have openly flaunted it in his off-and-on wooing of both Clarinda and Cecilia Knowles. The upshot, in which he was eventually rejected by both sisters, may well remind us of the plot of Nightmare Abbey, in which Scythrop Glowry, unable to choose between Marionetta O'Carroll and Celinda Toobad, loses both of his loves. Scythrop's character was in many respects based on Shelley, as Shelley himself recognized at the time and Mary Shelley acknowledged later. (98) But Scythrop's situation is actually much closer to Peacock's than to Shelley's in 1814. Shelley was, after all, a married man who left his wife for another woman, whereas Peacock was a bachelor simultaneously attracted to two marriageable sisters living in the same house, both of whom rejected his proposals. Scythrop's erotic fantasies and emotional complications may, then, owe as much to Peacock's own experience as to his observation of Shelley's marital crisis.

Pennsylvania State University


(1) "Biographical Notice," The Works of Thomas Love Peacock, ed. Henry Cole, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1875), 1:li.

(2) Michael L. Turner, Index and Guide to the Lists of the Publications of Richard Bentley & Son, 1829-1898 (Bishops Stortford: Chadwyck-Healey, 1975).

(3) Nigel Cross, The Royal Literary Fund, 1790-1918: An Introduction to the Fund's History and Archives, with an Index of Applicants (London: World Microfilms Publications, 1984).

(4) Henrietta Camilla Jenkin, nee Jackson (c.1807-1885), was the wife of Captain Charles Jenkin, R.N., and the mother of Professor Henry Charles Fleeming Jenkin. Her novels included Violet Bank and Its Inmates (1858), Cousin Stella; or; Conflict (1859), "Who Breaks--Pays" (1861), Skirmishing (1862), Once and Again (1865), Two French Marriages (1868), Within an Ace (1869), and Jupiter's Daughters (1874).

(5) The biographical details in this paragraph have been gleaned from many sources, including the Egham parish registers in the Surrey Record Office; Hannah Knowles's will, with two schedules and three codicils, in the National Archives (PROB 11/1937); Cecilia Jenkins's case file (No. 1190) in the Archives of the Royal Literary Fund, now on deposit in the British Library; the East India Company Cadet Papers in the India Office Records (L/MIL/9), now in the British Library; Cecilia Jenkins's will in the Probate Department of the Principal Registry of the Family Division; and H. L. Ormiston's Catalogue of Tombstones and Monuments in Sidmouth Church and Churchyard (Exeter: William Pollard & Co., 1935). The present account of the Knowles family supplements, and in some instances corrects, the more limited biographical information given in my article "Peacock before Headlong Hall: A New Look at His Early Years," Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, 36 (1985): 26-28, 35; and in The Letters of Thomas Love Peacock, ed. Nicholas A. Joukovsky, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), l:liv-lv, 94-95; 2:376-77, 474-75--hereafter cited as Letters.

(6) In both her applications to the Royal Literary Fund, she gave her date of birth as 30 January but left the year blank. In the application of June 1848 she gave her age as "50--1--or 21--" while in that of November 1855 she gave it as "55"--the first an obvious evasion and the second an outright lie. Her baptism is not recorded in the Egham parish register. The Sidmouth burial register and her tombstone in Sidmouth churchyard both give her age as seventy-three at the time of her death on 17 September 1868. This would indicate that she was born on 30 January 1795, barely nine months after her brother--which would be highly unlikely, though not impossible. If she was born in 1796, her family might have been confused by the fact that she would have been in her seventy-third year when she died. But in view of her demonstrable reluctance to give her true age, it seems more likely that she was born before her brother, in 1791, 1792, or 1793. Two further circumstances would seem to favor an earlier date. Cecilia's signature in the Egham parish register as a witness to her sister Anna Maria's marriage on 1 May 1809 looks too mature to be that of thirteen- or fourteen-year-old girl. It also seems unlikely that her "friends" would have wanted her to marry a clergyman in his fifties in 1810 if she were only fourteen or fifteen, rather than seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen at the time--see note 29, below.

(7) The Gulstons had five children, including Josepha Heath Gulston, who published five novels under the pseudonym Talbot Gwynne in the 1850s. Joseph Gulston (1788-1841), of Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire, and Derwydd, Carmarthenshire, was a grandson of the wealthy book and print collector Joseph Gulston (1744/45-1786), of Ealing Grove, Middlesex. There is a manuscript history of the family by his son Alan James Gulston among the papers of the Stepney-Gulston family of Derwydd, held by the Carmarthenshire Archive Service. See Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 17th ed., ed. L. G. Pine (London: Burke's Peerage, 1952), s.v. Stepney-Gulston of Derwydd.

