Copyright
Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Review of Hogg's Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haimatoff by Percy Bysshe Shelley; together with an extract from Some early writings of Shelley online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryPercy Bysshe ShelleyReview of Hogg's Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haimatoff by Percy Bysshe Shelley; together with an extract from Some early writings of Shelley → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Aocfete'a $tiiIfratton£f,



lOND SERIES. No. 2.



REVIEW

OF

HOGG'S



PRINCE ALEXY HAIMATOFF



BY



BYSSHE SHELLEY



\Tow first reprinted )



Hotttion

iFOR THE SHELLEY SOCIETY
..ND TURNER 196 STRAND
1SS6

Xe HALF-A-CROWN




SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF



"MtmmxB of Wxntt %kw lahnat0ff"



PROFESSOR DOWDEN'S



44 3amt (ferljr Writings ai j%Ileg



Of this Book
Three Hundred Copies have been printed



REVIEW OF HOGG'S

'ISUnurirs af |)rina %\z%% Ipahraioff''

\

BY

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

TOGETHER WITH AN EXTRACT FROM
"SOME EARLY WRITINGS OF SHELLEY"

BY

PROFESSOR E DOWDEN LL.D



l£*ittrt)

WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE

BY

THOMAS J WISE



ILontJOtt

PUBLISHED FOR THE SHELLEY SOCIETY

BY REEVES AND TURNER 196 STRAND

1886



LIBRARY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

SANTA BARBARA



CONTENTS.

IAGE

Introductory Note 9

Shelley's Review of "Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haima-
toff" 15

From " Some Early Writings of Shelley." By Professor

DOWDEN 31

Postscript by Professor Dowden, stating how he was
able to identify the review of hogg as shelley's . . 53



INTRODUCTORY NOTE.



INTRODUCTORY NOTE.

Professor Dowden has stated so fully — both
in his original Contemporary Review article, and in
the Postscript which he has now added to our re-
print of it — the circumstances which led him to
light upon Shelley's Review, and to prove with
sufficient accuracy its authorship, that little remains
to be recounted here. Suffice it to say briefly, that
in 1813 Hogg published pseudonymously a novel, 1
of the title-page of which the following is a
transcript : —

Memoirs / of / Prince Alexy Haimatoff. /

Translated from / the original Latin MSS. /

under the immediate inspection of / the

Prince, / By / John Brown, Esq. j .... I

London: / Printed for T. Hookham, / 15,

Old Bond Street,/ 1813.

1 Not the only Romance of which he was the author.

B



i o INTROD UCTOR Y NO TE.

The collation is : —

i2mo. Title (with imprint on verso — "S.
Gosnell, Printer, Little Queen Street, Lon-
don ") ; Preface pp. iii — iv. ; and pp. I — 236
of Text.

The imprint is repeated at the foot of the last
page.

This book received an appreciative and somewhat
lengthy notice in The Critical Review} vol. vi, No. vi,
December, 1814, — Article vii, pp. 566 — 574 ; and the
authorship of this review has, as is now well known,
been traced home to Shelley. The Review is here
reprinted verbatim, without alteration or correction
of any kind whatever, save only where a word is
distinctly mis-spelt, in which case the fact of its
correction is noted at the foot of the page. The
punctuation is most erratic, and the errors on that
account are many and grave; but I think that for



1 The / Critical Review : / or, / Annals / of / Literature. / Series
the Fourth. / Vol. vi. / London : / Printed for the Proprietors, / By
Thomas Bluck, 2, Paternoster Row ; / Published by G. & S. Robinson,
Paternoster Row ; / 1814. / (July to December.) Octavo. Half-

Title, Title, and pp. I — 700 ; followed by an Index, consisting of
six unnumbered pages.



IN TROD UCTOR Y NO TE. 1 1

these the printer and his reader are as likely as
Shelley to be accountable. Only upon one occsion
have I ventured to interfere with the original stops
(page 23, line 8) ; and it will be seen that I have
there placed within brackets the semi-colon which
I have considered it advisable to insert.

