The Devil's Walk
Letter Version

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Diplomatic Text

edited by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat

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01     The Devil went out a walking one day,
02       Being tired of staying in Hell
03     He dressed himself in his Sunday array
04     And the reason that he was drest so gay
05     Was to cunningly pry, whether under the sky
06       The affairs of earth went well
07     He poked his hot nose into corners so small
08       One wd. think that the innocents there
09     Poor creatures were just doing nothing at all
10     But settling some dress or arranging some ball
11       ­­The Devil saw deeper there
12     He peeped in each hole, to each chamber stole
13       His promising live-stock to view
14     Grinning applause, he just shews his claws
15     And Satan laughed in the mirth of his soul
16     That they started with fright, from his ugly sight
17       Whose works they delighted to do
18     A Parson with whom in the house of prayer
19       The devil sate side by side
20     Bawled out that if the devil were
21        His presence he couldnt abide,   trick
22     Ha ha thought old Nick, thats a very stale
23     For without the Devil, ô favorite of evil   ^
24       In thy carriage thou wouldst not ride
25     He saw the Devil a viper slay
26       Under his brief-covered table
27     It reminded the Devil marvellously
28       Of the story of Cain and Abel
29     Satan next saw a Brainless King
30       In a house as hot as his own
31     Many imps he saw near there on the wi[ng]
32     They flapped the black pennon and twiste[d]
                                   the sting
33       Close to the very throne
34     Ah! Ah cried Satan the pasture is go[od]
35       My cattle will here thrive better than oth[ers]
36     They will have for their food, news of
                                humans blood
37     They will drink the groans of the dying
                                & dead
38     And supperless never will go to bed
39       Wch. will make 'em as fat as their
                               brothers   .
40     The Devil was walking in the Park
41       Dressed like a bond Street beau
42     For altho his visage was rather dark
43     And his mouth was wide his chin came
44     And something like Castlereagh was his
45       He might be calld so, so . .
46     Why does the Devil grin so wide
47       & shew the hore teeth within
48     Nine and ninety on each side
49       By the clearest reckoning _

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The Devil's Walk exists in both a broadside and a letter version. See the editors' headnote as well as the sections entitled Other Romantic Devils, Historical Contexts, Printing and Attempts to Circulate "The Devil's Walk", Textual Transmission, and Copy-text for a fuller description of its history and significance.

This is a literal transcription of the text in the British Library Add. MS. 37,496, f.80 verso, except that letters partially worn away by damage to, or repair of, the paper have been included as if whole and the line-indentations that Shelley seems to have intended have been accentuated.

Line numbers lead to variants within that line. When a line number is italicized, there is a variation between this text and the copy-text. Clicking on a highlighted number will take you directly to its linked variant. This variant will appear in the bottom frame at the very top of a page that will also contain variants for subsequent lines.

Links to more local editors' notes are highlighted in the text. Clicking on a highlighted portion of the text will take you directly to its linked annotation. This annotation will appear in the frame to the right at the very top of a page that will also contain annotations to subsequent lines.

If you wish, you can browse the variants and the annotations independently:

  • primary variants from our critically edited text as collated against the copy of the 1812 broadside in the Public Record Office (1812.PRO).
  • broadside variants from our critically edited text as collated against all witnesses (i.e., the primary witness and 1871, 1876, 1892, 1927, 1970, 1972, and 1989).
  • letter variants from our diplomatic text as collated against all witnesses (i.e., Wise, 1927/i, 1927/viii, 1964J, 1972, and 1989).
  • annotations by the editors:
For full citations of these sources and sources in the editors' notes, see the bibliography.

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