(8) He had two sons, Francis and Horatio Knowles. He may have been the Commissary-General of Her Majesty's Forces whose suicide was reported under the heading "Melancholy Occurrence" in The Times of 19 February 1851.

(9) The Atkynses had two daughters, Annalan Gulston Atkyns and Bellenden Ker Atkyns, baptized at Albourne, Sussex, on 29 June 1835 and 23 May 1837. John Atkyns (1802/3-1875) took his B.A. from Worcester College, Oxford, in 1826, and his M.A. in 1829; he took orders as a deacon in 1826 and as a priest in 1827, and was successively Vicar of Patcham, Sussex, Vicar of Littlehampton, Sussex, and Vicar of Ombersley, Worcestershire. See Alumni Oxonienses and Crockford's Clerical Directory.

(10) Peacock had attended John Harris Wicks's school at Englefield Green for six and a half years from 1792 to 1798 and had lived with his mother at Chertsey in 1807-8 and again in 1809. In a letter to Lord Broughton of 3 September 1859, he referred to an unidentified great-nephew of Cecilia Jenkins as a grandson of one of his schoolfellows, presumably her brother-in-law Joseph Gulston. He also described Mrs. Jenkins as "my oldest friend" at a time when his friends Thomas Forster and Thomas Hookham were still alive, both of whom he had known at least since 1807. See Letters, 2:380, 381n.

(11) Unfortunately, the testimonials for Mrs. Jenkins in the Archives of the Royal Literary Fund provide no details of what one family friend described as "the extravagance and misconduct of her husband"--Henry Bellenden Ker to Octavian Blewitt, 29 March 1848.

(12) Unless otherwise noted, these works are all listed in Cecilia Jenkins's first application to the Royal Literary Fund. The travel book, the children's book, and the two translations have not been attributed to her elsewhere.

(13) This novel is ascribed to "MRS. CECILIA JENKINS, author of 'Wedlock,' 'Lost and Won,' and other novels mostly anonymous" in A List of the Principal Publications Issued from New Burlington Street during the Year 1840 (London: Richard Bentley, March 1895), which gives the date of publication as 16 April and notes the erroneous attribution of Mrs. Jenkins's novels to Henrietta Camilla Jenkin in the Supplement to Allibone's Dictionary. The only known copy of the 1844 reissue is at Harvard.

(14) This novel is ascribed to "MRS. CECILIA GIDOIN JENKINS" in A List of the Principal Publications Issued from New Burlington Street during the Year 1841 (London: Richard Bentley, May 1895), which gives the date of publication as 26 August and quotes a review in the Morning Herald.

(15) This work is not listed in either of Mrs. Jenkins's applications to the Royal Literary Fund, but the title-page and the dating at the end clearly identify her as the translator.

(16) The only known copy of the 1847 reissue is at Brigham Young University.

(17) The original edition is listed in Mrs. Jenkins's first application to the Royal Literary Fund, but no copy has been located. The only known copy of the 1850 reissue is at the University of Florida.

(18) Although her first application resulted in a grant of 40 [pounds sterling], her second application was rejected, possibly because she had not published any new work in the previous seven years.

(19) A few years after her death, a contributor to Notes and Queries had this to say about the unknown author of her travel book Economy: "Assuming the author to be a lady, she was a highly-gifted and accomplished one; and her occasional reflections on life and 'society,' and even her views on political questions, indicate a thoughtful, intelligent, and sensible mind." W.A.C., "Alderman Sir William Staines," N&Q, 5th series, 2 (1874): 125.

(20) In her autobiographical novel Wedlock, Mrs. Jenkins recalled: "Latin and Greek was not omitted in my catalogue of aquirements. Many an hour have I spent by my father's bed-side, with my Eton grammar in my hand, my Delectus, and my Greek Testament" (1:21).

(21) The untitled lines were published in Simonidea (1806) and reprinted with revisions in Gebir, Count Julian, and Other Poems (1831)--see The Poetical Works of Walter Savage Landor, ed. Stephen Wheeler, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1937), 3:77. Three chapters in Miss Aylmer have epigraphs from Landor (2:23, 284; 3:57).