Publicly attributed to Shelley only in September,
1884, this most interesting piece of -the poet's early
prose writing has never yet been incorporated in
any edition of his Works; and it is matter for
congratulation that the Committee of the Shelley
Society have, thus early in the Society's existence,
found an opportunity of reproducing a fugitive essay
of so much character in a convenient and accessible
form.

The Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haimatoff itself is
an exceedingly scarce volume, and I believe that
I am correct in stating that only two copies are
at present publicly known to be in existence. Of
these, one is in the possession of Hogg's daughter,
Mrs. Lonsdale ; and the other is preserved in the
British Museum. Though obtained for that insti-
tution on November 16th, 1878 — as the date stamped



J 2 IN TROD UCTOR V NO TE.

upon it testifies — it was not until after the publication

of Professor Dowden's article that the book was in

any way connected with its author's real name.

The essay by Professor Dowden which occupies

pp. 31 — 52 of this brochure, is the second portion

of an article which appeared in The Contemporary

Review, for September, 1884, pp. 383 — 396 ; and

for permission to reprint which upon the present

occasion, the Society is indebted to the Professor's

courtesy.

Thomas J. Wise.

127, Devonshire Road, Hollmvay, N.



SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF

''|$kmmrs of Wmtt %ks% gaimaioff/'



SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF

lerrtohrs rjf |1tina %U%% Paimatoff."



Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haimatoff. Translated
from the original Latin MSS. under the im-
mediate inspection of the Prince. By John
Brown, Esq. Pp. 236. i2mo. Hookham,
1814.



Is the suffrage of mankind the legitimate criterion
of intellectual energy ? Are complaints of the as-
pirants to literary fame, to be considered as the
honourable disappointment of neglected genius, or
the sickly impatience of a dreamer miserably self
deceived ? the most illustrious ornaments of the
annals of the human race, have been stigmatised by
the contempt and abhorrence of entire communities
of man ; but this injustice arose out of some tem-
porary superstition, some partial interest, some
national doctrine : a glorious redemption awaited



1 6 SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF

their remembrance. There is indeed, nothing so
remarkable in the contempt of the ignorant for the
enlightened : the vulgar pride of folly, delights to
triumph upon mind. This is an intelligible process :
the infancy or ingloriousness that can be thus ex-
plained, detracts nothing from the beauty of virtue
or the sublimity of genius. But what does utter
obscurity express ? if the public do not advert even
in censure to a performance, has that performance
already received its condemnation ?

The result of this controversy is important to the
ingenuous critic. His labours are indeed, miserably
worthless, if their objects may invariably be attained
before their application. He should know the limits
of his prerogative. He should not be ignorant,
whether it is his duty to promulgate the decisions
of others, or to cultivate his taste and judgment that
he may be enabled to render a reason for his own.

Circumstances the least connected with intellectual
nature have contributed, for a certain period, to retain
in obscurity, the most memorable specimens of human
genius. The author re[f]rains perhaps from introduc-
ing his production to the world with all the pomp of
empirical bibliopolism. A sudden tide in the affairs
of men may make the neglect or contradiction of
some insignificant doctrine, a badge of obscurity and
discredit : those even who are exempt from the action
of these absurd predilections, are necessarily in an



" MEMOIRS OF PRINCE ALEXY HA IMA TOFF." 1 7

indirect manner affected by their influence. It is
perhaps the product of an imagination daring and
undisciplined : the majority of readers ignorant and
disdaining toleration refuse to pardon a neglect of
common rules ; their canons of criticism are carelessly
infringed, it is less religious than a charity sermon,
less methodical and cold than a French tragedy,
where all the unities are preserved : no excellencies,
where prudish cant and dull regularity are absent,
can preserve it from the contempt and abhorrence of
the multitude. It is evidently not difficult to imagine
an instance in which the most elevated genius shall
be recompensed with neglect. Mediocrity alone
seems unvaryingly to escape rebuke and obloquy,
it accom[m]odates its attempts to the spirit of the
age, which has produced it, and adopts with mimic
effrontery the cant of the day and hour for which
alone it lives.

