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SHELLEY.   By FRANCIS THOMPSON.  With an Introduction by the Rt. Hon. GEORGE
     WYNDHAM.  Burns and Oates.
   We would rather not refer to the Rt. Hon. George Wyndham in a paper of this
character.  Let us deal with Francis Thompson.
   Had he no friend to burn this manuscript?  To save him from blackening his
own memory in this way?  We were content to give him his appointed niche in
the temple, that of a delicate, forceful spirit, if rarely capable of cosmic
expansion.  We did not look for eagle-flights; we thought of him as a wild
goose sweeping from Tibet upon the poppy-fields of Yunnan.  But the prose of a
poet reveals the man in him, as his poetry reveals the god; and Francis
Thompson the man is a pitiful thing enough.  It is the wounded earthworm
cursing the harrow; the snipe blaspheming the lark.  Shelley was a fine, pure,
healthy man whose soul was habitually one with the Infinite Universe; Thompson
was a wretch whose body was poisoned by drugs, whose mind by superstition.
Francis Thompson was so much in love with his miserable self that he could not
bear the thought of its extinction; Shelley was glad to die if thereby one
rose could bloom the redder.
   This essay is disgusting; we were all trying to forget Francis Thompson, to
remember his songs; and here we have his putrid corpse indecently disinterred
and thrust under our noses.
   The worst of it all is the very perfection of the wrappings.  what a poet
Thompson might have been if he had never heard of Christ or opium; if he had
revelled in Venice with its courtesans of ruddy hair, swan gracefulness, and
tiger soul!  Instead, he sold matches in the streets of London; from which
abyss a church meant warmth, light, incense, music, and a pageant of hope.
   To-day, as in the days of Nero, Christianity is no more than the slum-born
shriek of the degenerate and undersized starvelings that inhabit the Inferno
of Industrialism.
   So also Thompson, impotent from abuse of opium, reviles Shelley and Byron
for virility.  "O che sciagura essere senza cog!" ---
   Dirt, dogma, drugs!  What wonder and what hope lies in the soul of man if
from such ingredients can be distilled such wine as "The dream tryst?"
Requiescat in pace.  Let the flowers grow on Thompson's grave; let none exhume
the body!
                                                        A. QUILLER, JR.

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