(22) Athenaeum, 9 May 1840, 371-72.

(23) Ibid., 371.

(24) The lines come from Isaac Bickerstaff's comic opera The Padlock (1768), 1.1.5-8 (with "man" for "men"). Cf. the narrator's allusion to the Fall in Miss Aylmer, 3:232: "And so have all our mothers been led. The serpent tempted them, and they did eat. The serpent tempted me, and I did eat: and sorrow, and care, and indigestion have ever been the consequences."

(25) Although Cecilia Knowles was not an only child, the cottage in the novel is evidently based on her childhood home at Englefield Green.

(26) The narrator recalls that "my father was much from home, prosecuting a law-suit, and taking registers of births and burials for the purpose of tracing his descent from the noble house, whose heir he considered himself to be" (1:67-68). James Knowles is said to have been "One of the claimants to the Earldom of Banbury"--Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 17th ed., s.v. Stepney-Gulston of Derwydd.

(27) Although James Knowles died in February 1809, the heroine's father in the novel does not die until sometime after June 1814.

(28) Cecilia Knowles may well have married in Brighton, for her mother was living there when she made her will in March 1824.

(29) Probably the Rev. John Bond (1758/59-1831), Rector of Freston, Suffolk, 1795-1831, who married Emily Dixon, of Chertsey, in February 1811 (Alumni Cantabrigenses).

(30) Godwin was often identified with the protagonist of his novel St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century (1799), most memorably in the parody by Edward DuBois entitled St. Godwin: A Tale of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Century, by Count Reginald de St. Leon (1800).

(31) Ianthe Eliza Shelley, the daughter of Shelley and Harriet Westbrook, was born on 23 June 1813 and married Edward Jeffries Esdaile, of Cothelstone, Somerset, on 27 September 1837.

(32) "Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley," Part 2, in The Works of Thomas Love Peacock, ed. H. F. B. Brett-Smith and C. E. Jones, 10 vols. (London: Constable, 1924-34), 8:89--hereafter cited as Works.

(33) See Shelley and His Circle, 1773-1822, ed. Kenneth Neill Cameron, Donald H. Reiman, and Doucet Devin Fischer, 10 vols. to date (Harvard U. Press, 1961-2002), 3:333-39.

(34) To Barbara Hofland, 18 March 1819, in Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, Second Series, ed. H. Chorley, 2 vols. (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1872), 1:51. Miss Mitford says she picked up the story from a "Mr. J--" of Marlow, who knew Peacock and Shelley.

(35) See Kenneth Neill Cameron's essay "Hogg and Harriet: The Keswick Letters," as well as the corrected texts of Shelley's letters to Hogg of November and December 1811 in Shelley and His Circle, 4:24-34, 35-60, 67-71.

(36) This may have prompted Hogg to caricature Peacock as a "poor poet" and "professor of suicide" called "Otho" in The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2 vols. (London: Edward Moxon, 1858), 2:284-86. See Joukovsky, "Peacock before Headlong Hall," 31-32.

(37) From Horace Smith's parody of William Thomas Fitzgerald in Rejected Addresses (1812), "Loyal Effusion," line 49 (with "our" for "the").

(38) Evidently a misprint for "parson" (see below).

(39) Cf. the dialogue on animal and vegetable food in Headlong Hall, chap. 2: "Your conclusion is truly orthodox," said the Reverend Doctor Gaster: "indeed, the loaves and fishes are typical of a mixed diet; and the practice of the Church in all ages shows--" "That it never loses sight of the loaves and fishes," said Mr. Escot. "It never loses sight of any point of sound doctrine," said the reverend doctor. (Works, 1:20)

(40) Cf. Mr. Escot in Headlong Hall, chap. 2 ("declaring the use of animal food, conjointly with that of fire, to be one of the principal causes of the present degeneracy of mankind"): "The natural and original man ... lived in the woods: the roots and fruits of the earth supplied his simple nutriment: he had few desires, and no diseases. But, when he began to sacrifice victims on the altar of superstition, to pursue the goat and the deer, and, by the pernicious invention of fire, to pervert their flesh into food, luxury, disease, and premature death, were let loose upon the world. Such is clearly the correct interpretation of the fable of Prometheus, which is a symbolical portraiture of that disastrous epoch, when man first applied fire to culinary purposes, and thereby surrendered his liver to the vulture of disease" (Works, 1:15-16).

