The last manifesto of the Romantic age, Shelley's Defense of Poetry, proclaims that "Poetry ever communicates all the pleasure which men are capable of receiving; it is ever still the light of life; the source of whatever of beautiful, or generous, or true can have place in an evil time." Shelley goes on to claim that the spirit of poetry has been responsible for "the abolition of personal and domestic slavery, and the emancipation of women from a great part of the degrading restraints of antiquity," and finally he declares that poetry is the "influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World" (493, 496, 508).1 Shelley's polemic was written as a private joke with his friend Peacock in 1821; there is an element of play in his exaggeration which often escapes readers unaware of the context. Still, the Defense does express a Romantic view of the poet similar to that in Wordsworth's 1802 Preface to Lyrical Ballads and Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, published in 1817, and serves as a theoretical description of Byronic practice. The Romantics did believe that poetry - and the person of the poet - should have a powerful impact on public life.