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Shelleys prose with the untroubled interest and judgment that we summon in the case of most authors, especially those who are only, or mainly, prose-writers. Shelleys mark as a poet, in the narrower sense, that is, of a writer of verse, is so well-known, that almost everyone who turns to his prose will bring to it a set opinion, implying more or less of enthusiasm or uninterest, or even perhaps antagonism, based upon the already familiar grounds of his verse and the story of his life. The first interest of the book will therefore be a relative one, to be referred to previous ideas of its authors genius and personality; and knowing what warmth of discussion these have constantly called forth, it will be well for us to approach any new signs of their quality, such as are offered here, in the urbanest and most reasonable temper we can bring to bear. Fortunately, judged for themselves alone, these prose-writings of Shelley are not hard to judge. Their literary setting is so perfect and delightful, that, if they had no other interest, they could not fail to be sought at last simply for artistic quality, and placed high among masterpieces of style accordingly. But the interest they bear is higher still, and having regard to it we should be mistaken in not profiting by the zest already created in us by the poets grace for anything further coming from him and helping to interpret the fine and deep secrets of his nature.
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