Percy Bysshe Shelley is going to feature quite heavily in the final installment of the Demi-Monde (which I'm just embarking on) so I've started reading about him in a more serious sort of way. And the more I read the more I'm impressed by the man. In fact the observation that it was a tragedy that he died so young has really responated with me: given a little more time Shelley could really have changed Victorian thinking and that for the better. Shelley was the revolutionary that Britain never had but so badly needed.
One piece from his Essay on Christianity (1859) really struck a chord:
If all the thought which had been expended on the construction of engines of agony and death – the modes of aggression and defence, the raising of armies, and the acquiring of those arts of tyranny and falsehood without which mixed multitudes could neither be led nor governed – had been employed to promote the true welfare and extend the real empire of man, how different would have been the present situation of human society, how different the state of knowledge in physical and moral science, upon which the power and happiness of mankind essentially depend!
I could never understand why the British government chose in an era of cuts and parsimony to renew Trident and Shelley wonderfully voices my disappointment.
It's going to take a lot of work getting him right in the DM but I think it will be worth it. If ever there was a man who needed to be more widely read it's Shelley!