(41) Cf. Mr. Foster in Headlong Hall, chap. 2: "But the use of fire was indispensably necessary, as Eschylus and Virgil expressly assert, to give being to the various arts of life, which, in their rapid and interminable progress, will finally conduct every individual of the race to the philosophic pinnacle of pure and perfect felicity" (Works, 1:16-17).

(42) A slip for "the frugivorous class." Cf. Mr. Escot in Headlong Hall, chap. 2: "The anatomy of the human stomach ... and the formation of the teeth, clearly place man in the class of frugivorous animals" (Works, 1:19).

(43) "Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley," Part 2, Works, 8:99.

(44) "Dinner by the Amateurs of Vegetable Diet: Extracted from an Old Paper" was published in [Gold's] London Magazine and Theatrical Inquisitor, 4 (July 1821): 31-35; reprinted in the only issue of the London Liberal: An Antidote to "Verse and Prose from the South," 1 ([January] 1823): 121-28; and substantially revised in "Animal and Vegetable Diet," Medical Adviser and Guide to Health and Long Life, ed. Alexander Burnett, No. 1 (6 December 1823): 13-16. See Newman Ivey White's discussion of its authorship in The Unextinquished Hearth: Shelley and His Contemporary Critics (Duke U. Press, 1938), 263-64.

(45) See Works, 7:265-86, 420-34, 513-21; Shelley and His Circle, 3:211-44.

(46) Sir William Drummond's metaphysical treatise Academical Questions, Vol. 1 [no more published] (London: Cadell and Davies, 1805) was one of Peacock's favorite books.

(47) Presumably a misprint for "veer," though the spelling "vere" was current in the seventeenth century (OED).

(48) Peacock's intensive study of Greek tragedy in 1812-13 resulted in a number of translations, mostly from Euripides (see Works, 7:212-29, 413-19).

(49) Cf. Mr. Foster in Headlong Hall, chap. 5: "Do you suppose the mere animal life of a wild man, living on acorns, and sleeping on the ground, comparable in felicity to that of a Newton, ranging through unlimited space, and penetrating into the arcana of universal motion--to that of a Locke, unravelling the labyrinth of mind--to that of a Lavoisier, detecting the minutest combinations of matter, and reducing all nature to its elements--to that of a Shakespeare, piercing and developing the springs of passion--or of a Milton, identifying himself, as it were, with the beings of an invisible world?" (Works, 1:40-41).

(50) The "modern philosophical creed" was presumably that of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, whose name was frequently misspelled "Woolstonecroft." Cf. the title of Elizabeth Hamilton's satirical novel Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800).

(51) Cf. Mr. Foster in Headlong Hall, chap. 5: "Virtue is independent of external circumstances. The exalted understanding looks into the truth of things, and, in its own peaceful contemplations, rises superior to the world. No philosopher would resign his mental acquisitions for the purchase of any terrestrial good" (Works, 1:41-42).

(52) Genius of the Thames, 2.111-26 in the revised edition of 1812, with "And draws alike" for "And dooms alike"--probably a copyist's or printer's error (Works, 6:137).

(53) Genius of the Thames, 2.377-86 and 387-98 in the revised edition of 1812, with "silver Muses" for "sylvan Muses"--probably a copyist's or printer's error (Works, 6:146).

(54) Mrs. Jenkins may have remembered Horace, Odes, 1.29.10-12.

(55) To Thomas Forster, 16 September, 22 September, and 29 December 1812, in Letters, 1:94, 96, 99 (angle brackets indicate damage to the manuscript). In the first of these passages, Peacock adapts Byron, "If Sometimes in the Haunts of Men," lines 39-40; in the second, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.114.

(56) A reward offered by her father resulted in Mary King's return to her family, but a second elopement in Ireland led to a major scandal when Fitzgerald was murdered by her father, then Earl of Kingston, and her brother Robert Edward King, both of whom were acquitted of the crime. Mrs. Jenkins does not mention the way Mary King's scandalous behavior was used by conservative periodicals to attack the posthumous reputation of Mary Wollstonecraft, who had been governess to Lord Kingsborough's daughters in 1786-87. See especially the reviews of Godwin's Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1798) in the European Magazine, 33 (April 1798): 247, and the British Critic, 12 (September 1798): 229-30.

