We still look to the earlier masters for supreme excellence in particular directions: to Wordsworth for sublime philosophy, to Coleridge for ethereal magic, to Byron for passion, to Shelley for lyric intensity, to Keats for richness.
But the essential narrowness and timidity of his general outlook prevented him from detecting and estimating latent forces, either in politics or in matters strictly intellectual and moral; and this lack of understanding and sympathy accounts for his distrust and dislike of the passion and fancy of Shelley and Keats, and for his praise of the half-hearted and elegant romanticism of Rogers and Campbell.
In England, besides the ballads in Percy's Reliques, William Godwin introduced the idea of an eternal witness of the course of civilization in his St Leon (1799),(1799), and his son-in-law Shelley introduces Ahasuerus in his Queen Mab.
His early correspondence with Shelley, which began in 1811, is remarkable for its genuine good sense and kindness; but when Shelley carried out the principles of the author of Political Justice in eloping with Mary Godwin, Godwin assumed a hostile attitude that would have been unjustifiable in a man of ordinary views, and was ridiculous in the light of his professions.
In what may be called his second period, the ode entitled France, considered by Shelley the finest in the language, is most memorable.
Certain lapses from grammatical correctness and metrical regularity that we find in the poems of Shelley are undoubtedly due to the author, though the number of these has been reduced (as Mr Buxton Forman has pointed out) with our improved knowledge of the sources of the text.
It is generally supposed that he writes with a lover's extravagance about this lady's powers when he compares her with Shelley and Carlyle.
His inspiration may be traced in some measure to the Pre-Raphaelites and also to Blake, Shelley and Maeterlinck; but he found in his native Irish legend and life matter apt for his romantic and often elfin music, with its artful simplicities and unhackneyed cadences, and its elusive, inconclusive charm.
The Southwells were affiliated with many noble English families, and Robert's grandmother, Elizabeth Shelley, figures in the genealogy of Shelley the poet.
Of the seventh earl in 1743 the estates devolved upon his niece Elizabeth, whose only child married Sir Bysshe Shelley of Castle Goring.