We think that ' the Memoirs of Prince Alexy
Haimatoff,' deserves to be regarded as an example
of the fact, by the frequency of which, criticism is
vindicated from the imputation of futility and im-
pertinence. We do not hesitate to consider this fiction,
as the product of a bold and original mind. We hardly
remember even [ever ?] to have seen surpassed the
subtle delicacy of imagination, by which the manifest
distinctions of character, and form are seized and
pictured in -colours, that almost make nature more



1 8 SHELLE Y'S RE VIE W OF

beautiful than herself. The vulgar observe no re-
semblances or discrepancies, but such as are gross
and glaring. The science of mind to which history,
poetry, biography serve as the materials, consists in
the discernment of shades and distinctions where the
unenlightened discover nothing but a shapeless and
unmeaning mass. The faculty for this discernment
distinguishes genius from dulness. There are passages
in the production before us, which afford instances of
just and rapid intuition belonging only to intel-
ligences, that possess this faculty in no ordinary
degree. As a composition the book is far from fault-
less. Its abruptness and angularities do not appear to
have received the slightest polish or correction. The
author has written with fervour but has disdained to
revise at leisure. These errors are the errors of youth
and genius and the fervid impatience of sensibilities
impetuously disburdening their fulness. The author
is proudly negligent of connecting the incidents of his
tale. It appears more like the recorded day dream
of a poet, not unvisited by the sublimest and most
lovely visions, than the tissue of a romance skilfully
interwoven for the purpose of maintaining the interest
of the reader, and conducting his sympathies by
dramatic gradations to the denouement. It is, what
it professes to be, a memoir, not a novel. Yet its
claims to the former appellation are established, only
by the impatience and inexperience of the author,



" MEMOIRS OF PRINCE ALE XV HA IMA TOFF? 19

who, possessing in an eminent degree, the higher
qualifications of a novelist, we had almost said a poet,
has neglected the number by which that success
would probably have been secured, which, in this
instance, meritjYj of a far nobler stamp, have unfortun-
ately failed to acquire. Prince Alexy is by no means
an unnatural, although no common character. We
think we can discern his counterpart in Alfieri's 1
delineation of himself. The same propensities, the
same ardent devotion to his purposes, the same
chivalric and unproductive attachment to unbounded
liberty, characterizes both. We are inclined to doubt
whether the author has not attributed to his hero, the
doctrines of universal philanthropy in a spirit of
profound and almost unsearchable irony : at least he
appears biassed by no peculiar principles, and it were
perhaps an insoluble inquiry whether any, and if any,
what moral truth he designed to illustrate by his tale.
Bruhle, the tutor of Alexy, is a character delineated
with consummate skill ; the power of intelligence and
virtue' over external deficiencies, is forcibly ex-
emplified. The calmness, patience and magnanimity
of this singular man, are truly rare and admirable :
his disinterestedness, his equanimity, his irresistible
gentleness form a finished and delightful por-
trait. But we cannot regard his commendation to
his pupil to indulge in promiscuous concubinage

1 Alfiens in the original.



-o SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF

without horror and detestation. The author appears
to deem the loveless intercourse of brutal appetite,
a venial offence against delicacy and virtue ! he
asserts that a transient connection with a cultivated
female, may contribute to form the heart without
essentially vitiating the sensibilities. It is our duty
to protest against so pernicious and disgusting an
opinion. No man can rise pure from the poisonous
embraces of a prostitute, or sinless from the desolated
hopes of a confiding heart. Whatever may be the
claims of chastity, whatever the advantages of simple
and pure affections, these ties, these benefits are of
equal obligation to either sex. 1 Domestic relations
depend for their integrity upon a complete reciprocity
of duties. But the author himself has in the adven-
ture of the sultana, Debesh-Sheptuti afforded a most
impressive and tremendous allegory of the cold
blooded and malignant selfishness of sensuality.