(57) Later in Wedlock (2:223), she also quotes the first four lines of his song "The Flower of Love" in Melincourt, chap. 17 (Works, 2:191).

(58) Genius of the Thames, 2.399-400 and 401-2 in the revised edition of 1812 (Works, 6:146).

(59) OED does not record this attributive use of "hailstone."

(60) OED records "prop" as short for "proposition" but not for "proposal."

(61) Probably a misprint for "reminding" since the word is hyphenated "re-/reminding" at the end of a line.

(62) Cf. Mr. Escot in Headlong Hall, chap. 15 (immediately following his marriage to the beautiful Cephalis Cranium): "The affection ... of two congenial spirits, united not by legal bondage and superstitions imposture, but by mutual confidence and reciprocal virtues, is the only counterbalancing consolation in this scene of mischief and misery. But how rarely is this the case according to the present system of marriage!" (Works, 1:151). Mrs. Jenkins bad previously echoed this passage, as well as two others in Mr. Escot's concluding diatribe on marriage (Works, 1:152, 153), in Miss Aylmer, 3:234, 240, 243. She could not, of course, have quoted Peacock's book in 1814, hut she might have heard him use the phrases that she quotes.

(63) Cf. the Honourable Mr. Listless in Nightmare Abbey, chap. 5: "But I must say, modern books are very consolatory and congenial to my feelings. There is, as it were, a delightful north-east wind, an intellectual blight breathing through them; a delicious misanthropy and discontent, that demonstrates the nullity of virtue and energy, and puts me in good humour with myself and my sofa" (Works, 3:41).

(64) Cf. the dialogue between Scythrop and Marionetta in Nightmare Abbey, chap. 3:

"What would I have? What but you, Marionetta? You, for the companion of my studies, the partner of my thoughts, the auxiliary of my great designs for the emancipation of mankind."

"I am afraid I should be but a poor auxiliary, Scythrop. What would you have me do?"

"Do as Rosalia does with Carlos, divine Marionetta. Let us each open a vein in the other's arm, mix our blood in a bowl, and drink it as a sacrament of love. Then we will see visions of transcendental illumination, and soar on the wings of ideas into the space of pure intelligence" (Works, 3:24).

The allusion is to an erotic scene in vol. 1, chap. 12, of Peter Will's Horrid Mysteries: A Story, From the German of the Marquis of Grosse, 4 vols. (London: William Lane, 1796), a translation of Karl Grosse's Der Genius (1791-95). The hero, Marquis Carlos of G---, is conducted by night to a castle in a Spanish forest, where he agrees to join a secret confederation, said in the Translator's Introduction to be based on the Bavarian Illuminati. The next morning, in a secluded garden, he encounters the voluptuous Rosalia, with whom he is soon lost "in a furious trance of the highest sensual gratification." They continue to make love, on and off, until evening, when Rosalia suddenly draws a poniard from her bosom and impels Carlos to swear fidelity to her and to the confederation, upon which she declares him to be her husband. Scythrop refers specifically to the following passage in Carlos's narrative (1:199): "Her hand was still armed with the dagger. She bared my arm, and opened a vein, sucking the blood which flowed from the orifice in large drops; and then wounded her arm in return, bidding me to inbibe the roseate stream, and exclaimed, 'thus our souls shall be mixed together.'"

(65) See Joukovsky, "Peacock before Headlong Hall," 24-33.

(66) See The Times, 11 June 1814.

(67) This stanza is an imitation of Horace, Odes, 1.22.17-24.

(68) Cf. Peacock's verse epitaph for his daughter "Margaret Love Peacock" (1826), lines 11-12: "The little heart so fondly warm, / The voice so musically sweet" (Works, 7:239).

(69) In The Smiths: A Novel (2:313; 3:226), Mrs. Jenkins quotes "Connubial Equality," lines 1-8, and "Phaedra and Nurse," lines 113-20 (Works, 7:223, 220).

(70) Letters, 1:105-6.

(71) See The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Frederick L. Jones, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 1:281-312, 373-418 (references indexed under "Nantgwillt").

(72) "Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley," [Part 1], Works, 8:66n.

(73) In June 1816, Shelley commissioned Peacock to find him a house near Windsor Park, giving him carte blanche to negotiate the purchase on his behalf--see his letter to Peacock of 17 June 1816, printed from the original manuscript in Shelley and His Circle, 7:25-28, 34-35.

