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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Daughter of Godwin and wife of the poet Shelley


[Sidenote:

Tennyson, poet laureate]

In England, Alfred Tennyson had been selected as the worthiest successor of William Wordsworth in the office of Poet Laureate. He showed his appreciation of the honor by his famous dedication to Queen Victoria in "The Keepsake."

Revered, beloved--O you that hold A nobler office upon earth Than arms, or power of brain, or birth Could give the warrior kings of old,

Victoria--since your Royal grace To one of less desert allows This laurel greener from the brows Of him that utter'd nothing base:

And should your greatness, and the care That yokes with empire, yield you time To make demand of modern rhyme If aught of ancient worth be there;

Then--while a sweeter music wakes, And thro' wild March the throstle calls, Where all about your palace walls The sunlit almond-blossom shakes--

Take, Madam, this poor book of song; For tho' the faults were thick as dust In vacant chambers, I could trust Your kindness. May you rule us long,

And leave us rulers of your blood As noble till the latest day! May children of our children say, "She wrought her people lasting good;

"Her court was pure; her life serene; God gave

her peace; her land reposed; A thousand claims to reverence closed In her as Mother, Wife, and Queen;

"And statesmen at her council met Who knew the seasons when to take Occasion by the hand, and make The bounds of freedom wider yet

"By shaping some august decree, Which kept her throne unshaken still, Broad-based upon her people's will, And compass'd by the inviolate sea."

[Sidenote: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley]

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, daughter of Godwin and wife of the poet Shelley, died during this year. She wrote some half dozen novels and stories, the best of which was "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus." The weird story, which was written in 1816 in a spirit of friendly rivalry with Shelley and Byron, achieved great popularity. This was largely by reason of the originality of the author's conception of the artificial creation of a human monster which came to torment its maker. Mrs. Shelley's last book was an account of rambles in Germany and Italy. She also brought out a careful edition of her husband's complete works.

[Sidenote: Death of Turner]

[Sidenote: "The Slave Ship"]

Joseph M.W. Turner, the most celebrated English artist of the Nineteenth Century, died in this same year. Born in 1775, he displayed his artistic talents at an early age. At the outset of the Nineteenth Century he achieved a national reputation by his "Battle of the Nile," but did not reach the apotheosis of his fame until Ruskin sang his praises. One of his most discussed pictures was that of the "Slave Ship," which has in turn excited the most scathing ridicule and the most extravagant admiration. Thus George Inness, the American artist, wrote of him: "Turner's 'Slave Ship' is the most infernal piece of clap-trap ever painted. There is nothing in it." Thackeray confessed with delightful frankness: "I don't know whether it is sublime or ridiculous." Mark Twain, the American humorist, has voiced both of these views at once, whereas Ruskin has recorded:


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