We are incapacitated by the unconnected and
vague narrative from forming an analysis of the in-
cidents, they would consist indeed, simply of a
catalogue of events, and which, divested of the aerial
tinge of genius might appear trivial and common.
We shall content ourselves, therefore with selecting
some passages calculated to exemplify the peculiar
powers of the author. The following description of
the simple and interesting Rosalie is in the highest

1 Six in the original.



" MEMOIRS OF PRINCE A LEX Y HA IMA TOFF. " 2 1

style of delineation, ' Her hair was unusually black,
she truly had raven locks, the same glossiness, the
same varying shade, the same mixture of purple
and sable for which the plumage of the raven is re-
markable, were found in the long elastic tresses
depending from her head and covering her shoulders.
Her complexion was dark and clear : the colours which
composed the brown that dyed her smooth skin, were
so well mixed, that not one blot, not one varied tinge
injured its brightness, and when the blush of animation
or of modesty flushed her cheek, the tint was so rare,
that could a painter have dipped his pencil in it,
that single shade would have rendered him immortal.
The bone above her eye was sharp, and beautifully
curved ; much as I have admired the wonderful
properties of curves, I am convinced that their most
stupendous properties collected, would fall far short
of that magic line. The eyebrow was pencilled with
extreme nicety ; in the centre it consisted of the
deepest shade of black, at the edges it was hardly
perceptible, and no man could have been hardy enough
to have attempted to define the precise spot at which
it ceased : in short the velvet drapery of the eyebrow
was only to be rivalled by the purple of the long
black eyelashes that terminated the ample curtain.
Rosalie's eyes were large and full ; they appeared at
a distance uniformly dark, but upon close inspection
the innumerable strokes of various hues of infinite



22 SHELLEY S REVIEW OF

fineness and endless variety drawn in concentric
circles behind the pellucid chrystal, filled the mind
with wonder and admiration, and could only be the
work of infinite power directed by infinite wisdom.'

Alexy's union with Aiir-Ahebeh the Circassian
slave is marked by circumstances of deep pathos, and
the sweetest tenderness of sentiment. The description
of his misery and madness at her death, deserves to
be remarked as affording evidence of an imagination
vast, profound and full of energy.

1 Alexy, who gained the friendship, perhaps the love of
the native Rosalie : the handsome Haimatoff, the philo-
sophic Haimatoff, the haughty Haimatoff, Haimatoff the
gay, the witty, the accomplished, the bold hunter, the friend
of liberty, the chivalric lover of all that is feminine, the
hero, the enthusiast : see him now, that is he, mark him !
he appears in the shades of evening, he stalk[s] as a spectre,
he has just risen from the damps of the charnel house; see,
the dews still hang on his forehead. He will vanish at
cock-crowing, he never heard the song of the lark, nor the
busy hum of men ; the sun's rays never warmed him, the
pale moonbeam alone shews his unearthly figure, which is
fanned by the wing of the owl, which scarce obstructs the
slow flight of the droning beetle, 1 or of the droAvsy bat.
Mark him ! he stops, his lean arms are crossed on his bosom ;
he is bowed to the earth, his sunken eye gazes from its
deep cavity on vacuity, as the toad skulking in the corner
of a sepulchre, peeps with malignity through the circum[am]-
bient gloom. His cheek is hollow ; the glowing tints of his

1 beatle in the original.



