Saturday, December 8, 2012

Romantic Poetry and Lamb Chops

After that first turbulent year with Mary—during which they ran off in the night to France, walked most of the way to Switzerland and returned broke to England a few months later—he found himself in the countryside north of London, feeling just a bit the worse for wear. Mary suspected that he was merely malnourished, subsisting as he was on a diet that consisted primarily of bread, butter and lemonade. “Lemonade” in this case being a bit of a code word for a widely used and commercially prepared medicinal concoction of opium and ipecac.

In short, it is hardly surprising that the poor boy was wasting away. While his vegetarianism as such was hardly to blame, the opium and ipecac were surely not helping the matter.

Into this scene strides the brisk, practical figure of Thomas Peacock, a novelist and poet who had met and befriended Shelley just a few years earlier. Peacock was a few years older than Shelley—just senior enough to be able to get away with ordering the younger man about, it seems—and it’s pretty clear that he had his feet set rather more firmly on the ground. After assessing the situation of his pale, wan friend, Peacock apparently convinced Shelley to expand his diet and experience some good, old-fashioned British cooking. (Read entire post.)

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