(74) Perhaps glancing at Peacock's use of the name Touchandgo for the runaway banker and his daughter in Crotchet Castle (1831).

(75) Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto 3, stanza 94.

(76) The italics suggest that Mrs. Jenkins may have been deliberately twisting the sense of Peacock's rendering of Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1225: "Man's happiest lot is not to be" (Peacock's emphasis)--which she had quoted earlier in the novel, oddly misattributing it to Lysippus, a Greek poet of Old Comedy (1:293). The passage in Sophocles is generally thought to have been imitated from Theognis, 425-28. Mrs. Jenkins could have found the line in Peacock's unpublished translation, "Choral Ode on the Evils of Life," line 21 (Works, 7:225), or quoted in Rhododaphne, 5.21 (Works, 7:51).

(77) Academical Questions supplies one of the epigraphs in Miss Aylmer (2:76).

(78) Cf. Psalms, 55:6: "Oh that I had wings like a dove! / For then I would fly away, and be at rest."

(79) For details of Nicholas's visit, see The Times, 22 November 1816-12 March 1817. Sir William Congreve's appointment was reported in The Times on 25 November 1816. Constantine's visit to England received comparatively little attention, though his arrival in London on 12 October was noted in The Times on 14 October 1816. Michael, the youngest of the three brothers of Czar Alexander I, did not visit England until 1818.

(80) She later quotes Sterne directly: "'I can't get out--I can't get out,' said the starling" (3:252). See A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, by Mr. Yorick, ed. Gardner D. Stout, Jr. (U. of California Press., 1967), 195-206. ("The Passport: The Hotel at Paris," "The Captive: Paris," and "The Starling: Road to Versailles").

(81) Thomas Medwin, "Memoir of Percy Bysshe Shelley," in The Shelley Papers (London: Whittaker, Treacher, & Co., 1833), 34.

(82) Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Mary W. Shelley, 2 vols. (London: Edward Moxon, 1840), 2:111-24, 141-215, 217-20.

(83) Letters, 2:471.

(84) Edith Nicolls, "Biographical Notice," xxxix, xli.

(85) See Letters, 2:494.

(86) Letters, 2:474-75. The letter is signed "Ever your affectionate / Clarinda Atkyns." The Glendoveers were a race of beautiful spirits in Southey's quasi-Hindu mythology in The Curse of Kehama (1810)--see 6.2.17-18 and Southey's note. However, the epithet comes from James Smith's parody of Southey in Rejected Addresses (1812), "The Rebuilding," lines 1-2: "I am a blessed Glendoveer: / 'Tis mine to speak, and yours to hear."

(87) See Letters, 2:376-77. Since Peacock was usually careful in noting anniversaries, the title and date might point to August 1814 as the date of his proposal to Cecilia Knowles. The poem was first published in Henry Cole's edition of Peacock's Works (1875), 3:265.

(88) "Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley," [Part 1], Works, 8:59.

(89) "Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley," Part 2, Works, 8:97.

(90) See the entries for 30 September 1814 and 2, 3, and [?12] January 1815 in The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1814-1844, ed. Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 1:30, 58, 60; and Peacock's letter to William Roscoe of 15 January 1815, Letters, 1:108-12.

(91) See Harriet Love's MS. notes on Peacock, Bodleian MS Eng. lett. c. 582, fol. 11, quoted by H. F. B. Brett-Smith, "Biographical Introduction" to Works, 1:civ.

(92) Gryll Grange, chap. 27, Works, 5:272-73, 275.

(93) Don Juan, Canto 16, stanza 97 and Byron's note.

(94) Rhododaphne, 2.1-12, Works, 7:19.

(95) See Peacock's letter to Thomas Jefferson Hogg of [15 July 1817], Letters, 2:114.

(96) See the entry for 10-13 August 1817 in The Journals of Mary Shelley, 1:178.

(97) For a discussion of Peacock's influence on Shelley's reading and understanding of Plato, see James A. Notopoulos, The Platonism of Shelley: A Study of Platonism and the Poetic Mind (Duke U. Press, 1949), 49-54.

(98) See Shelley's letters of [720-21] June and 6 July 1818, The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 2:98, 100; and Mary Shelley's "Note on Poems of 1817" in her edition of The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 4 vols. (London: Edward Moxon, 1839), 3:71-72.
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Author:Joukovsky, Nicholas A.
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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