" MEMOIRS OF PRINCE ALEX Y HA IMA TOFF." 23

complexion, which once resembled the autumnal sunbeam
on the autumnal beech, are gone, the cadaverous yellow,
the livid hue have usurped their place, the sable honours of
his head have perished, they once waved in the wind like the
jetty pinions of the raven, the skull is only covered by the
shrivelled skin, which the rook views wistfully, and calls to
her young ones. His gaunt bones start from his wrinkled
garments, his voice is deep, hollow, sepulchral[;] it is the
voice which wakes the dead, he has long held converse
with the departed. He attempts to walk he knows not
whither, his legs totter under him, he falls, the boys hoot
him, the dogs bark at him, he hears them not, he sees
them not. — Rest there, Alexy, it beseemeth thee, thy bed is
the grave, thy bride is the worm, yet once thou stoodest
erect, thy cheek was flushed with joyful ardour, thy eye
blazing told what thy head conceived, what thy heart felt,
thy limbs were vigour and activity, thy bosom expanded
with pride, ambition, and desire, every nerve thrilled to
feel, every muscle swelled to execute.

1 Haimatoff, the blight has tainted thee, thou ample
roomy web of life, whereon were traced the gaudy characters,
the gay embroidery of pleasure, how has the moth battened
on thee ; Haimatoff, how has the devouring flame scorched
the plains, once yellow with the harvest ! the simoon, the
parching breath of the desert, has swept over the laughing
plains, the carpet of verdure rolled away at its approach, and
has bared amid desolation. Thou stricken deer, thy leather
coat, thy dappled hide hangs loose upon thee, it was a deadly
arrow, how has it wasted thee, thou scathed oak, how has the
red lightning drank thy sap : Haimatoff, Haimatoff, eat thy
soul with vexation. Let the immeasurable ocean roll be-
tween thee and pride : you must not dwell together.' P. 129.



24 SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF

The episode of Viola is affecting, natural, and
beautiful. We do not ever remember to have seen
the unforgiving fastidiousness of family honor more
awfully illustrated. After the death of her lover,
Viola still expects that he will esteem, still cherishes
the delusion that he is not lost to her for ever.

• She used frequently to go to the window to look for
him, or walk in the Park to meet him, but without the least
impatience, at his delay. She learnt a new tune, or a new
song to amuse him, she stood behind the door to startle him
as he entered, or disguised herself to surprise him.'

The character of Mary, deserves, we think, to be
considered as the only complete failure in the book.
Every other female whom the author has attempted
to describe is designated by an individuality pecu-
liarly marked and true. They constitute finished
portraits of whatever is eminently simple, graceful,
gentle, or disgustingly atrocious and vile. Mary
alone is the miserable parasite of fashion, the tame
slave of drivelling and drunken folly, the cold
hearted coquette, the lying and meretricious prude.
The means employed to gain this worthless prize
corresponds exactly with its worthlessness. Sir
Fulke 1 Hildebrand is a strenuous tory, Alexy,
on his arrival in England professes himself inclined
to the principles of the whig party, finding that the
Baronet had sworn that his daughter should never

1 Eulke in the original.



" MEMOIRS OF PRINCE ALEXY HAIMA TOFF." 25

marry a whig, he sacrifices his principles and with
inconceivable effrontery thus palliates his apostacy
and falsehood.

'The prejudices of the Baronet,' were strong in proportion
as they were irrational. I resolved rather to humour than
to thwart them. I contrived to be invited to dine in com-
pany with him; I always proposed the health of the
minister, I introduced politics and defended the tory
party in long speeches, I attended clubs and public dinners
of that interest. I do not know whether this conduct was
justifiable ; it may certainly be excused when the circum-
stances of my case are duly considered. I would tear my-
self in pieces, if I suspected that I could be guilty of the
slightest falsehood or prevarication ; (see Lord Chesterfield's
letters for the courtier-like distinction between simulation
and dissimulation,) but there was nothing of that sort here.
I was of no party, consequently, I could not be accused of
deserting any one. I did not defend the injustice of any
body of men, I did not detract from the merits of any
virtuous character. I praised what was laudable in the
tory party, and blamed what was reprehensible in the
whigs : I was silent with regard to whatever was culpable
in the former or praiseworthy in the latter. The stratagem
was innocent, which injured no one, and which promoted
the happiness of two individuals, especially of the most
amiable woman the world ever knew.'

An instance of more deplorable perversity of the
human understanding we do not recollect ever to
have witnessed. It almost persuades us to believe
that scepticism or indifference concerning certain

C



26 SHELLE Y'S RE VIE W OF

I

sacred truths may occasionally produce a subtlety
of sophism, by which the conscience of the criminal
may be bribed to overlook his crime.

Towards the conclusion of this strange and
powerful performance it must be confessed that
aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus. The adventure
of the Eleuthcri, although the sketch of a profounder
project, is introduced and concluded with unin-
telligible abruptness. Bruhlc dies, purposely as it
should seem that his pupil may renounce the roman-
tic sublimity of his nature, and that his inauspicious
union and prostituted character, might be exempt
from the censure of violated friendship. Numerous
indications of profound and vigorous thought are
scattered over even the most negligently compacted
portions of the narrative. It is an unweeded garden
where nightshade is interwoven with sweet jessamine,
and the most delicate spices of the east, peep over
struggling stalks of rank and poisonous hemlock.

In the delineation of the more evanescent feelings
and uncommon instances of strong and delicate
passion we conceive the author to have exhibited
new and unparalleled powers. He has noticed some
peculiarities of female character, with a delicacy
and truth singularly exquisite. We think that the
interesting subject of sexual relations requires for
its successful development the application of a mind
thus organised and endowed. Yet even here how



" MEMOIRS OF PRINCE ALEXY HA IMA TOFF." 27

great the deficiencies ; this mind must be pure from
the fashionable superstitions of gallantry, must be
exempt from the sordid feelings which with blind
idolatry worship l the image and blaspheme the
deity, reverence the type, and degrade the reality
of which it is an emblem.

We do not hesitate to assert that the author of
this volume is a man of ability. His great though
indisciplinable energies and fervid rapidity of con-
ception embodies scenes and situations, and of
passions affording inexhaustible food for wonder
and delight. The interest is deep and irresistible.
A moral enchanter seems to have conjured up the
shapes of all that is beautiful and strange to suspend
the faculties in fascination and astonishment.

1 Worships in the original.



C 2



PROF. DOWDEN

ON

SHELLEY'S REVIEW OF
HOGG'S

'Uteiwjirs ai "Burnt %h%% pgibploff/'



FROM

Barm €arltr SBrftbip of J%Ueg."

BY PROFESSOR DOWDEN. 1



In the Critical Review for December, 1814, 2 ap-
peared an article of considerable length reviewing a
duodecimo volume published by the Hookhams in
the preceding year : — " Memoirs of Prince Alexy
Haimatoff : Translated from the original Latin MSS.
under the immediate inspection of the Prince. By
John Brown, Esqre." The writer of this imaginary
autobiography was Shelley's friend Thomas Jefferson
Hogg, and the writer of the review was no other
than Shelley.

From Edinburgh, on November 26, 181 3, Shelley
wrote a letter to Hogg, printed in the second volume

1 From The Contemporary Ra/iew, September, 1884, pp. 383-396.
-T. J. W.

2 Vol. vi. No. vi. art. vii. pp. 566-574.— T. J. \V.



32 SOME EARLY WRITINGS OF SHELLEY.

of " The Life of Shelley " [pp. 480-482], from which
the following is an extract : —

" Your novel is now printed. I need not assure you
with what pleasure this extraordinary and animated tale is


1 3 4

Online LibraryPercy Bysshe ShelleyReview of Hogg's Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haimatoff by Percy Bysshe Shelley; together with an extract from Some early writings of Shelley → online text (page 1 of 4)